Reaction to Samantha Bee proves how easy it is for ‘feckless media’ to control the message

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Samantha Bee apologized to Ivanka Trump – and Donald Trump in turn called for TBS to fire the comedian for the ‘horrible language’. Photograph: AP

Hello boys and girls. Today we are going to talk about: Swearing: Pros and cons.

What do you think about swearing?

Are you offended by offending words?

Or have times changed to the point that words alone no longer have the power to offend?

Interesting points.

Afterwards, please break off into small groups and write down your thoughts on: I Hate – Love #$%@ Swearing.

Remember, there are no right or wrong answers. Because no one really gives a flying fuck what you think anyway. 

In the meantime, we ask you to please continue to ignore the plight of displaced immigrant children.

Trump’s Separation of Children and Families Is What You Voted For

Please pay no attention to those ghastly stories about the real number of people killed in Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year.

Hurricane Maria death toll may be more than 4,600 in Puerto Rico

Pay no mind to the refusal on the part of the United States of America to defend the right of Palestinians to… well, remain alive.

US vetoes resolution on protecting Palestinians

James Porteous


 

01 June 2018 | Arwa Mahdawi | The Guardian

Samantha Bee apologised for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt” on her television show. Amid widespread backlash, State Farm and Autotrader have suspended ads from Bee’s TBS show. On Friday, Donald Trump called on ABC to fire the comedian “for the horrible language used on her low-ratings show”.

Aside from the debate over whether Bee was wrong to use the word to describe the first daughter, it’s worth asking why the C-word is considered to be the ultimate expression of “horrible language”. Particularly in America, a country which elected a man president after he boasted about grabbing women “by the pussy”, is the word “cunt” so terribly shocking?

The word is notably more offensive in the US than it is in the UK. While still not common parlance in Britain, it is used far more frequently, in pop culture and casual conversation, than it is across the Atlantic. In Australia, they’re even more relaxed about it. In Australia it’s not strictly a term of opprobrium, but can be neutral or even positive. Calling someone a “good cunt” means they’re a decent person.

Part why it’s considered so much more outrageous in the US than in other English-speaking countries could be down to America’s puritanical streak. Swearing, in general, is arguably not as socially acceptable in the US as elsewhere. In 2008, for example, swearwords that had been “bleeped out” in the original version of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares USA, were inserted back in for a British audience.

Another reason Americans are so uneasy with the word may be that it is more gendered in the US than elsewhere. In the UK and Australia, the term is unisex. See for example, Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting: “He really is a cunt ay the first order.” Or Samuel Beckett’s novel Malone Dies: “They think they can confuse me … Proper cunts whoever they are.”

In America, however, it is almost exclusively associated with female sexuality. As the feminist writer Kate Millett once said, “cunt” reduces women to “the one essential … our essence … our offence.”

It is not just a profanity in America; it is a slur. Like racial or homophobic epithets, it is designed to uphold existing power structures. This means that who is wielding the word, and who it is leveled against, are immensely important. Samantha Bee and Ivanka Trump are both white women. What Bee said to Trump is very different from, say, Ted Nugent calling Hillary Clinton “a toxic cunt”. (The singer described the then-first lady in those terms in an interview with Denver’s Westword magazine in 1994.)

This isn’t to say that it’s always fine for woman to use the word to describe each other, of course. Some women may feel it’s almost worse than a man using the word because it is a betrayal of the “sisterhood”. However, it is different.

Over the past few decades there has been something of a feminist reclaiming of the word, which can be said to have a more egalitarian history than the word “vagina”. Vagina comes from the Latin for “sheath”, which covers a sword; it is nothing more than an enclosure for a penis. Meanwhile, the American feminist Inga Muscio argues in her 1998 book Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, that the word has always referred to the entire package of womanhood. Despite attempts to reclaim the word, however, it remains, for the most part, off limits in America.

Which isn’t to say it will always remain taboo; there is already evidence that attitudes to profanities in the US are shifting. A study published last year found that American books published between 2005 and 2008 were 28 times more likely to include swearwords than in the 50s. Further, the Trump presidency is normalizing public displays of crassness. We are growing used to headlines about “shithole countries” and “pussy-grabbing”, and becoming desensitized to claims of “pee tapes” and alleged affairs with porn stars.

Given the state of the daily news, it would be surprising if “cunt” retains its power to shock America for much longer.

Original Link: Samantha Bee proves there’s still one word you can’t say in America

 

 

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