Generalizations & Gendered Language

I had several reactions to the US dropping the largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. Among my concerns is one frustration that addresses how we use language, namely, the name. MOAB is an acronym for Massive Ordinance Air Blast, but the weapon has been colloquially known as the Mother Of All Bombs. Mother?? This sent my mind spinning into one of my controversial beliefs in that we should have a trial run wherein women switch places with male leaders and have a go at running things. I foresee that there would be a lot less killing, considering women’s capabilities to be more nurturing- more motherly- than men who aren’t as biologically and often culturally inclined to take care of others. But that’s my binary gendered generalization, and I understand that’s an extreme speculation to make. Nonetheless, I believe it, so when I see weapons that are created by male-dominated agencies (CIA) and approved by individual US generals (John Nicholson) I’m curious as to why makers of this bomb decided to correlate destruction with motherhood? Actually, I’m not as curious as I am insulted?

I think this is just a recent example of how we utilize femininity to describe objects that can be explosive or tumultuous, in any sense of the word. I know for a long time hurricanes were solely named after women and still today female-named hurricanes are on record more deadly than male-named hurricanes. It took until the 1980’s for enough women to say, “I am not a storm that sweeps in and destroys communities,” in order for male names to start being used. Whether it’s Siri, boats, cars, storms or bombs, it’s offensive to feminize in an effort to soften them, subjugate them, or insinuate that these things are volatile just like women.

To make matters worse I’m reading Bukowski. I just re-read Ada Limón’s How to Triumph like a Girl and it’s reassuring to see womanhood paralleled with constructive, rather than destructive power.

Exhibit A: how to triumph like a girl

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