Tuesday, April 3, 2012
On the Care, Maintenance and Feeding of Sluts
Here's a joke, for all you lovers of humor out there.
Q: What do you call a whore with a PhD in chemistry, an Olympic gold medal for the long-distance jump, and who was just elected as the president of the Unites States of America?
A: A whore.
Don't get it? Well, click to read on.
The point is that none of those things make a whore into 'no longer a whore'. Impressive accomplishments, all three of those things. But it simply doesn't matter. A whore with some impressive accomplishments under her belt, a whore that protocol dictates you have to call "Madame" or "Miss", doesn't magically change her behavior or her history. Now, her behavior can change. She can become an ex-whore, certainly. But it's not a matter of scaling Mt. Everest. It's a matter of not acting like a whore.
Strong language, I guess. And maybe you're surprised if you're reading this, since I've spent so much time explaining why Rush Limbaugh made an error in suggesting Fluke was a slut on national radio. Before I explain the difference between the situations, let me tell you another joke. Stop me if you've heard this one.
Q: What do you call a whore who's a single mother struggling to make ends meet, who is partially crippled due to a valiant act of pushing a baby carriage out of the way of an oncoming car, and who also happens to be your sister?
A: A whore. C'mon, pay attention - I already told you this joke!
Same justification. Whores do not magically become non-whores just because they're in unfortunate circumstances (let's put aside 'prostitute, because she's desperate to live and that's the only way she can make money' definitions and focus on 'has lots of out-of-wedlock sex with various partners for fun'), have engaged in self-sacrifice or are close to you. The president and your sister are both quite capable of whoredom.
Back to Limbaugh. I stressed throughout - not sure if the guys who read these entries got it, but I did stress throughout - that the problem with Limbaugh's move was this: he was attempting to communicate an idea to a particular audience, and his approach guaranteed that a tremendous number of people whose viewpoints he was intending to change, would not listen to him. They hear the guy on the radio call the poor little girl who looks good on camera a 'slut' and boom, that's it. Discussion over, they don't want to hear anymore. Hopefully the past week of the Zimmerman/Martin shooting coverage in Florida will help drive home the point that many people are not particularly rational people who will sit around and listen to arguments, unaffected by how ideas are presented - or even, many times, unaffected by evidence at all. And I maintain that someone in Rush's situation - the guy on the radio, attempting to persuade a large audience of people whose opinions are not set in stone - makes a mistake when he brings out the slut-guns. People tune him out, the conversation changes, and his point - the point he cares about - is lost.
But not everyone is in Rush's situation. Hell, most of us aren't. Most of us communicate with, first and foremost, our friends and family or people connected closely to them. It's a microcosm, but microcosms matter. (I'll rephrase an old line I heard: Individuals make groups, and groups make majorities.) It's precisely the area we can all have an impact, persuade people. It's also the most up close and personal area - it's easy to call someone a whore on the internet, behind a pseudonym. In person, at a family reunion? Or better yet, mixed company? It's a lot more challenging - do I even need to convince anyone of this?
And that's precisely where many times - not always, but many times - we do need to stand firm and be that frank.
I'm loathe to say this, because even - especially - when dealing with family and friends and acquaintances, there's still a need for attention to detail, being reasonable, and being careful. Tact. And frankly, a lot of people don't have tact - they're better off just being quiet, whore or no whore. To make things more complicated, you can't section off your attitude and behavior towards these kinds of things from everything else. It's a package deal - trying to be reasonable, trying to be fair (this isn't just about women, not by a longshot), etc. Welcome to the complicated world of human interaction.
But the fact is, many times we should be - in our daily lives - expressing our disapproval of someone's actions. And many of us - hey, me included - keep our mouths shut. We don't want backlash, we want to fit in, we want to get along, hell we just want to be left alone. But if we care about the culture, and if we're capable of doing it properly, we need to speak up. Oh, and this also means, biting our tongues and being ready for when we too slip up and get called on our respective bullshit. Understand the price of an improved culture.
I'll say again: this isn't easy. It's not limited to women by a longshot. And it should not be confused with being a loudmouth jackoff who just feels good when he yells at people, which is why he does it. We also shouldn't exaggerate - a whore with a PhD in chemistry and an Olympic gold medal doesn't lose her accomplishments just because she's a whore. She can still do great things, she could still be worthy of sympathy, even respect for certain acts. But she still is what she is, and - when we're being friends and family and acquaintances to others - we shouldn't pretend she's something else.