Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The "nasty woman" thing

Smiling with the t-shirt on

I opened a late Christmas present from my youngest daughter: a Nasty Woman t-shirt to wear in the women's march on January 21.

Fortunately, she wasn't present.  

The last thing I would ever want is dt's rude, ignorant words spread across my chest.

I had been watching the final debate on October 19 when dt leaned into the microphone and called presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton "such a nasty woman."


Clinton was answering a question from Chris Wallace about taxes and how to fund Social Security and Medicare.

Here's the full transcript with all the rude interruptions by dt:

Wallace: Secretary Clinton, same question because at this point Social Security and Medicare are going to run out -- the trust funds are going to run out of money. Will you, as president, consider a grand bargain, a deal that includes both tax increases and benefit cuts to try to save both programs?
Clinton: Well, Chris, I am on record as saying we need to put more money into the Social Security Trust fund. That's part of my commitment to raise taxes on the wealthy. My Social Security payroll contribution will go up as will Donald's assuming he can't figure out how to get out of it, but what we want to do is --
Trump: Such a nasty woman.

When she made a dig against him for not paying income taxes, he interrupted her--not to say "I do pay my Social Security tax," but to label her character with the word nasty.

Here's how dictionary.com defines that word:

adjectivenastier, nastiest.
physically filthy; disgustingly unclean:
a nasty pigsty of a room.
offensive to taste or smell; nauseating.
offensive; objectionable:
a nasty habit.
vicious, spiteful, or ugly:
a nasty dog; a nasty rumor.
bad or hard to deal with, encounter, undergo, etc.;dangerous; serious:
a nasty cut; a nasty accident.
very unpleasant or disagreeable:
nasty weather.
morally filthy; obscene; indecent:
a nasty word.

He could have said, "That was an offensive comment about me," or "a vicious comment," "a serious comment," or "a very unpleasant comment."  

Instead, he chose to say that she herself is "a nasty woman"--calling attention to both her gender and her character.  He used gender against her throughout his campaign, raising misogyny to a high art.

Presumably he meant nasty in the sense of definitions 3, 4, 5, or 6: offensive, vicious, hard to deal with, or very unpleasant.

But the word also carries the connotations of  1) "physically filthy; disgustingly unclean," 2) "offensive to taste or smell; nauseating," and 7) "morally filthy; obscene; indecent."  What a powerful, demeaning word.

It's ironic that he is definitely a nasty old man in the sense of "morally filthy; obscene; indecent."  His Access Hollywood conversation and many other things he has said and done prove how nasty he is--yet he used this word against her.  He constantly appealed to poorly educated white males, and it paid off for him.

I realize that millennials have seized the word nasty as a token of pride and have flipped its meaning: "Yes, we are offensive, dangerous and hard for you to deal with. You'd better watch out!"

But I'm not that post-modern.  To me, words have history, connotations, and meanings that are not that easy to turn around.

I just don't feel comfortable with calling myself a "nasty woman."  

To me, those words will forever call up that moment in the final debate when dt unfairly used them against Hillary Rodham Clinton.  I don't want to wear this imbecile's words on my body.

I was interested to learn later that there had been debate among my three daughters and my husband over whether I would like this gift.

It was John's idea that Marie should give me the shirt--I'm glad it wasn't her idea.

She liked it, however, and planned to wear her own Nasty Woman t-shirt when she marched in Washington, D.C.

But she checked with her sisters, who told her I wouldn't like the shirt.

"It's a stupid shirt," said Roz.  

"It's a cool shirt, but Mom would object to it for several reasons," said Ellen.

Unaware of all this, I held the blue shirt in my hands with the words "Such a nasty woman."  What should I do with it?

Taking the easy (and dishonest) way out, I put it on and asked John to take a photo of me to send to Marie. when I thanked her.

I guess I didn't try hard enough to smile for the photo.  I looked completely miserable in it.

"Keep trying," I said to myself and took a bunch of selfies until I got one that looked genuinely happy with the gift.  I sent it to Marie and thanked her.  I guess she posted it on Facebook, that purveyor of good news only.  

Then I took the shirt off and rolled it up to put in the backpack I planned to wear to the march in Los Angeles.

When the crowds thinned out, I took it out and gave it to a young woman who wasn't wearing a political t-shirt.  Maybe she couldn't afford one.

"Would you like this?" I asked.  "It was a gift, but it doesn't fit me."

She accepted it happily.  

Case closed.

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