This article may contain controversial opinions, though respectfully submitted with the intent of casting light into the murky waters of gender inequality and political correctness. Please note the author recognizes that there are ripples in her own reflection, and with continued diligence works toward not seeing through the glass, darkly.
She’s funny, she really is! Who couldn’t love that infectious smile, her quirky dance moves and rapid-fire timing, not to mention her incredible generosity on the show - all with corporate sponsors’ money, of course.
I used to love watching Ellen Degeneres despite there being areas in which we just don’t see eye to eye. I can still appreciate her talents and how she shares them with the world without being simpatico on all counts. I respect her as a person though we disagree. That's called tolerance. But here’s the rub: I don't like double standards.*
I started to question the wisdom of watching her show years ago when her blatant sexism became apparent. You may or may not have noticed depending on how long you’ve been tuned in. Why guests tolerated her often disparaging sexist remarks I could never understand, but even more so her former deejay, Tony Okungbowa. The first time he was pictured in a tiny Speedo in some “humorous” picto-collage for the audience's entertainment, I confess, I was mildly amused. But when it happened over and over again, almost on a daily basis, I began to see it for what it was. Tony was being objectified.
I turned off my set.
Ah... but he was well paid, and most likely on board with it, you may argue. Maybe so, but how is that any different from what misogynists often claim? The problem lies in wanting to have it both ways. You can’t justify your own questionable behavior while vilifying someone else’s — at least, not without being hypocritical — and expect it to go unnoticed forever. Case in point: How many people knew about the Harvey Weinstein "issue" for years, and yet, turned a blind eye because it didn't affect them personally? It still came out, and found them culpable. And now? People - women in particular - are crawling out of the woodwork with decades-old accusations of impropriety without a care for the ripples they are creating. How many of them never even cared about Ellen objectifying people - or at least, not until the #metoo movement, and that one tweet about Katy Perry's breasts that got more media attention - and far fewer repercussions - than deserved?
Double standards are evident all over this country - in the workplace, on the street, in entertainment, you name it. Bigotry exists and sexism is rampant, but it cannot be rectified simply by dishing out more of the same, or by allowing the abused to become abusers.
Every day it seems another high-profile male figure is beset with accusations - whether true or false - of sexual misconduct in the workplace. Who was in the news recently adding her accusations about actor Steven Segal? Ellen's life partner, Portia. Double standard? She isn't the only one. Many who are still laughing at Ellen’s sexist remarks in public are maligning others' characters over things said or done in private years ago. How many of us blindly accepted Mr. Okungbowa — a man of color — being ogled as a plaything on national television, and yet cheer as yet another male celebrity is brought low for their indiscretion? Ellen, because she is a woman and a gay one at that, is basically untouchable except for a few conservatives' tweets. Why isn't she being held accountable? #doublestandard
As someone with her own #metoo story, I certainly don't hold with the "boys will be boys" justification for misogynistic behavior. I don't applaud crudeness in anyone: myself, my family members, my political leaders, or politically correct celebrities. My values don't change depending on who is in front of me, and wrong doesn't become right just because it is popular. But jumping into this tidal wave to bring down men who may have already radically changed their behavior since their infractions is pure spite. It is a "heads must roll" mentality that seeks punishment beyond the scope of the crime. How certain are we that those making such accusations are blameless, if not personally, then at least in what they condone? As Matt Lauer leaves in disgrace, are the female Today Show hosts forgetting their own lewd comments, say, toward the Australian Fire Fighters calendar crew? They definitely weren't ogling the puppies as much as the shirtless men in that segment. So why aren't they being called out?
In this culture of sound bites and journalists who seem to want to make news more than to report it, we suck up our personalized news feeds and spew out opinion and accusations uncaring of who gets hurt, as long as it isn’t us. We are being divided into unbreachable camps - Liberals vs. Conservatives, black vs. white, and now women vs. men. Instead, we should be finding the common ground of decency. If we say we are against intolerance, sexism, racism, etc., why aren't we always against it? How can we even make the claim unless we are consistent?
Let’s be reasonable. We’ve got to start thinking, stop overreacting, and respond appropriately.
I hung in there with Ellen until her own actions proved themselves, giving her the benefit of doubt, and then, when I could no longer do so, acted without hyperbolic fanfare. I bring her up now just as a case in point. Harvey Weinstein had years to prove what he's made of, and now it's catching up with him. It always does. In the meantime, let's not justify Ellen just because she's PC. If it's not funny when the horny gander squawks, stop laughing at the gay goose.
If you’re offended by these remarks, I am truly sorry. We are all offended by something these days. This is my opinion, and in this country I am still entitled to it. Yours may differ, but if you’re touting “love and respect EVERYONE”, then do so! Don’t be a hypocrite. That doesn't look good on anyone.
I am not out to harm Ellen's reputation, rather, because I believe she is someone of conscience she will come to the realization on her own. I found her little speech on the #metoo movement online while researching, and applaud her for it. If she's sincere about acknowledging sexual abuse/harassment as a human problem, not just a male problem, she'll recognize that she has been part of it and try to make amends - especially to Mr. Okungbowa. And, if she does, I just might just start watching again.
*For the record (lest someone tries to call me out on it) I have several LGBTQ friends and family members, lovely people all, who respect my religious beliefs and freedoms as much as I respect theirs. Holding sacramental marriage as beyond redefinition does not mean I would wish to inflict a solitary existence upon anyone, anymore than that they should insist I embrace a gay lifestyle for myself. Civil unions were created to legitimize domestic relationships that fall outside of the complementarity of lifelong heterosexual partnerships, not to debase them. A recipe with twice the salt, while possibly pleasing, is not the same as one with both salt and pepper, no matter how much you wish it to be. It is our differences that make us what we are, and how we blend them that make us into something new - and hopefully better. Let's try to remember that in our wonderfully blended culture before we lose our flavor.