COTET: The Bigger Picture on Double Standards

I’d like to point you all to the second question posted on Chronicles of the Expecatant Tenth, and my comments in response to it. The question deals with how a woman are treated and addressed in the midst of the misogyny that is commercial hip-hop. However, I see this as openning up discussion on the broader issue of double standards and how we confront/destroy/embrace them.

I look forward to your commentary, as I see this as an extension of the things we have been discussing on The SuperSpade with regard to personal and familial and community relationships.

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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora and am a National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. I currently live in Washington, DC with my beautiful wife Ellen. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. Today I work at the crossroads of traditional political organizing and online activism. I speak before diverse audiences on empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation though emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet.

7 responses to “COTET: The Bigger Picture on Double Standards”

  1. Dayna C. says :

    This is a repost of my comment from COTET:

    Expectant.

    I think this argument is quite similar to the one about the girl getting raped when she was wearing provocative clothing. Did she ask to be raped just because she was wearing the clothing? And what gives anyone the right to judge you because of what you wear,do, or listen to? Whether that particular women’s sense of self-value is in question has nothing to do with you. The only thing that should be your concern is how you carry yourself. Similarly, if you were a rich man and you had a lot of money on you and dressed in an affluent way, would that give someone the right to say “Well I mugged him because he was walking around here ‘looking’ like he had a lot of money, if he didn’t want to get mugged he shouldn’t have been dressed that way.” How much sense would an argument like that make? It wouldn’t because at the end of the day you have no right to violate another person verbally or physically however they may act, dress, and/or look. But for whatever reason the same does not hold true in reference to women. We are expected to be responsible for how we are treated in response to our sexuality. The issues is not the way in which the women dresses, acts or what she listens to, it is the problem of the responsibility that society has placed upon ONLY women. I don’t think the question is should a women expect a man to act respectful towards her if she’s dancing to a type of music, I think the question is why do ALL of us, men and women, continue to support such types of music when we’d be hella mad if someone was talking the same way to us, our mothers, sisters, aunties, grandmothers, significant others, or bestfriends. Maybe women do need to reevaluate the level which we choose to participate in this disrespect. This is also an issue, but nevertheless does not justify the disrespect. So how do we address both issues as they are and separate?

    Dayna C.

  2. Mo says :

    I don’t want to get into a long list of why Black women have double jeopardy in the United States.

    Garlin I’m not convinced he disrespect himself as much as he disrespected her. He disrespected his ancestors and gave other men around him a bad rep. Regardless, I don’t care if I say I bitch or nigger (I do but hypothetically speaking) socially it is NOT exceptable to call people out of your social circle those names. Why? Because those people know your limits. I could be majorly offended by the fact that people call me a little person even though by definition I am just short. People who know me know I don’t care. People who don’t have no I idea if I’m not a psycho waiting to shoot the next person who calls me a little person, bitch, nigger or whatever. Point blank: I don’t care what she is dancing to. Dude in the club knows (if he doesn’t Lord help society) that calling anyone particularly a female a bitch is derogatory. To me you are either a part of the solution or a part of the problem. If you are a male and you know about the misogyny in hip hop you know women should not be represented that way. You also know if a sista can’t respect herself, you don’t enable that behavior. Everyday I see students disrespecting themselves and others. Does this mean I have the right to disrespect them? Come on folks what happen to LEAD BY EXAMPLE.

    My question: If this was about a female calling a male a bitch would we be having this discussion? More importantly WHY would the discussion change?

  3. Mo says :

    Correction: socially acceptable

  4. Mo says :

    Ok I’m tired and I’m trying to leave work so just excuse the many mistakes,(double negatives, misspellings and etc).

  5. Garlin II says :

    I’ll start at the end and work my way to the beginning.

    If a female called a male a b!tch, we would be having this discussion, given that most men are offended when being referred to as such. The discussions would be the same since the issue is the disrespect, in my opinion.

    I too do not think the level of disrespect to the male in the hypothetical is the same as the one experienced by the female, and I don’t think that is being questioned here. Both showed lowered levels of what I would call “self respect.” To me, calling a woman a b!tch is disrespectful to her and yourself. To others that may not be the case. I also have been enlightened to see supporting derogatory lyrics music as disrespectful as well, but many people do not. This is an issue of differing definitions of what does/does not constitute self respect.

    My challenge to myself and all of us goes along with your charge to lead by example. Why is it ‘acceptable’ to do disrespectful things to people within your circle, thus not being a good example? Taken to the extreme, this would be like saying “it’s OK to lie to my best friend, but not OK to lie to strangers.” This is something, for example, that I am dealing with right now as I work to purge n!gg@/n!gger from my vocabulary. My leading by example [in part] is demonstrating that it is possible to live and be expressive and dynamic without having disrespectful or deragatory words come from your mouth. To paraphrase Spike Lee’s Malcolm X: “A man curses because he does lacks the words to properly express himself.” This way, I do not disrespect the woman in this situation, nor do I disrepsect myself, hence the hypothetical never occurs. If it does occur, then a constructive response can be one of my suggestions, but will more likely be another more constructive and effective one.

    To piggyback off of Mo’s point, if you are a female and you know about the misogyny in hip hop, you too know women should not be represented that way. I believe this was part of the motivation behind the Spelman-Nelly action. Why did this not gather more steam? That was an example of the beginning of leading by example in my mind, but it did not seem to gather more than lip-service support more broadly. Both this and the one above are examples of things men and women can do to eliminate the ignorance that leads to this disrespect.

    The ignorance can also be eliminated by instrumental-only spots (yes, I am gonna stay on this one. Thanks to Althea for the support on it!).

  6. Tone says :

    I think this situation can be summed up with the saying I use from time to time. If you carry yourself like a ____, then you can expect to be treated like a ____ (fill in the blank). So, in regards to the scenario in question, if a woman is indeed carrying herself in the manner of a woman who doesn’t mind vulgar language, then she should expect that people are doing to use vulgar language around her. Also, the scenario never said he called her a bitch, it just said that he said it around her: two completely different things.

    I don’t think that the provocatively dressed woman getting raped analogy is applicable to this situation, and here’s why. It isn’t acceptable for a woman to ever be raped in any situation. So how she is dressed is irrelevant. Whereas, in this scenario, the dude that called her a bitch was operating with the premise that it is okay to use vulgar language in the presence of some women and that that woman was acting like those women who it is okay to use vulgar language around.

    A more appropriate analogy using a provocatively dressed women would be as follows. Say a woman was walking down the street at night with provocative clothing, not unlike what a prostitute would wear. In that situation, the woman should expect that she’d be propositioned like a prostitute. It’s just like in that movie Pootie Tang, when Biggie Shorty was dancing on the street with hoe clothes on and those two perverts rolled up and asked her how much. She punched the guy and said, “You think that just ’cause a girl likes to dress fancy and stand on the corner next to some whores, that she’s hookin?” The answer to that question is yeah, and that’s why it was funny because she shouldn’t have been mad.

    -tone

  7. rubin says :

    ok listen me and my girl friend were arguing over the word BITCH. she called me the world BITCH one night so i said is it ok for me to call you a bitch then? she said no because it means something different “its a double standard” i said i mean it the same way you mean it though and she disagreed….. who is right

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