Being locked in our homes during the Coronavirus pandemic, many people have turned to streamed content for some form of entertainment. The aptly timed release of the docuseries Tiger King has taken popular culture by storm. While there is a great variety of cultures and identities featured in the show, I will focus on the power relationship between Joe Exotic and his husbands and employees. Joe Exotic being a very peculiar man, surrounds himself with a very specific group of people. Throughout the season, we come to understand that most of his husbands and employees are down on their luck, outsiders. The town sheriff told us that if someone gets off the bus in town and noticeably had no place to go, Joe Exotic will offer them a place to stay and a job at his Zoo. By doing so, Joe gives hope to these lost souls and instantly becomes a provider figure for them. His employees show their appreciation by being incredible loyal to him. This is demonstrated clearly when one employee loses her arm due to a tiger attack and returns to work in less than a week. This dynamic can be related to the Master-Slave dialect. Joe holds a great deal of power over his employees due to their desperate situations and they are subject to his wishes and commands.
Another example of Joe holding power over people in a vulnerable position is his relationship with his husbands. The two that were featured most prevalently on the show both met the middle-aged Joe Exotic when they were only 19. They were not gay but rather entered a romantic relationship with Joe because he provided them meth which they were both addicted to. Again, Joe found people in desperate situations and ultimately benefited from their vulnerabilities. However, it is clear that Joe did not feel that he was committing any injustice. He was providing his employees a place to live, a job, and a group of people who identified with them. This was a great second chance for many people who likely felt that life had given up on them. He also gave his husbands a stable relationship, and provided for all their needs, including a reliable way to satisfy their addiction. Due to their dependence on him for meth, the husbands have become subalterns and unable to challenge Joe in the hierarchy that he built.
While Joe does not see anything wrong with actions, many viewers considered his behavior to be extortionist. By being the sole source of housing, income, and community, he holds a great power over these people. This forces them to accept unsafe working conditions, substandard housing conditions, and possibly unwanted sexual activities. I think that the creators of this series want the viewers to realize how people in desperate situations will endure terrible treatment in exchange for basic necessities and a sense of common identity. However, I think that this series was more focused on sensationalism than invoking questions of power and injustice.
My Diary of Systemic Injustices entry that I would like to showcase is about the recent changes to gender specific programs benefiting women at The Ohio State University. The University recently made eight of the nine gender exclusive programs open to all students. This came after a complaint filed by Mark Perry of the University of Michigan with the Cleveland Office of Civil Rights. Perry claimed that these programs were in violation of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination by educational institutions based on sex.
In my original entry, I focused on that fact that these programs denied males impactful educational opportunities strictly due to their sex. Some examples of these programs are the Summer Engineering Camp for Middle School Girls, and the Critical Difference Development Grants. Not only are males excluded from these opportunities, but the existence of these programs imply that women need extra help to succeed in that same areas where males are expected to succeed without the additional assistance.
For this showcase, I would like to elaborate on the language of Title IX, specifically regarding the exceptions made in the law. Title IX does not apply to gender discriminatory programs that offer “remedial or affirmative action,” or whose purpose is “to overcome the effects of conditions which resulted in limited participation therein by persons of a particular sex.” Critics of OSU’s decision to change these programs in response to Perry’s complaint argue that this language makes these programs legal. I believe this to be the case and find this a fascinating example of how sometimes providing programs exclusively to one gender can be a solution to systemic injustice, not the cause. Many of my other entries were about systemic injustices against women, and these programs were possibly the most direct effort to end these systemic injustices of all the examples I used.
I think this draws a strong parallel with our reading of MLK Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. MLK Jr. argues that slow change and progress is not adequate, and that oppressed people must fight and make their voices heard in order to effect real change. I think that these programs do exactly this, recognizing that women have repeatedly undervalued and underrepresented within our institutions, and take action to make sure that is not the case in the future. Below I have linked two articles regarding the complaint, the complaint itself, and Title IX.
The Lantern Article
College Fix Article
The story of missionary work in colonial Africa begins with The Age of Discovery. This is a period where European powers set their sights on exploring the world. This was the start of a global economy, and colonialism. The British colonized many nations including Nigeria in order to exploit native labor and natural recourses beginning in the 1700’s (Reviews). Their justification for colonization was that they were providing better education and healthcare to the natives (Nigeria – Influence). Another primary justification for colonization was for missionary work. Today, Christianity is criticized in the context of Colonialism because the it was used to justify Colonialism. The British, along with many other European empires, pillaged these counties of resources, engaged in human trafficking of the native people, and exploited their labor in the collection of these resources.
Missionaries attempted to convert as many native people as possible to Christianity. This affect of this works is still apparent today where nearly half of Nigerians are Christian (Nigeria – United). Different denominations of Christianity divided the Nation into their own spheres of influence in order not to compete with each other. Among the Igbo, Catholic missionaries were particularly present. In fact, the British were successful in largely eliminating common practices in Nigeria of human sacrifice and the killing of infant children. The missionaries felt that spreading the gospel to these people was of great importance, and actively tried to erase their beliefs in Polytheism. British missionaries even promoted the Natives into leadership positions within the church. In fact, the British missionaries were successful in largely eliminating common practices in Nigeria of human sacrifice and the killing of infant children.
The Christian missionaries of the Colonial Age worked in very different ways from the missionaries of today. They believed that converting native people to Christianity was of such dire importance that they felt justified in forcibly and violently converting them. This did much damage not only to those directly impact by the hostility, but to the generations of lost culture and tradition of native religions all across Africa.
Nigeria – Influence of the Christian Missions, countrystudies.us/Nigeria/14.htm
“Nigeria – United States Department of State.” U.S. Department of State, https://www.state.gov/countries-areas/nigeria/
Reviews in American History: A Quarterly Journal of Criticism. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1973. Print