Petit Fours

Why is the lefty hatefuck in effigy so exclusively a liberal-dude-on-right-wing-woman phenomenon? Even if you agree that women have a harder time using their bodies to sexually degrade people, surely citizen scrota everywhere can be dangled in the faces of wingnut dudes for the sake of entertainment and justice. Why can’t Sean Hannity get any love from the loyal otters of the opposition? Why hasn’t Glenn Beck been invited to a special tax day striptease? Is there no political premium in demanding that male pundits nuzzle progressive taint?

Is it just less funny?

Holly already wrote the mature, reasoned response to this post and the followup–and dealt mostly with the idea of humor and audience:

There is one problem still, though. I don’t think either of you guys are trans. So I’m not sure where the deep level of trust required actually comes from here. Maybe you are embedded and in touch with trans people in your lives enough that it’s second nature, but even the most trans-connected allies I know would kind of think twice before making jokes about trans people between themselves. I mean, for a lot of people who are concerned about having and showing “good progressive politics” or whatever, they’re too uncomfortable to joke around with me, and I end up making all the jokes. But like… the Ann Coulter joke? Of course senses of humor differ, and it’s quite possible I’m not getting what’s so funny about it between the two of you. Even if one of my most trusted friends said that to me, I’d be like… “wait, what did you just say? Was that supposed to be funny?” It’s weird because it’s the same joke that totally clueless libuhral dudes have already been making for years about Ann Coulter, and everyone knows it’s not funny. I get that maybe “libuhral dude caricature goes a-teabaggin” is the schtick here, but the punchline is… exactly what real libuhral dudes say?” That is a very thinly sliced irony indeed.

I thought I’d talk a bit about the “Ann Coulter is a tranny” thing, and why it’s transphobic. It’s based on a bunch of transphobic ideas. Trans women all look alike. Trans women all look like men. Trans women all look totally different from “real” women. Trans women are obvious, and oblivious to their inability to blend in: cis people are much more perceptive about gender cues than trans people: trans women are delusional. Trans women are ugly and pathetic. Women who look like trans women are ugly and pathetic.

Now, some people argue–as Bitch PhD did argue–that transphobic jokes about Ann Coulter are not transphobic because Ann herself is deeply transphobic. I don’t think this works. For one thing, the many layers of ironic subtlety will tend to get lost, especially in an audience that probably is not much less transphobic as most “mainstream” Americans. The distinction between trans women (good!) and Ann Coulter (evil! and also mannish!) will just disappear. Most people simply agree with most of the last paragraph–those assumptions were part of BPhD’s apology:

I’m perfectly aware that everyone has decided that calling Coulter a cunt–or saying she looks mannish–is terribly sexist. I don’t buy it. As I said in the thread, her shtick is *founded* on the whole “I’m so feminine and pretty” crap. She makes comments about how democrats and lefties generally are ugly. Her self-presentation is high-femme. Underlying the “she’s a maaaaan, baby” reactions, I think, is a critique of her invocation of rigid gender norms to market herself.

Is this what her boyfriend said? Well, no:

Sex and protest has its ups and downs though and I was compelled to write back, thanking her for her interest and confirming that she did in fact, look pretty much exactly like Ann Coulter but that things probably wouldn’t work out for us. I didn’t admit, because I know people can be quite sensitive about these things, that I know I wouldn’t be able to work it, no matter how appropriate with a pre-op T-girl. Pity, she was a pleasant enough fellow.

He–or the teabag troller, but I’m not sure it’s supposed to be untrue–said that Ann Coulter looks like a trans woman. Why did so many people–BPhD included–make the immediate leap from “looks like a trans woman” to “looks like a dude?” Because there’s no difference. “Looks like a trans woman” is based on the idea that trans women all look a certain way: like men in dresses. That they really are men and not women. That’s where the writer is by the last line of the email.

(Oddly enough, the pretend reactionary asshole–you know, the guy from the transphobic side–is totally copacetic with getting hit on by a trans woman.)

It’s not really possible to say stuff like “Ann Coulter is mannish” without dumping a whole lot of deeply transphobic crap all over the place. You’re setting up a standard for proper womanhood, one that has been used to hurt trans women in all kinds of ways. Real women aren’t “mannish.” Tall, bony, strong-featured women are ugly. It’s weird when they try on femme. They have no business trying to be womanly. You can’t keep those assumptions and not create a toxic scrutiny loop for gender difference that dovetails really neatly with a lot of really nasty stereotypes specific to trans women. It’d be nice, but it’s not possible.

And like a commenter said, it’s just not about highlighting Ann’s transphobia. It’s about insulting her by implying that she looks like a trans woman. No matter how personally she might feel that, or how horrified she would be to have anything in common with the gender trash, we can’t use that assertion without accepting it. It also doesn’t really touch Ann. She doesn’t read progressive blogs. Trans women–and a lot of women who are otherwise told that they’re female failures–do. Jokes like this reinforce the ideas that keep the real Ann Coulter current. They ensure that morally bankrupt assholes everywhere can collect paychecks for spitting at easy targets.

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69 Responses

  1. Vanessa
    Vanessa April 17, 2009 at 11:42 am |

    I can’t believe we’re back to this. To not even touch on the transphobia issue, if all you can find to make fun of Ann Coulter with is her “mannishness,” then you’re not even trying.

