Too little, too late.
On his HBO show Friday, Bill Maher made up some crap to make Sarah Palin look bad and tacked on a rather offensive term at the end: “Did you hear this – Sarah Palin finally heard what happened in Japan and she’s demanding that we invade ‘Tsunami.’ I mean she said, ‘These ‘Tsunamians’ will not get away with this.’ Oh speaking of dumb twats, did you…”
Thru most of Tuesday, the National Organization for Women (NOW) refused to comment on Maher’s use of the derogatory term. A rep even told FOXNews.com it is a “known fact” that NOW does not correspond with FOX News to explain their silence on the subject.
Later Tuesday when it was not just FOX News they were ignoring, it was also their own membership along with every other news agency on the planet, NOW finally decided to step up and say something. Unfortunately, they didn’t actually chastise Maher or his specific insult, they didn’t mention his show or HBO, hell they didn’t even mention Maher at all:
NOW communications director Lisa Bennett changed the organization’s tune later in the day, writing on a NOW blog: “Listen, supposedly progressive men (ok, and women, too): Cut the crap! Stop degrading women with whom you disagree and/or don’t like by using female body terms or other gender-associated slurs.”
She also chastised the press for bothering NOW with questions about derogatory language toward women
“You’re trying to take up our time getting us to defend your friend, Sarah Palin. If you keep us busy defending her, we have less time to defend women’s bodies from the onslaught of reproductive rights attacks and other threats to our freedom, safety, livelihood, etc,” wrote Bennett. “Sorry, but we can’t defend Palin or even Hillary Clinton from every sexist insult hurled at them in the media. That task would be impossible, and it would consume us. You know this would not be a productive way to fight for women’s equal rights, which is why you want us stuck in this morass.”
Sticking up for well known American women that have been publicly defamed on national television is not a “productive way to fight for women’s equal rights?” Wouldn’t that actually be one of the most productive ways to quickly and easily draw the most attention to the problem and condemn it all at the same time? Or is it just that she’s a conservative? Nope, says Lisa, who prefaced her comments with a warning shot — “we are on to you, right-wingers” (apparently it’s only conservatives who care about the use of the term?) — and then said:
As usual, you’re looking for any way to discredit NOW. You claim we care and work only for liberal woman, but that’s a LIE. We have defended Sarah Palin and other conservative women from sexist attacks. Maybe not on your schedule, but we’ve done so. And by the way, all those laws we advocate for — we don’t ask that they include a clause saying only certified liberal women can benefit from them. Conservative women benefit from them, too! Just because we don’t open up a Palin wing on the NOW website doesn’t mean we don’t think that every single woman — right, left and in-between — deserves equal pay, full reproductive rights, justice in the courts, etc. So knock off the facetious whining that right-wing women are not represented by NOW’s work.
Well, that sets my mind at ease, Lisa.
Tell me, Lisa … if Bill Maher (or anyone, for that matter) had made that same statement about, say, Michelle Obama, how loud would you be screaming? Would your condemnation include his/her name and the name of their show? Would it include a specific rebuke? Would your chastisement happen in a timely manner or would it take four days to materialize?
Since Maher, “Real Time,” and HBO weren’t even mentioned in Lisa”s condemnation of this event, there is absolutely no negative consequence for him, his program, or the network that airs it. As such, there’s no reason for him to stop what he’s doing, and no reason for HBO to tell him to.
As Jack Marshall writes on Ethics Alarms:
If he thinks it is OK to call Sarah Palin a dumb twat, then the only thing stopping him from calling Michelle Obama, or Hillary Clinton or my sister or your mother a twat is that he likes her or doesn’t know her. This is anti-woman rhetoric, no question about it. Even bitch, which is sufficient to sustain a claim of sexual harassment in the workplace when used by a man to describe a woman, is less denigrating than twat…and Maher knows it. The question is, will the feminists let him get away with it?
And not just the feminists. Calling a woman a twat as a means of political criticism should offend Andrew Sullivan, because it is no different from calling a gay public figure a fag. Calling a woman a twat should outrage Al Sharpton, because it is the equivalent of calling a black public figure a nigger. Are these men, both previous guests on Maher’s show, going to endorse his brand of hateful, humiliating discourse because Maher endorses their politics? If the dedication of progressives to civility and their rejection of misogyny and hate are suspended for Sarah Palin, they have no integrity.
Bill Maher needs to be held accountable. Until he is, any guest, from any part of the political spectrum, who agrees to discuss politics with a man who calls women..or any women– twats on HBO is enabling hate and incivility.
I’m with Jack: from now on, I’m taking names.
FOX News: NOW mum | NOW responds