Another week, another inappropriate Rush Limbaugh comment. Yesterday on his radio show, the conservative talk show host was discussing the hot topic of the day: TSA airport pat-downs. “Do you know when Obama went swimming with his daughter to show it was safe, during the oil spill?” He asked. “How about taking his daughter through [an airport] screening? How about Obama take [sic] his daughter to the airport and have a TSA grope her (emphasis mine), go through the exact routine with Obama’s daughter that everybody’s else’s daughter goes through, just to show it’s safe for everybody. Like he did in the Gulf with the oil spill.” Ew!
Oh, but it gets worse: Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, also weighed in on “Fox News” with creepy comments about pat-downs on the bodies of the women in the First Family…
Huckabee was sounding off on balancing security and privacy. “OK, Mr. Obama, take your wife, your two daughters and your mother-in-law to Washington Reagan National Airport and have them publicly go through both the body scanner and the full enhanced pat-down in front of others,’” Huckabee said. “If it’s OK for your wife, your daughters, and your mother-in-law, then maybe the rest of us won’t feel so bad when our wives, our daughters and our mothers are being put through this humiliating and degrading, totally unconstitutional, intrusion of their privacy.’”
First of all, Rush, you do not talk say the word “grope” and talk about someone’s tween daughter in the same sentence.
Second of all, Huckabee, let me get this straight: TSA patdown screenings might not just be wrong because they are invasions of our privacy, they might be wrong because they are touching the women in your lives? Someone’s got a case of “Oh noes, we have to protect the womenfolk!”
And finally, I thought it was conservatives like Limbaugh and Huckabee who were really into super-enhanced national security measures. Now the TSA airport screenings are “unconstitutional”? I am so confused. (I’m not being smart-alecky here. I really am confused.)
In addition to talking about groping daughters and wives being just plain gross, it is 100 percent not necessary to bring anyone’s gender into the TSA pat-downs discussion. Doing so is just a ploy to make people emotionally react to the idea of defending a woman’s honor (i.e., that men/boys are responsible for the dignity/sanctity of women/girls’ bodies). Both Rush Limbaugh’s comment that Obama should take his daughter to get “groped” — not Obama himself mind you, but his daughter — and Mike Huckabees comments about patting-down Obama’s wife, daughter and mother-in-law are perfect examples of this.
One very convincing blogger has made the argument that these equations of TSA pat-downs and getting “groped” are being blended together inappropriately and insensitively. Women and girls, after all, get touched/fondled/groped/leered at by creepers every single day on subways, buses, in the supermarket, the elevator, etc. Sometimes it’s just obnoxious, sometimes its just straight-up sexual assault. But all of sudden when men (or women who are lucky enough to have never experienced being groped) don’t like being touched by strangers, it’s a big to-do. Wait, it wasn’t wrong when it happened out in public to people before this? Writes blogger Lindsay Beyerstein at Big Think:
“I sympathize with everyone who’s being screened or groped against their will, but there is some irony here. When male bodily autonomy is challenged, it’s a social emergency! A man’s junk is his castle. What did our ancestors fight and die for if not the right of the penis to be left alone?”
While I, too, am sympathetic to anyone of any gender who does not want a airport pat-down, I don’t think we should act like it’s a violation akin to having some guy with his wang out on the subway.
Thankfully this holiday season I am only driving to Connecticut, so the only person I will be getting a patdown from is my boyfriend. To the rest of you, good luck!