  2. Roy
    Roy April 17, 2009 at 11:43 am |

    piny, this is a really great post, and it articulates a lot of things that I think I’ve had trouble articulating in the past when people I know take that route. I could get as far as “It doesn’t matter what you think about how she looks or that she’s presenting her appearance as being part of the shtick,” but I sometimes found it hard to pin down exactly why in a larger sense than “you’re attacking her looks because you disagree with her, and that’s wrong”.

    It’s good to be able to point out more precisely why these sorts of arguments are hurtful. The last paragraphs, in particular, really help make it crystal clear.

  3. another constellation
    another constellation April 17, 2009 at 11:52 am |

    If we were interested in insulting Anne Coulter for being transphobic, we would just be calling her transphobic and letting that dangle out there, condemnation unto itself. Aligning her with the figures she reviles does nothing buy reinforce the idea that they are worthy of our cultural hatred for them.

  4. Dan in Denver
    Dan in Denver April 17, 2009 at 11:54 am |

    This one’s easy. Most of those guys pretending to be on your side, aren’t actually on your side. They “like” abortion because it means they don’t have to worry about your pregnancy – it’s your problem. They like “feminism” because it means they don’t have to share their paycheck. They’re pretending, because pretending means access to cute liberal college girls without being responsible about their own sexuality.

    But the whole embracing-the-transgressive, overturn-the-norms, rebuild-society thing? Not so much. Lip service to those ideals will work if it gets sex from some gullible liberal gal, but the boys certainly aren’t going to stop hating on tranny freaks for you.

    What’s interesting about THIS situation is that BPHD also appears to have been pretending. Not sure what SHE got out of it – probably ego strokes from fellow activists.

  5. Tlönista
    Tlönista April 17, 2009 at 11:54 am |

    My God. Can progressives’ hipster irony just die already? “Ironic” transphobia is—guess what?—transphobia!

  6. octogalore
    octogalore April 17, 2009 at 12:02 pm |

    This is a great post. As you point out, there is no possible context in which the “joke” that BPhD’s BF wrote is not transphobic. The straining to find one, rather than a simple apology (or, better, avoiding sharing the “joke” in the first place as Holly advocated) compounded things.

    As for “Is there no political premium in demanding that male pundits nuzzle progressive taint? Is it just less funny?” — at least anecdotally, I’ve heard right wing misogynists make jokes about sexual acts with HRC or Michelle Obama. Part of the issue is that the kind of guy, left or right, who enjoys such humor tends to focus on women in a certain demographic — usually 20-35 (or older with good genes/cosmetic help) and conventionally attractive. There seem to be more high-profile Republican than Democratic female politicians or pundits in this category. But “I’d do her” is a non-partisan form of humor, and at any drunken corporate shindig in which people are watching or discussing politics, I imagine there are an equal number of such guffaws on either side of the aisle.

  7. Irene M.
    Irene M. April 17, 2009 at 12:05 pm |

    Piny, nice response. Although, it’s absolutely ridiculous that you would even need to write it. The fact that others have to explain why Bitch PhD’s “joke” just demonstrates how much cis-privledge people are walking around with.

  8. Irene M.
    Irene M. April 17, 2009 at 12:06 pm |

    Sorry about the typo. I should have said, “explain why Bitch PhD’s ‘joke’ is offensive.”

  9. Mireille
    Mireille April 17, 2009 at 12:26 pm |

    The comments on both the original post and the fauxpology are massively on the side of the joke being transphobic and she just keeps digging her heels in waiting for everyone to admit she’s right. She won’t even engage any comments other than those who agree with her. Privilege+echo chamber+cognitive dissonance.

  10. transgenmom
    transgenmom April 17, 2009 at 12:28 pm |

    The reason why Colbert is funny and Bill O Reilly is not is because there is actually a pretty large difference in what the two are saying.

    Likewise Bitch PHDs posting is not funny because it falls on the Bill O Reilly scale of insulting.

  11. Sara Anderson
    Sara Anderson April 17, 2009 at 12:30 pm |

    This tangentially relates to why I’ve been uncomfortable with the “teabagging” humor – I’m sure there are a lot of women (and men who sleep with men) who have licked or sucked on testicles and done it out of affection and not felt debased by it. It’s the same problem with a lot of sexual metaphors meant to insult. I’ll admit that I’m a little prudish when it comes to raunchy humor, but it really just comes down to not thinking sex is bad or humiliating.

  12. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil April 17, 2009 at 12:35 pm |

    Thanks, piny. I was floored by the original post and the follow-up–classic example of “I can’t believe you’re all so sensitive!” I thought many of the comments (many by people I recognize from this corner of the blogosphere) were thoughtful and on target, but clearly that didn’t help much.

  13. Sarah J
    Sarah J April 17, 2009 at 12:54 pm |

    I’ll echo the “thanks” for this post.

    And on a sillier note, but to answer your first question, I do make jokes about hatefucking Tucker Carlson. But the “hatefuck” joke does sound not only more threatening coming from guys, it actually sounds malicious and yes, misogynistic. I don’t know if that’s because of centuries of this kind of behavior essentially being permissible, or if it’s because male bodies/penises/penetration are construed as automatically being dominant/violent while women’s bodies/vaginas are automatically nonthreatening.

  14. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 17, 2009 at 1:01 pm |

    Thanks for posting on this. The comments to the “joke” and fauxpology are even worse than the “joke” itself. She’s (and her defenders) are just twisting themselves in knots. It’s painful to watch – but as for what cis people shouldn’t do when they (or their friends) fuck up – its a good case study.

