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Dorian de Wind Headshot

Frank Bruni Gets It Right on Women and Words

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Last night, as I wrote an article on reactions by our military to Rush Limbaugh's most recent faux pas, I silently pledged to myself that I would not give that man or that subject the time of day again.

Alas, this morning there was that great article by Frank Bruni in the New York Times that I just must share with you.

I rationalize breaking my pledge as follows:

First, it was after all a silent pledge to myself -- if I hadn't told you, you wouldn't know about it.

Second, the piece I am about to recommend to you is not as much about Limbaugh's "provocative language" as it is about the phenomenon that we have "a smorgasbord of slurs" at our disposal when "attacking a woman by questioning her sexual mores" -- whore, hussy, harlot, hooker, floozy, strumpet and Limbaugh's favorite, "slut" -- and there's a dearth of comparable slurs when discussing a man's sexual peccadilloes ( gigolo, Casanova, conquistador?).

Bruni points out:

While both men and women are called idiots and puppets and frauds, only women are attacked in terms of suspected (or flat-out hallucinated) licentiousness. And only for women is there such a brimming, insidious thesaurus of accordant pejoratives.

Decades after the dawn of feminism, despite the best efforts of everyone from Erica Jong to Kim Cattrall, women are still seen through an erotically censorious prism, and promiscuity is still the ultimate putdown.

It's antediluvian, and it's astonishing. You'd think our imaginations would have evolved, even if our humanity hasn't.

Setting Limbaugh and his "little" transgression aside, I found Bruni's comments fascinating -- and so true.

Read about our "one-way wantonness" here.