Backtalk: The Myth of Racism Against White People

This week, Dahlia and Amy dig into the trolling of writer and lawyer Sarah Jeong with accusations of racism against white people. Jeong was recently hired to the New York Times editorial board when conservative trolls dug up tweets where she mocked white folks with the likes of #CancelWhitePeople. It’s too bad that punching up with bad jokes about white people isn’t enough to get someone fired because it doesn’t cause concrete harm. Plus, this might be the spiciest Amy vs. Dahlia—text “Animal” to 503-855-6485 to let us know your pick for best pet!

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WATCH

Amy is very into the HBO series Sharp Objects starring Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson. Adams is a reporter who returns to the small town where she was raised to investigate the murders of teenage girls while battling her own demons. The show is dark, quiet, and full of moving performances.

READ

“Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny” lays bare the rhetoric, logic, and structures that allow patriarchy to function and flourish. It is so good.

LISTEN

Do yourself a favor and preorder Black Belt Eagle Scouts album Mother of Our Children (released on Sept 14) for gorgeous tracks like “Soft Stud,” which was described by Saddle Creek records as “an anthem about the hardships of queer desire within an open relationship.”

Photo: “new york times” by samchills via Flickr

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TRANSCRIPT

[theme music]  

DAHLIA: Welcome to Backtalk, the feminist response to pop culture. I’m Dahlia Balcazar, Senior Engagement Editor at Bitch Media.  

AMY: And I’m Amy Lam, Contributing Editor at Bitch Media.  

DAHLIA: Every episode of Backtalk starts with our pop culture moments. Amy, what’s yours?  

AMY: My pop culture moment is the news about LeBron James opening a school for at-risk youth in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. I just love it when pro athletes do amazing things with the money that they’ve earned. And I just think that LeBron’s a great guy. Now, he gets a lot of haters because he’s so good at what he does. And I think that maybe— I don’t know why he rubs some people the wrong way. Well, maybe ‘cause he left Cleveland in a fantastically narcissistic way. [laughs]  

DAHLIA: Maybe that.  

AMY: But that was a long time ago, you know! I think he’s grown and matured as a human being. But he opened this great school for at-risk youth in Akron, Ohio. And then he did this interview on CNN with Don Lemon about it.  

DAHLIA: Yeah, I watched it.  

AMY: Yes. It was so good because Don Lemon actually asked him pointed questions about how he feels about Trump. Because you know, LeBron James famously called [laughs] Donald Trump a bum on Twitter.  

DAHLIA: I think it’s funny you thought that Don Lemon’s questions were pointed because I sort of felt like Don Lemon was just like totally star struck by LeBron and was just like  

AMY: [laughs]  

DAHLIA: ‘Cause there was a part where he was like, “OK, picture this. No one else is running for president against Donald Trump. Would you run?”  

AMY: [laughs]  

DAHLIA: What kind of question is that? That’s not a good question.  

AMY: You know what? That’s an escapist question.  

BOTH: [laugh]  

AMY: I would also ask the same thing, probably. But he also asked, so he asked LeBron about Donald Trump because Donald Trump’s been famously rude to LeBron James. And LeBron James has been like rude back to him. ‘Cause I don’t think that Donald Trump commands any of our respect. But at one point, Don Lemon asked LeBron if he would ever sit across from Trump and have a conversation with him. And LeBron was like, “No! I would never sit across the room from him. But I’d sit across the room from Barack, though.” And I love that he said Barack and not Obama, like their friends! [laughs] So that was just like a really great moment. And that was really my favorite pop culture moment of the past weeks.  

DAHLIA: My favorite pop culture moment happened earlier this week. It is the fact that Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and Spotify have all banned Info Wars’ Alex Jones. As I was preparing to set up that sentence, I was like, oh my god. But what if by the time that this podcast airs, it’s back on? I really hope, fingers crossed, that they won’t have reversed their decision and changed their mind. But early Monday, Apple was the first one to say that they were going to stop posting Info Wars on their podcast network. And then probably, it seems like Facebook was sort of just waiting around because they made their announcement at 3:00 a.m.  