  15. herong
    herong April 17, 2009 at 1:55 pm |

    Thanks, piny.

    WTFS is up with ‘if I make transphobic jokes about a transphobic person, the jokes are not transphobic.’ That’s delusional hysteria. That’s saying that directing hate at hateful people isn’t hateful. Excuse me, I shouldn’t have said directing, because blogging a joke directed a single person isn’t directing anything at all. It’s slinging crap around and watching who it hits. Hate is hate. You make some joke about Hitler being a Jew, you’re a racist asshole.

    I am not going to start on the f*cking ordeal with saying that calling Coulter mannish isn’t sexist (or transphobic) b/c she purports herself to be feminine. There is so much wrong with that statement it hurts my head to figure out the hateful logic.

    Final note, did anyone even GET wtf the whole ‘Ironic Email’ thing was about?

  16. amandaw
    amandaw April 17, 2009 at 1:58 pm |

    There is no way to read that joke in a way that isn’t making a joke out of *transfolk.* There just isn’t.

    It’s not “satire” or “irony” or any of the other hip totally-not-bigotry! stand ins. “I know it sounds bigoted, but I mean it to make fun of the people who ARE really bigoted!” For it to be so, the subject of the joke actually has to BE that totally bigoted person. The joke has to be about THEM.

    This joke isn’t about bigoted folks. It’s about the folks bigoted people aim their bigotry *at.* You can guess what that boils down to.

  17. Superla
    Superla April 17, 2009 at 2:04 pm |

    This was a really great post. I hadn’t even noticed the conflation of “looks like a man” with “looks like a trans woman” in the original discussion. Thank you for pointing that out.

  18. Daisy Bond
    Daisy Bond April 17, 2009 at 2:11 pm |

    Great post.

  19. XtinaS
    XtinaS April 17, 2009 at 2:12 pm |

    I’m waiting for racist jokes against a PoC now, done “ironically”.  Or maybe jokes made against fat people, which would totally be okay if they were themselves hating on fat people.  Why not?

    Ugh.  I can get hate-jokes all I want from popular culture, and all the ironic nonsense I want just outside my door (I live in Portland).  I don’t need to seek it out.

  20. amandaw
    amandaw April 17, 2009 at 2:48 pm |

    Xtina, unfortunately, those jokes are quite commonplace, even now. Some struggles for justice get more “mainstream” air time, but no struggles are yet solved.

  21. octogalore
    octogalore April 17, 2009 at 2:55 pm |

    Further to the “a liberal-dude-on-right-wing-woman phenomenon,” additional evidence that left wing women aren’t immune.

  22. little light
    little light April 17, 2009 at 2:57 pm |

    There’s so much to unpack just here:

    I didn’t admit, because I know people can be quite sensitive about these things, that I know I wouldn’t be able to work it, no matter how appropriate with a pre-op T-girl. Pity, she was a pleasant enough fellow.

    Here’s the assumptions on hand:
    1. It’s a normal, understandable, obvious thing that a straight man wouldn’t want to sleep with a trans woman, or at least a trans woman with a penis. He just wouldn’t be able to “work it.” This is unfortunate, because
    2. It’s particularly appropriate to engaging in teabagging, considered exotic and degrading in the context of this piece–the kind of act you’d use to hate-fuck someone–with a trans woman. They’re into that kind of thing, or can at least be paid to do it. Both 1. and 2. are really because
    3. She, being a trans woman, is actually a “fellow.”

    These are just the assumptions forming a baseline foundation for the joke, that Ann Coulter looks “exactly like” a trans woman. You need all those assumptions to unpack that this means that she looks like a perverted man in drag, which is degrading, which is part one of the joke. The other part of the joke is that while it might be acceptable to hate-fuck a Michelle Malkin or Michelle Bachmann look-alike, and therefore by proxy either of those women, someone who looks like Ann Coulter–and who therefore looks like a trans woman–and therefore looks like a man–isn’t even worthy of hate-fucking. She’s not even worth sexually degrading out of hostile feelings, even if she volunteers, which she would, because that’s how trans people are.

    That’s the basis for the joke. That’s what’s underneath it. It’s premised on saying that no matter how much you might want to fantasize about taking a neoconservative woman down a peg or two with sexual degradation, Ann Coulter, being or being like a trans woman, is so polluted you wouldn’t even do that because it involves touching her.

    Wow, I’m just all over giggling right now. That’s just the funniest joke I’ve ever head. Sorry, BPHD, that you can’t feel “safe” to make a joke like that “yet” because people just aren’t cool enough, and are still too oversensitive, to get your hip humor. Life is so hard.

  23. Peanutcat
    Peanutcat April 17, 2009 at 3:09 pm |

    I can’t believe we’re back to this. To not even touch on the transphobia issue, if all you can find to make fun of Ann Coulter with is her “mannishness,” then you’re not even trying.

    What about making fun of that little black cocktail dress she wears for every fucking interview?

  24. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos April 17, 2009 at 3:13 pm |

    Ghaa, I need to stop reading the internet for a few days. I’ll just add that the problems with packing multiple layers of irony onto discussion of a prejudice is one reason why I can’t get behind Sasha Baron Cohen’s work, and his strawmen are much better executed than Bitch PhD’s.

