Do We Hate Women?

In a most intriguing episode of ESPN’s show, “Highly Questionable” in which Dan Le Batard and Bomani Jones sit on either side of Le Batard’s father and respond to the questions sent in by viewers, there recently occurred a discussion of numerous tweets that have been sent by avid (rabid?) male sports fans to female reporters and journalists who are audacious enough to report on male sports. The tweets were disgusting and very disturbing — so much so that several of them couldn’t be read on air. The question before the group was what would drive those men to say those terrible things to those women? After a number of suggestions by both Batard and Jones the latter finally said: it’s simple, in this society we hate women [his emphasis]. I paraphrase here because I don’t have the episode near at hand, but this was the final point the Jones made and it is worth pondering.

Bomani’s comment would certainly explain why those men would say such awful things to those women. But that is a small sample (we would hope) and certainly doesn’t make a case for the truth of Jones’ comment. However, Jones’ claim would also help to explain such things as pornography and prostitution not to mention the singular lack of popularity of women’s sports and the disappointing  popularity of such men as Donald Trump. Further, when we reflect on the nearly 5 million known cases of of domestic abuse each year in the U.S. alone, taken together with the undeniable fact that women have had to struggle throughout history against  male dominance to assert their minimal claims to human rights, the case begins to take on a semblance of credibility.

It is even possible to explain the sudden burst of radical feminism not so many years ago on the grounds that those women themselves were filled with hatred not only of the males who dominate over them but, possibly, of themselves — perhaps as a result of a need to play a male role in order to succeed in a culture where women are chronically marginalized. This might well result in hatred not only of the role women are forced to play in a male-dominated culture, but even of the women themselves for being forced to appear to be what they are not. Clearly, it is impossible for someone who is not a trained psychologist to draw any hard and fast conclusions about what might be explained otherwise, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable to suggest that a great many women in this culture mimic the men who dominate over them and may well hate themselves for it.

While it might be a stretch to insist that many women hate themselves, it is fairly clear that Bomani Jones might be correct in saying that men hate women in this culture, generally speaking. That is, those men who wrote those horrible things about those women were symptomatic of a deeper hatred among men generally toward the women who throughout their lives have assumed the role of authority figures — namely, mothers and teachers who, in the lower grades, are almost always women. These women have been telling men for years what they should and shouldn’t do and this may well explain why a certain amount of resentment would build up which might then result in hatred of women generally who stand between so many men and what they think they want.

Needless to say, I am engaged in borderline speculation here, but that’s what this blog is about: to raise interesting questions and generate thought. Bomani Jones is a bright and articulate man who makes many a good point in what is otherwise a silly TV show. In this case, what he had to say is well worth pondering, since it does explain a great many things that are hard to explain otherwise — including ugly tweets that twisted men direct toward women who have the audacity to report on male sports.

Victimless Crimes?

I swore to myself that I would not discuss this issue on my blog. But the sustained interest in this tawdry affair demands some sort of comment. In a recent Yahoo news story, for example, we are told that the DEA is now involved in the prostitution scandal that recently rocked the Secret Service.

Two of the agents allegedly had encounters with masseuses in the apartment of one of the agents, according to Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“It’s disturbing that we may be uncovering a troubling culture that spans more than one law enforcement agency,” the Maine Republican said this evening. “In addition to the Secret Service scandal, we now learn that at least two DEA agents apparently entertained female foreign national masseuses in the Cartagena apartment of one of the agents. The evidence uncovered thus far indicates that this likely was not just a one-time incident.”

Needless to say, it is the Republicans who want to keep our collective attention focused on these incidents, as though the Democratic President is personally or professionally responsible for what the people around him do in their free time. This is absurd on its face. Obama is responsible for a great many sins of omissions and commission, I dare say. We all are, including Senator Collins. But these would be acts the man committed himself or knew about and refused to take action to prevent. In the cases before us, there is simply no way he could be held responsible for actions agents of his government engaged in while out of his sight and hearing in their free time in a country in which prostitution is perfectly legal.

