Do screaming women scare you? Especially ones in power? Then this NY Times "blockbuster" about City Council Speaker (and the current mayoral frontrunner) Christine Quinn is going make your balls shrivel right up—even if you're a woman! Because the lawmaker's known to say stuff like, "I'm going to cut his balls off!" when talking about lawmakers who piss her off—and she's equal opportunity, telling the Times that "the phrase can apply to women, as well: in the interview last week, she volunteered that using that phrase with a gender-neutral pronoun — 'their' — is 'a good way of doing it, so you don’t have to wonder about the gender.'"
The Times does acknowledge that "Ms. Quinn is by no means the first hotheaded politician in New York — Fiorello H. La Guardia and Rudolph W. Giuliani, both former mayors, were famed for their outbursts." But then there are other details:
- "in private, friends and colleagues say, another Ms. Quinn can emerge: controlling, temperamental and surprisingly volatile, with a habit of hair-trigger eruptions of unchecked, face-to-face wrath."
- Her staff added soundproofing to her office. They also ask each other "Did she throw up on you today?"
- One official says, "Her eyes get really wide, she points her fingers. She gets really close to you. It’s really in your face."
- A former donor says one time, "She screamed at me for 10 minutes, uninterrupted, and used the ‘F’-word at least 20 times. I was just so startled, I didn’t know what to do."
- One ex-city official describes it as "old-fashioned screaming, in a way that you just don’t hear that much."
In a 1999 interview with the Observer, Quinn said, "I am very clear that a part of my personality is what some people might call a bitch. And I am very comfortable with that. I accept it both as a personality asset and as a personality defect. And I think as I’ve gotten more mature-$500,000 worth of therapy later-I know when to be a bitch and I know when not to be a bitch. I make a conscious decision about when I’m gonna, you know, open up the bitch tap and let the water run. It can be really effective when I need it to. I’ve gotten through to people who are far more important than me by being, you know, a real bitch to their staff on the telephone.”
One vivid example of Quinn's anger is when City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley (D-Queens) issued a press release taking credit for stopping local firehouses from closing—and didn't give a shout-out to Quinn. According to the Times, Quinn was "livid" and "began to shout at her, demanding to know who had authorized what she considered to be a premature and poorly worded release." One of Quinn's aides also questioned Crowley's abilities. A few days later, Crowley "learned that Ms. Quinn had cut the Council contributions to senior centers and youth sports programs in her district. The two now rarely speak."
Quinn is unapologetic: While she knows that the yelling is "not always attractive" and "not always the right thing to do," she said, "At this point in my life, I’m not going to spend a lot of time focusing on dissatisfaction with who I am, and I’m not going to spend a lot of time tempering my personality. Whatever job I have next, I’m going to be somebody who wants to get things done."