Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Meanwhile, in Nevada. Or Anger At Female Politicians.

When the Democratic primary fights on the net began I decided not to follow them intimately (imagine candle light, red wine, soft music, and then people shaking their fists and yelling with saliva flying),  because I get annoyed with advocacy (push the evidence that supports your opinion, cover up the evidence that doesn't) presented as analysis (look at all evidence, weigh it and then conclude).  Even when it is "my people" who are doing the advocating.

I also felt that any Democrat, even, say, a suitcase with lots of little feet, would be better and safer for us than the kind of Republican whom the fundies and money-men would put up as the Republican candidate.  It seemed rational to save my gun powder for the general election, right?

But all that conflicts with my inner stern dominatrix.  She wants me to write down every sexist insult that is tossed around during these campaigns, because sexist insults don't insult just Hillary Clinton*, but all women.  She has some very odd ideas about the reason I'm still on this earth.**

The problem with policing the sexist campaign crap is that there's only one female candidate left in the race.  This means that anything I would write about sexism is automatically seen as advocacy for Hillary Clinton.  And that means that those primary fights become very intimate indeed.  As I'm a cowardly goddess, I have mostly avoided discussing those supporters of Bernie Sanders whom the Internet calls Bernie Bros.

This left me in a real bind when things got ugly in Nevada:

The public outpouring of anger began last weekend at the Nevada Democratic Party convention, where Sanders supporters who said Hillary Clinton's backers had subverted party rules shouted down pro-Clinton speakers and sent threatening messages to state party Chairwoman Roberta Lange after posting her phone number and address on social media.
The bind is that I haven't followed the fights over party rules or the growing frustration of some Sanders supporters or even the way Sanders has reacted to that frustration. 

But the point of this post isn't really about the disagreements or the frustration.  It's about the way some of those frustrated people*** harass women, as opposed to men.  The voicemail Roberta Lange received show some of those sex-linked messages:

You cowardless [sic] bitch, running off the stage! I hope people find you.
You fucking stupid bitch! What the hell are you doing? You’re a fucking corrupt bitch!
Fuck you, bitch!
You’re a cunt. Fuck you!
All those messages do is express anger.  But note that this expression of anger is linked to Lange's being female.  There are specific words some of us use to rage at women, words we don't use to rage at men, at least not without changing their meaning to something different, such as being compared to the more despicable sex.

But are those kinds of words even worth analyzing?  Why not just ignore them?  After all,   "sticks and stones may break my back but words will never hurt me," and Lange would probably have gotten nasty messages even if she had been a he.

I believe that the analysis is useful, for two reasons. 

First, we don't have a comparable set of slur words, of the same severity, which would only apply to men. So expressing anger at women becomes sex-linked, expressing anger at men does not.

Second, and this is only my suspicion:  It's possible that the anger behind the words "a bitch" or "a cunt" is very strong, stronger than it would be had Lange been a man committing the same perceived crimes.  I base this suspicion on my belief that we expect women to be nicer than men.  Thus, if a woman is seen as not acting nicely, a greater role violation has taken place, and that creates more rage.

* In theory sexism could have also been directed against Sanders but I haven't seen any.

**  She is bloody annoying, I tell you.  I wish she packed her bags and went to pester someone else.

*** All the examples I give here come from men, but it's possible that similar examples also came from women and weren't reported in the sources I consulted.