Discuss, Part Deux: Taking the Debate to Twitter

Sep 30, 2011

This morning, I climbed the ladder to the top of my soapbox to engage in a little righteous indignation about how sexual assault shouldn’t be used as a punchline.  Because when a man, even an asshole misogynist who became famous for saying and doing outrageously inappropriate things, says that he paid $1,700 for “a good raping,” that’s not f***ing funny.  And when the woman who the comment was directed towards seems to indulge in the joke, that’s even more deplorable.  

Not long after my post, Julia Allison deleted her original tweet correcting the price that Tucker Max paid for her and a stack of books at a bachelorette auction.  She then tweeted the following clarification (?):

Sure, it’s a bit too-little-too-late, but I figured, a late condemnation is better than no condemnation at all.  But just as I was about to retweet this comment and move on from my anger, I saw this tweet right below it:

I was confused.  In the first tweet, she said that she doesn’t support his comments. But she had just retweeted the article in which he made the tasteless “joke” to her 25,000+ followers and included how he bought her for $1,700 in the tweet.  Talk about a mixed message.

Still confused and a little angry, I wanted to respond, but I really couldn’t find the words.  Luckily, someone else had said exactly what I wanted to say, so I just retweeted that comment:

Long story short, another reader retweeted my retweet, and so on, and so on.  And eventually, Julia Allison responded to the comment/me directly (which I honestly hadn’t expected) with this:

Let’s take this one in two parts, shall we?

First off, the original New York Observer tweet clearly stated, “1600 is a totally reasonable price to pay for a good raping.”  When Allison read that tweet, she could have responded in many different ways.  She could have condemned the comment right then.  She could have ignored it as just more Tucker Max stupidity and decided it wasn’t worth a response.  Or she could fact check the reporter and point out that Max spent $1,700, not $1,600.

She went with option 3, which to me and many other people sounded a LOT like a tacit endorsement of his ridiculously tasteless joke.  She later retracted her initial reaction by deleting her “It was $1,700” tweet, and posting the above clarification shortly after she linked to the article, which repeats the joke that she doesn’t condone.  Confused?  I’ve gone cross-eyed.

Bottom line, to me, and I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person, not condemning the “joke” right off was a disgrace.  Condemning it later was an acceptable mea culpa, but retweeting the story the “joke” appears in sends some really mixed signals.  So color me not impressed with her clarification/quasi-apology.

As for the second part of the tweet, “Focus your blame on the rapists,” I don’t even know where to start.  I know it’s hard to make an eloquent, logical argument in 140 characters, but that’s just a bit of a non-sequitur.  (I’ve always wanted an excuse to use that phrase on the blog.)

I’ve never had to write a part deux on a discussion post before, but I really felt like this post deserved a B-side.  Any man who makes a joke about rape, like it’s something funny or light-hearted, needs to be chastised immediately and loudly.  Consider it aversion therapy.  Hopefully, if that man is someone other than Tucker Max, the Lee Atwater of misogyny, he’ll realize that he was out of line, apologize and learn something valuable from the experience.

I was really ticked off when Allison, who has said in the past that she was a victim of a sexual assault, seemed to join in the mockery instead of immediately condemn it.  It made me even more upset that she deleted her original tweet in an effort to look blameless, when she could have taken responsibility for what she said, disavowed his comments and simply apologized.  And for her to pretend that retweeting the article, which is not only embarassing for all parties involved but repeats Max’s completely inappropriate comments, doesn’t offer a tacit endorsement of his actions is even more maddening.  That’s like retelling a joke that you find offensive just to get attention, and it’s not okay. 

This morning, I was fuming mad at Allison.  Now, I’m just saddened by her lack of accountability and perspective.  In my opinion, her response to this situation was dismissive, defensive and less than sincere.  

Discussions

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  1. Jenny says:

    This is vintage Julia Allison. She cannot apologize or admit she messed up about anything. So she Tweletes, obfuscates, misleads, lies. I have never had to Twelete anything after three years Tweeting. She does it constantly. If you're constantly having to disappear stupid things you do and say, maybe you might want to question your behavior, you know?

  2. Meghan says:

    I think this post is a completely appropriate follow-up to the original entry. I was enraged when I saw your first post and now I can't decide if I'm even angrier or if I'm depressed about the continued use of this type of language. Sigh…

    Regardless, I'm glad you did climb on top of your soapbox and discuss this issue in what is normally a fashion forum. It's refreshing to see bloggers like you take a stand instead of allowing such problematic messages to pass by unnoticed. Thanks.

