Though she has already issued a swift apology for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt” on Full Frontal last week, host Samantha Bee apologized again for her words. “I crossed the line,” she said. “I regret it, and I do apologize for that.” But there’s a Full Frontal twist.
Bee’s usage of the word, she argues, has always been a matter of reclamation, but she recognizes that for some women, it’s a word that has been used against them in cruelty, and they might not want it reclaimed. “ I don’t blame them. I don’t want to inflict more pain on them,” she said. Bee also addressed those concerned with the general loss of civility in American society, saying that as a comic who cut her teeth in “dark basement bars yelling back at drunk hecklers,” she’s hardly the person anyone should be looking to for examples on how to be civil.
In the week that has elapsed since the incident, seemingly everyone in or adjacent to the current administration has taken a pearl-clutching stance against Bee’s use of a word that is, as Jo Livingstone points out at the New Rrepublic, not a slur, but a misogynistic insult that is most cutting when used by a man against a woman. In a panic induced by advertisers threatening to pull out of Bee’s show, TBS announced that they would be paying closer attention to the content of her show, perhaps in order to prevent her from calling anyone else a feckless cunt ever again.
The rich irony of this controversy is that the Trump administration has defined itself largely by its overall lack of civility—Trump’s Twitter and the pussy tape, are two of the most glaring examples. Those who live in glass houses should not heave giant, hulking boulders, as the saying goes, but conservatives in America love nothing more than to mobilize en masse against any perceived threat to the purity of the American consciousness (while somehow ignoring the second half of Bee’s joke, which suggested that Trump is influenced by the sexual appeal of his own daughter.)
Crowing for “civility” while quietly enacting policies that are cruel and unfeeling is part of their tradition. And it is this hypocrisy that Bee would like us all to think about just a teensy bit more. “I should have known that a potty-mouth insult would be inherently more interesting...than juvenile immigration policy,” Bee said. “I would do anything to help those kids; I hate that this distracted from them, so to them, I am also sorry...Civility is just nice words. Maybe we should worry more about the niceness of our actions.”