Swedish racist cakes to Rosen-Romney spin: Week in politics

This week featured several political assaults on women & families that ranged from the ridiculous to the offensive, from racist cakes to examples of wasteful spending and fraud. How are families to keep up? Photo: PONTUS RAUD/VIA YOUTUBE

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2012 — From offensive cakes to violent rhetoric to mom assaults, the past week has been brimming with some egregious examples of people saying and doing some pretty offensive things that impacted women with children and families. There must be something in the water. The assailant list is long. Where to start?

Assailants: Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, Culture Minister of Sweden and Artist Makode Aj Linde.  

Over the weekend, Liljeroth attended a social function full of mainly white Swedish elite celebrating International World’s Art Day. She was presented with, and asked to be the first to slice a cake of a caricature of an African woman. In place of a head made out of cake, the cake’s Afro-Swede creator, artist Makode Aj Linde rested his face, in “blackface” make up, where the head would go. As Liljeroth cut the area of the cake that Linde said represented the woman’s “genitalia”, Linde screamed in feigned agony. The celebration was to highlight extreme examples of art and the cake cutting was to represent “clitoridectomy,” a practice of excising the clitoris and genitalia that is still widely practiced in many African country on young girls as a rite of passage in order to numb her sexual senses, prepare her for and make her thought suitable for marriage.

In a YouTube video of the event posted on Facebook, widely circulated and sparking outrage, Liljeroth appears noticeably disturbed and uncomfortable by the artistic installation. Yet, she forgoes speaking out against the grotesque, demeaning and very racist exhibit and leaving the function. Instead, she is seen smiling and even feeding the artist cake.  

Linde failed miserably in his disturbing attempt to be controversial and call attention to a serious problem. Instead, the “artwork” and the outcry it is causing have overshadowed any well-meaning attempt to illuminate the plight of genitally mutilated women worldwide. There’s a good way to call attention to a cause and then there is a bad way to do it. Guess which this was? Meanwhile, Liljeroth displayed a wanton absence of hubris and common sense. She failed to express some disappointment at the display and stand up for the blatant inappropriate racist caricature of a large segment of her country’s population and for young girls and women who have suffered through genital mutilation.

Facebook

Liljeroth has denied the exhibit was racist. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Stockholm police had to respond to bomb threats made on the museum that housed the cake.

Assailant: The Hilary Rosen spin doctors.  

Last Wednesday, longtime Democratic strategist, lobbyist and pundit Hilary Rosen criticized Mitt Romney for suggesting that he relies on his wife’s input on women’s economic concerns by saying Romney’s wife Ann “hasn’t worked a day in her life.” That night, the mom-of-5, who raised the couple’s five sons while battling Multiple Sclerosis and later surviving breast cancer, set up a Twitter account to defend her choice to be a stay-at-home mom. 

Rosen’s remarks forced the Obama administration and other notable Democratic leaders to distance themselves from the statements and demand she apologize, which she did, but not before ushering in yet another round in this gender culture battle that has been a new yet steady issue in politics of late. 

Perhaps worse than just devaluing the work of stay-at-home moms, Rosen and her supporters also mistakenly presumed that only wealthy and conservative women opt to stay home. Around the nation, millions of moms of lower to middle class backgrounds elect to stay home with their children, often without relying on welfare or government support. They simply cut back on extravagant expenses, vacations, homes and cars and sacrifice so they can survive on one salary. Women from various socioeconomic, racial and cultural backgrounds recognize the value of being able to stay home and raise their children, especially in their early years.

Assailant: Jeffrey Neely, the acting commissioner of the GSA’s Pacific Rim region.

Was it something in the water which caused Neely to permit his wife, who does not work for the GSA, to do most of the planning of a organize an extravagant $823,000 Las Vegas retreat? News is now surfacing that Deborah accompanied her husband on expensive trips to Hawaii, Guam and other exotic locations for events, sometimes wearing the name badge of and posing as a government co-worker. An investigation showed that 115 electronic devices purchased for GSA prize ceremonies were missing, and one was traced to a daughter of Neely. Meanwhile, many American taxpayers are suffering under a recovering economy with women and families arguably bearing a lot of the brunt of the downturn.

All this went down or unsurfaced in a week, is still unraveling and will have long-lasting implications on the ongoing dialogue and possibly the November US presidential elections. Like a modern day soap opera, as politics twist and turn, families have to keep up and be aware of how it all affects their lives. 

Read more Politics of Raising Children in The Communities at the Washington Times. Follow Jeneba Ghatt at @JenebaSpeaksHer work can also be read at JenebaSpeaks and Politic365.  She also co-hosts a Blog Talk Radio show called Right of Black which tackles current events and politics from a perspective not often seen in the mainstream media.


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Jeneba Ghatt
Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt is a former journalist turned lawyer turned citizen journalist. Currently, she manages her boutique communications law firm, where she has represented small businesses and nationally-recognized civil and consumer rights organizations before the United States Supreme Court, federal courts and the FCC. She also covers the White House and US Congress for the online news site Politic365.com while authoring her own influential blog JenebaSpeaks.com which is frequently accessed by top policy makers and think tanks, and the investment community. JenebaSpeaks.com focuses on the intersection of politics and technology and reports on policies and rules in the communications and tech sector.
 
Before opening her law firm, The Ghatt Law Group, which was the first communications firm owned by women and minorities, Jeneba regulated Comcast and Starpower as the Assistant General Counsel for the District of Columbia's Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications, and at one point was the only communications regulatory attorney in the entire city. She is founding member and policy chair for a new trade association, the National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs and provides advice and counsel to new businesses in the tech industry, particularly small businesses owned by women and minorities.

Born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, but raised in the United States by her Catholic mom and Muslim dad, she started her college career creating web content for one of the earliest websites in history while working part time for the University of Maryland's Office of Technology. Following her graduation from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, she founded and co-wrote one of the earliest blogs and since then has gone on to found and author six different widely read and influential blogs. She was one of only 22 writers and bloggers to attend the first White House summit for African American media.
 
She holds a Certificate in Communications Law Studies from Catholic; a Juris Doctor from there as well, and a Master of Law in advocacy degree from the Georgetown University Law Center where she first taught and lectured as a Staff Attorney and Graduate fellow at that law school's Institute for Public Representation. She later went on to teach Media Law at the University of Maryland at College Park and guest lecture at Yale Law School and Penn State University, College of Telecommunications. She is well skilled and versed with social media and manages several Twitter, Facebook, Linked In accounts and groups.
 
She sits on the board of several non profits and trade associations.

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