Friday, May 19, 2006

Chapter 217: In Which My Righteous Indignation Results In Changes to My Blogroll

I'm a political junkie and pretty progressive (okay, practically a socialist), which makes me a member of the target audience for AMERICAblog. I added the site to my blogroll many, many months ago and it's been on my Favorites list on all of my computers since the first time I read a post there.

However, earlier today, John Aravosis wrote a post that called Sen. Pat Roberts "a big girl" because of a statement he made during the confirmation hearings for Gen. Michael Hayden, Bush's nominee for CIA Director. The statement Roberts made - "I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties but you have no civil liberties if you are dead." - was indeed proof that Roberts is a cowardly douchebag. However, by equating being a "big girl" with being a wimp, a coward, and an utter quisling, John offended many readers, including me.

When a commenter expressed surprise at John's use of the term, his initial response was that this was "gay vernacular." Later, he wrote that those who asked him to reconsider his words were a tiny minority of his readers and essentially nutbars: "There are a very loud minority of folks on the left who won't be happy unless they're frothing at the mouth attacking their own for the stupidest, smallest things while the world falls down around them." This despite the fact that many were probably long-time readers and were mostly polite and reasonable in their comments. Here are a few samples:

I personally found John's use of "girl" much more questionable than Snowjob's use of "tar baby." And believe me I'm no Republican. Let's leave the name calling to the bigots. Please apologize, John, and let's get this over with.

I'm a girl and I'm offended that it would be considered some kind of an insult. A better definition for Pat Roberts would be that he is a big ass. But there's no need to denigrate more than 50% of the country's population to make a point.

Girls are not cowards, John. Girls are fighting in Iraq, John. Girls are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, John. Let's try a little harder, John. We're all on the same team here, I think. Senator Roberts is a big COWARD. I don't want him in my gender or that of my very brave daughter.

As I am writing this, all 400+ original comments on the post have been deleted. I assume this is John's doing, but perhaps there was a technical glitch. (Fortunately, Haloscan has a long memory.)

After reading the post, the hundreds of comments, and posting one of my own (less polite than many others), I asked myself: Were those of us who found John's use of "big girl" as an insult being overly sensitive? Were we losing sight of the fact that like us, John is fighting for progressive values? I think the answer to both of those questions is no. As many readers commented, if the term "big girl" was substituted with any number of slurs referring to race, sexuality, or religion, it would have been offensive. If a right-wing bloviator had used the term to refer to, say, Sen. Russ Feingold, it would have been offensive.

It's not okay to insult and demean women, and using "girl" as a pejorative indicates a lack of respect for women. As one commenter noted, if even educated progressives don't care about women's issues, that's a pretty sorry state of affairs.

I'd love to "just get over it" as so many commenters who agreed with John urged. But I'm tired of being viewed as a second-class citizen - because of my skin color and because I'm a woman. I'm tired of being called a bitch when I'm strong. I deserve better than that. All of us do.

I'd like to continue reading AMERICAblog because I agree with much of what's written there, and eventually, I probably will. However, John's dismissive and unapologetic response to commenters who disagreed with his words today made me rethink my blogroll. I want to have links that illustrate not only what interests me or makes me laugh - sites like LA Observed and Dooce - but also showcase my values and the person I am.

To that end, I've removed AMERICAblog from my blogroll, for now. I've also added links to several sites written by women and Latinos, such as Firedoglake and Lotería Chicana. I doubt anyone will notice these changes, especially not John Aravosis, but I think it's important for me to feel that the links I have here on this page reflect what I believe. And what I believe is that I'm more like Patrick Henry than Pat Roberts, and I'm not going to link to someone who seems to think otherwise.


Anonymous said...

Well said. I wandered over from the wreckage of AmericaBlog. He's been a bit touchy lately. Similar thing happened w/ Howard Dean firing someone last week or so. It turned real ugly real fast. Such silly childish behavior. Glad to see you put your blog where your mouth is!

teddy2233 said...

I was pretty shocked that the comments got deleted too. I don't know how he can just dismiss hundreds of comments like that, that kind of arrogance is too Bush-like.

