“Know Your Role And Shut Your Mouth”: How Conservative Media Treated Women In 2013

Media Matters looks back at the best of the worst of right-wing media's treatment of women in 2013.

On A Woman's Role

Fox Contributor Erick Erickson: “I Understand That Some Women Believe They Can Have It All, And That's The Crux Of The Problem.” On the May 30 edition of his WSB radio program The Erick Erickson Show, Fox contributor Erickson expressed his views on female breadwinners:

ERICKSON: [T]he subset of children who are raised in a two-parent, nuclear, heterosexual household, children where the father is the one who is the leader of the family, or the breadwinner of the family, however you want to say it, tend to out-perform those where the mother is the primary provider of the family outside of the home. Those are the facts. All I have done is point them out.


I understand the reality that some moms are single moms not by their choice. And I understand that some women believe they can have it all, and that's the crux of the problem. I have to tell you, as a man, where women are told that men have so many more advantages in society, we can't have it all. Women, you can't have it all either. Life is a series of compromises and choices. [WSB, The Erick Erickson Show, 5/30/13]

Fox Host Lou Dobbs: Increase In Female Breadwinners Is “Concerning And Troubling.” On the May 29 edition of his Fox Business show, Lou Dobbs described a Pew Research study that found an increase in female breadwinners as full of “concerning and troubling statistics.” Dobbs said the study was suggestive of “society dissolv[ing] around us.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs, 5/29/13, via Media Matters]

Erickson: “Biology” And “Natural World” Are Evidence That Men Should Be Dominant. On the same episode of Lou Dobbs Tonight, Erick Erickson suggested the recent increase in female breadwinners was unnatural, saying, “When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and female in society, and the other animals, the male typically is the dominant role”:

When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and female in society, and the other animals, the male typically is the dominant role. The female, it's not antithesis, or it's not competing, it's a complementary role. We as people in a smart society have lost the ability to have complimentary relationships in nuclear families, and it's tearing us apart. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 5/29/13, via Media Matters]

Bill Cunningham To Tamara Holder: “Know Your Role And Shut Your Mouth.” On the June 20 edition of Fox News' Hannity, frequent Fox guest and conservative radio host Bill Cunningham shouted down Fox contributor Tamara Holder during a debate saying, “You shut up. Know your role and shut your mouth” and asking if she was “going to cry”:

CUNNINGHAM: Whose finger's in my face right now?

HOLDER: Mine, because I'm telling you to shut up. 

CUNNINGHAM: Wait a minute. You shut up. Know your role and shut your mouth.

HOLDER: My role as a woman?



HOLDER: What is your obsession with stooges? Aren't stooges like little elves?

CUNNINGHAM: I'm sitting next to you. I'm sitting next to you. And you're a liberal stooge and an excuse-monger for the Obama administration.

HOLDER: Never mind. I -

CUNNINGHAM: What are you going to cry?

HOLDER: No! I'm not going to cry.

CUNNINGHAM: You're not going to cry? [Fox News, Hannity, 6/20/13]

WSJ's Taranto: “Female Sexual Freedom” Has Led To A “War On Men.James Taranto, editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, accused “female sexual freedom” of causing a “war on men” during the June 18 edition of WSJ Live's Opinion Journal Live. [Wall Street Journal, Opinion Journal Live, 6/18/13, via Media Matters]

Rush Limbaugh: Feminism Is Rooted In “Sexual Perversion.” On the August 27 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, host Limbaugh said that feminism “is based in what most people would classify as sexual perversion,” later characterizing feminist leadership as “enraged” and “angry.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/27/13, via Media Matters]

On Women In The Workplace

Fox Business Host: “Is There Something About The Female Brain That Is A Deterrent” To Women Being Tech Executives? On the November 18 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co, host Stuart Varney wondered, “Is there something about the female brain that is a deterrent for getting on board with tech?” [Fox Business, Varney & Co, 11/18/13]

Limbaugh Suggested Women's Life Expectancy Is Down Because They're “In The Workplace. On the October 9 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh suggested that a factor in the decline in women's life expectancy is “women in the workplace, enduring the stress that is found there,” adding that women in the workplace was “something that the modern feminazis fought for.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 10/9/13]

Fox's John Stossel: Women Are Paid Less Than Men Because Women “Have Their Priorities In Order.” On Fox & Friends on August 8, Fox Business' John Stossel and co-host Steve Doocy discussed the gender pay gap. While admitting that women are in fact paid 77 cents for each dollar men make, Stossel claimed that the discrepancy is because “we don't work the same jobs.” Stossel went on to say “women have their priorities in order. They often choose jobs that are less time-consuming, not so far away, and not as dangerous.” He concluded that if a true pay gap existed, the market would have sorted it out. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/3/13, via Media Matters]

