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Lionel Tiger On Why Black Men Call Black Women "Ho"
Lionel Tiger, a Rutgers anthropology professor who's always interesting, has a piece in The Wall $treet Journal about Imus' remarks, but the part that interested me was his speculation on the use of the word "ho." (I did find this piece to be written in strangely stuffy language -- which is kind of atypical for Tiger [read him in New York Press for years, and I heard him speak a couple of times at an evolutionary psych conference at Rutgers]):

Perhaps because I was raised in Victorian Canada, I have always found the casual use of the H word perplexing, offensive and violent. Whatever its etymological derivation, the fact is that it's understood to be shorthand for "whore." The term appears to have achieved currency and seeming acceptability initially and mainly in the community of people with dark skin. Just take a look -- if your stomach is settled -- at any number of MTV video spectacles of Rapper Princes surrounded by wholly compliant and nearly nude women grinding their lives away. But this is of course no alibi at all for any people with any pigment to describe any woman or group of women in a manner which deprives them of their sexual autonomy and paints them with the sign "commodity for purchase."

The thoughtless use of such language is bad enough. Far worse is the situation which provoked and appears to support it -- the comparative ineffectiveness of some African-American males in achieving stable and rewarding statuses in the wider society.

Perhaps as a dramatic antidote, that culture has produced a galaxy of tight-rope heroes embedded in the largest black or white SUVs with a weapon on the floor as they float from misogynist performance to performance. They and their managers have not had to endure sermons from Rev. Al Sharpton and don't get threatened with losing their record contracts or concert venues.

The coercive trend is that ordinary African-American males earn decreasing amounts of money compared to women of their community. They are more accident-prone, more imprisoned and have frailer family lives than women do. Is this why they smoothly call them whores, out of desperate resentment at their own ineffectuality?

By "accident prone," I think he's talking about something studies have shown -- that men, in general, are many more likely to risk their lives -- ultimately, to get chicks. If it looks like they're doing it for, let's say, land, okay, but why do you think they want the land? The answer: To have resources and status, and ultimately, to get chicks.

There are a couple chapters about this in my pal Howard Bloom's book, The Lucifer Principle, entitled "The Expendability Of Males" and "How Men Are Society's Dice." In other words, on a strictly objective level, evolutionarily speaking, women are more valuable than men. As How puts it:

If you did away with the vast majority of men on the planet, but preserved the women, you would scarcely even dent our species' reproductive capabilities.

By the way, Tiger's wrong about Al Sharpton, as somebody pointed out in my blog comments on Thursday. Here's a piece by Sharpton, "The Hip Hop Generation":

This hip-hop culture must use their music, their influence to correct what's wrong, not to continue to perpetuate what's wrong, not continue to promote what's wrong. They have the power to do that. And if they really want to have an impact on society, they must change their focus and show America the best of us instead of the worst.

I went to a hip-hop conference in New York, and one of the main topics of discussion was a fight for the right to use bitch and ho in lyrics. They wanted the right to call a woman a bitch - something the slave master called black women with impunity.

With all the stuff going on in this world, all they're worried about is being able to call a woman out of her name?! That's their cause? First of all, it's wrong. But second, it is insulting. These rappers and "hip-hop impresarios" weren't worried about unemployment or the financial conditions of those who support their records and made them stars. They weren't worried about the education system that keeps too many of their fans and families in poverty. They weren't worried about voting rights. They didn't have any conferences on any of that. There wasn't one seminar entitled "Economic Empowerment" or "Jobs for the 21st Century."

No, they want the right to call somebody a ho or a bitch - somebody who brought them into this world. As far as I'm concerned, they are low-down devious things who aren't worth the millions of dollars young people spend t o make them stars.

When I look at the hip-hop generation I am disappointed, but I also see promise. I see potential unrealized. I see tremendous power. These young people have created a culture. Their words, their spirit is so powerful that their voices have penetrated the mainstream culture to the point where America's culture is intertwined with the hip-hop culture, from its language to its clothing to its music. You cannot turn on a television or watch a movie and not see the influence of hip-hop. Even suburban America has been bitten by the hip-hop bug.

Unfortunately, much of what they're selling is a fraud. They spew hedonism, misogyny, and self-hate. They glorify the prison culture, the pimp culture, and drug culture. They tell the young that they're not worthy unless they're "rocking" Chanel, Gucci, or wearing platinum and diamonds. Not only is this message immoral, but it is also flawed. It's a lie.

Posted by aalkon at April 13, 2007 10:21 AM

Comments

> you would scarcely even
> dent our species' reproductive
> capabilities.

Only in the first generation, then there's be problems... Is there a geneticist in the house? Somebody back me up.

A dear man in my life, the most happily married of them all, sent a gift copy of "Roses" by Outkast. Here's a link to samples, though I couldn't get it to work. (Try the 'album' edit.) Google could find the lyrics for you easily, too.

http://tinyurl.com/2gog3n

At the end, the chorus is the guys muttering "Crazy bitch... Stupid bitch..."

But it's cute, because it's exactly the tone of voice guys use when they're really pissed off at their wives and trying to get over it. They're not really singing out loud: They know it would be a terrible thing if she heard them.

I think rap can be really bad, but Purplepen was right to talk about the good stuff yesterday. It's not like there's anyone in the world you could trust to tell you which is which.

Posted by: Crid at April 13, 2007 4:32 AM

Only in the first generation, then there's be problems... Is there a geneticist in the house? Somebody back me up.

Sorry, those women would have boys, although How points out in his book that:

Male fetuses are the primary victims of natural abortions, miscarriages and stillbirths. When times are tough, Nature shows her preference by hking the rates of spontaneous abortion for males to higher than normal but continuing her tendencye to preserve her embryonic daughters. As James V. Neel of the University of Washington says, for males "in utero it's a jungle.

The truth is, regarding the upset about rap being violent and nasty, Westerns are violent, Shakespeare and Dostoevsky are violent. I think the concern is that black men say this in real life about their women -- so the posturing of rap seems different than other violent fiction (with real life to back it up).

