Hustler has caused a squall by publishing an image of conservative pundit S.E. Cupp with a Photoshopped penis in her mouth. Conservatives and liberals alike are sounding off on the magazine for misogyny, but Cupp has said the protest isn’t loud enough. Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler, says it is too loud.
The headline on the Hustler piece poses the question, “What Would S.E. Cupp Look Like With a Dick in Her Mouth?” The magazine goes on to criticize Cupp, a conservative columnist for The New York Daily News and author of the book Why You’re Wrong About the Right, for her political views. “Her hotness is diminished,” the magazine says, “when she espouses dumb ideas like defunding Planned Parenthood.”
The Women’s Media Center swiftly denounced the magazine, launching an online petition at change.org in protest of the piece. The advocacy group said in a statement that while it does not always agree with Cupp’s views, Hustler “seeks to deny her participation in public dialogue entirely, in a way that crosses all boundaries of taste and conscience.”
Flynt, the Hustler publisher, told The Daily Beast, “As the result of our publishing an ad parody of political pundit S.E. Cupp that depicted her having oral sex, the prudish and delusional right wing has accused me and my magazine of being sexist and waging a war on women. That’s absurd. The picture was clearly labeled as satire. It was intended as humorous commentary about her politics. We stated that no such image of Ms. Cupp actually exists. Secondly, the feature, which we run every month, has previously depicted such male luminaries as Mario Cuomo, Dan Rather and, most recently, my friend Bill Maher. How misogynistic or sexist is that?”
Flynt said he is protected by “free speech as decided by unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in 1988, Flynt v. Falwell,” referring to a lawsuit filed by minister Jerry Falwell when Hustler published a parody saying Falwell had lost his virginity to his mother in an outhouse. “So critics, get a life,” Flynt said. “Find another horse to beat. We don’t know anything about Ms. Cupp’s personal life, but we do know that oral sex is practiced by the majority of adult Americans, both male and female. The fact that the picture of Ms. Cupp has generated so much flap says more about the sexual repression of the American people than it does anything else. Oral sex is a normal and healthy practice.”
Gloria Steinem, cofounder of the Women’s Media Center, stood by Cupp, saying in a statement, “As another of the countless women who have been attacked, defamed, and endangered by Larry Flynt and Hustler over the years, I am proud to stand with S.E. Cupp and defend her right to free speech and respect. One has only to look at Flynt's record of woman-hatred...to see that the only thing more damaging than Flynt's hatred would be his approval.”
The Planned Parenthood Action Fund tweeted its protest, saying “sexist attacks” against women like Cupp and Sandra Fluke—the Georgetown student targeted by Rush Limbaugh for saying contraceptives should be covered by insurance—are “disgraceful and cannot be tolerated.”
Fluke also tweeted a response, calling the depiction “so offensive.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America weighed in as well, with Jen Ray, executive vice president of the advocacy group, calling the image "offensive" and saying it is "a reminder that we all must work to ensure that women who take part it in the political process are not characterized in such demeaning ways."
“The National Organization for Women, NOW, will not come out and say, ‘Liberal women deserve more respect, and we are not going to defend conservative women.’ They are not going to admit to that,” Cupp said. “You have to wonder if they had done this to somebody like Nancy Pelosi or Michelle Obama, would that stand? Would no one make a stink about it? I have to think they would.”
NOW, which has not made a statement on the matter, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cupp also did not immediately respond to a request for comment. She told Beck she had “never seen anything this disturbing and graphic” as the Hustler image.
Then she thanked Hustler.
“If I can just express a little gratitude for Hustler—and I’m completely serious here—there is an accompanying sidebar to this story, in which they lay out why they did this to me. It’s under a hundred words, and in that paragraph they say, ‘S.E. Cupp, she’s lovely, she’s smart, she’s fine, but she happens to be a crazy conservative who is pro-life and wants to defund Planned Parenthood. And for that, she deserves a phallus in her mouth.’ That is essentially what they’re saying, and I have to commend that as being incredibly honest,” she said.
She added, “There are people in the media that perform this misogyny on women like me who cannot be that honest, who cannot come out and say, ‘I disagree with you politically; therefore, I feel like you deserve this kind of treatment.’ Frankly, I wish that these media entities that perform this kind of misogyny would just come out and do what Hustler did, instead of beating around the bush and pretending to be fair, pretending to be above that.”