Wednesday, November 14, 2007

B is the new N

AC at Volunteer Voters links to a short video of a woman asking John McCain about Hillary Clinton. "How do we beat the b****?" she asks. Apparently, this crossed the line for some. Because McCain responded that it was an excellent question it proves that he hates women. Please. The question is valid. It could have been worded more elegantly but this is politics. McCain doesn't have to own the words of everyone on the campaign trail that speaks. He doesn't have to correct them when they cross someone else's line. His initial response is to turn away (presumably to take a moment to gather his wits) and then responds "May I give the translation?" He knows it could have been worded better. It's after some crowd laughter (this very mixed group of men and women realize it's a dicey moment) , and a comment that most of the divorced men in America have made, before he says "That's an excellent question." He's not saying it was worded well. He's saying that the question about how to beat Clinton is excellent. Unfortunately, this clip doesn't really show him answering the question.

Is the B word going the way of the N word? Only certainly people can use it? Or are some going to insist we ban the use of the word in this fashion entirely? It seems to me some of the people howling the loudest about THIS use of the word haven't had a problem using it themselves when it suited their purposes.

The other story, and perhaps the more important one, here is that the questioner was a woman and she seems a bit pleased with herself at the asking. Clinton's problem is that there are lots of women out there who may not use that same rough language, but do agree she's not a nice person and she's got to be beaten. Clinton isn't getting the 'woman's vote' by default. She's going to have to earn it. Throwing down the feminist card isn't going to do it for me, or a lot of women I know. These are women who've had to earn their positions in the world, women who've made choices that the feminists don't approve of (despite being pro-choice), women who don't believe you have to be a woman in order to represent women well in our republican form of government, women who are legitimately concerned about the sort of world Clinton wants to create, women who've had to work around the radical feminist baggage that focuses on the use of a word vs. the world Clinton would create if given the power she wants.


Brittney said...

It is highly humorous to me that you, a woman who runs a tight ship on your listserv in regards to cursing, would defend the use of the term "bitch" to label a female politician. It's mind-boggling, though, that you'd defend the use of that term on you blog, but not spell it our yourself. "The B Word"? That just undercuts your whole argument.

JJ Ross said...

How would you know, seriously? It doesn't seem to me you understand the first thing about the argument Kay offers. We're having a similar clash on a radical unschooling lesbian blog right now with a cabal of conservative Christian homeschool bloggers who DO make the argument you seem to attribute to Kay -- that using objectionable words makes what you're trying to say offensive (if not making your entire existence on the planet grotesque) -- but this isn't it. In many years I have never heard Kay make it anywhere.

Instead she, like most blogging homeschoolers across the political spectrum, is much more thoughtful than self-appointed political hit squads are inclined, or can afford, to credit.

Nashteach said...

I'm more offended by Senator Clinton being referred to as a "radical feminist" which she is most definitely not. She is well within the mainstream. She's not a radical feminist bent on socialism; she's not the equivalent of George Bush as the increasingly desperate John Edwards (and the far left) wants us to believe.

Quite frankly, I'm sick of both the fringes' efforts to hijack language to paint the other side as astonishingly unacceptable. No, no, wait, that's uber-ultra-unacceptable. It's making both "sides" look like children when there are adult problems to solve.

Thompson scraps with Michael Moore to prove his distaste for people on the left. Edwards does the same thing with Ann Coulter. Hyperbole upon innuendo. "Liberal!" "Conservative!" "Nazi" "Pinko Commie!" "The other side has the bigger boogeyman!!"

Ugh! "A plague on both your houses!" How about some intellectual honesty and some true, unbiased problem solving? How about representing people rather than a wing?

JJ Ross said...

Do you mean this?
". . .the radical feminist baggage that focuses on the use of a word vs. the world Clinton would create. . ."

That does not in fact call Clinton a radical feminist. It says there is real-world fallout from (radical feminists in this case but other fringe groups are equally guilty) fighting over the words rather than the world views those words represent.

