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Larry Womack

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What the Beyoncé Farce Tells Us About Rush Limbaugh (Seriously)

Posted: 03/21/2013 8:19 am

This Sunday, Beyoncé released a snippet of (what we think are) two new tracks. The verse released from "Bow Down" goes like this:

I know when you were little girls / You dreamt of being in my world / Don't forget it, don't forget it / Respect that, bow down bitches / I took some time to live my life / But don't think I'm just his little wife / Don't get it twisted, get it twisted / This my shit, bow down bitches

This would be summarized by most to mean something like, "Yes, I'm now a married mother and I took a little time off, but I'm back, I'm still the Queen B, and you new girls can bow down to me."

But Rush Limbaugh is not most men. With liberal use of the word "bitches" in place of "women," Limbaugh explained to listeners that, "She got married, she married the rich guy, she now understands -- she now understands it's worth it to bow down."

Yeah. Based on those lyrics, Rush Limbaugh took away that women eventually come to understand that they should submit to rich husbands. Go ahead, give them another look and see if you can find any of that in there. I did notice something about being "his little wife," but, uh... My reading of that line was just a wee bit different from Mr. Limbaugh's.

He bolsters his case by mentioning the name of her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour -- which is also hilarious, given the fact that her husband took her last name, too, when they married.

Tomorrow, he'll play this off as satire, a joke. Dittoheads might even buy it. Well, maybe dittoheads who have never heard of Beyoncé, so... like seven dittoheads will believe it. He'll believe they all believe it, and that's the important thing.

Sure, we can and should laugh at Limbaugh, as we so often have in the past. But we should also take this seriously as the unique and revealing glimpse into his psyche that it is.

After all, this incident wouldn't have happened if conservative media's most successful voice wasn't so removed from our culture that he couldn't wrap his head around Beyoncé lyrics. Beyoncé' is too "urban" for this man. Beyoncé. I honestly thought we'd never top those crazy crackers who thought that Nicki Minaj had endorsed Mitt Romney by saying she was rich. Yet, here we are. This is a very bad omen for anyone who hopes that the party of this guy might ever become the least bit inclusive or cool.

It is also further evidence that Limbaugh doesn't bother to research the things he blathers about. Like, at all. Not that we needed it. In this case, he clearly hadn't read the Telegraph piece his fantasies referred to. Or, if he had, the incident betrayed a serious reading comprehension problem. After all, the writer of that piece seemed pretty concerned about the use of the word "bitch" in the very same manner Limbaugh dropped it ad nauseum.

To let this happen, one imagines Limbaugh's staff has to be fairly incompetent. He must like it that way. He is obviously a powerful enough man in his field. He could have the best staff his money and reference can buy. I guess if Limbaugh expects his listeners to operate in an information bubble, he feels that he should, too.

But mostly, it tells us a little bit more about what Limbaugh thinks about women.

It takes a certain level of sexism (or total cultural ignorance,) to think that "bitches" in this context means "all women," or "married women," rather than "performers I am superior to." I certainly understand that people find the word problematic and anti-feminist and as such could be harmful to all women, as the Telegraph piece indicated. There's just no denying that it has traditionally been used to attack women. But I don't think anyone out there -- save Rush Limbaugh -- thinks that the "bitches" instructed to "Bow Down" are all women or all married women.

It's worse than that, actually. Limbaugh doesn't just assume that's what it means. He assumes that's what it means when coming from Beyoncé, a married woman of color. One might argue that her choice of husband doesn't help, but projecting a husband's views onto his wife isn't exactly less sexist. And in case you forgot that Beyoncé is black and creole, Limbaugh worked in a "be-otch" as a reminder. In the end, I have a really hard time believing that if Madonna or Katy Perry or any other white pop star had used the word the same way, he would have blindly associated it with the sort of misogyny that has long plagued rap.

Or maybe he would. After all, this all comes down to the fact that Limbaugh seems to think that women are worth so little that even Beyoncé needs a man to provide for her.

Don't get me wrong. Jay-Z has money. More money than Beyoncé, even -- but not that much. And without him, she'd still have a cool $300,000,000 to fall back on, because, you know, she depends on her (if she wants it).

And it is difficult to shake the impression that Limbaugh, who is worth $50,000,000 more than Beyoncé and is on wife number four, believes that women should realize that they need to "bow down" to a man with money. I wonder if it has ever occurred to him that maybe -- just maybe -- this doesn't work, because women know that they'll still have a good chunk of that money when they divorce him. Some more jaded than I might even wonder if some of his wives have in fact used him for the wealth to which he expects them to "bow down."

I wish him a long and happy fourth marriage, of course. I don't hold him in particularly high regard, but the man is still a human being and it's not like he's a serial killer or con man who robbed little old ladies of their life savings. But I also hope that if this marriage does end like the three before, his outgoing wife offers him a little advice: bow down, bitch.

 
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