PS The first bit about natural abortions, etc. is footnoted to E.O. Wilson's "Sociobiology," in case anybody wants to look further. (I have the book, but I'm rushing out to write.)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0674002350?ie=UTF8&tag=advicegoddess-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0674002350

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 13, 2007 6:57 AM

Well, when half the genetic diversity is removed from a sexually reproducing population, I'd expect trouble. But yes, men are expendable. I hate sociobiology. Here's a guy from San Diego who gently made the same points without the emotional removal: http://tinyurl.com/3ahcjn

I'm not sure what you're saying about Shakespeare and Dostoevsky. You acknowledge that rap appears differently than these other forms, and has different outcomes as its themes play out in real life. So that means it *IS* different, right?

Posted by: Crid at April 13, 2007 7:25 AM

The "H" word??? No, no, no, no. I refuse.

If you are talking about "ho", say "ho". If you are talking about "nigger", say "nigger". They are words, not incantations.

Posted by: eric at April 13, 2007 7:37 AM

Exactly. People who are so worried about giving offense that they can't even discuss language should stay indoors and draw the blinds.

Posted by: Crid at April 13, 2007 7:52 AM

"I'm rushing out to write."

Go, girl!

Posted by: Lena at April 13, 2007 7:53 AM

Crid, nice mention of Outkast above. Theirs is some of the most revealing popular music around these days - some real psychological complexity in their lyrics - plus a deep sense of what makes a great, booty-shakin' song (is a white boy qualified to make that judgment? I say yes). Other examples: ATLiens (off their second, and possibly best, album, of the same name), Rosa Parks, Ms. Jackson, etc.

People who are so worried about giving offense that they can't even discuss language should stay indoors and draw the blinds.

Which is worse than people who are so unconcerned about giving offense that they make asses of themselves. At least you know where they stand.

Posted by: justin case at April 13, 2007 9:33 AM

"If you did away with the vast majority of men on the planet, but preserved the women, you would scarcely even dent our species' reproductive capabilities"

There is a great Polish movie called "Sexmission" about that. These two dudes from the past wake up in the future and discover that only women exist. One of them is very ~happy~ cuz he's the only man so he thinks he gets to have ALOT of sex. As it turns out, the women have no interest in men so....they tell the men they need to be "natrualised", which means having them undergo a sex change operation to turn them into women. They start freaking out. It's a c.l.a.s.s.i.c. I think I heard they are making a U.S. version.

Posted by: PurplePen at April 13, 2007 9:45 AM

You want to see something similar, but the genders in reverse? Live in the M.E. for a few years. I was one of the lucky few expats who could go to Italy and stay with relatives for a few weeks when the place would begin to get on my nerves.

Just imagine living in an open air prison. All the rules and the endless litany of uptight formalities, Especially in dealing with women in the area. One ill mannered move or using the feminine expression, instead of the masculine when referring to so and so could give you a shiv in the stomach.

High concentrations or special treatment of one gender over another is quite toxic. I could tolerate Cairo for only 2 years and it was a secular place. After the 2 years, I would live part time in the US, Europe (Malta and Italy) and M.E.

Posted by: Joe at April 13, 2007 2:56 PM

I'm not sure what you're saying about Shakespeare and Dostoevsky. You acknowledge that rap appears differently than these other forms, and has different outcomes as its themes play out in real life. So that means it *IS* different, right?

Rap often expresses violence, but there's violence in many forms we consider great art (and even lesser art, like Westerns). There's often a moral at the end of the story...or not. But, I'm reminded of parents complaining about their kids' music - -which they've probably done since the beginning of time, or at least, since the early part of the 20th century.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 13, 2007 3:03 PM

I think the point nobody wants to make here is this:

Rappers demean women because a large number of women want to be demeaned.

Ludacris writes a piece called "Ho", and nobody's calling for his head. I'd be willing to bet you could put this on at a club and the girls would happily grind their hips to it, even fully aware of the message of the song.

In our hyper-sexualized society, where sex has been all but removed from meaning, these girls are doing precisely the opposite of what BOTH feminist movements sought to do, and self-objectifying. Often for money.

"Gangsta" rap does not merely express violence, it revels in the criminal subculture that feeds on the weak and vulnerable. It revels in the demeaning of women. It glorifies the destruction of order and authority.

It's a long walk from "I Fought The Law" to "For What It's Worth" to "Fuck The Police".

We won't get in to the finer differences between "Sixteen Candles" and "Ho".

Posted by: brian at April 13, 2007 4:08 PM

Rappers demean women because a large number of women want to be demeaned.

I don't think it's so much that women want to be demeaned as that they want the boys to like/want them. And it isn't hard to get the message that the boys will like you if you're "sexaaayy". It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. There's nothing new about girls thinking that putting out will get them lots of boyfriends.

Lots of women, including lots of black women have been calling rappers on this for years. Just because they don't get the media coverage that old white guys wringing their hands about the corruption of urban youth are able to doesn't mean there aren't women speaking up about it.

Posted by: deja pseu at April 13, 2007 4:24 PM

It'd probably be moving the goalposts again to ask when Sharpton held a rally against the record companies who employ misogynist rappers. So I won't.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at April 13, 2007 4:59 PM

Ha ha.

Posted by: Deja pseu at April 13, 2007 5:02 PM

Once again with the Google. This was one of the first ones that popped up.

http://www.nobodysmiling.com/hiphop/news/87498.php

Posted by: deja pseu at April 13, 2007 5:11 PM

Posted by: deja pseu at April 13, 2007 5:14 PM

You cannot compare standards of tastes between the various time periods. This isn't the first period of history of a hyper sexualized society. The only difference is our toys and access to technology. Humans are the same as they were 20,000 years ago. Brilliant, stupid, brutal, humanistic (whatever that is), sexual, animalistic and everything in between. What does change is our stage props.

Posted by: Joe at April 13, 2007 5:16 PM

Ludacris writes a piece called "Ho", and nobody's calling for his head. I'd be willing to bet you could put this on at a club and the girls would happily grind their hips to it, even fully aware of the message of the song.

Chris Rock has a great bit about this phenomenon... his made-up example is more extreme (the chorus goes "slap her with the dick, slap her with the dick"). His theory is that as long as it has a good beat the women will dance to it, because "He ain't talkin' 'bout me!"

My own experiences support Mr. Rock in this. Lots of people don't care what the lyrics say if the song works for them. "Last caress" by the Misfits is a good example from outside the hip-hop world; awful, awful subject matter. Good song.

