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A Slur By Any Other Name Is Still A Slur

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

I've been following Hillary Rodham's career ever since I first became aware of her in June, 1991 as Arkansas First Lady.  I liked her right away as she presented herself, to me anyway, as a woman of intelligence, strength, and perseverance in the face of adversity as a public figure I've never seen for anyone else before or since.  And that includes the likes of Richard Nixon at the height of his, of his dishonor, LBJ at the height of his disapproval over Vietnam, or Harry Truman when he left office with a 23% approval rating as examples.  She has been the target of a right wing slur machine put into motion from the first moment she stepped foot on the national political scene as the political activist and wife of then Governor Clinton of Arkansas.  

As a latch key kid in the late sixties I watched my mother raise myself and my brother mostly on her own while we had a father that seemed to be so important to the navy in the midst of the Vietnam war he was hardly ever home with unending overseas duty assignments up until he finally retired in the late 1960's.  I was too young to understand as a boy as I watched her endure a patriarchal world in segregated North Caroline where society was constructed on a system of institutionalized racism and sexism.  Yet she still managed to wind her way through societies built in obstacles that favored white males to do a job I still marvel at raising my brother and myself.  As I look back on those years watching her do her work as a mom I can only admire as a son in total awe I developed, over time a feminism, that was almost nearly as radical as any adherent the women's movement could produce at its height of activism in the early 70's. 

One of the pet peeves I developed through this period was the detestation of two names for females of any age, social/class circumstance, or race that would be uttered to describe them in the heat of emotional conflict, debasing humor, or worse, everyday conversation:  'bitch' and 'whore.'  These two labels have always in the past and still do in the present exist in an environment for which there is no male equivalent.  These two labels, if you will, serve only one purpose: to be used as a tool of debasement to identify a behavior that does not meet the expectations of a male. It is especially unnerving for me to hear other women to use those monikers of derision to affirm male expectations of behavior.  As a son of a mother, a husband to my beautiful wife, and the father of a precious and beautiful daughter I am very sensitive to the usage of these terms of debasement.  I flinch with disgust whenever it is wielded on women in my family, circle of friends, colleagues, acquaintances, or strangers I encounter in everyday movement through the general negotiations of public encounters.  My male feminism is one of many driving forces of my liberalism that has laid out boundaries of what I will not tolerate from other individuals as a public citizen, father, school teacher, or the unending circumstances of public encounters.

This brings me back to Secretary Clinton whom I currently support for President of the United States for 2016.  I recently ran across this chart/table of names on Twitter that has been put together tracking  the slurs used to identify her in social media.  The image is visceral as a tool for dehumanization demonstrating contempt for a female who certainly does not know or insists on not recognizing the boundaries for women and their place in a patriarchal world still institutionalized socially, culturally, politically, legally, economically, and especially sexually to favor white males, focused on those particularly inhabiting positions of power and influence.  Note the number of times names that are unprintable in social media have been used in contrast with the others: [click to expand]

There is no doubt she has endured these uncountable instances of public derision for as long as she has asserted herself as a woman of empowerment.  Note also the number of times Sanders supporters have employed names 'to crude to print' as I'm sure had not gone unnoticed by Jane Sanders, Bernie's wife.  I am certain she is aware of the shoulders of sacrifice she stands on that are instrumental and a testament for what she was able to become in allowing her to persevere as a model for women to today to aspire to.   I'm thinking of my 10 year old who follows her and smiles whenever she sees her on TV.  If she manages to become President of the United States I try not to think of the instances that will multiply a million fold above and beyond what the chart above shows.  One can only hope it is a first step toward a plateau where women will one day been seen as a complete equal so much so a thought is not even given to it.  But that day is still far, far, off above and beyond, I"m afraid, even further than the life span of my daughter.