Tag Archives: Suey Park

men at work: how sexism operates #CancelColbert

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I have written on the Tone Argument before this year, and I’ll leave you with this here link. What I want to very very briefly talk about is the problem of Tone Arguments and Patriarchy.

For anyone who not living under at rock, writer and activist Stewy Suey Park started a hashtag: #CancelColbert to confront the ironic racism of Stephen Colbert’s supposed call out of Washington [enter racial slur for Native Americans here] owner Daniel Snyder.  The point was not to take away Colbert’s means of employment (hey, it’s always about the allies, #amirite!!!), it was about how ironic racism is not the answer to addressing the racism of white supremacist mythologies perpetuated by making First Nations peoples our mascots.  White liberals and conservatives alike continue to view the problem of racism and institutional white supremacy as that of being one of private, individual sins.  It is this continued failure of listening to the stories and the actual arguments that Persons of Color make that perpetuates the White Supremacist talking point that the anti-racists are the real racists.

The way the conversation about #CancelColbert has been framed, has been, per usual, one that favors the White Supremacist and Male Supremacist Gazes. Take for example the Washington Post’s story on Suey Park’s interview on HuffPo Live. Her interviewer is portrayed as the civil, objective, reasonable host: “Josh Zepps is a host on HuffPost Live. He presides over many interesting and civil conversations with guests on a wide variety of topics. Generally they end in a civil manner.”

Meanwhile, Suey Park is described as “the Korean-American Twitter hashtag activist” who “roared again” in protest of ironic racism. The author of the report, Erik Wemple doesn’t even bother to name the race or gender of Josh Zepps. Because he doesn’t have to. Zepps is the default for what it means to be a human being, and therefore, HE represents all that is universal and rational and good in journalism. Suey is not an anti-racist activist or social justice activist, but “Anti-Colbert” activist, because ironic racism is all about the individual according to the worldview of white liberalism. And once more, just as we discussed with Twitter’s White Supremacist Toxic Wars, Women of Color are once more dehumanized and made more animalistic [READ: dangerous, angry, more subjective, irrational]; Suey doesn’t argue, contend, debate; she “ROARS” which is less a compliment given the way Wemple frames the discussion.

The interview was not that lengthy for the simple fact of Zepp’s vehement sexism, as seen in his denial of Stewy’s Suey’s agency and capacity to reason, you know, and in general, her experience; Zepps’ responded in defense of white liberal men everywhere: “No one’s minimalizing your experiences, no one’s minimalizing your right to have an opinion.” Ummmm Really Zepps? Did you follow the hashtag #CancelSueyPark [frell no, I am not bothering to link that garbage], the Male Supremacist and White Supremacist response to #CancelColbert? Have you ever bothered to read the timelines of Women of Color who are academics/activists/both and see the trolls they have to deal with? So, I think it’s rather a bizarre claim to make, unless of course, Zepps, being the rational objective dude that he is, meant the EXACT OPPOSITE of what he was claiming. Which of course, seconds later in the interview:

“It’s just a stupid opinion.”

And there you have it. The thoughts and labors of Women of Color don’t matter for moderate objective journalists like Zepps. What matters is that his progressive Male Supremacist narrative be kept in tact to silence women speaking out on gender and racial oppression. And Park’s response was appropriate: “You just called my opinion stupid, you just called my opinion stupid. That’s incredibly unproductive. And I don’t think I’m going to enact the labor of explaining to you why it’s incredibly offensive and patronizing.” Frantz Fanon observed in Wretched Of The Earth that the media is always ALWAYS ALWAYS going to oppress the colonized in the name of objectivity, FAIR AND BALANCED reporting. In other words, Objectivity is a weapon by the Oppressor to deny the agency of the Oppressed, in this case, Women of Color. Civility then is usually a White Supremacist dog-whistle that is utilized to shut down the voices of anti-oppression.