Posted by: justin case at April 13, 2007 5:22 PM

Justin has a good point. I think the "ain't talkin' 'bout me" factor is significant, as is wanting to do what the "cool kids" are doing, and the envelope of "cool" keeps getting pushed. (Hey, I sat through "Desparate Living" to impress my "cool" friends...)

Posted by: deja pseu at April 13, 2007 6:21 PM

As I said, I wasn't asking.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at April 13, 2007 6:43 PM

> a large number of women
> want to be demeaned.

When people say things that weird, we have to assume that a very personal, very spiritual energy is being released. Because it's completely irrational. I mean, that was just spectacular, dude.

Listen, we're at the end of Day Three (4?) of the great Duke/Imus crisis, and I think people who still have a lot of energy for the fight are the ones who have the weakest grasp on the meaning of race. So I'm loathe to take part.

It would be very stupid of me.

Let's get started!

I don't listen to Imus. No one who's been commenting on this listens to Imus. He's like a sitcom you don't watch... Millions of others tune in, signifying nothing. I have no idea what the context of his quote was. But he impulsively described a bunch of unremarkable schoolchildren as streetwalkers to mock their race.

(What else could he have been mocking? Their execution of a zone defense at the top of the key? Where the fuck is Rutgers, anyway?)

Is there any reason to think it's a big First Amendment issue? Is there any thoughtful person who thinks that's something they might want to say about schoolchildren in the future, so the right should be protected?

> there's violence in many
> forms we consider great
> art (and even lesser art

Do the protagonists in those forms (Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Hollywood westerns) chew endless hours of narrative describing the wretchedness of their women, and the importance of degrading them as witless creatures undeserving of respect? Are/were any of those forms accepted as roadmaps to everyday behavior by young males otherwise uninstructed in sociable comportment? (Even in the 1950's, Dan'l Boone's coonskin caps were just a season-long fad for fifth-graders.) The problem isn't just 'violence', it's hatefulness to the only figures on the planet who might ground them in lives of responsible and productive fulfillment: Their wives.

> I'm reminded of parents
> complaining about their
> kids' music

Yes it's true, the children are always going to Hell in a handbasket. But something qualitatively different is at work here. This is going to be a long one, keep reading....

A few weeks ago I saw "Four Weddings and a Funeral" again. It's an excellent, workmanlike film. As the studio logo dawned, I was reminded of that first time in the theater years ago when I realized the whole goddamn opening credit sequence was going to be seen behind an Elton John song, and my heart sank anew. Then I remembered that it was the best vocal performance of Elton's career,* and a wonderful melody to boot: "But Not for Me," by the Gershwins. So last week I went looking for other versions.

A popular one comes from Ella Fitzgerald, a singer I never cared for. When I was little she was too tidy and normal and old and ubiquitous, like Sinatra. But her version of "But Not for Me" is professional and clear: She doesn't slam this or that passage with half-hearted, imaginary pseudo-scales like Mariah or Beyonce, as if it were All About Her. Miss Fitzgerald's straightforward approach endeared her to black people, white ones, Asian immigrants, and anyone in the world who wanted to hear a good American singer. She had a tremendously successful career, but she was all about personal boundaries. Just before she died, she said she'd always resented being called by her first name by showbiz and media people to whom she'd not been properly introduced.

That got me thinking about the next generation of black singers, meaning Motown-style performers. Find a YouTube of an act from that genre in the 60's, and you'll see an show that's all about formalwear and good manners and courteous appeal to the opposite sex.

Here's a favorite example, though it's a location shoot from later days: http://tinyurl.com/2ctq87

(That bass player is your new best friend, right? I know how you feel.)

Respect wasn't just an overrated tune from Aretha: Motown's Berry Gordy sent his naive young performers, even the Supremes, to finishing school. It was about presenting yourself well and getting your needs met.

Remember that the 1960's was when divorce was really starting to rip through white America. I'd bet that a lot of kids in freshly impoverished homes, including white ones, probably got their sense of dressing and carrying oneself neatly from watching Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell on television.

Now we got Snoop and Lil' Kim. I don't think inner-city black kids are the only ones to suffer for this. They just suffer most pathetically.

Thank you. Thank you very much. I'm here all week! Try the veal, and hit the tipjar on your way out.


*Possible contender = 1983's "Blue Eyes"

Posted by: Crid at April 13, 2007 6:54 PM

I don't listen to Imus. No one who's been commenting on this listens to Imus. He's like a sitcom you don't watch... Millions of others tune in, signifying nothing. I have no idea what the context of his quote was. But he impulsively described a bunch of unremarkable schoolchildren as streetwalkers to mock their race.

Salon's (yes, Salon!) sports columnist King Kaufman made a very similar point today (it was an excellent column, BTW; he's one of the few redeeming features of that site)- that most of the people outraged about the Imus affair don't listen to him.

Perhaps the most insightful comment on this issue, given that Imus apparently has said lots and lots of hateful things over the years, was by one of the letter writers responding to Kaufman's piece - the gist being that this time, he attacked the powerless (students) as opposed to the powerful (political or media figures). And that was what really crossed the line.

I think what really got him fired was that he was losing sponsors - radio is a business, too.

The problem isn't just 'violence', it's hatefulness to the only figures on the planet who might ground them in lives of responsible and productive fulfillment: Their wives.

Word. And since we're stepping out into irresponsible speculation about things we haven't experienced, I find this all the more odd, given that black women have been the absolute backbone of that community for years. How many of these young men today were raised by single mothers, or their grandmothers? How can they disrespect these people?

Slightly O/T - I've always had a fondness for Ella, but Nina Simone was a cut above IMO. My best friend growing up and I spent a lot of time with his grandmother, who could sometimes be heard singing "Is you is, or is you ain't my baby." Always dug that one. "Whatever Lola Wants" is pretty damn seductive, too.

Posted by: justin case at April 13, 2007 8:26 PM

I've been a troll here for a long time and always thought that I would have something interesting or heated to say when a topic finally got me to come out from under the bridge. That will just have to be filed under another piece of lost innocence.

