Friday, February 03, 2012

The Double Standard on 'Hoes'

Remember when Don Imus saw his cushy CBS Radio and MSNBC career go up in smoke in 2007 when he tried very early one morning to make one of his fake misanthropic jokes about the Rutgers women's basketball team being "nappy-headed hoes"? Black activists demanded his firing. Advertisers fled. The corporate suits, appalled and fearful of the terrible publicity, canned him.

But if you're a black rapper, terms like this advance your career. The female rapper Nicki Minaj has a very hot new video called "Stupid Hoe." She uses that same term to snap at other women -- "We ship platinum, them b----es are shipping wood / Them nappy-headed hoes, but my kitchen good." (Don't hurt your brain trying to make sense of it.) Minaj even threw the n-word in the lyrics: "How you gon' be the stunt double to the nigga monkey?"

The video broke YouTube records by clocking up 4.8 million views in its first 24 hours on the site and 11 million over the weekend. But outrage from our elites? Hello? Anyone? So far, the silence is deafening from America's major race-card players.

Back in 2007, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton -- the dynamic duo of racial correctness -- met with CBS chairman Leslie Moonves to demand Imus be given the boot. When they won, Jackson called the firing "a victory for public decency. No one should use the public airwaves to transmit racial or sexual degradation."

Sharpton added: "It's not about taking Imus down. It's about lifting decency up...We cannot afford a precedent established that the airways can commercialize and mainstream sexism and racism."

Sumner Redstone, chairman of the CBS Corporation board and its chief stockholder, had told Newsweek that he had expected Moonves to "do the right thing." Translation: Bye-bye, Imus.

It seems rather clear that Imus deserved some punishment, even if his dismissal might be excessive. So why were the reverends applauded universally for their activism?

Because all of their fuss wasn't about "public decency" or "degradation" or media companies "mainstreaming racism and sexism," not really. It was about race, and about how whites can't say "indecent" things about blacks, not even in jest. But blacks can use those very same words -- however they wish -- with the ugliest of intentions, if desired, with impunity. Where are Jackson and Sharpton over "Stupid Hoe" now? Cricket, cricket.

The Washington Post is running a major series this week on the self-esteem issues of black women in America. But when will the Post and other media scolds discover this song and what it says -- and shouldn't say -- about black women?

As for degrading public decency, the song has 10 uses of "bitch," 10 F-bombs and unsurprisingly, 37 uses of "hoe." The refrain, if you want to call it that, is "You a stupid hoe" -- repeated 14 times. A verb, like the word "are," was apparently not necessary. This has to be one of the dumbest, most illiterate songs ever to go viral.

Just because Minaj caused a major YouTube splash and just because the elites were silent, doesn't mean the reaction was favorable. Anyone who clicks on it quickly learns this is not a song, but a droning, rapid-fire, hip-hop headache. The video is so jumpy it could cause epileptic seizures. In the first few days, YouTube watchers gave the Minaj video about twice as many dislikes as likes -- 176,000 to 87,000.

Some commenters just nailed it: "You know, if she's trying to call someone else a stupid hoe, it doesn't help her case too much when she's on all fours, dressed like a leopard, trapped in a cage and whipping her hair everywhere."

But this is my favorite: "36 seconds in and I was losing the will to live."

Last summer, Minaj shocked many by having a breast pop out as she performed on ABCs "Good Morning America." Why the Disney-owned network put this woman on is anybody's guess. She was performing the song "Where Them Girls At," with classy morning-TV lyrics like "You can suck a d--k, or you can suck a ballsack." In her "Stupid Hoe" song, Minaj raps twice "you can suck my diznik."

Minaj is an artist for Cash Money Records, now a subsidiary of the Universal Music Group, which brags that it is "the world's largest music content company." (The French media conglomerate Vivendi did not include UMG in its NBC-Universal deal.) If one accepts these boasts, no one in the world can "mainstream racism and sexism" faster than these people. Let's see if the Imus firing squad ever says a word.


The High Cost of Being a Tiger Mom

American women are both incredibly dogmatic and anxious about our mothering. When Amy Chua described her intense efforts to push her two daughters into high achievement in school, in music and, hence, in life, she caused an uproar among many Americans who consider her methods bordering on child abuse. (What? No playdates!?) Two new studies do point out that there are costs to tiger mothering.