Another example of the way we men passive-aggressively embody our Male Supremacist narratives is in the area of religion. Growing up Baptist, I experienced from a very early age how powerful male pastors were and the abuses of power thereof used in the pulpit. Recently, my friend Katie Grimes wrote a post criticizing a local parish priest for using his bully pulpit to make a hostile atmosphere for a family with young children. According to Grimes,

“In view of the entire congregation, he chastised the parents, telling them that it was inappropriate for their children to be eating, drinking, and playing with toys during mass. Even though they were well-behaved (a parishioner sitting within earshot of this exchange had not even noticed the children’s activity until the pastor descended to condemn them), he said the children were “distracting” him.”

Now, the theological assumptions behind this display of Male Power is highly problematic. Children distracting the HOMILIST! Is this really what the ministry of Jesus was about? It was about our sermons? Correct me if I am wrong, but really, aren’t only Protestant worship services supposed to be centered on the Preached Word [andro-centric Logos theology that it is]? Secondly, rather than addressing children as free human subjects, as Jesus and the apostle Paul did, the priest made them objects, mere things that distract HIS LITTLE HOMILY. Christianity is not about MEN standing up in front an altar, reading from our little notecards or Amazon Kindles, sermonizing and lecturing; Christianity is the religion of the Pentecost, where the Spirit fills women and men to preach the Good News of the Resurrection, and God’s love for everyone.

The performance of THE sermon, apart from any notion of Pentecost, remains a Male Supremacist ritual. The Male Supremacist gaze neglects the humanity of women and children, and we see this in the incident that Katie talked about quite clearly. Men are not supposed to take care of children. Children and women are not meant for the public square, i.e., the teaching offices in Christianity. They are only meant to be taken care of at home. That is their sphere. What makes Katie’s story even all the more shocking is that rather than make amends for the damage to the family the priest had done; today Katie updated us (via facebook), that the priest actually called out Katie WITHOUT NAMING HER. Referring to Katie’s work as something written by a student with a Masters’ Degree in Theological Ethics, the father of the parish went on to use the time that’s supposed to be set aside to focus on Christ to talk about his disagreement with a congregant. Now, I’ve seen pastor’s sermons briefly refer to personal disagreements, and it just doesn’t sit well. By failing to make sermons Christ-centered, and instead objectifying dissidents within your congregations, male pastors wind up making the Church the face of Male Supremacy.

Just as Suey Park was not introduced to the audience first as her name in the Washington Post article [“Korean-American hash-tag activist”], Katie went unnamed (but recognized probably) and therefore dehumanized.  By not naming, and therefore not addressing women as moral agents,   Male Supremacy narratives continue to function as truth regimes, especially in the worlds of journalism and religion.To wax James Cone in Black Theology And Black Power, “HE who does not affirm me, OPPOSES ME.”

if twitter is so toxic

The advent of social media comes with its ups and downs, just like with anything in life in general. I think that the idea that anywhere on the Internet is a safe space, let alone twitter, is an opinion born out of immense privilege. People are online for all kinds of reasons, and just a few years ago, as of August 2009, I refused to join Twitter.com. My microblogging (what are called Tweets) have remained fairly consistent. It’s always been about fandoms, politics, and theology. Essentially, what I write about here on PJ, except in 140 character blurbs.

Twitter has definitely changed things for me. It has made it easier for me to network with persons with my general interests, I have learned new ideas, such as with the emergence of Black Nerdity and Blerd Chats. I still feel that the religious meanings of things like Social Justice and Black Twiitter have yet to be explored. Sure, Twitter has its darkside, like the numbers of parody accounts and reactionary racist hashtags like #SpeakAmerican.

