Is It Still A Man’s World…

The recent vilification of Paula Deen has me in a conundrum. I’m not sure how I feel about it, nor am I sure what is right or wrong in this case. One thing I definitely know is that the use of derogatory language against any gender or race is wrong. We are not living in the dark ages anymore. Some of the words that were carelessly thrown around a generation ago are totally unacceptable now and those using them should be fairly tried in the court of public opinion and punished equally right? Oh, really…

Watching the news and reading all of the recent articles regarding Paula Deen makes me wonder if we, as a society, are really being fair and judging each and every transgression of this kind similarly. I’m not so sure we are. A friend of mine recently posted something on her Facebook page that gave me pause. She reminded me that someone like a Rush Limbaugh could call a woman a slut on the airwaves and still have his job. And what about Eliot Spitzer who hired a prostitute while Governor of New York and although forced to resign due to the scandal is rewarded by being hired by CNN as a political analyst. Today the word bitch dominates the airwaves and no one seems to mind.

Paula Deen

Paula Deen

But let’s go back in time a little bit as well, shall we. John F. Kennedy who was assassinated 50 years ago was a notorious womanizer and had the support of the press who kept quiet about his philandering.  We now think of JFK as one of our all time beloved presidents and his “indiscretions” take a back seat to his accomplishments. His brother Teddy drives his car off a bridge after a “party” leaving Mary Jo Kopechne to drown in the back seat while he swims away and, oh yes, just happens to forget to call the police until the next morning – must have been the chill in the water. Teddy walked away uncharged and continued to be elected to Senate. True this incident probably cost him the presidency, but being a lifetime senator is by no means any type of harsh punishment. And when he died they proclaimed him to be the negotiator extraordinaire able to reach across the aisle and gain non-partisan support. What a great guy! I wonder if Mary Jo still thinks so. What you say, that was so many years ago and times have changed. You mean times like the same era in the Deep South where buses, bathrooms and schools were segregated and white folk used the “N” word as a matter of course. The same era when Paula Deen grew up. I’m sure she used the “N” word just like everyone else she knew. And she admits to using it. But she also admits not having used it for years.

We are all products of our environment. We learn from those around us and we strive to fit in. By doing that we gain the strength and confidence to become who we choose to be as we mature. But we all have a starting point that none of us chooses. We evolve based on conscious decisions we make over time and that should be the focus of how we are judged. I cannot pinpoint on a timeline when Paula Deen quit using the “N” word or if she chose to believing it was wrong versus succumbing to social pressure. She admits it, she did it and she hasn’t for years. And her punishment, the Food Network decides not to renew her contract, Smithfield drops her as a spokesperson, Target drops her product line, Wal Mart and Home Depot follow suit and on and on and on…

Is this fair? I’m not so sure. And yet, all may not be lost for poor Paula. Maybe Rush Limbaugh will give her a job or she’ll get hired by CNN. If we’re to judge equally it seems only right. Or is it? What do you think?

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