In an editorial titled "Can You Say 'Sexist'?", Newsweek's Anna Quindlen brings up an incident from November of last year in an attempt to prove that McCain endorses calling women "bitches."

John McCain has been no advocate for women; when asked during the primaries, on the subject of Senator Clinton, "How do we beat the bitch?" he responded, "Excellent question." (Note to the GOP: that IS sexist.)
OK, it is certainly rude to call any woman a bitch, just as it is rude to call a man a bastard or an asshole or a prick. (There are worse terms for both sexes, but I'll try to avoid George Carlin's seven words, not because I'm a priggish moralist, but because I try to be polite and I try to avoid agitating the Net Nannies when I can.) But these terms are not necessarily sexist unless they are used specifically to denigrate a person because of that person's sex. If a man calls a man a bastard, is that any different from a woman calling a woman a bitch? So, if a woman call a man a bastard, why would that be less sexist than a man calling a woman a bitch? (Likewise, if there are sexist bastards, why not sexist bitches?)

As it happens, the entire incident was caught on video, which shows that the question to McCain was posed by a woman, and McCain, while laughing it off, did try to be as polite as possible under the circumstances.

I think he was being every inch a gentleman, under slightly awkward circumstances. Hardly a sexist.

But what do I know? Watch it for yourself.

Perhaps I'm insensitive. The thing is, in some of the circles I've lived and worked in, men call each other bitches with some regularity. (Just try analyzing the sexist nuances of the phrase "you bitch" when you're the "bitch" sometime...)

At the risk of sounding like an asshole, I think it's fair to say that "sexism" can be a real bitch to pin down.

Anna Quindlen may be in need of sensitivity training.

posted by Eric on 09.09.08 at 12:50 AM


I'm surprised Ms. Quindlen is unfamiliar with the sect of feminists trying to "reclaim" the word "bitch" as a badge of honor (modeled after gays and the word "queer" is my understanding). I suppose that branch of the movement is now passe, along with supporting mothers in the workplace...

Not to mention there are millions of voters in both parties who have used that word to describe Mrs. Clinton...implying he's a despicable monster is a minefield. But the identity-politics crowd doesn't worry much about insulting the electorate, do they?

Heather   ·  September 9, 2008 11:27 AM

Are we sure she wasn't prescient and knew that Obi...ama would be the nominee?

Phelps   ·  September 9, 2008 12:18 PM

Post a comment

April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Search the Site


Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link


Recent Entries


Site Credits