Call Me Girl, Call Me Gal, Call Me Filly… They Called Sarah Palin “Broad”

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If you’re my friend and I know you regard me, you can call me ‘broad’ in jest, you can call me ‘a girl,’ you can call me ‘lady,’ and …you can call me by my rightful title, “Queen of the Known Universe” or my other title: “Grandmother to the World.”

…. I hope you are laughing with me.

On a deadly serious note: during my missions in Federal penitentiaries teaching souls imprisoned there to write and read… there, the real Queen of the Cosmos, Our Lady, is called every appellation you can imagine for Sacred Mother: Mami, mama, motha, ma’am, inmigranta, vata, vata loca (crazy street girl… because she blew everyone away by saying I keep my baby, dont care what you say, I flee in the middle of the night to escape death… and more. )

Joe Gandelman brought the article just a few minutes ago about Sarah Palin being called, what sounds like a pun, by an Alaskan newspaper: A Broad in Asia, as in ‘abroad in Asia”…. thereby headlining Mrs. Palin’s speech in Asia.

I agree about that being a highly unprofessional headline, but dont agree about the word being off limits … Professional journo work, for certain doesn’t usually headline based on puns; that’s been more the province of the alternative press since the 1960s… but too, amongst friends, there are lighthearted uses of the word ‘broad.’ And other words connoting female, as well.

So much depends doesnt it, in informal settings when people use what I consider non-offensive words, like girl, gal, broad, filly, (I like filly), dame (I like dame too) — so much depends on the intent of the person using it?

Whether they are teasing a woman –or instead– trying to exclude her, put her down, trying to make others join in ridiculing her. Teasing is way different than weaklings puffing up like blowfish and bullying.

There are other words for women, vulgar ones, that too, depending who is saying them and why, can be dim or radiant, or somewhere in between. Certain words, you know them I’m sure, most congregated in the beginning of the alphabet– can be used to diminish, but in other private settings, can mean something else altogether. Something interesting and sometimes arresting.

Not sure the newspaper in Alaska needed to make any mea culpa about Palin headline. Compared to what some have done to name-call and denigrate the young Palin daughters, calling Mrs. Palin a ‘broad,’ to my mind, is a big knot of nothing… though maybe there are some women who would be offended, very few.

Perhaps this big moment of ‘nothing’ is only good for saying LOUDLY: if you’re a man or a woman, dont freeking believe what you read in MSM for the last 20 years about women (or men) being so offended so easily about every little thang. It is not true. Intent is the bottom line for assessing.

No woman I know worth her salt wants to be acting out the ‘flimsy fragile femmie’ unless it’s for show only, or it’s the real deal. Most women like myself would rather be with the Navy dames who have steered ships bigger than your house; ‘the girls’ who are shootists because they are peace officers walking the beat; ‘the broads’ who can dress the wound on a homeless man who stinks like a garbage pit just from the festered wound alone; ‘the ladies’ who can gentle a crazy stallion that can kick your car out of the ballpark and jump straight-legged through all the bases to home.

Call us women as you wish, and especially call us what we like to be called. You can find out by asking her pleasure. One of the many secrets of talking to women is dont be too careful, but lean a little bit more toward being charming–or humorous– those go a long way.

We’ll let you know what fits, what doesnt. I, like most women (and men) am a peace-lover, but… I can have my lapses. Just not likely over the word ‘broad.’

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Author: DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

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15 Comments

  1. So you're going for the broad interpretations here? ;D

    BTW: Dame & Wench both come from very regal histories. A Dame is a knighted female (instead of Sir so & so she's Dame so & so) & Wench is from the old Anglo-Saxon term for woman (of high renown) & is related to the name Guinevere (White Lady). But it fell into disfavor (along with many other Anglo-Saxon words) after the Norman conquest.

  2. ooo wench, that's a good one too.

  3. Remarks by King Spirasol of Spirastan,

    Beside your piece in bright living color is an advert for that broad (to stay in the vernacular), so while one reads about the many ways to refer to her, there she is staring at you, asking for your vote. awry…..it is difficult to talk about name calling adjectives without context. Oh, it's about her or him, oh yea, comes the affirmative snicker.

    Do you recall when Clinton called Monica, “That Woman!” Here we have a case where he actually used the correct verbiage, but anyone listening would read what he meant to be a much stronger communication.

    I agree in the choices for insults box, we find a variety of words, each with their weight and color, and I agree that context and intention just about covers it. Most of us have called our most beloved by such names…..as in the heat of argument or wrapped in a subtle witty tickling kind of joking that falls off minutes later like a poorly glued label. Sometimes you can only tell the real meaning because of the discord between the verbal language and the non verbal delivery (an insult wrapped in a smiling face).

    And it works in reverse too. As a man, I have been teased, cajoled, and been the recipient of downright unbecoming threats and negative characterizations, even from those most close. And at times, especially in my younger more machismo years, some of the sharp comments may even have been true. To trounce on Freud's famous saying, “Just because I deny it, doesn't make it untrue.”