  3. J says:

    Amen. Our whole culture takes this issue way too lightly, thank you for shedding light on these unfortunate but all too common attitudes.

  4. Belle says:

    This is going to be my last word on the matter (hopefully), but I don't think I mentioned the thing that I find the most upsetting.

    When he said he'd paid for a “good raping,” he was talking about her. He was joking about raping HER. And I don't know about you, but if a man joked about raping me, my first reaction wouldn't be to clarify how much he paid to rape me.

    My first reaction would probably be to tell him off and call him every name in the book. My second reaction would be to apologize for being involved in this stupidity and condemn him as the piece of slime that he is. I'd probably donate the $1,700 (if I had it) to RAINN to try to fully cleanse myself of the bad kharma of posing for smiley pictures with such a douche.

    And I guess that's what is so upsetting to me, and what prompted the post this morning. Why isn't Julia offended by the fact that a man joked about paying to rape her? All the other behavior aside, the fact that that doesn't upset her, kind of sickens me.

  5. Laura says:

    I could not have said it better than Jenny; in fact, I would have been harsher. Anybody who has read Gawker for a few years knows how Julia Allison operates. You are correct to call her out and she didn't have the intelligence to backpedal gracefully. Tsk, tsk Julia

  6. Marianne says:

    She played along with the hilarious rape joke because she thinks that Tucker Max is a big deal in this latest group of losers she's trying to latch on to. If some random unknown person had made such a vile comment about her, she'd be all over Twitter causing a scene and would have posted long, rambling, incoherent lectures on her blog; not for the right reasons, but just to get attention. Julia Allison is a shallow, lying (always lying), unhinged opportunist who is perfectly fine with rape jokes, as long as they're told by an OMG RICH AND FAMOUS PERSON who might just let her glom on to him! Thanks for blogging about this, Belle. It's worth talking about.

  7. I'm focused on someone else's use of the made-up word “twelete,” but… other than that, I'm with you 100%.

  8. Belle says:

    Sweetheart-I used it in the original draft of this post. Then, I did a rewrite and thought, “You're almost 30. You're too old to say twelete.”

  9. Danae says:

    Not to dismiss the true point here, but the best response to this hype-driven female is perhaps understood here – https://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/magazine/16-08/howto_allison?currentPage=all

  10. Molly says:

    I hate this. I hate Tucker Max, and I hate how so many dudes I knew in college thought he was funny.

  11. Anon says:

    Good for you. So tired of women going the cute, coy, play dumb route rather than calling people on their bullshit. I consider her more guilty than Tucker Max frankly. She is complicit and should know better. A discredit to women everywhere. How will we ever get through the “bitch” stereotype with women out there acting like this?

  12. Jenny says:

    She's now defending him on her blog in the comments of the most recent post. So much for her “all the girls” thing, huh? So long as he's nice to her in private, what does it matter what he says publicly? Who cares whether his bullshit might help perpetrate rape culture among the douchebags who eat up his every word? He's nice to her privately!! Even though she was inside, it really doesn't matter what he says publicly.

    Awful human being.

  13. Belle says:

    Like I said, it makes me sad that any woman would think that just because a man is nice to you in private he can say whatever he wants about you in public. Sadly, I think there are a lot of women who think that's a valid premise.

    I feel sorry for any woman who wouldn't have the good sense to toss a man who is unrepentant about joking about raping her to the curb. Clearly, she needs to deal with some issues. And sadly, this is a person who gives others advice for a living.

  14. Christina says:

    Not to play devil's advocate here, but none of us participated in the actual event or were privy to any of the conversations that transpired. While I don't believe she conducted herself in the most beneficial manner, I also don't believe that the tweeting and blogging about how ridiculous she acted is really an appropriate response. You have the opportunity to make a lesson out of this, not point a finger and say what was wrong. I guess I just expected more out of you, Belle.

  15. Belle says:

    Christina-I don't think you need to be there for a conversation to comment on a news article about it. Plus, I would consider reading the ensuing Twitter conversation being present for that part of the discussion.

    Also, the lesson is that rape is not a piece of joke fodder and that women need to stand up to men who use it as such if we ever hope to change this culture. The original post was about that. The follow up expressed my outrage at how a woman could make apologies for a man who joked about raping her, which only perpetuates the poor behavior by making excuses for it.

    If you don't agree, you're certainly entitled to your opinion. But, thus far, you're the only one.

  16. I really can't understand Julia. If a man joked about raping ME, that's personal. It's insulting no matter what person he is referring to, but for Julia to laugh it off, when he was referring to her in particular, not just an imaginary person, is inconceivable (and yes, that word means what I think it means). I'm flabbergasted.

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