The realm of politics isn’t easy for a woman, but people like Eric Golub manage to make it even harder.
Eric Golub is a conservative blogger who runs Tygrrrr Express and writes a blog in the independent Communities section of the Washington Times, and in his Washington Times blog this morning, Golub flung himself full force into the acrid misogyny of the modern conservative movement.
He begins his column by comparing last night’s DNC speakers to nagging wives, then writes, “While some men throw these words out cavalierly, Sandra Fluke and Elizabeth Warren gave shrill, angry, hysterical speeches that validate every negative stereotype about women.”
Really? The Georgetown Law student who graduated cum laude this spring and the esteemed creator of the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau were “hysterical” women? Many of his conservative brethren only hint at their sexist leaning so as to maintain plausible deniability, but not this blogger. Not only is this a blatant mischaracterization, it’s an intentionally gendered insult.
Here’s a quick history lesson. The word Hysterical comes from the Greek Hysterikos, which literally means “of the womb.” Plato and his contemporaries actually believed that when the uterus remained empty for too long, it would start wandering angrily through the body and smack into women’s brains, making them act irrational — or as Golub would say, “shrill and angry.” Hysteria was a catch-all medical diagnosis used until the late nineteenth century as a way to discredit and isolate women who tended to show strong emotions or “cause trouble,” and the “treatment” of these women is a black mark on the history of the entire psychological profession. Doctors would “manually stimulate” (read: sexually assault) women’s genitals to tame their wild uteruses, and if that didn’t work, women would be institutionalized. Of course, this horrifying practice was still a massive improvement to the lively stake-burning that was used to cure the fictional disorder during the Inquisition.
Hysterical isn’t the only word that is all too common when it comes to discrediting women based on their gender. Shrill and Angry are also negatives that women who express opinions face fairly regularly, regardless of the content, validity, or delivery of their position. Senator Harry Reid, who apparently can find his spine when it comes time to be sexist, called Sarah Palin shrill while she was the vice presidential nominee. Hillary Clinton was routinely called shrill in the media during her 2008 primary run — a run that ended with an Obama rally blasting the song “99 Problems” after she conceded. These insults are some of the best ways to attack your opponent when you have nothing valid or relevant to say; you simply remind everyone that your opponent is a woman, and women are always emotional and irrational on account of that silly uterus.
And Golub really doesn’t have anything of substance to say. Warren received a standing ovation so long and loud that she had to admonish the crowd several times before giving her passionate, sincere, and not at all shrill speech to the delegates. He happened to disagree with her, much like I happened to disagree with the women at the RNC, but I never called Nikki Haley shrill. Sandra Fluke’s speech was short and somber, and didn’t even paint Romney as the guy who would shut down reproductive rights; Fluke’s Romney was just the guy that would stand buy while conservatives went wild, which is a pretty accurate description. Both women were far quieter than Governor Chris Christie was at the RNC. Golub’s headline about that speech — which had plenty of actual screaming and fist-waving — read, “Chris Christie lights up Tampa.”
One would think that a Jewish man would be a little more sensitive than to claim that a stereotype for a group as large as 3.5 billion can be validated, but apparently delivering a speech that Golub disagrees with makes you a harpy. And that totally justifies centuries of systemic and institutionalized abuse and oppression. Stop worrying about rape, domestic violence, the wage gap, and street harassment, ladies; we deserve it because this dude finds Elizabeth Warren and Sandra Fluke shrill! Yes, stereotypes about women, Jewish people, people of color, and the poor aren’t narratives perpetuated by social power structures to maintain their power — they’re facts of life that can be “validated” by a speech at a political convention.
Eric Golub refers to the DNC as a “beautiful irony,” and as it turns out, he is one himself. His blog entry has garnered a multitude of comments — very few of them positive — and he is patrolling those comments as Disqus user “blacktygrrrr,” moderating those that use “unacceptable” language.
Because targeted, hateful insults that distract from the issues at hand? Those should be reserved for women.