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Posted by on Mar 13, 2012 in At TMV, Media, Politics, Society | 19 comments

Of ‘Sluts,’ Gigolos and — yes — Limbaugh

Last night, when writing about reactions by our military to Rush Limbaugh’s most recent faux pas, I silently pledged to myself that I would not give that person or that subject the time of day again.

Alas, this morning there was that great article by Frank Bruni in the New York Times that I just must share with you.

I rationalize doing so for two reasons:

First, it was after all a silent pledge to myself — if I hadn’t told you, you wouldn’t know about it.

Second, the piece I am about to recommend to you is not as much about Limbaugh’s “provocative language” as it is about the phenomenon that we have “a smorgasbord of slurs” at our disposal when “attacking a woman by questioning her sexual mores” — whore, hussy, harlot, hooker, floozy, strumpet and Limbaugh’s favorite, “slut” — and there’s a dearth of comparable slurs when discussing a man’s sexual peccadilloes ( gigolo, Casanova, conquistador?).

Bruni points out:

While both men and women are called idiots and puppets and frauds, only women are attacked in terms of suspected (or flat-out hallucinated) licentiousness. And only for women is there such a brimming, insidious thesaurus of accordant pejoratives.

Decades after the dawn of feminism, despite the best efforts of everyone from Erica Jong to Kim Cattrall, women are still seen through an erotically censorious prism, and promiscuity is still the ultimate putdown.

It’s antediluvian, and it’s astonishing. You’d think our imaginations would have evolved, even if our humanity hasn’t.

Setting Limbaugh and his “little” transgressions aside, I found Bruni’s comments fascinating — and so true.

Read about our “one-way wantonness” here.

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Copyright 2012 The Moderate Voice
  • Rcoutme

    It probably comes from the (male-dominated) past, where a man wanted to ensure that any child he supported was actually his. The entire naming system (surnames) is dominated by the intent of claiming a child to “belong” to the father.

    In ancient cultures, marriage was more a contractual arrangement than an expression of love (or fidelity). It was considered perfectly acceptable for a man to play around. For a married woman to do so, GASP! You evil hussy! How dare you force a man to support your bastard children?

    I suspect that the mores will not change any time soon. It’s too easy for unnamed crowds of men to fall into the double standard.

    • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

      Interesting perspective, RC. But as I think you agree, it’s past time to change.

  • slamfu

    Women don’t do a very good job of owning their sexuality if you ask me. Frankly, this whole thing is about getting browbeaten by men about being sluts, tell them to go to hell. Takes two to tango, if women are getting laid, so are men. Its all mental.

  • slamfu

    That was a little blunt. I know there are countless societal pressures at work here as well. But the fact is they won’t change if they aren’t forced to. And I don’t see the men of the world who engage in their double standards doing the changing, so it is up to the ladies. I wish them luck.

  • dduck

    When in doubt check for an applicable Seinfeld episode. There it is, Mimbo. It is a male bimbo.

    Also, while you’re checking for that particular episode on Seinfeld, check in your thesaurus for sadist, there are plenty of great negative male terms.

  • roro80

    slamfu — Wow, that’s a lot to unpack in those two little comments. Yikes.

  • roro80

    “there are certainly slurs attacking a man’s strength sexual prowess “pansy”, “sissy”, mollycoddle, spinless, etc”

    Um, these terms generally insult men by calling them women or feminine, along with the most common which starts with a P. Saying someone lacks prowess in such a way to be considered (gasp?!) feminine is not an insult to men, it’s an insult to women, and exactly what we’re talking about here.

    “Spineless” is a term that’s gender-neutral, so it does not attack manliness unless you only consider men to have spines. Same with having “guts”. These, I think, are pretty good as far as insults go, as they can be used to insult a single person without insulting an entire gender.

  • roro80

    “Society tradtionally values strength one prowess (sexual or otherwise) in men and beauty and purity (sexual or otherwise) in women and insults are meant to attack valued characteristics.”

    Well, yes, of course. Women are attacked for having “masculine” qualities and men are attacked for having feminine qualities. The patriarchy and strict, false gender roles certainly aren’t great for men, either. They’re more classically oppressive to women (being strong, smart, and financially successful are way more useful qualities than being chaste and dainty and silent), but there would be lots of benefits to men too if we could all agree that good qualities in people are good qualities in men and women. Cutting out the stupid gender roles would be excellent all around.

