As you may know by now, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon‘s house band The Roots called Michele Bachmann a bitch in a roundabout way when she was a guest on the show the other night. They did this by playing Fishbone‘s “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” as her walk on music, which presumably was a comment on her dual crimes of lying and bitchiness.
As someone who hates and fears this woman with every fiber of my being, I will admit to glossing over the inherent misogyny in this act when writing up a short item on it yesterday for sister site Crushable. But this post by my pal Maura Johnston over at The Village Voice reminded me that it’s never okay to call a woman a bitch. There’s simply no defending it. Yes, Bachmann is a loathsome, lying, racist, homophobic bigot who deserves to be opposed by every rational person. I can especially see why The Roots, a band composed of African Americans, would want to lash out at someone who essentially said black families were better off under slavery. But, as evidenced by the controversy that ensued when someone used a racist epithet on a sign at SlutWalk, you can’t fight one kind of oppression with another. Bachmann deserves to be put down for her many negative qualities, not because she’s a woman.
This situation gains an added layer of irony when you consider the fact that Bachmann is actively working against the goals of feminism. She opposes abortion rights, access to decent healthcare, and adequate sex education that would enable girls to take control of their bodies and sexuality. She’s weirdly obsessed with demonizing lesbians, and has publicly stated that a wife should submit to her husband. She’s also spoken in opposition to legislation that would protect kids who don’t hew to normative gender roles from being bullied at school. Needless to say, she’s hardly working towards a sexism free society, so it seems like dark poetic justice that she’d be subjected to the nastiness of that same misogynistic society she supports. Maybe the silver lining to all of this is that Bachmann will realize sexism is a bigger problem than she thinks, and become less of an anti-feminist as a result. (A girl can dream!)
But just because it’s dark poetic justice, doesn’t make it okay. As a feminist, I believe it’s wrong to be sexist towards anyone, even someone who is down with sexism. Intersectionality might be one of the hardest tasks facing today’s progressive movement, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try for it. Racism and misogyny are equally bad, and just because someone’s kind of a racist, doesn’t mean it’s okay to use misogynistic language against her (and vice versa). And if I can’t convince you to give up this type of language because it’s wrong, give it up because it only stirs up public sympathy for Michele Bachmann and feeds her “persecution by the liberal media” complex, hence making people slightly more likely to vote for her. Give it up for America.