Friday, August 25, 2006

Hate speech of the week

Sexism alert! Back in 1885-90, before discrimination and sexual harassment against women became U.S. law, the term, hysterectomy, was invented. Through the eyes of men, women were perceived as too emotional. So male doctors removed the uterus to alleviate female hysteria. To this day, the medical misnomer based on the male-conceived misdiagnosis continues to be used in our language but the surgery has nothing to do with hysterics. Permit me to don my sarcasm cap for a moment: Perhaps I could understand the word's current usage if overwrought women were to commit hysterical acts by invading countries over WMDs when none were there. Or wringing their hands over fictional Nigerian uranium asserted to have been bought by Saddam to reconstitute Iraq's nuclear program. Who has hyped terror, terror, 9/11, and more terror? Tell me, who shakes in his boots over gays in the military?

I have had enough of negative stereotyping of "emotional" women by men. This week's hate speech designation goes to a man arrogant enough to viciously nip at an antiwar female protester who underwent a hysterectomy. The recipient? James Taranto:

In his August 24 "Best of the Web Today" column, Wall Street Journal editor James Taranto used reports of anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan's recent hysterectomy to joke that Sheehan underwent the procedure as a cure for hysteria.
Taranto wrote:
It's All Ova but the Shouting
OK, I'm already offended by the title of Taranto's post. Callous, adolescent, and crass spring to mind. This is the WSJ, folks, an allegedly (and I'm using the adverb allegedly with exclamation marks!!!) esteemed national business journal. You would think the newspaper would know about best practices in the workplace and get a clue that women, you know, now work, are CEOs, senior and middle managers of companies, and might be subscribers. What is the WSJ? Is it a corporate chauvinistic locker room where snickering sexist tripe gets rewarded with a byline? Here's the rest of Taranto's toxic sexism courtesy Media Matters of America:
"Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan was recovering Wednesday at Providence Health Center in Waco after undergoing a hysterectomy on Tuesday," reports Waco, Texas' KWTX-TV.
In an article titled "Atrocities Performed Upon Women in the Name of Science," Dr. John R. Christopher observes: "The hysterectomy was originally performed upon women to cure them of hysteria." It seems some people still have backward ideas about women's health.
OK, first of all, the KWTX-TV news report made no reference whatsoever about hysteria and hysterectomies. Zero. The addition of the link to the doctor's article was a James Taranto concoction. Are you understanding the belittling slant he attached to the Sheehan story and to women in general who have had the surgical procedure? From the linked article with additional sentences Mr. Taranto left out (with emphasis added):
The hysterectomy was originally performed upon women to cure them of hysteria. So the word for the operation was not uterectomy or ovariectomy, but hysterectomy. Truly a male chauvinist term.
Taranto stretches this story to dubiously claim that "some people still have backward ideas about women's health." Still? This term originated in the 19th century and has been disavowed so speak for yourself, Mr. Taranto. What is the value of James' malicious absurdity in linking the women's issues column to Cindy Sheehan? Nothing but male chauvinism implicitly attempting to ankle-bite a vocal ("shouting") antiwar, anti-Bush activist by maligning her for being a hysterical woman in need of having her uterus removed. Sexism in the form of Bush-ism runs amok.

I want Taranto fired. Pronto. If I worked at the WSJ, I would file a sexual harassment complaint immediately. How do the women who work for the WSJ feel about sexist innuendo? Do you think there are any women at the WSJ who have had hysterectomies? How do they feel to read a colleague's sexist piffle approved as worthy to publish? I don't like Taranto's un-funny joke one bit and I will voice my disdain not only to the contacts that Media Matters provides (see below), but to the WSJ's human resource department as well. I encourage all women and female-affirming men to do the same.

I'm so outraged I am ready to write WSJ advertisers especially their employment classified advertisers. Just try running an ad that states, Women who haven't had hysterectomies may still be considered hysterical by backward people. Applicants beware. The advertising veep would refuse to run such an ad. I would bet big money on it. What makes the WSJ's editorial board think its online op/ed pages can eviscerate women verbally and that it's OK? So what's next? Racist watermelon insults aimed at African-Americans who oppose the Iraq War or Bush?

Here's the contact info at the WSJ. Give me some time to locate the human resource department contact in an update. For now, write and express your objections:
Wall Street Journal
WSJ Editorial Staff:
WSJ Feedback:
Anybody have any ideas on symbolic "gifts" we can mail to the WSJ in protest? Leave suggestions in comments or email me. Please, think of a cheap item to communicate the shoddiness of the WSJ's lax stewardship. Maybe sanitary napkins would hint how Taranto is no longer necessary, ought to be shed, and what a "rag" the WSJ has become for allowing such insidious hate speech.

Swing the labrys, women! I want to promote a Fire Taranto campaign until he has been given the axe. Cancel your subscriptions until the WSJ cleans up its editorial staff. Suggestions are welcome. Stay tuned.