Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Should We Laugh When Someone Calls Bachmann a Bitch?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM

My former boss (and generally super-smart person) Maura Johnston chimed in on The Roots' choice of intro music for Michele Bachmann Monday night on Jimmy Fallon on the Village Voice's music blog this morning. I have to say, while I have a number of issues with Bachmann [1, 2, 3], it does feel wrong to call a sitting Congresswoman a "bitch", regardless of the context and the depth of her ignorance.

While I appreciate any efforts to get Fishbone back into the public consciousness and punctuate fluffy Entertainment Tonight-style treatment of people who might one day be entrusted with keeping this country in order, and I certainly don't agree with the way that Bachmann views truthfulness as a minor inconvenience blocking her path to righteousness, the marriage of song and target bugged the hell out of me. Sure, this was an attempt to turn a title/hook into a 15-second punchline (leaving out the lyric about the titular character also being a slut), but the fact that this woman was obliquely being called a "bitch" on national television, and that it's an insult that would probably not be flung at her competitors, curdled any mirth that I might have felt.

Bachmann is the first 2012 GOP presidential candidate to be on Fallon, although she's certainly not the only one who's been caught in her own deceptions. She's also the lone woman remaining in the field, which makes me wonder if Rick Perry or Rick Santorum would have been greeted by this particular Fishbone track had they been first to Fallon's couch. The answer, sadly, is "probably not." Casual sexism in politics and entertainment and, you know, the rest of the world is of course nothing new, and it's something that as a consumer of the Internet crushes me on a near-hourly basis—even though I've aesthetically internalized it enough to enjoy songs like, say, "Lyin'-Ass Bitch." But it kills me when it's used by smart people who I respect against someone like Bachmann, who has no shortage of completely legitimate reasons to inspire ire. Calling her a bitch is too easy—it glosses over the actual concrete problems with her as a candidate—and more importantly, the woman-specific use of "bitch" toward people who allegedly "deserve" it only serves to further crack open the door to it being used against any woman who's trying to make her way in a male-dominated field.

There are tons of songs out there that call out liars in their titles without having to get all gender-specific about who's doing the lying—why not use one of those?

My personal choice for an intro for Bachmann:

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