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In Washington Post humor columnist Gene Weingarten‘s monthly online chat today, a reader confronted Weingarten over one of his signature phrases: “I love women.” [Weingarten seriously “loves women”: See exhibits A, B, C, D, and E].
I recently scolded Chris Brown for employing the phrase on the Wendy Williams Show, citing four criteria (a) “I Love Women” essentializes an entire gender; (b) it really means “I love having sex with women”; (c) it is generally employed as a thin cover for a blatant sexist phase; or, worse: (d) it is assumed to be a get-0ut-of-jail-free card for past misogynistic behavior.
But Weingarten insists that he’s not using “I love women” in the Chris Brown sense of the phrase:
Washington, D.C.: As a regular user of the phrase “I love women” right here in this very chat, what say you about this?
Gene Weingarten: This is interesting, and a comeuppance for me. Except when I say “I love women” I do not mean “I love to have sex with women.” I mean something less crude, but no less objectionable, I suppose. I am saying that I find a combination of certain traits—-compassion, empathy, the ability to wield sexual power with sophistication and adroitness and mercy, the sometimes comical pursuit of decency and cleanliness, a distaste for the vulgar and common, an instinctive kindness, and instinctive appreciation of tastefulness and decorum, a charming embarrassment over coarse bodily functions, and several other attributes—-to be adorable and enviable and worthy and beyond the understanding of many men. In this sense, I am, in fact, both generalizing (all women are not alike) and diminutizing (I find these things, God help me, “cute”). I am guilty of this and apologize.
Gene Weingarten: Here’s how much I respect women: If I were a gynecologist, I would administer ma’am-ograms.
So, Weingarten isn’t using “I love women” in a (b) “sex!” or (d) “excuse for hitting his girlfriend” way, but he is using “I love women” in an (a) “generalizing” and (c) “deminutizing” way. Basically, he’s batting .500 on “I love women.” But hey, at least he’s honest about it.