Anyway, here goes:

> on a strictly objective level, evolutionarily speaking, women are more valuable than men

That's a bit confusing at best. I haven't read Bloom's book, but the dice metaphor is probably good. However, we are all dice. Women have a much higher probability of rolling in a small range. Men have a higher probability of rolling 0, but also have a small opportunity to roll, say, 50 which is not realistic for women. As long as each child has exactly one mother and one father contributing 50% of its genes each, the payoff will continue to be genetically equal for producing a boy or a girl. So, yes, individual men are much more expendable, but men as a whole are equally valuable (genetically).

> Only in the first generation, then there's be problems... Is there a geneticist in the house? Somebody back me up.

I'm not a geneticist (or any kind of biologist), but I'm not sure there would be a problem. Possibly, pushing the Y chromosome through that kind of bottleneck would have a bad effect. It may already be homogeneous enough that it wouldn't make much difference though. As for the rest, my guess would be that you could wipe out a relatively small group of men and women who are genetically more isolated and have a greater impact on genetic diversity. Whether such a group exists anymore, I don't know - maybe Inuit or a tribe/ethnicity in Africa.

Posted by: Shawn at April 13, 2007 8:45 PM

> raised by single mothers,
> or their grandmothers? How
> can they disrespect
> these people?

How much gratitude should these men feel for the female figures who did not (or could not, they would insist) give an example of how they themselves could become lovable to women?

If that's the backbone, we can't be surprised that the community is crippled.

A old girlfriend in Frankin Towers in Hollywood said Simone usta be a neighbor in the building and that she was really, really unusual.

Posted by: Crid at April 13, 2007 8:55 PM

Also, here's a much better (stereo) mix of the Flirtations:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcoBjiY7UfA

Sorry about the neckless geek intro... Bitter bachelors can be obsessive. Watch carefully for

1. Jawlines from heaven at 1:53

2. "Felated Music Corp./BMI" at 2:55

3. Banner promising "The All-Coloured Girl Group Backed by Their Own A[obscured] Band" at 3:45

3. Miniskirts on a staircase! God, those were good years. at 4:03

advertisment promising

Miniskirts! God those were good years.

Posted by: Crid at April 13, 2007 9:11 PM

Sorry bad edit long day......

Posted by: Crid at April 13, 2007 9:12 PM

Crid:


> a large number of women
> want to be demeaned.

When people say things that weird, we have to assume that a very personal, very spiritual energy is being released. Because it's completely irrational. I mean, that was just spectacular, dude.

It's not weird. It's not personal. I'm not spiritual. It isn't irrational. And it's not even remarkable, never mind spectacular.

It is simply an observable fact.

When you are told by a woman "I couldn't go out with you, you're too nice to me", you finally understand her string of loser boyfriends wasn't simply a run of bad luck, but she was actively seeking the abuse.

It all fits in neatly with "Ladder Theory", in which women will go for the "outlaw biker" over the nice guy every time.

I've not been critical of Imus, in fact I think that the whole damn thing is an over-reaction. Racist? Please. It was insensitive, possibly libelous. But racist? And for these chicks to claim that they're scarred for life? Grow a thicker skin, ladies.

I'm a little more worried about who's next on the PC Police hit-list. And how far they'll go before they stop.

Posted by: brian at April 13, 2007 9:18 PM

> you're too nice to me",
> you finally understand her
> string of loser boyfriends
> wasn't simply a run of
> bad luck

Loveline used to talk about this. What she's really saying is "You're not emotionally honest enough." Women don't want to hang out with nebish fellows who say 'Oh golly, honey, I don't care, where do YOU want to eat tonight?' all the time. They wanna hear 'I know a great Italian place, the maitre d' digs me, pick you up at seven.' A lot of fellows who credit themselves as being "nice guys" are simply manipulative (and feminine about it, at that). Women can smell it.

> Grow a thicker skin,
> ladies.

Anyone who attends college should expect racial and sexual mockery in national media? Or did these girls earn this?

Posted by: Crid at April 13, 2007 9:37 PM

Is there a difference in being offensive than actually being harmful? Is saying something offensive as equal to being threatened?

The ringleaders for the PC hit on Imus is based solely on showing off their exalted morality and class status to the rest of the nation.

My concern is that the USA is becoming a more effeminate nation in a more brutal and dangerous world.

Posted by: Joe at April 13, 2007 10:04 PM

There's nothing masculine or courageous in about what he said about those teenage girls... Nothing.

Posted by: Crid at April 13, 2007 10:19 PM

I've always loved foul-mouthed young artists with attitude. As far as I'm concerned, The Chronic and a couple of cuts on Doggystyle are right up there with Never Mind the Bullocks and Patti Smith singing about a boy getting butt-fucked by an alien in a lockerroom on Horses back in 1975. What's the big fucking deal with Dre's and Dogg's ho's?

Gangsta rap has just gotten tired and formulaic, that's all. But the good news is that there are still some really dirty-talking porn actors out there.

Posted by: Lena Cuisina, Licker of Prosthetic Testicles at April 13, 2007 10:36 PM

How much gratitude should these men feel for the female figures who did not (or could not, they would insist) give an example of how they themselves could become lovable to women?

I think you're off here... what was missing was the role model about how to be a man. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it's really hard for a young man to grow up to have a good attitude about women without some positive input from a man you respect.

As far as I'm concerned, The Chronic and a couple of cuts on Doggystyle are right up there with Never Mind the Bullocks and Patti Smith singing about a boy getting butt-fucked by an alien in a lockerroom on Horses back in 1975. What's the big fucking deal with Dre's and Dogg's ho's?

I heart Lena. And these albums.

Posted by: justin case at April 13, 2007 10:54 PM

I hate the language used. The problem is that it's become commonplace, not only with Imus but with teens... just go on myspace and look at all the girls calling themselves 'ho's.'

I just want to say to them, want to know the reality of being a ho? Want to go over to Thailand and meet some girls who were forced into the sex trade and are now slave's? They've been taken from families, beaten, raped, threatened. How about their HIV infection rate?

So before girls on myspace voluntarily call themselves 'ho's' I wished to hell they knew how LUCKY they are to have things like myspace. Those girls forced into the sex trade sure as hell would've like the option to never think of themselves, or have others think of them as 'ho's.'

Posted by: callie at April 13, 2007 10:54 PM

I agree Crid.

My focus is on the media generated insanity. He apologized. Move on to more important matters like the Green Zone in Baghdad being bombed on a daily basis.

