The following is a letter I wrote to Sirius XM and the Underground Garage.
"Last night I was listening to the Underground Garage channel on SiriusXM. It's my favorite. Chris Carter's British Invasion was on and he made some disparaging comments about Barbra Streisand being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He began by saying that the award had been won previously by military men, and that giving it to Ms. Streisand was an insult. While it has been awarded to members of the military, it is primarily a civilian award. Indeed, it is the highest civilian award given by the United States.
: The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with the comparable Congressional Gold Medal, bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award of the United States. It recognizes those individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors". The award is not limited to U.S. citizens and, while it is a civilian award, it can also be awarded to military personnel and worn on the uniform.
But that is neither here nor there to my letter. What offended me was not his objection to her being given the medal, but that his dismissal of her was an off-hand misogyny based upon her perceived fuckability or lack thereof. His exact comment was that the only thing she had ever done for freedom was inspire the invention of the burqua. Harsh, and also the sort of insult that I would expect from the likes of Don Imus or Howard Stern, but certainly never by a person broadcasting under the imprimatur of Little Steven. All the more ironic was that it came mere moments after the Coolest Song in the World, "Girl Band" by the Dahlmanns.
Well, this is a free country, you say, and I am free to turn the show off. I did. Then I took the time to write this letter, and to post an essay on my blog about careless misogyny, and to link to it from Facebook. Maybe a dozen people will read it, but that isn't the point, either. The point is that I expect better from the Little Steven brand."
Careless misogyny. The unspoken acceptance that anybody can be reduced in worth to whether or not they inspire desire or mere lust in a viewer. Well, anybody female, that is.
Last week I almost allowed myself to get into an on-line pissing match over "Baby, It's Cold Outside". I referred to it as our collective Christmas rape anthem, and was soundly disabused of that belief by a post-modern feminist who assured me that she is in fact a historian and I am in fact mistakenly reading too much into one line (Hey, what's in this drink). Clearly, she said, the woman is saying no, but she really wants to stay. She is using all sorts of excuses, but they are all based what others might think of her, and not what she herself wants, and so she is using alcohol as an excuse to remain overnight. It's a song about plausible deniability, not about really
Um, and OK, but in my dottage, I seem to remember that no means no, and it doesn't matter what reason one gives for saying it. If you say no -- to anything-- does that mean that any person who thinks you should say yes is more in tune with your mind and can force you to, say, take cream in your tea? Or maybe you would like to have a little white sugar in your coffee. Is it the right of someone else to tell you that you really don't want that? And to prevent you by force, if need be, from getting it?
Is it not the same thing? Self-determination is self-determination. I chose not to continue the fight with my feminist historian because a stupid song is not worth getting exercised over. But I see a thread here, and I have to tug at it. It's OK to dismiss someone for not being pretty. It's OK to sing a song about forcing someone to stay the night because the imaginary girl really wants it. It's OK to shoot up a Planned Parenthood clinic because those people shouldn't be there, shouldn't be pregnant, shouldn't be poor, shouldn't be doing something a white man with a gun thinks they shouldn't be doing.
What was it someone said: evil is not just the actions of the few, but the silence of the many.