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.