More Women’s Voices: A Plea for a Dixie Chicks Comeback

The Dixie Chicks need to make a comeback.

Promotional photo from the MTS Centre website (2013)

Promotional photo from the MTS Centre website (2013)

Forget the fact that only four of the 100 top songs in the 2014 Billboard year-end songs were performed by women or all-female acts.

Forget the fact that the Chicks are still the biggest selling all-female band with 30.5 million certified albums sold, and sales of 27.4 million albums in the U.S. alone. Forget that they are the biggest selling country group ever. Forget that the majority of Americans adopted their anti-war stance after nearly 7,000 Americans lost their lives in Iraq and a dozen long, conscious-numbing years have passed since their great “crime” of speaking out against invading Iraq.

This plea isn’t about music, or the void their absence on the music scene has created. It certainly isn’t about politics, or how even free speech can be drowned out by the clamor of the free market.

This is about reminding women that what they say matters – especially when what they say is true, honest and unpopular.

Women are the toughest people on the planet.

Petr David Josek/Associated Press

In 2014, the Canadian women won hockey gold in Russia.  (Petr David Josek/Associated Press)

They rise to the top with weights on their feet. They earn less money despite deserving more of it. They are sexualized, objectified, belittled, compared, divided, ignored and still make beautiful music and scientific discoveries, create masterpieces and children, win national titles and Olympic medals, stay up all night with vomiting toddlers and get up in the morning to do it again.

They are beaten, raped and victims of domestic homicide anywhere from four to six times more than men, but are still the only ones on the planet who can bring life into the world and who spend more time than anyone else nurturing that life.

There are a million ways to go about solving problems. The first way, however, is to ensure the problem is brought to light. Injustices can only be fought with truth and bravery.

The truth cannot be revealed for it not for the brave. The brave sing the truth in the face of adversity. The brave live the truth so others do not have to endure its ugliness. The brave speak the truth when no one believes.

512PJJ2XSPLIn 2006, the Dixie Chicks’ created their last studio album. Its lyrics oozed of their anger and frustration. Its melodies perfectly described what was happening to them as the country music industry turned on them when they needed it most. Their fans burned their CDs in acts of blind patriotism and ignorant masculinity.

That album was true and brave.

The band released a documentary of the making of that album and the disappointing tour that followed. The documentary, called “Shut Up and Sing,” showed everyone why they were about to understandably disappear from the limelight – they were angry. They had families and children to protect. They were fed up.

Dixie-Chicks-Shut-Up-And-Sing-posterIn that film, they spoke of their anger, their frustration, their insecurities and their successes. Then, they disappeared.

It has been nearly a decade. They’ve toured a little in Canada and Europe, embarked on some crafty side projects, including Natalie Maines’ solo album from 2013.

But, their absence has created a void in American culture that is begging to be filled.

I implore them – do it now. Come back.

Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea and ke$ha can speak to their audiences – all while choosing boys as opening acts and encouraging everyone to have a night they won’t remember – but someone needs to sing to the young women who are playing with matches. Someone needs to come in and show them how to light the fire that burns of bravery and truth.

We need more bravery and truth.

Why does the feeling that nothing can be done silence them? Why does the idea that no one will believe them shut them up? How does the notion that it’s better off to not to make waves push the brave into submission and eliminate truth?

If silence and complacency are tools of the oppressors, why are young women so well equipped to use those tools on themselves?

Dammit — Natalie, Martie and Emily — give them the music again.

Help us equip these women with bravery and truth.

Help us show them wide, open spaces. Let them hear that a cowboy can take them away, but still know that abusive husbands can get theirs, too. Put them on a sin wagon, or tell them they don’t have to be ready to make nice. Let them hear you describe heartache. Let them hear you hope.

Public service announcements are not enough. Actress crying on the TV screen just show young women that even those unafflicted can’t speak about it. My God, you must have to have so much to say these days – sing it for them!

My nieces are 6 and 4. The statistical likelihood that one of them is raped is overwhelming. The chance that one of them is hit by a man is one in three. The idea that a teacher, coach, colleague or boss harasses or bullies them is a foregone conclusion.

My students are 18 through 23. They are living these statistics now.

We can’t teach strength and self-worth, but we can sure try to inspire it. We can’t force bravery and truth, but we need to try to get more of it out there.

When we do great things, we want people to know about it to inspire others – even if it is just one other person.

Shouldn’t we feel the same about the shitty stuff? Shouldn’t we want people to know about it to save someone else – even if it is just one person?

