I could have sworn we’ve gone over this bullshit a thousand times before; hurling accusations of hatred (pick an ism) because of a turn of phrase, or some unwritten rule, or because people fancy themselves as infallible dictators of what other people’s words mean.
Enter the Doug Ford/Andrea Horwath dust-up at Queen’s Park.
Fordsie drops the old ‘nails on a chalkboard’ cliche referring to a female politician. No bueno. Even I know that. pic.twitter.com/keuY4VBfpc
— Dean Blundell (@ItsDeanBlundell) February 17, 2021
Horwath stood up during Question Period and said Ford was doing a bad job, not listening to experts and even shielding the public from important details. It was a typical opposition question, complete with dramatic inflections, criticisms of the Ford government’s handling of the pandemic, and a rhetorical inquiry about when Ford would start listening to health experts. Ford then stood up, cynically invited Horwath to join him in the fight against COVID, said all she does is criticize, and then remarked that her words sounded like “nails on a chalkboard.”
So what really just happened? Well, it depends on who you ask. Some would say it was a fairly typical exchange between rival politicians, with this particular exchange featuring declarations of the premier’s incompetence, and an insult centered around the opposition leader’s voice.
What happened next? Well, the swift arm of social justice went into action and did what every grade 9 debate teacher says you should never do – blindly assert to magically know the motivations of another person. Naturally, Horwath expressed profound dismay that Mr. Ford did not want her, a woman, to be at Queen’s Park because “nails on a chalkboard” clearly means he is sexist, poking fun at the higher octave of a woman’s voice because in his mind the higher octave means she should go make him a sandwich, obviously.
Aside; the sound that nails on a chalkboard make is called psychoacoustics, and I for one would have enjoyed it immensely if Ford had remarked that Horwath put the ‘psycho’ in psychoacoustics, which would have resulted in my swift cancelation if I gave a fuck in the first place.
Anyway, the whole spectacle became an exercise of hard-left blubbering, where the worst possible context of Ford’s words were deemed the only context, as if Horwath had climbed into the Magic Schoolbus, traveled to Doug Ford’s brain, found the part of the brain responsible for intent, discovered a neon sign that read “I hate women!!” and collected samples of blood cells tainted with the misogyny virus.
If you are someone who used Ford’s phrase to spotlight historical oppression of women, or domestic violence, or classic misogyny, then allow me to strenuously suggest you take a deep breath, relax, and kindly shut the fuck up already. No, I really mean it. It doesn’t matter if you are a man, a woman, or one of the other 4 dozen just-as-legit genders, sometimes crappy zingers are slung, and they should be treated as crappy zingers. If Ford says you sound like nails on a chalkboard, maybe tell him that his continuous dishonesty and illiterate deflections indicate he spent more time slinging hash than he did in the classroom.
Or, maybe calmly remind the premier that a pandemic is currently happening, so perhaps joking about my voice instead of addressing the substance of my question is a bad look.
Nope. You see, the lowest hanging fruit, literally the cheapest way to handle Ford’s comments is to tell everyone, including Ford, what he meant when he used the phrase. That’s it, that’s the entire formula. And they did it because it requires zero effort. They put out a statement, a tweet, got pull string support from people like Jagmeet Singh, then feigned that all they really want to do is talk about the crisis and move on from the distraction they manufactured in the first place.
So despite the temptation to talk forever about how stupid we’ve become, I actually believe most of us are beyond this shallow form of civics. Moreover, I believe the vast majority of women would disagree with the NDP’s charges of sexism. Women are not a monolith. I have sisters and a mom and a wife and a daughter and lots of gal pals, and almost universally they think this is an absurd infantilization of women as a whole. They don’t want to be babied, or coddled, or treated as a victim of misogyny over a turn of phrase.
We’ve been down this road of hysteria before. And yes, I said hysteria, and no it wasn’t because I have an overarching belief that women are hysterical. That’s just stupid. No, it’s because you told me that whenever I use that word, I am slandering all women as if saying “hysterical” is akin to using the n-word, or calling someone a worthless whore.
Do you know what’s funny? This stupid faux scandal IS hysterical. It is also infuriating, but nonetheless funny as fuck to see public servants putting on their best look of deep concern as they utter one boilerplate statement after another, using the correct keywords to trigger the correct demographic so they can then email a fundraising letter to shrugging party loyalists who never send them any money because it’s the NDP.
So I repeat – we are better than this. If our children made the same case about something their sibling said we would tell them to deal with it, adding that it is probably a giant waste of time to even think about nails on chalkboards for more than the time it took to say “pfft” when Ford said it.
Crazy Idea: let’s roast Ford for his treasure trove of bumbling errors instead of the abstract meaning he may or may not have meant when he used a phrase that may or may not have been about her tone of voice rather than her criticisms, which is also possible.
Are we clear? And I don’t mean clear as in stripper heels kind of clear, I mean are we ready to stop being hysterical little men and women too fragile for question period, or do we need to fit you with a helmet to go with your mask if you decide to leave the house for some reason.
Disclaimer: the helmet is in reference to people with bleeding brains due to trauma such as assault, and I will categorically deny any attempt to equate my helmet comment with ableism.
That’s all I got for now, and Christ it was exhausting.