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Pre-2008 Posts

U.S. Government: A Government of Rich White Guys, and Can Anything Good Come From a Blog Which Tolerates Misogyny?

“Alec” sent me a blog post from a blog entitled “Prose Before Ho’s”.  (WARNING: there is written porn on the site.  It’s one of those sites anyone can post to.)

There are some interesting and disturbing facts in what Alec sent to me which deserve to be discussed and publicized; my question, though, is, or my first question, can someone who reads or writes for a blog entitled “Prose Before Ho’s” ever be presumed to be concerned with how or whether women’s interests are represented in government?  And if so, how’s that?

The blog post begins:

The 2006 mid-term elections were hailed as an ushering in of a new era turned against the Bush administration and politics as usual, and statistically speaking, the 110th Congress is the most diverse in US history.  Yet there remains a serious disparity between the demographics of the United States population and the demographics in the Congress, which will be explored below.

Males – As of the 2006 congress, 83.7% of the Congress is male, while the percentage of males of the voting age population (18 plus) is only 48.4. If this is further evaluated to include the over-representation of white males, the figure is even more staggering: 36.3% of the voting age population are white males, yet there are 79 White Male senators making up the Senate (79%).

Women – Women of voting age represent 51.6 percent of the voting age population yet are 16.3% of the Congress, putting America below the global average of 17% female representation at parliamentary level. As of 2007, the US ranks 68th in terms of women holding office in the legislature — this puts the US just above Turkmenistan, and just below El Salvador and Panama.

Latinos – Hispanics represent over 14% of the U.S. population, while their Congress representation is 3% in the Senate and about 5% in the House.

African-Americans – The Senate is 1% African American and the House is roughly 9.2% African American compared to the 12.3 percent of American population that are of Black or African-American descent

That’s all really interesting.  But what’s up with this bit of what appears to me to be anti-semitism:

Jews – While comprising 1.8% of the total United States population, Jews make up 7 percent of the Congress. This disproportional representation is extended higher in the Senate, where 13% of senators are Jewish.

I mean, so?   It’s a problem when a minority group is UNDER-represented, not OVER-represented, right?  Last time I looked the Jews were still a minority in the U.S. and there is still plenty of anti-semitism in the U.S. and the world.

Then this, which appears to be just rank ageism:

Older age groups (55 and older) – The average male and female age in the United States is 35.9 and 38.4 respectively compared to the average age of Congresspeople at 56 years old — 55 in the House of Representatives and 60 in the Senate. The age demographic breakdown in the United States is as following: 20-34: 20.9%; 35-44: 16%; 45-54: 13.4%; 55-64: 8.6%; rounded out by people of age 62 years and over in the US population at 14.7%. In the US Senate, 63% of the members are over 62 years old, topped off by Robert Byrd of West Virginia who is 90 years old.

Again, so what? 

I am trying very hard to think of a reason to be concerned about the ages of Congress people.  I think if we are going to focus on equal representation age-wise, then each group listed above, as well as all people under 20 years of age,  will have to be represented equally by Congresspersons in their age group.  I’m also betting that the 90-year-old Byrd, whatever anyone thinks of his politics, at least represents his age-mates numbers-wise.   The greater question is, what does age have to do with anything at all so far as representation in Congress goes? Except to someone who is ageist? 

Nobody commenting questioned any of this either.

I’m not sure why Alec sent this to me.  Maybe he just wanted to share the information.  Maybe he wanted to get linked.  Maybe he had other motivations, like to draw feminist, woman-centered women to a site which, by its title and some of its contents, tolerates misogyny.

I’m posting what he sent to me because I think it’s interesting and is worth thinking about, with all of these many caveats.

Heart
 

Discussion

32 thoughts on “U.S. Government: A Government of Rich White Guys, and Can Anything Good Come From a Blog Which Tolerates Misogyny?

