“They call us women c----. C---- are powerful.”
That’s what Marama Davidson, co-leader of New Zealand’s opposition Green Party, told a cheering crowd at a recent political event in Auckland on Friday. The “c-word” has been used to threaten and belittle female politicians, so Davidson decided to start using the word repeatedly in public.
“Now one thing I’ve noticed, but I haven’t spoken about in the media yet, is these people who try to shut us down and try to intimidate us and try to make us scared by calling us” the c-word, Davidson said at a rally against racism.
Davidson’s comments have caused a stir in New Zealand politics, with a number of other female politicians refusing to stand by her use of the word.
The country’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who recently returned to work after a baby on June 21, said she wouldn’t use the word herself. And opposition politician Paula Bennett, deputy leader of the National Party, has also criticized Davidson’s use of the word, calling it “disgusting” to use it in front of children.
Davidson’s use of the word may have some support, however. While polls show the word is considered among the most offensive by New Zealanders, Victoria University Linguistics Professor Miriam Meyerhoff told Newshub that the younger generation seemed to be more accepting.
“My students are much more comfortable using it than I was, so there’s clearly an age difference in terms of how acceptable it is,” Meyerhoff told the local outlet.