Let the shareholders deal with Imus, because of decades of pissing off far too many people. Report the story once. Report his apology and eventual firing.

A well known pundit personality compared the Imus Affair with Nifong's persecution of the Duke students. Can anyone with a straight face equate a bad joke to a politically ambitious prosecutor using state powers to convict a bunch of innocent kids??? This is the level of the national debate.

My effeminate comment was originally centered on the fake importance of the newsporn coverage of the Imus' comment and other matters going on in the nation. Sorry for being too vague.

Posted by: Joe at April 13, 2007 11:18 PM

Sorry, Callie. Neither girls calling themselves "ho's" on Myspace nor Snoop Dogg have anything to do with Thai prostitutes. A story, no doubt, but not relevant.

Posted by: justin case at April 13, 2007 11:20 PM

> what was missing was
> the role model about
> how to be a man.

Absolutely. Where the fuck's dad? It's not just that wrist-twisting LL Cool J wannabes aren't stepping up for their families --although they certainly aren't-- but that the mothers of their children are happy to go it alone... They've never seen a better pattern in their lives, either, the government's helping with grocery money, and that's how it's done by all their friends and on Jerry Springer. Would you want to pair with someone whose favorite music described you as a bitch and a ho? The girls prefer Mariah and Celine, right?

It's hard to imagine a setting of greater nihilist tension for their sons. I think "role model" is hideous rhetoric because it's so chickenshit and mild. It's prissy and self-satisfied and and in love with its own sixth-grade appreciation of the scientific method. It tries to condense several concurrent lifetimes' worth of contact and exchange into a little teabag of expression... Just add boiling water!

It's hokey. And it's dangerous, because its reductive timbre gives people the idea that these forces are under our control, that we can SELECT the times when our kids are paying attention. This is not the case.

Our cultures of divorce and single parenthood are tragic beyond description. Rap ain't helping.

> Let the shareholders
> deal with Imus,

I kinda think that's what's happening. It's not that these corporate powers are afraid of Al Sharpton's letter-writers or Jesse Jackson's protestors. They know that their shareholders don't want to be responsible for having teenage girls ridiculed so heartlessly. They have teenage daughters, too.

> Neither girls calling
> themselves "ho's" on
> Myspace nor Snoop Dogg
> have anything to do with
> Thai prostitutes

Isn't that Callie's point? That genuine dignity is cast off in favor of a sad fantasy that happens to have a thumpy drum track?

Posted by: Crid at April 14, 2007 6:55 AM

Crid -

I'm not a nice guy, I'm an asshole. I just won't slap women around and demean them in front of their friends, which, judging by the quality of the boyfriends I see them with, is what they prefer. Maybe they view it as an excuse to treat men like shit in return, I don't know.

And anyone who attends life ought to be able to sustain mockery. The inability of the population of an entire region to tolerate mockery and succumbing to feelings of inadequacy is what's causing most of our problems with a certain area of the planet formerly known as Mesopotamia.

Posted by: brian at April 14, 2007 7:12 AM

There's nothing masculine or courageous in about what he said about those teenage girls... Nothing.

That genuine dignity is cast off in favor of a sad fantasy that happens to have a thumpy drum track?

This is one of those times when I have to say, "What Crid Said."

And Joe, regarding all of your chest-beating about "lost masculinity", I was raised with the idea that respect is masculine, not beating up (even metaphorically) on those with less power than you is masculine. Bullying and name calling aren't masculine, they're the M.O. of cowards.

Posted by: deja pseu at April 14, 2007 7:14 AM

The thing is, Imus is a shock jock. He's been saying shocking things about Jews, blacks, and I dunno, the Chinese, for an entire career. People have taken an AWFULLLY long time to get shocked.

This is the province of radio -- of jocks and hosts saying outrageous things that they very likely don't believe to get ratings. Do you think Howard Stern talks like he does on the radio in real life? He's a really smart guy. I wish he'd do a political show. The porn star thing bores me. Leykis is much smarter than his show. And so on. There are many more examples like this.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 14, 2007 7:45 AM

slap women around and demean them in front of their friends, which, judging by the quality of the boyfriends I see them with, is what they prefer.

Brian, I don't know how old you are, or how old the women are you're referring to, but it's been my experience that women grow out of this. It's been true for me, and true for a lot of my women friends. Having been raised by a mom who was an emotionally (and sometimes physically) abusive alcoholic, it took me a few years as an adult, a lot of reading and some counselling before I got some idea of what healthy relationships looked like, and stopped surrounding myself with emotionally abusive or cold and distant, impossible to please people. Interestingly, it was the emotionally abusive ones who were always telling me to "grow a thicker skin" especially after they'd just gone out of their way to do something hurtful or humiliating in front of their friends. Just sayin'.

Posted by: deja pseu at April 14, 2007 8:06 AM

> The thing is, Imus
> is a shock jock.

Exactly. Snot is the business these guys are in, and when one of them has a bad day at work and loses his precious morning drive, it's ridiculous to pretend he was crusading hero at the forefront of human expression.

> succumbing to feelings of
> inadequacy is what's causing
> most of our problems with
> a certain area of the planet
> formerly known as Mesopotamia.

There was no way Imus could have known whether these girls had a sense on humor or not. Until he attacked them, they had no forum.

The wretchedness of the Middle East aligns readily with Imus' assumption that young women --complete strangers to him-- are "hos." If militant Islam stakes a claim in the United States, he'll have new listeners. Apparently some of America's immigrant communities remember their oppressive histories well enough to resist that shit.

Posted by: Crid at April 14, 2007 8:21 AM

Deja,

I agree. I was critiquing the hype surrounding the comments. This should not have lasted more than 2 days and then dropped into the memory hole.

Imus violated the 2 rules of good comedy.
1. Telling a bad joke.
2. Picking on the weak.

I understand when the term 'effeminate' is used that most people will picture or associate the stereo typical views of Alpha Maleness found in pop culture. My past posts on being critical of the hyper masculinity of the M.E. should have been a clue to everyone that I do not fall into this particular category.

Posted by: Joe at April 14, 2007 8:38 AM

Sooooo...
Men are pussies and women are cunts. Kids are born old, and elders are thrown away. ...At this point I'm beginning to think that our social regression is incurable and unstoppable. Maybe the only thing that can be done is to turn the tables around, just turn it over and take it from behind. Maybe instead of trying to silence everyone who isn't politically correct, it would just be simpler if everyone suddenly became politically incorrect.


