Posts Tagged ‘Funny’
When someone is desperate, they go to extremes. It’s a psychological survival tactic. Like when someone first hears a cancer diagnosis, and they pray to God, promising they’ll do anything if only the cancer would go away.
In both the individual and society, desperation is driven by fear. And fear and low self esteem make up the root system of discrimination. There are millions of Americans who were already fearful enough in their lives to have become discriminatory of gender, race and sexual orientation; and now those fears have been sharpened into a knife of hatred by our vulnerable economy.
If what someone has been relying on to feel better about themselves is a belief that they’re better than women, African Americans and homosexuals, what does that person do when their world turns upside down and an African American becomes their President? And women continue to want control over their reproductive rights? And gays want to live without bias?
Their desperation is driven outward into society.
When Republican leaders incite further fear in communities with these beliefs systems by inaccurately labeling Obama as totalitarian, as recently occurred for example with Rep. Nunes, they take great risks.
Consider the dynamic of the Weimar Republic. When people feel as though they are lesser, they crave a sense of belonging and leadership — at almost any cost. All they want is relief from whatever they feel is causing their oppression, and if they’re offered a sense of belonging in hatred and racism by leaders, their fear is legitimized and gains momentum.
When this happens, moderates must step in to help more rational heads prevail. They must offer leadership that’s driven by a desire to transform hate into a more productive force for both the individual and society.
Those who govern can promote healing or hate. It’s the psychological difference between pouring water or gasoline on a fire, and sometimes, these psychological fires become sociopolitical ones capable of extinguishing moderation.
Moderates: take care not to be complicit in having your party, as you once knew it, pulled out from under you. The hatred you’re helping foment won’t have an expiration date. It will be capable of lasting far beyond your short-term political use of it, and you may end up with bigger tea stains on the fabric of your country than you’re prepared for.
I can’t think of another figure on television who’s done more to encourage us as a culture to rise to the highest common denominator.
MacNeil and Lehrer come to mind, but they began as a team and their purview was and is limited to news, whereas Winfrey’s platform is broader and the choice of subject matter completely under her control.
It upsets me that people commonly speak and write about her with dismissal in their tone, as if she were merely something soft and fluffy for inconsequential women who watch daytime TV. One take on that perspective is that it’s an unconscious expression of our society’s sexism and racism. Who cares what women feel, let alone this Black woman?
Fortunately for us, one of the things Winfrey has worked on is expanding our understanding that everyone is someone of consequence — especially those who’ve felt the most marginalized. And she’s done this by simply letting those people tell their stories.
She’s created a human encyclopedia we can refer to to pull us out of our ignorance and into a place of empathy. Feel shame in believing no one would understand what it’s like to be incested? Here are 25 years of stories to help the public understand so you can feel supported in your healing. Hate that fag down the street? Here are 25 years of stories that will help you see him as your neighbor. Feel like you’re so impoverished and beaten down you can’t have hope? Here are 25 years of stories to guide you and keep you company as you put one foot in front of the other.
Winfrey respects her content and her viewers. How many network shows of any genre can truly say that? She doesn’t scream throughout her show, or pit people against each other for ratings, and she doesn’t dumb down. She lets her guests speak, and — here is what really sets her apart — she listens.
I first remember starting to appreciate Oprah when she did her series on race in the ’90s, bringing together in her studio angry members of communities affected by the LA race riots.
She continued to make affecting television, going on to produce her Random Acts of Kindness campaign; her Angel Network; her advocacy of children, especially those in danger; her championing of literacy; and her Pay It Forward challenge. She gave attention to international plights as well as domestic ones, and without preaching, encouraged viewers to be good citizens. In sharing her stage with experts she taught us how to take better care of our physical, mental, sexual and spiritual health; and in welcoming all kinds of families she made sure we saw love as their unifying feature. And at last, someone consistently used a public forum to give mothers and teachers the respect they’ve always been due.
This would have been enough to elevate television, but she went further and put her money and time where her mouth is. Even better, she challenged us to do the same, and we did.
