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For too long, we’ve lauded men’s domination and aggressiveness as a sign of leadership rather than possible red flags
Harvey Weinstein, for example, was well-known for being a bully. He yelled and demeaning the people around him, including men. Leon Wieseltier, formerly of The New Republic, was called “thuggish” and “gleefully mean.”
Roy Price, ousted at Amazon for harassment, wasn’t just accused of sexism in his interactions with women but in the way he chose programming. And Mark Halperin, accused by multiple women of harassment, once argued that there was “nothing illegal” about Donald Trump’s alleged groping.
This isn’t to say that we should only be wary of men who yell or hold explicitly sexist views. NPR is arguably one of the most progressive bastions of media around, yet when senior vice president Michael Oreskes was known to harass women, he was simply given a “father-son talking to” by another editor.
What would happen if we stopped viewing these kinds of behaviors as the remnants of men from “another era,” stopped excusing them as less-than-charming side effects of idiosyncratic brilliance?
It’s true, there’s nothing illegal about being a boor or a sexist jerk. You can’t fire someone for being an asshole. But you can notice particular kinds of bad behavior and flag them as a problem, rather than a boon, for a man’s career
I don’t know how to describe it other than to use the word creepy. It’s creepy. It’s creepy that, when a teacher abuses or assaults a student, so many people think of that crime as being a potential gray area — of teenagers or adolescents of being capable of consent or even pursuit — that “having sex,” the thing that consenting adults do together, becomes the standard descriptor.This is a symptom, of course, of a larger problem: We are a society steeped in rape culture. The normalization and minimization of sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual violence persists thanks to a dizzying confluence of factors, not least among them the broad cultural suspicion — among adults of both genders — that victims and survivors are asking for it, because of what they wear or don’t wear, what they say or don’t say, what they drink or don’t drink, where they go or don’t go, how fat or thin they are, whether they work late or early, how many children they have or don’t have, how many partners they have or don’t have … the list goes on and on.
On September 10, a 32-year-old man went to his estranged wife’s Sunday cookout, reportedly the first social event she’d organized since filing for divorce. He shot her and seven other adults to death before he was killed by police. That tragedy was tied for second-deadliest mass shooting of the year with another killing spree on May 27 in Brookhaven, Mississippi, in which a 35-year-old man, also angry at his “estranged” wife, allegedly killed five of her relatives, as well as a sheriff’s deputy and two children. He told the local media on-camera that he was hoping police would kill him.Surprisingly, these two incidents, with 16 victims between them, were not the most infamous domestic violence murders to make national news in the past six months. Several other intimate partner killings received more widespread attention, likely because of their unusual nature. In July, a man stabbed his wife to death aboard a cruise ship, reportedly later telling a witness, “She would not stop laughing at me.” (The statement calls to mind the famous quote attributed to Margaret Atwood about domestic violence: “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”) Six months earlier, in April 10, a 53-year-old man walked into a San Bernardino, California, elementary-school classroom and shot to death his wife, who was a special-ed teacher there, and her 8-year-old student, before turning the gun on himself. Six days later, a 37-year-old man named Steve Stephens, apparently distraught over difficulties with his “estranged” girlfriend, shot a random older man to death on the streets of Cleveland, live-streaming it on Facebook. Before killing him, Stephens made the victim say his ex’s name.
Shadism, pigmentocracy – the idea of privilege accruing to lighter-skinned black people – and other hierarchies of beauty are a complex picture in which ads such as Nivea’s are only the obvious tip of an insidious iceberg. Celebrities with darker complexions, such as the Sudanese model Nyakim Gatwech – nicknamed Queen of the Dark – and actors such as Lupita Nyong’o, are so often discussed in the context of having achieved the seemingly impossible by being both dark and beautiful, that they become the exceptions that prove the rule.It is often observed that light-skinned black women are more likely to become global superstars, the Beyoncé-Rihanna effect. They are, however, still black women and therefore not immune from the pressure to lighten – most recently by fans following a new Photoshopping trend of posting pictures of whitened versions of their faces and remarking upon the improvement.In countries such as Ghana, the intended audience for the Nivea ad, and Nigeria – where an estimated 77% of women use skin-lightening products – the debate has so far, understandably, focused on health. The most toxic skin-lightening ingredients, still freely available, include ingredients such as hydroquinone, mercury and corticosteroid. It’s not unusual for these to be mixed with caustic agents ranging from automotive battery acid, washing power, toothpaste and cloth bleaching agents, with serious and irreversible health consequences. There is no suggestion that global brands such as Nivea or Lancôme are using any of these illegal and harmful ingredients, and African countries are moving towards greater regulation of the products themselves. Ghana, for example, has banned hydroquinone.These powerful corporations are, however, still freely operating in a context where millions of low-income women experience the high-end messaging of their glossy billboards, but can only afford to opt for cheaper, black market products. Advertising standards have been enforced against beauty conglomerates for adverts that are overly retouched, but only India, another of the biggest markets for skin lightening products, has banned adverts depicting people with darker skin as inferior. Maybe it is time that changed. This is an industry expected to reach $31bn by 2024, as growing awareness of dangerous, toxic products drives extra demand for a “fairness solution with natural, herbal and organic ingredients”, according to market analysts.