Fox Host Steve Doocy: “So That Is A Myth, That Men Get Paid More Than Women.” During the same Fox & Friends segment, Doocy asked Stossel if the differences between boys and girls are so clear, “why are the feminists still pushing gender equality?” After Stossel argued that there is no true gender pay gap because women work “less time-consuming” jobs, Doocy agreed saying, “So that is a myth, that men get paid more than women.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/3/13, via Media Matters]

Fox Host Tantaros Suggested Feminism Encouraged Teacher To Have Sex With Underage Student. On the January 22 edition of The Five, co-host Andrea Tantaros suggested that feminism encouraged a female teacher to have sex with an underage male student, saying, “There's something about feminism that lets them know, I can do everything that a man does. I can even go after that young boy. I deserve it. 40 is the new 50, yeah.” She added: “It's turning women into sexualized freaks.” [Fox News, The Five, 1/22/13]

Limbaugh: Women In Military Should Synchronize Menstrual Cycles So They'd Be “Ready To Be Banshees” On the November 22 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh repeated his call for an all-woman military battalion, saying, “What we would want to do is put an all-female barracks so that the menstrual cycle -- what's the word -- synchronizes so that we'd be guaranteed at all times a combat-ready battalion of women ready to be banshees.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/22/13]

On Sexual Harassment And Rape

Limbaugh: Men Should Avoid Sexual Harassment Accusation By Asking Women “Will You Please Ask Your Breasts To Stop Staring At My Eyes?” On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh offered his “suggestion” to avoid being accused of sexual harassment: “You walk up to the woman and say, 'Will you please ask your breasts to stop staring at my eyes?'” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show12/9/13]

Limbaugh Cracks Up At Notion Of Marital Rape. Rush Limbaugh took material for his November 26 radio program from “satire” blog Diversity Chronicles, choking down laughter while reading a post that mocked the notion of marital rape and explaining, “this is a website that does satire on how white men are blamed for everything.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show11/26/13, via Media Matters]

WSJ's Taranto Says Of Alleged Domestic Assault: George Zimmerman Simply “Guilty Of Being Male.” After George Zimmerman allegedly threatened his estranged wife with violence, James Taranto tweeted that Zimmerman was “guilty of being male”: 

Taranto Tweet

[Twitter.com, 9/10/13, via Media Matters]

Limbaugh: “Most Women Actually Are Intrigued By” Sexual Objectification. On the December 13 edition of his radio program, Rush Limbaugh defended street harassment of women, claiming “most women actually are intrigued by” sexual objectification. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show12/13/13]

Washington Post's Richard Cohen Calls Steubenville Rape A “Manhandling.” In a September 2 op-ed, Washington Post's Richard Cohen stressed that “the first thing you should know about the so-called Steubenville Rape is that this was not a rape involving intercourse.” Cohen further downplayed the rape by saying the victim was “stripped and manhandled,” and never definitively acknowledged that the assault amounted to rape. [Washington Post9/2/13, via Media Matters]

WSJ's Taranto: Efforts To Mitigate Military Sexual Assault Equate To Criminalizing Male Sexuality.  In the Wall Street Journal, Taranto claimed that Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-MO) efforts to address the problem of sexual assault in the military showed “signs of becoming an effort to criminalize male sexuality.” [Wall Street Journal6/18/13, via Media Matters]

Washington Times Op-Ed: Focus On Military Sexual Assault Makes Women “Weaklings.” The Washington Times published an op-ed calling an effort to curb sexual assault in the military “emasculat[ing]” and claimed “it serves to objectify women, not as sexual objects but as weaklings who have no place in the military.” [Washington Times11/17/13, via Media Matters]

Bill Kristol: Military Sexual Assault Increases Are A “Pseudo-Crisis.” Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol wrote an op-ed in which he called military sexual assault a “pseudo-crisis” and claimed that Republican support of legislation intended to curb sexual assault in the military was an “effort to placate the forces of left-wing legalism and feminist political correctness.” [The Weekly Standard7/18/13, via Media Matters]

Limbaugh Compares Filibuster Reform To Vote To “Allow Women To Be Raped.” On the November 22 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh explained an effort to reform the filibuster system for certain types of executive nominees by comparing it to a hypothetical vote for a rule that allows women to be raped:

