Good Pussy and Bad Pussy at the New York Times

The New York Times vendetta against Donald Trump continues with its latest theme that The Donald is “vulgar.” This highly newsworthy charge recently made it to the front page with the headline, “With a Slur for Ted Cruz, Donald Trump Further Splits Voters.” The Times tells us that the slur involved a “vulgar word.” How this “splits voters” is not made clear – but never mind.

Not until paragraph ten, after a boring slog through nine paragraphs of gratuitous anti-Trump invective do the two intrepid reporters required to track down this momentous story inform us what the “vulgar word” is, thus: “In New Hampshire on Monday, Mr. Trump shared with an audience a supporter’s comment about Mr. Cruz. “She said, ‘He’s a pussy,’” he told the crowd.

Turning quickly to Wikipedia we find: “Common meanings of the noun include ‘cat,’ ‘coward or weakling’ and ‘the human vulva or vagina.’” Leaving ‘cat’ out of the matter, we can turn to the idea of “weakling” to describe Cruz although that lets him off lightly. This is clearly the idea that Trump’s supporter meant to convey. Not especially vulgar to the mind of this writer.

But let us turn to the third meaning “vagina.” This indeed would be considered a vulgarity in many quarters although that is not what the female Trump supporter meant. Where might we find “pussy” used in that vulgar way? The name of the all female group “Pussy Riot” surely qualifies. And how has the Times treated Pussy Riot? The enthusiasm of the Gray Lady for the “punk” group has bordered on the ecstatic over the years. One small example is this: “… Pussy Riot? You couldn’t ask for more appealing activists.… they were young and attractive and intelligent…”

Pussy Riot claims to be feminist, anarchist, anti-capitalist; and all that may well be true. (Certainly many progressives believe that to be the case, and this writer heard a paean to Pussy just the other day on KPFA.) But what is indisputable is that by the Times professed standards of vulgarity these days, Pussy Riot is right up there — and not only by virtue of its name. This description of their breakthrough performance is but one example, “On January 20, 2012, in what the Associated Press described as their ‘breakthrough performance, eight members of the group performed a song on the Lobnoye Mesto in Red Square, entitled ‘Putin Zassal’. The title has been variously translated by English language media as ‘Putin has Pissed Himself’, ‘Putin Chickened Out’, ‘Putin Got Scared’ or ‘Putin is Wetting Himself’”.

Nothing happened as a result of this crude insult – nor should it have. Speech on the street should be as free as possible. But the next day the group entered an Orthodox Church, doffed their winter clothes and starting dancing on the altar and singing. Continuing from the same source, “They used the crude epithet ‘Sran Gospodnya’ which has been used to translate ‘holy shit’ in Hollywood movies, but it is rarely used in idiomatic Russian; it literally translates as ‘shit of the Lord’. … They referred to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill as a ‘suka’ (bitch) and accused him of believing more in Putin than God.’”

That got them in trouble and some even landed several of their “collective” in jail until Putin issued a pardon releasing them. (Putin and Medvedev had both been on record opposing the jail terms meted out to the two women. Patriarch Krill, the “suka,’ felt otherwise.)

But the NYT has been unable to praise Pussy Riot highly enough and they were in fact the toast of Manhattan on their U.S. tour in 2014. You see, at the Times there is good pussy and bad pussy. And if the “pussy” is anti-Putin it is good. But if it is pro-Trump, it is bad.

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com. He writes about issues of war, peace and empire, and about health care, for Antiwar.com, Consortium News, Dissident Voice.org and other outlets. Now living in the East Bay, he was until recently Professor of Physiology and Cellular Neuroscience at a Massachusetts Medical School. Read other articles by John V..