Please don't.

I like BitchPhD’s blog, and I’m sure I’ve linked to it many times over the years.

I think being an ally is sometimes hard. There’s a lot to keep track of. A lot to think about. Sometimes things seem gray or muddy. It can be hard. I really understand that. And there have been times when the people I’d like to be an ally of have made demands that seemed to me to be unfair, or to not consider my position or well-being at all, etc..

But this? This isn’t hard. It’s not hard at all. You just don’t blog the stupid, unfunny, bigoted, sexist, racist, anti-trans joke.

H/T: QT.

[Edited to add the word "racist." I managed to miss that bit the first time I read it.]

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28 Responses to Please don't.

  1. 1
    lilacsigil says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve felt crappy about this “joke” all day, and your post has prompted me to actually make a comment – and now I feel a bit better.

  2. 2
    Mandolin says:

    On the other hand, the comment thread is encouraging. Almost no one failed to note that the joke was transphobic.

    (Also: the racist bit? Yeah? A little bit? Yeah.)

  3. 3
    Emily says:

    AND, just overall buying in to the degredation of political women by using people who look like them to engage in sex acts and publicizing the photos. This is truly incredibly creepy to me as a feminist even without the additional transphobic aspect.

    I’ve never really understood why that blog is one of the “big” feminist blogs anyway.

  4. 4
    Tanglethis says:

    In addition to what both commentors above noted… it wasn’t even that funny.
    I meant the delivery was poor but I’m also just uncomfortable with the premise.

  5. 5
    L says:

    When I am in a good mood, I try to look at these situations as opportunities to point out to people why their jokes can be hurtful. We all have prejudices of some sort or another. Having them does not make one a bad person. Most people dont want to be hurtful to others nor do they want to hold negative stereotypes about other groups. I have found that even if people get defensive initially, usually they alter their behavior later on.

    When I am in a bad mood however, I just get angry which is less helpful.

  6. 6
    PG says:

    L,

    I think your good mood is the right attitude, but it’s hard to maintain in the face of something like Bitch, PhD’s saying in the comments that she knew people would complain about the anti-trans aspect of the joke. That means she’s not operating out of ignorance; she’s diong this deliberately and consciously. It’s like someone referring to Obama as a “negro” and saying, “Oh, I knew someone would complain about that.” You lose the “oops, I didn’t know that was offensive” defense. If you knew someone would complain, why do it unless you have a particular purpose? (And BPD hasn’t said what her purpose in being knowingly offensive was. It’s a rhetorical technique she’s used before, I think, but she’s usually made clear why she is.)

  7. 7
    Elizabeth Anne says:

    Bitch can be really, really, awesome. But she can also be so narrowly and self-focused that she has no idea how she sounds. Based on her “Oh FFS…” comment, we’re all about to get a dose of “but some of my best friends… ” and “I’ve written several articles on…”

    If I’m wrong, I’ll apologize.

  8. 8
    L says:

    PG. I know. It is hard to not get angry about such things especially when the person doesn’t seem to care about the feelings of others. I am dealing with this on another blog I read where the topic is United’s new “customer of size” policy. I keep getting really angry at the things people post and their general attitude which is pretty much, ” I know that what I am saying will offend this group and their allies but they deserve it because they are so gross”

    I just keep reminding myself that calmly stated facts are ultimately more effective in changing people’s thinking than foot stomping and screams of F-U ever will be even though the people involved certainly deserve the latter.

    Anyways, I only skimmed the comments over there so I cant really comment on them. But what I saw looked like a lot of mostly calm people pointing out why the joke was hurtful. That seems pretty positive

  9. 9
    PG says:

    Elizabeth Anne, she’s put up a new post that seems intended to explain why the joke is funny because it’s in the persona of someone who is a cliche Republican (sexist homophobic male) and it’s OK to make transphobic remarks in that persona because we all know BPD is really mocking the Republicans, not transfolk.

    So far, no one is buying it. Isn’t that the already-old stereotypical hipster move, when being called out for saying something that sounded awfully sexist/racist/etc., of saying, “Oh, but I was being ironic.”

    The new post concludes with one of the more extraordinary non-apology apologies I’ve seen lately:

    Clearly, transgenderism isn’t yet “mainstream” enough for folks (at least straight cis people like yours truly) to get away with that. Lesson learned. I apologize for posting the thing.

    So basically the people who were bothered by what sounded like transphobia are just showing how uncool they are by not accepting it as sufficiently “mainstream” to joke about?

  10. 10
    Jake Squid says:

    … it’s in the persona of someone who is a cliche Republican…

    Wow. Worst done joke I’ve seen in a loooong time. It totally fails to get across that it’s from a Repub cliche.

