War on Women

There’s a lot of abrasive chatter on “The War on Women” these days. Democrats claim Republicans are attacking women through their stance on reproductive rights. Republicans hurl guilty around, too. They say Democrats are attacking women by allowing HBO talk show host and comedian Bill Maher to call female public figures nasty names while they accept his whopping contribution to President Obama‘s re-election efforts.

Amid the back and forth, Anita Finlay uses Maher’s comments as a launching pad to look at the War on Women for The New Agenda, a blog created by some 30 women nationwide in 2008 that focuses on an anti-misogynistic message. In her story, Finlay says it’s a two-way street when it comes to calling women names. She notes that Maher has famously trashed both conservative and liberal women.

Meanwhile, the standard bearer for conservative opinion-based entertainment, Rush Limbaugh, is still fighting the backlash of calling  Sandra Fluke a “slut.” You’d be hard pressed to find a time when Limbaugh went after a conservative woman the way he did Fluke. We could go back and forth about this all afternoon, but the piece brought to mind some interesting points.

First of all, any man that calls a woman a “slut”, as Limbaugh called Fluke or a “dumb twat” or a “cunt”, the way Maher called ex-V.P. hopeful Sarah Palin, should expect an outcry from both sides of the aisle. Maher took heat for his comments at the time, though it’s obvious that he hasn’t had to pay the price that Limbaugh is paying.

Defenders of Maher call him a comedian who is a modern day George Carlin. In her piece, Finlay says, ” I would suggest he neither possesses the genius with language nor the ability to formulate sophisticated social commentary the way Carlin did.”

It’s important to point out that Carlin never backed down from using bad words. Including his bit about the Seven Dirty Words, which include the dreaded “C” word.

Finlay says it’s a double standard when it comes to the sex of the commentator. She asks, “What if a female comedian used the “N” word to describe a male politician, or offered a demeaning slur to a gay man – would she still be on the air?

Has she ever heard of Lisa Lampanelli?

She’s the most popular female comedian working today. She was most recently seen on NBC’s The Apprentice.  And she is filthier and more foul-mouthed than any male comedian alive or dead. She uses gay slurs in practically every sentence. She uses the “N” word like it’s a comma. In fact, in this clip, Lampanelli calls Palin a “skank” for having so many kids and manages to bash just about every other segment of the population.

So, where does the line that between political commentator and comedian lay? Who knows? We’ve always gone by the mantra, “Be offended at everything or be offended at nothing.”


Publish date: March 21, 2012 https://stage.adweek.com/digital/war-on-women-bill-maher-obama/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT