Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Cow With 310 Million Teats

How does the poor thing walk? Lie down? Does she reach from here to Honolulu?

According to Alan Simpson, the Republican co-chair of the deficit commission, that's what Social Security is. A cow with 310 million tits, he said*, to be accurate, each teat firmly inside the mouth of a sucking elderly person. Is that what he meant? That's too many tits.

Simpson's statement sounds a lot like that old wingnut term for welfare as a pig with a large litter of piglets. In short, nothing new at all. The conservatives have used female animal symbols for the government many times before, except during times of war when the government turns into the bald-but-ballsy eagle, I guess.

None of that is my reason for writing this post, though I agree with Krugman that Simpson is no friend of the common good, defined in liberal terms, and with Baker who points out how insulting Simpson's views truly are. What I really want to address is the question whether Simpson's comment was sexist or not.

This is necessary, because of takes like this one:

Social Security Group Calls on Simpson to Resign After 'Sexist' Remark

Note the wavy fingers there. It comes as no surprise, then, that the comments attached to this post at the Atlantic (the new bastion of the lone cowboy guyz) are largely raving and ranting about the awful (awful!) political correctness dominating the media these days, and about the general nastiness of liberal whiners.

But is Simpson's original comment sexist? Here is the original e-mail he sent to OWL (Older Women's League) executive director Ashley Carson. He ends with telling Carson to get honest work. Running OWL doesn't count as such? Then there's this, from Simpson:

Simpson emailed Carson on Monday of this week, writing that he had spent “many years in public life” working to stabilize Social Security “while people like you babble into the vapors about ‘disgusting attempts at ageism and sexism’ and all the rest of that crap.”

I find the e-mail insulting, rude, contemptuous and clearly one written by an anti-feminist. The whole tone of it is one of belittling the recipient whose work is not regarded as honest and whose ability to read graphs is doubted. Is that sexist enough for you?

The comment itself, about that wonder cow with 310 million tits, doesn't sound sexist to me unless something I don't get is hidden in the actual numbers? Is it the term "tits" that people view as sexist? I spend too much time in the bottom waters of the Internet to interpret tits that way. Men have them, too, and sometimes even moobs.

I'm sure my brilliant commenters will straighten me out here.

Alan Simpson has apologized for his comment, by the way, pointing out that he has a foot, rather than a tit, in his own mouth.
*He was most likely referring to H.L. Mencken who called the New Deal a milch cow with 25 million teats.