    The fact is people seem to be both angry at or find laughable that this woman would attempt to step onto a national stage. The climate is such that it almost seems okay to let loose the hounds, to say what ever the heck comes to mind first. She certainly doesn't hold back much; between her goshes and darns are some pretty biting remarks, which many would say are untrue. And with even greater bias, Alaska might have more than a tad's resentment toward her. On a karmic level, one might think she reaps the negativity she sows………..which can also somehow make it alright.

    And lastly Clarissa (sorry about first names. I must want to claim you as a good friend, albeit without the right or it reflects as yet unresolved issue with authority figures, so we are more equal when I drop the DR part) one has to wonder about the difference between genders in name calling. What would YOU as the writer of “Women who run with the Wolves” say about a woman who shoots them coldly and cowardly from a helicopter.

    Oh, and thanks for noticing my absence……

  4. Oh yes, so much of it depends on who says it and what is the energy behind the words. . .

    i like when words gets re-claimed and are turned from derogatory to something cheeky. . . . a couple of my female friends have played with the female dog name for years. . . such as tail wager, poochie, stray,bow wow, man's best friend, muttsie, just to evoke laughter. . . .whereas if a male uses the term it needs to be clear as to where he is coming from. . .

    Also like how Broad was used in the Alaskan newspaper. . .but if it would of been Hilary or Helen Thomas it would of been more a compliment. . .i have heard Helen Thomas refer to herself as Broad a few times and it put light in my eyes in both the strength and cheekiness. . .

    I wonder where Broad comes from? My great aunt Lizzy was a renegade flapper, she was part of the first group of women that went into the work force during WW I and she used the word Broad for herself all the time. . . .

    Thanks Dr. E. this was a fun read. . .

  5. I'm probably odd but I've always like the phrase, “brazen trollop,” and, at times, have used it to describe myself (usually when I've done something to offend or irritate someone) ..such as…
    “Well forgive my sorry a## but as you know, I am nothing if not a brazen trollop.”
    (heeh)
    It usually makes people chuckle and takes the heat out of the situation. :P
    As for the term “broad…Considering some of the truly damaging terms out there that people can use to describe a woman, that's certainly not one of the terms I'd go out of my way to get my chonie's in a bunch about. Also, as a child, the times that I heard the term “broad” being used was usually in regards to a woman being nervy or ballsy. Such as, “That is one gutsy broad,” or “That is one broad you don't want to mess with,” so I've never seen the word as a definitive slur.

    My two cents worth,
    Ghosty

    PS I also like the words, “strumpet” and “tart” … I can't tell you why but they make me snicker.

  6. dear ghost: I am laughing. Tart can be good too. Also wanton tart. lol

  7. but of course Spirasol, I do miss people when they're away. Like Ghost has been away for a while too, and now here tonight. I see there are new people too. All are welcome. I sense sometimes too when people's schedules have changed, and I was used to seeing them online at night, but now they're not here til late afternoon. I think there must be some kind of internal counter inside us about people we are knowing.

    re my name. You make me laugh in a good way. I have so many diminutive names Spirasol. But, most people call me cp or dr.e. No one calls me by my first name, havent since my dad passed over ten years ago now (I still miss him so)… and he was the last one… but because of his heavy accent, he never pronouced it well. But, it was ok. I would give alot to hear him say my name out loud again with his beautiful thick accent.

    If people call me by my first name, I know they dont know me. But you're welcome to call me what most my friends do, cp or dr.e (that's pronounced incidentally when i've hung with the Guardian Angels here and in LA, 'doctoree.' ) I've other names as well that are peculiar to some of my more inventive sweet friends. But you could also call me just friend, spirasol, or as however you wish.

    re your question about shooting wolves from helicopters. I bleed. I lose my legs. I go red in the snow.

    that was astute observation Spirasol about 'between the goshes and the darns.' Yes.

    And Bill calling 'that woman' as though it was her delusion. That was a low day, yes.

    I think of what Frith-Ra and Sparrow and Ghost say too, and also you… that the tone, the tone, the tone, the underlying agenda… there's the measure of it all.

    re this pretty silly apology by the Alaskan newspaper. I think sometimes it might be useful to write about such dreck, if it opens a discussion as we see here, all people speaking in ways you almost NEVER hear in MSM, on cable or elsewhere. I dont want people's thoughts seived through Katie or Charles, or parsed by Diane or Keith or Bill. I like to hear people's stories right from 'the horse's mouth' so to speak. I learn so much more… and in many ways am humbled over and over again by others luchas, as well as wowed by the jillions of ways people have of telling about these beautiful and horrible and wondrous corners of life.

    so, thank you all.

    dr.e

  8. Thinking this through further…………I guess the headline denounces gender/women in the general while referencing the specific (That Palen woman). “Gutsy Broad steeped in ovarian wisdom goes to Asia.” — Too long. That's the problems with headlines. They have to be snappy and pull the reader in, much like the hook of a good song. I'll bet that would be an article in itself, the history of apologized and unapologized for headlines.

