Friday, December 14, 2007

Being Savaged

Michael Savage shows us how sexism is done:

On the December 12 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage referred to Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as "yentas," said Harman should "[g]o home and cook verenikis," and suggested that the three were in office because they "have rich husbands who put them in power with their money, so they could have a little hobby in between getting their nails done." Savage later asked his "board operator" if he would rather "be waterboarded for 30 seconds or eat Jane Harman's ravioli" and whether he'd rather "be waterboarded or eat Nancy Pelosi's tortellini."

After playing a clip of Harman saying, "I think waterboarding, which -- another name for which is the Chinese water torture, is torture, and I think that John McCain is right, that if we ..." Savage interrupted and said:

SAVAGE: Aw, shut up, will you, you yenta. Get this yenta off. Go home and cook verenikis, OK? Do the American people a favor, and go home and cook. Go home. Go home and cook better instead of wasting our time with your stupid feelings. We don't care about your feelings. Now what would you recommend, Jane Harman? To get information from hardened men like this, who would slaughter their own people in a mosque. Who kill their fellow Muslims without any thought about it. What would you do to get information out of them, Jane? Probably have them listen to you and Barbara Boxer have a conversation for a few minutes, could break them faster than waterboarding.

He employs the very common device of telling women to shut up and to go home and cook. I've seen this used all over the world whenever women speak up on something. They are no longer in their proper place and should be returned there. He then adds the common assertion that women are too emotional, and to top it off he adds the reference to a conversation between the two women as something that would be torture to listen to. You can add your own biases as to why this would be so awful: are women perhaps too talkative or too stupid?

Now I know that criticizing Savage is like shooting fish in a barrel. I don't do it for that reason. I do it to point out what the existence of programs like his tell us about the American culture and its power structure. Try a mental reversal by imagining a female Savage saying something equally sexist about male politicians.

What do you think the response would be, assuming that such a woman would ever get a politial talk show? It certainly wouldn't be the response I often get when writing about people of this ilk, which is to ignore them. Tune out. Pretend that they don't say what they are saying, and pretend that they don't talk to a believing audience.