Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Kathy Griffin Calls Scott Brown's Daughters Prostitutes

In the interest of full disclosure I am going to say right from the get go that I am not a fan of Kathy Griffin.  I think that she is loud and irritating, though I am normally able to ignore her.  Even though I am late to the following story, I still believe that it is worth talking about. It seems that recently on her Bravo show, “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” she was being questioned by John King and  Dana Bash regarding her political knowledge, when she was shown a picture of Scott Brown and asked to state his identity.
“Scott Brown, who is a senator from Massachusetts and has two daughters that are prostitutes,” Griffin said proudly.
This apparently caused Dana Bash to laugh.  Scott Brown has responded to Griffin stating:
“People can call me any name they want, but families are off limits,” the junior senator told the Track. “I love my daughters, Ayla and Arianna, very much, and any parent would be proud to have them as children. Kathy Griffin and Bravo ought to be ashamed of themselves.” 
Barney Frank also publicly condemned Griffin stating:
Having agreed to go on your show, I was particularly disappointed in the terrible comment you made about Senator Scott Brown's daughters.  I think it is possible to to have fun, and even to poke fun at people in my business, without this kind of completely unfair attack.  And while I don't usually feel compelled to comment on what various entertainers do, since you did include me  in that show, I wanted to make it very clear that I thought what you did was wholly unfair and inappropriate.  It's the kind of thing that makes it less likely that I or others can cooperate with you in the future.
On "The View" Elizabeth Hasselbeck was quick to infer that a greater public backlash would have occured had this been Sasha or Malia Obama and I completely disagree with this comment.  Though Obama has forcefully called for families to be left out of political debate -- the right -- and particularly Glenn Beck, has taken great pleasure at attacking the Obama girls.   Unlike Sasha and Malia both of Brown's children are gown women,who are able to defend themselves -- and so I think it must be made clear that though we are talking about daughters of a politician, they are hardly equal.

I do believe that what Griffin had to say was absolutely wrong and rises to the level of slut shaming.   Scott Brown's daughters have nothing to do with their fathers choices and should not be shamed by their association with him.  If, Kathy had chosen to make some comment regarding the fact that Brown had announced shortly after winning the election, that his daughters were single, that absolutely would have been appropriate, but there seems to be no basis for this joke, other than the promotion of misogynistic humor at the expense of two young women. 

I am upset that sex workers were used as a form of attack.  This negates the fact that many are often trafficked into prostitution or engage in this line of employment to support a drug habit.  Prostitution has been a very damaging thing for women and to minimizes it effects for a cheap political shot, is truly disgusting but typical of Griffin. 

Also, the idea that slut shaming is appropriate, when we know how harmful it can be to women also makes Griffin's little quip unacceptable. What people do sexually regardless of whether it is for personal pleasure or subsistence needs, should not be under the purview of the public. This is a gendered assault and the sexist nature is something that seems to be an issue that Griffin's critics are ignoring.  Simply because a woman is the one engaging in sexism, does not negate the gendered nature of the attack.  Ask yourself, would she have made the same quip had Brown's daughters been sons?  I highly doubt it, because slut shaming is something that is specifically used to attack women, whereas; men are praised for their sexual encounters.

I am  encouraged that Griffin's comments aren't being swept under the rug.  Quite often when these so-called jokes are made, they are excused by the general population because they help to serve the dominate class.  Even when marginalized groups complain that they are not funny, and in fact painful, we are accused of not having a sense of humour.   I must however wonder, if part of the reason why so many were quick to attack Griffin, is because of who she chose to attack. Let's face facts, not only are Brown's daughters White, they are loaded with class privielge, publicly straight and TAB.  I somehow doubt that the outrage would have been quite as loaded had these characteristics been non-existent.

Despite the backlash that Griffin is receiving, none of this will change her act because being offensive is her bread and butter. Even though people may be expressing shock today, can anyone really say that they were shocked by what she said? Her act is exactly what it is today, because society encouraged it to evolve in this manner with every single laugh and dollar spent on her shows. So, unless people stop economically supporting her (and we know Hollywood boycotts are short lived), I think that in a few weeks we will be talking about something else.