Generally speaking, prostitution is a “victimless crime.” That is to say, no harm, no foul. Sex between consulting adults in a country where that law allows women to receive cash payment for sex, cannot be viewed as a crime except by the neo-Puritans among us who simply think that prostitution is “wrong.”  What possible grounds could there be for condemning legal acts in which no one is harmed and both participants consent? There might be a moral issue if the women were forced into prostitution, as is sometimes the case. But this is not the case in Cartagena where the women who prostitute themselves do so voluntarily and, apparently, routinely. To be sure, many in our society find prostitution offensive for personal reasons, but that’s their problem. As a recent story in the New York Times noted following the scandal involving the security forces, Many here [in Cartagena] are perplexed about why the Americans have made such a fuss over something as unremarkable, in local eyes, as a man taking a woman to a hotel room, and paying for sex.

In the case of the Secret Service personnel who were supposed to protect the President, the situation is a bit more complex. There is some concern that secrets may have been divulged to the prostitutes, though it “beggars belief,” as the English would say. In any case, isn’t that always a possibility when two people are intimate? If secrets were revealed by the security people, it is irrelevant that the people who were supposedly told these secrets were prostitutes. The problem in this case is simply one of keeping security personnel away from anyone who might be told something that the government regards as a risk to national security. But this would mean keeping security personnel away from everyone, which is clearly absurd. One must trust that those with the highest clearance will not betray that trust.

The real issue here, as I see it, is that the Republicans want to make political hay out of an issue they think will help them regain the White House. It’s as simple as that. And it may indeed work if they are able to keep the issue afloat (as they seem to be doing) until well into the Summer and even into the Fall. The average citizen loves to read about this sort of thing and to cast stones from their glass house. So I dare say we will hear more about this sordid affair, even though it is hardly worth a moment of our time.

Courting Latin America

President Obama is in Latin America attempting to build economic bridges with that region of the world in the hope that it will boost his reelection prospects. He wants to convince voters in this country that our economy will recover as new trade relations are solidified with our neighbors to the South. The officials in that region of the world, meanwhile, are distressed over the fact that the U.S. is perceived as ignoring them out of a misplaced concern with the Middle East. Perhaps so. In any event, the President’s visit has been marred by a scandal involving eleven (at last count) of his security people who seem to have an uncontrollable urge toward promiscuity, and the fact that the U.S. has insisted that Cuba be denied involvement in the next Summit of the Americas.

The story begins: CARTAGENA, Colombia (Reuters) – A prostitution scandal involving U.S. security personnel in Colombia and an unprecedented regional push to end the isolation of Cuba threatened on Saturday to eclipse President Barack Obama’s charm offensive to Latin America.

I am less alarmed by the prostitution scandal — which is certainly disturbing on many levels — than by the fact that the U.S. voted to deny Cuba access to the Summit when 32 countries in that region of the world insisted that Cuba be invited to participate. A number of Latin American countries, including pro-U.S.A. Colombia, have said they will not participate in the next Summit without the involvement of Cuba. I realize that there are real-world political problems with cozying up to Cuba, but this is about sending messages to that part of the world and starting anew. Allowing Cuba to attend the Summit does not necessitate renewed friendship with that country and it just might help build those economic bridges.

Ours is a President, after all, who ran on a policy of open government, the desire to open lines of communication with others — certainly other nations. We should have learned by this time that turning a deaf ear to a country, any country, can be a mistake of gigantic proportions. It is always preferable to talk to people, even people with whom we are ideologically opposed, than it is to take a stance of hard-line opposition. Our acknowledgement of the importance of Cuba to that region is an important element in opening lines of communication with other nations in Latin America, and the resentment that our denial has stirred outweighs the sexual scandal that is grabbing most of the headlines around the world.

In any case, the prestige of this nation and the reputation of this President as a man with an open mind and a willingness to engage in dialogue with anyone may have been irreparably harmed. The scandal involving a group of men who surround the President and apparently can’t keep it in their pants didn’t help, either. In the meantime, China has stepped in and maintains the upper hand in the region with trade agreements that portend the continued economic ascendency of that country at a time when the prestige and economic clout of the United States seem to be in serious jeopardy.