A study by professor Desiree Qin and colleagues was published this month in the Journal of Adolescence and is titled, “Parent-Child Relations and Psychological Adjustment Among High-Achieving Chinese- and European-American Adolescents.”

Qin looked at survey data on 295 Chinese-American and 192 European-American ninth-graders at Stuyvesant High School, a well-regarded public magnet school in Manhattan.

Chinese-American teens reported lower levels of psychological well-being, less family cohesion and more conflict with their parents, on average.

The ethnic differences on psychological adjustment disappeared once family conflict and cohesion were controlled for, suggesting “such perceptions may be a key factor in understanding the high academic achievement/low psychological adjustment paradoxical pattern of development among Chinese-American adolescents.”

“(Chua) said Western children are not happier than Chinese ones,” Qin told the New York Daily News. “But at the same time, research from our study does show that when parents place a lot of pressure on their kids, the children are less happy.”

Tiger mothering works, in other words. But having a mom or dad who constantly push you to perform well can also take a toll.

It takes a toll on the moms as well.

Professor Esther Chang and colleagues also have just published a new study on tiger moms in the January 2012 issue of the Asian-American Journal of Psychology, “Parenting Satisfaction at Midlife among European- and Chinese-American Mothers with a College-Enrolled Child.”

“Chinese-American mothers reported significantly lower parenting satisfaction than did European-American mothers, as well as less positive relationship quality (i.e., lower mutual warmth and acceptance and higher parent-child conflict) and poorer perceived college performance by their young-adult child (i.e., grades, academic investment and satisfaction with students' college experiences),” the study found.

Chinese-American moms whose children did not appear to be doing as well at college reported less parenting satisfaction; Euro-America moms' satisfaction wasn't affected by their children's college performance.

The most important factor in parenting satisfaction for all mothers turned out to be the degree of mutual warmth. Pushing your child to achieve more and more can (but may not always) push your child away from you emotionally.

And yet, and yet, and yet ...

Amy Chua's daughter was just accepted into Harvard this month. And according to the Daily News, this particular tiger cub is also a piano prodigy and “an able writer who eloquently defended her mother in the press.”

Alexander Nazaryan, a member of the Daily News editorial board, points out the overall results of the American emphasis on fun and warmth over achievement: “In the most recent Program for International Student Assessment exam, American teenagers placed 31st in math, 17th in reading and 23rd in science among 65 competitors. Shanghai, China's largest city, topped all three categories -- by far.”

As Amy Chua noted, “In one study of 50 Western American mothers and 48 Chinese immigrant mothers, almost 70 percent of the Western mothers said either that 'stressing academic success is not good for children' or that 'parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun.' By contrast, roughly 0 percent of the Chinese mothers felt the same way.”

I did not have a tiger mom. I'm a Spock baby, and I raised my children the same way, emphasizing support and closeness over pressure, routine and discipline.

Frankly, I worry about that a lot. It worked for me -- will it work for them? We mothers can't know until it is too late, hence the anxiety. All parenting strategies have costs as well as benefits.

The only thing I'm certain of is that every mother sacrificing to raise decent kids deserves respect, and not uproarious, dogmatic, overanxious condemnation.


British shopper, 25, asked for ID to buy TEASPOONS – as shop worker says they could be used as drug paraphernalia

A woman was asked to prove her age when buying a packet of teaspoons - as a shop worker claimed they could be used as drug paraphernalia. Elinor Zuke, 25, was told by the self-service checkout at Sainsbury's that she needed age verification as she tried to buy a £1.19 pack of spoons.

A shop worker then intervened and said it was because of the risk they could be used for drugs - heroin users 'cook up' the drug in teaspoons.

Heroin is an illegal Class A drug - so it is irrelevant whether someone is over 18 - the spoon should not be used for that purpose anyway. The maximum sentence for possessing heroin is seven years in prison or an unlimited fine.

Ms Zuke said yesterday: 'I could not understand what the problem was -- when the supervisor said it was because they could be used as drug paraphernalia I was completely shocked. 'I would imagine the vast majority of spoons sold by Sainsbury's are used for nothing more nefarious than stirring a cup of tea. Having to prove I was over 18 to buy them seemed total madness.'

