by Frank Bruni / nytimes.com
Hussy. Harlot. Hooker.
Floozy. Strumpet. Slut.
When attacking a woman by questioning her sexual mores, there’s a smorgasbord of slurs, and you can take your rancid pick. Help me out here: where are the comparable nouns for men? What’s a male slut?
A role model, in some cases. In others, a presidential candidate.
“Gigolo” doesn’t have the acid or currency of “whore,” and the man with bedpost notches gets compliments. He’s a Casanova, a conquistador.
The lady is a tramp.
Nearly two weeks since Rush Limbaugh let loose on Sandra Fluke, equating her desire for insurance-covered birth control with a prostitute’s demand for a fee, the wrangling over how awful that really was and whether it will truly haunt him continues.
Advertisers bolted in protest; advertisers come and go all the time. It was the beginning of his end; it was ratings chum. He lost his way; he was Rush in Excelsis.
One especially robust strand of commentary has focused on whether Limbaugh, a god of the far right, was smacked down for the kind of thing that less conservative men routinely get away with.