    One of the catches I always had with the lol-teabagging craze among left-wing blogs was the question of what if the authors of the political action knew about teabagging as virtual sexual assault in video games, and were trying to evoke that connotation? (After killing an opponent, the surviving player repeatedly crouches or sits over the head of the dead players avatar.)

  25. Laughingrat
    Laughingrat April 17, 2009 at 3:43 pm |

    Underlying the “she’s a maaaaan, baby” reactions, I think, is a critique of her invocation of rigid gender norms to market herself.

    The hell it is. It’s not some highly-intellectual meta-philosophizing cultural criticism. It’s nothing more nor less than the Group dogpiling on a mouthy woman, calling her “ugly” as a way of silencing and dehumanizing her. It’s a technique that originates and operates in a context of sexism, and if you can use it on Ann Coulter, you can use it on any woman who doesn’t sit down and shut up. Left-wing boys are sexist too, believe me.

    I wish I’d started reading BitchPhD back when it was good. A friend told me it’s declined in recent months, and if the quotation above indicates the level of insight exhibited over there these days, I’m inclined to agree.

  26. Natalie
    Natalie April 17, 2009 at 4:01 pm |

    I commented as much over at BPHD, but I find the joke even worse because of the context of what’s been going on with Feministe and Feministing this week.

    It’s like, “Ha ha, you got your feelings hurt, and out of nowhere I’m going to hilariously hurt them again and then fauxpologize to you, but don’t get mad, we’re secretly not transphobic, also some of our best friends are trans.”

    But thanks, piny, because you have put into words something that I have a hard time articulating when these jokes come up beyond spluttering “But your joke depends on trans being a baaad thing!!” which is not maximally informative.

  27. Thom
    Thom April 17, 2009 at 4:52 pm |

    Yeah, I don’t buy the high minded defenses. And the people I know who laugh at them? Never are laughing at the joke for those reasons. They are laughing because the joke is that a Trans woman is not a real woman-Ann Coulter is therefore not a real woman.

    This is something that I personally tend to find horrific, just the whole comfort with slamming conservative women with commentary that would be rightfully smashed in the feminist blog-o-sphere if it was a conservative commentator making the same jokes about a well known feminist author. It would be rightfully denounced, but there is a subset of the left that sees it as okay to make transphobic/sexist/homophobic/racist jokes if your target is a conservative. I believe that humor can be used to deflate such ills in society…but that is not what is happening with these types of jokes.

  28. The Opoponax
    The Opoponax April 17, 2009 at 5:40 pm |

    Blegh. If I want this sort of “but it’s OK for me to make bigoted jokes, because I’m young and hip and sexy, right? Right? Right?” bullcrap, I’ll read Vice Magazine.

    I think a lot of this is that somewhere in the 70’s or 80’s social justice movements got all conflated with youth counterculture movements. Now anyone who is part of the latter is often assumed to have the cred of the former. The bad guy is Archie Bunker, not because he was a bigot, but because he was old and fat and stodgy.

  29. Lauren
    Lauren April 17, 2009 at 6:21 pm |

    Great post, Piny. What I was thinking, kind of jumping off what you’re saying about this sort of trans essentialism (I’m making up this term), is that this directly feeds into the kinds of gender essentialism that makes movements like feminism necessary in the first place. That you have to explain the harm of transphobic or homophobic or sexist humor on a feminist space, of all spaces, is ridiculously frustrating, especially the kinds of humor that reinforce a gender binary (feminism? you knocked?). It’s harmful, period. Not worth it.

    One of the catches I always had with the lol-teabagging craze among left-wing blogs was the question of what if the authors of the political action knew about teabagging as virtual sexual assault in video games, and were trying to evoke that connotation? (After killing an opponent, the surviving player repeatedly crouches or sits over the head of the dead players avatar.)

    Um, I didn’t know about this, but recently I’ve figured out how to make my Sackgirl in Little Big Planet masturbate, so I’m conflicted.

  30. whatsername
    whatsername April 17, 2009 at 6:37 pm |

    So true, I hate it when people use “tranny” jokes, I don’t care why they do it.

  31. annaham
    annaham April 17, 2009 at 7:19 pm |

    I totally agree with Natalie’s comment (#27); the no-pology somehow makes it worse.

    I am disheartened that a lot of people still don’t get why transphobia–“funny” or not–is simply not okay.

  32. avenging angel
    avenging angel April 17, 2009 at 7:24 pm |

    All the things others have said about how this kind of joke is transphobic are true, but they’re not the worst thing about this joke.

    Ann Coulter has the most repugnant political positions of any mainstream commentator. She is openly racist and sexist, she mocks democratic institutions, and she lauds and advocates violence, including torture, terrorism and war crimes. I don’t toss the word “fascist” around lightly, but she is a fascist, unquestionably.

    So how do you hurt a person who espouses beliefs that are so vile? Well, what’s worse than being a fascist? What’s worse than advocating mass murder? Hmmm? What’s worse than that? Do you know? Do you need anyone to tell you?

    I’m sure you’ve heard the one about “I’d call you pond scum, but it would be an insult to pond scum”? That’s what ends up happening here. That’s why this is so offensive, above and beyond the usual transphobic nonsense which is par for the course in our society.

