"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Friday, April 13, 2007

Feminism Friday: Not a period, but a comma.

I originally didn't really think I was going to add to the already overwhelming amount of talk out there about the controversial comments and susequent firing of radio personality Don Imus, but I found this article, and it seemed totally appropriate for this week's Feminism Friday. In it, CNN contriubutor Roland S. Martin argues that the incident is not only racist, but sexist, and that it is an indicator of entrenched sexism rather than an isolated incident. He says:

"Women all across this country have to play by a different standard. They often make less than men, even when doing the same job; are accused of being too tough when they are the boss; and are treated as sexual objects.

America, we have a problem with sexism. Don't try to make this whole matter about the ridiculous rants made by rappers. I deplore what's in a lot of their music and videos, but hip-hop is only 30 years old. So you mean to tell me that sexism in America only started in 1977?

Now is the time for this nation to undergo a direct examination of the depths of sexism. My media colleagues shouldn't go just for the easy target ­ rap lyrics. That is no doubt a logical next step, but sexism is so much deeper. It is embedded in our churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, Fortune 500 companies and in the political arena. We should target our resources to this issue and raise the consciousness of people, and expose the reality."
I know plenty of people say they are sick of hearing about it, but I think
Martin is right when he says, "Don Imus should not be the period. He can be the comma." Imus never should have said what he did, and it's true that he should have known better. But now that the damage is done, maybe some good can come from resulting conversations and realizations people may be having about just how prevalent sexism and racism are in our society. An argument I heard today from someone in the "enough already" camp was that he highly doubted that the media frenzy over this event would make a single bigot have an epiphany and change the way they think about oppressed groups. And that may be true. But I would argue that the news generated about this event is more likely to deepen the consciousness of average folks who go about their lives thinking that sexism and racism are no longer a problem, of whom there are probably plenty more than outright bigots.