I AM A SLUT

2 Mar

I AM A SLUT

Louise Annarino

3-2-2012

 

Sandra Fluke, I stand with you. I am a proud “slut”. If I had a dollar for every slur against womanhood I have heard I would be a very rich woman. All women would. From my earliest memories I was aware that no one should “throw like a girl”, “cry like a girl”, or “complain” like a girl”. These comments were not simply illustrative, but derogatory. I felt such sadness hearing them, as I wondered why being a girl was “no good”; why just being “like” a girl was cause for ridicule. How much worse was it to actually “be” a girl?

 

High school taught me little was expected of me. Called into the Principle’s office one afternoon, I leaned that I would not be the class Salutorian, even though my grades were tied to the 4th. decimal place, and higher carried to the 5th decimal place, when compared with those of a male classmate. Father explained that being a young man such an accomplishment would help him in life; and, since I was a girl, it would mean nothing. It had been decided my accomplishment would not be acknowledged.

 

In law school I was chided for too much “color” in my voice, and using my body and hands to communicate during oral argument, even though I “won” the case. My male opponent was praised for gripping the podium and never changing his inflections, remaining “professional”, even though he lost the case.

 

Practicing law brought its own set of put-downs. After the first day in trial, I carried a photocopy of my Ohio License which I routinely placed in the judge’s hands as I introduced myself. The first day, as both attorneys and our clients stood before the bench,I had introduced myself to the judge stating, “Good morning, your honor, my name is Louise Annarino. I am an attorney with Columbus Legal Aid Society. This is my client Ms. X, the petitioner in this matter.”

 

The Judge responded, “Young lady, you can’t just waltz in here and represent yourself. you need an attorney.” I then reintroduced myself as the Judge an opposing counsel smirked knowingly to one another. The judge responded, “Well, little lady, you need a real attorney.” This happened two more times as those awaiting to be called for their case and their respective attorneys began laughing. My client leaned close and whispered, “Should I go get a real attorney?” We won the case, despite such outrageous treatment to my client and to me.

 

Such belittling, dissembling, sarcastic, disgruntled behavior in response to sharing power with women has got to stop. Yet, Rush Limbaugh uses his power, licensed over our airwaves, to attack women as “feminazis” and now “sluts”. Ms. Fluke did not deserve such an attack;no woman does. Mr. Limbaugh continued again today to abuse her publicly for exercising her constitutional right address congress.

 

In  July 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton (who kept her name when she married) wrote teh following in the “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” presented at the Seneca Falls Convention:

 

“all men and women are created equal” and “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” (man)”has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and to her God.” (result?) “the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her.”

 

It is clear Rush Limbaugh and his supporters have more in common with men of 1878 than with fair-minded men and women of 2012. Sex sells in America and Rush and his ilk are using sex to sell oppression of women. This is not a new tactic.  Too often, religions and armies use sex to oppress and maintain power. Rush asked for tapes of Ms.Fluke engaging sex. He equated a stated expectation that women’s health care needs should be covered under insurance plans with asking for “paid for sex”, making Ms. Fluke a “prostitute”. He said her parents “would not be proud” of her. He called her a “slut”. Well, if she is all women are; because, all women expect to be treated equal to men in the United States of America. President Obama knows this and is fighting to protect women’s rights. And, after thanking her for speaking on behalf of women’s rights, he told Ms. Fluke in a personal phone conversation that her “parents should be proud” of her.

 

I once served briefly on a joint task force of women attorneys from across Ohio, sponsored by the Ohio Supreme Court and The Ohio State Bar Association,to address sex discrimination in Ohio’s legislation, law schools and courts. At the first meeting, I listened to the women who spearheaded the effort speak, followed by the male president of the Ohio Bar Association, and finally the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio. At the close of remarks I felt myself rising to my feet unbidden to contest a comment from one of the men (I paraphrase since it has been so long ago):

 

“Be gentle with the men as you proceed, ladies. Any negative comments are very hard on the men and you don’t want to create a backlash. So take it slow as you petition for change, and be mindful of the men’s feelings.”

 

That is when I leapt to my feet announcing that it was Malcolm X’s birthday that day and  if he were alive he would remind us that, “Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.”  And I added, “We women are not petitioning for freedom,equality, and justice; we are taking them. I have a hard enough time handling my own grief and anger over the injustice of sexism and racism to be asked to handle yours,too. Men need to take responsibility for themselves and handle their own feelings for a change.” And, I added, “if you have trouble with that, recall another comment of Malcolm’s, ‘If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.’ If you can’t handle yourself, and you can’t handle us then, at least, get out of our way.” One woman clapped and pins dropped throughout the room. No more.

 

Today, I ask women to take justice and seize your equal rights. Don’t ask for them from men. They don’t own your rights; you do! Stick together. Today, I am a proud “slut”.

 

 

 

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