Dr. Laura finally got in trouble.
For eight years now, the extraordinarily popular talk radio host Laura Schlessinger has bashed women and fanned the flames of anti-feminism as the heart and soul of her program.
For four hours a day, five days a week, Schlessinger calls women sluts, bimbos, and other gender-based insults like a refrain. She uses the word “woman” as a slur against “misbehaving” female callers. “Woman!” she calls them, making clear by intonation and context that the word means “moral idiot.” She tells women who “take responsibility” that they act like men. She advises women to think like men.
Schlessinger describes girls as manipulative by nature, and contrasts them with more noble, straightforward boys. She rants at length about the nastiness of women as a group. “Aren’t women horrid? Women are just horrid,” she said on one show, and substantiated her claim with two personal experiences: one in which a woman driver “stole” her parking place, and another in which a woman talked during a movie, and didn’t stop after Schlessinger’s husband told the woman to shush.
Schlessinger rants to her daily audience of 20 million against abortion rights. She describes abortion as murder, and calls women who have had an abortion “murderers.” She trashes mothers of almost every sort: single mothers; married mothers with full time jobs or, worse, careers; and stay home married mothers who have low self-esteem, are bossed by their husbands, and put too much of their personal identity into their children.
As it happens, her powerfully influential show has coincided with a significant increase in those of this country who identify as “pro-life.” Her show has also coincided with a sharp rise in this country’s vicious scapegoating of mothers, a scapegoating which, in 1996, resulted in the dismantling of the federal welfare system, making women and children more vulnerable than ever to violence, poverty, and oppression.
Schlessinger, who makes millions of dollars for expressing her opinions, openly mocks battered women. She insists that battered women “knew” ahead of time that the men they allowed into their lives would batter them. On a recent show (3/21), Schlessinger advised a male caller, “Adam,” not to give shelter to his sister who was ending a relationship with a man who was a felon. After listening to Adam’s question for approximately 15 seconds, she expressed contempt for the woman leaving the relationship, and arrogantly insisted the woman instead move three states away and change her name.
Schlessinger: It was her decision to marry a really bad man, and to stay with him a really long time, and to make the situation very worse. So I don’t think you need to take this on yourself, that you’re obligated somehow to do this…She didn’t worry about the family when she got together with this guy…And I don’t want to be there the day she says, ‘I’m going back. Sorry, he really needs me.’ I don’t want [laughing] to be there the day she says that to you.
Adam: [also laughing] And they do, and they will.
Schlessinger: Oh, you know what I’m saying here.
Adam: Yeah. Well shoot. But I love my sister.
Schlessinger: Just because you love her doesn’t mean you have to allow her potentially hurt you. We call that stupid. I mean, that’s the excuse she used to be with him. ‘But I love him.’ Well, gee, that excuses all stupidity then, right? [in a Munchkin voice] ‘First it was love means never having to say you’re sorry. Now it means you can be stupid.’ [laughs] Alright? Take care. I’m Dr. Laura Schlessinger.
By simply tuning to Laura Schlessinger’s show for one hour, any day of the week, a listener can hear examples of woman-bashing. Nevertheless, progressives hardly muttered a word of protest against Schlessinger.
Until now. Schlessinger currently faces a groundswell of highly organized progressive opposition because she started to include gay men in her bashing repertoire. Much of her gay bashing applies to women as well as men, but since the welfare and dignity of lesbians are of no more concern to society than that of the rest of women, we can assume that progressive alarms are going off out of concern for gay men. If Schlessinger had insulted some characteristic of lesbians that gay men have nothing in common with — if, for example, she called lesbian sex a perversion because there is no penis involved, yet made no disparaging remarks about gay men — the progressive community would have continued its silence, and the gay rights community would have merely grumbled in reply.