LIMBAUGH: Let's forget the Senate for a minute. Let's say, let's take 10 people in a room and they're a group. And the room is made up of six men and four women. OK? The group has a rule that the men cannot rape the women. The group also has a rule that says any rule that will be changed must require six votes, of the 10, to change the rule. Every now and then, some lunatic in the group proposes to change the rule to allow women to be raped. But they never were able to get six votes for it. There were always the four women voting against it and they always found two guys. Well, the guy that kept proposing that women be raped finally got tired of it, and he was in the majority and he was one that [said], 'You know what? We're going to change the rule. Now all we need is five." And well, 'you can't do that.' 'Yes we are. We're the majority. We're changing the rule.' And then they vote. Can the women be raped? Well, all it would take, then, is half of the room. You can change the rule to say three. You can change the rule to say three people want it, it's going to happen. There's no rule. When the majority can change the rules, there aren't any. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/22/13]

On Women Who Need And Advocate For Safe And Legal Abortion

Fox Contributor Erickson Labeled Wendy Davis “Abortion Barbie.” On his Twitter page, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson called Texas State Senator Wendy Davis “Abortion Barbie” after  Weekly Standard attacked her for not responding to a question that linked legal abortion to the crimes of doctor and convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell:

Erickson Tweet
[Twitter, 8/6/13, via Media Matters

Limbaugh: Democrats Are Turning Women “Into Nothing But Abortion Machines.”  On November 6, Rush Limbaugh claimed that Democrats are “demeaning” women and “turning them into nothing but abortion machines.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show11/6/13

Limbaugh To Caller: “You Know How To Stop Abortion? Require That Each One Occur With A Gun.” On the January 16 edition of his show, Limbaugh suggested to a caller that a way to curb abortion would be requiring “that each one occur with a gun.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show1/16/13]

Fox's Erickson Directed Liberals To Coat Hanger Sales Site After Texas Passed Restrictive Abortion Bill. Shortly after the Texas Senate passed legislation that drastically restricts abortion rights in that state, Fox News contributor Erick Erickson took to Twitter to urge liberals to bookmark a website that sells coat hangers:

Erickson Tweet 2

[Twitter.com, 7/12/13, via Media Matters]

On Hillary Clinton

Wash. Times' Pruden: Unlike A Man Her Age, Hillary Clinton “Is Getting Past Her Sell-By Date.”  The Washington Times' Wesley Pruden claimed that Hillary Clinton's age is “not particularly old for a man” but “a woman in public life is getting past her sell-by date”:

Will she or won't she? Not even her hairdresser, who is only called in occasionally, knows for sure. But the lady knows how to keep everyone guessing. Only her roots are showing.


But what do they actually know? Hillary would be 69 on Inauguration Day 2017, not particularly old for a man not out of sight of his prime, but a woman in public life is getting past her sell-by date at 69. John F. Kennedy, who never had to grow old, got it right when he famously remarked that “life is unfair.” A second failed race for president would not be much of a capstone for a distinguished career in politics, and life at the hearth with Bubba and the dogs would be more rewarding than indulging the parasites of another campaign. [Washington Times9/24/13, via Media Matters]

Limbaugh On Actress  Diane Lane Playing Clinton: "I Don't Know If She Can Fill Out Those Pantsuits." During his July 30 program, Rush Limbaugh spoke about a since-cancelled NBC special on Hillary Clinton in which actress Diane Lane was slated to play Clinton. Limbaugh stated, “Diane Lane is going to star as Hillary in one of them. And my question remains -- I just saw a picture of her. And I don't know if she can fill out those pantsuits. I've said, I've said repeatedly -- this is the kind of stuff coming up, by the way, that the 24-year-old girls just hate - that Hillary is just like all the other guys. She puts her pants on one leg at a time.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show7/30/13]

Limbaugh: Lane Will Have To Wear “Prosthetics” To “Fill Out A Pantsuit The Way Hillary Fills Out A Pantsuit.” On the July 29 edition of his radio program, Limbaugh said of Lane playing the role of Clinton: “I don't know if she's got the legs to pull this off, if she can fill out a pantsuit the way Hillary fills out a pantsuit. Well I know, you know, that's a good point -- there are prosthetics that can be used and makeup. I should have thought of that. OK. Never mind.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show7/29/13]

