Thursday, October 19, 2006

What’s wrong with our mothers?

It has been quite some time since I posted. The problem is that I am rather burnt out on politics at the moment. I can’t begin commenting on politics until the election is over. Everything we hear is spin and spin has little or nothing to do with reality. The reality is that our country has made mistakes in the last 15 years regarding terrorism. Everyone of every political leaning has made mistakes. President Clinton made mistakes and President Bush has made and is making mistakes. What we see in the face of the November 7th election is a load of drivel about how if you vote Democratic you are emboldening the terrorists and hate your country. The other side says that if you vote Democratic all your problems will go away. I think most intelligent people, regardless of the ideological views knows that both assertions are utter BS! Enough about that…

Today, instead, I want to focus on an issue that has been of particular interest to me. That is gender and American culture. I recently read an article by Lonnae O’Neil Parker that appeared in the October 15th Washington Post. Ms. Parker, an African American mother explains why she does not allow her 12 year old daughter to listen to new hip-hop. The article is excellently written, and as the father of a new baby girl and a fan of hip-hop and rap, I took particular interest. I won’t waste too many words summarizing what Ms. Parker says (since she wrote it better then I ever could), but suffice it to say that she talks about growing up loving hip-hop and growing up with hip-hop and then one day coming to the realization that the love affair she had with this musical form of lyrical poetry had become unhealthy and abusive. It is something that I have felt for a long time but having a daughter really brought it to the forefront. I am struggling to know how to proceed.

Aside from the fact that 90% of hip-hop (or music in general) is total crap, hip-hop is actively contributing to our culture of misogyny. It has created a culture of acquisition and success = wealth, violence = cool that is seen as emulated by a vast majority of boys and men of all ethnic groups. 50 Cent is seen as cool because he was shot 9 times and lived, regardless of the fact that he was a drug dealer and was shot because he was a cancer on society. Is 50 Cent talented? Without a doubt! Is it sad that he uses his talent to demean women and glorify a sad lifestyle like dealing drugs and murderous mayhem?

Hip-hop and rap are not the only perpetrators of misogyny in our culture. All forms of music are to blame, as are video games, movies and fashion. Politics is an incredibly sexist line of work too. Look at women of note and influence of politics, women like Hilary Clinton, Condi Rice, and Nancy Pelosi. They are forced to subvert that about themselves that is feminine in order to appease men (and far too many women) that believe that women and the “feminine outlook” is too emotional and/or irrational to govern effectively. Does anyone think that our country and our world wouldn’t be a better place if our mothers were in charge?

In the world of business, the Hewlett Packard scandal is a perfect example. Carly Fiorina has been demonized for her “poor” leadership at the large IT company. Board Chairwoman Patricia Dunn is being crucified for a crime that men commit daily. Let’s not forget that she may not have to have resorted to spying on other board members if they hadn’t been hiding information from her to undermine her leadership. Martha Stewart’s trial for insider trading became a cable news frenzy. Why? Not because she broke the rules, but because she was a woman breaking the rules. Women make up a pawltry 16% of CEOs in this country, despite being 46% of the workforce! 90% of Fortune 500 companies had no female executive officers.

To some extent women must be responsible for their own empowerment. Maureen Dowd wrote a column a few months ago about women reclaiming derogatory words like slut, thus neutralizing them. I think that while it is ok for them to not see them as derogatory men still do. Porn stars and strippers believe that they are empowering themselves by using their body as a means to exert control over men. Even if I did accept that premise, which I don't, their use of their body in this endeavor only weakens women who want to exert control using their minds. The Gloria Steinem generation of feminists insisted that their should be no difference between men and women and that they are 100% equal in every way. I reject that too. Women and men are different in many ways. Should they be equal? Yes. Are they the same? No. Men and women, speaking in general, approach issues differently. That is a good thing. A well functioning family has a feminine and a masculine voice. This country's leadership should too. Our culture should be dictated equally by the feminine and the masculine. Men are never shy about weighing in with their point of view. Women should be allowed into the discussion as well. Their equal voice will strengthen our society.

What our country needs are more women (not women pretending to be men) in positions of influence. What do I tell my daughter about her future and about being a woman when our society tells her that being a woman is inferior to being a man? What do I tell her when our capitalist society tells her that in order to lead she must repress everything about her that is feminine? What do I tell her when popular culture says she has to look a certain way and dress in sexy clothes? I want to teach my daughter that she can be President of the United States or CEO of a major corporation. I want her to know that there are no limits to her potential or her future. Is that naïve?

What is it that intimidates our society about strong, proud, confident, feminine women? Are our mothers so scary?

1 comment:

missgraciegirl said...

i think you're over-reacating just a touch. i grew up heavily influenced by hip and rap and never once felt demoralized or devalued. being able to seperate oneself from outside influences as trivial as music and politics is key, but im head strong like you wouldn't believe (althoug i'm sure you know) sure babyE will be fine regardless of whether she listens to mfdoom or the eagles.