  33. tekanji
    tekanji April 17, 2009 at 7:31 pm |

    This actually came up as a topic on Feministe about two years back (Jill wrote a post defending Ann Coulter against transphobic and misogynist remarks) and I’ll just reiterate what I said then:

    As feminists fighting for the end of oppression, we don’t have the luxury to avert our eyes because the target of sexism is someone morally repugnant to us. We don’t have the luxury to pick and choose who is “worth” defending and who isn’t. If we are truly committed to ending oppression, then it is our responsibility to fight bigotry wherever it rears its ugly head. Even if it means standing up, in a limited capacity, for someone who is actively working against us. Because saying “what they did to her was wrong, sexist, and should not be tolerated” is different than saying “what she does is right”.

    Bitch PhD should be ashamed of herself for trying to use the “she started it!” excuse to justify hurling transphobic and misogyinst hatespeech.

  34. links for 2009-04-17 « Embololalia
    links for 2009-04-17 « Embololalia April 17, 2009 at 7:55 pm |

    […] Feministe » Petit Fours I thought I’d talk a bit about the “Ann Coulter is a tranny” thing, and why it’s transphobic. It’s based on a bunch of transphobic ideas. Trans women all look alike. Trans women all look like men. Trans women all look totally different from “real” women. Trans women are obvious, and oblivious to their inability to blend in: cis people are much more perceptive about gender cues than trans people: trans women are delusional. Trans women are ugly and pathetic. Women who look like trans women are ugly and pathetic. (tags: transphobia blogging) […]

  35. Cara
    Cara April 17, 2009 at 7:59 pm |

    Excellent post, Piny, and I’m so incredibly glad that you wrote it. This absolutely needed to be loudly called out in as big of a forum as it could have been.

  36. NancyP
    NancyP April 17, 2009 at 8:19 pm |

    Ann Coulter’s vanity is an easy target – she thinks she’s so much more attractive than those “fat hairy feminists too ugly to get any” (or whatever phrase she uses – right wing pundits use each other’s phrases). To me, she looks more like a hooker than a commentator – the short skirts, the “come f*ck me” stance in her publicity photos. She doesn’t look dignified, knowledgeable, serious – but she seems to expect to be treated as an authority and not a cross between hooker and court jester. I view women who present as strongly sexual when performing as an “expert” in supposedly non-sexual public situations (national policy discussions) as traitors to womanhood. I have dressed modestly for work / school all my life, because I wanted to be taken seriously in a (then) non-traditional career dominated by men.

    I have to admit that I find the “mAnn Coulter” and “trAnn Coulter” comments rising in my mind when she says something nasty about TBGL people, and it’s the (possible) hypocrisy, the Ted Haggardness of the situation that makes me want to mock her. I had to be told that there isn’t really a way to avoid being offensive using snark, except by using phrase like “possibly transgender woman Ann Coulter makes her living by being transphobic and homophobic, among other phobias.

  37. NancyP
    NancyP April 17, 2009 at 8:21 pm |

    Teabagging – I had the image of O’Reilly and Limbaugh going at it, not an image of heterosexual activity involving one right wing top and one liberal bottom.

  38. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz April 17, 2009 at 9:13 pm |

    To me, she looks more like a hooker than a commentator – the short skirts, the “come f*ck me” stance in her publicity photos.

    Sweet Jesus. Could we not go from “she’s a man/trans” to “she’s a hooker”? There are a ton of things to mock Coulter for, and this is what you want to hang your hat on? There’s definitely criticisms to be made of the idea of selling yourself as sexually attractive to be taken seriously, but this is not it. Coulter’s playing a game: being pretty and femme is a strategy to both win “I’d hit it” points and to appear less threatening.

    Bottom line, though: she’s still an odious human being who advocates violence against her ideological opponents. She’s beneath contempt.

  39. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil April 17, 2009 at 9:29 pm |

    What about making fun of that little black cocktail dress she wears for every fucking interview?

    and

    To me, she looks more like a hooker than a commentator – the short skirts, the “come f*ck me” stance in her publicity photos.

    Seriously? SERIOUSLY??? Are these supposed to be improvements?

  40. Tlönista
    Tlönista April 17, 2009 at 9:53 pm |

    Look. If you can’t mock Ann Coulter without also gleefully trashing entire classes of women who already get the short end of the stick, maybe it’s not about Ann Coulter.

  41. XtinaS
    XtinaS April 17, 2009 at 10:05 pm |

    NancyP:

    Insulting Ann Coulter by calling her a “trannie” is offensive because, to put it very simply, (a) wtf insulting as hell to trans* folk and (b) wtf appearance-based criticism, I thought we were no longer five years old.  Replacing “trannie” with “hooker” just means now it’s insulting to sex workers, and is still a goddamn appearance-based criticism.

    Shorter me: you’re not doing much better than Bitch PhD, here.  So stop.

  42. Cara
    Cara April 17, 2009 at 10:13 pm |

    Um, dude. WTF. NancyP is now on mod; if it was my thread, I’d just outright ban, but it’s Piny’s so I’ll let her make that final call.

    But regardless of what that ultimate decision is, there is absolutely no way that a comment which is degrading to both trans women and sex workers is in any way acceptable here. Nor should it be anywhere.

  43. Yolanda C.
    Yolanda C. April 17, 2009 at 11:26 pm |

    I don’t know how Piny or other folks feel, but the sheer obtuseness of NancyP’s comment has left me speechless. Switching from transphobic attacks on right-wing women to misogynist ones—now that’s just excellent.

