The Left

the Rape Police

Lesbian Farmer?
Rush Limbaugh
Rush Limbaugh
Rush Hudson Limbaugh III; born January 12, 1951, is an American radio talk show host, conservative political commentator, and an opinion leader in American conservatism. | Photo: EIB Network | Rush Limbaugh, Ditto, Conservative, Radio, Extreme, Leather,

Yes, consent really matters

Apparently Rush Limbaugh thinks getting consent before you have sex with someone is a bad thing. Unfortunately he's not alone.

Discussing the "Donald Trump sex-tape scandal" recently, Limbaugh asserted that liberals have a completely insane standard about what's acceptable sexually, because they make consent a must-have:

You know what the magic word, the only thing that matters in American sexual mores today is? One thing. You can do anything, the left will promote and understand and tolerate anything, so long as there is one element. Do you know what it is? Consent. If there is consent on both or all three or all four, however many are involved in the sex act, it's perfectly fine. Whatever it is. But if the left ever senses and smells that there's no consent in part of the equation then here come the rape police. But consent is the magic key to the left.


This is, of course, a variation on an old right-wing theme. Ever since the religious right got going politically, they've been claiming that they're the voice of morality, whereas left-wingers are decadent perverts who believe anything goes and are morally inferior to adulterous hypocrites (as long as they adulterer's a Republican of course). Liberals don't believe in God so they can't possibly be moral (the assumption that liberals are all atheists and that atheists are immoral is another one that crops up a lot on the right).

We can see another variation on this argument in right-wingers defending Trump by claiming liberals are the real sex offenders, tolerating sexy music videos and women showing cleavage. When women walk around looking Like That, they're the really immoral ones, not the man who touches them without consent!

One obvious flaw in this argument is that valuing consent doesn't equate to "nothing else matters." I can think of lots of other stuff that matters, even if both parties consent:

  • One of the couple is married and their spouse expects them to stay faithful.
  • It's consent under pressure, such as to save your job ("I think I can keep you on staff if you're a little … nicer to me.").
  • It's a compromising relationship, such as an attorney and a witness sleeping together and not letting the judge or jury know.
  • One of the people giving consent is, say, ten years old.
  • The person giving consent is too stoned or drunk to know what they're doing.

Plus of course, each person's personal code and taste matters a lot. If someone doesn't want to have sex because they don't feel like it, they don't think God would approve, they're waiting for true love — whatever the reason — that's their call.

I'd think that was obvious, but Limbaugh apparently doesn't see it that way. He's claiming consent doesn't matter at all, that it's outrageous the "rape police" will show up if someone's forced to have sex without consent. What most people would call police investigating a crime, Limbaugh's branding an injustice. And like I said, he's not alone.

The late Phyllis Schlafly, for instant, said consent is irrelevant for spouses: once you tie the knot, you've given consent for sex 24/7 (given Schaffly's long history of anti-feminism, I presume "you" means the woman).

Right-wing pundit Rod Dreher seems to think that clothes can make consent irrelevant: if a woman dresses like a prostitute, she should expect men to treat her like a prostitute (by which he means raping her, not paying her for sex).

Republican politician Tom Smith claimed back in 2012 that as a father he thought whether your daughter was raped or had an illegitimate child, it was a similar situation.

Kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart said she got the same message from abstinence education: once a woman has had sex, she’s no better than a piece of used chewing gum. After Smart's kidnapper raped her, Smart concluded she was now used gum, and worthless to anyone.

I will give Limbaugh points for honesty. Most rape apologists start out with “rape is an awful crime BUT—“ followed by all the reasons they don't think it's an awful crime. Limbaugh's admitting up front he doesn’t give a flying fig about the woman’s consent.

Being honest, however, doesn’t make his views any less repellent. Dismissing consent doesn’t make him a voice for traditional morality, it makes him a voice for rapists.

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Updated Jun 7, 2017 5:46 AM EDT | More details

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