Blog or Not?

A statistically improbable polymath's views on politics and culture.

Saturday, August 28, 2004
The permutations of gendered language
For the first time I visited Zoe Vanderwolk's Greenpass, a blog that comes highly recommended from Pandagon, and written by a woman besides. I highly encourage all to visit. (Why, yes, I have been reading Victorian etiquette books lately, how did you guess?)

Anyways, I found out that apparently there's a new blog devoted to rebuking liberal bloggers for "sexist" language, Des Femmes. Recent posts chastise Steve Gillard for calling George Bush "a gutless bitch" and a "puss[y]", Atrios for saying that Bush wasn't a "real man" (and therefore not brave), and Digby for describing Tony Blair as "Bush's bitch".

The thing is, I'm not sure that most of those examples actually are sexist. "Bitch" is becoming an epithet hurled at both sexes (still more women then men, though). As for the assertion that the use of the phrase "real man" to constitute bravery automatically makes bravery a gendered attribute--I think we're dealing with an inclusion-exclusion problem here. While bravery is, according to Atrios, one of the essential attributes of "real men", that does not mean that bravery is not an essential attribute of "real women", nor does it imply that anyone who is not a "real man" is automatically female. There's a difference between being male and being a man. Moreover, Bush has tried to fit himself into the "manly man" mold of masculinity (flight suit, "Bring it on"); the fact that he's a coward automatically shows that this act is a lie, and the "man" is nothing more than an immature frat boy.

That being said, I do censure those who use the word "pussy" to mean "coward". I don't believe that a body part which has to stretch to accommodate a head the size of a grapefruit is an appropriate symbol for cowardice.

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