Mayor calls out double standard amid flap over curse
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