  1. Thanks for the linkback, really the goal of PBH is to foster discussion. We have had a lot of discussions with people about the name of the site. To us, ho is not a synonym for all women, but just sort of a generic insult. There is a common saying “Bros before hos” and this is just a play on words. Hos isn’t women-dom, but ignorance in general, and prose is the search for knowledge. I can understand if you still find it misogynistic, but hopefully you can understand the intent is not.
    Anyways, as far as the article itself goes, it’s really more of a research piece than an analysis piece. Basically any inconsistencies between the demographics of America and the demographics of Congress are highlighted. Stating the fact that Jews have nearly 10x more representation in Congress is not meant to be a swipe at Jews or a subtle way of saying “those crafty Jews,” or some other such bit of antisemitism. It’s just an interesting fact that while African Americans are about 10x under-represented, Jews are 10x over-represented, in the Senate at least. Why is that? It’s not a bad thing necessarily, just unexpected. Again, the skew towards older folks in Congress is not commented on as being negative, just unrepresentative of America as a whole. Is this a bad thing or not?
    Clearly people of different ages tend to have different life experiences; someone who grew up with the Iron Curtain will have different perspectives than someone who grew up with the Internet. Not necessarily a bad thing, but like the other under and over representations, it raises as to what extent Congress and American government represent We the People.
    Thanks again for the link.

    Posted by Kit | May 24, 2007, 6:44 pm
  2. OK, the average age thing doesn’t make any sense at all because from what I’ve found, what they’ve given is the average age of all Americans. What these people didn’t take into account is the fact that YOU HAVE TO BE AT LEAST 30 TO SERVE IN THE SENATE!!! And to serve in the House, you have to be at least 25. But their account of “average” age includes babies, toddlers, teenagers, etc. So, what they should have done if they really wanted to be fair was calculate the average age of Americans 25 and over, and see how closely that matches with representatives’ ages. Then, they should have calculated the average age of Americans who are 30 and over and compare it to senators’ ages. And then if there was still a discrepancy, engage in some analysis rather than sitting around looking like ageist asses.

    Posted by mekhit | May 24, 2007, 6:56 pm
  3. Is Kit the same person as Alec?

    “I can understand if you still find it misogynistic, but hopefully you can understand the intent is not.”

    So Don Imus is crap because he’s old but it’s ok for you because you’re young and hip?

    I like the equal burden of “understanding” between non-equals too. “Can’t we all just get along while I’m beating you?”

    Probably best to delete the link. How many other women (or discussion fosterers) could you have linked to in the same time as that? It’s insulting to them and their efforts to even include this nonsense.

    Posted by Rich | May 24, 2007, 7:13 pm
  4. “I can understand if you still find it misogynistic, but hopefully you can understand the intent is not.”

    Bullshit. The phrase is misogynistic to begin with. To use it to denounce all “ignorance”, as you claim, implies that one must first be female to be ignorant.

    It’s clearly misogynistic and mealy-mouthed, cowardly excuses for it as very transparent and unconvincing.

    Posted by Vera Venom | May 24, 2007, 7:40 pm
  5. Heart, I don’t think his site tolerates misogyny, it blatantly promotes it with its title.

    Kit, your claim that “hos” stands for “ignorance is specious, although hugely sexist in itself. It’s a sexist insult, that’s it. Also misogynists always hide behind “intention” or their claimed lack of it. You’re an idiot if you think that will fly here.

    Posted by delphyne | May 24, 2007, 8:28 pm
  6. I’ve had a look at their site and there’s a small circular cartoon logo on the left hand side of their home page with what looks like a man with a sexualised woman (tight skirt, high heels) bent over his lap paddling her. It’s disgusting.
    [Link removed — Heart]
    I guess that’s one of the “ho’s” that Kit thinks he isn’t insulting. Fuck off you fucking prick. (Sorry for the insulting language Heart, but I think these people are too stupid to understand anything else).

    Posted by delphyne | May 24, 2007, 8:54 pm
  7. Kit is being doubly disingenuous here.

    First, ‘ho’ is patently a gendered insult, no matter the supposed intent. Besides, as a number of commentators have pointed out, intent is absolutely not the point anyway. To continue to believe that a word’s meaning or, more importantly, its effect is limited to the author’s intention is to labor under a theory of language that (despite being common) is completely misconceived, utterly outdated and widely discredited (see anything from Barthes to Derrida and beyond).

    Second and worse, much of PBH’s content is completely abhorrent. If the administrators of the site’s intentions were really so pure then I think it unlikely that they would let the likes of this fly:

    – “we made out and before long I had my tongue buried in her vag and a finger in her ass.”

    – “I’d like to dedicate this boner to you”

    And that’s just on the front page. If you insist on playing the intent card then at least make some attempt to practice what you preach! What a horribly flimsy argument.

