This post is a part of the “Out of the Kitchen” weekly column in which various news and pop culture items will be examined through a feminist lens.
I love NPR’s Tell Me More. I listen to it almost every day that I drive to work. I’ve written many times about the numerous interesting topics it has brought to my attention. I think Michel Martin is perhaps the most compelling interviewer on NPR’s nationally broadcasted programs.
One of the show’s regular Friday segments is the “barbershop” where Martin checks in with an ever rotating line up of diverse men. They chat about current news topics, politics, and sports. The regular leader of the pack is Jimi Izrael. I’ve always found Izrael’s contributions to the discussions to be insightful. So I was, at first, pretty excited when I saw that a piece he wrote had been picked up on Jezebel today.
Izrael’s piece is about a 14 year old girl, Amber Cole. Cole is making news because a video of her performing oral sex has gone viral. The story is a big deal, because it is obviously extremely disturbing. Izrael’s narrative is told as the metaphorical father of the girl. The crushing reality hit me as I saw that Izrael’s piece, while rightfully highlighting some of the racial implications of the tragedy, amounts to not much more than misogyny. Here are some excerpts:
She would listen to her mother, if her mother was not busy. Doing something, anything that is not parenting. I want her mother to spend less time being “empowered” and more time being aware and engaged with our daughter. I want her mother to be a better role model, not a BFF.
I am Amber Cole’s father, and I am not raising a slut. White feminists can teach their own little girls to find empowerment through their crotches – my brown little girl cannot afford to be that carefree and cavalier with her life choices. Slutlife is the hard, lonely vocation of rich, educated, privileged white women who will fuck The World, contract social diseases and still, somehow find a husband. No black woman ever got far being a slut. I want to know what kind of women “slutwalk,” while young impressionable girls of all kinds look on with wonder and admiration. I want to know why these same women run to protect Miley Cyrus but just shrugged, nonplussed for my little brown girl. I want to know what the fuck those dumb bunnies are thinking. Most of them do not have daughters. I want my daughter, the woman, to have healthy, vibrant sexuality. My little girl should have other priorities. I am her father. I will protect her and every woman in my life with my life.
If you want a really great run down of the problem’s with Izrael’s piece, I suggest the comment section over at Jezebel, because the community there take down every line in his piece much better than I can. However, I would like to note a couple of things. First of all, this piece is written as the metaphorical father of Amber Cole and girls like her, but it squarely places the blame back on mothers (and later the media). It doesn’t say very much about how fathers (or the absence thereof) can actually play such a critical role in the sexual values and self-esteem formation of young girls. Instead, his piece goes on to emphasize the fact that as a father, he was probably at work while this happened “doing the best I can.”
So the mother is at fault because her absence is her being “empowered” but the dad is blameless because his absence is him “doing the best he can?” I just…I don’t even know what to say. This idea is so deeply tied to traditional gender roles and sexism that it sickens me. It’s the age old idea that mothers are ultimately responsible for kids. It’s tired.
Secondly, I take his point that “sluttiness” has different implications for a white girl than it does a brown one. All too often, brown women’s bodies are hypersexualized and behaviors/clothing choices seen as slutty to them are seen as acceptable to white women. This is a fair point and we can discuss this. We can also discuss how women of color have been traditionally excluded from the feminist movement, which has for too much of its history, been concerned about the issues which affect priviledged white women.
However, to place the blame for the situation with Amber Cole, who is the victim of child pornography and cyberbullying, on feminists is ludicrous. As is his slut-shaming. Izrael is obviously very uncomfortable with female owned sexuality. As commenter Gavagirl pointed out at Jezebel:
Of course little brown girls who get their freak on frequently and with gusto can’t find husbands. Because only nice brown guys like Jimi Izrael want to get married to brown girls, and nice brown guys don’t like filthy brown whores. And of course that’s not due to any kind of fault on the part of the nice brown guys. It’s up to the brown girls to make sure they’ve lived up to the expectations of the brown guys so that they shall be rewarded.
Lastly, to put the icing on the misogynistic cake, when the shitstorm of comment starts, Izrael jumped on Jezebel and left a gem of a reply including this:
It is easy for you to cosign some little black girl giving head, to suggest that little girls embrace the ideas behind a “Slutwalk” –which sounds too close to “Hoe Stroll” for my taste—when you are not a stake-holder. I have a daughter. I am a stakeholder, and this shit is real to me. It’s my every-day, my every-week. And it’s hard.
