Whose Issues: Women and the Independent Media

Those Old Familiar Feelings

 Last night, my daughter and I attended an appearance by Amy Goodman. My best friend and I had taken my daughter to see Amy years ago—back when the girl was just in middle school—but this was entirely her decision. She’d been asking all week, “Mom, are we going to see Amy Goodman?” “Mom, can we go see Amy Goodman?” “Mom, should I buy tickets for us to see Amy Goodman?” The night of the appearance, she even cut short hanging out with her best friend so she could meet me at the Tucson Convention Center. When we got there, she paid for both of us. Times like these, I’m reminded of how proud I am of the daughter my husband and I have raised. Perhaps that’s why some of Amy’s speech made me so angry.


 The talk began with Amy singing the praises of Pacifica Radio. She talked about the many places she’d been to during this tour. Then, there were some general discussions about independent media and the conventions last year. Amy described the arrest and beatings her colleagues took trying to cover the protests outside. That is the kind of stuff I love hearing from her. When I began my college education so many years ago, I had my heart set on being a journalist. I left that behind for various reasons—problems with the mainstream media, becoming a mother, issues both personal and political (or both). Still, when done right, it’s a field for which I have huge respect. If the entire talk could have proceeded along those lines, I would have been fine. Sadly, it had to lapse into the kind of Barack Obama hero-worship that has become revoltingly common in the so-called “independent” and “progressive” media. She lovingly pronounced his name, “Barack. Hussein. Obama.” Then, she demanded that we take a moment to reflect on his family’s entry into the White House, a moment of reverence for the Great Savior, as it were. She brought up Michelle Obama’s ancestors, who were held in slavery, making it sound like Michelle was actually someone who was chosen to be in the White House. She neglected to mention that Michelle is not a woman of power. She is an appendage, a showpiece, like most “First Ladies.” She’s like the china. She’s there for looks, to talk about the new First Dog. In short, she won’t be heading a task force to reform healthcare any time soon. In fact, since her comments about being proud of her country “for once,” I don’t believe I’ve heard an important idea out of the woman. I guess that’s for the best, though, because those First Ladies who try to stand upon their own feet are roundly vilified, called “bitches,” picked apart personally and professionally.

“Important” issues, “Important” people

 I long ago became extremely frustrated with the “progressive” and “leftist” media over the way it portrays feminism or gay activism vs. the way it portrays racism. Racism is a holy talisman. It is the one domestic issue that all must acknowledge or be disowned. Misogyny and homophobia, however, are often ignored or even excused by these same “progressives.” I have read male leftists claim that women’s rights aren’t important at all, because women have the same concerns as the men of their class. Other males say that women’s issues aren’t that important, because a white woman doesn’t know what it is to be called “nigger” or be refused a cab. The stupidity of such statements leave me breathless. In a country where women still make a fraction of what men do, despite having similar education and experience, that anyone who claims to work for social justice could not see what that does to one’s ability to truly be free…it’s just beyond me. That anyone would not acknowledge how women are still forced to worry about going out at the “wrong” time or to the “wrong” places, lest they be raped. In a country where women are beaten and murdered by the men who “love” them at alarming rates, I wonder under which rock such people might live. In a country where a major (female) presidential candidate could be called a “bitch” on-air by a CNN pundit—who keeps his job—that anyone would claim that women don’t know what it means to be called degrading names based upon genetics is truly stupid.
 So, what does this have to do with Amy’s speech? Well, once again, we had the important issues of race broached. In fact, that was the precise reason she worshipped at the altar of Obama. However, she brushed over how this man—who is supposedly a sign of inclusion (parents can tell their kids that they can grow up to be a community organizer, she joked)—has chosen to keep company with misogynists and has spoken out against the rights of gays to marry. Parents can’t tell their “kids” anything, Amy; they can tell their sons, just like last year and the previous election and the one before that. Obama’s only great sins were surrounding himself with the “old guard,” Amy contended, going along with the oft-repeated refrain about how those evil Clintonites were infiltrating the pristine land of Obama’s Paradise. Here’s an interesting point: on a large number of issues, Obama ran to the right of Hillary Clinton in the primaries. These are not people who have been forced upon him; he is one of them. Larry Summers, whom Amy briefly mentioned, has stated that women are genetically incapable of excelling at math and science. Imagine for a minute: Hillary Clinton has won the presidency. She appoints someone to her transition staff who has made the claim that minorities score lower on standardized tests because they are genetically incapable of doing any different. Now, what would be the response by the “progressive” media? I can tell you exactly what it would be: they would never stop calling her a racist. Yet, Obama surrounding himself with those who hold such views of women is not a problem that merits comment from the “people’s” media.  
Along the same lines, Obama’s own words, condemning gay marriage, were used quite successfully in California to ban the practice. Yet, those who object are called racist. Why is it racist to point out that roughly ¾ of African Americans voted to ban same-sex marriage—a much higher rate than other ethnic groups—and Obama was someone who, in essence, encouraged them to do so? It may be inconvenient given that he is portrayed as a model of inclusion, but it’s an inconvenient fact. Even in Z Magazine, a piece was published stating that same-sex marriage bans and the historic ban on interracial marriage had nothing in common, because same-sex marriage was a “moral” issue. Now, giving bigotry a pass because it’s wrapped in the cloak of religion is appalling. However, to claim that the same religion was not used as a justification of interracial marriage is historically false. Many biblical passages were used to justify these hateful laws. Most commonly, the story of a man who murdered a supposed interracial couple was the basis, but other passages were also quoted.
Amy’s blinders were not donned just for issues related to Obama, however. She brought up Selma and the bus boycott. She mentioned that the thing had been put in motion by Rosa Parks’ decision that day, then put together by another woman. Yet, these women were not heard from. Rosa’s name is known, but she was not the face of the boycott. The woman who organized the boycott is not known by the average American. Why? Because a “young preacher,” in Amy’s words, was picked to be the face and voice. Of course, that “young preacher” was a man. Women organize, write letters, act as secretaries; men do, lead, are remembered by history as heroes. Sadly, Amy sees nothing wrong with this.
Towards the end of the talk, Amy finally brought an important woman into the discussion. After much discussion about Frederick Douglas and his work as an abolitionist, she finally mentioned that he was also a feminist. He was a friend of Susan B. Anthony who, like most feminists of her day, was also an abolitionist. Of course, here, too, Amy left important historic facts out. Once the fight against slavery was over and the Constitution was changed to end give black males citizenship and the supposed right to vote, the women were largely abandoned. They were left chattel. They could not own property. They could not have custody of children whom they brought into the world, always under the threat of death that killed so many women in those days. Of course, they could not vote and were not officially considered “citizens.” They were minors, under the rule of a male relative, from birth until death. They could be beaten at the will of a man. Their deaths at the hands of abusers was excused and covered up. There was no such thing as marital rape. In fact, any report of rape was as likely to be disbelieved as not. In essence, they lived and died at the pleasure of men. What’s more, this wasn’t just the fate of white American women, but of black American women, of Native American women, of Latinas, of European women, of African women, of Asian women, of Australian women, of all women. And it continues to be, in many places, even where there are laws on the books that supposedly ban such things. Like America.


Leave a comment