by Laura Sillerman | bio

There are several adages that come to mind: “Small people talk about people, average people talk about things, and interesting people talk about ideas,” is one. “In L.A., it’s movies, in D.C. it’s politics, in New York it’s restaurants,” is another. Lately it’s been seeming like, “In America, it’s frustration.”

This week has been different. Though the Don Imus mess has been frustrating and frustratingly about celebrity and how it distorts judgment, it’s also been blessedly about ideas and ideals and calls to action.

All week people have been talking about freedom of speech, ongoing prejudice, hidden stereotypes, the wages of self-loathing, media use and abuse. We’ve debated, we’ve agreed, we’ve disagreed, we’ve proposed plans.

What is most important is that we cared.

The question now is what are we going to do with the caring and planning that has risen to the top of our personal and public conversations? Let’s hope that we don’t just get to the weekend feeling like a corporation has taken care of the problem and we can go back to being mildly discomfited by the injustices all around us.

What was clear this week is that misogyny is always with us. People “defended” The Statement by saying some rappers use those insults and say far worse things — the logic supposedly being that one community needed to clean up its act in order to keep another community from copping its attitude.

This is about women and how we use our voices. We haven’t made our point often enough or loud enough. The point always has been that the rights and the rules need to be the same for everybody.

The uproar was nearly as much about women in general as it was about a specific college basketball team. How retro is it that a quick epithet about women is that they are sexually available, while an ongoing source of pride for men is the extent of their sexual conquests? How dangerous is retro in this day and age?

There’s no question that this was a racial incident. There’s no getting away from the fact that an idiot used one n-phrase in place of another n-word. But we’ve got to wonder whether he would have used that phrase about a college men’s team or if underneath it all women are still seen as a weaker species. Wasn’t some Darwinian male sense of dominance as much at work as the stupid ongoing sense that skin color matters?

The American Museum of Natural History recently re-opened its Hall of Human Origins. Over and over again the point is made, both genetically and anthropologically, that each member of the human race is 99.9 percent the same as every other member. 99.9 percent.

That’s an idea worth thinking about.

In that concept is an ideal worth fighting for. What will we do with the coming days?  Nurture the seed of caring about what we talked about all week, or go back to the darkness that spawned the incident?

One man has been silenced. It’s a good time for women to speak louder and be heard.

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