AMY: [laughs]  

DAHLIA: Which kind of just seems like they were hoping no one was gonna pay attention. It’s like, what’s the most obscure hour? 3:00 a.m.  

[cutesy bells ring]  

AMY: ….Hi.  

DAHLIA: [laughs]  

AMY: So! We couldn’t do this podcast without support from listeners like you! So you can become a pollinator. And pollinators are a special group of Bitch supporters who contribute just $8 a month. And for the $8 you get a subscription to Bitch magazine, the actual physical magazine that you can touch, feel, take to the bathroom with you.  

BOTH: [laugh]  

A Bitch mug and a sticker. And you can join at BitchMedia.org/pollinators. That’s BitchMedia.org/pollinators. And it’s just for $8 a month. And for $8 I was thinking about what you can get. You know how they’re always these like news stories about how millennials are destroying everything?  

DAHLIA: ‘Cause of our $8 avocado toast?  

AMY: [laughs] Or like we’re not making enough babies because we have too many plants, right?  

DAHLIA: [laughs]  

AMY: You know how they’re like, “Oh, millennials have too many indoor plants instead of making children.” So I was thinking about how you can contribute to that by giving us $8 ‘cause we can buy a houseplant and not have babies.  

BOTH: [laugh]  

DAHLIA: What a dream present.  

AMY: So, for $8 month you can support Backtalk. And you can head over to BitchMedia.org/pollinators to join.  

DAHLIA: Another way you can help us out is by rating or reviewing us wherever you listen to Backtalk. I want to read two comment emails that we got ‘cause we really love getting feedback. So this is from Marcy. Marcy writes: “I don’t know what I’d do without the podcast. I’m a queer single mom who works in community mental health care. And on the days that I’ve come home exhausted and ready to give up, Backtalk and Popaganda have gotten me through many dinner preps.” Aw, man. Dinner prep is the worst part of the day, I feel like. [laughs]  

AMY: Yes, same. [chuckles]  

DAHLIA: And then here’s another letter from Robin. Robin says, “I really love reading your articles on Sunday, but you offer podcasts without accessibility features. I have a really difficult time being able to listen to podcasts, but I am able to read them. I was hoping in the future you could provide the transcription of your podcast. This is something so little that goes a long way for people who are D/deaf as well as for those who are neurodivergent.” And I wanted to say one, Marcy and Robin, thanks so much for writing to us. And also all of our podcast episodes from 2018 are transcribed just a few days after the episode goes live. And if you just navigate to the episode page itself, you’ll see the transcription right there.  

AMY: And we’re back on iTunes. I know we were down for a minute. So like Dalia said, please head over and and review us. We haven’t gotten any new reviews! [through gritted teeth] I keep checking! Please write us a note! I’m desperate for validation, guys!!  

[cutesy bells ring]  

DAHLIA: Amy and I agree about most everything, except we have one segment of our show especially for disagreements. It is this segment called Amy vs. Dahlia. And last week we asked folks to suggest some potential arguments. So we have a whole bunch of suggestions! Thank you so much for sending them. They were super fun to read through. And if you have any future suggestions for fights, you can still send them to us. If you text “fight” to 503-855-6485, you can still send your ideas for fights. But we have a fight picked out. It’s going to be very controversial. I’m very worried about both of our performances. I don’t know if either of us can pull this off.  

AMY: My heart rate is literally [inaudible]—  

DAHLIA: This is going to be so hard! OK! Should I announce it? OK. The argument is which is better: cats or dogs. Amy, you may begin.  

AMY: [laughs] Yes! I am solidly a dog person. I have three points to say why dogs are the best. First of all, of course everybody knows this: dogs are loyal, and they love un-con-ditionally! They don’t care if you like kind of leave them in the house for a few hours. ‘Cause the second you come back, they’re so overjoyed to see you. They don’t care how many treats you give them. They just love your company, and they will show you. And they’re just the best in that way. Secondly, they love to hang out. They will spend time with you. They like to go walks. They’ll go on hikes. They’ll go out and do things with you. They’ll watch you garden. They’re just happy to be in your company. They love to do physical activities with you. And also, and added to that, they will protect you if you’re on a walk and like something scary happens.  