    Posted by inspiredbycoffee | May 24, 2007, 10:11 pm
  8. @mekhit – That would be an interesting analysis of the data, but I don’t see how presenting the facts makes us ageist. Honestly I don’t see a problem with having an age skew. It’s better to have people with experience in office. But the fact is that there is an age skew, and that’s all we said
    @Rich – I run the site with Alec. I don’t see what this has to do with Don Imus. If you are talking about the “Nappy-headed hos” comment, that was patently racist and sexist. He made that comment because the basketball team was female, and primarily black. Prose before hos is not about any specific person, or really gender. I don’t understand what you mean by the beating comment. I actually don’t hit people, period, and everyone I come in contact with I consider my equal until they prove otherwise.
    @Vera Venom – I respectfully disagree. While it may be gendered, it does not imply that all women are the same, and therefore hos. All people are individuals, and as such should be treated as individuals.
    @delphyne – I strongly disagree that we promote misogyny. The cartoon is a parody of traditionalism. It’s a superhero paddling a woman dressed up in 1950s clothing. She may be a ho, but that doesn’t mean that all women are hos. I assume you were being ironic by throwing a gendered insult at me? I hope you recognizing that the context in which you used it is different than the one that we use it in. You are personally insulting me based on my gender. prose before hos doesn’t call you or anyone else a ho. It says let us place the written word before hos, should hos exist.
    @inspiredbycoffee – I am interested in these theories of language and in what context one can discredit intended meaning in communication. If a person is attempting to convey an idea, shouldn’t the words used come second to the idea? Do you have any links to the referenced articles? I would be interested in reading them.
    – “we made out and before long I had my tongue buried in her vag and a finger in her ass.”
    I don’t see how this is anti-woman, though it is obscene. To me, the implication of your statement is that all sex/descriptions of sex are anti-woman, which I disagree with. If you read the rest of the article, you will see that the woman in question had pinworms. Perhaps you could say the article is anti-women-with-pinworms, though I would say it is anti-sexual-partners-with-pinworms.
    – “I’d like to dedicate this boner to you”
    If you look at the rest of the article, it should be fairly clear that it is mocking misogynistic views and mindsets. I mean one of them is “You’ve been distant since the sexual harassment.”

    Honestly I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind. I just thought I’d make my case, and hopefully you will honestly consider what I say for a moment before dismissing it.
    I mean really the point of the article we posted was to highlight how far women have to go yet in this country before we can consider them to have equality. There have obviously been some major strides (Pelosi, more female college students than male), but it’s pretty pathetic that we are ranked 68th in the world.
    Thanks for your time.

    Posted by Kit | May 24, 2007, 10:56 pm
  9. Mekhit: To clear up a misunderstanding, I took the average age of the voting population, which means 18 plus, because I understood the discrepancy between all average ages and just the voting population. I however didn’t do over 25 or over 30 because my stance has always been if you can go die in Iraq or Afghanistan, you should also probably have the right to serve in the House or Senate, though I know this isn’t a constitutional possibility.

    Posted by alec | May 24, 2007, 11:49 pm
  10. “It’s a problem when a minority group is UNDER-represented, not OVER-represented, right? ”

    Both conditions are identical; if one group is overrepresented, then another must be underrepresented. Let’s reduce the nation to two groups: Klingons and Vulcans (I’m watching Star Trek…:P)

    Vulcans make up, say 75% of our nation and Klingns make up the rest and their government consists of 100 representatives. The election comes and 35 Klingons and 65 Vulcans get elected.

    Are Klingons overrepresented? Or are Vulcans underrepresented? Yes. The point is, if one group is overrepresented, then others must necessarily be underrepresented.

    Posted by Janine L. | May 25, 2007, 12:08 am
  11. “This was for our friends at Womens Space who dislike our Prose Before Hos theme. It’s ok, we can take the abuse, my ass is already sore from the double standards.”

    Theme? Double standards? (aka reverse-sexism?)

    Heart, can you just delink these people already. No point giving this guy free advertising.

    He has no idea he’s The Man he’s complaining about.

    Posted by Rich | May 25, 2007, 3:16 am
  12. ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master – that’s all.’

    That is from Through the Looking Glass, intended as a spoof on politicians, if I am not mistaken. Politicians would certainly like to believe they can get away with mangling language in such fashion, so they can fool people by claiming what they really intended to say is misunderstood. Politicians also love to throw around meaningless slogans, hoping people will believe they are saying what they really mean, while they are really hiding their true intentions behind empty rhetoric. There are many ways to manipulate language; this is the expertise of politicians, public relations flacks, propaganda purveyors, advertisers, lawyers, and other varieties of con artists.

    Anyone can notice women are grossly underrepresented in positions of authority. Whether their professed concern is genuine, and their motives for professing such concern, are another matter entirely.