Come back, Dixie Chicks. We need inspiration and saving. It is a monumental responsibility. Certainly too big for one band.

So, what if all of us chipped in? A little more bravery, a little more truth?

Sing the opening refrain. We’ll join in for the chorus again.

Introducing Your Professor: Molly Yanity

Welcome to my website, JRN 504DE.

I will be using this site, on occasion, to show off some of the results of using multimedia tools. It’s nothing you have to check on the regular, and I will direct you to a link as necessary.

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Can we teach sports journalists to care? I think so

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 12.25.36 PMSports journalists are tasked with considerably more than Xs and Os.

We cover everything from labor strife to domestic violence, sexual violence to racial tensions.

But, like most in our audience, we seem to forget about the ramifications of these big, cultural issues as soon as the game starts, or as quickly as another topic catches our attention.

I think one of the biggest challenges of sports journalism educators is to literally “train” students to care and to show it in their work.

My column, published on PBS MediaShift, discusses how I think we can do this.

On Ray Rice, Domestic Violence & the NFL: “Hyper-masculinity wrapped in this profit-making machine” – me on FOX CT


Janay and Ray Rice from a May 2014 news conference. (Patrick Semansky / AP photo)

Though this post is mostly self serving — I need a place from which to link this video — I do so in the hopes that sports and media fans get a chance to watch, as well.

Discussing Ray Rice, Domestic Violence & the NFL on FOX CT’s “The Real Story” (aired Sept. 15, 2014)

Clearly, this issue is not over. The NFL does not get to wave off this flag, especially in light of the latest arrest of an NFL star, Adrian Peterson, who is accused of beating his son.

My PBS MediaShift debut: Sports journalism programs

MediaShift is a PBS endeavor that attempts to guide its audience through the “digital media revolution.”

Its editor, Mark Glaser, has put together a stable of educators, professionals and thinkers that are focusing on issues in legacy and digital media, while attempting to unearth and develop ideas in innovation, entrepreneurship, education, ethics, as well as technology.

Glaser asked me to weigh in on new — and old — topics in sports journalism. To me, this includes sports media education, too.

Sports Journalism Programs Rise, But Can They Take the High Road?” is the first post, published on MediaShift’s website Tuesday, Sept. 2.

I’ll publish links to the articles/columns here, but you can also find it by following @PBSMediaShift, @PBSIdeaLab or by searching #EdShift.


Shaw, Sarkisian & Trouble in College Football — again

To talk about the Josh Shaw/USC story, I will be on “Voices of the Game” with Newy Scruggs on NBC Sports Radio today at 12:18 p.m. ET.


You can listen [to the recorded segment] here.

We learned yesterday that Shaw’s tale of heroics was a lie and that the athletics department — and head football coach Steve Sarkisian — is brushing it aside to focus on football. I find this to be funny since they are the ones who initially told the story.

My blog post on the situation is available here. I wrote it before it had been revealed that Shaw’s story was not true, but as the coaching staff was “vetting” it. In my opinion, the coaching staff should have never given the story to its communications staff to begin with — and, from what I have observed of how Sarkisian and his minions operate, I do not doubt that is what happened.

Listen in today. I’m excited to talk with Newy again.

If Josh Shaw’s story is a lie, this is not just on the sports media, but on USC, Sarkisian

This is not as simple as getting our facts correct.

 Of course, if even one reporter had insisted that a story on the team’s website wasn’t enough verification, we wouldn’t be here.

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 7.21.10 PM

The cover of shows Josh Shaw less than 24 hours after a story on USC’s website revealed a heroic action performed by the newly anointed team captain. []

If even one journalist had questioned someone – anyone – beyond the people in the athletic department, or the football office, or the athlete himself, we wouldn’t be here.

But, how often do we doubt the head coach? How often do we contest the word of the athletic director? Or that of the sports information director?

OK, it happens on occasion. And what happens then? Sometimes we see a coach throwing an on-camera tantrum directed at a reporter. Maybe we hear about a sports editor getting a phone call.

Whatever happened to Josh Shaw’s ankles is being called Manti Teo Part II. USC coach Steve Sarkisian is “vetting” it. And, suddenly, neither Shaw nor his family is available for comment.

On the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 25, Jordan Moore – USC’s director of social media – posted a story explaining that defensive back Josh Shaw’s two sprained ankles were the result of a heroic plunge off a balcony to save Shaw’s nephew.

Sarkisian spoke to the media about it. Shaw spoke to the media about it.  And the media took them at their words.

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