The two-letter word ‘ho’ spells more than an insult. It spells hurt. In a moment’s time, that word boiled the blood of listeners and subsequently buried Don Imus’ 40-plus-year broadcasting career.
‘Ho’ and its role in Imus’ broadcast represented the further objectification of women, a trend which continues to pervade in our society.
Imus, 66, is known for expressing controversial issues on his radio show, “Imus in the Morning”. Among them is his choice of words. Imus said the ‘nappy-headed hos’ of the Rutgers women’s basketball team couldn’t compare to their national championship-game counterparts from Tennessee.
The broadcaster looked past their achievements to offer an opinion solely on appearance. Apparently reaching the national championship game didn’t provide enough challenges for Rutgers. The team also had to fight the adversity that comes with unwarranted media attention. Imus’ choice of words was hurtful, but so is the media’s role in the perpetuation
of negative stereotypes of women. For all the hot water Imus is in, he merely propagated a long-standing, negative
view of women in pop culture. A psychology professor at Atlanta’s all-female Spelman College traced the demeaning nature to long before Imus.
“It is reflective of comments we have been fighting against historically,” Dr. Cynthia Neal Spence said.The word Imus used gives off a negative connotation that challenges a woman’s dignity. It brands women as loose and promiscuous.
By comparison, men profiled in similar mediums are triumphantly labeled ‘pimps’ or ‘players’. Being labeled as such, however, rarely comes across as anything other than positive. They’re celebrated terms. And fault is never found in getting girls and playing the field.
“Don Imus has become the lightning
rod for cruel and tasteless entertainment
that has been going on for years,” said Janice Shaw Crouse, who represents Concerned Women for America, in a press release.
There’s some validity to that statement.
You can’t turn on a television without
hearing buzzwords like ‘saucy’, ‘sexy’ and ‘scandalous’ being used to describe women in Hollywood.Imus’ behavior was deplorable. Justifiably, his show was removed from MSNBC’s rotation and CBS fired him.
His firing shows a clear lack of tolerance – between media criticism and the public’s outcry – for this negative portrayal of women.It’s a first step toward leveling the playing field.