This little snippet is worth thinking about, believe it or not:
Appearing last Friday on Mickelson in the Morning, an Iowa-based radio show, Huckabee recounted the culture shock he experienced when hearing profanity in the workplace while working for Fox News in New York City.
“In Iowa, you would not have people who would just throw the f-bomb and use gratuitous profanity in a professional setting,” Huckabee said. “In New York, not only do the men do it, but the women do it!”
He continued: “This would be considered totally inappropriate to say these things in front of a woman.” But “for a woman to say them in a professional setting,” Huckabee went on, “that’s just trashy!”
The quote makes two different points. The first is about the kind of language which is appropriate in a professional setting for everybody. The second is about different rules for men and women. It's the latter which interests me.
Huckabee notes that men in the US mainstream culture were once frowned upon if they used profanities in front of women. Note that this means they could use them when in all-male company. Huckabee then adds his shock and horror when even women participate in such profanities!
So, you go, yawning. Get to the point here.
Okay. The point is that certain kind of speech was regarded as acceptable, but only by men and only to other men. Swearing, using the fuck-words etcetera. Perhaps calling someone you quarrel with a motherfucker? Or asking that person to get on their knees for a blowjob?
On one level Huckabee is just pining for the imaginary past where women were ladies, at home and in the kitchen, and barely knew the facts that made them pregnant, while men were out there, fighting other men for the money that would support the little lady at home.
But on a deeper level it's well worth asking why women couldn't hear profanities or why women using profanities is the worst thing ever.
Is it the fact that uttering profanities is an act of aggression, and women are not supposed to be aggressive?
Or is it the possibility that using profanities means the user is taking an active sexual role in the verbal fights? For example, telling someone to go and fuck themselves. In Huckabee's world that's not the role women are supposed to have.
Then we come to the idea of purity, something not far removed from the Mediterranean concept of family honor as being preserved in the women's vaginas. That's the root of honor killings, by the way, the idea that the behavior of the women in a family shames the men in that family and that they must revenge that shame. A woman using profanities cannot be assumed to have shouldered the burden of purity right?
That's probably too far-fetched. I have one further candidate to explain the rule that what goes in men's locker-room talk does not go in mixed company, and that's the fact that some of that locker-room talk, at least, is openly misogynistic and objectifying. This explanation has the advantage of accounting for the reason why men are not supposed to continue the locker-room talk in front of women. Just consider a guy calling an other guy a motherfucker when the mothers of both are present! It's not really the swearing or whatever that is the problem there, but the use of the mother's sexual live as a slur against another man.