I was offline most of Friday evening, and when I came back online I saw there was a huge eruption over at Americablog. I’m trying to piece together what the heck happened, and jotting down some thoughts here, “thinking aloud,” so bear with me…
1. John writes a post on the stupidity and cowardice of Kansas Rethug Sen. Pat Roberts. Roberts appears to have no problem torching the First or Fourth Amendments as long as he’s safe at home saying:
“I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties,” Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) remarked at yesterday’s Hayden confirmation hearings, “but you have no civil liberties if you are dead.”
2. John titles his post “GOP Senator Pat Roberts is a big girl“.
3. There is an eruption of massive proportions by commenters that this is a wholly sexist headline.
I have to agree with this, simply because I’ve never heard the phrase “big girl” used this way in all my homo years (do I have to turn my lesbian card in for failing gay vernacular?). I don’t see how you can interpret the use of “girl” in that headline as anything other than a derogatory usage, belittling and insulting half the population in an attempt to call out a wingnut knob-end on an important issue.
4. The whole matter is exacerbated by John deleting comments of those offended by the use of “big girl” as the thread grows to hundreds of comments long.
5. At some point in the fracas, the whole thread disappears and reappears, stripped of all the original comments, and the original topic of the post is never really discussed.
I can’t imagine what was going through his mind when he thought of using that phrase for his headline, but I think he could have gracefully saved the situation by simply admitting a brain fart. Geez, we’re all products of the same misogynist culture, and when we step in it, it’s probably better to fess up and move along, lessons learned. Mass deleting comments or a thread is the equivalent of trying to “take it all back,” which of course, only raises the temperature level even more for testy commenters on all sides of the issue. Oy.
Quite frankly, I probably open my mouth and insert my foot so many times in this space, with typos, grammatical miscues, and half-ass, sleep-deprived brain-dead commentary that you all probably deserve to knock me with a silly stick from time to time. I think in one post long ago, I was chastised in the comments for using the term “breeder,” which offended a few people. I was clueless about that, because I often use it with straight friends who aren’t offended in the least by this. It’s clearly not as big a land mine as the one John stepped on today, but the instant feedback of the blogosphere lets you know quickly if you’ve stepped on a mine.
I also remember both Russ and I got quite a bit of grief about our misogynist references to Ann Coulter in prior posts. The lowlife voice of the right deserves a lot of grief and criticism because she is a bigot, plagiarist and right wing buzzsaw, but I can insult her royally without calling her a bed-worn b*tch, for instance. It made me think about my implicit biases/internalized misogyny, etc. Blogging can really be a messy affair, since (for me anyway) it’s often a brain-dump of random thoughts, occasional reporting, rants, and chatting. Everyone has room to learn — and unlearn.
How one cleans up a mess like this generally leaves the greatest impression on folks, so on that front, John could either let the thread roll off into the archives with the issue unaddressed, or say it was truly a foot-in-mouth issue that unnecessarily damaged the power of the original post’s intention and be done with it. I guess a third option is to defend the use of “big girl” in that headline, but man, I can’t fathom how to spin that one with any success.
Oy, I’m sleepy. I’ll leave it to you all to dissect and comment.