    Can we just admit once and for all that the enlightened left has a HUGE gender oppression problem? Is that too much to ask?

  44. belledame222
    belledame222 April 17, 2009 at 11:43 pm |

    uh, yeah. -cosigns 41, 42, 43 respectively-

    can I just also add that it was an extra layer of Special to read the nice cis straight feminist

    a) explaining that the real problem is that it’s just not as acceptable -yet- to be okay with that kind of joke whereas “we” would be with, say, homophobic cracks slung at Rick Warren

    b) “anyway, my boyfriend thought it was funny, and you can’t harsh on mah BOYFRIEND so -nyergh- to you, you humorless…”

    p.s. “suck my balls:” rilly edgy. No, srsly, I’m impressed. Sarah Silverman must be shaking in her smirky sandals.

  45. belledame222
    belledame222 April 17, 2009 at 11:50 pm |

    I -also- really love the whole “ooo, if you weren’t so Pee Cee/SENSITIVE you’d admit it’s really funny and edgy and daring, even though it’s offensive.” No; it’s offensive -and- it’s boring and stale as dinosaur shit. Bigoted “jokes” usually are. Every time this shit plays out I feel like I’m watching some missing George Romero flick where the zombies are played by Andrew Dice Clay and Jackie Mason.

  46. belledame222
    belledame222 April 17, 2009 at 11:52 pm |

    my #44 is in automod, but just to pre-empt, when I said “cosigning 41, 42, and 43,” I meant Tlonista, XStina, and Cara respectively. yknow, in case anything else pops up and changes the numbers in the meantime…

  47. belledame222
    belledame222 April 18, 2009 at 12:02 am |

    Ha ha, you got your feelings hurt, and out of nowhere I’m going to hilariously hurt them again and then fauxpologize to you,

    And this? Is center square on Universal Asshole Bingo.

    Seriously, why, WHY is this shit so fucking difficult for some people apparently? It isn’t fucking rocket science.

  48. belledame222
    belledame222 April 18, 2009 at 12:06 am |

    sorry, , that last was quoting Natalie in #27. (“she’s right you know”)

    and yeah, so then BPhd etc. with the whole “oh, we’re not REALLY transphobic bigots, we’re just playing them on Blogdonia”…

    yeah, it was a real convincing job, there. Oscar-worthy really.

    Now try playing someone who ISN’T a total assberet.

  49. belledame222
    belledame222 April 18, 2009 at 12:19 am |

    per the “looks like a hooker” business: and then consider that in conjunction with this part of little light’s analysis of the “joke” in 23:

    2. It’s particularly appropriate to engaging in teabagging, considered exotic and degrading in the context of this piece–the kind of act you’d use to hate-fuck someone–with a trans woman. They’re into that kind of thing, or can at least be paid to do it.

    “Hooker” baiting isn’t just plain misogyny either, although it certainly contains that as part of the noxious compound.

  50. queen emily
    queen emily April 18, 2009 at 1:52 am |

    I think it’s fairly telling that Bitch PhD essentially ignored all of the numerous trans people on that thread who declared themselves as such. And many of whom gave extended explanations that she airily dismissed, repeatedly.

    If someone’s *not* interested in engaging with the actual people who the joke hurts, then they’re. not. worth. the. time.

  51. chava
    chava April 18, 2009 at 3:02 am |

    Gah. Really? Why do people still think this kind of thing is ok….

    (if it isn’t too much of a derail, would someone mind confirming that “teabagging” here is the SATC dirty ref I think it is? because otherwise I am very, very confused).

  52. Natalia
    Natalia April 18, 2009 at 4:16 am |

    I love how it went from “Ann Coulter is MANN Coulter, haw haw” to “she’s just a trashy hooker, haw haw.” Granted, it’s only one person here, but the latter sentiment is common as well.

    I don’t get it. Plenty of things wrong with Ann Coulter – she thinks people like my boyfriend need to be rounded up for committing the crime of walking around while “swarthy,” and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    Her attacks on other people’s looks are idiotic, and, while I hate to sound like a grade-school teacher, it is true that stooping to that level does feminism no favours.

    I actually like the way she dresses – since I pay attention to these things as well. I think black looks good on her and I dig the long blond hair. She has her own signature style and there’s nothing “slutty” about it. Some people act like she’s up there in a bikini top, confusing a news show with the Copacabana – and that’s not remotely true. Not that it matters, in the grand scheme of things.

    Anyway, this entire episode sucks, right down to how it ended up being labeled a “stupid shitstorm.”

  53. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. April 18, 2009 at 5:02 am |

    Or to put slightly differently…Ann Coulter is a mean, hateful, lying, horrible, intentionally hurtful (i.e., evil) person. Transwomen, sexworkers, women who are not conventionally attractive, and women who do not perform gender in the ways others find appropriate are not any of those things (except the person part!). So why drag them into it? Why not just stick to calling her a mean and evil human being…

    Oh wait I forgot…it’s funny to say mean, hateful, horrible and hurtful things about transwomen, sexworkers, women who are not conventionally attractive, and women who do not perform gender the “right” way.

    Hmmm….isn’t that how Ann Coulter gets her $$…oops…smacked in the head by the irony…

  54. Dan in Denver
    Dan in Denver April 18, 2009 at 8:46 am |

    Man. I did the exact same thing that B’s boyfriend did, didn’t I? I used a transphobic comment to make fun of transphobia. I apologize, and will honor the ban.

