By Maitefa Angaza
Two men are in the news this week, not for their laudable accomplishments, but for their remarks to and/or about women. One was commenting on a debate about the proposed (and postponed) Harriet Tubman $20 bill and the other was giving his opinion about presidential candidates. The public’s responses to their comments, however, revealed that today it pays to weigh one’s words.
Judge Joe Brown of TV fame recently told a woman interviewing for her show, that he wasn’t very fond of the idea of the Harriet Tubman film. His comments got more pronounced and peculiar from there.
“This movie is to soften the public up to the idea of taking a Black woman who freed slaves by leading them to freedom and getting her or another one like her on a $20 bill,” Brown said. “They can’t get a white woman, so they want a Black woman. They don’t care, they just want a woman, and it downs masculinity.”
He thought Frederick Douglass or another Black male should be considered instead.
“I got a big problem if it’s on a bill before they put a Black man’s face on one.” Said Brown. “I have a big problem with that. Historically, the status of an ethnic group is determined by its men, not its women. And putting a Black woman on there before a Black man is insulting to the Black race because you’re saying the men ain’t worth a damn, you put a woman up there first.”
And in other news…
Axios reporter Alexi McCammond Twitter-posted on Tuesday the 19th that she’d been at an event that night doing an off-the-record interview with NBA Hall of Famer and sports commentator Charles Barkley, when he told her that he “loves Deval Patrick.” She said that shortly after someone from Pete Buttigieg’s camp came by and Barkley told the staffer that he loved Buttigieg. She says she reminded him that he’d previously said he was a Deval fan, and he replied,
‘I don’t hit women but if I did I would hit you.’ “McCammond said that when she objected to his comment, he told her that she couldn’t take a joke. She went on to post, “There are almost no times I will beak an OTR ‘agreement’ but this is not OK… I hate being part of a story, so here’s a reminder that this is so much bigger than me: nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the US. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence. It’s not about me or my feelings — tho I’m grateful for the many friends who have reached out. But it’s about refusing to allow this culture to perpetuate because of silence on these issues. It’s easier and less awkward to be silent, but that helps NO ONE but the perpetrator.”
Several hours later a post was shared from TurnerSportsPR, which read: “Statement on behalf of Charles Barkley in response to tweet by Axios reporter Alexi McCammond:
“My comment was inappropriate and unacceptable. It was an attempted joke that wasn’t funny at all. There’s no excuse for it and I apologize.”
The comments on McCammond’s post were voluminous and varied, with most women expressing outrage at Barkley’s comments. But not all women. There were those who mocked McCannon as being naïve or overly sensitive, such as these two:
“I haven’t really watched Barkley for a while, but if you went in thinking there wasn’t gonna be at least one offensive moment you were woefully unprepared.”
“As a woman I can tell you women that feel threatened don’t start with “FYI”. Women can be just as manipulative as men.”
Men’s comments varied as well. Some cheered Barkley and felt it was he who had been wronged:
“… hilarious. Keep it up, Barkley.
But other men thought Barkley’s comments were injurious and reckless speech, such as this:
“This is completely unacceptable, and you are absolutely right to call it out.”
And Steven Smith, who does digital media for the NBA and writes for ESPN, reminded Twitter of one of Barkley’s most infamous and outrages “jokes.”
“Barkley said, ‘This is a game that if you lose, you go home and beat your wife and kids. Did you see my wife jumping up and down at the end of the game? That’s because she knew I wasn’t going to beat her and later claimed to be joking then too), so he’s got form on this front. Disgraceful.”