BOTH: [chuckle]  

AMY: Like, they hear a loud sound, they’ll bark at it to scare it away. So they’re also protectors. And lastly, they help you clean up messes. For example, like—  

DAHLIA: Are you gonna say by eating it?  

AMY: YES!  

DAHLIA: NO!  

BOTH: [laugh]  

AMY: They’re so amazing! Like we’re talking about meal prep, you know. I can’t count the amount of times I’m making something, I drop something on the ground. I don’t have to bend over and exert that energy. I just call my dog over, Jack. RIP. I miss him dearly. But he’d just come over and eat it! Or find errant snacks that flew onto the ground. They are like vacuum cleaners that you don’t have to change the filters on.  

DAHLIA: [laughs] They’ll just puke it up later. [laughs]  

AMY: No, my dog did not do that. He was a good one.  

DAHLIA: [still laughing]  

AMY: So those are my reasons why dogs are better than cats. I’m sorry for saying that, but they are. If we had to rate them, I think dogs are a number one. And I will take no other argument. [laughs]  

DAHLIA: Oh my god. OK. [laughs] Well, I’ll just, I’ll respond to— I’ll just start where you left off speaking. OK. The thing about cats is, unlike dogs, cats don’t eat their own shit. [laughs]  

AMY: [gasps] Not all dogs eat their own shit!! My dog never ate his shit.  

DAHLIA: OK. Well, I’ll start there. Some, many dogs do. [chuckles] Here’s why cats are better. Cats, you have to earn their respect. They’re not just like gonna be your friend no matter who you are. You have to earn it. You have to prove yourself worthy. Because cats are wise, and they are they are good judges of character. And they know a shitty person from a not-shitty person. And so you have to work to be a cat’s friend, and then it’ll be worth it because they’ll respect you forever, and they’ll trust you. And I know that dogs are known for being more cuddly, but cats can be very cuddly once you’re in.  

And another point, dogs are not friends with witches, whereas cats definitely are friends with witches.  

AMY: What? !  

DAHLIA: Everybody knows that witches have cat familiars. So that’s a point. I have not seen your face look more horrified in the entire time I’ve known you. You’re like so shocked that that’s my argument. Also cats are smarter than dogs, and….  

BOTH: [laugh]  

DAHLIA: Amy doesn’t get that. [laughs]  

AMY: I’m so incredulous through this whole segment.  

DAHLIA: It’s about respect and wisdom and honor with cats.  

AMY: OK. I don’t agree with anything Dahlia just said.  

DAHLIA: [laughs]  

AMY: But, you guys let us know what you think.  

DAHLIA: Please do. If you text the word “animal” to 503-855-6485, Amy and I will text chat with you and ask you which one is your favorite. And then we’ll conclusively know who is better: a cat or a dog. You tell us.  

AMY: Dog.  

DAHLIA: No! Shh! [laughs]  

AMY: I think you’re already biasing this ‘cause you keep saying, “cat or dog” instead of “a dog or a cat.”  

DAHLIA: Text “animal” to 503-855-6485.  

[cutesy bells ring]  

AMY: Last week, the New York Times announced its latest hire to its editorial board. And she is Sarah Jeong, who is a brilliant writer and lawyer. She frequently writes about tech and culture. Some of her bylines have been at The Verge, where she was a senior writer, at The Atlantic, and more. She’s also written a book about online harassment called The Internet of Garbage, which is really relevant because she’s been on the receiving end of a lot of harassment.  

So because she’s a smart woman of color who was given a platform like the New York Times, conservative trolls came out in full force on Twitter and found some tweets where she was being rude about white people. So essentially she had some tweets where she simply said things like #CancelWhitePeople, which yes. Agree. Hard agree. But many of her tweets just felt like facetious. And they were about white people, but they were things about how maybe white people got sunburns more easily because they deserve to live in, I don’t know, gopher holes or something. You know things like that. They’re just like silly. And I don’t think that they were necessarily serious threats against white people or white men. ‘Cause she also had a tweet where she was just like, “White men are bullshit,” and just kind of went on in that direction. But I don’t think that they were like causing serious threat or bodily harm towards white folks.  