Women need to start calling men bitches and ho's. Men can call women bastards and assholes. Black people can call whites niggers, and whites can call non-whites whities and "honkies"....LOL...(man, does that word date me or what??) Oh yeah, I can just hear it now. The comments would go something like this: (Woman to her girlfriend: "He's a B-word"..."No, actually he's a 'C U Next Tuesday")

...LOL...where's Archie Bunker when we need him? ....oh yeah, he's been censored. Along with Margaret Sanger, who ended up in jail for handing out pamphlets with the word "syphillis" written on them. While she was in jail our government distributed condoms to our armed forces who were fighting WW1 at the time, to protect them from..."syphillis"

...Baby, we've come a long way. Haven't we? ...The 1st Ammendment rights we've fought and died for are no longer applicable unless everyone agrees with what you say. What a fucking joke this country has become. I've turned off my radio and sold my tv because I just can't take the endless stupidity anymore. When the internet becomes censored, I plan to douse my computer with gasoline and set it on fire...or hang it from the nearest tree. Strange fruit indeed. "Free at last, free at last"...I don't thnk so....

Posted by: Northstar at April 14, 2007 9:29 AM

The 1st Ammendment rights we've fought and died for are no longer applicable unless everyone agrees with what you say.

Nobody seems to understand what the First Ammendment means anymore. It basically guarantees you the right to speak your opinion without government interference. Period. It doesn't guarantee you a venue. It doesn't mean you can't be fired or criticized or sued or otherwise financially impacted for what you choose to say. It doesn't mean that you are entitled to a radio show or a newspaper column or even a guaranteed corner on the 3rd St. Promenade to peddle your viewpoint.

Posted by: deja pseu at April 14, 2007 9:40 AM

Nobody seems to understand what the First Amendment means anymore. It basically guarantees you the right to speak your opinion without government interference. Period. It doesn't guarantee you a venue.

Exactly. Imus was canned because the people who provided him his venue saw him as a losing proposition for them. His advertisers were bailing in droves and CBS saw keeping him was worse than losing him.

Posted by: justin case at April 14, 2007 10:04 AM

Regarding the First Amendment: what deja pseu said. It didn't guarantee Ann Coulter the right to keep appearing on National Review Online, it didn't guarantee the Dixie Chicks the right to have millions of people shut up and buy their albums, and it doesn't guarantee Imus the right to stay on air. It REALLY doesn't guarantee freedom from criticism, and if you respond to criticism by whining that you're feeling oppressed and silenced, my response to that will be either, "Grow up!" or "Real rebels LOVE getting criticized by The Man, trust me here."

I can't improve on what Crid has been saying, so I won't even try. I will say that I think the difference between Imus and Howard Stern is that the latter feels real when he's on the air. Yes, Howard has joke writers and the like, but his show is really about disengaging his ego and superego for a few hours and letting his id reign supreme. Imus has to work to come up with the awful stuff he says. Does that sound like a stupid distinction? Probably. I bring it up because I don't believe that anyone on the planet looked at the Rutgers women's basketball team on TV and thought, deep in his or her id, "Wow, look at the nappy-headed hos." They may have thought other non-printable things, but Imus's reaction, IMHO, was an artificial creation designed to sound "shocking" and "cutting-edge." His mistake was going after college kids rather than his usual targets...especially given his pseudo-respectability, which was never that supportable in the first place. He started mixing politics and serious bits with the shock-jock-dom in the 1990s in order to find some alternative to Howard Stern (Slate has a good piece on this), but 'ho and race jokes and serious political discussion, IMHO, was never going to be a stable combination. I'm amazed that he lasted as long as he did.

And Amy, I agree with you on wishing that Howard would do a political show. I haven't listened to him in years - I've gotten to the point where I can only tolerate music in the car - but he's one of the best natural interviewers I've ever heard, and I would attempt to listen to him interviewing political figures. When people can match him effectively, I gain respect for them. I get so tired of pre-packaged, pre-fabricated "interviews" that tell me nothing of importance. The only problem is, again, that I think shock-jock-dom and politics is a mixture that's guaranteed to blow up in a really stupid way at some point in time.

Posted by: marion at April 14, 2007 10:20 AM

Northstar,

I agree with your comments, but the reality is that people as a whole will value security over individual freedom. A sense of false security that someone, somewhere could be holding a negative view of someone else and must be made an example.

Actually, the real stereo type that is being maintained is that African-Americans are children and must need the protection of White Liberals within the MSM from the potential horrors of a senile radio host's bad joke or past bad jokes.

The other overlooked story is the charity work that Don Imus contributed so much of his time and money will suffer because of that bad joke. I’m wondering if the various ringleaders of the hysteria will pick up the slack with their high sense of personal morality? I doubt it.

Posted by: Joe at April 14, 2007 10:50 AM

I think "role model" is hideous rhetoric because it's so chickenshit and mild

Maybe, but it also gets at a key experience of people as they're learning to be people. As a boy, and young man (or girl/woman), it's important to have examples as to how to a man or woman behaves. Three men (father, uncle, grandfather) were the people who showed me how it's done - from cooking a steak, to ordering wine, to treating a woman, dealing with conflict, etc. - I'd be way worse off without them, or if they were weak, small men and not gentlemen. The term "role model" is of course a gross oversimplification, but I did a lot of modeling of my behavior after theirs.

Posted by: justin case at April 14, 2007 11:06 AM

I would include plenty of mentors. Professors, teachers, older former co-workers, business partners of my grandfathers and so on.

Posted by: Joe at April 14, 2007 12:41 PM

> it also gets at a
> key experience

No! No it doesn't. It never gets at a key experience. It won't accept collect calls from a key experience. When Role Model bumps into Key Experience at cocktail parties and industry conferences, it turns its head and walks away like its never even met it before.

Lemme try again. There is no key experience. A key experience can happen in a moment, or a Saturday at Disneyland. But loving fatherhood and motherhood and family loving take decades of investment and patience and error correction. That's what kids deserve.

> the people who
> showed me how

I'm gonna guess that one of them was married to your mother and living with her. Yes? No?

