Rather than “Congratulations” on the engagement, the news that Sandra Fluke is going to get married is now the latest controversy. It’s not a huge one like last time, but nonetheless, a controversy.
And the down and dirty happened in 140 characters or less- that’s right, over Twitter.
So Sandra Fluke announced her engagement. Monica Crowley then asks: “To a man?”
I would think, as Sandra Fluke said, first Crowley might have said “Congrats,” and then maybe followed with: “Who’s the lucky person?” or something like that.
Crowley said that it at first was a legit question and then followed that she was also trying to make a joke.
It’s that old trick of using homophobia to make a joke that is done so often in TV sitcoms and movies that it makes homophobia normal and reinforces it as part of the culture. Sitcoms simultaneously have scenarios the audience will laugh at, often making it seem like two men the audience knows to be heterosexual are in a gay relationship or someone thinks someone else is gay and that person is indignant saying they are not, but then add, “not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
Might as well say: “homosexuality is out there, and we’re okay with it, as long as we can laugh at you.” It’s the bind of: “See, we include you in TV land, even though it’s to laugh AT you.”
So here’s a joke implying that Sandra Fluke being with a man is hilarious because she was speaking out for women.
Now, interestingly, I read or heard from some news source when she was called a “slut” by Rush Limbaugh, that she was a lesbian and would never use the birth control she advocated for. I read a lot of Internet information, both news and garbage, so who knows who said it?
I do remember thinking it was interesting, but also that contraception is an option for women and one we need to have out there to be able to make decisions for our bodies. She fought for it. Awesome! That she was a lesbian, so what?
Now, come to find out, she is getting married and yes, Monica Crowley, to a man.
Why would someone say Fluke is a lesbian? This is the homophobic part. They said it to insult her, because being gay is still seen as an insult in our society.
But even more than that- being seen as a lesbian is also an insult within the grand schema of Patriarchy, so her being a lesbian means that ‘no man would want her so she has to go be with a woman.’ Oh the poor dear.
Our society still measures a woman’s worth based on whether or not she can find a husband and it is presumed that women who speak out, advocate for their rights, and are feminist, are not “marriage material.”
So, to be fair to people like me who thought maybe Sandra Fluke was a lesbian, there were rumors that she was. But for Monica Crowley, even if she thought that, why would she respond in the tweet how she did? Seems like it was to make a joke with the LGBT community at the butt of it.
Unfortunately, what it also does is reinforce that idea that women who stand up for themselves, women that stand up for women, women who are feminist are all gay because they hate men. Or maybe they don’t hate men, but they wouldn’t want to marry one. Obviously, this isn’t true.
What if Monica Crowley knew Sandra Fluke was straight or had a boyfriend? She may have. I think I also heard she had a boyfriend, but I don’t remember who said what. Her having a boyfriend, we would probably assume she has a monogamous relationship with, negates her being a “slut.” So maybe that was put out there or maybe it wasn’t. At this point, I remember her speaking about women needing access to contraception because of health issues. I remember thinking “Heck Yeah! We need an articulate woman speaking about contraception, women’s health care, women’s rights and women’s choice and she is doing just that.”
What Crowley’s tweet suggests to women who are more concerned than Sandra about being called a lesbian is this: women who speak out against the system that works to oppress women, will be called names: Slut, Lesbian, Prostitute.
Most people don’t want to be the sacrifice for the whole. Most don’t want to have their name and picture all over the media or to have this new subject for table conversation at holiday meals. Backlash against Sandra Fluke has been hateful and calculated. It is meant to not only shut her up, but all to shut up all women.
Grrl Code: Continue to speak up for women. Continue to support other women who speak up and let women like Monica Crowley know that Sandra Fluke is fighting for her rights too.
Congratulations Sandra Fluke!