Gail Dines, a radical feminist and professor of American Studies at Wheelock College in Boston, author of of the best-selling media textbook, Gender, Race and Class in Media (2nd edition, Sage, 2002), used in over 200 colleges across the country, and co-author of Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality (also reader of my blog, yay!), was recently invited to appear on the Paula Zahn Now show on CNN to “discuss the Duke rape case.” She agreed in part because the pre-show screening interviews and discussions went well and the questions she was asked were intelligent and thoughtful. She was told the show would be done in two, possibly three segments, and that under discussion would be historical and contemporary issues of violence against black women in the U.S.
What happened to her, to another guest, journalist Kristal Brent Zook, who was a guest on the show, to the Duke “stripper,” to feminists and feminism, and to women in the United States and everywhere when Dines went on that show was yet another display of male terrorism, of the way men on the Right and men on the Left, men of color and white men, are more than willing to set aside any political differences they have when it affords them an opportunity to bond over the brutalized bodies and lives of women, women of color, white women, all women.
The first inkling that something wasn’t going according to plan was on my ride from the airport to the makeshift outdoor studio at the Durham courthouse. A different producer called to tell me that although I study both race and gender, they don’t want this show to be about gender. I answered that this woman was brought in as a stripper and is charging that the lacrosse team sexually abused her — how could this not also be about gender? Yes, yes, yes, she answered, but the show is focusing on race. I know enough by now not to argue with a senior producer an hour before taping, and so I simply agreed.
The second clue was one of the people on the panel with me — the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, an African American man who has made his name by slandering blacks for their racism against whites and their continuing “unwillingness” to climb out of poverty. For Peterson, black men have been emasculated by black women, and his project is about making black men “real men” again. The one saving grace was that the other guest on my panel was Kristal Brent Zook, an insightful journalist with Essence magazine.
…As it turns out I was on camera for less than five minutes, and most of that time was taken up by Peterson railing against the “alleged” victim for setting these poor white guys up. Kristal got to make a few points but also was cut short. Zahn was clearly more intrigued by Peterson than either of us; her body language and eye contact focused on him. As I tried to interrupt his tirade, she cut me off and returned to him. He got the last word of the segment, saying that the “stripper” has no humanity, no morality (she had children out of “wedlock”) and should be jailed for what she has done to these athletes. As I got up to leave the studio I ask Zahn how she could do a show that once again leaves this woman stripped of her dignity and rendered invisible as a human being. Zahn smiled and offered her hand as a way to tell me they are done with me.
When I got back to the hotel 30 minutes later, I already had a few emails from enraged men informing me that I am a “bitch dyke,” “dumb feminist” and “nigger lover” who is an embarrassment to the academic profession. By the next day at noon, it was a flood of emails, each one more hateful than the next. After most television appearances I get some hate mail and some support, but never such a consistently negative barrage in such a short time. It is only when I sit down to watch a tape of the show that I understood why everyone was so upset.
Rather than being about racism and sexism in the media, the show had been billed as an examination of the “rush to judgment” on the part of the media and society. The possibility that these men were guilty had been “proved” wrong, as the victim is clearly lying and motivated by money. The case is framed as a “race” issue, which for producers meant that blacks are out for revenge for past misdeeds by whites. Jumping on this bandwagon, so the story goes, was the District Attorney Mike Nifong, who was trying to curry favor with the black community in a re-election year. The consensus on the show was that if anyone is guilty here, it is the lying, immoral black stripper and the amoral, politically motivated DA. The victims here are the upstanding white men who have now had their reputations tarnished first by a stripper and then by gullible fools who believed her. And of course, within the framing of the show, I appeared as not just a gullible fool, but even worse, a gullible fool with a feminist agenda.
My anger at the way the media humanized these men as victims and dehumanized the woman as the perpetrator of a lie clearly stood out from the rest of the show. And this was, I am now convinced, the producer’s goal. I was set up in the show to be an example of the problem — white liberal elites who have taken political correctness too far. I was not brought on as a researcher or activist but as an example of how feminists “rush to judgment” in order to further their man-hating propaganda.
Virtually every email I have received blasts me as a conniving feminist who didn’t even bother to know the facts of the case. These men — yes, they all were from men — explained to me that the facts show without question that nothing happened that night, which I would have known if I were not so busy trying to further my feminist agenda.
Read the entire (great) article at Dissident Voice.
Note: Because of the turn the comments in this thread have taken, I have made comments open only to women of color and to white women who are race traitors (partnered with black men now or in the past and/or mother to biracial children) for the time being. I hope everyone either understands my reasons for this or will be willing to give me the benefit of the doubt if you don’t. Thanks. — Heart