To the media, heckling Bill Cosby about rape allegations is “rude”

Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images for Meet The Press)
Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images for Meet The Press)
Originally posted on Feministing

The media is turning what should be a story about Bill Cosby being called out for rape into a story about a “rude” heckler who “interrupted” the comedian. And it’s not just the usual suspects like Fox News. In a post on Gawker called “Heckler to Cosby: ‘Tell the One About How to Get Away With Rape’,” Jay Hathaway writes:

At his Baltimore show Friday night, it took just 15 minutes before a protester shouted at Cosby about his many, many alleged crimes, the Baltimore City Paper reported. They posted a video of the encounter, showing a guy later identified as Michael Crook hollering “38 women called you a rapist!” and “Tell the one about how to get away with rape.”

See what Hathaway does? He tells us what happens and uses a headline which focuses on what was said to Cosby. Similarly, Ethan Sacks wrote this headline in his article for The Daily News: “Bill Cosby heckled at Baltimore show after more rape accusers come forward.” This headline puts the heckling in the context of even more accusations against Cosby.

What neither Sachs nor Hathaway does is vilify the audience member who is angry that Cosby is selling out shows despite having been accused of rape and sexual assault by 38 women. Both headlines emphasize what the heckler is doing to Cosby, or what is being done to Cosby. They do not emphasize Cosby’s response. Because that’s not what the story is about.

You can watch the video of what happened here.

And yet, not all media outlets are taking that perspective. For many, the story is about Bill Cosby’s words and actions, not about the words and actions of the heckler. Let’s review the different ways Cosby is being portrayed.

Bill Cosby responds when he is interrupted by a really rude guy! Who’s the real victim?

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The Grio writes “Bill Cosby responds to concert heckler who shouts ’38 women called you a rapist.” At least it includes the allegation. But the subtitle of the piece reads, “Comedian Bill Cosby was rudely interrupted by a heckler during his Baltimore concert Friday night.” I’m not sure the issue here is rudeness and decorum.

Bill Cosby, the Upworthy Hero

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Then there’s this Upworthy-like headline from The Independent which reads, “This is how Bill Cosby responded when a heckler brought up rape allegations.” The only thing that’s missing is an, “And you won’t believe it!” tagged on to the end of the header.

Bill Cosby: Defiant and unstoppable!

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The Black Atlanta Star had this heroic description of the comedian who “answers his hecklers and continues to perform his comedy show.”

Bill Cosby: Fired up and firing back and also kinda the peace-maker at the same time!

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The Wrap headline reads: “Bill Cosby Fires Back at Heckler who shouts ‘tell the one about how to get away with rape’.” The subtitle says, “TV legend tries to calm tensions at the Baltimore show by telling fans ‘We are here to enjoy my gift’.”

Bill Cosby: Let the man speak! Before we kick him out!

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 12.54.06 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 12.54.52 AMLet these headlines be an example of how not to cover a story.

 

Conservative women declare the Republican “War on Women” over

CWAOriginally posted on Feministing

We can all exhale and unbunch our panties. Because the War on Women is officially over, according to the right-wing, anti-feminist, evangelical Christian organization Concerned Women for America. 

Given how much the right wing has tried to pretend there’s no War on Women at all, I’m kind of impressed that the Concerned Women for America hosted a panel discussion called “War No More” in Washington, DC on Monday. The title acknowledges that there has, indeed, been a war on women. What isn’t quite as honest or accurate is the claim that it’s over.

Rather than deny sexist policies and persisting gender inequality per se, the women on the panel argued that economic and geopolitical issues are more important — and totally separate from — gender issues. GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway, for example, asked, “What do most women do every week? Do they fill up the gas tank and the grocery cart? Or do they get an abortion?” Ahhh, yes. Ye ole abortion vs. shopping conundrum.

But groceries and gas guzzling pale in comparison to Jihadi rape, which, apparently, is the result of Democrat, not Republican, policy. As Concerned Women for America president Penny Nance explained, “Women are being violated at the hands of Islamic jihadists.” Compared to raping, pillaging, and beheading, things like unequal pay (or, basically, anything besides raping, pillaging, and beheading) don’t really sound that bad, right?

Besides, as Nance explains, the pay gap is “greatly exaggerated” and is about “women’s choices, and maybe a little bit of discrimination as well,” according to CWA’s Sabirna Schaeffer. But it is definitely not an issue to be addressed through legislation like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. And you know what else isn’t going to help women, according to these allegedly “concerned” women? Things like increasing the minimum wage or paid sick and family leave.

So, how do you argue that policies that demonstrably improve women’s lives and well-being don’t actually do that? How do you, in other words, distort reality or…well… lie? Blame porn! As Carly Fiorina, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, explained to the audience, Democrats want to pay people to watch porn. Thanks to seniority systems, “we keep getting inspector general reports that say that people watching porn all day long are getting paid exactly the same as someone who works hard and does their job. And who supports the seniority system? Unions. Government bureaucracies. The constituencies that the Democrats like to protect.”

Got it, ladies? It’s not about unequal pay. It’s not about reproductive freedom. It’s about union-belonging, government-bureaucracy-supporting, over-paid porn addicts with job security. Sounds about right to me.

Longest-serving woman in Congress retires to “raise hell” instead of “money”

image via www.mikulski.senate.gov/
Originally posted on Feministing

Senator Barbara Mikulski made history as being the longest-serving woman in Congress, the first woman Democrat elected in her own right, and the first woman to wear pants on the Senate floor. On Monday, she announced her plans to retire in an appropriately badass fashion. 