Now, surely this is just a joke. We, the women who find his assessment offensive, are not “stakeholders” because we do not have daughters? Your opinion of girls only counts if you are a father of a girl? Honestly, despite all the hateful stuff spewed above, this is the part I find most offensive. To suggest that the most important stakeholder in this case is the MALE relation of the girl is so absolutely mind-numbingly foolish that I can almost not even continue.
How are we, women who lived the very experience of growing up female, not stakeholders in the development of the next generation of young women?
Look, I get it. It’s hard raising kids. I can appreciate that it is no easy task because all too often I could tell that my parents had no idea what they were doing. Additionally, I work in girl services. While I do not know the first hand experience of parenting, I do work with dozens of moms and dads raising girls who are the same age as Amber Cole. I know that parents of both genders are always looking for resources to help them navigate raising daughters. But how dare he say that it’s easy for childfree feminists to participate in SlutWalk because we are not “stakeholders” in the girl world. In the discussion of female sexuality, no perspective is more important than women’s. (Never mind the fact that Izrael has totally missed the point behind SlutWalk.)
All around, I am deeply disappointed at Izrael’s reaction to Amber Cole’s story. I feel like he brought up a couple of really great things that the feminist blogosphere could have read, discussed, and learned from, but he put together a highly offensive anti-woman rant. As HeliosHyperion said, “How am I suppose to take him seriously, respect his opinion whether or not I agree with it, when he so obviously hates women?”
And selfishlessly, I’m disappointed that my Friday morning “Tell Me More” segments will come with a little more spite and a little less respect, on my part.
Welcome to the Tuesday edition of the Daily News Drop. It’s been a big day for news, and not all of it has to do with the 2012 elections (which is all the mainstream media cares to talk about). Here are today’s stories!
Legitimate Coverage of Police Brutality on Protesters As centrist as MSNBC tends to be, I was really impressed by Lawrence O’Donnell’s commentary on the obvious excessive use of force by the NYPD against the protesters at Occupy Wall Street. He used the specific example to make a broader point – this sort of overreach of power happens every day, all across the country. Watch the video and witness quality reporting. Fair warning, some of the video footage of the police brutality can be jarring.
Health Insurance Costs Spike Interesting story from the New York Times. A study has come out that measures that health insurance rates have increased 9 percent from last year. Reasons for the spike are anything but clear. It could be insurers are raising rates while they still can without penalty or oversight, or it could just be an anomaly. This is clear: Republicans will use this fact as another reason to call Obamacare a failure. My take on this is complicated. Obama’s plan (watered down as it was) was flawed because the cost-cutting measures don’t kick in until 2014, thus giving the GOP years to slam it as a failure and push to repeal it before it ever began. These rate hikes are a symptom of a political war that Obama is losing badly.
Putin Rears his Head As I saw the news that Vladamir Putin was going to leave the Prime Minister slot and run for President again in 2012, essentially just switching slots with current President (and friend of Putin) Dmitry Medvedev, and it seemed both unsurprising and disconcerting. Putin was long rumored to be the one actually pulling the strings in Russia, even if Medvedev had the actual title. Putin, former head of the KGB, Chas been ruthless in regards to political dissidents (liberals). I’m not one to call Russia and Putin an ‘enemy,’ I’m just disheartened to see a supposed democracy fall back into cronyism and borderline dictatorship.
Shift in how Same Sex Couple Identify Themselves According to the Census, one in five of the nation’s 646,000 same sex couples identify themselves as married. Some of these couples were married in states that recognize same sex marriage, and some identify themselves as married even though they cannot be legally married in their state. The message to take away from this is simple – the stigma of gay marriage is falling away. With more people willing to disclose their relationships, and more of the general population warming to the idea of gay marriage, marriage equality seems to be the clear endpoint to this trend.
Not All Liberal Disappointment Towards Obama is Due to Racism Earlier this week, I shared a post from Melissa Harris-Perry where she attributed that a large portion of white liberals who have stopped supporting President Obama are doing so because of race. The post has caused a bit of a commotion. David Sirota wrote a very cogent rebuttal to Harris-Perry’s claim that I find convincing. As a white liberal who is anything but happy with Barack Obama right now, I can say that my displeasure is directly because of his policies and failure to stick to the principles that he professed to have during his campaign, not because of his race. Be sure to read both articles and make up your own mind. Here is a like to Melissa Harris-Perry’s article
Positive Sign for LGBT in Sports Rick Welts, a front office executive for the NBA, came out of the closet four and a half months ago. Sports have long been a place where homosexuality was the most taboo of all taboos. Disclosing said homosexuality would make an athlete a pariah and endanger them to potential violence. Welts’ story is a positive sign of the progress that professional sports have made to this point. He said that he hasn’t had a single negative reaction from co-workers, players or fans since coming out. Hopefully sports are becoming a safe space to be openly gay. I love Charles Barkley’s quote that “he’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play.”
