playboy.jpgTrying to inspire workers to fight against real workplace or societal inequities can be an uphill battle. But complain about how women, minorities, or the disabled are depicted in TV shows, rap songs and movies, and you get a tidal wave of soldiers ready to charge against the entertainment industry.

I’m not saying such fights are useless, but sometimes they may end up reaping few rewards when it comes to discrimination in this country.

Recently, I’ve been getting tweets and emails of outrage from parents of disabled kids about what they see as slurs in the media; and today the big hubbub is feminist icon Gloria Steinem’s call for a boycott of a Playboy TV show. steinem.jpgThey’re all angry over how certain individuals are depicted and what’s said about them, but is their anger misguided, or better directed elsewhere?

mathers.jpgThis came from Gretchen Mather, whose adorable son Julian has Down Syndrome:

Can u spread word? 1st @GQ, now @UniversalPics We must #STOPDISABILITYSLURS! #thechangeup #downsyndrome

What she’s talking about are two things that have gotten advocates of the disabled angry recently. One was a GQ fashion article on the worst dressed cities in America. The piece singled out Boston for its shabby fashion sense, saying:

“Boston suffers from a kind of Style Down Syndrome, where a little extra ends up ruining everything.”

There was an outpouring of anger in the comments of the story and throughout the web, and eventually the magazine’s editors took out the line.

Then came the movie, “The Change Up,” with yet another tasteless line. Mather wrote about it in a blog post:

In one scene in the beginning of the movie, Ryan Reynolds who plays a bachelor who has never settled down, visits his long-time friend Jason Bateman; he sees his twins in their high chairs and says, “Why aren’t they talking – what are they retarded?” I thought that was offensive enough but then he says, “And this one, he looks Downsy”.

If this was a slur against blacks or gays those who are Jewish or any other group – would you let this happen? Would Hollywood think this is OK? No, it would not be. We need to send the message in our society that this is NOT OK.

Another message that’s getting ridicule is the one the new NBC show “The Playboy Club.” may be sending.

Steinmen doesn’t want any of us watching it. She told Reuters that:

“Clearly ‘The Playboy Club’ is not going to be accurate. It was the tackiest place on earth. It was not glamorous at all,” Steinem told Reuters in an interview.

Steinem, one of America’s leading crusaders for women’s rights for 40 years, went undercover to work as a Bunny at the New York City Playboy Club in 1963 and wrote a ground-breaking expose about the onerous conditions for women who worked there.

“When I was working there and writing the expose, one of the things they had to change because of my expose was that they required all the Bunnies, who were just waitresses, to have an internal exam and a test for venereal disease,” she said.

I think it’s great that she exposed a real-life injustice that women were enduring, but The Playboy Club is a fictitious show.

As a result of these clearly impassioned and strong women’s efforts, I’m sure many people will choose to boycott the show, the magazine, and the movie as a result, but what about the real biases employees face in the workplace?

Pepsi and Verizon both recently settled discrimination suits charging that they would not accommodate and fired disabled workers. And Walmart recently faced the biggest gender bias lawsuit in our nation’s history.

How many of you are boycotting Pepsi, Verizon or Walmart?

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