Why It's Not Smart to Call Women Conservatives 'Whores'
Continued from previous page
That's partly because gendered language is so deeply ingrained in our discourse that its impact is complex and difficult to parse out. If you spend a lot of time reading feminist blogs or sitting in gender-theory classes or generally thinking about this stuff, it's obvious why a public official calling a woman a whore is out of line, even if it's meant figuratively. As Adele Stan pointed out in a great blog post, "the sting of the word 'whore,' even when applied to me, is in the word's inherent sexism."
Sure, we want strong, aggressive, outspoken firebrands to counter conservative propaganda. But to be effective, that aggression need not involve putting down female conservatives by using language belittling to all women.
And for the record, this is not a plea for politeness.
I love that Olbermann stares down the camera and doesn't back away from controversy. I love the loud, aggressive language deployed in the blogosphere. I call people names all the time. I also have no interest in spinning arguments about how men are naturally more aggressive, and how if women, with their purportedly angelic nature, took over, everyone would be much nicer.
Politeness is boring. Combating the insane lies propagated by conservatives in their efforts to derail a progressive agenda demands strong language. But you don't have to be a wuss to avoid falling into the trap of sexism.
Tana Ganeva is an associate editor at AlterNet.