Category Archives: National Politics

Objectifying Women: Are we Crossing the Border to Mexico?

Full Body ScanNew Orleans The old warning, “Look Don’t Touch,” seems to be the likely compromise on the TSA pat down versus x-ray screening controversy.  A woman’s quote in the Times that “I didn’t really expect her to touch my vagina through my pants” was harrowing especially since the search was for a pocket tissue and hair band on an elementary school teacher from Pohdunk, Washington.  Being a frequent flyer, I’m soft on the issue of screening.  When I’m in the air, I want to stay there until I land.  I’m funny that way.  If the price of that is a little delay, some metal detection, even the air machine, and the sloppy pat down in international airports, I can hang.  Ok, I’m not for folks touching my junk, but I’ve been lucky maybe.

Not everyone is.  Looking at the issue from a woman’s perspective, I started to worry that the insensitivity might be moving the wrong direction in these days when the dark cloud is covering so much of our culture and politics coming in hard from the right.  A piece by Michelle Garcia at www.racialicious.com cross-posted from WIMN’s Voices gave me a lot to worry about when it reminded me of the way that class bias in Mexico exploits the poor as drowning in sex and violence, thereby objectifying whatever anyone might want to think or do, and certainly giving license to government and others to ignore the problem and create “pretend solutions.”  Travelers are similar.  Working men and women catching an air-bus, so who cares, right?  The rich can go private planes, private airports, limos to the door, while we fly the pigeons of the sky.  Those women probably should have stayed home, if they are going to complain, right?  Where they belong! Eeeeck!

Sister Garcia’s piece is excellent, balanced, and well reasoned, and certainly gave me a lot to consider in trying wrapping my arms around a number of these issues here, and in Mexico for that matter, though substitute films and TV for newspapers, and it’s a push.  I can’t help but share this:

Video courtesy of Tell ‘Em Who You Are

“He’s dead and she’s half naked. Two images I encounter at every newspaper stand in Mexico City– blood and babes. A magazine cover shows a marijuana leaf and a stiletto heel in the shape of a gun. One newspaper regularly divides its front page with a preening bikini clad woman and cadavers. I’m compelled to believe that the graphicness of the individual images is enhanced when harmonized.

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Black Policy

Garbage workers at work

Hoppers at work

New Orleans I was eating lunch late last week on Poydras Avenue catching up with old friends and comrades from decades of political wars in the City of New Orleans.  These are the kinds of conversations where lineage and legacy are important.  When someone says Landrieu, do they mean former Mayor Moon, Senator Mary, or current Mayor Mitch Landrieu?  When Morial is mentioned, are we referring to something we remember about Dutch or something more recent with Marc?  In New Orleans like most big cities politics is both blood sport and thriving business no matter whose shingle might be out at City Hall, so past, present, and future are ever present with more angles to consider than the best carom on the green felt of any billiard table.

The new mayor, Mitch Landrieu, had gotten in a big time spat here in the early going around garbage contracts, so we spent some time discussing that.  Local 100 ULU continues to represent some of the workers employed by the contractors so has a clear stake in the conversation and one of my lunch partners had been called several days before and asked for advice by Mitch on how to handle the mess he stepped in so solidly.

Both of the current contractors are minority businesses and were awarded lucrative contracts by the recently cashiered mayor, Ray Nagin.  The local paper and the new administration on a cost cutting binge with a bad budget in a sorry economy was looking for savings, so slimming down the garbage contract seemed like an easy mark.  Mitch though made a quick and painful mistake by thinking it was a standard negotiation and when his people didn’t get immediate concessions to their liking, he announced that the City was going to unilaterally put the contracts back out to bid again.  Fur started flying with protests at City Hall, comments from the two companies’ lawyers that they still were making proposals, and a everyone from the NACCP to minority business associations jumping in to pull the Mayor’s coattails.

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