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

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I definitely didn't need this today.

I picked the wrong day to watchdog. I probably should have known better than to look at conservative sites for material today. It's September 11th, after all. Today of all days, for no other reason than my own emotional well-being, I should have only read the writing of kindred spirits.

I would have been fine if I had just done that. If I had just read Zuzu and Jill at Feministe, Amanda at Pandagon, and everything written by Melissa and her crew at Shakesville today, I would not currently be filled with the kind of hopeless feminist rage that makes you wonder in disbelief at how much we still have to fight for equality.  Because while the sites I just mentioned (along with all of the other wonderful feminist, anti-racist, and social justice sites I read) talked about 9/11 today in constructive ways that criticize our government for this unnecessary war or draw our attention to other atrocities that are going on right now, the stupid, fucking Mens News Daily decided to wax nostalgic about the tragedy with a repost of a 2001 article that dared to state the "obvious" - that the biggest heroes on that horrific day were not women, but men.
That's right.  MND blogger Glenn Sacks thought the best way he could honor victims, survivors, and rescue workers today would be to put the ladies in their place by reminding us that most of the people doing the dirty work of saving lives that day happened to have penises.  He didn't have to say it himself, though.  He just reposted an article written on 9/21/01 by Christie Blatchford, in which Blatchford implies that the high ratio of male to female firefighters must mean that women are incapable handling emergencies:
"There were, of course, plenty of women among the 6,000-plus victims still buried beneath the WTC and the Pentagon, and plenty of illustrations of how well they conducted themselves at the moment of truth, calling home to say brave goodbyes. And it is certainly true that among the estimated 300 firefighters who were lost, and among the police and ambulance personnel who perished, were some women who died as heroically as their male colleagues. And it is true, too, that among the fire and police who have worked so tirelessly in that immense crematorium in the endless aftermath are some women.

"But you know what?

"Most fire and police departments resolutely remain predominantly male.

"Most of the firefighters and police who were killed were men.

"Most of the most astonishing acts of courage that we know about, from the man who in one of the towers stayed with his wheelchair-bound colleague so he would not die alone to the male passengers who apparently rushed the hijackers on flight 93, were performed by men.

"Most of the people doing the dirtiest work -- day after day driving the big trucks in and out; clearing the site of giant chunks of debris, concrete and metal; moving the earth; picking up tiny pieces of skin and muscle that thus far form the single biggest category of remains and placing them into little envelopes and the little envelopes into zip-up body bags -- were and are men, in the main blue-collar, working-class boys.

"Even most of the wondrous political leadership, from New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani to George W., has come from men."

Where does one even begin?!  She mentions the fact that there WERE women rescue workers who died, only to immediately dismiss them as irrelevant in order to point out that they were mostly men.  She never provides statistics so we know just how many women she is choosing to marginalize, and it also doesn't occur to her to question WHY men make up a majority of firefighters, police officers, and politicians.  Does it not occur to her that this could have something to do with centuries of denial of rights for women or socialized gender roles that keep women from pursuing such occupations?  (I'm going to reluctantly refrain from commenting on her "wondrous political leadership" comment, since she wrote this at a time when no one was exposing their lies or willing to criticize them for anything.)
But wait.  There's more.  While Blatchford was so busy being enamored with the hunky firefighters, she did happen to take notice of the nearby activity of the womenfolk:
"Women made sandwiches and served 'em, walked about with trays of hot dogs (and even, incredibly, packets of mustard and relish), ministered to the sick, consoled the grief-struck and looked on, with worshipful sidelong glances, in wonder at the men."
To those of you thinking, "Oh no she didn't!", I regret to inform you that she did.  And if that wasn't blatantly insulting enough, she continues to cut us down to size by telling us we have no place being firefighters or cops in the first place:
"I am old enough to remember what some call the "feminization" of these very organizations, and the military, that began all over North America.

"As the rhetoric went then, integrating women into these places would be good for the men, would gentle their inherent violence and risk-taking, temper the soaring levels of testosterone, somehow better the culture.

"The truth is, it did nothing of the sort. If anything, the women who became firefighters and police and soldiers took their cues from the men. And in the end, there remains such comfort in this, in knowing that, push come to shove, should you find yourself in crisis, in a burning building or a car crash, the ground treacherous and shifting beneath your sandal-shod feet either literally or metaphorically, a burly figure will be coming for you, and he will be driven enough to find you and strong enough to lift you up and away."

I can't even imagine how offensive these words must be to a female firefighter, EMT, or law enforcement official who works her ass off every day only to be told that she isn't fit to be a leader, or that she isn't tough enough to do her job.   

OF COURSE I don't think that it is wrong to honor the efforts and sacrifices of everyone who answered the call to duty on September 11th, 2001 and all of the days and weeks and months following it.  But I DO think it is wrong to honor the efforts and sacrifices of only one group to the exclusion of others, especially when that group happens to be the privileged and more powerful majority. 

 I am genuinely PISSED OFF that Blatchford wrote such horrible, ignorant drivel six years ago, and I am positively FUMING that anyone respected this view enough to republish it.  Romanticizing heroic actions is one thing, but unfairly attributing the characteristics related to those actions to one sex and one sex only is completely ludicrous.  And I'm sure that Sacks felt more comfrtable posting this "politically incorrect" idiocy simply because it happened to be written by a woman.  The whole thing (including the comments section) smacks of a "You see, boys?  They're not ALL feminazi bitches!" attitude.  Read it all if you can stomach it, but I won't blame you if you'd rather just avoid such nonsense.  Especially today of all days.






Anonymous said...

Oh, God. You've got to be kidding.

Maybe I'll post on this tomorrow, but tonight, I have to not do that.

Good Lord, will the conservative 9/11 hero-worship never end?


Anonymous said...

Wait . . . seriously? You're SURE that this isn't a joke? I mean . . . really?

I'm just shocked.

Tracey said...

Zuzu - I know. I loved your post yesterday, but I forgot everything normal and decent after seeing this.

Cara - I had to do a double-take, but it's true. It IS a "Men's Rights" news site, after all. They have to find unique and creative ways to combat the "feminization" of just about everything. Except serving sandwiches and hot dogs to the real heroes. That's women's work, you know. Ugh.