  55. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac April 18, 2009 at 10:49 am |

    Somewhere towards the end of the faux-apology comment-thread, BitchPhD says that hers is a “bourgeois feminism” and I suddenly thought, yeah: this is the atmosphere that joke reminds me of.

    The kind of middle-class white “liberal” gathering where it’s taken for granted that any out gay pr trans people there will say nothing to offend the heterosexist assumptions of the majority: they should feel grateful enough to be accepted. And the nice white straight middle-class folk get sufficiently drunk, sufficiently relaxed, certain they’re among people who all think like them… and the bigoted jokes start getting told, and they all crack each other up. Anyone who complains is an over-sensitive party-pooper, who’ll be told “quit being so PC” if they don’t belong to the group being insulted. In fact, if you are trans or gay and want to be accepted by this group for whatever reason, the fastest way to their hearts will be to tell this kind of joke on yourself, and then laugh at theirs.

    That’s it.

    It’s happened to me, two or three times. It’s an ugly, uncomfortable situation to be in. I wrote at first that “it’s cost me a friendship or two” but the truth is: people who can tell jokes like that are not friends, and never were: you cannot be friends with someone whom you think of as your inferior, and that’s what these kind of bigoted jokes reveal.

  56. oleander
    oleander April 18, 2009 at 3:20 pm |

    What about making fun of that little black cocktail dress she wears for every fucking interview?”

    This is funny because I just got in an arguement with my roommate about this recently after she made one of Coulter’s articles about the Duke rape case where she blames women who wear short skirts and all that jazz for being assaulted. Apparently she thinks that Coulter walking around in a little black dress is classy but any other woman is a slut who’s just asking for it…

  57. belledame222
    belledame222 April 18, 2009 at 3:44 pm |

    @ 56

    -not- a cookie, but isn’t it something or other that random commenter dude did what Big Important Feminist Blogger apparently can’t manage?

  58. Comrade PhysioProf
    Comrade PhysioProf April 18, 2009 at 4:05 pm |

    It is really disappointing that BitchPhD posted that “joke” and then refused to own up to her fuck-up.

  59. Jha
    Jha April 18, 2009 at 6:03 pm |

    I was pretty disappointed with the whole thing too. In light of the shitstorm that’s happened here, one would think she’d be cognizant of the problems with her boyfriend’s email enough to NOT post it, or at least edit it. =/

  60. belledame222
    belledame222 April 19, 2009 at 1:02 am |

    And the nice white straight middle-class folk get sufficiently drunk, sufficiently relaxed, certain they’re among people who all think like them… and the bigoted jokes start getting told, and they all crack each other up. Anyone who complains is an over-sensitive party-pooper, who’ll be told “quit being so PC” if they don’t belong to the group being insulted.

    Overheard in the neighborhood chocolate shop/cafe today:

    Her: I don’t drink because I do terrible things when I’m drunk. Once this guy was hitting on me, and I pushed him through a plate glass window, head first. Nothing happened though. And I say all these racist things! Only when I’m drunk. But when I get drunk I just…say anything. Is that part of me? I don’t want to be a racist, so I don’t drink.

  61. Vanessa
    Vanessa April 19, 2009 at 3:39 am |

    Jesurgislac – I’ve had that same exact experience with regards to race multiple times.

    Goes back to the same sorry story where it’s a bigger insult to the privileged person to call them out on their oppressive behavior than it is to enact that oppressive behavior in the first place.

  62. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac April 19, 2009 at 3:56 am |

    belledame222: random commenter dude did what Big Important Feminist Blogger apparently can’t manage?

    Random commenter dude probably doesn’t have transphobic boyfriend reading all the comments his transphobic joke stirred up and telling his feminist partner to ignore and deny any hurt caused by her posting the joke as per his instructions, because his joke was funny and these people are just PC-clones.

    One of the awkward and odd things about heterosexuality: what can a feminist do when she falls for a man who is transphobic and/or homophobic? Things have changed over the past twenty-five years since I came out, but the problem of loving someone who is bigoted towards other people is still the same: either you’re the kind of person who says “I love you but shut up with the bigotry”, or you’re the kind of person who finds all his jokes funny, including the misogynist/transphobic/homophobic ones.

    …but then, I’m not even convinced that BitchPhD sees her boyfriend’s transphobia/homophobia as a problem.

    Vanessa: Goes back to the same sorry story where it’s a bigger insult to the privileged person to call them out on their oppressive behavior than it is to enact that oppressive behavior in the first place.

    Yeah. :-(

  63. Comrade PhysioProf
    Comrade PhysioProf April 19, 2009 at 6:08 am |

    Random commenter dude probably doesn’t have transphobic boyfriend reading all the comments his transphobic joke stirred up and telling his feminist partner to ignore and deny any hurt caused by her posting the joke as per his instructions, because his joke was funny and these people are just PC-clones.

    I was also thinking something along these lines, although it doesn’t require that her boyfriend be “telling” her anything. It may be that she simply doesn’t want to admit to herself that he’s a bigoted dickhead.

  64. little light
    little light April 19, 2009 at 4:26 pm |

    One of the awkward and odd things about heterosexuality: what can a feminist do when she falls for a man who is transphobic and/or homophobic?

