Today the Access Fund kyboshed and apologized for the Valentine’s day campaign thing we criticized yesterday, which we’re happy about. This post was written afterward.
Some years back I helped start a local lgbt climbing group, and we were tossing around names, and we arrived at the word “Dyno’mos” (haha!) but needed something a little catchier that said we were southern, so we named it the “Dixie Dyno’mos.”
A couple years later, when the clubs ranks possessed more than four, a couple black people pointed out that while “Dixie” might just be an equivalent of the word “south” for us white people, for everyone else it carried around a lot of baggage, of the white hood, cross burning in the yard kind.
I asked my mother about it.
“Mom, does the word “dixie” have racist connotations to you?”
“What are you, an idiot?”
So, we changed the name. Seeing a black person at the climbing gym was like seeing a black person in Sweden, so we figured we shouldn’t make the situation any worse. Although changing the name was a pain (logo gone, DNS name gone, flyers redone, etc.) I was happy we could do it quietly and maybe kind of pretend it was just making the name more efficient, rather than removing the evidence that I was a dumbass.
At the same time, it was remarkably easy—change the name, problem solved!
This is why it would be incredibly hypocritical of me to rake the Access Fund over the coals for an ad that stepped into potential homophobic territory. And if using the word “Dixie” was the worst thing I had ever done in my life (or the least prejudiced thing I had ever said), I would shoot myself now, because it would be maybe the only point in my life since age five that I was confident I wasn’t going straight to hell. Maybe age three. I was precocious.
I suppose I could have stood my ground, defended the etymology of the word “Dixie,” trotted out all of the non-racist examples and interpretations, and in generally had a crybaby whine fest, buuuuuuut I knew better. People of color didn’t want that shit thrown in their face every time they went climbing. As confident as I could have made myself that I was using a non-racist iteration of the word “Dixie,” the end result was obvious: keep using it, fewer people of color in the club. Also I know how ridiculous you sound when you want to go on a tangent about how minorities complain too much about people being sexist/racist/whatever, as every white person should know who’s ever been a passenger in a car with only white men in it.
Plus as a writer, I knew better. Writers are responsible for ambiguity. Whatever connotations words have that can be reasonably interpreted, the writer eats it. As a lawyer, I knew better. When there’s an ambiguity in a contract, you know who automatically loses? The writer. If you don’t want the unintended meaning to carry the day, you have to be precise with your language, and there ain’t a fuck in fucksville you can do about it.
You can still be funny, and precise. I just used the phrase “fuck in fucksville.” No ambiguity there!
So the Access Fund, which kyboshed the valentine’s day sticker me and others criticized, basically did what I did, fix the problem and be done with it, no 10 million dollar donation to some gay rights group necessary.
The response to the change generated a barrage of complaints from Facebookers (although countered by another barrage of defenders) who, it seems, are REALLY REALLY SENSITIVE about other people being sensitive.
For the most part, the complaints were… stupid. They often time came from a good place, e.g. “I know all the Access Fund people and I know they’re not a bunch of gay-hating bigots” but really just didn’t even come close to the point I was making. As I’ve said… over and over again, you don’t have to be a bigot to do this stuff. I was not lighting crosses on fire when I named the Dixie Dyno’mos. The remaining facebook comments fall similarly to logic, but I’m not going to cover each of them (though it appears others are) because I only have so much time, energy, and desire, and if my life’s goal was educating trolls on the internet, I would go lecture people in the jailbait forum on Reddit. They need it more than you do. (Did you know the second most commonly searched Google term to find Reddit is “jailbait”? With the first term being “Reddit”? This is why we think straight people are a bunch of child molesters and perverts.)
The real irony of it is this: THIS IS NOT A BIG DEAL TO US. I was casually pointing out something kind of obnoxious that is no more obnoxious that anything I do on a weekly basis. What the resulting Facebook fountain of bile proved is that there are a lot of Access Fund page-people who have what I can only call an almost inexplicable, very deep seated sense of rage redirected from parts unknown. Occasionally, we get those people in HomoClimbtastic, and you know what we do with them? People who get absurdly angry over criticism, and go on a crazed spree of rationalization and defensiveness just so they don’t have to admit anyone has legitimately questioned their actions or worldview? We label them as “crazy” and we don’t let them belay us.
It doesn’t really even have much to do with whatever the criticism was, or how much fault you did or didn’t have, just that you are having some kind of weird panic attack about cams at the bottom of Cat in the Hat and we don’t want to see what kind of hot mess you are when we’re on the sharp end three pitches up. Don’t want none, won’t have none. Belay partnering is about love, and we want the kind of belay partner that promises to fix their shit when they give us a hard catch, rather than goes into a drama spiral about how it’s really our fault and why are we so sensitive and this is AMERICA and you have the RIGHT to give a bad belay goddamnit!