Sainsbury's blamed the mistake on a problem with its stock-keeping units which provide a unique identifier for each product on the shelves. A problem with the system meant that it asked for identification automatically. A spokeswoman said: 'The self-scan system recognised the spoon's SKU as one for a knife. This had now been rectified.

'We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused. Our Think 25 policy is designed to ensure age-related products are sold safely.'

In October 2009, Emma Sheppard, 21, was asked for identification when buying spoons in a Tesco store in Evesham, Worcestershire. She was forced to leave the store without the 57p pack of five spoons because she did not have a passport or driving licence with her. Tesco later apologised for the mistake.


Let’s have a proper debate about the welfare state

Hooked on poverty porn, getting the unelected Lords to do their dirty work... there’s little progressive about today’s welfare-defenders

What is worse: elected politicians proposing to reform the welfare state, or unelected Lords, cheered on by liberals, unilaterally shooting down such reform? It’s the latter. Even if you aren’t a fan of Lib-Con plans to trim the welfare bill (I think it’s daft to imagine such trimming will reverse the economic downturn), you should be far more concerned by the patronising and profoundly undemocratic turn that the so-called radical side in this debate has taken. Today, the defenders of welfare are doing far more harm to what we might term progressive politics than the right-wingers seeking to rethink welfarism.

Yesterday, to the chagrin of liberal activists, the House of Lords failed to support a peer-proposed amendment to the government’s welfare reform bill. Having inflicted a triple defeat on the bill last week, by voting 224 to 186 against proposals relating to disability and incapacity allowances, the Lords had won a special place in the hearts of leftists opposed to the Lib-Cons. These unelected lords and ladies are ‘the only decent politicians left’, chirped one commentator. Another described them as ‘a blessing’. These observers will no doubt be disappointed that the Lords yesterday failed to deliver a fourth blow to the government’s plans, though hopefully they’ll have learned a lesson about how daft it is to rely on the whims of the rich and aloof when pursuing political agendas.

There are two problems with the notion that state welfare is so sacred it should never be reformed, even if that means getting the most undemocratic layer of the British political class to ringfence it from those grubby inhabitants of the elected Commons. Firstly, such an allergic reaction to the idea of having a serious debate about the size and shifting nature of state welfare means that the problems associated with welfarism – which are myriad – are never clarified, far less tackled. And secondly, calling on the unelected second chamber to fight the Commons over welfare is an insult to democracy and to the British public, who are reduced to the level of paupers who need good-hearted Lords to fight their battles and preserve their pennies.

You don’t have to be a fellow traveller of the Lib-Cons (I’ve never voted for either party) to recognise that the welfare system in Britain does need reform – radical reform. The problem with the government’s proposed reforms is that they’re driven by a penny-pinching mentality, designed to save the state cash. The real motivation behind welfare reform should be a humanist one – a recognition that intensive welfarism, the intrusion of the ‘caring state’ into every aspect of less well-off people’s lives, has damaged both individuals and communities and therefore should be questioned and challenged and, in part, done away with.

Of course, all civilised societies should provide for those who, for whatever reason, lack the capacity to feed and clothe and house themselves. Discretely distributed as a fund for those too poor or disabled to provide for themselves, welfare can be a good thing. The problem with the ever-growing welfare state in Britain is its permanency, the way it is now used to sustain, forever, huge swathes of people, including able-bodied people, and the impact that this has on people’s view both of themselves and their communities. When you’re encouraged to become reliant on the state rather than on your own wits or your own mates, your sense of individual resourcefulness declines, and your feeling of attachment to and reliance upon your community becomes corroded.

The social destructiveness of the cult of welfarism can best be seen in that part of welfare that is now most feverishly defended by liberal campaigners: the realm of incapacity and disability benefits. In recent decades, more and more people of working age have been redefined by the welfare state as ‘incapable’ of working or as disabled. This is, to say the least, curious at a time when we are healthier and longer-living than ever before. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Britain has one of the highest rates of incapacity/disability benefit-claiming in the Western world. Young people in Britain are more than twice as likely to claim sickness benefits as their Western European counterparts. Strikingly, there has been a big shift from the unemployment camp into the ‘incapable’ camp. In the 1980s, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit was nearly four times higher than the number claiming some kind of disability benefit; by 1997 the numbers were equal; today, the number claiming a disability benefit exceeds the number claiming unemployment benefit. Now, more than three million people are categorised as incapable of working, out of a non-working population of around five million.

