The Unexpected Winners of Rushgate

It would be tempting to say that no one has won with the initial slut-shaming and the firestorm that has ensued with Rushgate. But, if we're being honest, we have to admit that this may not have gone that terribly for quite a few people.

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When we look at what we've been talking about for the past week and a half, there are two words that keep coming up: "Rush" and "slut." By this point, if you're at all versed in the news, you need but one of those words to enter into a conversation or maybe a rant on the topic, which has involved everyone from our president and Limbaugh himself on down to an array of relatively modest advertisers and random others who have been wrapped into the thematic topic because they are women, or bands named Rush or had songs played by Rush, or, perhaps, Democrats with a stake in the birth control debate.

It would be tempting to say that no one has won with the initial slut-shaming and the firestorm that has ensued, because even with the modest gains that we make when we remind people that calling women "sluts" is not only not fodder for the "public discourse," it's also just plain ignorant, there are plenty of people coming forward to show us how far we have in fact not come at all. (Such people like to call women "sluts" on air.) But, if we're being honest, we have to admit that this may not have gone that terribly for quite a few people. Rushgate may have been, among other things, a great way to get free publicity and the acclaim of one's corporate peers, a way to revive a music career, and a way to keep your name in the news for more than a week. The winners of Rushgate, thus far:

The advertisers who've pulled ads. Had you even heard of Sleep Number, The Sleep Train, Legal Zoom, or Citrix, all of whom nobly pulled their ads, until now? And, even if you had heard of, say, AOL (who also pulled ads), you may not have considered them a bastion of honor and morality. Now, yes. Definitely. For now. Which is... What? FREE ADVERTISING. That's why these companies want you to know that they pulled their ads. (Rush was not always this way, right? Er.)

The advertisers who haven't. There are still people who are defending Rush. Sarah Palin, for instance. And with those people there are supporters of those who will not be intimidated by "liberal media pressure." So expect the advertisers hanging in there to do just as well as those who have pulled their ads, though not as publicly, perhaps. At the same time, remember that this, like any _____gate, will blow over, and no one will remember or give a second thought as to whether their mattress company advertised on the Rush Limbaugh Show or not. This is big deal media moment right now, but it's questionable whether it really translates to any dollars spent, or not.

The band Rush. And Peter Gabriel. No offense, but what were these guys doing the week before last? All we know now is, they are very upset (if fairly so!) that Rush Limbaugh has used their music without asking and as part of a political broadcast. Before Rushgate, you'd imagine, they might have been pretty cool with that, or at least not noticed, although Rush has never been a model of progressive behavior or even talking nice about women. Anyway, hey, Rush! And Peter Gabriel! Let's dig up our old CDs and have a listen. You gotta love "Sledgehammer."

The bust of Rush Limbaugh. And Missouri. Who knew that Missouri was about to install a bust of Rush Limbaugh into their Hall of Famous Missourians (that is not, for clarification, "the ‘Hall of Universally Loved Missourians,’" according to House Speaker Steve Tilley, the Missouri Republican who decided to induct Rush into the hall: “It’s the Hall of Famous Missourians.”) And with all that, a civics lesson, too? As for the poor guy tasked with sculpting the bust, well, he's notably less a winner.

Rush himself. As we pointed out last week, Rush is an über-troll, and he is trolling all of us. This is what he does. He does it well. And he's doing it, still.

Ashley Madison. Ashley Madison clearly sees this as an opportunity, but then, the "extramarital dating site" sees just about everything as an opportunity. They'll advertise! In fact, they'd love to. You know, to support free speech.

This awful cartoonist. Syndicated conservative cartoonist Gary McCoy is getting attention for his ugly depiction of Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke (herself a winner in Rushgate; along with getting a personal call from President Obama, her name is now in the history books, and she's emerged looking like a shining beacon of reason and hope for a birth-control accessible future). But when was the last time McCoy was the topic of such conversation, and all for a rather poorly done depiction?

Democrats. Who have raised both money and good stead with their petition against War on Women and in so doing, are pretty much winning exactly what they set out to do. Thursday is International Women's Day, so expect a renewed vigor for the cause.
"Sluts." Let's give it up for Hester Prynne, Cleopatra, Mary Magdalene, and anyone who's ever been called a "slut" or an "immoral" woman, historically speaking or otherwise. We're making strides, even if it doesn't seem like it. Nonetheless, it's worth mentioning that we haven't come so far that Rush Limbaugh saying "slut" is like the barking of a demented dog, something to which we should really pay no mind, no mind at all. Even better than that, of course, would be for people to stop using the term to try to undermine women altogether. Someday! In the meantime, chew on this: Did you know that the number one Urban Dictionary definition of "slut" is "a woman with the morals of a man"? Mm hm.
Bloggers. And fin.
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