Heated discussions with outspoken feminists often make me more angry and frustrated than trying to talk sense into DJT apologists. Maybe it’s because I expect more from those who claim to be “woke.” Maybe it’s because I presume that “being reasonable” means thinking pretty much like I do.
A blogger I enjoy posted on Facebook comparing Bill Cosby’s treatment in re: his many rapes, with Bill O’Reilly and his allegations of sexual harassment. Their claim was that these two men were being treated differently from each other, and that the explanation for this was, of course, racism.
I don’t mind saying that this seems like bullshit to me. No, I’m not denying that racism is alive and well, or that it often finds its way into the legal system. Of course it does. That’s not why this claim doesn’t work for me.
Point 1: Cosby drugged and raped at least 40 women while O’Reilly is accused of sexual harassment. If there are allegations of inappropriate touching or anything physical, I am not aware of them.
When commenters brought this up, we were told that these distinctions don’t matter.
Um, what? Of course it matters. It matters in terms of criminal law, and it matters in the event of civil lawsuits. What a person does absolutely matters.
Example: Murdering your spouse is well, murder. Beating your spouse, while completely fucked, is not murder. So if two people do these things, one is a murderer and one isn’t. Ergo, them not being charged with the same crime has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that they committed different crimes.
Point 2: No one has been charged with anything, meaning nothing has been adjudicated. How can one make a claim that one person is being punished more severely than the other when neither has been punished by the law?
Yes, Cosby has been formally charged. Again, he raped a bunch of people. Depending on the state, O’Reilly’s harassment may or may not result in criminal charges. But we do know that he paid women off to avoid civil lawsuits.
Point 3: Much has been made of the unofficial punishments for these men. Public shaming, reruns taken out of syndication, unfavorable press and memes, etc. These men are no doubt experiencing different reactions from their fan bases. But does anyone really think that’s solely because of race?
Do we think Bill O’Reilly’s audience is made up of radical feminists who will ride him out of town on a rail for being shitty to women? No. it’s made up of men who probably think if women don’t want to hear him masturbating on the phone, they shouldn’t wear skirts or high heels to work. O’Reilly has always been an arrogant blowhard who appeals to wannabe arrogant blowhards.
Meanwhile, Cosby has always presented himself as a kind of moral arbiter, as far back as the Fat Albert show. When you spend decades pretending to be a model husband, father, industry professional, and community leader, you have much farther (further?) to fall. Again, this is not racism. It’s the difference between a fan base of crotchety old men versus sitcom-loving American families.
Ascribing motives to strangers is always tricky territory. But what really chaps my ass is this idea that dissenting comments should be deleted. Thinking that rape and harassment are different doesn’t make me “part of the problem,” nor does it mean I’m trivializing sexual assault. Bullshit accusations like that are why some people think they dislike feminists and feminism.
On my own page, I invite discussion from pretty much anyone. If someone proves that they’re unable to discern facts from fevered dreams, persist in name calling or verbal abuse after being warned, or are spouting racist, sexist, or delusional nonsense, they get banned. It’s pretty rare. I never delete comments though, because people should own the shit they say online. Taking it down gives them a free pass to pretend it never happened. Plus, I’m not afraid of words, ideas, thoughts, or language even when I strongly disagree with them. I don’t mind saying that cowardly bullshit like that pisses me off. Shutting down conversations is the thing that keeps us from connecting with each other and finding common ground.
Obviously, people can run their own pages how they like. But I don’t think I’ll ever understand the concept of posting something (ie: inviting discussion) and then deleting every comment you don’t agree with. That’s just preening and posturing. It’s not interacting with your readership, and it’s certainly no way to consider things in a new way.
In a sense, this exchange illustrates why I didn’t call myself a feminist for a long time. I equated feminism with people bitching about comedians not being sensitive enough, or pretending that their offense means every joke they don’t like can never be told again. Like deleting comments, saying people shouldn’t joke about things is saying “I refuse to have my opinions challenged.” Or more confrontationally put, “I’m too afraid to consider that I might not be 100% right on this issue.” That’s nothing to feel proud or smug about.
In other news, my time at Livejournal is done. They won’t allow cross posting since I don’t agree to their TOS, and I don’t.Tags: america, irks, lj, thinky