Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Harrassment by Men Named Thomas

Yesterday was a banner day for stories about sexual harassment by people with the surname Thomas. First Anita Hill published an 0p-ed in the NY Times defending herself against charges leveled against her by Justice Clarence Thomas in his new book, My Grandfather's Son. Then, the jury in the sexual harassment case against Isiah Thomas and the New York Knicks returned a verdict for plaintiff Anucha Browne Sanders.

The cases have further parallels as well. In both cases, the accused steadfastly maintained (and still maintains) that the charges were false. Both cases involve allegations by a professional African-American woman against an African-American man. And despite the intra-racial nature of each dispute, both were nonetheless racially charged.

In 1991, then-judge Thomas famously referred to the portion of his confirmation hearings focusing on Hill's charges as a "
high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves," thus contending that Hill was part of a conspiracy by the black and white liberal establishment to silence black conservatives. Although he himself did not make the point, Thomas also could have been understood to be complaining about a double standard under which powerful white men in Washington---including some of the very Senators voting on his appointment---routinely engaged in sexual harassment without suffering any consequences.

The double-standard issue arose in the Isiah Thomas case as well, but with a twist. Thomas said in a videotaped deposition that he would regard a white man calling a black woman a "bitch" as a worse offense than the same term being used by a black man in referring to a black woman. This double-standard on Thomas's part was damaging because it indicated that Thomas was himself willing to use such language towards Browne Sanders, and because it indicated that Thomas tolerated such language when used by Knicks guard Stephon Marbury in reference to Sanders. For his part, Thomas denied both that he called Browne Sanders a "bitch" and that he tolerated that language when used by anybody. He claimed that he was simply making a comparative point.

In the interest of starting a discussion, I want to suggest that (Isiah) Thomas was onto something (which doesn't mean that the jury was wrong). Interpreting Thomas in the most charitable way imaginable, he was saying: (1) When a black man calls a black woman a "bitch," the man is being sexist; but (2) when a white man calls a black woman a "bitch," he is being sexist AND possibly also racist; (3) and even though sexism standing alone is bad, sexism plus racism is worse still, so the white man's use of the term is worse than the black man's.

Of course, this all leaves unaddressed the other glaring problem for Thomas, which is that when a basketball team plays poor defense and has an offense with two low-post players and no pure outside shooters, it usually loses, regardless of the race of its players.

Posted by Mike Dorf, recovering Knicks fan


Sobek said...

Since when is the word "bitch" an indication of racism?

If you substitute in other words, such as ugly, dumb or incompetent, it may also fairly be said that they suggest possible racism, but not because the words have any racial connotation. It's because of the person using the words.

Jon Swift said...

Is it racist to say Clarence Thomas seems to be a very angry black man?

egarber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
egarber said...

I think one way to look at it is from the view of the recipient.
If a black woman hears certain phrases from a white man, it is likely (not guaranteed) that the woman reads that as an intentional reminder of past oppression. As a dorky white middle class guy, I'm in no position to say that's an unreasonable perception.
I do however, question whether "bitch" on its own qualifies as such a term. It might not be loaded in the same way Imus' words were a little while back.

Posted by egarber, recovering Braves / Falcons fan

Paul Scott said...

Mike is clearly right about the Nicks. That aside, though, calling someone a bitch seems to me to be at most sexist, not quite likely not even an indication of sexism. I certainly don't see how it could be racist - even if a racist person were using the term.

I am also not sure I can agree that sexism + racism is clearly worse than sexism standing alone.

Unknown said...

Could Isiah perhaps have been reflecting the fact that rap/hip hop music, and by extension Standard Black English, often employs derogatory terms in a manner that some might contend is endearing or neutral? There are certainly scholars who recognize the existence of legitimate dialects within the English language that cut along racial lines, and hence make sure to identify the dialect of the speaker before analyzing what the speaker said. Isiah might really have been saying that in Standard Black English the word "bitch" doesn't carry the same meaning as it does in Standard White English.

Michael C. Dorf said...

Okay, so with the exception of egarber, the consensus of the comments seems to be that "bitch" as used by a white man to a white woman is not inherently racist. There even seems to be some skepticism about whether it's sexist.

