Author and Holly (MI) native Tracie McMillan was surprised by comments from radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh Tuesday regarding her gender and education. Does losing 40 sponsors and 2 radio stations send a message to Rush that he should push down on the accelerator?
“What he was saying about me was completely unconscionable and sexist,” said McMillan, 35, of Limbaugh calling her an “authorette” and over-educated” while discussing her new book “The American Way of Eating.” And, not only that, it was stupid! Tracie McMillan is a working class, blue collar woman who grew up in Holly, Michigan. Her father was a lawnmower salesman and her mother had an English degree. Tracie was the oldest of three girls, and helped out at home when her mother fell ill around the time she was 7. The insurance company didn’t want to pay for her care, so when she got too ill to live at home, she bounced between institutions that would hold off on charging the family until the insurance company settled. Her mother left their home when she was 12; they lost the case with the health insurance company when she was 14, and her mother died when she was 16.
Her first job, at 14, was making caramel apples at an apple orchard. At 16, she got a job at Big Boy, stocking the salad bar before moving on to waitress. At 17, she earned a partial scholarship to NYU, moved to New York City, and cobbled together the rest of her tuition and living expenses as a tutor, nanny, waitress, personal assistant and intern; at one point she simultaneously juggled five part-time jobs. She stayed here because she landed in a rent-stabilized apartment that kept the city affordable. Clearly, an elitist authorette and way over-educated.
This “Over-educated Authorette” kept tutoring and freelancing until she got herself a job at City Limits as managing editor. She was a copy editor, photo editor, office manager and deadline nag, and in her free time, she started writing stories about the things that interested her: welfare, child care, anything, really, about how working families eked out a living. She’s proud, and a little shocked, that she’s now won several national awards, including the Harry Chapin Media Award and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, and has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation, for her work on these topics. Even though she’s not on staff at a big magazine or newspaper, the awards put her work in the same league as the publications she beat to win them: the New York Times, Fortune, Businessweek and Time. But, I’m sure El Rushbo thinks these awards are leftist jack-offs that mean nothing outside of the elitist, self-congratulatory East Coast liberal book clubs.
You want to talk about over-educated authorettes? How about Ann Coulter, who grew up in a wealthy suburb in Connecticut, Then, while attending Cornell University, Coulter helped found The Cornell Review, and was a member of the Delta Gamma national women’s fraternity. She graduated cum laude from Cornell in 1984 with a B.A. in history, and received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1988, where she achieved membership in the Order of the Coif and was an editor of the Michigan Law Review. At Michigan, Coulter was president of the local chapter of the Federalist Society and was trained at the National Journalism Center.
After law school, Coulter served as a law clerk in Kansas City, for Pasco Bowman II of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. After a short time working in New York City in private practice, where she specialized in corporate law, Coulter left to work for the United States Senate Judiciary Committee after the Republican Party took control of Congress in 1994. She handled crime and immigration issues for Senator Spencer Abraham of Michigan and helped craft legislation designed to expedite the deportation of aliens convicted of felonies. She later became a litigator with the Center for Individual Rights. I don’t remember Rush calling Coulter an over-educated authorette, but maybe it’s just me.
Back to Tracie. Over time, her work has appeared in a wide range of publications including the New York Times, Harper’s, Slate, Saveur, Salon and Gastronomica. In October 2012, she was named a Senior Fellow at Brandeis University’s Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. (It’s unpaid, but the title helps). Her first book, The American Way of Eating, a nonfiction project examining food and class in America, was published by Scribner in February 2012.
McMillan is currently on a book tour, describing her experience in which she works undercover in fields in California, the produce department of a Walmart store outside of Detroit and an Applebee’s restaurant in New York City to research how food comes to people’s tables and questioning why Americans eat the way they do every day.
The 35-year-old McMillan said she was about to shut off her Internet access when a couple of tweets showed up on her Twitter page regarding Limbaugh’s comments.
“I had no idea Rush Limbaugh had any idea who I am,” she said. “Frankly, I don’t think he does have any idea who I am other than the (New York) Times (book) review.”
McMillan moved to New York after receiving a partial scholarship to NYU, where she received a bachelor’s degree in political science, while working several part-time jobs.
During his comments on-air, Limbaugh stated, “What is it with all of these young single white women?, They’re over-educated, but that doesn’t mean they’re intelligent,” according to show transcript.
“To say that women who have worked their butts off to get a B.A. are over-educated … do you think any women shouldn’t go to school?” McMillan said.
Students at the University of Michigan-Flint were taken aback by Limbaugh’s comments about McMillan and Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student he called a “slut” and “prostitute” last week after discussing her approval of the use of birth control during a recent hearing on Capitol Hill.
“You’re not looking at their education, but their gender,” said Davison resident Corynn Bowden, a 21-year-old University of Michigan-Flint junior. “He’s not a woman himself. He can’t even be in their shoes if he tried.’
Alyssa Miller, 24, of Lapeer, MI, said sexism is “obviously still around and something that’s still prevalent,” and the bias may be more hidden than other forms of prejudice.
A pre-med student majoring in biology, Miller said she’s had people suggest a change in her major because of the prevalence of men in the field.
“I took it as insulting my intelligence, personally,” she said. “It’s something that’s probably never going to change.”
While calling Limbaugh’s comments “a whole other level of jerk,” McMillan said the attention has helped get out her message on nutritional problems among Americans, including obesity.
Mark Valacak, health officer of the Genesee County Health Department, said the problem is widespread in Flint, with a recent poll showing the Flint/Genesee County area as the fifth-most obese in the nation.
He said the issue stems from a lack of healthy food options, with just one national food retailer with a store within Flint’s city limits.
“I think it’s a contributing factor to the obesity problem in this community,” he said. “You have to have access to healthy food options and easy access.”
McMillan tackled the issue to focus on a growing problem among the American population, which allowed her to continue to touch on social issues.
She’s written articles for the New York Times, Salon, Slate and other publications on a variety of issues, but McMillan wants her latest work to show the issues in the food industry and open up dialogue on nutrition.
“Figuring out how to build that kind of an infrastructure is a big part of the book,” she said. “I want a conversation on how we make sure everyone has good food.”
Despite the comments, McMillan has found the controversy “really fascinating” and joked that “I need to send (Rush) some flowers” for creating the attention.
“I think my work is worth as much on its (own) merits,” she said. “He’s certainly helped me professionally in a way I’d never be able to manufacture.”
And, I think El Rushbo has a serious case of grandiose, insecure, psychopathic misogyny and should see a talking doctor. And, his audience should do the same. And, now I am convinced he will be with us for a long time.