But the conservative trolls were calling for the New York Times to fire Sarah because she claims that she had a history of “racist tweets.” And so Sarah released a statement where she said, in part, “While it was intended as satire, I deeply regret that I mimicked the language of my harassers. These comments were not aimed at a general audience because general audiences do not engage in harassment campaigns. I can understand how hurtful these posts are out of context and will not do it again.” And when she released the statement, she included a couple of screen grabs of fucked up things that people have said to her, have tweeted at her, where they attacked her.  

And the New York Times responded by putting out another statement where they kind of chided Sarah and what Sarah had tweeted. But they said, “This hyper rhetoric is not acceptable at the Times.” But then they ultimately said that she’s “an important voice” and that she will stay on the editorial board.  

So here’s the thing about Sarah’s white people tweets. They’re not racist. And I swear if somebody throws the dictionary definition of racism at me, I’m just gonna ignore it because the dictionary definition of racist ignores the context of power. So a more, I think, appropriate definition of racism is to think of, I think, the classic phrase like prejudice + power. And the misuse of prejudice + power is racism. So when a person of color who is systemically underrepresented in positions of power talks shit about white people in a country that’s still deeply steeped in white supremacy, it’s not racism because she has no power to systemically fuck with white people that does any sort of real concrete harm.  

Also, these claims of racism that Sarah was being racist are made in bad faith because they’re just like an extension of conservative trolling. And using Sarah as an example of how the liberal media is too left when the New York Times, especially the New York Times, have been humanizing Nazis literally since Trump had been elected. So you know that this cry of racism is made in bad faith and is disingenuous because these motherfuckers don’t call it racism when it happens to anyone else. They’re only doing this in this time because they think that it’ll get her fired. And I’m just not gonna fuck with it. 

I think that they really did try to troll her and get her fired, but the New York Times responded, I think, in a way that’s also kind of embarrassing for them. Because they did say like, oh, she shouldn’t have done that, but we’re gonna keep her on board. But this, I think, really shone a light on the tactics that the right uses to first say that like the media is too left-leaning, and then secondly, to show the power that they might have in trolling and whether or not it’s effective.  

DAHLIA: Well, I think a really good point that you’re making is that there is this distinction between what is good faith and what’s an attempt to intimidate or an attempt to oppress. And so you know, these tweets that are, to my eye, obviously jokes, obviously ironic you know, maybe they’re mean, maybe they annoy a white person, maybe they rile up the feathers of a person. But Sarah Jeong is not actively entrenched in making white nationalist you know, making oppressive policies or you know, actively campaigning for oppressive politicians. Whereas this is another reason why the the right’s tactic of sort of like pulling up two different kinds of like let’s say words that are hurtful and trying to draw a comparison between the two. When there is no comparison between white supremacist rhetoric coming from a person who is actively engaged in white supremacist policy or actively supporting white supremacist policy compared to someone who is making jokes on Twitter.  

And I saw this tweet going around. This is a quote from Sartre. “Never believe that anti-Semites are completely unaware of the absurdity of their replies. They know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge, but they are amusing themselves. For it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly since he believes in words.” And I think that that’s something that you and I have been circling around for so long, and it keeps popping up, of course, like on every episode of Backtalk. But this fact that…. Oh! It’s such a mindfuck because you know, well-meaning people can spend all of this time trying to get to like well, what exactly is hurtful about this word versus that word? Or like how does this word or that word uphold oppression? But that’s not something that the right cares about. They’re just flinging words like they’re throwing things at a wall. Like exactly like Sartre says: they don’t believe in the words, and they don’t believe in the power of the words. They believe in getting people riled up and angry.  

AMY: Yeah, and I think in their heart of hearts, they understand that the things that Sarah Jeong says will never bring harm to them, especially when you consider that like we have a literal white supremacist in office. And he had an adviser that was a literal white adviser. It wasn’t that long ago that Steve Bannon was in office with him, and then I mean Steve Miller is still in there.  