    Staying conscious and fighting back against our prejudices is a full time job. The readiness to apologize for our negative mumbling about another group is a prerequisite for membership in a vulnerable and imperfect group called humanity.

    Obama seems to show the way………….he has opinions………..That's racist, he's an Ass, she's a________, but he is ready to say okay maybe I spoke to quickly. I'm sorry. Let's have a beer.

  9. dear sparrowmia, Helen Thomas is a spirit mother no doubt to many, a troublemaker, and a pain in the neck to many others. Surely these qualify her unequivocally as ' a broad,' and in some cases, as 'that broad.' I imagine some have more rough names for her, but I think the life she has led has been amazing. Thank you for bringing her into the conversation Sparrow.

  10. your proposed headline was funny S.

    If you get a chance, go to Joe's article and click on the apology of the editor from the newspaper. It is a little odd how overblown it is, being called “a terrible mistake.' On a scale of 1-10. it seems like a minus 2, trivial. “A terrible mistake” seems it would have the magnitude of poor judgement or foolish action, reckless disregard that caused loss of limbs and life, of one or hundreds of thousands.

    On further reflection, I wonder how a journo uses a tone in words that shapes a very minor faux pas into seeming like a tragedy. That cant be right.

    Look and see too, if you think there seems an undercurrent, that the apology is far more to expiate and make nice with readers who my bet is, threatened to cancel their subscipts. For some reason it strikes me that the apology somehow is not to Palin, but to her supporters, for lucre's sake.

    Not that you can be shocked that the newsp. wants to hold onto its subscribers. But, i wonder that a honcho seems to believe that such subtrefuge cant be seen through by the public… not noticing that many subscribers are no longer just uneducated fisherman who had to leave school to help with family survival… that readers can judge cunning vs sincerity accurately nowadays.

    Man, it's sometimes a long way from home.

    dr.e

  11. Ah, Sister -

    You are in good company in giving little truck to the name one is called but discerning rather the endearment of its intent.

    “O, be some other name!
    What's in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other word would smell as sweet.”

    “Call me but love, and I'll be new baptiz'd”

    Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II

  12. There is another reason i like this post and comments. . . it brings forth what i often call first language or original language, with energetic subtleties and inflections, first language is close to the ground, it comes up from the earth and the soulish place within. . .

    (one moment please,i remember the edges of a John O'Donohue quote that can say it with more elegance than myself.)

    ” It is strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone. Behind your image, below your words, above your thoughts, the silence of another world waits. A world lives within you. No one else can bring you news of this inner world. Through the opening of the mouth, we bring out sounds from the mountain beneath the soul. These sounds are words. The world is full of words. There are so many talking all the time, loudly, in rooms, on streets, on television, on radio, in the paper, in books. The noise of words keeps what we call the world there for us. We take each other's sounds and make patterns, predictions, benedictions, and blasphemies. Each day, our tribe of language holds what we call the world together. Yet the uttering of the word reveals how each of us relentlessly creates. Everyone is an artist. Each person brings sound out of silence and coaxes the invisible to become visible.”

    Dr. E. this article speaks also to the ongoing back and forth debate concerning racism and President Obama. . . There seems to be a group that parses the words and can and do say; “there is no racial words spoken here.” Then there are ones like President Carter that can hear the “soundings” of Old Southern racism in the strength of the non-verbal vibrations which so often speak louder than the mere words. . .so often when it comes to the actual words they seem to be the least reliable compared to tone, texture, color, vibration and agenda as you bring forth here. . . .

    Hope this does not bring forth the debate again, but have often thought the reason the debate does not go anywhere is because of the underlying does not find illumination as Dr. E. does here as she paints with her fingers on the keyboard. . .

  13. Dr.E sweetly corrected me in our first and only “live” conversation when I opened with the C word. I still have her given first name on my email address header for her but have never gotten around to changing it. We share the same disregard for our first names. I'm not thrilled with Jerry. Most of my life it's been Jer or JR. In school, it was Rems which I hated. Whatever, I cannot get my mind to think of her as a broad, wench, dame, tart and all the others listed in earlier comments. We also oftentimes share the same sentiments. The Alaskan newspaper headline was inappropriate It certainly wasn't worth the apology. As far as things Sarah Palin are concerned, it was a -2 on the oops scale. No, the picture in my mind of Dr. E is who she says she is — an archangel. — Jer

  14. ay Jer, there's also the archdiobola, you know. I hope that made you laugh. And thank you for your tender thought. People here ought know, Jer and I share a special bond for we both struggle with the same chronic illness, diabetes. No laughing matter. And onward and upward Jer. Siempre.

  15. ADORE THIS POST Dr. E!!! Threw my head back and laughed at the comments! I snatched your images and email-blasted themto favored femme around the globe. Had to…so riotously energizing! Thank you.
    O sparrow…”as she paints with her fingers on the keyboard…” Exquisitely true of our archangel, but also of you. Any bird that could conjure that phrase, does the same herself. You inspire one recently out of the shell. Bravo and thanks.

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