PIGmalion: A Pork Opera
Thursday, 11 September 2008
Meanwhile, for many years, language has used the term “man” as a gender-neutral fit-all that slid past the Woman’s Lib years and into the present, via the routines of idiom, tradition and the likes. We still, naturally, anthropomorphize without batting an eye to the very roots of the word. In this way, we’ve become accustomed to turning things into men through our phraseology, without it being branded sexist. It’s not that phrases like “has a lot of balls” hasn’t been used to describe women, it’s that phrases like “man is still an animal” is not considered a sexist slight on human males. As it is, putting makeup on a pig (note: not a sow) is tantamount to feminizing the creature – should this phrase somehow implicate one who is indeed a female, the assumption is that we are calling them a pig. Since Palin does wear lipstick, another interpretation is that it is the makeup that makes her the pig. Either way, with Palin as the lipstick on a policy pig or as political pig hiding under lipstick, the presumption of guilt held that Obama was using Palin’s femininity ad hoc to attack McCain.
As polls would soon show, Barack’s turned phrase spun him sideways from platform to spit – somehow, he had to get his political fat out of the fire. He hit the screen hard with a larder of denial and a reminder of the issues, turning the bad news into hope, and hoping this loopy tale winds up deep in the archival mud.
But as the days after have turned to weeks, the grunts, oinks and squeals of the press continue to echo those harsh Obamian words, unaware that whenever we use this phrase, some poor, lonely pig dresses up, puts on makeup, and waits in desperate hope for anyone to call. Sadly, this is one phone that will not ring, even at 3am.
[Observer's Note: Apply the "Lipstick on a pig" proverb to the Chinese zodiacal characterization of the pig, as detailed by the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco. This highlights the immobility of some phrases across language borders, since many phrases are both culturally sourced and culturally biased. Metaphor, however, appears to move between languages quite well, perhaps due to its apparently strong mathematical nature.]