clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Samantha Bee explains exactly why she’s sorry — and why she’s not — for using the c-word

“I never intended this show to hurt anyone, except Ted Cruz.”

Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

On Wednesday night, Samantha Bee elaborated on last week’s apology for using a gendered slur to describe Ivanka Trump. In a thoughtful, very specific Full Frontal cold open, Bee explained exactly why she was sorry, who she was apologizing to — and who she wasn’t.

First, some background. Last week, during a segment about the United States’ immigration policy and the 1,500 “missing” migrant children, Bee came under fire for calling Ivanka Trump a cunt. “You know, Ivanka, that’s a beautiful photo of you and your child,” Bee said as the photo flashed onto the screen, “but let me just say, one mother to another: Do something about your dad’s immigration practices, you feckless cunt! He listens to you!”

The moment faced harsh criticism, both from the White House, which called her statement “vile and vicious,” and from some on the left, who argued that calling women “cunts” reduces them to their genitalia and is a slur that’s meant to teach women that their bodies are disgusting and shameful. (Bee also received praise from others on the left, who argued that cunt is just a word and that the real issue is Donald Trump’s immigration practices.) In the wake of the backlash, Bee tweeted an apology to both Ivanka Trump and her viewers, saying, “I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it.”

In her segment on Wednesday night, Bee got more specific with her apology. Here are the takeaways.

Whom she’s apologizing to: Two groups of people. First, women who were offended. “A lot of women have heard that word at the worst moment of their lives,” Bee said. “I don’t want to inflict more pain on them. I want this show to be challenging and I want it to be honest, but I never intended it to hurt anyone, except Ted Cruz.”

Second, the children affected by Donald Trump’s juvenile immigration policy, which is what her segment was supposed to focus on before everyone got distracted by the c-word.

What she’s sorry about: First, Bee says that when she’s used the word cunt on her show before, it’s been as an attempt to reclaim the word and turn it into a badge of honor. Using it as an insult rather than reclaiming it, she says, crossed a line.

Second, she says she regrets that her use of the word meant that the news cycle paid less attention to the children dealing with Trump’s immigration policy.

“I would do anything to help those kids,” Bee said. “I hate that this distracted from them.”

Whom she’s not apologizing to: Men who were offended by her use of the word cunt. “I do not care about that,” Bee said.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.