Meredith Carroll: The new F-word |

Meredith Carroll: The new F-word

Meredith C. Carroll
Muck Off

I like to drop a good F-bomb just as much as the next sailor. However, it dawned on me not long ago I may be using the wrong one.

There’s the boss of four-letter F-words. There’s also the F-word my 6-year-old daughter thinks is the worst one out there (“fat”). My dad has a favorite four-letter F-word, too, which is “free,” although obviously nobody gets their mouth washed out with soap on its behalf. Then there’s the F-word picking up steam lately, even if I’m late in becoming acquainted with it: “feminist.”

Of course I’m familiar with the word “feminist.” (If not, my women’s studies minor from college should be revoked.) What I didn’t know, though, was it’s considered by more and more people to be an expletive. If I wasn’t sure before, it became abundantly clear to me last week.

In a comment on the column I wrote about a custody dispute in Snowmass Village, Aspen’s assistant city manager, Barry Crook, wrote in the comments section of the Times’ website that I’m “a confirmed sexist” for detailing particulars in the court record that were unfavorable to the dad’s case. (In the course of his superlative-laced tantrum, Crook also called me a narcissist and an anarchist, the latter of which is a concept I actually kind of enjoy.) He ended his rant with a warning to my husband, Rick, about the perils of being married to me — as if Rick didn’t already know what happens when he chooses to load the dishwasher his way instead of mine. (Broken glasses, by the way. The answer is broken glasses.)

At least two other commenters on the same column suggested my opinion should be discounted because Rick is the managing editor of the Times and therefore the only reason I could possibly have a presence in the paper (not an entirely terrible argument, although among its flaws is that when I was hired as a columnist by the Times 10 years ago this month, Rick was the editor of the Aspen Daily News). In the regular op-ed column I wrote for The Denver Post for 21/2 years, some commenters there occasionally dismissed my view entirely because, they argued, I only had a seat at the table due to fact that I’m the daughter of the paper’s editorial page editor, Vincent Carroll. (I’m not, by the way.)

Last summer, a former local journalist took offense when I called him to point out errors in a story that was produced under his watch. Afterward, he sent me an email whining about my audacity to bring attention to his failings — and he cc’d Rick. I meant to ask the guy if he wanted my dad’s email address, too, in case he wanted to add his two cents on my punishment. You know, equal rights and all.

If those trying to tell on me to my husband didn’t make me giggle quite so hard, I might get depressed realizing just how many anachronistic people think it’s totally appropriate to try to silence a woman by invoking the power of her husband (unless it actually is 1951 and I’m really Lucy Ricardo, in which case, never mind).

It should go without saying that anyone who doesn’t identify as a feminist should be approached with caution. After all, being a feminist doesn’t automatically make you a woman, a liberal, a lesbian (heaven forbid!), more likely to burn a bra or have unsightly underarm hair. What it does make you is someone who believes in equal political, social and economic rights for women. And by extension, it also makes you someone who recognizes women are equally entitled to their opinions — independent of their husbands, fathers, boyfriends, brothers or any other men in close proximity.

At a time when flags symbolizing hatred are coming down and marriage equality is really a real thing (can I get an “amen”?), how are we still at a place where throwing “Mrs.” in front of a woman’s name during a disagreement is considered a valid dig?

In the true spirit of equal rights, it should be noted that not all anti-feminists are men. In a July 16 column in the New York Post on the revelations that Bill Cosby admitted to giving women quaaludes before having sex with them, writer Andrea Peyser suggested perhaps he didn’t commit rape. Rather, she proposed his actions were more akin to “high-pressure seductions.”

“Most of Cosby’s illicit activities would be considered sex crimes, according to today’s feminist-written definition of rape,” Peyser wrote.

Which is funny, because here I was thinking that morals, the law and the police defined rape.

The only solace is knowing there’s a special place in hell for the men — and Peyser — who toss around the concept and practice of feminism with the kind of disgust usually reserved for the bathroom floor of a frat house the morning after pledge week ends. The amusing part is knowing that people like that seem to subscribe to the Bette Davis School of “When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives an opinion, she’s a bitch.”

The only problem — and this is where the funny part comes in — is they don’t realize Davis was dripping with sarcasm when she said that. No anti-feminist likes being shown up by a woman, especially one wittier or more articulate and intelligent than they are. Bitch.

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