Wilson said Trump’s comments were “not a good message to say to anyone who has lost a child at war”.Advertisement“You don’t sign up because you think you’re going to die,” Wilson said. “You sign up to serve your country. There’s nothing to misinterpret. He said what he said. I just don’t agree with it. I just don’t agree with that’s what you should say to grieving families.”Johnson’s mother was also offended by Trump’s tone, telling reporters this week: “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.”Kelly also attacked Wilson for allegedly taking credit for securing funding from Barack Obama for an FBI field office, at a 2015 ceremony which he also attended.Wilson said she was not a member of Congress in 2009 when the funding mentioned by Kelly was secured. Her role, she said, was in having the building dedicated to two FBI agents who were killed in a 1986 shootout in Miami.“That’s a lie,” Wilson said of Kelly’s characterization. “How dare he?”She added: “I feel sorry for General Kelly. He has my sympathy for the loss of his son. But he can’t just go on TV and lie on me.”A video of Wilson’s remarks at the ceremony, published by the SunSentinel on Friday, support the congresswoman’s account. She briefly discusses her efforts to dedicate the building for the fallen agents, but at no point takes credit for securing funding.Wilson said she was seeking answers about the attack in Niger, in which Johnson reportedly became separated from the rest of his unit. The Pentagon has offered few details, prompting the Arizona senator John McCain to threaten the White House with a subpoena to elicit more information.“Why did it take 48 hours to find him?” Wilson said. “Was he still alive? Was he kidnapped? I am distraught and so is the family. There are so many questions that should be answered.”
Researchers at Virginia University have released a report confirming a frequent criticism – that far from avoiding human prejudices, artificial intelligence compounds them.The investigation focused on two image banks commonly used to train computers to process images. In 33% of the photos of people cooking, the cooks were men. Following attempts to “train” the computer in recognition, the software continued to believe that 84% were women and only 16% were men.“We know that technology fed on big data can enhance prejudice because the prejudice is implicit in the data,” according to the report. The research shows that if sexual discrimination exists in the original data, predictive technology will identify and highlight it.
Does she anticipate that people might object to … “Him calling me a whore?” she interrupts. Well, yes, that. She bats it away. It’s her mother’s favourite track on the album, she laughs. “The reason I love Eminem is, number one, I think he’s a lyrical genius, I think he’s one of the best that ever did it. I think he’s funny as shit. I don’t think he believes in any of the shit he says. Otherwise, why would he respect a woman like me? Which he does. And I think he’s one of those people that likes to take the piss out of all the shit we hold so precious and so dear. I think all of us get a little too serious at times and that’s why I think it is hilarious that he says, ‘You’re a whore, you’re a whore, this is war.’ I’ve called Carey a whore like 50,000 times.” Does he mind? “I don’t care!” she cackles.Parents may no longer be worried that Alecia Moore is a bad influence on their kids, but Pink is still happy to cause a bit of trouble every now and then. “Look,” she says, “there’s a part of me that’s a fucker, and this is that.”
Twitter has been under fire for the way it has treated McGowan and women before this. Remember when The News Minute editor Dhanya Rajendran was attacked online by trolls and fans of Tamil actor Vijay for criticising his film? Twitter took no action till the trolling took a surmounting toll on Rajendran. But it’s disgusting how easy it is to jump the gun on women like McGowan who speak up against abusers like Weinstein. Many may argue what this silent protest is even going to achieve. If you’re protesting being silenced then why go silent, they may say. But the ironic nature of the protest is it’s very point. Maybe this one day protest won’t change anything on Twitter or affect the way it treats harassment online, but it’s still a start. Sometimes, silence does speak louder than words.