> The term "role model" is of course
> a gross oversimplification

So why, of course, must we grossly oversimplify? Why are people eager to do this?

I tellya why: We want wiggle room.

Imagine a late-20th single mother ("My ex was an asshole! He was a LIAR!").

Imagine that she's figured out that her divorce has had adverse effects on her son/daughter. The kid's not doing so well in school anymore. The friendships are getting weird, the clothes are getting gothy, and there's too much Tori Amos on the Ipod. Other kids in the school, the ones who have TWO parents who show up to the Christmas Pageant (and hold hands[!] in the twelfth row) are starting to do better than her kid. Years pass. Mom's getting worried! Especially if it's a boy who's hit puberty, because all the sudden he won't listen to her even when she says the sun's coming up tomorrow. Tats, piercings, drugs on the horizon.

So on a Tuesday in, say, 1989, she takes a "me" day and stays home to eat Haagen-Daaz and watch Oprah. (Donahue if it's 1979, "Ms." magazine if it's 1969.) A woman in a good suit with a pointy chin says something about the importance of role models.

Bingo!

Next thing you know, she's asking Ernie in the marketing office --who sometimes tries to peek down her blouse but has been Southeast Region Sales Leader for six of the last eight years-- to take her troubled teen with him and his son on one of their weekend fishing trips. Ernie doesn't want to do it, because his son hates the goth kid. And the goth kid doesn't want to do it, because he hates daylight, the squirty insides of twitching trout when you pull out the hook, and men, whose behavior he's never experienced (excepting Mom's abusive boyfriends). But Ernie does it anyway. Once. Or twice.

So then the when her kid gets in trouble with the law or flunks the SAT, she can say to herself and her friends: "I always tried to give him positive role models!" She never needs to concede that masculinity was anything but a pixie dust that a loving father would have spread on the kid's video game console and skateboard. She never needs to concede that her inability to accommodate and master her ex's masculinity meant anything at all. She never needs to concede that her own social and sexual incompetence has cost this child greatly. The fifty thousand hours the kid might have spent in his father's presence, learning the lessons from meaningful closeness, are stricken from her moral calculus.

I hate that.

If we're not going to be patient with "slap my bitch up" rhetoric, we shouldn't make room for role models, either. They're partners in crime.

Posted by: Crid at April 14, 2007 12:49 PM

Women need to start calling men bitches and ho's.

If your orientation toward life isn't that of a victim, you can make fun of yourself. Andrew Breitbart, for example, refers to himself as "Matt Drudge's bitch."

If you already feel, well, deprecated, self-deprecation like that is probably excessive.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 14, 2007 2:30 PM

"It all fits in neatly with "Ladder Theory", in which women will go for the "outlaw biker" over the nice guy every time."

I agree that far too many women prefer bad boys over non-bad boys. But I'll also point out that I know a hell of a lot of kind, sweet single women who have trouble getting a date, whereas every unstable and/or high-maintenance beeyotch I've ever met seems to have men lined up around the block. I don't question the notion that people have a weakness for what's bad for them, and that they have a tendency to value the approval of those who disapprove of them more than those who approve of them - I just strongly disagree with the idea that this is confined to just one gender. There's a reason that plenty of men with perfectly good and loyal wives end up schtupping skanky younger women and nearly destroying their lives, and/or Presidential campaigns, as a result.

How about this: In our youth, most of us have at least some weakness for romantic partners who are not the emotional ideal for us. For women, I'd say this is reinforced by the meme that a Good Woman can save a Troubled Man, as reinforced by countless tales throughout the eons, but it exists as a factor for men, too. We are willing to accept a surprising level of demeaning treatment in the name of Love. As we gain years and experience, many of us get wiser and choose partners who treat us fairly decently, even if it's not via a first marriage, and through the process reject most demeaning treatment. A vocal minority never manages to do this, for one reason or another; a less vocal minority skips those initial stupid steps and avoids the bad sorts entirely.

As for parents vs. role models, I certainly don't think that every couple must stay married in order to provide kids with a good childhood, as evinced by (among others) the incomparable Maia Lazar. That having been said, I attended an Ivy League college - yes, THAT Ivy League college - and I think it's worth noting that nowhere near 50%, or even 25%, of my classmates' parents were divorced. Take out the parents who had filed for divorce after the kid went to college, and the percentage dropped VERY low. Not sure if this says more about the emotional or the financial aftereffects of single parenthood, but I've seen research real and anecdotal indicating that it's a fairly common pattern at top universities, at least in the U.S. Now, going to a "top school" certainly is not a prerequisite for happiness and/or success in life...but lemme tell ya, it's a HUGE step up in terms of the former, if only for the friends/connections you make there. Make of that what you will.

Posted by: marion at April 14, 2007 6:44 PM

I'm gonna guess that one of them was married to your mother and living with her. Yes? No?

Sure, and one was my father's mother's husband, and one was married to my mom's best friend. I spent a lot of time with all of them, and love(d) them (two, regrettably, have died in the last few years).

You misinterpret what I was trying to convey regarding the idea of a role model - it's not a simple little thing like the scenario you described with the Oprah-watching woman. I'm talking about real interactions, not just token gestures. There's gotta be some mutual trust. I watched these men and said, something like, "Oh, so that's a good way to do XXXXX." I looked at their lives and said, "So this is what can happen in life if you take care of your shit." Yeah, I was lucky; experiences such as the ones I had aren't always available to people. But the ones who miss these sorts of things are going to have a much tougher time.

When you say "role models" are "partners in crime," you're using only the most vacuous sense sense of the words. And that wasn't what I was hoping to convey, nor is it accurate in a general sense. Perhaps the lack of a plural when I wrote "key experience" led you in this direction? You do have a point about the empty, forced "role model" scenario you described as not being part of the solution.

If your orientation toward life isn't that of a victim, you can make fun of yourself.

Damn right.

Posted by: justin case at April 14, 2007 6:56 PM

> reinforced by countless
> tales throughout the
> eons, but it exists as
> a factor for men, too

Well, both parties are probably supposed to tame the gender excesses of their partners.

> We are willing to accept
> a surprising level of
> demeaning treatment

The behaviors and vibes that make other people comfortable with their intimates are a mystery. But it's a safe bet that the temperaments we felt in childhood --both attractive and ugly-- are what we seek in adult life. At least after we chill out a little bit.

