Sarah Palin is a c–t.”
I first saw the shirt emblazoned with those words as I scampered to class early one morning.
I was shocked, not because I’ve never seen an offensive political T-shirt before, but because this young man was just moseying about Temple’s campus as if he didn’t have one of the most vulgar obscenities you can call a woman on the front of his shirt, in font so big you could read it from 50 yards away.
I don’t particularly like Sarah Palin. I don’t want her as our next vice president, but you will not hear me using that word to describe anyone, let alone rocking it as the latest fashion.
Politicians are manipulative and can’t be trusted. We don’t like them. Tell me something I don’t know.
But try telling me in a way that does not use a sexist, derogatory noun targeted specifically at women. This only perpetuates the cycle of name-smearing that gives politicians their bad reputations.
It doesn’t take a Palin supporter to understand this.
“I don’t like her at all,” said Deanna Wozniak, a senior at Temple and member of both the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance and Temple College Democrats. “But this type of language is ridiculous no matter what side it’s coming from. [The T-shirts] are juvenile and not making a political point.”
This year, we have witnessed a monumental leap for the United States with presidential candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, a woman and African American, respectively, and Palin for vice president. Yet we have also been reminded of the undeniable fact that sexism and racism still linger throughout our society.
Angry crowds at Republican rallies have yelled “terrorist,” and “kill him” at the mention of Obama’s name.
Wearers of the T-shirt are generally liberal Obama supporters. It is rather ironic that someone claiming to be a liberal would advocate something as traditionally conservative as sexism.
“It’s just a word, you know?” shrugs Mike Drelling, 31, of Philadelphia, a registered Green Party member who plans to vote for Obama.
Drelling has sold more than 345 of the T-shirts in six weeks. He receives at least 25 orders on his Web site a day, he said. He claims there is no standard customer; men and women alike have made purchases.
“Everybody’s united in their hatred for her,” he quips.
Regardless of who you hate, there is no need to express it with such offensiveness.
“It is a good example of the general deterioration of our public discourse,” said Dr. Richard Joslyn, a professor of political science. “The assumption is [that] the way you get people’s attention is by shocking them.”
I do not need to be shocked into disliking Palin. Wearing the T-shirt does not only disrespect women, it disrespects all Obama supporters. It suggests that we need to use obscenities and personal character attacks to advertise our dislike of the opposition, rather than our knowledge of candidates’ policies.
There is such a thing as too much.
A bar owner in Georgia began selling T-shirts depicting Obama as the Curious George character in April. This is blatantly racist.
Sarah Palin is a c–t.
This is blatantly sexist.
If you wouldn’t be in support of a T-shirt taking a shot at Obama’s skin color, then you shouldn’t be taking shots at Palin’s genitalia.
Leah Mafrica can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.