Feminist silence on Schumer

Why no outrage over the senator calling a flight attendant a "bitch"? Maybe because it's all too familiar

By Tracy Clark-Flory
December 18, 2009 6:35AM (UTC)
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When I heard Wednesday that Sen. Charles Schumer had called a flight attendant a "bitch" under his breath, my response was to figuratively shrug my shoulders. I couldn't even muster so much as a literal shrug. It's not that I thought it appropriate for Schumer to call the flight attendant a "bitch" for asking him to simply comply with federal law like everyone else on the plane and turn off his cellphone; nor did I think it was a particularly pleasant comment for his female colleague and seat mate, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, to overhear. Still, I felt rather "meh" about it.

Then the feminist guilt started to set in. Even the National Republican Senatorial Committee had come out of the woodwork to demand that Gillibrand and women's rights organizations stand up "for women in the workplace" and admonish Schumer. Was I being a hypocrite? Would I have had the same apathetic response to a Republican bad mouthing a flight attendant with a sexist slur? Had I been so completely sucked into the feminist appropriation of the word that I'd completely forgotten why the word needed to be reclaimed in the first place?


I was mulling all of this on my lunch break today, when I walked by a homeless man blitzed out of his mind who flashed me a lecherous grin. When I didn't respond in kind, he hurled a choice word at me, and I bet you can guess just what it was: "Bitch," he snarled. Then he added, "I'll piss on you." Well, okay, then. That right there is why I'm desensitized to the word -- if I wasn't, I would be crying in a bathroom stall right now instead of writing this post. In fact, if I hadn't been anesthetized to the word "bitch" quite a long time ago, I'd hardly be able to leave my house alone.

So, the reason this feminist isn't frothing at the mouth over Schumer's brutish behavior isn't because he's a Democrat, but because it's all too numbingly familiar.

Tracy Clark-Flory

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