Tag Archives: white men

media annoyances part 2: Tom Ashbrook “On Point”

So Adam Nagourney certainly was annoying me today, but yesterday, I was way more irate at someone I don’t usually hate, Tom Ashbrook, in his radio show “On Point”. Granted, I was driving around in Boston traffic, trying to find parking in the over-crowded Longwood Medical Area, and did I mention that I was driving around in Boston traffic? with Boston drivers? or perhaps I should say “people in Boston who drive cars but really should never have been given licenses to do so”.

Still even though I had massive external provocations (why is it that people in Boston do not seem to have learned how to make left turns in an intersection?) Tom Ashbrook was far more annoying. “On Point”, hosting an hour-long discussion on the earthquake in China’s Sichuan province. At one point a caller made the eminently reasonable point that US resources were committed to Iraq, leaving us vulnerable to natural disasters; he brought up the US national response to Hurricane Katrina.

Now, there are sooo many reasonable responses to this point. But Tom Ashbrook totally ran this one off the rails onto his own bizarre tangent. Which apparently was an interest in discussing how authoritarian governments stack up against democratic governments in responding to natural disasters.

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media annoyances part 1: Adam Nagourney

Two things annoyed me in the last 24 hours. Well, two media things.

First, this morning in an article about same-sex marriage in the NYT, there was utter stupid cluelessness that led me to conclude the article must have been written by a straight person. And indeed, But then I just looked at the byline and it was by Adam Nagourney, which explains this article. Why is Adam Nagourney so bad? Anyway today he wrote in paragraph 1:

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damn good alterations

Canadian Club (“CC”, not Creative Commons) has been running these really offensive & annoying ads aimed, apparently, at a very small demographic: straight white men with masculinity issues and daddy issues.

My partner pointed them out to me — plastered on bus stops in our ethnically diverse and progressive, queer-friendly community — and we enjoyed speculating on how enterprising billboard alteration-ers (certainly not us, I’d like to emphasize) might edit the ads to be more appropriate for our community. (Way to do stupid poorly-targeted advertising, jack-asses.)

For instance, the ad that showed a guy making out with a woman in a lounge, that implied “dad” was cheating on mom — that could easily be edited to make it appear that mom was picking up a stray businessman to fulfill those needs that dad wasn’t capable of satisfying. Again, I repeat, we would never consider doing the alterations ourselves. Pure speculation.

a better Canadian Club ad
An improved Canadian Club ad.

Anyway, Rebecca Tushnet reports about another woman’s response to the ad campaign. CC ran one of those cheesey “get involved and do it yourself” fake participation schemes so that straight white overcompensating men with daddy issues could put their own daddies into the ads. Michelle Koenig-Schwartz began Project: Canadian Club – Your Mom Had Groupies in response.

The pictures are awesome, and I have to note that these would go over a lot better in Jamaica Plain. Tushnet’s post also contains great analysis, so read the whole thing.

sexism in hillary-bashing

Great article by Rebecca Traister at Salon.com about sexism lurking behind the shrill Obama support.

Notes and thoughts:
* It’s not Hillary’s “shrillness” that’s discomfiting; it’s the shrillness of boys’ support for Obama & hatred of Hillary. Dana Lossia quoted: “People can always come up with reasons they don’t like the candidate they’re not supporting. … But no one disliked Joe Biden or Chris Dodd as much as they dislike Hillary.”

* It kills me that “Some women apologized for ‘sounding so feminist.’” Fuck that. This is what post-feminism looks like: Women apologize for pointing out sexism. Looks a lot like our colorblind post-racism society. Pointing out a problem causes some white male person discomfort and reminds them of the ugly presence of sexism and racism — in the past, of course, because it doesn’t happen today — and therefore it’s just as bad as sexism and racism themselves. Why it’s almost like we’re asking to be singled out and treated like women and people of color.

