When Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” on his radio talk show, America responded with full force. Fluke had testified at Democrat convention, complaining that the health care program at her Jesuit university does not provide contraceptives to female students. Limbaugh argued that if Fluke receives contraceptives for free, it is like she is being paid to have sex, like a prostitute.
Users on Facebook and Twitter, celebrities, news stations, and even President Obama defended Fluke within days of Limbaugh’s criticism. In the following week, a total of 142 sponsors pulled their sponsorship for his show, including AOL, AllState Insurance, and Bonobos Clothing. Although not everyone agrees on whether contraceptives (like birth control) should be provided by health care programs, most can agree at least that Limbaugh’s wording was unacceptable.
Because of the rush of support for Fluke and the drop of support for Limbaugh, Fluke quickly became a poster child for women’s reproductive rights. Just how Frederick Douglass’ name quickly jumps to mind at the mention of “abolition,” the public now can link Sandra Fluke’s face to the words, “reproductive health.”