I love all the “Best and Worst of” lists that come out this time of year. Sometimes they veer towards the absurd. Often times they veer towards the redundant. But you’ve got to admit it’s useful to find someone who has literally seen every movie to come out in the past 52 weeks and is willing to winnow it down to just 10.
Of course the low point collections are far more entertaining than the high. Humanity boiled down to its most appalling. Take this Media Matters for America list of the “Most Outrageous Statements of 2005.” Obviously, the Media Matters people had a treasure trove to draw from, but I was pleased to note that the only woman who made the list was the infamously offensive Ann Coulter (though she did make it twice). I know this is in part because there aren’t as many female pundits. But I also like to think it’s because women aren’t quite a quick to say stupid things.
Now I could make some crack here about Raging Ann really being a man or just barely qualifying for womanhood or whatever. But I think the far more provocative point (and if there’s one thing that lady understands it’s provocative) is that Ann Coulter is pure woman, from her goldilocks tresses right down to the stiletto heels. Just because there’s not an inch of her that’s soft and sweet, just because she wants to bomb North Korea out of existence, doesn’t make her any less female than Mother Teresa. There are those women, those feminists, who would say her hard-line conservative rhetoric and propensity for posing with handguns make Ann “other.” Just like there are those who find Condoleezza Rice or Margaret Thatcher beyond the feminine pale. But once we’ve crossed that line, it’s awfully difficult to come back again. What makes a woman a woman? True, I find Ann Coulter offensive, but she’s got just as much claim on her femininity as I do. There was a time not so long ago when being ambitious or having a career or even voicing an opinion made a woman so offensive, so unwomanly, she was ostracized from society.
The array of options open up to women these days has taken us down some dark roads, revealing that female does not necessarily equal compassionate and maternal, but none so dark as the road that says real women are required to act and react a certain way. The idea that if women ruled the world there would be no wars or violence seems outrageous enough to make the Media Matters list. What would we do with the Ann Coulters and Margaret Thatchers? Hang them in the town square? If we’re going to say a whole world of choices should be open to women — and it most certainly should — then we have to be willing to allow for the choices those women make.