By Jacquielynn Floyd
The Dallas Morning News
The East Texas appeals court judge in scalding water over an asinine social media post gets no points for originality. His mockery of the recent protest marchers as “a million fat women” was a stale internet insult by the time he posted it to Facebook.
But Judge Bailey Moseley, who sits on the Texas 6th District Court of Appeals, earns full credit as a crude and unrepentant bully. So do other lawmakers who felt emboldened to make ugly remarks about the appearance of women whose politics they don’t like.
This “joke” was posted to Moseley’s Facebook page: “After just one day in office, Trump managed to achieve something that no one else has been able to do: he got a million fat women out walking.”
This scrap of riotous hilarity was later pulled from the page, but not before enough viewers had captured screenshots to call him out on it.
A state senator in Indiana publicly apologized after a similar post appeared on his own Facebook page. He claimed it was “unclear how this message ended up on my page.”
Top prize for ugly-lady jokes probably went to the deeply unpleasant Bill Kintner, a Nebraska legislator who resigned. Kintner retweeted a so-called joke implying that, based on their photo, three marchers holding signs objecting to sexual assault were too unattractive to worry about being assaulted.
Or maybe it was the suburban Chicago school board member, a practicing psychologist named Dathan Paterno, who submitted his resignation as well. He quit after he issued an appalling tweet calling women marchers – forgive me, these are his words – “vagina screechers.”
What in the Sam Hill ails these men? Why does political disagreement make them feel entitled to issue crude insults over women’s appearance, or to resort to vulgar sexual imagery?
Because, I suppose, they know it hurts. They want to inflict injury, and mocking women’s appearance is a time-honored strategy.
I got one of these missives myself. After I wrote a column objecting to some of our new president’s policies, a man sent me this question:
“Could you explain in your column why it seems as though ugly women (less attractive) seem to like Hillary while good looking women seem to prefer Trump?”
His inference, of course, is this: You’re ugly, so you don’t count. You’re not attractive, so I don’t have to be polite or even civil to you. I don’t like your opinion, so I have licence to insult your appearance.
Do I care what this man, who has never met me, thinks of my appearance? Certainly not. But an inappropriately personal insult that you’re not expecting still comes as a painful surprise, an unexpected shock.
Well, I’m used to it. I suspect a lot of women who convey their opinions in public are used to it, too. The days are long gone when I stumbled to the ladies room in tears because a writer who disliked my politics called me “hag,” “fat,” the notorious “c-word,” or “too ugly to (have sex).”
It’s a nasty but unavoidable aspect of life, like stepping in chewing gum or having to use a dirty bathroom.
I don’t mean to go all Xena warrior on y’all, but this particular form of bullying pretty much goes one way. It works like this: A man labors to shut a woman up by humiliating her over her appearance. If the woman objects, she’s further ridiculed for being delicate, a “snowflake” too fragile for the rough-and-tumble world of politics and too sensitive to take a joke.
Except it’s not a joke. It’s a verbal punch, a shut-up slap. In a culture that makes a big and never-ending fuss over how people look, it’s impossible not to be stung.
So what do we do? First, civilized people – of all genders and political persuasions – need to stand up to this brand of brainless vulgarity.
Second, consider the absurd belief inherent in this type of tactic:
That the highest aspiration of all women is to be attractive to men. Everything else – professional achievement, talent, education, artistic or athletic ability, intellectual capacity – is either a secondary accomplishment or a consolation prize for being sexually unattractive.
A man’s attention
That even rape victims can console themselves that at least they got a man’s attention.
Judge Moseley, Mr. Kintner, Dr. Paterno, would you tell your own daughter this?
I once wrote a feature story about a lawyer who wanted more than anything to become a professional fighter of the ultimate fighting cage match variety.
“It’s not that hard,” he said, “once you get used to being hit in the face.”
Dismissing an insult of this variety is a little like that, the mental equivalent of letting a punch glance off. But if you really think about it, it’s more disturbing than ugly insults about appearance.
See, these bullies aren’t mad about how women look – they’re mad about how women think, and what women say.
Jacquielynn Floyd is a columnist for The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.