    This:

    Surely you’ve heard of this new wing-nutty form of protest; Teabagging Parties. Now I’m actually one that approves of taxes, in fact, I favor increasing some of them. I am however, deeply patriotic and a huge supporter of free speech, equally speech I don’t agree with and doubly so if that speech is mumbled into complete incomprehensibility by the judicious application of and occluding quality of my rather hefty testicles.

    This pretty much says the opposite. From the use of “wingnutty,” which I’ve never heard a Repub use to refer to their own crowd, to the last phrase, this clearly communicates that this is from somebody on the left. So either it was written (and then reposted on a blog) by somebody without the vaguest concept of how humor, or perhaps communication of ideas, works or the apology is a poor attempt to cover up. I know which one I think it is.

    I’d like to see an apology for lying in the initial apology.

  11. 11
    PG says:

    Jake Squid,

    I may have misinterpreted BPD, so please don’t base what she thinks she was doing on my comment. In comments to the apology post, which I hadn’t read when I posted above, she says, “Look. The conceit of a man looking for a woman he can teabag is gross. The entire thing is gross. The target wasn’t AC; it was the satiric persona (and by extension the teabaggers and the media personalities they worship).”
    Chingona pointed out in a reply comment that this doesn’t sound like a Republican: “Given that the “satiric persona” starts out by saying he supports paying taxes, there is no indication he’s supposed be conservative. It reads like Liberul Dood wants to shove his balls in Michelle Bachmann’s mouth. Seriously. The whole thing was fucked up from start to finish.”
    To which BPD replied by quoting “It reads like Liberul Dood wants to shove his balls in Michelle Bachmann’s mouth,” and adding “Exactly.”
    And chingona very reasonably replied, “And that’s supposed to be funny? Why is that funny?”

    It is of course absurd for me to be giving you the play-by-play, but the whole “I’m going to speak in the voice of X and say offensive things in that voice and then say I actually was mocking X” is something that seems so obviously fraught and easy to screw up, especially on the internet, that I’m bewildered as to why BPD did it and now is defending it.

  12. 12
    Jake Squid says:

    PG,

    I did go over there and read the second post. The post in which she writes:

    As I read it, the joke is that the Uber-Heteronormative Right is having freaking teabagging parties. The speaker, in the post, is an uber-heteronormative dude who’s all, ooh, I took out an ad trying to get a hottt Republican chick to let me teabag her! IOW, the speaker is a jerk who doesn’t get it. In keeping with Proper Conservative Values he’s gentlemanly and polite about it (George Will would be proud), but therein lies a big part of his cluelessness: the teabagging parties are not “civil” disobedience at all, they’re completely at odds with traditional umc Republicanism (before the libertarian freaks and the Norquisties took over), and traditional umc Republicanism is unequipped to deal with them.

    I think that your original description was on the mark as was my last comment.

    It really seems as if BPD is backpedalling in random directions to avoid apologizing for the offense she gave. Offense that her readers didn’t expect. So she writes that it was the persona of a Republican uber-heteronormative dude and then comments that the Republican persona is a liberal dude. It’s making no sense.

    And then she writes about threading the needle between apologizing for offending some people and refusing to apologize to other people who are themselves being offensive. No. Just apologize for being offensive.

  13. 13
    Elizabeth Anne says:

    Oops, I said i would apologize if I was wrong. And I was. It wasn’t “some of my best friends are… ” it was a “You just don’t get the joke.”

    My apologies for calling that one wrong.

  14. 14
    Jake Squid says:

    My apologies for calling that one wrong.

    You weren’t wrong, Elizabeth Anne. Check out the comments section of the second post.

  15. 15
    Elizabeth Anne says:

    DAMN! She did pull the “some of my best friends…”
    Do I get a cookie? Cuz pregnant lady would like a choco-cookie now.

  16. 16
    Myca says:

    Thanks for posting this, Amp. That post confused and frustrated me.

    —Myca

  17. I feel like I’m reading about the same-sex marriage debate. Why are there even two sides of this? I am as offended by this as I am by the idea that marriage requires a man and a woman.

    I’m really not sure what she’s trying to claim she’s presenting as representing her position here. Is she saying transphobia and transbashing is all right? Is she saying people who think antitax “tea parties” are weird are disgusting transphobic mysoginists? Did she actually run the post past her alleged transgender friends? She wasn’t clear about not endorsing the bigotry. Assuming she wasn’t.

  18. 18
    PG says:

    L @ 8,

    William Saletan has an interesting idea about the airline seat issue: why not offer the same options for width that we currently do for length? That is, several airlines now offer seats in rows that have more legroom than the others for a fairly small additional fee ($15 on JetBlue, I think). It helps to cut down on those damn Talls fidgeting their feet into other people’s space and kicking innocent halflings’ bags. Why not have some rows that offer wider seats for a slightly higher price?