* This is a brilliant historical connection that I hadn’t made:

When sexism is acknowledged in this primary campaign, it has been attributed to either Chris Matthews or the conservative, Rush Limbaugh, Iron My Shirt brigade. Little open recognition has been given to the possibility that there might be some gender discomfort behind the army of liberally minded Obama enthusiasts. But progressive politics has not always been female-friendly politics; ’70s feminism was born partly in response to the inequities of the antiwar and civil rights movements. It’s certainly possible that the youthful Obama movement has its own brand of female trouble.

* Becca O’Brien quoted in the article: “O’Brien… noted that it’s ‘very convenient that the same people who have a sense of discomfort with female authority they prefer not to examine’ also object to [Clinton's] personality and record in specific terms, an antipathy they feel comfortable voicing. ‘What you get … is the energy of the first expressed in words of the second.”

* “‘They’re busy patting themselves on the back for supporting a black man: Aren’t we cool?’ Perhaps it is thanks to the admitted cool factor that among educated liberal voters, the assumption is that you’re for Obama, that he is the more ‘progressive’ choice. Obama loyalty, like white masculinity itself, has become normative -– if you’re not for him, you’d best be prepared to explain your deviation.” Oh, so true.

* I’d heard of the “iron my shirts” signs at Hillary appearances. Mia Bruch in the article describes a cosmetics shop in NYC that sold only one political item: “a huge stack of Hillary nutcrackers”.

* “[A] lightly disguised uneasiness with female power, as well as the “we love women, just not that woman” rhetoric will be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to the reception of the feminist movement. … [Hillary Clinton] has been exactly the kind of woman that feminism made room for: ambitious, ball-busting, high-earning, untrained in the finer arts of hair care, and unwilling to play dumber (or nicer) than she is.” But this is the kind of woman who’s taking jobs from the white men who are so shrilly against Hillary and for Obama. Race and gender complexify all our lives, but ambitious successful women are villified for their very successes.

* The article describes women who know many men who are hostile, hateful, and sexist in their anti-Hillary rhetoric. My own circles are probably largely pro-Obama to the extent that they support political processes. The women can be just as enthusiastic as the men about Obama’s vision, progressive rhetoric, & stated intentions, and just as critical of Clinton’s positions on the Iraq War, cynical or conservative (or both) take on civil liberties and freedom of expression, and political pandering. Politics at their best are passionate, but not ugly, but my partner and I both know men — progressive, liberal, radical, “good guys” — who express a personal level of vitriol and antipathy towards Clinton that is ugly and sexist.

Dudely Obama supporters, are you checking your sexism?

ferraro and why the media sucks

So Geraldine Ferraro revealed her cluelessness about race issues with her “I’m being attacked for being white” comment. She also revealed, as my partner astutely pointed out, that she must have almost no people of color in her close circle who could help her out by explaining exactly what was wrong about the comment about Barack Obama succeeding because he is black.

But somehow lost in all of this fulmination about race is any fulmination at all about gender, which is pretty much the story of this 2008 campaign. For all the “women voters are doing X” and “Hillary played the sexism card” and so on, we have heard very little media analysis about whether there actually is sexism in the electorate, punditocracy, handling, or media coverage of the race. Ferraro’s comment is a perfect example: Her comment had multiple parts, including the clueless and offensive part about Barack Obama’s race, that was rightly jumped on by people who pointed out that it was clueless and offensive. Her follow-up implying some sort of “reverse racism” demonstrated thoroughly that she doesn’t understand the systematic and systemic effects of racism, and how it is not simply about “noticing skin color”.

But Ferraro also commented about sexism in the campaign when she noted that Barack Obama would not have been so successful had he been a black woman — or for that matter a white woman or a woman of any race — and that observation has gone completely unremarked upon. Which is really unfortunate, because this part of her comment was much more astute. Can we imagine for a minute that a woman who was a junior senator, with good lefty credentials and remarkable oratory, could have done this well? Having seen the outright way people talk about Hillary’s voice and whether a woman could run the country — presumably a question of experience and temperament — would a woman with only four years on the national scene even be treated seriously? even by her own party? I honestly doubt it, and I wish that — instead of simply relishing the catfight aspect of politicians and their staff sniping at each other and then being outraged and then ritually firing their outspoken staffmembers — instead of all that, I wish the media would actually, occasionally, examine the issues that they bring up.