We come from a history of disregarding feeling as frivolity, and prior to Oprah we hadn’t paid attention to its heft. She understood that our emotional lives inform every single thing we do.
We think emotion has nothing to do with intelligence, business, commerce, religion or politics. But it’s the foundation for all of it. It’s emotional life that drives the need for a sense of safety and that need dictates everything, whether it gets played out in a huge arena like war or a small one like making sure your kid’s shoes are tied. Emotional life is what creates a Bernie Madoff and it’s also what creates an Elie Wiesel. Winfrey improved our culture by validating the meaning of feeling and how it connects us to each other.
The reason for our dismissal of Winfrey is exactly why we should value her: since emotional life has historically been seen as the domain of females, she represents the voice of women. What we should be grateful to her for is having become undeniable proof of the figurative and literal power those voices contain.
I, for one, will really miss the Oprah show, but I have to say also I’m excited to see what she does next.
So let’s say it’s a random weekday morning and you’re getting ready for your day while the morning news is on. Your ears perk up when you hear a story on the “Top Ten Companies” to work for if you’re a mother or pregnant; and you think to yourself, “This is good news — how far we’ve come.”
You may think you’re awake, but not awake enough.
The realities lurking behind the myth that we live in a post-feminist society are exposed by historian Barbara Berg with eloquence, fine research and heartfelt passion in her new book, Sexism in America: Alive, Well, and Ruining Our Future.
Sexism exists in obvious forms, but she highlights how it also thrives underground. Taking the example above, for working women considering maternity leave, sexism stays alive in the subtext. Women are still being fired for getting pregnant, and getting demoted when they return from maternity leave.
“…Employees know they’re viewed as not serious enough if they take advantage of these policies” states one executive recruiter, a stance Berg backs up with personal stories of women who were demoted or lost their jobs after taking the leave they were guaranteed by their employers. “All over the country women report similar scenarios, and many of the offenders were among the thirty companies routinely designated by Working Mother magazine as the country’s “Best Companies to Work For.’”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The statistics and stories of reproductive rights and health care are a chilling embarrassment to our country. I can’t get the story of Regina McKnight out of my head:
“In May 2001 [in South Carolina], as McKnight grieved over the stillborn death of her third daughter, Mercedes, I’m sure she didn’t imagine she’d end up in prison. But she was soon put on trial for the death of her baby. After deliberating for fifteen minutes the jury reached a verdict. McKnight, a homeless, seasonal tobacco-farm worker with a tenth-grade education [in classes for the mentally impaired] and no criminal record, addicted to drugs after her mother was run over by a truck and killed, became the first woman in America convicted of murder for using cocaine while pregnant. She was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment, reduced to twelve.”
Despite outcries of support for Ms. McKnight from highly regarded medical, public health and reproductive health professionals and organizations, the Supreme Court refused to review the case.
How can this exist in a post-feminist society, Berg asks?
Although she examines affluent and middle class women and girls, Sexism in America is especially admirable for her attention to the populations that truly need their voices amplified: the working poor; the unemployed poor; the completely marginalized women in prison; and, the most innocent of all, impoverished children on our own soil.
Her analysis covers the years under Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II as well as the beginning of the Obama administration. She tracks the effective organizing power of the extreme Right and explores post 9/11 fear and its effect on how we view gender roles. Violence against women and popular culture’s portrayals of women (which overlap in ways more gruesome than you might imagine) and many other topics — some regarding what our girls are exposed to — are brought into focus as they relate to the future for women and girls. And in her conclusion, she offers pages of resources and suggestions for women who want to be a part of this national dialogue toward equal rights, ranging from running for office to receiving email petition alerts.
Like Backlash, Sexism in America will galvanize us, but it’s an easier read and will appeal to more women because Berg writes with an ease that makes you feel as if you’re engaged in a discussion with her. I almost felt the presence of other women while reading her — as if I were part of a larger group, all of us dropping our jaws together.
It’s a tribute to her that in spite of all the madness she reveals I didn’t feel defeated. I felt energized. And eager to be a part of this third wave of feminism.