Thursday, September 20, 2007

Who you callin' B***h?!

We try not to get caught up in the "he said, she said", spectacular allegations, blatant publicity stunts and counter claims of celebrity trials. Quotes from testimony, taken out of context, can be completely misleading—heck taken in context they can still be confusing and nearly indecipherable. But something came up in the Isaiah Thomas—Anucha Browne Sanders sexual harassment suit and got stuck in our craw.

In case you're not following the trial (and there are lots of other things to be paying attention to—like what are the presidential candidates really saying? What is your child really learning in school? What is your house really worth . . .?) former NY Knick's V.P. Anucha Browne Sanders accuses coach and general manager Isaiah Thomas of sexual harassment, and Madison Square Garden of wrongfully firing her after she made that accusation. During pre-trial video taped depositions, Thomas stated, for the record, that he would find it, "highly offensive if he heard a white man call a black woman bitch (Yes we wrote it. We've all heard it, said it, or been called it, before.), but that if a black man called a black woman bitch he would be less offended. HUH?!?!?

Is there some rule we missed that says it's OK to call women of your own race, ethnicity or country of national origin outside of their names, but not to use those terms across racial lines? That's right up there was, "I can hit my woman, but you can't." And we're not buying the notion that bitch can be a term of endearment. Last time we checked, "You're my sweetheart," and "You're my bitch," still have two completely different and totally opposite meanings.

Yeah, we all grew up reciting "Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me." A mantra whose main purpose was to keep us out of schoolyard and neighborhood fights. But we know words have power. They can heal or they can cause pain. And words like 'bitch,' 'nigger,' 'faggot,' were meant to hurt. They even sound angry when you say them. Their presence lingers in the air long after they've left the sayers lips and bounced back off the hearers eardrums. They used to be fighting words. The person who uses them wants to dehumanize you, make you feel small, unworthy of even enough respect to be called by your own name. And while we realize language is fluid, a living thing that changes, we're not buying the idea that if you use epithets enough, they lose their meaning—or their power. It just means you're so used to getting beat down you don't even notice the sting any more.

So for the record, it is not hip, cool or manly to call women bitches. We like to joke, kid, and have a good time as much as the next woman, but we don't accept being call that, or some of the other names out there (we all know what they are) to prove we're one of the guys. Each of us has to make our own decisions in our personal lives, but that kind of undermining language is certainly not acceptable in the workplace. And what color you are doesn't make a damn bit of difference.

Didn't we just go through this with the Rutgers' women's basketball team?

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 8:41 AM

2 Comments:

Blogger Shellshock said...

Thank you for bringing this subject to my attention. I briefly heard a reference to Isaiah, but did not hear the entire story. He should be ashamed and embarrassed that he had the unmitigated gall to make such a statement. I have not been a fan of his in a number of years for various reasons and this further underscores my disdain for him.
I truly enjoy your books and look forward to many more, thanks for bringing important news to the forefront as well.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Jillie said...

I completely agree with you. Thank you for bringing these things to light for others. I look forward to reading your books, and would appreciate some feedback on my blog Sexual Combat. I think our blogs are somewhat similar in their honesty. Again, awesome job!
-Jillie

1:12 PM  

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