Enough about Samantha Bee. It’s Sally Field I want to scream at.
Bee, of course, called Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt” on her t.v. show and the world exploded. She apologized, and unlike Roseanne Barr, she has made no move toward taking the apology back. Thus, unless you’re in the limitless-laceration-of-liberals club, the great Samantha sturm und drang should be well over.
Field’s offense is much worse, yet it is not being treated as an offense at all. Field did not make a mistake by way of uttering a blindingly inappropriate aside in the course of a blisteringly accurate critique, as Bee did when slating Trump for posting a photo of herself coddling her own child as her father ordered asylum-seeking mothers to surrender theirs.
It was solely in relation to that slur and the outrage it had generated that Field deliberately chose to tweet the following:
I like Samantha Bee a lot, but she is flat wrong to call Ivanka a cunt. Cunts are powerful, beautiful, nurturing and honest.
Sickeningly, well over a quarter of a million people liked this remark on twitter.
In a week when the President of the United States is ignoring devastated Puerto Ricans, tariff-trashing baffled allies, and declaring himself king, it may seem ridiculously petty to bother calling out a tweet made by a celebrity with whose opinion of all things Trump I probably agree. But unless you share the right-wing dismissal of racial and sexual slander as plain old people-talk with which only politically-correct crybabies take issue, it’s anything but. One either regards the language of human degradation as a signal poison in our politics, or one doesn’t.
I can’t believe I have to spell this out, but I will spell it out – and just this once, with queasy regret, I will do so without the customary hyphenates and symbol-strings -- %&$*?! -- which serve to make eye-batting little whimsies of concepts that are brutally, boundlessly ugly:
Countries are not shitholes. Human beings are not animals. African-Americans are not apes. Kneeling football players are not SOB’s. Women are not cunts. And for crying out loud, no woman is too contemptible to be called a cunt.
Bee did not call Ivanka Trump a vagina or a uterus or a womb or something else that might be considered both a little anatomical for genteel discussion and “powerful, beautiful, nurturing and honest.” She called her a cunt, a term that exists purely to debase and dehumanize women. Sure, there are some academics who want to “reclaim” the word. Leaving aside the small matter that women have never claimed that word in the first place, I am perfectly prepared to let those academics go off and debate whether women gain power by speaking the language of misogyny. (Quick answer: They don’t. But there’s a seminar for everything.) I am also aware that there must be a place in the realms of art, entertainment and constitutionally-protected speech for every last word, including this one.
But if and as such academic and artistic expressions cross into the political conversation, which requires at least a basic level of respect for the dignity of all involved, they do become toxic.
So, for purposes of that political discussion, let’s just keep “cunt” locked in a little taboo-box, shall we?
Let’s at least consider the full implications of letting it out.
I do not have time left in this life to count the ways in which I object to the philosophies of Ben Carson and Clarence Thomas. Is it now all right, in the course of expressing those objections, to call them “niggers?" Or, to follow Field's logic, to assert that they are not even good enough be called niggers?
God, I hope not.
Given the degree to which the Trump administration is willing to throw LGBT people under every bus that passes by, I am appalled to read that Peter Thiel’s support for the president has simply turned to a “souring” that is “rumored,” rather than a disavowal that is deafening. Yet, would it not constitute a slur against all gay people to refer to him as a “faggot?”
God, I hope so.
No mother takes her prepubescent daughter aside and says, “now, honey, this may feel embarrassing for you to talk about right now, but it’s actually a source of pride: you have breasts, you have ovaries, and you have a cunt. Nurture it well.”
Certainly, no woman I can imagine enjoys being told that she is a cunt, as if that is a wondrous thing to be called.
And the noun is just the half of it. The verb is offensive too – something that ought to be painfully well understood by a woman who has kept on keepin’ on from Gidget to Sybil to Norma Rae to Mary Todd Lincoln, with the Flying Nun thrown in for good measure. Surely no one can know better than this feminist survivor of decades in Hollywood how hard it has been -- and how hard it remains-- for women to get the distinction through the thick skull of society: Women have breasts and legs and rear ends and reproductive organs. We are people.
This leaves us with the middle-schooler line of defense: Trump fanatics do it.
Yes, the reasoning goes, people whom we regard as hateful, destructive, ignorant and crazy tweet and post and cheer at rallies for and adorn their caps, tee-shirts, cars and coffee mugs with every vile, vicious, racist, sexist, homophobic slur imaginable and unimaginable. So we can do it, too.
Stop. Just stop. That is not beating Donald Trump. It is becoming him.
Don’t get me wrong. In my very strong opinion, Ivanka Trump is a complicit, craven, cowardly, probably-criminal creature of catastrophically cataclysmic corruption. But she is not a cunt, let alone some female life-form unworthy of the term.
No one is.