I'm glad I found your site though, I'm always on the lookout for new and interesting blogs.

Anonymous said...

Thought you would like to know your comment is gone now.

Anonymous said...

I've been banned from posting comments there. I'm confused and frustrated, and upset. This was the last thing I needed on my birthday... now I'm just depressed. *sigh*

City Elf said...

So my comment has been deleted at AMERICAblog now? I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Teddy2233, thanks for the compliment. Crystal, don't be depressed - there are plenty of great blogs and progressives out there to read, and you can post there. :) And oh, yeah, happy birthday!

cindylu said...

Never heard of the AMERICAblog, but thanks for adding me. I definitely would have been offended and upset at that comment as well.

Anonymous said...

Here's my last word on the matter, from my blog:


Saturday, May 20, 2006
A Stubborn Case of Aravosis

Yesterday was an interesting day for me, even not counting the birthday thing and all. I was stopping by one of my favorite progressive blogs, Americablog, and found this article. I was, needless to say, a bit offended. Not because he says Pat Roberts is a coward (that goes without saying), but because he implies through his language that a female persuasion can somehow be associated with cowardice.

Granted, he has explained repeatedly that "big girl" is actually gay vernactular for "big queer", and with him being gay, that's OK. Well I beg to differ. Gays aren't immune from sticking to relics of the past a bit too long and then clinging to them stubbornly when they're confronted with the fact that they are insulting and demeaning. He has refused to apologize, called his detractors "thought police", and deleted hundreds of comments relating to the post in huge chunks at a time, including my own, and banning those who posted them, including myself.

It's as if, even tho it is "gay vernacular", that somehow makes it ok and everything is good and well. But similar to kids in school who call something they consider stupid gay (dude, that is so gay...), even if it's not used in a context to demean someone, it's very usage in THAT context demeans by proxy. Saying that gays are lame and stupid. John Aravosis is, inadvertently, and by no ill will of his own, furthering the sterotype that females are weak, and scared, and somehow less.

Some people have equated this to Snow's "tar baby" comment in a white house press briefing, however I see little similarity. Snow did use a term that had multiple cultural connotations when used in a different context, one derogatory, and one not. However John Aravosis used an ordinary word for a particular demographic group, and by association, used it for a derogatory slur.

I don't care if gay vernacular says big girl means big fag. Would that somehow make it ok if gay vernacular says mexican means lazy, or french meant cowardly, or black/african meant prone to criminal behavior? Try substituting those John, and see where they get you. You wouldn't, I know that. So what makes this one any different?

The difference is that those are the ones FOX News uses, because it's part of Neo-con vernacular, and I'm sure to them that makes it perfectly ok.


Anonymous said...

I would encourage you all to post fawning comments in every thread on Americablog, related to the topic at hand, of course. "Wow, John, you are so smart. I agree with every word you said about immigration!!! You are the best!!!"

That what he wants to read anyway.

Anonymous said...

I think it's important that we always keep a certain sense of perspective in life, lest we become that which we despise. Yknow, doing your best to fight the good fight against the authoritarian powers that be is possibly the most noble pursuit in all of humanity. However it all means nothing if we become so obsessed with it that we lose sight of the reason we're doing it. So that we can all live in a world where people are more considerate to others' needs, and no one ever has to feel belittled.

I had nothing but the utmost respect for John Aravosis yesterday morning. Now I'll be damned if he doesn't look like one of the same kind of Captain Ahab assholes that he's trying to fight, just on the other side of the political spectrum.


Yeshua David said...
More on Aravosis....

Yeshua David said...

Poor John. I'll bet he wishes he had the power to delete comments on EVERYBODY'S blog.

sopranospinner said...

Sheesh, as my daughter would say! I was quoted on your blog! I wrote the third sampled comment.

Seems like John is a bit of a WATB, huh?

Thanks for the quote. It made my day!

City Elf said...

Well, it was a great quote! Is your daughter in the service?

sopranospinner said...

No, my daughter is 7. But she is a real leader already and I don't want her living with the belittling of fearful men.