Wouldn’t we all be a lot better if, instead of reporting that Ferraro said this, and Obama’s campaign expressed that, and then the Clinton campaign responded, and blah blah blah ad nauseum — if the media said, “is it true that Obama would not have done so well if he weren’t black?” and then analyzed it and did some talking about race in this country and how it is hardly a benefit no matter how much some white people blather on about so-called reverse racism, and looked at the studies about unconscious beliefs that people form about other people based on knowledge or presumptions about race. And while we’re at it we could look at the classism that infects discussions of Obama’s family, too.

And the media could also then analyze the comment about whether Obama would do as well if he were a woman, and look at sexism and how that affects things, and you know there are actually quite a lot of studies that show that editors are less likely to accept a paper if they think it’s by a woman, and reference writers are more likely to talk about the person’s family credentials if it’s a woman, and professional musician auditions are less likely to hire a woman unless the audition is done “blind”, and oh yeah people routinely allow themselves to be filmed on national television saying things like they just don’t believe a woman can really run the country, and what kind of effect does that have on people when another study has shown that simply hearing some unknown person in another room describe people as “like animals” makes one much more likely to administer higher-level shocks to people.

Couldn’t we have some interesting conversations if we looked at the issues and the substance?

Isn’t this just another lament about the horse-race aspect of the campaign? Yes, it is.
update: See, this is why I love Katha Pollitt. Pollitt wrote:

that the “sulfurous emanations” about Mrs. Clinton made her want to write a check to her campaign, knock on doors, vote for her twice — even though she’d probably choose another candidate on policy grounds. “The hysterical insults flung at Hillary Clinton are just a franker, crazier version of the everyday insults — shrill, strident, angry, ranting, unattractive — that are flung at any vaguely liberal mildly feminist woman who shows a bit of spirit and independence,” she wrote, “who puts herself out in the public realm, who doesn’t fumble and look up coyly from underneath her hair and give her declarative sentences the cadence of a question.”

That’s pretty much exactly how I feel. And although Hillary isn’t interesting enough for me to read a whole book about her, I might try to get this essay by Pollitt.

To make things even better, this quote was actually from an article in the NYT that is actually on this exact topic: Postfeminism and Other Fairy Tales by Kate Zernike. It’s just a start but it’s good to see it, and maybe a little NYT coverage (albeit in Week in Review) will start at least a little self-reflection in other media.

on insanely stupid, homophobic, racist, white Republican legislators

Bloggers & media have been all over the latest in a long, long series (at least as long as i have been reading the news, which is 20+ years now*) of sexcapades by Republicans and religious right leaders: Florida state legislator Bob Allen (R), who solicited an undercover cop for a blowjob in Titusville, FL, and is consequently being charged with soliciting prostitution. The cop was black, and Allen said that there were black men loitering about the park so he offered the blowjob + cash to avoid becoming “a statistic.”

Where to begin.

1 – It’s a relief that it’s charged with soliciting prostitution; not too many years ago he could have been charged with violating Florida’s sodomy law. (Not that I’m happy he was charged, at all. Once it was clear it was a gay thang, the officer seems to have been only too happy to bust the guy for solicitation. Bob Allen is pathetic, but is this what we need to spend public funds doing? The cop was plain clothes investigating a burglary. I’d rather have had him finish that job than bust Allen for a BJ.)

2 – Some people seem surprised that when Republicans ostensibly straight men solicit sex from other men they often (usually?) offer to give rather than to receive. It’s pretty obvious: See, receiving they can get at home, with their eyes closed. Giving, for Republicans ostensibly straight men, is best done in parks, bathrooms, park bathrooms, etc.

