Wherein I May Stir Controversy

Submitted as food for thought: Angelina Jolie said the following, as reported by Time magazine and found here:

There is no greater pillar of stability than a strong, free and educated woman, and there is no more inspiring role model than a man who respects and cherishes women and champions their leadership.

Ain’t that interesting? Flip the genders in the above sentence and it becomes offensive to just about everyone in every non-backward society as blatantly sexist. There would be screaming, and lots of it if a male actor were to stand up and proudly make the flipped version of that statement publicly. His career would be over and no one would want to be associated with him so he’d find it extremely difficult to start a second career. Society would punish him severely for it.

The greater context of the article is that Ms. Jolie is active in trying to end violence against women. I’m all for that, but I wonder why she’s in the feminist bunker when every statistical analysis ever done without gender bias, and there are many of them, has proven that the three big demographics when ordered by prevalence of their victimization by violence is men, then women, then children. What they’ve all got in common, in addition to being victims of violence, is being human. If that’s less important to you than their genders, you’re a sexist, too.

People who understand what’s happening in the conflict zones and in the areas around the diamond mines of the African continent know that it’s not “a women’s issue”. More men than women are victims, but they get far less publicity. I’m not saying that we should shift our sympathies from the women to the men, but that we should increase our sympathies so the men will be included.

I suggest that we might also consider that no woman who wears a diamond has the first fuck to give about the victims of that violence Ms. Jolie believes she’s combating. Even if one can conclusively prove that one specific rock has no blood on it, wearing the things promotes the wearing of them. If the public’s perception of diamonds was what it ought to be when facts are considered, it would be considered shameful to wear one.


8 thoughts on “Wherein I May Stir Controversy

  1. promisesunshine

    i don’t have a diamond. didn’t want one. they aren’t even pretty.
    this can be flipped all around. any time we advocate for better rights for one group, we’re saying those rights are more important. it’s divisive and diminishing. when we start playing the human card (or even the living thing card), we will have equality as a natural consequence.
    iffen that makes any sense.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      I’m agreein’ with ya. The problems of the context in which Ms. Jolie made her assholish statements are human problems, and making them anything but human problems perpetuates them.

      Some day we’re going to have to figure out how to get a table and a jug of cheap red wine between us. 🙂

  2. ordinarybutloud

    The statement would be sexist and offensive if flipped because women don’t currently hold the large majority of leadership positions, the large majority of wealth and the large majority of power and are not, in many nations and even in many cultures in our own nation, free. So a strong, free educated woman is the exception, whereas the strong, free educated man is the rule. Likewise, a man who respects and cherishes women and champions their leadership is the exception, whereas women who respect and cherish men and champion their leadership have been the rule since the beginning of time. As for embracing an end to violence against women as opposed to, say, an end to war (violence against men), I suppose that’s not unlike donating to the American Heart Association instead of the American Cancer Society.

    1. happierheathen Post author

      It is my view that when a statement is offensive when applied to an identifiable class, it is equally offensive when applied to any identifiable class. What’s bad for the goose is bad for the gander.

      Within the context of Ms. Jolie’s statements, those issues you raise are worse then meaningless. Taking privileged American thinking into the conflict regions of the continent of Africa, as Ms. Jolie has done, can only perpetuate the misery. The people we’re talking about are those of traditional subsistence cultures with none of what we think of as opportunities available to any of them. The husbands of those women Ms. Jolie is speaking of aren’t out earning 30% more than their wives do for the same work; they are slaves forced to serve warlords and mining companies, and it is when they do not serve to the full satisfaction of their masters or seek to escape that violence is visited upon their families back home. For the most part, the men going into those villages to commit violence against women and children are doing it to protect their own women and children from the warlords they themselves are serving.

      The violence against women in those conflict regions is the result of slavery and war. The only thing that can end the violence against those women is ending slavery and war. It’s not either/or, it’s all or none. As irksome as it may be to rich white feminists in America, those women cannot be saved unless the men are saved, too.

      1. ordinarybutloud

        Well, we’re talking about two different things. With respect to why the statement would be offensive and sexist in developed countries coming from a male actor instead of a female actor, the reasons are the ones I gave, and “what’s bad for the goose is bad for the gander” is not applicable when the gander is in a position of entrenched and historic advantage over the goose. Offensiveness is always going to be dependent on circumstance. The specific statements she made about strength, education, freedom and leadership are, in developed countries, still aspirational for women as a group but well-established for men as a group.

        With respect to whether the statements were applicable and/or appropriate when applied to conflict regions of Africa, there are all kinds of potential objections, some of which you made, some of which come down to the idea of “white savior complexes” and post-colonialism.

        I don’t know whether I think women cannot be saved unless men are saved too. I certainly don’t think that saving men *necessarily* saves women. I suppose I would point out that there are many, many places in the world where we have continued and devastating incidences of violence against women, yet the men are neither slaves nor engrossed in war. There are some areas of town where I live, for example, where violence against women is prevalent and attitudes toward women are oppressive. For this reason, I don’t fault Angelina Jolie for focusing her efforts on changing attitudes and behavior toward women, whether she chooses to do so in Africa or America. I didn’t take her comments to mean she doesn’t support efforts to end slavery or war.


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