> I certainly don't think
> that every couple must
> stay married in order to
> provide kids with a good
> childhood

It's not that you're wrong, because you're not. But smug, faux-worldly, let's-just-admit-that-people-are-weak language has allowed a lot of people to do really bad stuff. I think modern divorce (and single parenthood, almost always single motherhood) is a holocaust. It's the slavery of the 21-century superpower, and it's kids who are enslaved. I think people who have kids should be held to standards... Maybe not legal standards, but moral ones. I'm asking what *YOU WANT* to have happen with people, and to not pretend they'll always do whatever they want anyway. You've just acknowledged that women (at least) respond with sensitivity to social pressures. Let's apply some.

> Perhaps the lack of a
> plural when I wrote
> "key experience"

That's it exactly... Because the more experiences you have, the fewer you can describe as "key."

Which meant more to you? Which was a key?:

Event #4
That time you cut your knee to the bone when you ran across the street and tripped on the curb when you were three, and your father came and carried you back to the house and then to the hospital, and held your hand when they came at you with that hyooge suture needle.

Event #2426
That time you and the other Johnson's Hardware Sluggers took the Regional in 2nd grade.

Event #2522
That time two months later when you accidentally drove into the Big Scary Alcoholic Neighbor's birdbath and broke it and the neighbor was pissed and yelling, but your Dad came out and said it was his own goddamn fault for leaving that old refrigerator in the middle of the sidewalk so that you had to ride up on the lawn.

Event #12,391
That time you got into the fender-bender on prom night, and he brought Mom's car so that you could go on to the dance while he stayed with his coupe to get it towed to the shop, and wasn't an asshole about it.

Let's acknowledge that I'm goosing the math and the playscripts a little bit. The point is, if you and your father were to list the moments each of you regarded as key, the lists night have few commonn entries, would be very long, and would include a limited number of scheduled encounters. I think role models are all about token gestures, which are a tiny part of the relationships you mentioned. (And condolences, BTW.)

Rap misogyny and role model chatter feel like partners in crime because they seem mutually enabling. Human nature is shitty. People want badly to pretend that circumstances prevent them from doing the difficult, smelly work of intimacy.

(Also BTW: About ten years ago, "Key" and "Touch Base" were neck & neck for Most Annoying New Popular Cliche. I don't know which took the trophy, but both were adored by nuns and middle managers. By then, "Role Models" had declined further participation in the contest, just as Cosby eventually stopped submitting his work for Emmy consideration. It was a courtesy to the rest of the industry. See also: Jordan's Baseball Season.)

Posted by: Crid at April 14, 2007 9:24 PM

might have few common

etc.

I need an editor who works weird hours cheap

Posted by: Crid at April 14, 2007 9:31 PM

Just got back from a night of screaming in support of the Tough Cookies. These girls are role models, Crid:

http://derbydolls.com/la/index.html

Posted by: Lena at April 14, 2007 10:36 PM

Pink fonts are a nice touch. The girls on the Machines/Stops poster are rilly cute. Strange to think of all this happening in the Little Tokyo mall.

Posted by: Crid at April 15, 2007 4:58 AM

Crid,

It's nice that you had a dad like that. Not all of us did. Sometimes Dad is the one who wants the divorce because after 15 years of wife and kids he's tired of all the responsibility and just wants to go out and have a little fun. Sometimes Dad just disappears without leaving a forwarding address. Sometimes Mom has to get the kids away from Dad because he beats the crap out of all of them when he drinks. And even if Mom and Dad stay together sometimes Dad is aloof and self-absorbed and hardly interracts with the kids at all. Sometimes Dad is screwing everything with a pulse and everyone knows it. Sometimes Dad is hardly ever home because he and Mom can't stand each other but they're staying together "for the sake of the kids." Sometimes Dad is his kids' worst and most unforgiving critic. (These are all actual situations from my own and a few of my friends' experiences.) Some dads are great and really are there for the kids; some aren't or are only periodically or minimally.

I'm not saying that divorce and single-parenthood are wonderful or Dad's shouldn't be involved in their kids' lives even if they aren't married to Mom anymore (unless of course in the case of abuse), but I think you're comparing everything to some mythical golden haloed Daddy that doesn't always exist in the real world. I do
agree that people don't often want to do the hard work in relationships, and that a lot of popular culture panders to the worst of our natures.

Posted by: deja pseu at April 15, 2007 6:46 AM

And there were lots of lipsticked-up and tatooed love girls in attendance, Crid. Looking for a good time. For you.

Posted by: Lena at April 15, 2007 10:46 AM

No Deja, I'm asking what you WANT.

That wasn't my Dad either. Outta town more later

Posted by: Crid at April 16, 2007 9:48 AM

Mars needs women.

Sorry, been moving and painting furniture, so first time on site for awhile. THis is such a jumping post, I thought I had to add something.
Everyone seems to be getting along suspiciously well, though, so I smell monkey business.

Posted by: Cat brother at April 17, 2007 12:49 PM

I heard Mr. Tiger speak on a podcast (can't remember which one) in which he put everything more succinctly. He said, as best I can remember, that black boys tend to fall farther behind academically as they get older, while the girls do better and show them up. "Out of desperation, some boys become rap stars and the first thing they do is reduce those girls to 'whores'." I am not a WSJ subscriber so I haven't read his article, but that made a bit more sense, by which I mean it was said more plainly, than the bits you quoted here.

Posted by: Little Miss Patriot at April 17, 2007 2:43 PM

> Everyone seems to be
> getting along

How dare you. How fucking dare you.

Listen, I don't subscribe to a vision Ward Cleaver version of fatherhood in every home. But what we're seeing in these generation is a lot of women who don't ask anything of the men near them at all. (Distant taxpayers are on the hook, but that's another thread.) This is feminine control freakery and human cowardice at it's worst.

Women who ask nothing of the men who father their children --and in fact put up with abusive culture from them, since all they want is the babies anyway-- are bad news. They're reproductive robots. They're programmed to drop babies, and to hell with the rest. I think this is bad.

> Looking for a good time.

Lena, the sport's just not been the same since Calvello died.


Posted by: Crid at April 17, 2007 3:16 PM

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