3 – It’s a shame that there is still so much homophobia that Republicans gay men resort to paying strangers when there are lots and lots of men having gay sex for free. In Florida. Even (or especially) in Cape Canaveral.

4 – What’s worse: That racism is apparently so acceptable for this “straight” white Republican man that he thinks it’s an excuse (albeit a really, really implausible one) for being gay, or that he thinks being gay is worse than racism? What a sad and tangled mess that man’s mind is. (John Scalzi has the best comment:

The only real bit of news out of all of this is that Allen would rather be seen as a terrified racist than as someone willing to solicit strangers in a public restroom to get some man-on-man action. Well, here’s the thing, Mr. Allen: Clearly, you can be both.

5 – Gotta love the last line of the Orlando Sentinel story:

When Allen was being placed in a marked patrol car, he asked whether “it would help” if he was a state legislator, according to a police report. The officer replied, “No.”

6 – Allen’s political positions: Cosponsor of an anti-public lewdness bill that would have prohibited park sex. CFNews 13. He got a 92% rating from the Christian Coalition prior to his 2006 election.OS 7/12 He supported amending Florida’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage, and opposed a bill to curb harassment of gay students.365gay


* There must be a blog somewhere dedicated to charting the sexcapades of moralizers. If there’s not, I would love to start it, but it would be apparently a full-time job, so some independently wealthy person needs to start it. Or pay me to start it. Seriously.

Boys read boys, NYT Editorial Board edition

string of author photos at NYT MidtermMadness blog

Good going, NYT — on their new “http://midtermmadness.blogs.nytimes.com/”, which offers an array of commentators, professors, and pundits to comment on the 2006 elections … they’ve given us six (6) men, all apparently white, and dare I guess their class backgrounds? Way to seek a diversity of opinion.

 
 
 
 
 
 

music and rants in honor of south dakota

i’ve been too angry to post about south dakota — and really, too unsurprised and cynical to have anything particularly interesting to say — but some music has been particularly resonant to me the last few weeks watching the South Dakota legislators presume to regulate the personal lives and medical decisions of women. so here’s a few pieces i keep in my ‘favories’ playlist, plus a couple of others i dug out special from my music archives:

  • “Butyric Acid”, by Consolidated, from the album Business of Punishment (1994). [lyrics below the fold; you have to click on “more” to open up this page separately and then the lyrics link will work]
  • “Green Monkey” by Laura B., a spoken word piece on the album Cause – Piece of Mind: Rock for Choice (1992). [I'll try to get the text but don't have it now.]
  • “Femme Fatale”, by Digable Planets, from the album Reachin’ (A New Refutation Of Time And Space) (1993). [lyrics below the fold]
  • A trio from Ani:

  • “Hello Birmingham”, by Ani DiFranco, from the album To the Teeth (1999). [lyrics below the fold]
  • “Lost Woman Song” by Ani DiFranco, from the album Ani DiFranco (1990). [lyrics below the fold]
  • “tiptoe” by Ani DiFranco, from the album Not a Pretty Girl (1995). [lyrics below the fold]
  • and just a couple more:

  • “Every Sperm Is Sacred” / Monty Python, from “The Meaning of Life” [lyrics below the fold]
  • And a special dedication goes out to SD state Senator, Bill Napoli: “Dead Men Don’t Rape”, by 7 Year Bitch, from the album Sick ‘Em (1992) and also on There’s a Dyke in the Pit! (1992). (Lyrics below the fold, but I think you can guess the refrain.) And don’t construe this as a threat because I’m a pacifist, but when I listen to this song I reflect on the ways that state-mandated pregnancy is a continuing, multi-month, invasion into a woman’s body. And I hold every one of those legislators and officials who signed off on this obscene legislation equally culpable for that violation. I’d call them fuckers but I really hope they never get laid again.

and here’s another I just thought of, and will get lyrics to after work tonight:

  • “Here’s to the State of Mississippi” / Phil Ochs. (Because the list of benighted states just keeps growing ….)

Lyrics below the fold.

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