I saw a great thread by Andy Richter on Twitter. And Andy Richter’s like a white guy comedian. He is like the sidekick guy on the Conan O’Brien Show. And he wrote about how—it’s a long thread but—like I think that sometimes whites need to hear it from other white folks. [laughs] And he says, like, “As a white man, when I hear a statement about whites, before I choose to call it ‘racism’ I ask myself the following: Does the statement represent a real history of or a non-laughable future potential for 1) the murder me or my family, 2) the threat of bodily harm, 3) another human being’s legal ownership of me and my family, 4) decreased employment opportunity, 5) an economic system rigged against me, 6) an inferior education for my children. On and on. He has like 15 points like this, right?  

Essentially, he’s saying, no! Nothing people can say about white folks is serious racism because it doesn’t cause them the type of harm that like slurs against marginalized people do. Because the slurs that are lobbed against marginalized people are just like a manifestation of serious policy and hateful types of real concrete actions that fuck people’s lives.  

DAHLIA: And for instance, you know, #CancelWhitePeople is born out of like let’s say a joke or annoyance or you know, it’s obviously something light. Whereas rhetoric like, “The Jews control the media,” that is based in decades, centuries of anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic policies and prejudice and actual real lived experiences of people being oppressed and marginalized and killed and assaulted, etc. And so these kinds of jokes that Sarah Jeong is making are not rooted in centuries of her and her family’s oppression over all other people.  

AMY: Her tweets were like punching up.  

DAHLIA: Yes!  

AMY: Yes. They were not punching down. I think that’s a distinction that the the right and those trolls refuse to even acknowledge. They don’t think that there’s such a thing as punching up ‘cause they are not acknowledging that the power that white folks have just for being in white bodies, right? And she’s punching up and doing it in a facetious way that I don’t think would ever cause serious change.  

DAHLIA: I’ve seen a lot of people online comparing the situation with Sarah Jeong with another situation that happened at the New York Times, which was the writer Quinn Norton. And then it’s also making me think about Kevin Williamson’s firing from The Atlantic. But I think that they’re very, very different. It’s just sort of the trickery of the right to draw comparisons.  

But Quinn Norton was a writer who had been hired at the New York Times and then was fired after previous tweets of her as one using homophobic slurs and then also defending her friendships with people who are Nazis. And Kevin Williamson is a writer who was fired from The Atlantic after past tweets and comments in which he said that women who have abortions should be hanged. And the reason why I’m almost like startled that we even have to make this conversation: it’s so obvious that the things that Sarah was tweeting were jokes, and the things that Kevin Williamson was tweeting and Quinn Norton was tweeting were real to the point that people asked them, “Yo, are you joking?” And they were like, “No, I literally believe this.”  

AMY: Yeah, and in Quinn’s tweets she kept using this homophobic slur over and over again: the one that starts with an “f.” And it’s like it was part of her vernacular, you know? And in those instances, it’s like the decision to use a slur like that over and over again, it’s not like a one-off weird joke thing. She used it in a way to put other people down to diminish them.  

DAHLIA: Yeah.  

AMY: And both of these cases, these people are punching down. There’s nothing funny or satire-ish or like, “I’m joking in this.” And it does have to go a lot back to like how we talk about prejudice + power = racism, right? And like in these instances, these two people had power above people they were talking about and the communities they were talking about. And it’s just so disingenuous, I think, for the far right and their trolls to come after Sarah like this.  

And I think that the one shining light about the situation is that it didn’t work. It shows the limits of their trolling and the power that they have. And this doesn’t mean that like the New York Times is great for not firing Sarah Jeong, because of the New York Times is also trash. They’ve done a lot of work, I think, that’s been very harmful, especially since Trump has been elected. But I think it shows, it reveals to us the techniques that they’re using to bring people to their side or to fan flames. And I think that because it’s being illuminated to us what they’re doing, maybe it could help us to prepare better to like you know, push back at that rhetoric. I think that remains to be seen, but the only, I think, positive outcome of this was that Sarah Jeong wasn’t fired.  

DAHLIA: Before she’s even started. She hasn’t even officially moved over to the New York Times yet.  