The Democrat from Maryland was a social worker  and community organizer before she entered politics to become a member of Congress in 1975 and a Senator in 1986. She is known for her unapologetically liberal positions and has had the honor of being smeared (unsuccessfully) by her Republican opponent for her associations with a radical feminist lesbian.

“Do I spend my time raising money? Or do I spend my time raising hell?” Mikulski said during her announcement at a news conference in Baltimore on Monday. “There’s nothing gloomy about this announcement… I’m not frustrated with the Senate. The Senate will always be what the Senate is.” Continue reading “Longest-serving woman in Congress retires to “raise hell” instead of “money””

The Notorious RBG talks ‘unconscious bias,’ abortion, and push-ups

Image via Wikipedia
Image via Wikipedia
Originally posted on Feministing

In an exclusive interview that appeared on The Rachel Maddow show on Monday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, feminist hero, and Tumblr sensation Ruth Bader Ginsburg talked to MSNBC’s Irin Carmon, sharing her thoughts on abortion, her push-up routine, and how she describes President in Obama in one word.

See the video here…
Here are some of the greatest moments from their discussion…

On unconscious bias:

…what’s still with us and harder to deal with is what I call unconscious bias. And my best example is the symphony orchestra. When I was growing up, one never saw a woman in the symphony orchestra, except perhaps playing the harp. People who should have known better like The New York Times critic, Howard Taubman said, “You could put a blindfold on him and he could tell you whether it’s a woman playing the piano or a man.”

Someone had the simple idea, “Let’s drop a curtain. Let’s drop a curtain between the people who are auditioning and the people who are judging.” And almost overnight, there was a sea change. Once the curtain was dropped, the testers couldn’t tell whether it was a man – or a woman. And they made their judgments based on the quality of the performance.

Some years ago, when I was telling this story, a young violinist told me, “You left out something.” “Well, what? What did I leave out?” “You left out that we auditioned shoeless, so they won’t hear a woman’s heels behind the curtain.” That device of the dropped curtain isn’t so easy to duplicate in other areas.

On abortion access:

It’s not true that it’s [abortion] inaccessible to women of means. And that’s the crying shame. We will never see a day when women of means are not able to get a safe abortion in this country…. It hurts women who lack the means to go someplace else… all the restrictions, they operate against the woman who doesn’t have freedom to move, to go where she is able to get safely what she wants.

On how she does 20 pushups: We do ten at a time. And then I breathe for a bit and do the second set.”

On what she hopes young women take away from her work:

I would like them to have the enthusiasm that we had in the ’70s – determining that the law should catch up to the changes that have occurred in society, changes in the way people whatever, the realization that no one should be held back, boy or girl – because of gender, artificial gender barriers. That everyone should be – in the words of a wonderful song that Ms. Magazine popularized, everyone should be free to be you and me.

On the one word that comes to mind when she hears the name President Obama: “Sympathy. That’s a French word. It means more than sympathetic. It means who cares about other people.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

Saudi Arabian historian claims ban on women drivers protects them from rape

image via youtube
image via youtube
Originally posted on Feministing

In an unintentionally viral video, a Saudi Arabian historian justified his nation’s ban against women drivers by arguing that it protects them from roadside rape.

Saudi Arabia’s prohibition on women driving instituted in 1990, has been defied several times in recent years by women who have filmed themselves driving in protest. The government has responded with a crackdown, arresting women who break the law and even sending two women to a the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh which handles terrorism cases.

But don’t worry. There’s a good reason for this ban.

In a recent TV interview, historian Saleh Al-Saadoon claimed that the reason women are allowed to drive in Europe, America and parts of the Arab world is because women there don’t care about getting raped if their car breaks down: “They don’t care if they are raped on the roadside, but we do,” Al-Saadoon said on Saudi Rotana Khalijiyya TV.

The understandably incredulous host, who isn’t named, responds by saying, “Hold on. Who told you they don’t care about getting raped on the roadside?” To which Al-Saadoon replies, “In our case, however, the problem is of a social and religious nature.” When the host pointed out that the two other guests were shocked by the historian’s comments, he said, “They should listen to me and get used to what society thinks, if they are really so out of touch with it.”

Never fear — the women of Saudi Arabia may not be allowed to drive, but they are waited on by a gaggle of male relatives who have nothing to do but serve them: “Saudi women are driven around by their husbands, sons and brothers,”Al-Saadoon explained. “Everybody is at their service. They are like queens. A queen without a chauffeur has the honor of being driven around by her husband, brother, son and nephews. They are at the ready when she gestures with her hands.”

The host then wondered about the risk of being raped by these drivers, asking, “You are afraid that a woman might be raped by the roadside by soldiers, but you are not afraid that she might be raped by her chauffeur?”

“Of course, I am,” replied the concerned historian. And then he dropped a radical policy recommendation that could forever change the transportation system of Saudi Arabia: “There is a solution but the government officials and clerics refuse to hear of it. The solution is to bring female foreign chauffeurs to drive our wives.” No, he didn’t! He then asked the host, “Are you with me on this?”

Her response was a face palm, followed by laughter.

So, to summarize: the solution is to bring in foreign female drivers who may very well get raped on the side of the road if their car breaks down. But it’s all good, because it’s no big deal for them.