    Posted by Aletha | May 25, 2007, 6:08 am
  13. Don’t you just love it when people of a hegemonic group attempt to define what is sexist/racist etc. “It’s not sexist, because I have the right to define what sexism is! And I say that using disparaging terms for women is not sexist!”

    Posted by Beppie | May 25, 2007, 7:43 am
  14. The PBH prats have been looking for a cookie over at Hoyden, too.

    For more examples of the hateful, preadolescent rubbish they host, search for “PoMo Sluts” on the blog. If you think this is satire, chaps, maybe you need to read the Onion a bit more to learn how it’s done.

    Posted by lauredhel | May 25, 2007, 8:10 am
  15. Sorry, I take that back. I was being unnecessarily disparaging toward preadolescents.

    Posted by lauredhel | May 25, 2007, 8:10 am
  16. Heart, I thought this was a women’s space where radical feminists and women got priority. Why are these woman-haters being given a platform to air their bigoted views as if those views had some kind of an equal validity to to ours? I can’t see the point.

    Look at what they are saying, it’s vile nonsense.

    Posted by delphyne | May 25, 2007, 11:26 am
  17. Heart,

    I’ll second the request to de-link from these creeps.

    Mary

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | May 25, 2007, 11:43 am
  18. I’ve removed all the links. Undoubtedly the response from the PBH guys will be something really creative and original, like that feminists have no sense of humor!

    And now I’m going to change the time stamp on the post so it is no longer front and center to aggravate.

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | May 25, 2007, 11:49 am
  19. “I respectfully disagree. While it may be gendered, it does not imply that all women are the same, and therefore hos. All people are individuals, and as such should be treated as individuals.”

    You respect nothing female, so spare us the bullshit. It is an gendered insult. It does imply all women are the same, and additionally it implies all the ignorant ones – the ones who disagree with you – are female.

    As lauredhel pointed out – you don’t get to decide for us what is sexist. Male entitlement and privledge comlpezes will not get you far with feminists.

    You can shove you bullshit excuse for women-hating.

    Posted by Vera Venom | May 25, 2007, 11:53 am
  20. Misogynist content edited out by me, Heart.
    Commenter is banned.p>

    Posted by alec | May 25, 2007, 2:17 pm
  21. Fuck you white bitches, fuck you up and down! Cause nothings better than licking my grundel while reading Jane Goodall, you slave driving man-haters!

    Oh hush up before I email your mommy and she puts you to bed without any milk, cookies or cartoons.

    Posted by Luckynkl | May 25, 2007, 2:37 pm
  22. Wait a minute. I’m being moderated but they’re not? What’s wrong with this picture?

    Posted by Luckynkl | May 25, 2007, 2:41 pm
  23. Their true motive revealed!

    Posted by E. K.(Kitty) Glendower | May 25, 2007, 2:53 pm
  24. @ Vera Venom

    “…It [Prose Before Hos] is an gendered insult. It does imply all women are the same, and additionally it implies all the ignorant ones – the ones who disagree with you – are female…”

    I’d like a greater explanation for this. I guess I’m dumb, but I don’t understand your logic. Please don’t assume I never will, I just don’t get the implication that those that disagree are ignorant and female.

    @ alec

    You forgot an apostrophe in there.

    Posted by alvinblah | May 25, 2007, 2:56 pm
  25. Now see, this is a case in point as to the way some self-identified feminist blogs end up with long-ace comments threads (and A-list blogs, for that matter). Just let a few misogynists and clueless types comment and off we go arguing uselessly with men who hate women, who will happily cause problems between us and exhaust our energies in a way that is a total waste of women’s good time and energy.

    Women may vent and fume freely from this point on, the PBH people and their apologists can take a hike.

    Lucky, don’t take it personally, MY comments are regularly spammed even when I am logged in!