AMY: Yeah, and I think the New York Times is lucky to have somebody like her. She’s so fucking smart. She has like really interesting perspectives. And so she made like a few dozen tweets about how white people are the worst? EVERYBODY tweets about white people are the worst! And you know what? The reason why we do it is because we are so powerless in so many other parts of our lives that literally sending out a two-sentence pithy thing about how we think white people like sunburn easily because [laughing] they’re supposed to live in caves, it doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t affect anybody’s employment status. It doesn’t affect anybody’s citizenship status. It doesn’t affect their ability to live in their homes, you know. So it’s like can we not live and just have our dumb jokes?  

DAHLIA: And not like I wanna press her one what her jokes were about. But like I’d bet my good money that #CancelWhitePeople happened on a day when a white person did something racist to her. You know, like that these tweets are not just like vitriol into nowhere. I’m sure they’re responses to actual racism that she faces in her actual life. Whereas you know, if Alex Jones tweets something horrible, it’s an attack on someone that doesn’t have anything to do with any violence or oppression or pain that he has experienced in his actual life.  

AMY: Yeah, and I think another analogous thing to these types of tweets are like when people tweet “men are trash” are like “why do we need men,” etc., it’s like people say things like that. And men say things like that sometimes, you know. It’s because maybe we’re having a bad day, so we had a fucked up interaction with another person. And it’s like this weird venting that like it doesn’t mean we’re gonna silo all men onto an island where we don’t have to interact with them anymore. It’s not a thing where we’re punching down at a vulnerable community, you know. In a patriarchal, white supremacist culture, when you criticize or critique or make fucked up jokes or whatever about white people or about men, it’s not something that puts them in vulnerable spaces where they can no longer exist as white people or as men.  

DAHLIA: It’s so wild, man. It’s like I’m so riled up right now because it’s like just think about the audacity of putting up a #CancelWhitePeople against Kevin Williamson saying women who have abortions should be hanged. Because one of them is so frivolous. So like what does that even mean, right? I know that “cancel” is like cool vernacular, but literally, it means nothing, right? Whereas women who have abortions should be hanged? That’s something that has happened, could happen. That’s a real threat. That’s a specific thing. They’re just so different! But the alt right or you know, or conservatives—fucking Tucker Carlson—’cause he was yelling about it on his show—would say to you like, “These are the same thing.” And it’s just so maddening because they’re so far apart.  

[cutesy bells ring]  

DAHLIA: At the end of every episode of Backtalk we share something we’re reading, watching, and listening to. Amy, what are you watching?  

AMY: So I am really super into HBO’s Sharp Objects. It’s a series starring Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson. So this is how I described the show to my partner when he asked me what I was watching. [laughs] I said, “It’s a sad and quiet show about a woman who returns to her small Southern town where she’s—she’s also like a raging alcoholic too—where she was— So she goes back to this small Southern town where she was raised to report on the murders [pronounced “moiders”]. [laughs] d— 

DAHLIA: Moiders?  

AMY: [laughing] The moiders of some girls. [still laughing] So I know it’s like such a tragic thing, but I was just like, “It’s about a lady who goes back to her small town to report on some moiders.” And my partner just looked at me like, what the fuck?  

DAHLIA: No, I get what you’re saying.  

AMY: [still laughing] Yeah. [finally stops laughing] But Amy Adams’ performance in this is so seething. And I’m just loving the technical things. Like I love the editing of the show. I love the soundtrack. The sound design is so amazing. It’s haunting. I do have a content warning because I’ve only watched two episodes so far in this season, and there’s a lot of like self-harm and violent imagery in this. But I’m just loving like, there’s this anti-hero feel about Amy Adams’s character, Camille, that we don’t often see with women characters. And she’s just so fucked up; she has a lot of shit she needs to work through. And I don’t know if she’s gonna work through it on like what happens as the storytelling unfolds. And I don’t need her to work through it. I just wanna see somebody so fucked up. But I wanna see somebody in pain survive it no matter even if she’s doing it in a fucked up way where was she’s self-medicating by drinking all the time. But it’s just a gorgeous show.  

