That time Colby Cosh called Stephen Marche a cunt: casual misogyny among Canadian journalists

I see dudes everywhere.

Colby Cosh is a journalist with The National Post.

Colby Cosh: Stephen Marche? On a list of cunts who use their children for cheap rhetorical tricks? THE Stephen Marche?

Stephen Marche is with Esquire and seems to show up commonly on CBC.

Stephen Marche: @colbycosh I'm sorry. Did you just call me a cunt?

Cosh, like many Postmedia journalists, is very snarky on Twitter.

Colby Cosh: Sorry, I didn't know you were on Twitter. Yes, I did.

I’m not a big fan of Stephen Marche either.

Stephen Marche: Can I just ask people generally, is it OK for @colbycosh to call me a "cunt" on Twitter? Is that OK now?

The behaviours of Marche and Cosh are symptomatic of problems in Canadian media.

Colby Cosh: I guess technically I said you appeared on a list OF cunts. But I also implied I wasn’t real surprised.

None of the writers or editors that I present here seemed to care that using “cunt” as an insult role-models toxic masculinity and demonstrates poor judgment. There is, after all, a long established woman-hating tradition of reducing women to their genitals. There is also a long established woman-hating tradition of insulting men by calling them women. Insulting a man by calling him a cunt, is calling on both woman-hating traditions at once. If you still don’t understand why using “cunt” as an insult is misogynist, see my footnotes below for some resources.1

Stephen Marche: I mean, do his editors at @nationalpost and @macleans approve of @colbycosh calling me a "cunt." cc: @AnneMarieOwens

It’s not a dudebro contest, but Cosh clearly wins.

Colby Cosh: You’re dragging my bosses into it? Boy, that’s certainly not the kind of thing an obnoxious cunt does.

Jonathan Kay is the editor of The Walrus.

Jonathan Kay: 1. @colbycosh: Marche is not a c**t 2. @StephenMarche: resist urge to shame ppl on twitter. Shamers are small & sad

Kay loves Cosh (and Rex Murphy) and they share a history working at The National Post.2

Knowing this doesn’t seem to help the deep annoyance I feel because Kay chose to simply deny that Marche was a cunt. Intervening in this way is a fail. The appropriate response is not to argue whether Marche is or isn’t a “cunt.”3

Anyway, Kay’s very next tweet, about another topic, was shaming of a stranger which was hilariously hypocritical. Don’t worry if you don’t follow Kay’s tweet. I include it because it so succinctly contradicts his admonishment of shaming.

Jonathan Kay: 1. I checked him out for that reason. Alas, he was pretty fit. 2. His licence, pathetically, was "ROMEOX21"

Kay is also symptomatic of problems in Canadian media. And I find it appalling that these guys write and edit for big news organizations. I tried to intervene but got nowhere.

Textbook misogyny demonstrated by journalist at the @nationalpost. #cdnmedia #journalism

In the end, Marche ignored me. Cosh responded to my criticisms with snark. And Kay blocked me rather than engage at all.4

Colby Cosh: Who had "the first person to complain of 'misogyny' will be a dude" in the pool? Everybody you say?

Andrew Coyne is also with The National Post and is featured regularly on CBC. He was the National editor for Maclean’s and was also with The Globe and Mail. You would think he might have more to say on the use of “cunt” as a tool of scorn. But this is all he could bring himself to say on the matter.

Would he prefer to be called a “dick” and if so why?

Sherwin Arnott: Note to journalists: calling someone a cunt reflects poorly on your judgment. #cdnmedia

In all, this exchange stands as just another Saturday of casual misogyny between opinion makers in Canadian media. In fairness, I’m not immune to such behaviours. But when I succumb to this standard, I try hard to exhibit more openness and gratitude in response to criticisms.

Unfortunately, these kinds of behaviours are not uncommon in public journalistic life. Below I’ve gathered together some of Cosh’s tweets that use “pussy”, “bitch”, “cunt” and other phrases that demonstrate casual misogyny and privilege:

  1.  Consider how the use of “queer” or “gay” or “fag” as an insult, demeans queer folks. For a more explicit explanation, see also and also this helpful history of the word “cunt” and this recent essay about Clint Eastwood:
  2. They also share right wing political interests. Thank you, Kay, for pointing out that you never worked at Maclean’s.
  3. Kay also chose to point out that Marche was shaming Cosh and ignore the fact that Cosh had done the same.
  4. So instead, I had a lovely debrief and meta conversation with two Tweeps I think very highly of:


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