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Hullabaloo


Saturday, February 25, 2012

 
What are cable news shows for?

by digby

This is why I love Up With Chris Hayes. He hosts James Poulos, the author of perhaps the most offensive culture war piece I've read since the 1980s entitled "What are women for?" and assembles a group of informed commenters with various viewpoints (one of whom is himself, of course) to discuss it. What ensued was an enlightening and interesting discussion you simply wouldn't see on any other show:



This piece at Mediaite does a nice job of summarizing the segment. Here's an excerpt:

The title of the piece took up much of the beginning of the chat, however, as host Chris Hayes explained his problems with the presentation of the work, particularly the title. “It seems, I think, an odd question to ask about human beings, who are presumably for whatever their own ends are for.” He noted that many readers perceived it as a natural slippery slope decline: from asking whether women can control their sexuality to, ultimately, “the essential humanity of women.”

Poulos explained that the questions he was posing beyond the functionality of females was precisely about the culture battles around birth control and abortion. “Why are these issues back; why are we having this conversation now?” He explained that his answer to this question was “because there is a deep argument in this country about sort of what the relationship is between our biological bodies as men and as women and how that biology relates to what it is we do in society, and what our different roles are.” Hayes was comfortable with that answer, save for the fact that “it doesn’t seem that the ‘as men’ part gets as much attention,” to which Poulos replied there simply “isn’t as much disagreement” as to what men are supposed to do.

Michelle Goldberg vehemently disagreed with this premise. “When you say ‘what are women for?’ you’re necessarily implying, ‘in relation to who?’” She added that a similarly posed question about minorities would be met with scorn, to which Hayes joked, “I wrote a column the other day, ‘What Are Jews For?’, it didn’t seem to get much controversy.” Goldberg saw his piece as symptomatic of something bigger on the right, as the perception of feminism (and civil rights) “as a once worthy movement that has attained all of its goals and has become superfluous.”


For someone to believe that while at the same time saying "there is a deep argument in this country about sort of what the relationship is between our biological bodies as men and as women and how that biology relates to what it is we do in society, and what our different roles are" is just a bit contradictory. But she's right. They simply want to say that this state of flux is normal.(I agree about the argument, actually --- but it isn't just an American phenomenon, it's global. And it's far from settled, unfortunately.)

It's a great segment. Give it a look if you have a few minutes.

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