Long believed to be a mythical archipelago populated exclusively by penguins and three elderly British wizarding couples who all have tea together on Sundays and exchange potion recipes, the Falkland Islands recently proved that it is a very real and newsworthy place when one of the local papers, Penguin News, took a passive aggressive swipe at Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner by posting an image of her that some subtle wordsmith had uploaded under the file name "perra." (For all you conscientious Spanish students who kept your noses out of the slang dictionary in high school, "perra" means "bitch.") Shockingly, readers clicked on the image and realized that Penguin had pulled a Fox News and responded with due outrage.
Penguin's uploading snark came a day after President Kirchner characterized the U.K.'s plans to send a naval destroyer to the Islands (a self-governing British Overseas Territory) as a "militarizing" move, and said that she planned to lodge a formal complaint with the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly "as this militarization poses a grave danger to international security." She added,
speaking on Prince William's helicopter jaunt to the Falklands,
We cannot interpret in any other way the deployment of an ultra-modern destroyer accompanying the heir to the throne, who we would prefer to see in civilian attire.
Jeez, the nerve of this woman to suggest that a waning imperial power's war games pose a conceptual threat to her nation's sovereignty! The Falklands War happened, like, forever ago — doesn't she know how endearing Prince William is when he Dougies? Though the Falklands only have a population of 3,000 — about 30% of which is British — and Penguin News has a circulation of about 1,500, over 2,000 readers responded with comments to the image title, inundating editor Lisa Watson's Twitter account with angry messages. Though Watson didn't really apologize, she explained that she hadn't intended to anger anyone — some other members of Penguin's staff, who apparently have a "naughty sense of humor," did.
Clever as the staff over at waddle-waddle, squawk-squawk news may think their quip about Kirchner was, it betrays a fundamental disrespect in the way certain members of the media criticize women in positions of power when those women employ tough or uncompromising (read: unladylike) rhetoric, which is how Meryl Streep's two-hour Margaret Thatcher impersonation gets a title like The Iron Lady, while a movie about Richard Nixon is simply Nixon. That is, for a gender normative culture to accept a rigorous woman in a position of leadership, she must somehow lack an essential delicateness that culture associates with womanhood. A stalwart nationalist like Benjamin Netanyahu is a "hard-liner," or a "tough guy" when he insists on safeguarding his nation's sovereignty, but a woman such a Kirchner is dismissed as a bitch for intending to resolve her grievance with the U.K., not with commensurate shows of military might, but through the more civil channels at the UN. Such an insult trivializes the authority of a female leader, which is ironic for a publication named after the most gender egalitarian species of flightless birds in the world. That is, until the ice caps melt and the world is dominated by misogynistic, harem-collecting ostriches.
It's Not a Good Idea to Call Argentina's President ‘Perra' [Atlantic Wire]