”Mistress”–semantics or sexism?
I’ve heard all the elaborate explanations and I’m unconvinced. For once, even the Bard’s inspired words (‘a rose by any other name’), leave me cold. The latest tempest in a particularly steamy teapot, has the word “Mistress” bandied about with such abandon that even Madame Pompadour would blush!
Paula Broadwell is most certainly not a ‘kept’ woman as the word mistress implies. Despite claims that it is merely a semantical distinction, I sense sexism and an unhealthy dose of contempt in the use of this term to designate a BAD woman, without a corresponding term for her male counterpart.(dupe or idiot spring to mind). She apparently was the General’s lover, paramour or sex partner. The same is allegedly true for him. As media lackeys (both male and female) trumpet the same tired jargon, the message seeps into the American consciousness. MISTRESS–hussy,strumpet, vixen, the kind of woman society should scorn and revile. Coupled with the strong presumption that the man in question was either duped (fog of war–please?), or beguiled by her charms, the stage is set for a modern replay of the Garden of Eden. This time around, the temptress holds a biography not an apple.