As to sexism, this seems pretty clear to me. If Mr. X calls Ms. Y a "jerk," an "idiot" or an "asshole," that's obviously not sexist because the same epithets can be and are used against men. But "bitch" is a clearly gendered word. Indeed, although it is sometimes used to describe men, when a man says that another man is his "bitch," he means that the other man is a possession in the way that a female called a "bitch" is. So there's no real getting around the sexism.

I agree that the racism is a tougher inference. Certainly a white man who called white women "ladies" and black women "bitches" would be engaged in racism but I agree that this is not because of anything inherent in the word. What Isiah Thomas was suggesting, I think, is that use of the b-word by African Americans is inherently different from its use by white Americans in somewhat the same way that use of the n-word is different. In this account, the b-word gets reclaimed as a kind of honorific when used intra-racially but remains a slur when used inter-racially---and precisely because of that dual meaning it takes on a racial connotation that it would otherwise lack. Or to put the point more crudely, using "bitch" simply to mean woman is a kind of hip-hop slang, which when used by white people (other than say M&M) usually has a racial tinge.

Michael C. Dorf said...

Uhm, in thst comment, when I said "white woman" in the first sentence I meant "black woman."

Paul Scott said...

I don't think it is fair to label as "sexist" anything that necessarily has sex distinctions. For example, the sentence "A woman has a vagina; a man has a penis." would not generally be noted as "sexist." So, sure, "bitch" necessarily has female connotations, but I do not see how it's use is inherently sexist.

To the extent the term is used to describe a woman in a negative light for characteristics such as assertiveness - for instance a man calling his female boss a bitch for ordering him to do something well within his job description - then, yes, it is being used as sexist. Outside of that context (or the one you noted below where one man asserts possession of another man), I am not sure I can agree it is clearly sexist.

Sobek said...

Prof. Dorf, your last comment has me close to convinced, but even in rap lyrics, the word is still clearly a pejorative.

In the words of political philospher Snoop Dogg, referring to the Don Imus controversy, "It's a completely different scenario,... [Rappers] are not talking about no collegiate basketball girls who have made it to the next level in education and sports. We're talking about ho's that's in the 'hood that ain't doing sh--, that's trying to get a n---a for his money. These are two separate things."

So Mr. Dogg would apparently agree with Thomas, but his use of the word "bitch" is still highly offensive, and intentionally so.

Unknown said...

I don’t think that you can intuit from Snoop Dogg’s comments regarding the word “ho” any general rule regarding the use of the word “ho” in hip-hop, as he’s only one rapper, and I really don’t see how you can leap from the word “ho” to the word “bitch.” I think that you can find numerous instances where both words are used in a neutral context, referring generally to a woman, and there are also instances where the word might even be positive (I have some instances in mind, but I don’t think they’d be appropriate to reproduce here). One other possibility is that the word has become so ubiquitous in hip hop that while still derogatory, it has lost much of its bite. But when a White person uses the word, as it is used more sparingly, it remains a deeply offensive.

Anonymous said...



A片,色情,成人,做愛,情色文學,A片下載,色情遊戲,色情影片,色情聊天室,情色電影,免費視訊,免費視訊聊天,免費視訊聊天室,一葉情貼圖片區,情色,情色視訊,免費成人影片,視訊交友,視訊聊天,視訊聊天室,言情小說,愛情小說,AIO,AV片,A漫,av dvd,聊天室,自拍,情色論壇,視訊美女,AV成人網,色情A片,SEX





Anonymous said...