Of course, there are many people who have serious impairments or illnesses that prevent them from working, and they should be provided for generously by society. But it’s pretty clear that, in recent decades, society has cynically cast the ‘incapacity’ net ever-wider, leading to more and more people effectively being rebranded as physically or mentally deficient rather than simply unemployed. That way, the unemployment stats can be massaged, and society’s failure to provide people with gainful employment can be redefined as an individual rather than a social failing – apparently it is because these people are weak, pathetic and ‘incapable’ that they cannot work, not because of the structural malaise of capitalist society and the lack of vision amongst those who govern it.

In a twisted irony, the leftists now fighting tooth-and-nail to protect incapacity/disability benefit from any criticism or reform are actually upholding a right-wing creation. Invalidity Benefit, which later became Incapacity Benefit, and which is now mixed together with various disability allowances, was first introduced under Ted Heath’s Tory government in 1971. The number of claimants grew exponentially under the Thatcher and Major governments in the 1980s and 90s – in 1981, 463,000 men and women were claiming invalidity/incapacity benefit; by the mid-1990s it was more than one million. The cynical rebranding of capable men and women as incapable was a useful tool for Tory governments that were throwing people out of work but which didn’t want the unemployment figures to look too shocking. It is remarkable that so-called progressives should now go to the wall to protect this cynical, Tory-invented idea that massive numbers of working men and women are actually too useless or mental or weak to work.

The end result of the spread of the concept of incapacity, and the relativistisation of the category of disability to include increasing numbers of people, is that individuals become both decommissioned and alienated. They are put out to pasture, told that they cannot work, which frequently becomes a self-fulfilling thing; and through their reliance on the faceless state, they become separated from their own communities, coming to be more dependent on the pity and favour of outsiders than on the support and tips of people they know and see every day.

Even worse than uncritically defending such a pernicious system is defending it in an undemocratic fashion. Today, the pro-welfare lobby, clearly disillusioned not only with the Commons but also with the dumb people who elect it, have turned to the unelected Lords to try to preserve the entire welfare state. Radical campaign groups and trade unions call on their members to ‘Adopt a Peer’ – that is, email a lord begging him to vote against government plans on the NHS and welfare – while commentators sing the praises of the peers, saying, yes, they might be ‘ennobled and stuck in an anachronistic institution’ but they are nonetheless willing to ‘speak up for the very poorest and sickest among us’.

A quick glance at history should be enough to shoot down the batty idea that the Lords are potential class warriors defending poor people’s welfare from evil elected officials. The constitutional crisis of 1909-1911 was brought about by the Lords’ refusal to back an early welfare package – Liberal prime minister Herbert Asquith’s ‘People’s Budget’ – and the Asquith government’s subsequent decision to override the Lords helped to define and bolster the ideal of democracy in Britain. Today’s welfare-defenders seem keen to turn the clock back, to revert to a time when the Lords, described by Thomas Paine as the ‘remains of aristocratical tyranny’, were expected to reprimand the Commons. Even if you do your peer-cheering in the name of standing up for ‘the very poorest and sickest’ (what’s with all the patronising Dickensian lingo?), the end result will be the same: the further concentration of moral authority and political power in the hands of a tyrannical few.

With their poverty-porn images of families too sick and destitute to care for themselves, and their love of Lords who stand up and make grandstanding speeches about ‘helping the poor’, today’s welfare-defenders are taking us into Downton Abbey territory – back to a pre-welfare state world of poor laws and posh pity where the very rich were pleaded with to help the lame and the weak. That is the essence of much modern welfare thinking. ‘Please, my lord, stop the evil politicians from taking away my grub and my blankets.’ Screw that. The less well-off are more than capable of looking after themselves, and don’t need to have democracy overturned in their name by unelected twits and their dizzy cheerleaders in the media.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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