Home News Today Trump calling out Samantha Bee? Now that’s double standards

Trump calling out Samantha Bee? Now that’s double standards


What happens when extremely clever and – perhaps more challenging – funny women dare to speak truth to power? To answer the question, which is so much messier than the one about what happens when a powerful man is openly sexist, racist, homophobic and ableist (answer: he becomes US president), let’s consider the backlash against the comedian Samantha Bee.

She called Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt” and this was not in the midst of a sexist rant on Twitter enabled by sleeping pills with morality-loosening side-effects. No, it was on her own show while condemning the president’s daughter’s decision to post an image of herself cuddling her son amid reports detailing the hundreds of children taken from their parents by US border agents. The response? A carbon copy of the backlash after Michelle Wolf’s routine at the White House correspondents’ dinner; a particularly zesty form of moral outrage reserved for women who don’t give a damn. The kind that, on closer inspection, is whataboutery dressed up as indignity.

So Bee was called on to apologise and, disappointingly, she did, saying she had “crossed a line”. (Note that last year she called Woodrow Wilson a “cunt”and no one batted an eyelid.) Donald Trump tweeted that Bee should be fired for “horrible language” and referred to the response from the US TV channel TBS, which has also apologised, as “a total double standard”. Which appears to equate Bee’s expletive with Roseanne Barr calling Valerie Jarrett a product of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes. But before we get to that, can we take a moment to name the real double standard here: that a man who bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy” and who has used “cunt” to describe women himself is chastising a woman for “horrible language”.

Words mean different things depending on the mouths that form them and the contexts into which they are delivered. This isn’t a question of double standards: it’s an uncontroversial recognition that we don’t all start from a place of historical and present equality. And whatever you think of the word “cunt” – and Wide Awoke is more interested in how a descriptor for vagina came to be the ultimate bad word – swearing is not the same as racism.

Once again, it is the castigated woman who has to point out what is really going on. “We spent the day wrestling with the repercussions of one bad word,” Bee said as she accepted an award for Full Frontal’s #MeToo coverage, “when we all should have spent [it] incensed that … we are wrenching children from their parents.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here