Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Stacey Dash slutted herself out to Mitt Romney?

Most remember Stacy Dash for her role as Dionne "Dee" Davenport in the 1990's pop-culture sensation Clueless. Even if you are unfamiliar with the film, surely by now you've seen one variant of the Yahoo! News headline: "Stacey Dash Twitter Backlash After Voicing Support of Romney." Dash is getting considerable media attention after tweeting "Vote for Romney: The only choice for your future." Since her October 7th tweet, Dash has appeared in several news sources, including U.S. News, and the Huffington Post, and was even a guest on Piers Morgan.

So why all the hubbub? Is it because, as Piers Morgan suggests, "she had the audacity, as a black actress, to vote for Mitt Romney?" Is the idea of a black female actress voting for the Republican candidate really so abominable to her (former) Democratic fans? I didn't realize that a woman's status as a black female precluded her from exercising a political choice for president, and that doing so warranted such hateful attacks. I'm also curious about how-- as some suggest-- Stacy Dash's politics inform us on her choices about sex?

The public response to Dash's political tweet is disturbing. She's been called a slut, an idiot, and a hag, among other things. One person tweeted, "This hurts, but you a Romney lover and you slutting yourself for the white man only proves why no black man would marry u." Another Twitter user wrote, "You're an unemployed black woman endorsing @MittRomney. You're voting against yourself thrice. You poor beautiful idiot."

The misogynous responses to Stacy Dash's tweet comprise this year's second newsworthy instance of a woman being publicly called a "slut" after expressing her political opinion. Sarah Weir reminds us that only seven months ago, Rush Limbaugh came under fire for calling Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" who was "having so much sex that [she's] going broke." Limbaugh's abhorrent remarks came in response to Fluke's request for a birth control subsidy before an unofficial hearing of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee in 2012.

So why do men, and especially women, think that this behavior is in any way acceptable? It seems people have forgotten that within the last century, women assumed the unrestricted right to vote when Congress ratified the 19th amendment. The amendment reads, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." Therefore, if the government cannot legally tell a woman how to vote, then the multitude of bigots on Twitter certainly have no standing.

In her article "Race and Essentialism in Feminist Legal Theory," feminist scholar Angela Harris notes that since the beginning of the feminist movement in the United States, black women's experiences have called the notion of a unitary "women's experience" into question. She explains that second-wave feminists have adopted the notion of multiple consciousness, or a world in which people are not only oppressed on the basis of gender, but also on the bases of race, class, sexual orientation, etc. When analyzed through the lens of multiple consciousness, Dash's case clearly extends beyond mere sexism, and also encompasses blatant racism. When fellow actor Samuel Jackson tweeted, "Wait, did Stacey Dash Really endorse Romney today?! REALLY????! Is she CRA[ZY]...........??!" she retorted, " I chose him not by the color of his skin, but the content of his character."

On November 6th Stacy Dash plans to cast her vote for Mitt Romney "because of the state of the country and [she] want[s] the next four years to be different." That choice is her right and prerogative as a black voter, and as a woman voter. It does not make her a slut, a hag, an idiot or any other demeaning name. It makes her a person with the right to exercise voter choice. 


Heather said...

Hear hear! I also heard a news story that Lindsay Lohan endorses Romney, and that there was a backlash against her for this. I totally agree that this demonstrates the absurdity of the idea of a unitary 'women's voice.'

Elizabeth said...

Great post. What I really question is how could choosing any political candidate possible make you a slut? What does a vote have to do with sexual promiscuity? Obviously the answer is absolutely nothing, but people know that this is one of the most offensive things to say to a woman so they choose to use this language to be as degrading as possible.

The comment that she was "slutting [her]self for the white man" is even more insulting. It really shows how shallowly below the surface people's racism can be. Basically this phrase is playing on the history of female slaves and domestic workers being raped by their white employers. Because she is an independent black woman voicing her opinion people need to belittle her in the most highly offensive way.

As Voltaire said, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." I do not agree with Ms. Dash's political views, but I even more vehemently oppose the utter trash that people have said about her. As you pointed out, women have not yet had the vote for 100 years, And we have had the power to vote outside how our husbands tell us to vote for even shorter.

Sam said...

“This hurts, but you a Romney lover and you slutting yourself for the white man only proves why no black man would marry u.”

I can’t help but see this as another instance of using a woman’s sexuality to oppress her. In this case, slut-shaming is being used to try and control her vote. The threat of being labeled a “whore” and being socially ostracized is being used to control the single most important political act in a democracy.

It is interesting that the only option other than “slutting” is marriage. It’s really a clear illustration of the whore-madonna dichotomy.

“Rush Limbaugh came under fire for calling Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a ‘slut’ and a ‘prostitute’ who was ‘having so much sex that [she’s] going broke.’”

When I heard this line, my first thought was “so what.” So what if she’s having so much sex that she’s going broke. That’s what insurance is for. This is only an insult if one proceeds from the assumption that women having a lot of sex is a bad thing. Why even grant that basic assumption?

Pali said...

Unfortunately I completely missed this in the "news". I fail to understand how being black or a woman precludes you from voting Republican. I am especially confused as to how any voting pattern makes you a slut. Voting regardless of who you are and who you vote for is such a civic anomaly that it should be celebrated.

People are entitled to their social, fiscal, and other proclivities--unless you are a woman? unless you are black? or unless you disagree?

Why was Condoleezza Rice not under the same siege? or was she?