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Truthdig Radio: Helen Caldicott, Mr. Fish on Ice
Posted on Mar 31, 2011
Kasia Anderson: Yeah. And to pull a quote from your column, you say “As Phil Molé details in a thorough and important post, ‘the worst cases of misogyny in the world today are rarely even deemed newsworthy.’ ” Well, you’re making that topic newsworthy by writing a piece about it, and I’m personally glad you did. But what’s new about this brand of masculinity, as such? I mean, masculinity and misogyny, actually?
Marcia Dawkins: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s a great question. It’s one that a lot of readers have kind of said in the comments, made notes about, and then contacted me personally. And so I’ve given it a bit of thought. And I think you’re right to ask that question, because mad masculinity as we’re seeing it, or misogyny as you’re also calling it, has been around for so long. And I think they’re embedded in our language, our values and our culture to such a large and great degree that we’ve become desensitized. So what I’m noticing is this rise in mad masculinity as reflective of a more blatant and extreme variety for today’s viewing pleasure. So what I’m seeing, and what I think a lot of people are responding to, is this blatant misogyny that’s designed to get us to pay attention and ultimately, in the case of, let’s say, Charlie Sheen, to pay money for this as a form of entertainment. So it’s doing a lot of different things. I think old-school misogyny, if we can even call it that, is no longer just a byproduct of media images. But what we’re seeing now with this rise of mad masculinity and misogyny is that it’s becoming a media image in and of itself. So they don’t need to be critiqued; they don’t need to apologize; in fact, all they require is endorsement, which we’re finding, I think, across a range of media outlets: reality TV, talk shows, news…
Kasia Anderson: “Dancing With the Stars”… [Laughter]
Marcia Dawkins: Oh, my goodness. Everywhere. These places we would never even think to even look.
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Marcia Dawkins: I think…I think there is a small degree of truth to that, because I think insofar as all of us as audience members attend to these issues—and I tried to address that in the latter part of my article—but we are, to some degree, guilty. So the question becomes, “What are we going to do about it?” No. 1. I think the second question is, as long as we kind of keep this discussion limited to the realm of entertainment—or even worse, gossip entertainment, right?—we’re kind of letting ourselves off the hook. So we don’t have to take it really seriously; we don’t have to think more critically about cases in misogyny off the TV screen. For instance, a lot of people have been talking—or haven’t been talking, actually—about the horrific child rapes in Texas and California, or the Indian bride burnings, or just a couple of weeks ago a 14-year-old girl was charged with adultery and lashed to death in Bangladesh. And I think a focus on this issue as entertainment can be great for calling attention to it, but also hides other, more pernicious, more political and even more serious cases of violence and abuse of women.
Kasia Anderson: So would it be fair to say that you’re suggesting that what we see happening in this kind of rarefied world of celebrity has something to do with what goes on on a larger scale, both in the U.S. and abroad?
Marcia Dawkins: Absolutely. And the thing that’s most frightening to me is that we’re turning it into entertainment in a way that at least I haven’t ever seen before, or read about before.
Kasia Anderson: Mm-hmm. And, kind of expanding on the celebrity theme—this is a little different from the question I asked you earlier, I think—is that this kind of recurring argument about the spectacle of celebrity—and that’s a term that scholars have used, but I think it’s easy to understand on kind of a more accessible level too—but paying attention to the world of celebrity is inherently a distraction from the things that matter more. And it’s sort of a bread and circuses argument—that, you know, you keep the masses entertained and distracted, and then all these other things kind of can be done under the radar. Do you see a danger of that in having these types of conversations?
Marcia Dawkins: Yes, I do definitely see that there is a danger there. But in today’s world where, to your point, so many people are involved with and perhaps even distracted by celebrity, we have to meet people where they are. So people may not respond if we call out instances of misogyny in other nations that, for whatever reason, we can’t connect to. But if I say Charlie Sheen or Chris Brown, someone knows what I’m talking about. And so I think the onus is on us, as part of the news, as scholars, as people who want to do something about this issue, to meet people where they are even if that is in the realm of pop culture and celebrity—but then get us to look at the larger world, and the larger political world, around us.
