What does it take not to be tone deaf?

I am hanging out watching NCAA basketball and up comes an advertisement where Christiano Ronaldo is parading around in his tight black underwear at a hotel and by mistake locks himself out of his hotel room.  A beautiful cleaning woman comes out of nowhere to let him back in his room with a room passkey and of course, they make the cute eye contact.  She takes a photo of him that goes viral on the Internet.  Have we not been reading about cleaning people in high-end hotels being sexually harassed by men in hotels?  Does the advertiser not read the news?

Then I see the Los Angeles Times does a magazine cover on the top actresses in Hollywood looking to shift the conversation and they are all white.  Really?  Did the actresses give any thought to being profiled with only white women?  I know enough to ask about who is on a panel when asked to do one.

We all know that there are more than a handful of people out there waiting for them to be called out on the tarp.  Just one person needs to come out against someone and when there is smoke there is generally fire and more voices.  What industries and people in 2018?  It is one thing for people in white collar jobs to open up about insensitive behavior and it is another for blue-collar workers such as the women at Ford motors.  It is hard for both but more than likely more difficult for the latter.

A reporter asked me to comment on a retrospective of people who have been called out in the tech community this year who have immediately tried to relaunch their careers in a different direction.  I responded saying  I am not surprised to see people attempting to make immediate amends to their reputations although their integrity is extremely questionable.  Why do they get to just put on a new outfit and expect everyone to applaud them?  Let’s talk about what they have left in the dust and let them see what it feels like to be stymied in their career and be uncomfortable.  I’d suggest they all take off some serious time and remove themselves from the industry perhaps never to return but they should have thought about that long before they used their power inappropriately.  Makes you wonder what type of values were instilled in them during their youth, aka who raised these people?  I read that Justin Caldbeck spoke at Duke to educate young men against the dangers of “bro culture”.  Really??  Spare me.

Then I see these ads, the front page of a magazine from one of the LA Times and I have to wonder…what does it take for this country to not be tone deaf?  Maybe we will just have to wait for a new leader/President, who tells the truth and has the highest principles in the land as we obviously don’t have that right now.  He tells his country club members that he just made them richer with his tax bill and they can thank him now.  Honestly, you can’t make this up.  I can only shake my head and wonder what are we teaching our children and this next generation.  At least I have Twitter to know that I am not the only person pissed off.

Comments (Archived):

  1. TanyaMonteiro

    #whoraisedthem – that’s a movement waiting to happen

    1. Gotham Gal

      for sure. like that hashtag.

  2. awaldstein

    To not realize that something fundamental has shifted for the better, is to be left behind.That is why i spend less time convincing and listening to those that don’t get it than on a new population of people who are net native to this and will demand this as the status quo.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Agree. There is a new sheriff in town and it’s name is millennial and Gen Z

    2. lisa hickey

      There is a great chart that has been used by the people who helped with the Civil Rights Movement when it first started. There are the people in your movement, and then there are (in this order of helpfulness): Active Allies, Passive Allies, Neutrals, Passive Opposition, Active Opposition. You can’t talk someone who is actively opposing you into changing their mind. A waste of time. The best place for your efforts are 1) mobilizing the Active Allies 2) Getting the Passive Allies to understand the need for action 3) Getting the Neutrals to see what is going on. The newer, net native population is better able to see more clearly and learn more easily.

      1. Gotham Gal

        This is great

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Great share.

    3. Kirsten Lambertsen

      +100 to that. My guiding principle going into middle age is to never join the ranks of those who need to die in order for progress to be made.

      1. awaldstein

        good line.

  3. lisa hickey

    GREAT question. Let me try answering it directly. “What does it take not to be tone deaf?”– People need to understand that an abuse of power is the interconnecting thread of everything coming out right now. We need to use those words more often. Sexism is abuse. Racism is abuse. Homophobia is abuse. Misogyny is abuse. We need to stop dismissing and minimizing the harm caused.– Next, there needs to be an understanding it’s not just individual abusers, but that systems have been created to allow abuse to happen on widespread, cultural and systemic levels. There is a difference between one person sexually harassing another and a systemic sexism which allows abusers in powerful positions to get away with serial abuse for so long.– Finally, people need to understand that media helps perpetuate the systems that allow abuse. “Tone deaf” is a great catch phrase for media that doesn’t seem to understand points one and two above. Why do we allow sexual abuse of cleaning people in hotels to happen? Because media tells us it’s “cute”. Why does systemic racism still exist in 2017? Because white people have been conditioned by media to believe they are the default race. Everyone else is an “other”. And they somehow don’t even notice the “all white” problem.The answer needs to be systemic in the same way the abuse is systemic, and it needs to address all of the above. And yes, abusive people in power need to be gotten out of power as quickly as possible.

    1. LE

      Curioius what you think of this (NBC new policy):https://jezebel.com/nbc-rep…that all employees are now required to report any “inappropriate relationships” they see—a workplace version of “if you see something, say something,” if you will. Furthermore, employees who see something and do not say something could be fired for not “snitching” on their colleagues.(I don’t know if this is true btw but let’s say it is for the purpose of the question).

      1. Gotham Gal

        Just read. Utterly absurd. Talk about tone deaf.

      2. lisa hickey

        Wow. Agree it is absurd. Like I said, it is the *abuse* of power which is problematic. And firing people for not snitching sounds like an abuse of power. Here’s why. People who are abusing power are abusers. They will continue to abuse anyone who stands in their way. That means people who snitch. There will always be consequences. On the other hand, fully consensual relationships between adults really aren’t anyone else’s business. What IS important is that people support victims who stand up. That is the important part. That is why it is tone deaf. It does not understand the nuances of abuse, consent, and support of victims.

  4. pointsnfigures

    Ads were in the can months ago. Instead of killing them, they probably saw it as a sunk cost and calculated that more women would like to see Ronaldo traipsing around in his underwear than wouldn’t. I haven’t watched a lot of TV but a lot of the ads are a bit tone deaf to a lot of things these days. Public opinion moves a lot faster, and is more akin to sand than a real foundation. I am still amazed at some of the ads from the 50s 60s and 70s. They couldn’t be made today. Movies like Blazing Saddles could not be made today.

  5. Elizabeth Spiers

    I got an email from Caldbeck after I complained about the Duke talk on Twitter (https://www.wired.com/story… ) and I was floored not just by the tone deafness but by how apparent it is that he really can’t fathom that consequences for his behavior might be long term or permanent. Which tells you what he thinks about the seriousness of his actions. There are men who are in jail right now for sexual assault who are not wealthy white guys like Caldbeck, and not only does he think he should just get a short time out from the industry, he views it as an opportunity to be leveraged into professional expertise as an authority on how to make the industry better for women. (And who would be a better authority on that? Any woman anywhere, for starters. But Caldbeck trying to do it is like Harvey Weinstein offering to teach a course on feminist film making.)

    1. Gotham Gal

      Why does this not surprise me? Beyond