Fox Regular Chris Plante: “Personally I Would Cast Philip Seymour Hoffman To Play Hillary Clinton.” Radio talk show host and frequent Fox guest Chris Plante appeared on America Live to discuss the upcoming miniseries, where he asserted, “Casting Diane Lane as, the lovely Diane Lane, as Hillary Clinton is enough of a tip-off as to where this is going to go. Personally I would cast Philip Seymour Hoffman to play Hillary Clinton.” Guest host Shannon Bream interjected and told Plante, “No, no,” but he continued: “I mean, this is like casting Angelina Jolie to play Monica Lewinsky or something.” [Fox News, America Live7/30/13]

On Women As A Pejorative

Fox's Erickson Likens Republicans To Female Genitalia.  In a September 17 post on his blog RedState, Erick Erickson attacked the GOP for not defunding Obamacare, comparing the political party to female genitalia (emphasis added):

More Americans oppose Obamacare now than at any time. As rhetoric on defunding Obamacare has gone up, so has Republican popularity and opposition to Obamacare. A full quarter of the American public wants Congress to actually blow up Obamacare. When is the last time a full quarter of the whole population wanted Congress to do any one thing?

More than half want Obamacare either destroyed or substantially changed.

But the GOP, its allies in the press and pundit core, and its very leadership are such [insert euphemism of choice related to the female reproductive system] that they'd rather plan their surrender before making their retreat. [RedState, 9/17/13, via Media Matters]

Rush: NFL Wearing Pink For Breast Cancer Proves There's A National Assault On Masculinity. Rush Limbaugh claimed there is a national assault on masculinity, asserting that “you don't put the NFL in pink for a month otherwise.” Limbaugh later added that “the chickification of everything is taking place.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show10/24/13]

Fox Host Cites Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign As Evidence Of “Feminized” NFL. Andrea Tantaros, co-host of Fox's The Five, mentioned the NFL's breast cancer awareness campaign as evidence that the league is more “feminized,” claiming “The NFL, I understand they're under fire -- they've got their guys wearing the pink cleats, they've got the Ravens talking Obamacare, it's a more feminized, softer NFL.” [Fox News, The Five12/3/13]

Limbaugh: Use Of Concussion-Preventing Technology In NFL Proves “Everything In Our Culture Is Being Chickified.” Rush Limbaugh claimed that concussion-preventing technology in the NFL was evidence that “everything in our culture is being chickified.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show8/12/13]

Fox's Eric Bolling On Girls Playing Football: “This Is More Of The Wussification Of American Men.” The Five co-host Eric Bolling used a story about a young girl wanting to play on a football team to lament that “this is more of the wussification of American men.” [Fox News, The Five6/27/13]

But Wait, There's More

Daily Caller Reviews CNN's Crossfire By Launching Sexist Attacks At Co-Host Stephanie Cutter. In a review of CNN's newly resurrected debate show Crossfire, Daily Caller reporter Patrick Howley made several sexist attacks on co-host Stephanie Cutter. He described her as “makeup-coated,” saying, “A loathsome creature like Stephanie Cutter, the roots jutting out from her blonde dye job as black as the recesses of her soul.” Howley went on:

She is Carrie Bradshaw without the literacy, Chelsea Handler without the punch lines, Kirsten Powers without the prettiness, gorging her face with the spoils of ill-gotten first-world privilege.


Why? On behalf of every cute, shy, intelligent young woman rejected by sororities at the fuchsia nails of clipboard-toting middle managers like Cutter, we ask, 'why?' On behalf of every hardworking man forced to report to vaguely qualified female 'corporate consultants' in a post-Anita Hill world, we ask, 'why?' [The Daily Caller9/9/13]  

On Hannity, Bill Cunningham Calls Tamara Holder A “Farrah Fawcett Wannabe.” Bill Cunningham focused on Tamara Holder's appearance on the September 19 edition of Hannity, saying, “you don't look like a Catholic girl to me.” When Holder asked what she looked like, Cunningham said, “A Farrah Fawcett wannabe.” [Fox News, Hannity9/19/13]

Limbaugh: “Unmarried Women Are Looking At Government For Everything.” On the November 7 edition of his show, Rush Limbaugh referenced the fact that Democrat Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Ken Cucinelli among unmarried women in the Virginia governor's race. Limbaugh took the opportunity to assert that “unmarried women are looking at government for everything.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show11/7/13]

Fox & Friends Spends More Than 13 Minutes Questioning Women's Driving Abilities. The May 1 edition of Fox & Friends spent more than 13 minutes of airtime questioning whether women can drive or park well, including a “park-off” pitting male and female hosts against each other in a “battle of the sexes.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/1/13, via Media Matters