Friday, January 14, 2005

So much for tolerance and/or equality

If you weren't paying attention to this kind of story, recently black, conservative pundit Armstrong Williams admitted to receiving payments from the Bush Dept. of Education for promoting No Child Left Behind. I happen to think NCLB is a good start to education reform, but Williams' undisclosed interest in it was lousy ethics (as journalists and bloggers are chorusing ad infinitem.)

Other conservatives, especially those who are women or minorities, are even more dismayed because of the real potential that they, too, will be considered paid shills. Whether or not I agree with all her political positions, Michelle Malkins' hate mail is horrific. She fears it will get worse.

My point here is that when someone thinks a man is wrong about his actions or opinions, it's usual to label him imbecilic or deranged. If he's a minority, one may unfairly paint him with the worst stereotypes available, although the accuser risks wider censure for that. A man with offensive opinions is not typically labeled "impotent" or "syphilitic." Nor would the range or number of his sexual experiences be used to defame him. A man condemened sexually is a playboy, a gigolo, or Casanova, all of which connote positive ideas for lots of people. Is the same seductive glow present in the phrase "filthy whore?"

When a woman's ideas or actions are disagreeable to someone, hostile reactions tiresomely return to labeling her as a sexual object, either paid or unpaid. A woman won't usually be labeled "lunatic" or "braindead" or "evil incarnate", which- for my money- would be a step up. Instead, otherwise law-abiding people (women, too) retreat to branding objectionably speaking or thinking women as "sluts", "whores", "bitches" at a minimum. (Bitch has also become a synonym for prostitute, imagine that?) When angry people accept this kind of slander of women solely as corrupt, sexual objects, what treatment are they expecting (and promoting) for their mothers, wives, sisters and daughters in the world-at-large?

Words matter. You can't indulge in or accept condemnation of women with opposing opinions as sexual chattel without encouraging a culture where any woman you care about may be treated the same way. No matter how disagreeable some woman's views may be to you, it undermines safety and success for the women you love by abandoning debate and degrading any woman this way, making "female" equal "worthless".

1 comment:

Anibal Bittle said...

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