The GOP Base Gone Wild The GOP has gone through an ideological cleansing from Reagan onward that shuns away any politician who conformed to their strict set of fiscal and social issues. As the Tea Party has risen, which is really only the vocal base of the Republican Party, this process has become even stricter. It seems that no one is ‘pure’ enough to be elected. This post in Talking Points Memo describes the conundrum perfectly.
To conclude the post, here is a happier story to lighten the mood…
GOP: It’s not the Candidates, It’s You Re-iterating the previous story in a much more humorous way, Jon Stewart has a message to the GOP, if you can’t find a candidate who agrees with everything you do… maybe it’s your fault. One of the smartest satire that I’ve seen The Daily Show do in a while.
Thanks for reading and staying informed. Check back tomorrow for another Daily News Drop and keep reading The Progressive Playbook for great progressive commentary. For example, read Carlos’s take on the Occupy Wall Street Protest and A. Lynn’s explanation of why Choice matters. Great job guys.
Sources: The Raw Story, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, Salon, The Nation, Think Progress, Talking Points Memo, The Huffington Post
Occupy Wall Street
Police Arrest 80 at Protest The Occupy Wall Street Protest, that has entered its ninth day, has been a dynamic event that obviously has staying power. With many disparate motives behind the protest (but the common factor being a general displeasure with the direction that Wall Street has steered the nation), it was unclear whether this protest would last that long at all. To this point, the police have arrested 80 people as a tactic to dampen the spirits of the protesters. It has been unsuccessful to this point.
Hedges: “Hope of America Lies with Protest” Chris Hedges, noted liberal scholar and reporter, stated in an interview that he thought the Occupy Wall Street protest was “really where the hope of America lies.” He went even further to say that the protesters should be described as Conservatives, because they are protesting against the radical changes instituted by the wealthy. A movement like this needs positive publicity like this, and not like…
NY Times: Protest Misguided The New York Times was much less flattering of the movement. The mood of the protest leans more than a little on the silly. Instruments are used often and activities like ‘protest yoga’ have been planned. The Times takes these examples as reasons to call the protest itself misguided. Let’s be honest, progressive protests are almost always weakened by jumbled messaging and infighting, but the fact that these protesters were willing to take action against such a powerful target should inspire us to plan and enact more and bigger protests, not be seen as a failure.
Herman Cain Wins Florida Straw Poll… For Some Reason For weeks, the GOP race has been a two horse race between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. Then, at the next ‘most important poll in the world,’ (The Florida Straw Poll) both lose to Herman Cain. The Pizza Guy. To be fair, Michele Bachmann won the last straw poll in Iowa. Voters have to pay to cast a vote, so the democratic process is weird to say the least. Still, the GOP race is quite a mess, and racists might not have anyone to vote for in the 2012 election… so there’s that.
GOP Jobs Disconnect Florida Gov. Rick Scott is guilty of what so many GOP politicians have been guilty of in these tough economic times. They harp on unemployment as a horrible thing that is entirely the fault of Democrats, all while they strip the federal governments of as many jobs as they can. They see no hypocrisy in this. Rick Scott decried the high unemployment in Florida while he (single-handedly) laid off 15,000 government workers. Really?
A Reasoned Look at Race’s Role in 2012 Election Melissa Harris-Perry wrote an interesting piece for The Nation positing that the large drop of support that Barack Obama has withstood from white Americans has a lot to do with race. She bases this on the fact that Bill Clinton received nearly the same percentages of support from all demographics in his re-election even though he had fewer legislative accomplishments than Obama. I don’t think I buy it – we have very high unemployment, our media is a completely different beast than it was in 1996 (There is a robust liberal blogosphere now and not just a right wing noise machine), among many other factors.
Unrest in Yemen Might Lead to Power Shift Violence has been raging in Yemen since the Arab Spring began, with the Yemeni President (Ali Abdullah Saleh) refusing to relinquish power. Saleh has now allowed early elections, which seem to be the first sign in a potential power shift. Now if we could only coax Syria into the same situation…
And we conclude our post with a happier story to lighten the mood…
Barcelona Bans Bullfighting With the last bullfight in Catalonia for the 2011 season, a ban on the sport was enacted in the region of Spain. Reactions have been mixed – 180,000 individuals signed the petition which led the legislature to pass the ban. Though the last season sold out the arena (20,000 seats) to watch the killing of six half-ton bulls. I think this is a great sign. The ‘sport’ itself glorifies death and the slaughtering of animals. This is a victory in the war on animal cruelty.
