Why I’m Proud Of My Jesuit Alma Mater

Since Friday, my Facebook newsfeed has been filled with exhortations to “Flush Rush [Limbaugh]” in response to his sexist attack on Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke for recently testifying in favor of federally mandated insurance coverage for contraceptives before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on women’s health and contraception. I, like so many other decent citizens and residents of this country, would be more than happy to.

More than a handful of corporate sponsors have already done so by withdrawing their support  from the conservative shock jock’s radio show. The disgust was felt even at the highest levels of government, with President Obama himself calling Fluke to offer his support and to thank her for speaking out about the concerns of American women.

I, like just about everyone else, have been following all of this because I care about healthcare legislation, women’s rights, and about the enraging erosion of civil—or should I now refer to it as uncivil—discourse. But I have an additional connection to the story in that I, too, was once a young woman studying at Georgetown University, a top-tier Jesuit institution of higher learning. Not everyone may be aware of the statements made by Georgetown’s leaders on this matter, so I want to make sure to share them here with The Sisterhood’s readers.

The media has repeatedly reported the vicious accusations Limbaugh made against Fluke. First he called her a “slut” and a “prostitute.” He also said, “She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception.” Aside from showing his predilection for bashing women, this also indicates his apparent lack of knowledge of how female prescription contraception works. (And in the same vein, Limbaugh’s ally Bill O’Reilly doesn’t seem to know how sex works. He called sex a “women’s activity.” As far as I am aware, for around 90% of people, there’s a man concurrently involved in said activity, as well.) Then Limbaugh doubled down and told Fluke and her friends that he wanted them to post online videos of them having sex, because “if we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it.”

As an alumna of Georgetown, I am extremely proud that it came forward to swiftly and forcefully denounce this deplorable slut shaming. Georgetown’s president John DeGioia stated,

[Fluke] was respectful, sincere, and spoke with conviction. She provided a model of civil discourse. This expression of conscience was in the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people. One need not agree with her substantive position to support her right to respectful free expression. And yet, some of those who disagreed with her position – including Rush Limbaugh and commentators throughout the blogosphere and in various other media channels – responded with behavior that can only be described as misogynistic, vitriolic, and a misrepresentation of the position of our student.

And Georgetown University Law Center’s dean, William M. Treanor issued this statement, which was signed by approximately 500 professors from Georgetown and other law schools:

The undersigned faculty members, administrators and students of Georgetown University Law Center and other law schools strongly condemn the recent personal attacks on our student, Sandra Fluke. Ms. Fluke has had the courage to publicly defend and advocate for her beliefs about an important issue of widespread concern. She has done so with passion and intelligence. And she has been rewarded with the basest sort of name-calling and vilification, words that aim only to belittle and intimidate. As scholars and teachers who aim to train public-spirited lawyers, no matter what their politics, to engage intelligently and meaningfully with the world, we abhor these attacks on Ms. Fluke and applaud her strength and grace in the face of them.

I, like Fluke, can recount stories of fellow female Georgetown students who suffered serious —and permanently life altering—consequences because of the lack of access to affordable contraceptives through the university’s healthcare insurance program. I do not support the Catholic Church’s position on birth control. I do, however, wholeheartedly support my Catholic alma mater for its support of Sandra Fluke.

Hoya Saxa!

© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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One Response to “Why I’m Proud Of My Jesuit Alma Mater”

  1. Alan Says:

    You are extremely naive. Ms. Flukes testimony is political and has little to do with contraception and even less to do with women’s health rights. You miss the point of Mr. Limbaugh’s commentary, it was not an attack on miss Fluke it was to illustrate the absurdity of her position and the claim that this is an issue for most women. Leaving the fact that she goes to Georgetown University and should be “living Jesuit values” aside, she has inserted herself into the political dialogue. The fact that she is now somehow a martyr or victim is laughable. She is just one more useful idiot in the liberal march to control all aspects of society, including the church. The sad truth is that if contraception does become free through Obama care it will eventually become both more expensive and less available, as happens to any government controlled item. You must have missed the point of your Jesuit education, as you clearly have trouble with critical thinking skills.

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