Maybe I shouldn’t get so worked up about things that I read on other people’s Facebook feeds. But I couldn’t help but feel a lump in my stomach this morning when I saw a former classmate from NYU — from the gender studies program, no less — post the now-infamous picture of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer shoving her finger in President Obama’s face, mouth open as if in mid-lecture, with the comment “President Obama really needs to learn to get angry and slap-a-bitch.”
(The back story is that yesterday, the president arrived in Phoenix and Gov. Brewer met him on the tarmac. They then engaged in a tense conversation about Brewer’s book, in which she referred to Obama as “condescending.” Cameras photographed the two during the “confrontation,” supposedly, and Gov. Brewer was the one caught mid-lecture pose.)
No doubt about it, Gov. Brewer was rude. Pointing a finger in a professional colleague’s face is always rude. That probably goes quadruple if that colleague is kinda your boss and certainly the most powerful person in the world.
But “slap a bitch”?
I’m immediately reminded of the time in 2009 when Senator Barbara Boxer was being addressed by a Brigadier General during a hearing. The general repeatedly referred to Sen. Boxer as “ma’am.” Sen. Boxer finally said, “Do me a favor could say ‘senator’ instead of ‘ma’am?’ It’s just a thing, I worked so hard to get that title, so I’d appreciate it, yes, thank you.”
Oh, the uproar. I still remember it to this day. Some of the comments (including on The Frisky) were something like “You do not talk that way to a brigadier general.” Somehow, all the concern was how he felt disrespected, not her. How “bitchy” and “disrespectful” it was for Sen. Boxer to insist to be called by her title!
What is my point? After all, Jan Brewer is a Republican who was being rude, in my opinion, and Barbara Boxer is a Democrat who was rightfully requesting to be addressed properly. Both are women in politics who were bopped for standing up for themselves — even to the point of joking about violence, when my former classmate suggested Obama learn to “slap a bitch.” I’m no Jan Brewer fan, but I object strongly to any sexist language being used against her.