DAHLIA: Well, I have one bone to pick, which is not even just with you. So you said, Amy, that it’s set in the South. And in fact, it is set in Missouri. And you wouldn’t know because as the show would want you to believe that it’s like, might as well be Mississippi or Alabama. But having grown up right next door to Missouri, I’m like this is just a little bit much of like Southern— I mean, Missouri—sorry if you live in Missouri—Missouri is a terrible place, just like it seems on Sharp Objects. But just like it seems on Sharp Objects, it’s not part of Louisiana.  

AMY: Wow! I thought that Missouri counted as the South.  

DAHLIA: Oh no. Midwest.  

AMY: Wow! But like the show, it is really trying hard to—  

DAHLIA: Oh yeah. Big time!  

AMY: I was watching it, and I’m like, oh, this is like Mississippi. Yeah.  

DAHLIA: Oh, they have accents. They have Southern accents. I’m like whatever. That’s right by St. Louis. [laughs]  

AMY: Wow. OK.  

DAHLIA: But that’s my only— 

AMY: That’s a regional bone to pick. [laughs]  

DAHLIA: A regional bone to pick. And I’ve read the book. No spoilers, but I know who the killer is. And so I’m just silently lording that over Amy. Sorry, Amy.  

I have been reading this book that I’m really, really into. It’s called Down Girl: The Logic Of Misogyny. It’s by a Philosophy professor at Cornell. Her name is Kate Manne. I never took a logic class in college, but sort of like a deconstruction of what misogyny and what patriarchy and what sexism actually are. And it uses a lot of pop culture examples. It was written sort of around the time of the election, so there’s a lot of usage of Trump in there. But it has already given me this big gift, which is this framework. Which is Kate Manne says that there are the social norms of patriarchy, and sexism is the rationale for the the social norms. So sexism is the idea like oh, women are just more creative. Women are more emotional. Men are more logical. Men are better at smart— Better at smarts! Better at math. Men are smart. Women are emotional. Like sexism is that kind of rationale about what’s natural. And then Kate Manne says that misogyny is the force that polices and patrols behavior in patriarchy. So sexism is like logic, and then misogyny is like, I see you stepping out of bounds. So I’m gonna shame you. So I’m going to abuse you. So I’m gonna harass you at work, etc. And I found that really interesting because I feel like sexism and misogyny have been conflated a lot in the way that people talk about it, in the way that I think about it. I mean I guess it’s very icky to think about patriarchy in these kinds of ways, but also, I think, valuable to think about what it is that people sort of like structurally, sociologically are doing when they participate in patriarchy or misogyny.  

AMY: I have the listen pick. It is Black Belt Eagle Scout who is Catherine Paul. Catherine Paul describes herself as a radical Indigenous queer feminist.  

DAHLIA: Nice.  

AMY: Yes, I love it. And so she has this track out now, which is this track called Soft Stud, and she calls it an anthem about the hardships of queer desire with an open relationship! And I listened to this song, and I, within the first I wanna say like two measures, I was like melting. It’s like just made my heart drip. It’s so good. Her record comes out September 14th. It’s called Mother of my Children. You must pre-order this. I cannot speak highly enough of this. It is on Saddle Creek, which if you’re familiar with the label, you know you won’t be disappointed. So this is Black Belt Eagle Scout with Soft Stud.  

Thanks for listening!  

DAHLIA: Thanks for listening.  

 

♪ Some prizes in my mind 

Won’t you have your way 

Open up the door I see 

I know you’re taken 

What is it to you 

Habits just don’t fade 

Open over-crowded love 

 

I know you’re taken 

I know you’re taken 

I know you’re taken 

I know you’re taken 

 

Need you want you 

Need you want you 

Need you want you 

Need you want you 

Need you want you 

Need you want you 

Need you want you 

Need you want you 

I know you’re taken…. ♪ 

DAHLIA: Thanks for listening to Backtalk. This show is produced by Ashley Duchemin. Bitch Media is a reader- and listener-supported feminist nonprofit. If you wanna support the show and our work, please head over to BitchMedia.org and donate.  

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by Amy Lam
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Amy Lam is Bitch Media’s contributing editor. Find her at @amyadoyzie.