  • Rcoutme

    Cutting out the ‘stupid’ gender roles would be excellent, so long as we don’t cut out the good ones. There is something to be said for the good traits commonly associated with both genders.

  • You are talking about a double standard here, which has existed for centuries, and sadly, probably many more. If a female had written the article Dorian was referring to, she would probably be dismissed as a ‘man-hating feminist,’ and not taken seriously. Terms like these are used to marginalize women and ‘keep them in their place.’ Just wait until a woman is running for the presidency- I can predict what they will say. There has been much progress here in the US, but not nearly enough. Women can’t change this kind of stuff alone- it takes both sexes respectfully working together.

  • roro80

    “‘There is something to be said for the good traits commonly associated with both genders.”

    Name one, please.

  • roro80

    Meaning, please name one in which the “good trait” isn’t possessed by or would not be considered “good” when possessed by the opposite gender. Strong pectoral muscles? The ability to open a pickle jar? Great ta-tas? Really, that’s about all I’m coming up with — purely physical attributes that one might find attractive or useful if one does not possess them on his or her own. Frankly, while I think those are totally cool for individuals to look for in terms of what they personally find attractive (we’ve all got our preferences), I find those harmful too, when taken as something that MUST be present in order for society to judge an individual as sufficiently manly or womanly.

  • Rcoutme

    Okay, although not negative for men, how about tender, loving and caring (for women). Not generally considered a masculine set of traits.

    Not negative for women, how about courageous and self-sacrificing, willing to endure all hardships in defense of one’s society. Not feminine qualities.

    I am not saying that these are not possessed by both genders; I am saying that some of the qualities stereotypically associated with masculine and feminine are not bad.

    As for negative male terms: d**k, j**k (also sometimes used for female, but the connotation comes from masturbation), pig, animal, Neanderthal, wolf (used even in cartoons), muscle-head, jock. We have them too, trust me.

  • roro80

    “I am not saying that these are not possessed by both genders; I am saying that some of the qualities stereotypically associated with masculine and feminine are not bad.”

    No, of course not. Except that the fact that they are stereotypical of one gender limits both those who do not possess them within that gender, as well as limiting and setting unrealistic expectations for the gender stereotyped. That’s my whole point.

    If tenderness and lovingness is considered feminine, and we’ve already disccussed that men being considered feminine is one of the worst insults you can given a man, it means that lovingness and tenderness — both pretty objectively good qualities — are strongly discouraged in men. This is something so common that it’s a cliche. Likewise, if a woman is not naturally given to tenderness and lovingness, and instead is a strong, domineering type, she’s discounted in her worth as a woman. The same sort of analysis could be done with the stereotype of men being hard-working and self-sacrificing. Both of these stereotypes harm both men and women because they are gendered. Being loving and caring and hardworking and self-sacrificing are all good qualities for people. They are possessed by people of all genders, and they are good where they are possessed, and bad when used as a touchstone of the femininity or masculinity of an individual, both in their possession or their lack thereof.

    See what I’m saying?

  • roro80

    Hey Dorian — OT for this post (sorry), but did you happen to see that TMV’s favorite old friend found a new IP address to comment again?

    • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

      I sure did, roro.

      As a matter of fact, he is trying very hard (I don’t know if he will succeed — old habits are hard to break) to be more civil.

      I noted that here:

      “Good comment, D_S. Now, if you could just drop your condescending remarks (e.g. “and enable you to finally understand”), we could perhaps finally have a decent debate.


      We’ll see

    • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

      @ roro
      BTW, what is “OT”?

  • roro80

    As someone who has put many hours into just that same effort — trying to have a decent conversation with him — I wish you luck but hold out little hope. I honestly don’t think he’s trolling, just incapable of understanding what is appropriate and how offensive he is.

    OT = off topic

    • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

      Thanks, roro.

      I am still trying to come to grasp with things such as LOL and WTF.

      I think the first one means 🙂 and the latter “wanting to f*rt”

      When I move up to Cyberspace 102, I guess I’ll find out what ROTFLMAO really means– that’s a tough one..

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