Burqas Don’t Stop Harassment, Rush

tell_your_breasts_to_stop_staring_at_my_eyes_tshirt-p235403032527114539qw9y_400Walk up to the woman and say, “Would you please ask your breasts to stop staring at my eyes?”

That’s Rush Limbaugh’s advice after University of Nebraska researchers said it looks like men can control their objectifying behavior as they gain awareness of it. (Btw, objectifying and appreciating that someone is attractive are two different things.)

And that’s a good thing, they say, because objectified women are seen as less friendly, less intelligent and competent, and less moral. That, in turn, leaves women silencing themselves and it undermines their work performance.

Yet Rush insists,

Some of these babes, I’m telling you, like the sexual harassment crowd. They’re out there protesting what they actually wish would happen to them sometimes.

Hmmm. Take a look at a Public Service Ad that puts you in an Egyptian woman’s shoes (where harassment is rampant):

And you know what? Women can’t please Rush whether they look attractive or not. (And most don’t want to please him.) 

On one side he mouths off,

Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.

The other side spouts,

The larger the bra size, the smaller the IQ.

And what does Rush expect women to do with their offending breasts? Undergo surgical reduction?

No. He’s found an alternate solution. Men must not limit themselves, so women must hide behind yards of fabric:

I’ll tell you, you women. Why don’t you just make it official, put on some burkas and I’ll guaran-damn-tee you nobody’ll touch you. You put on a burka, and everybody’ll leave you alone if that’s what you want.


Then why did harassment explode in Egypt when women went from 20th century miniskirts to 21st century veiling? Mr. Alaa Al Aswany, an Egyptian novelist, wrote a piece for the New York Times that tells us:

Until the end of the 1970s, many Egyptian women still went without head scarves, wearing modern Western-style dress, yet incidents of sexual harassment were rare. Now, with the spread of the hijab, harassment has taken on epidemic proportions. A 2008 study from the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights revealed that 83% of women interviewed had been subjected to sexual harassment at least once, and that 50% experienced it on a daily basis.

Why is it that men did not harass Egyptian women when they wore short skirts but that sexual harassment has increased against women in head scarves? When ultraconservative doctrine dehumanizes women, reducing them to objects, it legitimizes acts of sexual aggression against them.

In fact, an Egyptian woman once posed nude, saying modesty objectifies women.

Limbaugh’s hostility and dehumanization fit right in. And he wonders why women don’t like him.

Yeah, big mystery.

Limbaugh quotes courtesy of Daily Kos.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Men Who Hate Pretty Women
Can a Small-Breasted Woman be Sexiest Woman Alive?
Anything Good About Being A Sex Object?

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on December 13, 2013, in feminism, men, objectification, psychology, rape and sexual assault, sexism, violence against women, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. handsomelustrousblackladbrad

    Then again,what would Rush know about objectification,given his looks?

  2. handsomelustrousblackladbrad

    Which makes me believe that FUNDAMENTALIST RELIGIONS (of ALL faiths) are largely responsible for women’s subjection,since ALL faiths are patriarchal,and those who profess the most extreme iterations of them wish to return women to their previously subordinate roles.

    • It’s true. All fundamentalists try to subject women.

      Since fundamentalists are certain that God is behind them, they are less likely to change and grow, making them more conservative– In fact reactionary (trying to move society back in time) than other segments of society.

  3. Some people claim that burqas decrease libido in men. But…do they? *Really?*
    I would think that burqas would make it even easier for men to get aroused…
    Here’s what I mean by that: When women completely cover up from head to toe, that leaves (some, not all) men constantly wondering what women look like under all those clothes. Which I suppose is natural, right? You want to see if a woman is healthy enough to carry your baby*.
    But that also means that whenever a woman would show even a glimpse of ankle, it would result in instaboner, because you only ever see that much skin in sexual contexts. Whereas, in nudist societies, nudity doesn’t immediately lead to arousal. Because, as this one nudist website said, “we associate nudity with volleyball, not sex.”
    Here’s an excerpt from an interesting text I read, by nudists:

    This makes a lot of sense, the idea that the immense curiosity of the “Forbidden Fruit” would make people more overwhelmed and distracted by sexual desire. Especially since they have the added mental task of mentally undressing the other person.

    Clothing in general carries with it, its own forms of sexual harassment, tbh. Like, I was reading the comments on some Carrie videos, and saw a guy said something like “I wish she would use her powers to take her top off.” (Hahahaahaha. Ha. Not funny.) So, guys will find their own ways to sexually harass even women who are fully-dressed.

    * Which isn’t to say that women don’t also need to check out the physical appearance of their mates – we need to see if they’re strong enough to protect us, hunt for us (evolutionarily), etc. But, in most circumstances, whether or not they’re physically able to hunt, protect us, provide for us, etc, is kinda irrelevant unless they prove that they’re *willing* to do those things for us; so seeing their body is slightly less important, at least in the beginning, until we see what their personality is like. Plus, clothing also provides signals of wealth/status, & those are important, so we’re less likely to try to imagine men nude.

    • Yes, the most sexualized bodies out there are those that are covered by burqas. In Afghanistan under the Taliban every part of a woman’s body is covered because every part of her body has been sexualized.

      I have another piece where I talk about one of my students who lived in Iran right after the revolution, And before Internet and satellite. Every now and then she would pull her scarf back a bit and watch the men go wild over her hair cleavage. I wrote about that in one of my pieces that is constantly in the top 10 most popular: “men aren’t hardwired to find breasts attractive.”

  4. The end of the video offered sound advice, “put yourself in her shoes rather than trying to find ways to blame her.” Maybe Rush should have that tattooed to his forehead.

