From the land of stupidity (also known as Washington, D.C.) comes this from pundit Kathleen Parker:
If Bill Clinton was our first black president, as Toni Morrison once proclaimed, then Barack Obama may be our first woman president.
Her argument? President Obama uses a lot of passive-voice constructions and likes to talk but not act, which is feminine; therefore, President Obama is feminine. Yes. That’s really her logic. (If I spoke directly as in, say, this blog post, would that make me :gasp: a MAN?!?)
Generally speaking, men and women communicate differently. Women tend to be coalition builders rather than mavericks (with the occasional rogue exception). While men seek ways to measure themselves against others, for reasons requiring no elaboration, women form circles and talk it out.
Aside from her absurdly obnoxious cliche-draping, I resent the idea that passive voice is either male or female; it’s essentially bureaucratese (explain in a second). And anyone who has seen a woman give her husband “the look” or justly cuff her delinquent toddler knows that women understand directness.
Now for a short grammar lesson on why passive voice equals bureaucratese rather than Venusian. Here’s a classic passive-voice sentence: “Mistakes were made.” Here’s the corresponding active-voice sentence: “I made mistakes” or “Bob made mistakes” or “We all made mistakes.” But you don’t know because the passive speaker never said; which is usually the political point. Passive voice has no “doer,” so it fogs the sentence and hides wrong- or stupid-doing. It’s also irresponsible, as true leaders are willing to credit their actions, right and wrong. That President Obama uses the passive voice at a rate higher than nearly every other president (13 percent) doesn’t make him a woman; it makes him a bureaucrat.
Parker tries to end on a high note, but ends up looking even more cliched and weak than her depiction of Obama: “I don’t think that doing things a woman’s way is evidence of deficiency but, rather, suggests an evolutionary achievement.”
Let’s not compare President Obama to womankind. It’s an insult to women.
Image by cliff1066.