- Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
Sure, it's too early to talk about a legacy for President Obama, but nominating David Ogden for Deputy Attorney General may be a sign post pointing the direction of part of his legacy. Ogden has legally defended all kinds of pornography in the past. According to Matthew Schmitz of The Public Discourse.com, "Completing a sort of multi-media grand slam, Ogden has sued to allow sexually-explicit content to be transmitted over the phone. Taking this quest to its absurd limits, he has even claimed in court that there is a constitutional right for pornography to be kept in firehouses."
Ogden also helped write a brief applying racketeering laws to pro-life demonstrators. So smut is a constitutional right while speaking up for women's health and children's wellbeing is racketeering, according to Ogden.
I give this a post on our fine, considered, literary (and sword-fighting) blog because of the free speech angle of Ogden's nomination, but after a little thought on it, I start wonder at the irony of the civil rights achievement in Mr. Obama's election and the civil wrongs defended by people in his political party, particularly by Mr. Ogden. Let me ask an ugly question . . . what is pornography's impact on black women?
Dr. David Pilgrim, a professor of sociology at Ferris State University, wrote in 2002 that black women have been stereotyped as lascivious since 1630. Today, he said, "the Jezebel has replaced the Mammy as the dominant image of Black women in American popular culture. The Black woman as prostitute, for example, is a staple in mainstream movies, especially those with urban settings." He gives many examples in his essay, noting that black men and women as prostitutes is supposed to give movies a realistic edge.
Small budget pornographic movies reinforce vile sexual stereotypes of Black women. These women are willing, sometimes predatory, sexual deviants who will fulfill any and all sexual fantasies. Their sexual performances tap into centuries-old images of Black women as uninhibited whores. Televised music videos, especially those by gangsta rap performers, portray scantily clad, nubile Black women who thrust their hips to lyrics which often depict them as ‘hos, skeezers, and bitches. A half century after the American civil rights movement, it is increasingly easy to find Black women, especially young ones, depicted as Jezebels whose only value is as sexual commodities.Is this what Mr. Obama wants to defend with his justice department? Will this be part of his legacy as an American president?