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | May 25, 2007, 3:19 pm
  26. I did find out via the WordPress forum that the reason this happens sometimes, even our OWN — the blogowners’ — posts getting spammed, is that sometimes spammers are hitting the blogs really heavily and so Akismet (which is what I and most WP bloggers use to block spam) tightens everything up, and for a while just about everything gets spammed. Wierdly sometimes, though, during these times, real spam — not actual comments, but actual usually-disgusting spam — ends up in the moderation queue!
    :/

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | May 25, 2007, 3:37 pm
  27. It’s wierd though. I think sometimes these guys DO want to write in ways that are “progressive” or “pro-feminist.” It’s just that they can’t take it when we respond in any way besides positively and approvingly, it’s as though they are mortally wounded because we say, “Ya know, as feminists, we don’t appreciate being called “Ho’s.”
    Hi.
    The thing is, “Ho’s” is probably something these guys use and hear so often, with women around who never object to it, it doesn’t even occur to them anymore that it’s hate speech, which is how it works in patriarchy: normalize misogynist hate speech so that nobody even notices it anymore or reacts to it.
    I was thinking about this yesterday after reading a thread discussing racism in pornography/prostitution. It was, in general, a good discussion but a glaring omission was this truth: that all pornography — ALL — and all prostitution is like blackface or Steppin Fetchit as to all females. All of it. It lies about women. It stereotypes us in a million ways that are lies, lies, lies. And yet that somehow flies under the radar and why: because most people are inured to it. Because it is NORMALIZED. Normal, everyday, hate-speech against women –which pornography is and prostitution also are — doesn’t even rise to the level of offensive to most people, much less the hate speech against women which it actually is.
    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | May 25, 2007, 3:44 pm
  28. I did not appreciate the divisive modifier white bitches. I have long since defused the word bitch/es. It means nothing to me and I have faith that many other females are not harmed by the word bitch/es. Not saying bitch/es is/are now voided and can be used freely, just saying. Yet, because of the possibilities of the lack of sting for the word bitches, white was inserted as a modifier. Hence why I call it divisive. He is saying we are not just bitches, but white bitches, which opens his doors for POC to ally with him if said POC and/or pseduo-anti-racists progressives (who are really misogynists) are looking for a reason to befriend anyone who will fight the evil white radical feminists. Plus it is erasing women of color here, surmising that everyone who is here (or radical) are white bitches. And it attempts to feminize any males who support this site by calling them bitches as well. As word that does in fact imply femaleness not some new definition used in order to act like the word is okay.

    Posted by E. K.(Kitty) Glendower | May 25, 2007, 4:01 pm
  29. So true, Kitty Glendower. There are plenty of people who can get behind someone who throws out that particular epithet, “white b*****”, which is a meaningless, thought-stopping cliche, i.e., it is propaganda (besides being hate speech). And that’s a great observation re the way it attempts to subordinate the males here (because to feminize is to subordinate) and the way it makes all of the women of color who post here invisible.
    UGH.
    I’m sorry I took this particular bait, but maybe there’s some value in it if we can dissect it in peace.
    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | May 25, 2007, 4:09 pm
  30. @ Womensspace, and others

    If there is a better location for me to ask questions and open real conversation, please let me know where I should post, or direct questions. I do not want to hijack a thread, but I am unsure where or how I can communicate to understand specific points of your viewpoints.

    I do not deny that I am affiliated with PBH, but I am a curious human being first. Some of these issues associated with radical feminism I don’t know/understand.

    I do have some points that I disagree on, but more than anything I am extending a genuine and real desire to talk about this.

    Where should I direct further comments, questions, and points of conversation?

    If you would like you could call me by telephone as well.
    My phone number is (812)-339-3385, and my name is Charles Pearce.

    I would like to talk about this further with anyone that is willing.

    I am also on AIM with the screen name AlvinBlah

    thanks,
    C

    Posted by alvinblah | May 25, 2007, 5:52 pm
  31. Hey, Alvin. Why don’t you try this link, I think there’s good stuff there– it’s a place to begin:

    Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog

    Best to you–

    Heart

    Posted by womensspace | May 25, 2007, 5:59 pm
  32. Hiya Heart,

    just so you know, I’ve moved Finally A Feminism 101 Blog over to wordpress as well. [New link]

    Alvinblah:

    PBH emailed me a link to this article there as well. It seems disingenuous at the very least for a site that deliberately targets feminist blogs with link-touting to then claim that they are being “attacked” by feminists when we react with criticism to the gendered insults prominently displayed on their site banner instead of with praise for their article about yet another gendered disparity.

    Telling PBH that we find some word choices offensive is not the same as telling PBH “what language [they] can and cannot use”. People evaluate other people according to the langugage that they use, every day and in all sorts of ways, and the language that PBH uses leads us to evaluate PBH as a space whose authors simply don’t perceive that casual misogyny is a genuine problem that oppresses women.

    It’s not compulsory that PBH see the problem. We’re not telling you that you have to see the problem. But why should we pay PBH any attention until you do?

    Feel free to ask questions over at FF101.

    Posted by tigtog | May 25, 2007, 10:03 pm

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