I started listening to the Rush Limbaugh show off and on since around 1993. The Rush Limbaugh show was actually my main vehicle for moving in a more conservative direction socially; the idea of taking responsibility for myself and my future and the goal of improving myself and my performance abilities in general. Rush Limbaugh introduced me to the idea of out-of-wedlock births being a problem; my first awareness that “something was wrong” in terms of how relationships between men and women were working or not working in society overall.
Thinking back to what Rush Limbaugh talked about in 1994 in the lead up to the 1994 Congressional Elections that were later dubbed the Republican Revolution or the Gingrich Revolution I remember Limbaugh would talk about the skyrocketing out-of-wedlock birth ratio and he would rail against welfare complaining about how welfare and Great Society liberal programs were ruining the black family. There was also a brouhaha about Dan Quayle attacking the single mother by choice Murphy Brown character on TV (in a speech delivered on May 19, 1992) as an example of the media advocating for socially destructive behaviors.
The main idea was that welfare subsidized and encouraged out-of-wedlock births by giving financial incentives for women to not marry the father of their children as they would not be eligible for welfare if they were married. The idea that fathers were important for the well being and development of children was also emphasized, out-of-wedlock births being bad because of the absence of the father. Definitely the emphasis was on the troubles of the black family and the black community; it being claimed that welfare was destroying the black community.
Feminism however was never criticized directly. Feminism was attacked based on abortion being immoral; being anti-abortion implicitly being an attack against feminism; but feminism was never criticized on the basis of feminism harming relationships between men and women or feminism harming the family. The premise of gender equality itself was never attacked or questioned. I don’t believe masculinity or femininity was ever brought up. No idea of gender roles, that men and women are different and therefore have different responsibilities and expectations of how they should behave was ever brought up.
I am referring to mainstream conservative talk in the early 1990s here in the lead up to the 1994 Congressional Elections that in retrospect signaled what I am calling the first social conservative backlash; the time when various social indicators suddenly slowed down in their rate of deterioration.
Fast forward some 20 plus years and Rush Limbaugh himself is advocating for men’s rights positions, is echoing what Red Pill manosphere types say about the dating market and the nature of women, and favorably hosts a self-identified “submissive wife” as a caller to his program.
First on the Rush Limbaugh show on July 27, 2017 Limbaugh did a segment he titled “Princeton, Football, and the War on Masculinity.”
Rush Limbaugh quoting from an article in The College Fix titled “Princeton’s new ‘men’s engagement manager’ to combat aggressive masculinity on campus”:
“A new position at [Princeton] indicates campus officials apparently think enough of its male students” are too masculine and “that it warrants hiring a certified clinician dedicated to combating them. The university is in the process of hiring an ‘Interpersonal Violence Clinician and Men’s Engagement Manager’ who will work with a campus office … that’s dedicated to ‘survivors’ of sexual harassment, assault, dating violence and stalking.”
Now Rush Limbaugh giving his own commentary:
“That is meant to encompass pretty much every standard mode of normal male behavior. There has been… Feminism is believed by the unquestioning to be solely about the emancipation of women, the expansion of women’s rights, the attempt to make being a woman equal to being a man, and that’s not at all what it is. Militant feminism — which is what feminism is. There is no moderate strain of it. Militant feminism is essentially a War on Men and the way men naturally are because that is seen as the reason or the explanation for women being unhappy.
So the effort of militant feminists has been actually multifaceted. I mean, they’re trying to change basic human nature, largely because it was so unkind to many of them and because they think that this basic human nature has resulted in them being powerless and discriminated against and “objectified.” All the things that nature makes happen, they are offended by and outraged by — and it manifests itself in screwy ways. You’re not supposed to notice how attractive a woman is.
If you do that, and depending on how vociferous you are about it, you are at the very least a sexist — and at worst, you’re a predator who doesn’t care about anything else about a woman. You don’t care about her brain. You don’t care about her life. All you care about is the “objectified” aspects. This has been… Folks, this has been in the making here for 30 years. I’ve talked to divorced men in this time who have been in custody battles, and one of the most effective ways has been to portray your average, ordinary American father as a barbarian, as a predator, as a person around whom the children are not safe.”
This commentary by Rush Limbaugh matches pretty much exactly what MRA (Men’s Rights Activist) types are inclined to say. What feminists attack as “sexual harassment, assault, dating violence and stalking” Rush Limbaugh says “is meant to encompass pretty much every standard mode of normal male behavior.” Limbaugh characterizes feminism as “essentially a War on Men and the way men naturally are.” Limbaugh even brings up women vilifying their ex-husbands in custody battles to gain an unfair or illegitimate advantage over the man.
