A top Democrat is calling on radio stations to stop broadcasting the Rush Limbaugh Show after the conservative radio host made headlines for mocking Ohio State University’s new sexual assault policies, which require students to actively and explicitly agree to sexual activity. On his show on Monday, Limbaugh claimed that requiring affirmative consent is an unreasonable standard because guys know that “no means yes if you know how to spot it.”
In the segment, which was first flagged by Media Matters, Limbaugh claimed that “seduction used to be an art” and college campuses are now making it into something that is considered to be “brutish” and “predatory.” He suggested it’s unrealistic to require students to ask for permission every step of the way during a sexual encounter. “Are these not lawsuits waiting to happen?” the radio host said.
Limbaugh’s critics wasted no time calling for his removal, pointing out that his approach to sexual assault has no place in a society that’s currently grappling with the best way to respond to intimate partner violence and campus rape cases.
“There’s simply no excusing comments of this offensive nature, especially at a time where our country is having a long-overdue conversation about violence against women,” Democratic Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) said in a statement released on Tuesday morning. “Plain and simple — Rush Limbaugh is advocating for the tolerance of sexual assault and should be taken off the air immediately.”
Limbaugh is no stranger to criticism along those lines, especially when it comes to issues of misogyny. In 2012, he infamously called law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” after she advocated for Obamacare’s contraception mandate. He also once said that single mothers are “semen receptacles” and that feminism was created to give ugly women a place in society. Over the past several years, petitions and boycott groups have urged Clear Channel to drop him, to no avail. Limbaugh has also been the subject of an ongoing campaign attempting to convince advertisers to stop supporting his show.
Limbaugh’s critiques of Ohio State’s affirmative consent policy aren’t entirely unusual. After California approved legislation that requires all college campuses to adopt a “yes means yes” standard of consent, critics rushed to argue that it was an over-reaching standard that would essentially “kill the mood” and turn everyone into rapists in the eyes of the law. In reality, affirmative consent simply encourages sexual partners to engage in open and honest communication to ensure they’re both interested in having sex with each other.