But I'm with you on the wings and sides and fringes and poles, all sharing blame for focusing on the wrong things. You might want to check out Unity08. I did. :)

Nashteach said...

I don't believe I intended to say that Kay, solely and specifically, said that, though sort of implied with that and the vague "world Clinton would create" as if it's incredibly different from the one we're already in. But plenty of folks pull out the "l", "r" and "f" words to refer to Clinton and in fact any Democrat. The left does it too. It's dishonest, it's propaganda and not truly intelligent political discourse. It's cheap name calling (at least most of the time)and serves to divide rather than unite or solve problems.

My point is I really could care less if they call her a b****. She may well be; whatever. I'm more disturbed by those who throw around words like "radical" to describe things that are not radical but rather seek to confuse and scare people. The hyperbole in political dialogue is over the top.

I've seen Unity '08. I like Bloomberg and hope he reconsiders running. I've always voted Dem in pres elections, and likely will again, but would love for an honest, centrist candidate with an "I" next to his or her name to offer a true choice. Everything in our Constitution has a check and balance. The two-parties , which ultimately serve varying special interests or factions, check each other, but there's no check on the two-party system. That's to our detriment.

GoldnI said...

So, profanity is only a problem when someone you disagree with is using it?

Kay Brooks said...

OK, Blogger lost my original post when uploading. Let's see if I can replicate it. (Note to self: Copy post before previewing.)

I'm not defending the use of the term. I actually pointed out a couple of times in my post that the question could have been worded better.

I'm asking if the use of the word has/will become the newest feminist cause. More symbolism over substance. They focus on the use of the word instead of defending Clinton's character. I can't imagine anyone not agreeing that there is evidence that the woman can be difficult, demanding and the user of profanity herself.

I understand that some people cannot write or talk without using profanities. I don't like to spend time reading or hearing those words. I don't spend time with people that cannot self-censor. I was raised that people use profanity when they lack vocabulary skills. Yes, having a sense of humor, I have occasionally laughed at its use. If you judge me as a hypocrite for doing so, I'll live.

It was cheap name calling. Its use is on HER though, the female questioner, and not on McCain. It was more heat than light and didn't move the campaign forward one step. Likely, it moved it back a couple.

It was interesting to me that in most of the reports I read about this there was failure to state that it was a woman that did the name calling. If only blacks can use the "N" word, can only women use the "B" word?

I define radical from where I'm standing.

I do believe the world Clinton wants to create will be different from the one I currently enjoy. For starters my taxes will go up and likely they won't go toward national defense. I consider that the top priority of the federal government, over and above health care, education, diversity...

mrb said...

Why do these women agree that "she's not a nice person and must be beaten"? What is their, and,by your inclusion of the comment, your definition of a "nice" person?

JJ Ross said...

Re: good and bad ideas about good and bad words in leadership, I blogged this quote from Columbia U's prez last fall:

“It’s really wrong to assume that there is an inconsistency between seeing complexity and taking a strong position.”

. . .“In a society committed to free speech . . . we are called on to maintain our courage to confront bad words with better words. That is the hallmark of a university and of our democratic society.”

In the class that he teaches for undergraduates, “Freedom of Speech and Press,” Mr. Bollinger praised thoughtfulness.

When a student, asked whether a pornography ban would withstand legal scrutiny, responded, “It’s complicated,” the professor smiled.

“It is complicated,” he said. “It’s taken me two months to get you to say that."

He goes on to advise that we start with the foundation, honor fundamental principles.

“You can’t represent an institution without being consistent with its fundamental character,” he said. “If you try to oversimplify, ultimately it will catch up with you.”


I think like it or not, Kay's civic and education leadership -- as reflected through her blog, including the post at issue -- is remarkably consistent with her fundamental character.

I do NOT think Hillary Clinton's campaign (like it or not) has been even passably consistent with the character she wants us to believe her leadership has embodied, or would embody as president. She's all over the map, not just about feminism but war and peace and sex and marriage and school, change and experience, tradition and innovation, even style and manners and motherhood.