Norman Solomon, syndicated columnist from the media watch organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, wrote for the first time about Schlessinger’s show in an article called “Dr. Laura: Radio’s Leading Anti-Gay Zealot” (Feb 25)
“Dr. Laura does a lot of harm. Sitting at a powerful microphone, she spews abuse at those who live outside the circle she has drawn around humanity. Being gay is ‘a biological error,’ Schlessinger proclaims.”
Solomon goes on to tell us that on June 9 of last year, Schlessinger expressed scorn for gay rights. Then, on August 9, she said that being gay was a biological error, and three days later, she called it “dysfunction” and “deviancy.”
This is shocking and harmful, absolutely. But Solomon made no mention of her thousands of disparaging remarks about women, or her virulent (and influential) anti-feminist politics, which are the mainstay of her program. Are gay men the only ones who count here?
“(S)he’s fond of laying down the moralistic law in no uncertain terms. For gays, that means a steady stream of corrosive venom,” Solomon writes. Schlessinger’s steady stream of corrosive venom has been directed at females, not at gay men. Gay men have simply been experiencing the overflow. Solomon’s erasure of women in his criticism of Schlessinger amounts to an acceptance of her misogyny as normal and inconsequential.
Other progressives not only ignored Schlessinger’s misogyny, but threw in their own. Posted on AlterNet is an article by Don Hazen called “The Cruel Sisters of American Media: Judge Judy and Dr. Laura.”
Just in case the title of the article fails to show the correlation between the gender of these “sisters” and their malice, Hazen emphasizes their femaleness again and again in his opening paragraph:
“America the Cruel has two relatively new female media stars. The two, Laura Schlessinger — aka Dr. Laura — and Judy Sheidlin — aka Judge Judy — have now uttered enough hateful inanities that popular uprisings against them, using Web sites as organizing tools, are underway. The goal of these Internet campaigns is to put enough pressure on advertisers to dislodge the two women from their highly visible, very profitable and socially destructive media perches.”
The talk radio bird — who was able to became rich and famous through a male-supremacist media for the simple reason that she serves male supremacy so well — apologized for her remarks about gays soon after the public outcry became loud and threatening enough. She said, “Regrettably, some of the words I’ve used have hurt some people, and I am sorry for that … They were not meant to characterize homosexual individuals or encourage others to disparage homosexuals.”
The apology, of course, isn’t good enough, and the progressive opposition isn’t letting up. Celebrities and liberal politicians are joining the cause. Two major advertisers have announced they will no longer advertise on Schlessinger’s show. The Stop Dr. Laura website — which is full of arguments claiming that bigotry against Jews and African Americans is taken much more seriously than bigotry against gays, while the site ignores/endorses Schlessinger’s nonstop attacks on women and feminism — has had almost 14 million visitors during its first three weeks of existence. The campaign will soon announce their “6-month plan” to counter Schlessinger and stop her from getting her promised TV program from Paramount.
Consistent with the campaign’s erasure of women, we also see the old “free speech” double standard. Activists argue that their effort to stop Schlessinger from getting a TV show is a legitimate attempt to interfere with illegitimate speech. But for 15 years, progressives have, almost without exception, defended pornographers’ right to “free speech” without interference from women who want a world free of the danger and mysogyny that so much of pornography cultivates. Many of those who are now so willing to stop Dr. Laura because of what is an unproven connection between her bigoted words and deranged men’s hate crimes against gays, are among the same folks who have mocked feminists’ claim that there is a direct connection between pornography and violence against women. Many of those who want to stop Dr. Laura went along with the argument that “individuals” who attack women are the ones who should be held responsible for violence, not the pornographers and woman-bashers. Have such arguments now become irrelevant?
Let’s hope that those who are carrying out this campaign to stop Dr. Laura reach at least some of their goals. Schlessinger’s hate runneth over and, thank goodness, progressives finally got upset. Too bad for everyone that this outrage wasn’t sparked upon Schlessinger’s first, or thousandth, disparagement of women. Too bad that progressives keep forgetting that hate always runneth over, and won’t forever limit itself only to women.