Insults and Women

Sarah Palin
Ann Coulter
Ann Coulter
Ann Hart Coulter, born December 8, 1961, is an American conservative social and political commentator, writer, syndicated columnist, and lawyer. She frequently appears on television, radio, and as a speaker at public and private events. | Ann Coulter, Conservative, Republican, Author, Writer, Television, Radio,

Some slurs are wrong regardless of the target

I was more than a little surprised to see right-wing anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-feminist pundit Ann Coulter was almost right about something recently.

After the tape of Trump bragging about grabbing women's genitals went public, Coulter wrote a column explaining the media outrage was obviously fake. As part of her Trump defense, Coulter mentioned that at a recent comedy event she'd been called the c-word repeatedly without any media outrage, so the media can't possibly be offended by Trump using the p-word. The fake outrage is part of the liberal media's plot to destroy Trump, the man who will save America from the immigrant hordes that Coulter despises.

This argument is balderdash. Coulter pretends the only issue is Trump's word choice, not that he's bragging about sexual assault. And no, I don't think it's unreasonable or biased that the media focuses more on the actions and words of the Republican Party's presidential candidate than unfunny jokes cracked by comedians at the Rob Lowe celebrity roast. Particularly as Coulter doesn't claim (at least in this column) that she had any problems with the language until it became her best line of defense for Trump.

Even so, I don't think it's justifiable to fling the c-word or any other gender-based sexist insult at her. Not that I have any sympathy for Coulter, I think it's bad regardless of which woman is the target. Being slammed for being a c-word or a b-word or a p-word or simply for being a woman should be beyond the pale in the 21st century.

Feminists have been dealing with that sort of thing for decades. The gendered insults. The criticisms that they're not worth listening to because they're not pretty enough. Or too sexy to take seriously. Or they don't have a man. Or they don't dress sexy enough. Or they don't shave their legs. None of which has anything to do with the merits of their arguments. As a number of feminists have pointed out, these attacks aren't any better or more justifiable when used against conservative women.

Not against Coulter, who's been often mocked as a man in drag or a trans woman.

Not against Sarah Palin, whom Bill Maher once called a c-word on the air. Or when Dr. Laura Schlesinger said that as a mother of five Palin was by definition unsuited to the vice presidency.

Not against S.E. Cupp who was photoshopped into an oral-sex image on the cover of Hustler (an unfunny joke about her views on contraception).

I don't think it's right even used against women who deploy the same kind of attacks themselves. Coulter has no qualms about flinging around the p-word as an insult, or asserting the superiority of Republican women based on their (allegedly) superior looks. I still don't like the idea of treating her the same way.

Don't get me wrong, I think Coulter is a loathsome excuse for a human being. She's advocated the bombing and forced conversion of Muslims. She's dismissed rape victims as whiners desperate for attention (a common conservative stance). She says she'd love it if women lost the right to vote. And she once said her only objection to right-wing terrorist Timothy McVeigh was that he didn't blow up the New York Times.
With views like those, who needs gendered insults? One comedian at the roast said "last year we had Martha Stewart, who sells sheets, and now we have Ann Coulter, who cuts eyeholes in them." Hammering Coulter for her politics is perfectly legitimate; anyone who can't think of a better attack than the c-word isn't trying very hard.

Coulter deserves to be mocked and belittled for her views — not for being a woman.

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Updated Dec 8, 2018 9:33 AM EST | More details


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