Saturday, March 03, 2012

Limited imagination of the porcine male

Sandra Fluke

This whole business involving Sandra Fluke and some guy named Rush Limbaugh got me to thinking about how many words are out there to casually and perjoratively diminish women and, comparatively, how few to use against men.

Admittedly, I’m at a disadvantage when it comes to Limbaugh because I’ve never heard him speak, although he apparently is broadcast widely. So what I know about him, I’ve read. Perhaps that’s unfair, but it would be too embarrassing to listen. I do know people, however --- all of them male --- who find him amusing.

Based on what I’ve read, Limbaugh always brings to mind the hogs Dad used to raise on a small scale when I was a kid --- cute as piglets, but troublesome as they grew older. Part of the perception is based I’m sure on the fact Limbaugh carries around quite a bit of lard. But there also seems to be a degree of cleverness behind those beady little eyes as he roots around in the dirt --- hogs are clever enough after all to deficate in a corner rather than dirtying the whole hoghouse. It just doesn’t seem to be useful cleverness. And by saying this, I do not mean to diminish hogs, which I enjoy --- as sausage, bacon, baked ham and pork chops.

Anyhow, Limbaugh reportedly called Fluke, after her testimony Wednesday in favor of contraceptive health insurance coverage for women employed by church-owned institutions, a “slut” and a “prostitute” and suggested that she make and distribute sex tapes of the sort he might enjoy. Kind of what you’d expect a man aiming for cleverness but with limited intelligence and without the benefit of an aspirin between his lips to say.

That caused me to think of the bad things I’ve heard male counterparts say casually or otherwise about women over the years. “Bitch,” I suppose, is the most common. At some point, every strong women will be called “bitch” by a weak man who feels threatened.

Many of the other perjorative terms for women are related more explicitly to sex, reflecting not only the limits of male imagination but also an underlying perception of the appropriate place for females in the grand scheme of things. You can come up with your own list here. Limbaugh used two of the nicer ones.

When it comes to verbally lambasting real men, the options are more limited. Son of a bitch, bastard and prick all come to mind --- and all interestingly enough are tied in some way to men relating sexually to women. While these terms can be used angrily, there’s generally an admiring undertone --- “that guy’s a real son of a bitch, a real prick.”

Asshole is another familiar, less admiring, perjorative applied to men --- implying idiocy. Women use this term fairly often. In the interests of fair disclosure, I have upon occasion and with justification been called an asshole. We’re all prone to idiocy.

The worst thing traditionally that a heterosexual male (actual or perceived) can say about another male  involves the implication that he demonstrates feminine characteristics --- gay, sissy, fairy, fag; that sort of thing. Here again, reflecting fear of the feminine, either in others or in themselves.

Whatever the case, it’s an interesting topic to think about.

“Fluke,” by the way, is an old and honorable Lucas County surname, arising out in the Pleasant Township hills around Zion Cemetery, then spreading into Chariton and beyond. I doubt Sandra Fluke is related, but you never know. If so, she’d be a credit --- not only for speaking her mind but also for standing firm when faced with all that porcine aggression.

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