免費A片, ut聊天室, AV女優, 美女視訊, 免費成人影片, 成人論壇, 情色交友, 免費AV, 線上a片, 日本美女寫真集, 同志聊天室, 聊天室交友, 成人文章, 成人圖片區, 色情網站, 辣妹視訊, 美女交友, 微風成人區, 色美媚部落格, 色情影片, 成人影片, 成人網站, 免費A片, 上班族聊天室, A片,H漫, 18成人, a漫, av dvd, 一夜情聊天室, 微風成人, 成人圖片, 成人漫畫, 情色網, 日本A片, 免費A片下載, 性愛, 成人交友, 嘟嘟成人網, 嘟嘟成人網, 成人貼圖, 成人電影, 成人, 中部人聊天室, 080中部人聊天室, 成人貼圖, 成人小說, 成人文章, 成人圖片區, 免費成人影片, 成人遊戲, 微風成人, 愛情公寓, 成人電影, A片, 情色, 情色貼圖, 情色文學, 做愛, 成人遊戲, 成人影城, 色情聊天室, 色情小說, 一葉情貼圖片區, 情色小說, 色情, 寄情築園小遊戲, 色情遊戲, 成人網站, 麗的色遊戲, 色情網站, 成人論壇, 情色視訊, 情色電影, aio交友愛情館, 言情小說, 愛情小說, 色情A片, 情色論壇, 自拍, 癡漢, , 俱樂部, 豆豆聊天室, 聊天室, 色情影片, 視訊聊天室, 免費視訊聊天, 免費視訊, 視訊交友90739 情人視訊網影音視訊聊天室 免費視訊聊天室 視訊聊天 視訊交友 美女視訊 視訊美女 視訊 免費視訊 免費視訊聊天 視訊聊天室 辣妹視訊 一夜情 色情a片 aio交友愛情館 情色電影 情色視訊 色情遊戲 色情 情色小說 一葉情貼圖片區 色情小說 色情聊天室 情色交友 成人論壇 成人網站 色情網站 情色論壇 小高聊天室 女同志聊天室 6K聊天室 080苗栗人聊天室 080聊天室 聊天室尋夢園 UT男同志聊天室 男同志聊天室 尋夢園聊天室 UT聊天室 聊天室 豆豆聊天室 A片 成人電影 成人貼圖 嘟嘟成人網 美女交友 本土自拍 成人交友 成人影片

Anonymous said...

I am so happy to get some kal geons and the kal gold is given by my close friend who tells me that the kal online geons is the basis to enter into the game. Therefore, I should kal online gold with the spare money and I gain some kalonline Geons from other players.

Anonymous said...

酒店喝酒,禮服店,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,制服店,便服店,鋼琴酒吧,兼差,酒店兼差,酒店打工,伴唱小姐,暑假打工,酒店上班,日式酒店,舞廳,ktv酒店,酒店,酒店公關,酒店小姐,理容院,日領,龍亨,學生兼差,酒店兼差,酒店上班,酒店打工,禮服酒店,禮服店,酒店小姐,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,經紀 彩色爆米花,經紀人 彩色爆米花,酒店傳播,酒店經紀 彩色爆米花,爆米花,童裝,童裝拍賣,童裝大盤,童裝寄賣,童裝批貨,酒店,酒店,童裝切貨,酒店,GAP童裝,酒店,酒店 ,禮服店 , 酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,招待所,

Anonymous said...

酒店喝酒,禮服店,酒店小姐,制服店,便服店,鋼琴酒吧,兼差,酒店兼差,酒店打工,伴唱小姐,暑假打工,酒店上班,日式酒店,ktv酒店,酒店,酒店公關,酒店小姐,酒店兼差,酒店上班,酒店打工,禮服酒店,禮服店,酒店小姐,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,台北酒店,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,禮服店 ,酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店小姐,經紀 彩色爆米花,經紀人 彩色爆米花,酒店傳播,酒店經紀 彩色爆米花,爆米花,童裝,童裝拍賣,童裝大盤,童裝寄賣,童裝批貨,酒店,酒店,童裝切貨,酒店,GAP童裝,酒店,酒店 ,禮服店 , 酒店小姐,酒店經紀,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,招待所,酒店小姐,酒店兼差,寒暑假打工,酒店上班,暑假打工,酒店公關,酒店兼職,酒店經紀

Anonymous said...




Anonymous said... . .
[url=]puma shoes[/url]
[url=]chaussures puma[/url]
[url=]nike air max ltd[/url]

Anonymous said...

酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店小姐兼職, 便服酒店經紀, 酒店打工經紀, 制服酒店工作, 專業酒店經紀, 合法酒店經紀, 酒店暑假打工, 酒店寒假打工, 酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店小姐兼職, 便服酒店工作, 酒店打工經紀, 制服酒店經紀, 專業酒店經紀, 合法酒店經紀, 酒店暑假打工, 酒店寒假打工, 酒店經紀人, 菲梵酒店經紀, 酒店經紀, 禮服酒店上班, 酒店小姐兼職, 便服酒店工作, 酒店打工經紀, 制服酒店經紀,,