Mayor calls out dou­ble stan­dard amid flap over curse

The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY GABBY FER­REIRA

San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Har­mon used some col­or­ful lan­guage in a De­cem­ber 2018 Rolling Stone ar­ti­cle about Bernie San­ders — but she said she hes­i­tated to share the story be­cause of dou­ble stan­dards sur­round­ing men and women curs­ing.

“I have two kids, and they’re go­ing to f---ing die if we don’t fix all this. That’s how I look at it,” Har­mon said in the Rolling Stone ar­ti­cle ti­tled “Yes, Bernie should run,” pub­lished Dec. 19. (She was speak­ing at a Novem­ber 2018 po­lit­i­cal event for pro­gres­sives cov­er­ing cli­mate change and other na­tional is­sues, hosted by San­ders’ wife, Jane, in Ver­mont.)

“I have hes­i­tated to share this Rolling Stone ar­ti­cle that I was quoted in as I rec­og­nize that ‘Promi­nent woman says curse word’ has be­come a news genre unto it­self,’ ” Har­mon wrote Sun­day in an In­sta­gram post, quot­ing a re­cent ar­ti­cle in The Guardian about fe­male politi­cians who swear.

“When a promi­nent man swears, it is of­ten taken as a sign of author­ity and man­li­ness, or ex­cused as ‘locker room” talk,’ Har­mon wrote in her post. “How­ever, there are still ridicu­lous dou­ble stan­dards when it comes to women curs­ing; ut­ter an ex­ple­tive and you will be im­me­di­ately dis­cred­ited and painted as angry and un­couth.”

As an ex­am­ple, Har­mon pointed to a video of Michi­gan Con­gress­woman Rashida Tlaib say­ing, “We’re go­ing to im­peach the moth­erf---er!” — re­fer­ring to Pres­i­dent Don­ald

Trump. The video “went vi­ral and prompted lots of fin­ger-wag­ging from both sides of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide,” the San Luis Obispo mayor noted.

“The amount of cov­er­age Tlaib’s curse word gen­er­ated also says a lot about where Amer­ica’s pri­or­i­ties are,” Har­mon wrote on In­sta­gram.

Har­mon said she de­cided to share the Rolling Stone ar­ti­cle af­ter read­ing the Jan. 26 Guardian ar­ti­cle, ti­tled “Women swear some­times — let’s get the hell over it.”

“Let’s not for­get that the fact that we ac­tu­ally have to grap­ple with the re­al­ity that our kids may in fact ac­tu­ally f---ing die is the real trav­esty, not a woman cussing,” she wrote in the In­sta­gram post.

Har­mon fur­ther elab­o­rated on her po­si­tion in an email to The Tri­bune on Mon­day.

“I hope you would also add in how trou­bling it is that there ap­pears to more out­rage over women say­ing ‘f---ing’ than that fact that if we don’t take ac­tion on cli­mate change our chil­dren are f---ed,” Har­mon wrote. “You can quote me on that.”

“It’s deeply con­cern­ing that peo­ple get con­sid­er­ably more en­er­gized about these triv­ial sideis­sues when we are in the po­ten­tially penul­ti­mate mo­ment of hu­man his­tory,” Har­mon wrote in an email, while “the truly im­por­tant is­sues get largely ig­nored.”

“We need to keep our eyes, and our on­line com­ments, on what is truly im­por­tant,” such as cli­mate change, she wrote.

The mayor called for recog­ni­tion of “the deep grief and anger that is be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced on the part of many who are grap­pling with the cli­mate cri­sis and other in­ter­sec­tional is­sues.”

“It makes sense that we are see­ing a gen­er­a­tion of women ex­press­ing this type of anger,” Har­mon wrote.

Gabby Fer­reira: 805-781-7858, @It­s_Gab­byF

Heidi Har­mon

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