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July 31, 2004

Who's Got the Problem?

Michelle Malkin directs attention to a Mark Steyn column in which Mr. Steyn quotes an interesting reaction to Governor Schwarzenegger's comment, "If they don't have the guts to come up here in front of you and say, 'I don't want to represent you, I want to represent those special interests, the unions, the trial lawyers, and I want them to make the millions of dollars,' if they don't have the guts, I call them girlie men":

Up in Sacramento, they weren't happy. The governor's remark was 'as misogynist as it is anti-gay,' complained Mark Leno, a San Francisco assemblyman and chairman of the legislature's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus. 'By playing to certain voters' discomfort with gender and sexuality, the governor has exposed himself as a divider, not a uniter.' 'Blatant homophobia,' agreed state senator Sheila Kuehl, also of the LGBT Caucus. 'It uses an image that is associated with gay men in an insulting way, and it was supposed to be an insult. That's very troubling that he would use such a homophobic way of trying to put down legislative leadership.'

Apart from the pro forma outrage, the comment that I italicized seems a good example of that sort of modern thinking that gets reality exactly backwards. How is it that the man who is basking in his strong masculinity and mocking a presumed lack thereof in his opposition is playing to "discomfort with gender and sexuality"? It would seem that the governor is more comfortable with those concepts than are the whiners and that his comment would appeal to voters who are similarly secure in their belief that men ought to be men.

Posted by Justin Katz at July 31, 2004 2:38 AM


The Governor of California certainly has a way with words. In essence he criticizes some in the legislature for not having the courage to admit that they are putting special interests ahead of what's best for their constituents. This is clearly an accusation he is free to make.

He refers to them disparagingly as "girlie men" which is clearly meant to be an insult.

Yet this relies on two stereotypical assumptions:

Women (we all know full well) don't have the courage to...

Gays (we all know full well) don't have the courage to...

He not only holds the derogatory view that women and gays have insufficient courage, but assumes, for the insult to have full effect, that others hold these prejudicial stereotypical views as well.

An attempt to insult someone (presumably a man) by saying that he is "like a woman" or "like a gay" is certainly instead an insult to both women and gays.

But let's say that he meant the term "girlie men" to apply only to effeminate gays. Well, I'm certainly highly offended by that. Does this mean that my gay friend and fellow fighter pilot who serve our country well during the Vietnam era is to be used as an example of a person who lacks courage????

Posted by: Bill Ware at July 31, 2004 9:57 AM

Frankly, Bill, I have no idea where people are finding homosexuality in this jibe, except inasmuch as it reached some threshold at which victimization fetishists feel justified in playing the orientation card (witness the inapplicable standard truism that I italicized).

Your "like a woman" construction is only barely more applicable. It seems to me that there's a palpable difference between "girlie" and "womanly" — even "effeminate."

Like I said, I can't help but assess that it is those on the whining side of this issue who have "discomfort with gender and sexuality."

Posted by: Justin Katz at July 31, 2004 10:41 AM

Everyone here in Sacramento that I have talked to thinks that these few who are getting all riled up over the girlie-man comment need to get a sense of humor. Not one woman I talked to felt that it was insulting to women. They all took it as it was meant, that the Dems here need to stop being whimps and tackle the budget. And they really did NEED to get moving. They were stalling, pure and simple, trying to use scare tactics as usual by threatening vital services.

We are on to them here and the Gov was just pointing out who was accountable.

All I can say to those making a big deal out of this one is get a grip... and a sense of humor, for crying out loud. Stop your whining!

Posted by: Bonfire7 at August 1, 2004 12:08 AM

It also would have been funny if the guv had asked the legislators to stop acting like Rhode Island Republicans. But, then most of the country wouldn't have gotten it, I guess.

Posted by: Joel Thomas at August 1, 2004 6:15 PM

D'ya think that the whining is a form of stalling? We can't derail it, so let's see if we can't shame them with the whining gambit.

Posted by: Mike H. at August 1, 2004 7:02 PM