What @Bluegal Said

Still, she persisted.

“I am done with this bullshit of men telling @HillaryClinton what she can and cannot do… fuck everybody.” -@bluegal (our pal and fellow scissorhead)

If you listened to last night’s Professional Left Podcast (episode 391), you would have heard that statement from Bluegal herself, and it was quite a moment as the context was her husband Driftglass saying that he would let Hillary Clinton say whatever she wanted. I’ve known Bluegal for about a decade, we’ve met face-to-face (she’s wonderful, kind, and funny), and in all this time, I’ve never heard her so angry. Thanks a lot, Trump…

Anyway, her anger confused me because I never think of let as giving permission. And then I looked it up and the very first example was:

1 [ with obj. and infinitive ] not prevent or forbid; allow: my boss let me leave early.

Gulp. I just got served my white cisgendered male privilege on a platter. Just thinking about that context of let makes me angry.

I don’t know that I’ve ever said that someone let me do anything. “Mom said I could do XYZ,” would be much more what I would say, not “Mother let me do XYZ.” Maybe this is a difference in the way boys and girls are socialized? I don’t know, but because it is not even in my lexicon to think of let as being given permission to do something, I have to think it is indeed part of our sexist culture.

It used to be said of us and the Brits that we don’t understand each other because we don’t share our common language, which is a pretty good line. And men and women don’t share our common language either.

Thank-you Bluegal. I learned something last night, that even a three-lettered word can have different meanings to different audiences.

This entry was posted in Mansplaining, sexism, War on Women. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to What @Bluegal Said

  1. You were given to understand without let or hindrance. As my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Thorsten used to say, there’s always time for vocabulary.


  2. Nora Daly says:

    She rocks!


  3. librall says:

    The word let” has irritated me for a long time now. Good for her.


  4. Blue Gal says:

    You got it, looked it up, understood it, and reported it, perfectly, and I love you for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laura says:

      Bluegal, you and that long, tall smarty Drift glass are THE BEST.
      Seriously, you two are a pair of intellectual giants and I think you’re the swellest!


    • At the risk of muddying the waters, Imma point out that you are assuming equivalent weight to “prevent” and “forbid.”

      Equals can prevent.
      Superiors can forbid.

      That definition is inadequate. You can LET people continue what they’re doing without hindering their actions, and it does not assume you are superior to them. But you can only FORBID an action if you are in a superior position.

      The fault here is not in ourselves, but in our stars.


      • tengrain says:

        Nameless Cynic – I don’t think that muddies the water at all. If Superiors can forbid, it also implies that Superiors can allow.

        I got the afternoon off is what I would say, not my boss let me have the afternoon off. I keep focusing on the Who + Verb bit. My sentence makes me the actor, and the other one makes the Boss the actor.

        I think that’s a male perspective: We men (and by that I mean ME!) always see ourselves as the actor. I cannot imagine constructing that sentence where I’m an object and not the actor, and that is male privilege and is innate cultural sexism; I was socialized that way. I’ve never examined it before, and I’m kinda shocked.

        I’m struck again that let is a verb I don’t use and don’t fully understand. I cannot imagine saying to someone, “I’ll let you do XYZ,” unless it were immediately followed by, “if you let me do ABC.”

        Maybe I’m grasping at straws, here?



  5. Infidel753 says:

    I’m a little curious what you previously thought the primary meaning was? I’m a fairly typical 56-year-old American guy and I’ve always known that “let” primarily means to permit somebody to do something.

    Liked by 2 people

    • tengrain says:

      Infidel – I think maybe it was just not used where I grew up in California, except in the context of let’s do XYZ. For a long time I thought it was another way of saying us, being somewhat dyslexic, I never noticed the apostrophe.

      Even here on the blog I’ll say something like, “hey guys, let’s listen to our old pal” as an intro to a vid.

      I don’t have a really good answer, it just was not a verb we used. I paid no attention, but I will now!




      • I’ve thought of it this way, too, and I am an English major–“let” is often used like “aller” in French: we are going to do a thing–let’s do that thing (allons: lets). But I think that’s a particularly Yank expression–it is more expressively understood in “letting a room” (not a phrase Americans use, especially, but indicative of making a thing available) or when talking about “let” in terms of who actually did the letting: “My job lets me take 15 vacation days a year and 15 sick days” or “Mom let me use her car.” One’s freedom to do XYZ is conditional.

        But for women, “let” is fraught–take “let herself go”. Or “let bygones be bygones”. Or “Live and let live”. The grim reality of “let herself” (it is never himself) “go” is that a woman is supposed to be mistress of the entropy that pulls all flesh down. We are to court whatever powers to prevent age, fat, and sorrow from fucking with us–ie, being human. We change with time: it is a letting. An allowance. A failure. Where do we let “go” to? Something horrid. “Let bygones” is about not bringing up the past–forgetting things done to us. We are supposed to forgive–let. Not take it up, because the issue isn’t ours. Leave it. Move on–or more directly–“piss off”. “Let live” implies that someone has an actual cancellation authority over your breathing permit–and so on.

        Hillary Clinton doesn’t need permission to let herself speak, or read someone for filth, or shade them on Twitter, or write a book, and doesn’t need anyone to tell her to go away because she is one of the most grown women in the world. If she has something to say, an insight, a warning–and feels like this is her duty? Then she can preach, and I will pass a collection plate. There is no: “Who lets her?” We didn’t “let” her run this country, but she is totally in charge of herself.


  6. Susan of Texas says:

    I read this three times, I liked it so much.
    Now go back and read any old book. You won’t have to go back far. I have to detach myself to read them because of the ugly assumptions about women.
    I understand why women give in and join the other side, turning against other women. They want a (second-hand) taste of that privilege and (imaginary) protection.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Big Bad Bald Bastard says:

    Bullshit like this attitude towards Hillary merely underscores the importance of electing more women to Congress.

    Liked by 1 person

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