Feature: Soapbox Musings

Giving the President a Finger

Author: MaryFran Bontempo
Published: January 29, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I've used the same gesture countless times to bring errant kids (or a husband) in line.

But on the President of the United States?

Last week, in a photo shot by Haraz N. Ghanbari for the Associated Press, Arizona's Republican Governor, Jan Brewer, was caught wagging a finger directly into the face of the commander-in-chief. Seems the governor had a few issues with the President and sought to drive home her point with her pointer finger.

To be fair, there is another single-digit gesture Governor Brewer could have employed to catch the President's attention. But that one would have likely had her being tackled to the tarmac by the Secret Service.

Still, it seems Brewer crossed a line.

Finger wagging is but one of many gestures, expressions, exasperated sighs and so on in the "scolding" arsenal of women and mothers around the world. We frequently use them in conjunction with words, but often times, a silent admonition in the form of a raised eyebrow, a tilt of the head or a quickly raised palm can be just as effective.

Think about how often your own mother quieted you with a quick swivel of her head followed by an arched brow. How many times did a deep intake of breath followed by an equally long sigh provide fair warning that you were treading on thin ice and should "knock it off" though your mother hadn't uttered a single syllable?

There's no doubt the plethora of non-verbal communication routinely utilized by women is effective. But it's also highly personal and more than a little intimate.

Once, during a light-hearted "discussion" with one of my husband's friends, I jokingly wagged my finger in his face to underscore a point. "Hey, hold on," he said. "The only woman allowed to do that to me has stayed married to me for thirty-two years."

Continued on the next page

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Article Author: MaryFran Bontempo

Mary Fran Bontempo relies on writing to help her navigate a thirty-one plus year "career" as a wife, mother, author, teacher, former youth director, newspaper columnist, business writer, taxi driver, waitress, nurse, chief cook and bottle washer. …

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