Later during the same show (on July 27, 2017) Rush Limbaugh did another segment with the provocative title “Submissive Wife: Attacks on Masculinity Are the Downfall of Society.” The “CALLER” here is Angela in New Iberia, Louisiana; a self-identified “submissive wife” who is 48 years old and has been married for 27 years:
“CALLER: Okay, Rush. I just really feel like this is the downfall of our society because in this day and age, men are not allowed to be real men. Women are not allowed to be feminine. They’re not allowed to take care of their husbands. They’re looked down on if they enjoy doing that. They’re not allowed to be submissive to their husbands, and no one can control the children. The children are basically running everything.”
“RUSH: But there has been a backlash to this. Angela, there are a lot of women — college age and recent graduates — who have grown up and lived under this foolishness, and they don’t want the kind of men that end up being pajama boys. Liberal women do. I mean, those are “real” men to them. But a lot of women are rejecting it. For public consumption is one thing. But when it really matters, they want a man.
RUSH: There’s a dearth of them. You’re right. I’ve seen story after story, women can’t find men. There’s not enough choose from. There’s a shortage of these kind of men. Because men will always do what they think they have to do to attract women.
RUSH: And if the news tells them that you gotta be more like a Pajama Boy and not be masculine, that’s what men will do. They’ll try to act whatever way they think they have to to get women because that’s the pursuit, and that’s how stuff works on men. Of course, you have some men who say, ‘Screw that! I’m gonna keep going. I’m not turn myself into whatever they want in men.’ Those are the men that women actually end up with after experimenting with this liberal playground stuff, and there aren’t very many of them on balance. Because, as I say, men will readily do what they think they have to do to attract women or to be approved by women, whatever.”
“CALLER: I believe that the husband should be the head of the house and responsible for the family, and that the woman should do whatever her husband wants her to do.
RUSH: You know what I’ve always believed? I know that’s biblical, and it’s biblical in a sense of assigning responsibility.
RUSH: It’s not superior status and secondary status.
RUSH: It’s not… The way you mean it is not a put-down of women. The man’s, the husband’s responsibility is X; the wife’s is X.
In this interaction between Rush Limbaugh and Angela from New Iberia, Louisiana Limbaugh is echoing what the Red Pill manosphere types say and he is also supporting and helping to explain the Christian Complementarian position that Angela represents. It is the manosphere types who emphasize that when men treat women in the way that feminists tell men to treat women that women do not find such men attractive. In addition Limbaugh helps to support Angela’s position; explaining that men and women have different roles in a complementary man as head of household relationship, it is not that the man has superior status and the woman has secondary status as Limbaugh puts it.
All in one show Limbaugh advocates for the men’s rights MRA oriented position of defending men from the unfair abusive accusations and manipulation strategies of feminists, then Limbaugh switches gears and advocates some Red Pill manosphere wisdom of what women are really in reality attracted to, then Limbaugh finishes things off with some Christian Complementarian wisdom of the virtues of being a submissive wife where the man and the woman take care of each other.
This is so much better than how things were in the early 1990s; this is a much more concrete practical way of dealing with the problem of feminism. The problems of feminism are actually being recognized and discussed and dealt with. The fact that feminism actually is a problem is being dealt with.
In the early 1990s the problem was “the underclass” and “the black family” and “welfare dependency” but now today the problem is the “war on masculinity” at elite universities, the problem is ordinary (white) men being unfairly attacked and accused by feminists, the problem is that men want to get a date or succeed with women at a basic level and they don’t know how, the problem is the massive (white) opioid epidemic, not the (black) crack epidemic of the late 1980s early 1990s.
The thing is in the early 1990s MRAs were much smaller and more marginal, the Manosphere and the “Red Pill” didn’t exist, and Christian Complementarianism was much smaller and more fringe. To actually criticize the feminist principle of “gender equality” was pretty much unthinkable so vague stuff about how fathers are important to the well being of children was pretty much all there was in the way of trying to attack family breakdown.
Now MRA ideas are so widespread and Manosphere ideas are so widespread and Christian Complementarianism is so widespread that the most popular conservative radio talk show host in the entire country is conversant with and familiar with all of these strains of thought and is willing to incorporate them into the content of his program without apparent fear that he is violating any important taboos in doing so.