Thanks for reading and staying informed! Keep checking back to The Progressive Playbook for more insightful progressive commentary as well as more Daily News Drops!
Sources: The Raw Story, The New York Times, Talking Points Memo, Think Progress, The Nation, Al Jazeera English, BBC News
Welcome to the Sunday edition of the Daily News Drop! I’d like to send my condolences to the 14 killed by Hurricane Irene and to those injured or inconvenienced by it. Here is today’s batch of stories to help you stay informed in an ever-changing world.
Climate Change Planning Important Regardless of Science Really interesting piece in Scientific American. Climate change is happening, regardless of what the right wing would have you believe. This article, however, shows how adapting city planning to withstand higher water levels will save lives not only in the long term, but in the short term as well. Humanity has been adapting to survive storms for centuries and this is the latest incarnation.
Politicizing the Hurricane Ron Paul is maddening. On Fox News Sunday, he openly called for the destruction of FEMA and for immediately cutting funding to offset any spending on disaster relief. Supposedly, hurricane response was better in 1900 on the state level before the federal government got involved. Really? He wants to be our president?
Al Qaeda’s Number Two Killed in Pakistan Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, the number two man in Al Qaeda, was killed in Waziristan on August 22 by U.S. Drone strike. The strike killed at least four people.That’s the story that people should follow. With these drone strikes, innocent civilians and unintended targets are inevitably killed. There’s a reason that the United States is so unpopular in Pakistan and the region in general.
Why the New Deal Matters Interesting post from Daily Kos. Giving you a few images from the FDR Presidential Library and Museum, it looks at how vital to the country the New Deal was – Social Security in particular. Social Security spawned other movements, like the economic equality EPIC movement. If all you’ve heard about the New Deal is how FDR bankrupted this country, read this story.
White Michael Vick Toure wrote a piece for ESPN asking the question, “what would have happened if Michael Vick was white?” He went on to say that it’s nearly impossible to tell because changing the race would make so many differences. Feministe had a strong counter argument – you can’t tell what it would be because it a fictional hypothesis. Changing class, parenting, neighborhood, friends, or even hair color might cause changes… but you’d never actually be able to discern what those changes would be.
Denying it won’t Change it – Racism Still Exists As polls continue to show that Americans believe that racism is over, and now a new storyline has emerged – that Barack Obama has had an easier time rising to where he has because he’s black – David Sirota is the voice of reason. Looking at unemployment rates, or rates of callback on jobs, systemic racism is everywhere. Pointing to the president is not an effective argument that racism is over. Denialism sure as hell isn’t.
Once again we end with a happier story…
Thom Hartmann – The Left’s Answer in Talk Radio In a world where right wing talk radio can be found in any town in the nation (mainly because of massive media conglomerates), but left wing talk is so very hard to find, Thom Hartmann is finding an audience in a difficult environment. Ranked in the top ten for radio hosts in terms of ratings, and with a simulcasted television program on the independent Free Speech TV, Hartmann is a beacon of reason. I’ve followed Thom for years now, and he deserves any success that he receives.
Thanks for reading and staying informed! Keep coming to The Progressive Playbook for quality progressive content. Also, check out Luke Radl’s column on natural disasters and how they’re not the fault of the gays… as much as the Religious Right wish that they were. Share these and other articles if you feel inclined!
Sources: Scientific American, Crooks and Liars, Al Jazeera English, Daily Kos, Feministe, ESPN, Salon, Alternet
Miss Information strikes again as police beating of 16-year-old girl sparks UK riots. The police shooting (many would say murder) of Mark Duggan, and a subsequent beating of a 16 year old girl are the events that actually started the riot, but the media is ignoring these two crucial events, especially the second one.
A quick Google search for ‘UK riot cause’ leads to many news articles reporting on the monetary costs to businesses that have been burned and looted. Sure, this is an unfortunate consequence of the rioting, but what about the cause that started the riots?
To truly understand why certain people participated in the riots, British society must be examined. Since 1824 here has been a stop and search policy (or sus law) allowing police to search anyone they want, provided they look suspicious. It could be compared to SB1070 in Arizona. During the early 1980′s in England, uprisings against the racial profiling and the sus law became wide spread. There were many race riots in England between 1980 and 1981. The British Government reacted by removing the sus law. Recently, stop and search again went into law in response to the war on terror. Many young blacks and some whites are angry at the law, as many of them have been stopped and searched many many times in their young adulthood. A 37 year old woman is bringing a lawsuit because she was stopped for carrying a bag.