The O-town Scene

May 10, 2012

The O-town Scene - Oneonta, NY

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the DIVERSITY SCENE Doc Rob Wrangles |by Robin Nussbaum Stop Calling People Whores Can you imagine walking down the street alone and minding your own business when you hear, "Hey! Hey you! You're a whore and you know it!" shouted at you? You look around, but there is nobody else in sight, just a strange and shadowed face in a window, clearly addressing you. This recently happened to one of my students … on campus … in broad daylight. There was no altercation, no provocation, nothing to lead to such a pronouncement. These two don't even know each other. My student felt embarrassed, dehuman- ized, disrespected, and reminded that in our society women still bear the burden of a patriarchal power structure in which men are given more power than women. In which women are raped, beaten and forced into prostitution every day. In which women still earn 79 cents to every dollar men make at the same jobs. Some people seem to think sexism is over, men and women are considered equal, and gee, there are women leaders all over the world. But really, really, when you look at it, you see that women still make up a miniscule percentage of business, financial and political leaders. So don't kid yourself, we haven't managed to overcome sexism and patriarchy just yet. This kid, this guy yelling "whore" from a window at some woman he doesn't even know just set us back a few steps. Any person who thinks this is just a laugh-worthy obnoxious prank and that I shouldn't "get my pant- ies in a bunch" over it obviously doesn't realize the impact of such a "little" thing and doesn't get how it is the self-same attitude that it's okay to yell such a deroga- tory phrase out a window at a stranger that leads to the acceptance of rape and domestic violence. It is that self-same attitude that prevents women from gaining serious leadership roles in our society, whether in business, finance or politics. My colleague has this demonstration she Our contributors talk about different aspects of diversity, from LGBTQ issues to questions of ethnicity and more. To submit a column or event, email ID Tags |by Jeffrey Pegram The Moral Implosion of America The more I speak with friends, colleagues and students, the more I recognize the subconscious suppression of two unnerving emotions in Americans. One, we appear to be experiencing a decade-long loss of faith in the institutions that were established to ensure our welfare and protect our interests (ex. church, school, media, corporate sector, military, government). uses. She stacks up plastic cups in a pyramid — think the carnival game where you try to knock down bottles with a small ball. On her cups she has written things like sexist jokes and stereotypes in the bottom row. In the next rows, harassment followed by battery and other forms of violence appear. And at the pinnacle, homicide. Now, in this carnival game, if you want to win, knock down ALL the cups, where are you going to aim? Are you going to aim at the top? Will that suc- cessfully knock down all the cups? Most likely not. You need to take out the foundation, the cups that are holding up the higher ones. You actually need to aim at the bottom. This is why addressing stupid, offensive jokes is important. This is why working against stereotypes is important. These are the things that buttress up the higher levels. These are the things that contribute to a climate in which the next levels of bad behaviors are allowed. So please, don't call women whores, don't tell sexist jokes or subscribe to stereotypes, and don't allow your actions to contribute to a climate that supports rape, relationship violence and murder. And challenge your friends to do the same. Robin Nussbaum is the coordinator of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at SUNY Oneonta. She can be reached at nussbar@ oneonta. edu. Arguably, profit now trumps the common good as the primary motivator for institu- tional behavior, regardless of our collective delusion about this truth. Profit has dis- lodged freedom as the prevailing American value; so much so that there is no clear sense about what it means to have enough, and growing indifference toward those who do not. SHACKLED BY COLLEGE LOANS The federal government (specifically the Department of Education) has replaced predatory banks as the primary lender to/fleecer of Americans by serving as the sole provider of financial aid to help cover overbearing college costs. Without an economy that can accommodate the number of graduates needing employment, most students become indefinitely indebted to the government with little immediate means to repay, all while college entrance exam companies and textbook publishers grow wealthier and college endowments expand. And taxpayers fortunate enough to be employed will ultimately foot the bill for delinquent borrowers. BIGOTED TALK Two, Americans appear to be experienc- ing befuddlement due to the reinstatement into our public rhetoric of sexist and bigoted terminology from days gone by. In February Rush Limbaugh publicly called Georgetown Law School student Sandra Fluke a slut. Following the Washington Capitals' Joel Ward's winning goal against the Boston Bruins, some Bruins fans referred to him as a nigger on social media websites. And last month, anti-bullying activist Dan Savage referred to those high school students who walked out of the part of his lecture on "the bullshit in the Bible" as pansy-assed. These occurrences challenge the bound- aries of civil public discourse, commonly referred to as political correctness. What seems so befuddling is that these speak- ers show so little restraint when expressing such language and so little shame in their begrudgingly hollow apologies afterwards. It makes one wonder whether such rhetoric might slowly become publicly acceptable again and whether we'll have to retreat back into antiquated identity tribes despite the gains of tolerance education. If so, what does that suggest about our moral develop- ment over the past few hundred years? LOOKING OUT FOR ME & MINE A relationship exists between these two emotions. When institutions don't do what citizens expect them to do, inevitably citi- zens start looking out for "me and mine." The most widespread way Americans have identified "me and mine" is via physical traits. In no other country in the world is it as easy to determine a person's racial tribe or identity than by simply listening to how she or he describes and interprets a social issue involving people of two or more races. As I lament the economic and moral im- plosion of my beloved country, I can't help but remember that capitalism (cash crops profits) and tribalism (British imperialism), not democracy or justice, were the pillars of early America. If America is to grow up and not merely grow old, her institutions, especially schools, must recommit themselves to the common good rather than to cannibalism and help us recalibrate what we mean by success. Jeffrey Pegram is an assistant professor of edu- cation at Hartwick College, and specializes in liberal- ism and multiculturalism. May 10, 2012 O-Town Scene 21

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