Not content with standing under a banner proclaiming that Julia Gillard is “Bob Brown’s Bitch,” Opposition Leader Tony Abbot (aka the Nope Dope ®!!) said on the 7.30 Report last night that Prime Minister Julia Gillard is getting a bit “too precious” about the signs.
I’m not easily offended – I have to stop myself from scrawling the F word on signs in public parks in Nevada that say “No profanities. Have a nice day.” But I don’t like the signs I saw at yesterday’s Tea Party moment in front of Parliament House.
As others have pointed out, we’ve seen more violent rallies in the past. Then there was that spectacular papier-mâché John Howard as a little dog with its nose up George Bush’s fundament.
I thought that was pretty funny.
But calling a female PM some bloke’s bitch has really got up my nose, and I don’t even care that much for the PM. It’s nothing to do with the dignity of office either, that disappeared as a consideration a long time ago.
The bitch sign is actually no more offensive than portraying Howard as an arse licker, except that’s not a gender specific insult, whereas bitch most certainly is.
If you call a bloke a c**t that’s a bigger insult than calling him a prick. Some feminists regularly try to insult me by telling me I’ve got a prick in my head, and I should get back in my “man fondling box”, and strangely, I’m not offended by either of those observations. If a woman called me a “c**t I wouldn’t bat an eyelash, but if a man used the same expletive in anger, I’d be a little troubled and keep my distance.
Then there’s those wonderful subversives who reclaim bad words and turn them right back at you. I love to see forbidden language exposed for what it is – words with cultural baggage.
It all comes down to intent – what forces fuel the use of the expletives? Loathing, rage, fear? Affection, humour, joshing? It’s the emotions that give language life and meaning.
The difference for me between the Gillard bitch placards, and Howard as a bad mannered dog is humour. There was nothing humorous about the bitch placards. They were a little bit scary because of that. Their rage-filled message was unmediated by invitations to laughter.
Though there are groups in which the word is entirely lacking in offense who would have found it funny.
I didn’t like it, but I have to concede that’s an entirely personal preference and I can’t make a moral judgement on whether or not Gillard is “too precious” and Abbott is “sexist” in positioning himself in a manner that endorses the sentiments of the sign. I suspect he wanted to insult the PM, he usually does. And she usually wants to insult him.
We live in a culture of insult, daily faced with the onerous task of decoding the language used by us and around us, making instant judgements abut whether or not the words were intended to offend, and whether or not we’ll agree to be offended.
But what I do intensely dislike, no matter where it comes from, is the distorted, screaming fury (or fake fury that’s even worse) that sets the tone in Parliament and increasingly outside the chamber. It doesn’t matter what they say when they’ve turned themselves into the raging furies, frothing and spitting from faces reddened with outrage, real or fake.I can’t hear them anymore. Related Articles
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