Internet trolls are one gigantic squeaky wheel, and seeing as how I’ve been plagued with them for years, I know it can be difficult to discern the reasonable critiques when they are sometimes lost in a crowd of people whose feces have fused them to their own lazyboy recliners and they have all the time in the world to throw online monkey shit at everyone else.
So… why am I taking time out of my day to answer them now?
Brian Spiegel interviewed me when making his documentary about HomoClimbtastic, and he asked if there was anyone who hated the organization, or its goals, and I said something like the following:
“I’m not here for them. I’ve heard other HC leaders answer this question, and I know they notice and address the people who question our existence, or oppose us in some way or another, and… I don’t even see them. Maybe there’s people giving us weird looks, but I don’t even notice. Our members have been dealing with this shit their entire lives. Why should my focus be on enriching the people who bullied others? My only goal when I’m here is the people here” I pointed behind me, “right now. I don’t care about those other people. I know that HC has brought a lot of change outside of the impact it has had on the people inside of it, but as far as I’m concerned, if HC makes some straight person more comfortable with us, that’s just collateral damage.”
Thus, I want to make something crystal clear to you, if you’re not a minority frustrated with the culture in the climbing world (and virtually everywhere else): I don’t care. I’m not here to educate you. It ain’t my job. If you want to pay my hourly rate, I’ll do everything but give you a blowjob. If you’re hot, maybe give you a blowjob. Otherwise, you’re on your own. I wrote this, as I write my other posts, to vindicate and liberate us. Us being the people who didn’t win the privilege game. If you came here looking for an answer to your endless 128 character blurbs of what I’m sure you consider a well thought-out counter, you came to the wrong place. I don’t care about you, because when you do the math, the people who are actually in the minority are… you. The fact that you bubble with white hot rage over the changes around you is, I think, really an expression of your frustration that most mature people in charge don’t agree with you, which is why things aren’t going your way. If that weren’t the reason, it would be because we gays are actually capable of forcing the Access Fund to do our bidding, through some kind of Illuminati-esque connection we have where we are able to force everyone to do our bidding even though we only make up maybe 5% of the population. The Access Fund is an independent organization and was completely capable of telling us to fuck off. I know, because HomoClimbtastic does it all the time, including with U.S. Senators. Watch:
Dear Rick Santorum:
We hate you. Go fuck yourself.
P.S. fuck off
In other words, what power do we have over you other than the fact that most people simply don’t agree with you? Hence this terribly politically correct world we live in? To oh so bitterly appropriate the sentiment you’ve expressed so far, and co-opt a phrase from WoW…
Go QQ some more. Kthx.
One troll actually threatened to, dare I say it, NOT respond if I countered his criticism. In my ideal world, he never would have opened his mouth-hole, but it does provide an insight into the troll mind-set: for them, getting flamed is a reward and you should appreciate it, and thus getting ignored actually carries weight as a threat. Hence their constant insult of “you just want attention” because, in troll crazy land, everyone dies without it, and only the best troll wins.
In my ideal world, they’re just not there. I only get three responses to a post and they all say “I heart you!” Add that small dose of positive feedback to getting my ass pounded by Craig, and I’m happy as a clam.
Meanwhile, for the people that are still here, I’m sad that anytime we question these things, we have to suffer a barrage of miserable people. If it makes you feel any better, they are sexless trolls and nobody loves them and that’s why they are that way. (I’m pretty sure that’s what the nanny tells the cute little white girl in “The Help” after the you-is-kind part. Editing room floor.) Come climbing with us instead. We care about the people we climb with, and we wouldn’t dismiss and derail their concerns with “stop complaining and go climbing! I’m sure you can trust me to care about your safety after I just rhetorically smacked you across the face with a catfish.” You deserve to climb with someone who cares about you, all of you, and who sees what makes you different and how to interact with those differences in mind as an opportunity for growth, and not a threat.
Anyway, we’ve already let it go, because we all know we’ve been there, and that our lives are not one big uninterrupted stream of never doing anything wrong, and we don’t want to be on the receiving end of a grudge when it’s our turn to fuck up something tomorrow. To be anything else would make us trolls. And if nothing else, we created a situation during which Climb2Core said something warranted a “teachable moment,” a level of civility RedRiverClimbing.com likely has not heretofore seen. I think that counts for something.
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As an ex-employee, but forever family member of Water Stone Outdoors in WV, I have always been psyched about HC, but in the year since I left WV, I had not visited this site. I won’t be lax again. There is some fantastic writing happening here. Most excellent!
Just found your blog over this whole AF situation. Great initial response and even better follow up. Fantastic read, thank you!
I am shocked by the comments on the Access Fund page. Haters gotta hate, but wow. Thanks for your voice in the conversation.
Grateful for Homoclimbtastic and AR!