  5. Women can never have rights to wear what they want!its true..bcoz thoughts of being harrassed outside home is raised in her own family members mind! Now a days to be frank, few girls dont feel safe at home also. They are always objected for the way are dressed!! Not only mens eyes but also few elder women curt words make her feel embarassed. I dont know why if men are shirtless , they are nt objected and when women are in her sexy dresd which she does for herself and not fr anyones attention is pictured wrong! Gushh!! I will keep on n on but really even i feel bad when a girl is raped or harassed and still she is one to be blamed 😦

    • The more patriarchal a culture is the worse it gets. I believe that you are from India, which is more patriarchal than the US. So there are probably more problems with objectification at home. For instance, in the US incest is down 40% compared to the early 1990s when the states were more patriarchal than today. So I think that in the home most girls and young women aren’t nearly as objectified as they once were.

      Thanks for bringing your perspective from another culture. It’s really helpful.

  6. Last year, there was a newspaper article about some misogynist cleric in Toronto who said something with a similar gist. I think this response to the cleric applies very much to Limbaugh (bolding in original):

    I want a law making it legal and mandatory for men who believe they will sexually assault women because of the way they’re dressed, or for those who have violated women for those very reasons, to be given skewers to poke their eyes out.

  7. Congratulations on being nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

  8. He is only driven by fear of change.
    He thinks if men don’t decide on women’s dress, they (men) will lose the privilege of having control on women’s life.

  9. Wow- Glad that this PSA exists. As disturbing as the images were- it is important to not just get the message across but hopefully show people what is going on so they can’t just ignore or deny it. This is clearly collective, overt sexual violence. I find the quote about how extreme modesty can increase objectification fascinating and also troubling because that is the reality of so many women. Such a difficult paradox to have to exist in. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  10. It’s interesting you mentioned that about depression TK. Yeah men go through struggles as well, and I remember in one of my health classes in college, the professor noted that more men commit suicide than women as far as not just thinking but actually doing it. I think 8 times more likely or something like that. I wondered if it was because men are more aggressive, but it might be because or has a lot to do with guys suppress this emotion, whereas, women are socialized to talk things out more which can help their depression more and get better. Whereas, for guys its brews and stays within longer and longer until a breaking point and a clinically depressed man shoots himself in the head.

    • Yes, all of that is true.

      White males, in particular have high suicide rates. Another factor involves extremely high expectations that come with high privilege. Makes it easier to feel like a failure. If a woman raises children, and that’s all she does, she’s done well by society’s standards. Men of color face discrimination, which lowers expectations. So oddly, greater privilege also bestows greater burden for white men. Maybe I’ll write about all this sometime.

  11. You can;t get too riled up with Rush Limbaugh though. He’s just an idiot. He shouldn’t be a radio announcer because he doesn’t really provide much over any other radio hosts. The guy has always been about shock value and I swear he says things just to offend people or cause controversy. That’s been his M.O since forever. He’s said stupid offensive things since he’s been doing radio. He said something racist about Donovan Mcnabb, black qb for the Eagles back in the 2000s which got him fired for his brief tenure at ESPN. He’s said different things, sexist, racist, etc. So people getting riled up by what he says is making him win and means hiw job is working, since he’s always been like this.

  12. That video is terrifying. Being sexually assaulted is my greatest fear. I’ve told people many times, if someone pulls a knife or a gun on me to force me to submit, I will just keep fighting. I’d honestly rather be dead.

    And yet this happens all the time and women go on living. It nearly brings me to tears. I don’t understand why people can’t see women as human or understand that clothing is not an invitation. At the end of the day, it’s not about the skirt or the burka. It’s about whether or not men view women as people or objects.

    • Yes. And I’m also amazed at the lack of empathy, and on so many levels. Somehow it’s so hard for people like Rush to get that women want the same rights he enjoys. Wonder how he’d see things if the tables were turned.

      • What I don’t understand is why some men perpetuate their own stereotype. Rush’s words would imply that a man simply can’t overcome his basic, animalistic instincts when faced with a woman. It’s the kind of stigma that pegs men as monstrous and weak-minded to the point where they can’t help but attack and injure another human being.

        I don’t believe that’s true. I’m just saying there are two stereotypes here. There’s the idea that a woman is at fault for her own attack because of what she wears and there’s the idea that a man is so weak willed that he will attack any women who appears attractive. Both are dangerous ideas and both ideas progress gender inequality.

      • Yes you’re right. Rush’s perspective demeans men as much as it does women. But I don’t think he gets that it demeans men. He’s too busy focusing on putting women down and thinks he creates a sense of male superiority by doing that. Guys who gang rape and then brag about it are doing the same thing. They are really showing how sub-human they are, but their whole focus is on defiling her, and feeling superior to her in that way.

      • I always think of patriarchy as the worship of socially constructed ideas of masculinity. Men who don’t git that standard of masculinity often face their own struggles (although they minor struggles compared to what happens to women).

        I sometimes wonder if that contributes to the idea that ‘nice guys’ can’t attract women. It’s not that they are less than masculine. It’s that women can’t afford to assume any man is that nice right away. Maybe not ever, depending on their experiences. That then taints his kindness as ‘wanting something.’ This is just a theory, though.

        I could go on about this, just because I don’t think it should be ignored. Also, I know men who suffer from depression, which often goes untreated because men are expected to hold in their emotions. They’re expected to not cry. This makes them more susceptible to depression (because they aren’t expressing themselves) and harder to treat (because their symptoms mimic how manly-men are expected to act).

      • You make some interesting points. Something to think about.

  13. Paradigm’s grasp at anything at the end! This form of patriarchy is feeling the loss of control and will do anything to hold onto it. Even going so far as to speak out of both sides of it own mouth.

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