Monday, April 28, 2008

Still sexist after all these years

A larger image of the cartoon available at Cornell University Library.

Egalia of Tennessee Guerilla Women stopped by to comment on Olberman's misogynistic hate speech against Hillary. So I popped over to TGW and found this:

Who is Keith Olbermann? With the aid of the in-your-face caption: A Slut and Battery, Keith Olbermann reports in the video clip (2006) below that Paris Hilton was "punched in the face." To the laughter of the boys in the background, Olbermann opines that Paris Hilton has "had worse things happen to her face." Taking vicious shots at young celebrities is a routine feature on Olbermann's show. But there is one rule, Keith's shots are always fired at women. Cuz, just like in the 1950s, girls are sleazy sluts and boys are honorable studs.

Egalia has the KO video clip. She also quoted Sandi Burtseva from 2007. The grafs that jumped to my attention via Burtseva were her insights into KO's denigration of Paris Hilton:

Regardless of how astute his political criticism is, I am no longer willing to tolerate Keith Olbermann’s misogyny. Olbermann has a nasty habit of making sexist, derogatory statements about female celebrities. The things he’s said are shameful and should never have been uttered, let alone on television. While he is certainly not alone in his reprehensible treatment of women, Olbermann is widely admired by progressives; unlike other trashy gossip commentators, he must be held to progressive standards....

...Bloggers pointed out that he kept [“A Slut and Battery" regarding Paris Hilton] on the screen for 20 seconds of a 32-second clip, but I don’t see the relevance. Even if he’d only thrown it up long enough to read, this caption (coupled with the vitriol he spewed) tells us everything we need to know about Olbermann’s attitude toward women:

  • He thinks it is acceptable to judge women for their sexual choices.
  • He thinks women who make particular sexual choices are to be taken less seriously when they claim to have been assaulted.
  • He thinks it’s amusing to, um “cleverly” invert a phrase often associated with domestic violence and use it to belittle women.

My former admiration notwithstanding, I dismissed Olbermann then and there, but it seems many others have been willing to give him a second chance. It is my unfortunate duty to note that Olbermann persists in his misogyny.

On Monday, Olbermann devoted some airtime to that most important of world events: Britney Spears’ hairstyle choice. (Story number two, for anyone keeping track, was a similarly distasteful, if slightly more reserved, bashing of the late Anna Nicole Smith. He began his coverage by calling Spears a “pop tart and went on to opine that “… the question now turns to what was she thinking, if not what was she on…”

In the eyes of Olbermann and his ilk, Spears made two mistakes: She dared to be overtly sexual and she dared to shed one of the defining markers of her femininity. I neither know nor care how much sex Spears has and with whom, or why she shaved her head, but I have this radical proposition: In spite of the fact that she’s made sexy music videos, Spears’ body is her own and should not be subjected to Olbermann’s disgusting views.

Both Burtseva and egalia alerted me to something I did not know, not being a KO or MSNBC viewer: Olbermann's pattern of misogyny.

More disturbing, the SCLB's A-List Blog Boyz have watched KO's sexist inclinations and either didn't notice or shrugged indifferent. Misogyny on display? Where? Last, year, Jessica Valenti at Feministing exhumed the Orange Sippy Cup™ King's brain-dead denial:

Markos on Kathy Sierra and female bloggers being harassed and getting death threats:

Look, if you blog, and blog about controversial shit, you'll get idiotic emails. Most of the time, said "death threats" don't even exist -- evidenced by the fact that the crying bloggers and journalists always fail to produce said "death threats".

So let me get this straight: blogging about the oh-so-controversial world of software development means you should expect to get death threats. After all, nothing brings out the crazies like tech-talk. And besides, she probably made it all up anyway.

...Email makes it easy for stupid people to send stupid emails to public figures. If they can't handle a little heat in their email inbox, then really, they should try another line of work.

I mean come on, if you can't handle your address and social security number being published along with threats of rape, hanging, suffocation and death--you're a fucking lightweight.

Seriously though, it's one thing to argue--as Markos does--that a blogger code of conduct would be ineffective. Fine. But dismissing online misogyny and Sierra's experience (without even bothering to do any research on the subject, to boot) is reprehensible. Though predictable given the source.

I unplug when I paint as I did last year for an art exhibition and I missed, as we headed into the primary season, a key understanding: misogyny has been festering amongst the fauxgressive patriarchs of the SCLB. Unleashing it like a volcanic eruption, they targeted Hillary Clinton with a vengeance.

Why is it mostly up to female bloggers to call out sexism? Is anti-feminism so entrenched that fauxgressive men can't shake the legacy of patriarchy to invade, subvert, colonize, and oppress? Is it what Jeff Fecke of Shakesville reiterated in the blindness of privilege?

It takes work to see evidence of oppression when one is not the one being oppressed. It is far easier to simply ignore it, even when one knows one shouldn't.

Also at Shakesville, Melissa McEwan blogged about "a very common misperception that sexism is subjective." Go read her essay. I couldn't do it justice with a fragment.

Some progressive men get it. A few male bloggers I read regularly--Tom Watson, Joseph Cannon, Bob Somerby of The Daily Howler, and Jeff Fecke--do (and certainly more than I follow). Why can Watson, Cannon, Somerby, and Fecke identify and criticize sexism but WKJM and the Orange Sippy Cup™ King don't? Keith Olbermann doesn't but he's an imperious cog in a media machine that rewards ratings, ad revenue, and corporate profits more than truth and justice. I expect better from the liberal blogosphere. The best explanation that I've read recently came from Anglachel:

...why are so many middle and upper-middle class men, typified by the A-List Blogger Boyz, who claim to be progressives such virulent anti-feminists? My answer is rational self-interest, also known as weeding out the competition.

Another way of putting it is why, if white racism is so persistent in this nation, why does this slender sliver of America appear immune to its siren call? Why does Hillary Clinton scare the crap out of the guy who kidnapped Josh Marshall, but he feels no anxiety (that he'll admit to) around The Precious? We can go into analysis of oedipal fantasies and the pervasive influence of patriarchy, yadda yadda, but my point is that this cohort of dudz is exactly the one that claims to be "post-" all those nasty -isms.

The answer is surprisingly simple. They face a lot of competition from white women for their social and economic successes, but not very much from black men. They get a lot more payoff from bashing, dominating, and fucking over women than they do from doing that to men of any color. They can get solidarity from the guyz against the hos. This cannot fully explain the anti-feminist behavior of self-identified liberal men, but it's one hell of a contributing factor.

In Maslow's hierarchy of needs, survival trumps self-actualization. Elbows starting flying when the watering hole gets crowded. All the talk about post-partisan unity gets lost in the mud because vision doesn't address the reality of the oppressed; one must design solutions with a commitment to execute them. When those solutions undermine the privileged class that's fighting to control the watering hole, commitment evaporates. Poof!

Until women and men who love women commit to solving "all those nasty -isms," sexism will to continue to thrive. So who's ready?

CREDITS: Fauxgressive, a term I picked up from Melissa McEwan of Shakesville, where one can also read Jeff Fecke.