Bill Maher caught heat in 2010 from the feminist crowd for referring to Sarah Palin as a “cunt” and a “twat,” as critics at the time called for him to stop using “misogynist slurs” in his routine. First, I think it’s interesting that in this blogger’s critique of Maher’s comedy, she published the words “cunt” and “twat” twice in the same post. One would think that if she wanted these words expunged from society, she would only refer to them as misogynist slurs and not repeat the offending terms.
This is exactly the type of sensitivity to which Maher refers in the above video. While Maher’s words may have arguably been ill-advised, he used the C-word to get a laugh and play on people’s contempt for Palin’s anti-intellectualism. That was the intention, nothing more.
If someone happens to call me a dick or cock sucker for holding a certain point of view that invites a high level of passion, what reason would I have for being offended? I realize that name calling, childish as it is, is not a reflection on me as a male or a person, and further, there is not necessarily any kind of mystical connection between body parts and people. I wouldn’t personally be offended if someone called me a dick because they are just attacking me or an argument I made; they are not attacking the entirety of maledom. Even if they were, why would I care? I would probably just label that individual a grade-A asshole, a generally unpleasant person and move on with my life.
For the record, I’m not comfortable with the words “cunt” or “twat” anyway. They are the flotsam of the English language, and if I agree with feminists on one thing, I wouldn’t be sad if they were all but forgotten in the American conscious. I always cringe when I hear them because even forgetting that they are crass insults, they are just ugly words and the equivalent of verbal throw-up. But let’s not confuse my distaste for those words, and the simple fact that they are just that, constructions of letters that, taken together, have little real power except that to which we give them. This is just a theory, but perhaps feminists increase their insulting power by making such a big deal out of it when they are uttered.
That said, feminists, particularly American feminists, when they take offense to Palin being called a misogynist slur, are conflating a specific case of childish name calling into some kind of ubiquitous crime against womanhood itself. Feminists who do this must admit to a high level of disingenuousness when they know full well that was not Maher’s intention, and female attendees to his shows, I would venture to say, have thick enough skin and big enough brains to be able to tell the difference between the two.
If I might say so though, (as someone originally from the UK/Ireland who has lived in the US for 15 years and has subsequently become a citizen) the sheer hypocrisy of American feminism in particular is on a scale of its own. American feminists want to have their cake and eat it. American men have to fucking pay for all the shows and dinners and then make sure the woman has the most fun in the bedroom. European women understand what EQUALITY means. It’s a celebration of the differences.