  19. 19
    sanabituranima says:

    What, if anythng, was her point? I still can’t figure it out.

  20. 20
    Jake Squid says:

    I think her point was to convince her readers that she didn’t do anything wrong. It’s a failing that many of my favorite bloggers have. They can’t just admit to wrongness, apologize and move on. Sure, it feels terrible when people point out that you’ve done something bad. Embarassment, injury to self-image and generally shitty feelings about yourself ensue. But you really don’t make yourself look any better and, unless you’re good at self-righteousness, you don’ make yourself feel any better by making lame excuses.

    So I feel that her point is an effort in futility. Her image isn’t improved, she probably won’t feel any better about being called out and this will be remembered longer than if she had just issued an apology.

  21. 21
    chingona says:

    Everything I have to say about this I said over there. The only thing I’ll add is that I think the fact that this involves and implicates a third-party, who is a person she cares a lot about, really upped the level of defensiveness. I say that not to excuse or justify or ask anyone else to excuse or justify. Just to … I don’t know. I don’t think there is anything to understand or analyze, no “point” to get. She said what she said, and I really wish she hadn’t said it.

  22. 22
    Jake Squid says:

    chingona,

    And you said everything over there that I would have. Thanks.

  23. 23
    PG says:

    chingona,

    I definitely get why the involvement of a 3rd party she cares about would up the stakes for defending it all, but to me this is why you don’t ascribe views that you know your audience might disagree with to someone you care about unless you’re OK with someone’s saying, Gosh, your father-in-law sure was a racist. BPD just as well could have posted it as “saw this online today” without attributing it to her boyfriend, thus avoiding the red herring aspect of well some of the commenters said mean things about my boyfriend so I don’t want to apologize too sincerely.

    Eh, I guess it’s inevitable in highly personality-driven blogging where one’s own life is so much of what one blogs. That tends to make the blog more interesting and attract more readers, but also more fraught when the readers don’t like what they’re being shown.

  24. 24
    Kay Olson says:

    I did not think my amusement with teabagging Republicans could be killed. Turns out it could.

  25. 25
    Chris Clarke says:

    Thanks, Amp.

    And Mandolin, too. The “Ornamental” thing had me so furious I had to stop working for an hour or so, walk it off, shaking. My stomach still churns at it.

    I like Dr. B., have spent some time with her offline, and think her in almost every respect one of the best people I’ve ever met. It makes me crazy when I see good people dig themselves into holes they don’t need to dig.

  26. 26
    Jeff Fecke says:

    It’s hard to admit you’re wrong, but being a good ally requires it at times.

    During the 2008 campaign, I took to referring to John McCain as “Old Man Surge.” This was par for the course; most Republicans got nicknames, such as Mittens, 9/u11iani, Google Ron Paul — you know, sophomoric humor at its most mediocre.

    At one point, though, it was pointed out to me that my “Old Man Surge” nickname, as well as some other things I’d done, were ageist.

    Now, my first inclination was to resist. I wasn’t saying McCain was bad because he was old. I was saying he was really, really old. But…the implication was clear enough. And after walking away and cooling down, I realized I was being ageist, and that said more about me than it did about John McCain.

    And so I stopped calling McCain “Old Man Surge,” and started calling him “Angry McCranky,” which was just as sophomoric, but no longer aimed at McCain’s age, but his temperament.

    At any rate, I understand well BPD’s initial reaction to her post — her wanting to defend it, to argue that it wasn’t meant as mean-spirited, it wasn’t meant as transphobic, because she doesn’t want to view herself or her partner that way. But all of us harbor -isms; being an ally is understanding that one has racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic internalized beliefs because we’re marinating in this society, and whether we want to have these beliefs as part of us or not, they’re there. And so I’m utterly capable of being racist or sexist or homophobic or transphobic or all of the above — indeed, I’m capable of being so and not recognizing it in the moment.

    But when it’s pointed out, if you’re an ally, it’s on you to recognize your failure and try again — which is all anyone’s asking of BPD here. I hope that after another day of thinking about it, she’ll recognize that her initial defensive reaction was wrong, and hopefully, she can grow a bit because of this.

  27. 27
    AndiF says:

    Both those posts are such clusterfucks but they did serve a purpose for me — a very stark reminder of how I could go with the flow of ugliness and forget just what I’ve waded into. It’s sadly easy to do and it’s good — in an awful way — to get that jab in the side telling me that this is something I don’t ever want to be found doing. And my kudos to all those brave people who got in there and stood up to BPHD who is a really forceful personality to take on. I don’t know if people really got through to her but all those discussions have to reached some people. And I was particularly pleased to see M. Leblanc (who is the writer there I really like) take BPHD on; can’t be easy to argue with your blogmate.

  28. 28
    Mandolin says:

    “can’t be easy to argue with your blogmate.”

    Particularly in public.