Saturday, September 13, 2008

Another Word for Bitch

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I don't discuss politics. That's because politics have become so polarized that there are probably few subjects more divisive. And I am a uniter, not a divider, so politics are pretty much off limits. So even though last week I mentioned John McCain's comment about the outcome of a hurricane being "in the hands of God," I wasn't attacking McCain or whatever religious beliefs he may profess, I was merely examining a phrase he happened to use.

By the way, a guy I know took issue with the term "act of nature" as a substitute for "act of God." He felt that it implied an anthropomorphization of nature (such as "Mother Earth," for example) by suggesting that nature is somehow capable of conscious and deliberate action. His point is well taken, so perhaps a better term would be a "natural occurrence" or a "natural event" or something to that effect.

Anyway, this week, I'd like to look at a phrase used by McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin. As we all know, this self-described hockey mom told her audience that the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom is lipstick. This is apparently an old joke, but I'd never heard it before, possibly because I don't spend much time with pit bulls or hockey moms.

Sarah Palin was applauded for her now-famous observation, but if I ever called a woman as a pit bull with lipstick, I'm pretty sure she'd take it as an insult. And if she didn't, she should, because it's not a very nice thing to say. It's just another way of calling her a bitch.

The phrase isn't at all complimentary to women, but it's not particularly kind to pit bulls either. Pit bulls already have a pretty bad reputation -- the way people talk about them, you'd think they were hounds from hell. Granted, they were bred to be fighting dogs, but if they're properly trained, they can be suitable pets. As a matter of fact, according to a study published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, the pit bull rated average or below average for hostility towards strangers.

To complicate matters further, there's really no such breed as a pit bull. The term "pit bull" is apparently just a catch-all designation for several types of dog that look somewhat alike and were originally bred for fighting. And I don't want to get into the whole Dog Whisperer thing, but when any dog, regardless of breed, is aggressive, it's usually because of its owners. So rather than further malign the pit bull, we should be maligning the pit bull owners for not knowing how to take care of their dogs.

So let's summarize what we learned today. We learned that if I call a some woman a pit bull with lipstick, she'll probably be insulted. We also learned that pit bulls shouldn't be spoken of disparagingly, because they're just dogs, and you shouldn't criticize a dog for being a dog. And finally, we learned that it's fine to criticize a human for being a bad dog owner, because humans are supposed to be smart enough to know better, even though a lot of them obviously are not.

And just to make one final comment, I don't know about you, but however distasteful I find the phrase "a pit bull with lipstick," I find the image of a pit bull wearing lipstick to be even more distasteful. I usually don't even like it when women wear lipstick, especially if it's really bright red or something. Some colors look nice on a woman's lips, but they'd look awful on a dog's lips. As a matter of fact, I'm not even sure that dogs have lips, so you'd probably have to apply the lipstick to the fur around the dog's mouth, which would look terrible and would be degrading to the dog.