Kasia Anderson: Yeah, and it should be noted now that as we are having this discussion, there’s the big Wal-Mart sexual discrimination case at the Supreme Court being deliberated…
Marcia Dawkins: Absolutely.
Kasia Anderson:…and, you know, showing that there’s definitely still systemic problems going on that need to be legislated about, talked about, that have to do with discrimination. But also, since you wrote this piece, I read this morning that Chris Brown, who’s one of the celebrities you mentioned at the beginning, his latest album has hit the No. 1 spot.
Marcia Dawkins: Mm-hmm.
Kasia Anderson: So…
Marcia Dawkins: Well, I know that his album—I don’t know if the album itself was No. 1, but I know that he had at least three No. 1 singles at the time that this incident occurred, about now, last week. And so I think it’s fascinating that we have Chris Brown and we have Charlie Sheen, who are then able to turn…to turn this misogyny into real dollars. And to create a platform just for it to be displayed ever so brazenly. And I think you can see the frustration in both their handlers, right, who just quit on them…but nevertheless, fans—we—seem to be enthralled; we can’t get enough of this behavior. And so that’s another thing, another aspect of the popular culture angle, that I think is important for conversation. So it’s not just a bridge to reach people about the larger issues, but also then for us it’s to figure out, well, why is this so attractive? Why is this image of manly power the image that seems to resonate most for us?
Kasia Anderson: Yeah. And with that we’re going to have to…we’re going to have to end our discussion now, but it looks like misogyny might make for good publicity [laughs], unfortunately.
Marcia Dawkins: Unfortunately, absolutely.
Kasia Anderson: Well, thanks so much for your time, Dr. Dawkins.
Marcia Dawkins: Well, thanks for having me, Kasia. It was a pleasure.
Peter Scheer: This is Peter Scheer with Josh Scheer, and we are speaking with Loretta Napoleoni. She is an economist and best-selling author whose new book, “Maonomics,” will be coming out soon. And she has calculated the size of the terror economy. So, could you just describe what the terror economy is, and give us a sense of how big it is, and an introduction to that?
Loretta Napoleoni: Well, yes. The terror economy is a parallel economy to our economy that was created after World War II by armed organizations, and it kept growing. It is very much an economy that is based upon the funding of armed organizations. So we have the criminal economy, which of course is interlinked with the terror economy; for example, smuggling of drugs. But also there is a section of this economy which is perfectly legitimate, and that includes donation by people that sponsor terrorism, up to salaries of individuals who are part of armed organization. And they use this money in order to carry out attacks. And I calculated the size, which before 9/11 was about $500 billion, of which one-third was produced and generated by legitimate businesses. And in this economy—this is very important to bear in mind—this economy doesn’t move by itself, does not exist in a vacuum; it’s actually interlinked with the criminal economy and the legal economy. So together, these three components are about—before 9/11 were about $1.5 trillion, which was roughly 5 percent of the world economy.
Josh Scheer: And—I was going to jump in—you began your study with the Italian Red Brigades, if I’m not mistaken, right, in the early ’90s?
Loretta Napoleoni: Yes, I started in 1993, interviewing the Italian Red Brigades. Because they declared the end of the armed struggle, and they made a list of people with whom they wanted to talk to tell their story, and I was one of the people on the list, because my childhood friend had become a leader of the Red Brigades. So I had to change profession, I left my job, I went back to Italy, I interviewed them. And then I became really fascinated by terrorism, and I’ve been working on terrorism ever since.
Josh Scheer: And I know there was a quote that you said early on, that terrorism is an expensive business and that as much as they wanted to do things, they also needed money, right? Is that a…that’s a driving force.
Loretta Napoleoni: Yes. Yes. It’s an expensive business because, unlike a criminal business, it’s a business that consumes every single profit in order to carry out the armed struggle. So everything that is produced by the terror economy is then used in order to fight—the state, or whoever is considered the enemy. While in the case of the criminal economy, some of the profits are actually used in investment. So the criminal economy actually is productive, while the terrorist economy is not productive.
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