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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Women should be seen and definitely heard

On March 1, in response to an editorial semi-facetiously supporting the movement that Pima County secede from the rest of Arizona and form its own state, the Daily Wildcat received an interesting letter to the editor.

I say interesting to borrow the letter-writer’s own language. The letter, which was — shocker — unsigned, began: “”Your editorial about the formation of ‘Baja Arizona’ from what is now Pima County is interesting, although I was put off by the crudeness of the language, especially coming from an editorial staff made up primarily of women.””

The “”crude language”” in question was, I can only assume, one use of the word “”ass”” and the declaration that the “”adios motherfucker”” should become Baja Arizona’s official state drink. The editorial writers, who, true, are mostly women, thought this a witty play on Pima County dwellers waving goodbye-and-good-riddance to Maricopa County.

The letter goes on to say a lot of other paranoid, racist and silly things, as well as level a few nuggets of legitimate criticism. But reading it, I couldn’t get past that first line.

“”Especially coming from an editorial staff made up primarily of women.”” What is that supposed to mean?

I wish it were possible to chalk that statement up to the particular brand of crazy that anonymity on the Internet breeds, but the idea that women should behave and express themselves in a certain way in the public sphere is, sadly, still incredibly pervasive in our culture.

Not to bring up ancient history, but take, for example, the 2008 presidential elections and the wall-to-wall anti-feminist drivel it brought out in people. Pretty much everyone besides her diehard fans, and even some of those, had something appallingly sexist to say about Hillary Clinton. For acting the way any man would in a cutthroat primary race, haters called Clinton a “”bitch,”” and worse (even in a column about women’s right to curse, I’m not ballsy enough {fallopian tubes-y enough?} to use the dreaded c-word). But other people used it enough for all of us.

A man with Clinton’s credentials and swagger would be celebrated in the political sphere. Her husband, despite some incredibly public transgressions, still has an enormous amount of cache in certain circles. His wife gets to play the part of the frigid bitch.

And can you imagine the fallout if Michelle Obama cursed like Rahm Emanuel? Or smoked like her husband used to? Or said or did anything improper or unladylike? Half the country loses its mind when she flashes a little shoulder.

The idea that women should be seen (mostly in pearls and mostly in debasing situations) and not heard is one of the original stigmas generations of women have fought to get rid of. And some — even certain women — think that, because women’s voices are now heard and expected in the public sphere, female speech should be appropriate and demure, never strident, never crude, never very interesting. It’s understanding that some women want to protect their right to free public speech by kowtowing to society’s unspoken restrictions on it. We made it here, so we may as well speak in a way that reflects well on our gender.

But I have to reject that. When a powerful white man speaks, he is not speaking for all powerful white men. Why should my, or anyone else’s, affinity for the occasional f-bomb have to be a reflection on an entire half of the population?

March is Women’s History Month, and Tuesday was International Women’s Day. In honor of these events, and also in the name of decency and equality, we would all do well to remember that one person’s offhanded remark is another person’s generations-long struggle for a voice. Leave mine alone. In other words, fuck off.

— Heather Price-Wright is the assistant arts editor for the Daily Wildcat. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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