Offender: Rush Limbaugh on the Rush Limbaugh Radio Show
Media Outlet: Aired on radio stations nationwide 6/17/09 – syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications
The Offense: Radio host Rush Limbaugh mocks and belittles Sonia Sotomayor’s participation in a women’s Club – the Belizean Grove – which she recently left as a result of pressure from those opposed to the “discrimination” inherent in a woman-centric group: “I think I’m going to send Sotomayor, and her club, a bunch of vacuum cleaners to help them clean up after their meetings.”
NOW’s Analysis: This infamous radical right radio host has as much experience doling out sexism and racism as Sotomayor has facing the brunt of them.
Limbaugh glosses over the obvious disparity between women’s support groups and men’s exclusion groups with a crude and violent baby seal clubbing analogy. Aside from the fact that Sotomayor has explicitly demonstrated that the Belizean Grove is open and welcoming to men who do approach the group, there is literally no comparison between women’s groups and men’s groups. The “good ol’ boys club” Limbaugh refers to is a longstanding tradition of systematically excluding women from the upper echelons of business, corporate, and government organizations. Clubs like the Belizean Grove, on the other hand, act as a support network for women striving for the recognition they deserve in male-dominated fields.
Though Limbaugh’s rant focuses mainly on the injustice of Sotomayor’s participation in the club—he even mockingly refers to her as a “model of diversity and inclusion”—the real insult comes at the very end of his segment, when he says, “I think I’m going to send Sotomayor, and her club, a bunch of vacuum cleaners to help them clean up after their meetings.”
This remark clearly intends to belittle the Belizean Grove, and Sotomayor herself, and serves as a pathetic attempt to put these women back in their place, demoting them from successful, powerful business associates to mere vacuum operators. The implication here is that women should be definitionally house-ridden, an especially heinous concept when coupled with Sotomayor’s Puerto Rican heritage and stereotypes about Latina cleaning women.
Take Action: Tell Kraig T. Kitchin, President and Chief Operating Officer of Premiere Radio Networks, what you think about Rush Limbaugh’s sexist, racist comments.
Jess Hobbs, NOW Communications Team