Authors reply to a CNN Opinion article by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, Gloria Steinem
They say the three should have condemned remarks by Maher as they did Limbaugh
Maher contributed $1 million to a super PAC supporting President Obama
Authors: Democrats should reject the money and Maher's offensive language
Editor’s Note: Teri Christoph and Suzanne Haik Terrell are co-chairwomen of ShePAC, a “movement to support, honor and elect conservative women.” Christoph is the co-founder of Smart Girl Politics, a nonprofit organization founded in 2008 to encourage conservative women to get involved in the political process. Terrell, an attorney, is a former Louisiana state elections commissioner and was a 2002 Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.
As women, feminists, mothers to daughters and activists, we read the recent opinion piece on conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh by Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan with great anticipation. Once we had finished reading, we were left with feelings of amusement, amazement and, yes, agreement.
As women, we agree with them that hate speech and sexism against women is wrong in all forms, on all playing fields. Women who enter the public arena and stand up for their beliefs should be celebrated, whether we agree with them or not. Arguing with their beliefs is one matter; using derogatory terms or hate speech is another. Men who practice this regularly should apologize and change their ways and face the consequences.
As feminists, we read the piece with amazement. Recently, an entertainer, political activist and major donor has referred to women in the political arena with vile obscenities as well as words such as “bimbos,” “boobs” and “MILFs.”
Bill Maher has advocated, in one case, that someone should “choke this b***h” and argued that voters would prefer to see a female candidate “splayed out on the hood of a car” rather than making decisions in the Oval Office. A recent video produced by ShePAC highlights some of Maher’s “greatest hits” against women and special needs children. In 48 hours, more than 250,000 viewed it.
After reading and further researching, we were amazed that Fonda, Steinem and Morgan failed to condemn Maher for his hate speech against conservative and liberal women alike. In their piece, they write that their call to action “isn’t political.” Giving them the benefit of doubt, we thought, they were perhaps unaware of Maher’s history of misogyny. But we were wrong.
Not only have these women not condemned Maher’s vile and violent language, they’ve legitimized it. Both Fonda and Steinem have been guests on Maher’s show, both failing to call him to task for his actions. Sadly, they are not alone.
Neither have two former guests on Maher’s Hollywood set: Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. They haven’t had the courage or conviction to condemn his words against conservative women but have both found time to join Fonda and Steinem in the media the past week to do so against Limbaugh.
But mostly, as conservatives, we read their opinion piece in amusement. To us, it’s silly to think female voters are going to be swayed by the tired politics these women preach. They don’t speak for us, and their politics of the past is being rejected.
Traditional “women’s issues” from Fonda and Steinem’s era are gone. Women flocked to conservative candidates in 2010 after they saw their children’s share of the debt skyrocket. They joined with conservatives as unemployment rose and their hope for the future sank. Women have seen our freedom (including speech) under attack, and we have taken to the ballot box and the campaign trail to put a stop to it.
While we respect all women who stand up for their beliefs, we reject the hypocrisy that these “feminist icons” try to slip past us. When will they put principle over politics and have the courage to condemn Maher’s misogyny? We applaud Wasserman Schultz for rejecting this sort of language as not “funny.” We agree with President Obama that remarks such as these have “no place in the public discourse.” We ask others including Sen. Chuck Schumer and Obama super PAC co-founder Bill Burton to reject Maher’s donation of $1 million to support the president’s re-election.
By accepting this massive donation, they allow Maher’s views into the public discourse and legitimize him as more than just the comedian they pass him off as. Maher is a contributor to the Huffington Post and a frequent political commentator on cable news, and his comedy tour’s appearance in Alabama is the main event for an upcoming Democratic party fundraiser. It’s clear that he’s more than just a comedian. We aren’t laughing at any of this – and somehow, we suspect, neither are Schumer and Burton’s wives and daughters.
Maher has made his millions in part with violent verbal attacks against women, hiding behind the guise of “comedy,” and now he has given some of that money to the super PAC supporting Obama.
Sunday, we learned that Obama’s campaign is spending a substantial amount of money targeting 1 million female voters.
We invite you, Jane, Gloria, Robin, Debbie, Nancy and others to join with us and call on Obama to ask his super PAC to reject Maher’s misogynist million.
We’re sure you, as decent people, agree with President Obama this tainted money and speech “has no place in our public discourse.” Together, we can cross political lines and jointly call on Obama in the name of civility to do the right thing by requesting that the super PAC turn over this money to those hurt by this sort of speech – a charity serving abused women. We look forward to your response.
Follow us on Twitter: @CNNOpinion
Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors.