whoa, dude

Way back in the dawn of time when I was 22, courting my husband-to-be, we got into an argument. I walked away from him into another room, but it was to stop myself, not show him I could leave him any old time. I left to calm down. It was the first time I'd done that with anyone and it was the right thing to do or I would have said something unforgivable. It became a pattern that works for us. Eventually we'll have a discussion but the immediate insult is swallowed.

I'd rather walk away for ten minutes, an hour -- some amount of time -- than let loose with an insult that might cause harm. Hey, sometimes when we fight we've shouted shut up or fuck you. Over twenty-something years, that's pretty good. Nothing horribly hurtful or directed at trying to destroy the other person. Even in heat, we tend to keep in mind that there is going to be life beyond this fight. No scorched earth policy.

Before that I would let it all hang out. I was young...IMMATURE. Plus I was with people who'd give it right back. My husband turns into a rock when it gets nasty. The eyes are open but there's no one available to take the message. A lot of people do that when faced with pure angry shit-talk.

I often see people who run their marital battles another way, who have knock-down fights and sling words. They have a system that works for them. I suppose they know the words aren't real or they understand that their partner's temper is in charge of the conversation. Spew first, think later is the way those people deal with their anger.

But listen. This isn't a system that works outside the boundaries of that carefully crafted set-up they've got with their spouses.

And holy shit, batman. There has to be limits to that kind of let-loose with the mouth sort of fighting even with your spouse, or you end up pathetic Jerry Springer material. Here's an example of what I mean, slightly altered:
At one point, the wife playfully twirled his hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there."

The husband's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." His excuse was that it had been a long day.
If this guy was my husband, I'd drag him straight into counseling if he said something like this to me. The huge over-response to a little playfulness on my part, the cutting insult--that would be enough for me to pick up the phone but . . . cunt? In front of other people? ESPECIALLY people with little notebooks in their hands? In. No. Way. Acceptable.

As it is, I don't plan on voting for the man.

Usually I don't use my personality standards for people running for office because that's how we end up with likable idiots in the white house. What I look for in a friend is entirely different than what I want in a preznit. But this personality tool doesn't seem irrelevant. The job is practically nothing but seriously important, tense relationships, and as Schecter points out, some seriously long days. I don't want a guy who's going to spew first and think later.

Tired and upset? Not an acceptable excuse. If I can go 25 plus years without insulting my husband like that in public or private, ever, I'd say it isn't a particularly difficult skill to grasp. Control. It's one of those things you get when you grow up. Or if you don't, you get counseling. If that doesn't work, you sure as hell don't get a job where people skills are important. And not a job where scorched earth anger might actually be dangerous.

Yes, yes, I know Schecter and I are lefties, but for once, I think it's not a matter of partisanship. I'd have a "whoa shit, dude" moment if someone wrote this about Barack.

Could something like this be a deal breaker for some voters? I don't know. People who cope with angry men usually find ways to excuse the anger. I imagine if you were devoted to his cause and campaign, you could make it an unimportant detail. If you're skilled campaigner, it might even be possible to put a loveable spin on it. Old codger.

But ugh. Cunt.

Comments

  1. Hi Kate,

    Ick! I'm with you on the not name calling or insulting. The way I see it is: You don't hurt people you love.

    Anytime I dated a guy who thought it was ok to sling insults when angry, he was gone the instant I found out. If you love someone, you should be willing to control your temper to the point that you do not say something horrible that they'll remember forever.

    And also, "cunt"? I use this word on occasion, but never as an insult. The way I see it, "cunt" is one of those words that are ok in certain circumstances when used by certain people--but if the person considering using the word is not in possession of the body part the word describes, then he'd best step lightly. Guys that use it pejoratively are sexist asshats, end of story.

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  2. The UK uses cunt far more liberally than the USA where one could be shot for such an offense, but I agree completely that a spouse should never say such things to their partner in anger.

    This is just another reason not to vote for him. Reinforcement of the facts that he's a complete prick.

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  3. 'Cunt' works best when applied to men, don't you think? So I'm thinking maybe the reporters got that exchange backwards, and it was Cindy who's thinning up top, John who applies his makeup like a cunty trollop.

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  4. yeah, speaking as a smut writer, I'd say cunt is a far less annoying word than almost any other nickname for vagina.

    But, Lyvvie, I'm still Amurkin to the core because when I hear someone use it as a bad name I get "all did you really just say that?".

    And Doug! I need to say Thank you for my prize! Hey! Thank you! I spent my gift card So now I can be rude and say nuh uhhh boy.

    I'm way more offended when people feminine pejoratives with men than with women. I figure it's being called FEMALE that's the insult and it just happens to be a crude word used to basically say "you're so bad, you're one of them."

    Bugs the shit out of me when I hear a guy call another guy "pussy." Like to a Ms. Prissy Pants degree. Speaking of which, did you catch that Christopher Hitchens called Andrew Sullivan a Lesbian? Now that's something .... different, anyway. Same thing in new clothes.

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  5. McCain's lack of respect for the wife says a great deal and burns me to the core. If she was a trollop, then why'd ya marry her, John? No, don't answer that one. Trophy wife. Got it. As long as she looks hot and doesn't tweak your ego, you're good to go.

    Jerk.

    Thanks for sharing this one.

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  6. Anonymous12:12 AM

    No, Kate not lovable.
    There are plenty of reported incidents with him in the international arena. The last was him screaming at the German minister of defense (it was over Belarus). Now, I understand jetlag, but diplomacy works differently. So after Mr. Numbnuts now Mr. Angerissues?
    I really hope not.
    Felicia

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  7. I don't like fighting, period. Leftover from my parent's dreadful marriage and loud fights. So I don't fight. I'm a master of passive aggressive behavior. The slide. I let things slide, and they don't build up, thank goodness. And thank goodness my husband came from the same, parent's shitty marriage background. We both walk away from fights. (I do get awfully snippy sometimes though, lol.) But he'd never insult me in public, just as I'd never dream of insulting him.

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  8. totally, TOTALLY agree - ugh. that ass. I would wonder about a president who blew up like that when the 'red button' was within reach and he was having a bad day. I'd worry about him offending the shit out of the wrong people. ones with a hard-on for retalitation. core values - he seems to be missing a few.

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