I’ve been a fan of the Onion since I knew it existed. I follow the magazine on Twitter, but missed the now notorious tweet that referred to a 9 year-old child as a “cunt.” When I became aware of it, I wanted to write about it with indignation and righteous anger. The Onion has apologized and promised to tighten restrictions on who can send tweets under its avatar. Regardless, I was infuriated and hoped everyone else was.
And then I read Mendelson’s take on the controversy in the Huffington Post. He makes provocative points, among them the one that frankly shut me up:
“What exactly is the right age to be called a cunt in public, be it overtly or through insinuation? What exactly is the right age to start being judged on their attractiveness or fashion choices?”
Like many people, I’ve been ready to condemn the Onion for releasing a vicious tweet about a child. But like almost as many, I’ve failed to see how drawing a distinction in terms of the age of the target, while understandable on its face, really doesn’t make that much of a difference.
It was wrong. Utterly. But so is the society we’ve set up, in terms of what it would likely tolerate- and will tolerate- to be stated about the young, lovely and talented Ms. Wallis when she is old enough to objectify mercilessly without shocking the conscience.