    Hate to say this, Jes, but it’s also one of the awkward things in a queer relationship: what can you do when you fall for a woman who’s transphobic or (internalized) homophobic or racist or classist or ablist or…
    It’s not just the straight kids who have to deal with this one. It’s all of us in interracial relationships, cross-class relationships, even relationships where all things are equal except the bigotry of the person we fell for. None of us is extra-safe from that problem. There’s no inherent safety for women in dating other women, whatever we tell ourselves: there’s still domestic violence and abuse, there’s still sexual assault, there’s still issues of race and class and ability. Maybe the chances are a bit better with someone who has a better chance of “getting” your oppression, sure, but it can still happen. As much as I value that I’m marrying another woman, and one who’s queer-identified and of-color and all, I could very well have fallen for a different queer brown girl who was transphobic or fatphobic or gods-know-what-else. The odds were better she’d get it, especially the oppressions we share, but there’s never a guarantee. The ex who sexually assaulted me was another trans person, who should have understood how vulnerable I was, and should have been better about the weird racialized stuff they pulled on me. But it wasn’t so.

    I think it’s just one of the weird and awkward things about love.

  65. NancyP
    NancyP April 19, 2009 at 9:23 pm |

    Perhaps I should explain why I thought poorly of Coulter’s self-presentation, to the point of having been reflexively crude by comparing Coulter to some characteristics of other people. I apologize for my cruel words and any hurt experienced as a result.

    I know that “it’s not all about me”, but perhaps I ought to explain a few things to those of a different generation and perhaps a different and better temperament. Like many older people, I tend to think that the young have a chance to be kinder and more ethical and all-around better than the older generation. Most of the time I try to be kind and open, and obey the Golden Rule – but sometimes the “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” bit doesn’t work out if old attitudes of self-contempt come to the surface, and the “do unto” correspondingly sours. Some people of the older generation still bear the mark of the culture they grew up in, no matter how hard they try to unlearn these attitudes. There are still people like me around, who have residual internalized self-hatred from misogyny and homophobia and implicit transphobia *, and whose bad attitudes crop up on “down” days. It is far easier to recognize the human worth of others than it is to recognize it in yourself.

    The whole “hooker” thing was about the old accusation that women succeeded by “sleeping their way to the top” because they couldn’t compete otherwise. “Hooker” included by extension anyone who used their sexuality for profit or unfair advantage, and assumed that they were not coerced into doing so. Yes, it’s misogynistic – and it’s part of the standard-issue mental equipment of most older people brought up in a striving middle class. It’s harder than you think to eradicate all mental and emotional traces of one’s early upbringing in a specific conformist culture. Rare is the person who wholeheartedly accepts being an outsider in childhood and teenage years.

    I am just old enough to have been brought up in a culture where employment ad columns were labeled Men or Women, women were expected to be secretaries or nurses, and women were considered presumptuous if they aspired to be lawyers or doctors. Women had to conform in small ways if they dared to aspire to men’s occupations, and one of those conforming ways was to dress modestly, meaning, not too much flesh showing (skirt length below the knees, clothes not clinging, makeup “natural” and without strong colors). In other words, the strategy was to defeminise personal appearance without being butch – the “Dress for Success” mode. You hoped that your boss would forget that you weren’t one of the boys, and would take you seriously. You didn’t want to have people think that you were sleeping your way to the top. A lot has changed in the past 40+ years, but I still have the residua of growing up expecting to be taken on sufferance. Consequently I expect women in male-dominated jobs and professions, when appearing in public (including photos as well as TV appearances), to dress in a dignified manner, and if the men are wearing business clothes, the woman should also wear business clothes or other modest dress, and have a no-nonsense nonsexualized demeanor. Women who dressed in an overtly sexual style, “as if going clubbing”, with short skirts and tight tops, seemed to me to be discrediting women who wanted to have their ideas recognized in very conservative employment venues. It doesn’t help all that much that I never felt comfortable being female or publicly (and privately) acknowledging sexual feelings# – that I am still the stereotypical prude when it comes to my own clothing – and that part of my discomfort with sexualized expression in the workplace was the knowledge that I would always lose out because I couldn’t play the game.

    * implicit because “transgender” was not recognized as a concept at that time
    # perhaps I would have fit some form of “genderqueer” category, if these had existed at the time

  66. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac April 20, 2009 at 12:17 am |

    little light: I think it’s just one of the weird and awkward things about love.

    Very fair point.

    In my general experience, though, the odds are a lot higher that a straight white man (or any two of the three) is just going to be completely oblivious to any analysis of oppression, discrimination, bigotry, and harassment in jokes, and much more inclined to dismiss all protests with “it was just a joke! if it upsets you so much I won’t tell it again!” than any woman is; than any gay person is; than any person of color is.

  67. Being Amber Rhea » Blog Archive » links for 2009-04-25

    […] Feministe » Petit Fours "It’s not really possible to say stuff like 'Ann Coulter is mannish' without dumping a whole lot of deeply transphobic crap all over the place. You’re setting up a standard for proper womanhood, one that has been used to hurt trans women in all kinds of ways. Real women aren’t “mannish.” Tall, bony, strong-featured women are ugly. It’s weird when they try on femme. They have no business trying to be womanly. You can’t keep those assumptions and not create a toxic scrutiny loop for gender difference that dovetails really neatly with a lot of really nasty stereotypes specific to trans women. It’d be nice, but it’s not possible." (tags: sexism hypocrisy gender transphobia) […]

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