Monday, October 6, 2008
Linguistix Lesson: Is Sarah Palin a B*tch or an A**hole?
Readers, this is a question that has been plaguing me ever since I first had the impulse to call Sarah Palin an expletive, which, let's face it, was not long after hearing that stupid "lipstick" joke at the Republican Convention. But that first impulse was, if I were being honest, utterly childish and completely lacking any reasonable defense. I hated her because she seemed like the architypal "mean girl" who was getting rewarded by an appreciative crowd simply for being good looking and hateful. And, at that moment, I called her a "f**king b*tch." It seemed the most appropriate thing to call her.
But I soon questioned whether or not it was kosher to keep calling her that in public, loudly, what with the backlash against the media for its supposed sexism and the "angry left" piling onto the poor dumb woman. So: Bitch--is it sexist? God knows I don't want to be seen as that. Some of my best friends are b*tches. Total b*tches. F**king b*tches, even. But, as a gay man, I've always held that it is my God-given right to use this word in any way I feel is necessary, be it toward a chick or a dude. So this hesitation to use the word was new territory for me. Hillary Clinton was always a b*tch, in my opinion, often in a good way. (As Tina Fey said last spring, "B*tches get things done."). Joe Lieberman? Total b*tch, n a bad way. Robert Novak: dicky b*tch.
But besides the whole question of sexism (which I got over pretty quickly), word choice is important, especially in political campaigns, and I must wonder: does "b*tch" go far enough in conveying the utter nastiness of the person in question? Is it too playful, too pedestrian, too much of a compliment? Giuliani isn’t a b*tch. Romney isn’t a b*tch. Rove isn’t a b*tch. McCain certainly isn’t a b*tch. These guys are obviously full-on douchebag f*cktards. So why should Palin be saddled with such a tepid epithet? Even the word “f**king” in front of it doesn’t do the job.
With her recent debate performance (and, speaking of word choice, there is no more appropriate word for that pitiful display than "performance") during which she winked at the camera at least four times, flirting with the country like an Applebee’s waitress, and totally avoided answering any questions substantively, I realized once and for all that the word b*tch just doesn’t cut it. At the very least, she’s an a**hole. At the very least.
So it's decided. Palin is an a**hole. Right? But then she went and, out on the stump, started talking about Obama’s (tenuous) connection to 60s radical William Ayers and the hilarious religious comedian Jeremiah Wright, breathtakingly oblivious to her own questionable associations (the Alaskan Independence Party, for one; a Jews For Jesus religious maniac for another). She knows her questionable associations don't matter, because they're not affiliated with scary black folks. Her utilization of this convenient double standard makes her a f**king a**hole. (Again, at the least.)
So, case closed. Linguistics lesson over. But wait. Then yesterday Palin went further, saying that Obama is “palling around with terrorists” and used racially tinged language to imply his “otherness” because she and McCain are desperate losers who have absolutely no new ideas. So how does one improve on the “f**king a**hole” moniker when pressed to do so by Gwen Ifill?
I posed this question to a (female!) friend of mine and in answering she didn’t skip a beat. “Palin” she said, “is neither a f**king a**hole nor a f**king b*tch. She’s a flaming c*nt.”
"Damn," I thought. "Why is my friend such a sexist b*tch?"