Yet, the overwhelming majority of Trends on Twitter are good, positive messages, support for fallen persons, or just plain ole snarky criticisms of liberals and conservatives. As I noted in a recent Tumblr post:

“As a black man who regularly uses Twitter for discussing theology, racial justice, and geeky fandom talk, I have found Twitter to be more or less pretty safe.  This is what it is to have male privilege online.  Men are allowed to have opinions, even men of colors sometimes.  There have been a few times, however, that I have been the victim of white supremacist trolls. When I wrote a blogpost on the New Apartheid and the Renisha McBride murder, immediately three or four white supremacists trolls jumped into my timeline. Total strangers who had never once glanced at my TL or Bio for that matter.

What I experienced is nothing compared to the harassment that renowned Women of Color on Twitter get on a daily basis.  When a racist hashtag trends on Twitter ( #TT ), it does matter because it means there are groups of people who are intending to make Twitter an unsafe space for People of Color.  As I have written before, white liberals for some reason refuse to take cyber-white supremacy seriously.”

Last week, Michelle Goldberg wrote a piece, Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars [linked is the Do Not Link Version] about the Toxic Twitter Wars perpetuated by savage Maoist Women of Color.  It was declared to be “fair and balanced,” sort of the way Fox News claims for itself.  In reality, it was very much lopsided in its criticism of women of color, but not only that, Goldberg relied on negative stereotypes of Black and Latin@ women to make her case.  My first question is, in what type of world are common tropes levied against WOC acceptable?  The suffering of WOC is deemed as something that is not worthy of empathy.  Is this not the very essence of White Supremacy?

“Going back to the Michelle Goldberg piece, her “Toxic Twitter Wars” post works in the exact same fashion, only with negative stereotypes of Women Of Color added in as well. The anti-racist response to #FemFuture was compared to, oh look another Communist China/tyrannical POC political figure reference as a “Maoist hazing.” As Goldberg reminisces about back in the day, “Just a few years ago, the feminist blogosphere seemed an insouciant, freewheeling place, revivifying women’s liberation for a new generation. “It felt like there was fun and possibility…a momentum or excitement that was building,” says Anna Holmes, who founded Jezebel, Gawker Media’s influential women’s website, in 2007. In 2011, critic Emily Nussbaum celebrated the feminist blogosphere in New York magazine: “Freed from the boundaries of print, writers could blur the lines between formal and casual writing; between a call to arms, a confession, and a stand-up routine—and this new looseness of form in turn emboldened readers to join in, to take risks in the safety of the shared spotlight.” ” Yes, it was a feminist blogopshere prior to the existence of Twitter, and therefore before Black Twitter, and before Social Justice Twitter. Goldberg problem is not with the Women of Color challenging Lean In/Respectability Politics feminism; its the nature of twitter itself she should be taking into consideration. But alas! Women of Color are the scapegoats, and mean ones at that!

Enter Goldberg, once more: “On the phone, Kendall isn’t mean. She seems warm and engaging, but also obsessed” Goldberg even took offense to HuffPo’s rare excellent piece “5 Ways White Feminists Can Address Our Own Racism. because Women of Color are the reason for “an environment of perpetual psychodrama.” In other words, Women of Color, besides the ones that agree with Massa Jezebel and Massa #FemFuture, are incapable of rationality. Of course, it was said in the most progressive, nicest way possible. After all, only whites are capable of being objective, right Dan Savage? The White Supremacist myth that People of Color are by nature intellectually inferior raises its ugly head once more. And once more, because the argument is an apology for the Politics of Respectability, Progressive Whites are okay with that.”

I think the real question about Twitter’s “toxicity” should be, if Twitter is sooooooo hostile a space, why do corporations use it to do product placement?  Why does the media use it as another outlet for news?  Why are so many celebrities willing to spend $11,000 to have verified accounts for a social media space you can have for free? The answer lies in a proper examination of the social location of those proclaiming the “dangers” of Twitter yet go without mentioning any other space online.

 

If you enjoyed this piece,

You may also like from around the web:

detox: {on twitter wars and who gets to write history]

White Supremacy’s Toxic Twitter Wars

In Defense Of Twitter Feminism

Breathe, Michelle Goldberg, It’ll Be Okay

 

 

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