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December 20 2018

The UK's "Stupid Woman" Controversy

by Charlotte Hays

Labour firebrand Jeremy Corbyn has triggered widespread public outrage for allegedly calling Prime Minister Theresa May a "stupid woman."

Poor Mrs. May, though--the furor doesn't seem to be because Corbyn denigrated her intelligence.

No, people are angry not because Mrs. May was called stupid but because she was called "a stupid woman."

Mr. Corbyn has vigorously defended himself:

Mr. Corbyn said he was "opposed to the use of sexist and misogynist language in any form" and insisted he had actually said "stupid people."

Mr. Corbyn told the Commons: "During prime minister's question time today, I referred to those who I believe were seeking to turn a debate about the national crisis facing our country into a pantomime as 'stupid people'."

Oh, so he was just saying that people who disagree with him are stupid?

How nice.

Like the Spectator's Melanid McDonagh, I am perplexed over this--ah--stupid controversy:

There’s something about the ‘stupid woman’ controversy I am not getting.

So, it’s fine to call someone a stupid person, but not fine to call her a ‘stupid woman’?

It’s the qualifier, the adjective, not the noun, that makes the remark rude, though in the case of Theresa May I think Jeremy Corbyn is merely making a truthful observation, whether the noun be woman or people – as he maintains he said.

Would it be equally problematic for Mrs. May to call Mr. Corbyn a stupid man? “Stupid” may be unparliamentary language, but I can think of a lot worse. She is a person, certainly, but she is also a female person, a woman.

Therefore, if she’s stupid, she’s a stupid woman, no? Mr Corbyn has said he is “opposed to the use of sexist and misogynistic language in any form”. So we can only use the word woman if it is qualified by a positive adjective? That’s nuts.

Of course we don't condone calling anyone stupid.

We're gender-neutral on that.

 

 

 

 





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