Peg Fitzpatrick is the assistant to Guy Kawasaki, one of the keynote speakers at BlogHer ’13. In this article, she calls a blogger out for calling her boss out on Twitter for sexist comments he made during a speech at BlogHer13.
For awhile, I thought I was that blogger.
Still, I wanted to write about the whole thing, about the hypocrisy of Peg Fitzpatrick telling someone to choose their words wisely when they were upset with her boss for his badly phrased remarks, about how the blogger she called out, whoever she was, was far from the only one upset with Guy for his remarks despite Peg making her out to be a lone man-hater, about how women have the right to call out misogyny especially at a conference meant to empower women, about how Peg Fitzapatrick has the right to call them out for calling her boss out if she thinks their remarks are wrong, how everyone has a right to exist and voice themselves online, etc.
You know, feminist shit like that.
But when I sat down to write, Guy Kawasaki wasn’t the man I wanted to write about; my dad was.
I’m a memoirist, I write about my life and the things I know, and frankly, I don’t know shit about Guy Kawasaki. Before BlogHer, I didn’t even know his name, more or less his assistant Peg Fitzpatrick.
But I know a lot about my dad.
The day after I posted my titcircle article, my dad called to tell me he read it.
My dad read a whole post about my cleavage.
More than that, my dad read about the concept of taking up space, something that was extremely exciting for me considering he was one of the people in my childhood who encouraged me to lose weight, behave and take up less space.
He called to compliment me on it. He told me he was very proud of me. He said he loved me for what I was doing. He said he loves me for creating my own space, standing up for myself and not letting others get me down.
My heart melted with the happiness that comes from a parent’s acceptance, love and support.
My dad is a feminist in his own way. He believes in a woman’s right to choose, he believes in equal pay, he believes in the concepts of feminism as much as any straight, white, male can. Yet, he is still sexist in the same way I’m occasionally racist, accidentally, without even knowing what we’re doing, because we’re brought up in a society steeped in the tradition of othering, of pointing out the dangers in other’s flaws.
My whole family is steeped in that Othering, often making jokes or comments they think are funny but really are hurtful to someone, somewhere.
I am the family feminist killjoy.
I used to join in on the joke, laugh at that racist stereotype right along with them, but now I’m the one who points out any sexist, racist, homophobic, ableist, trans*phobic, classist, stereotyping comments said around me because I see the damage that laughing at others can do.
When I first started protesting, I did it in a loud, aggressive, confrontational way, but then I realized that’s just divisive and never helps persuade anyone to think anything but the opposite of what I was saying.
Now I make an effort to meet people where they are, I try to speak to them in terms they understand and make an attempt to accept that everyone’s points of view come from what is in front of them.
It’s harder with my family. It’s harder because so much more of my self-esteem and self-worth is wrapped up into what they think and who they are. You associate yourself with your family, connected on a level beyond biology and blood, culturally clumped together, sociologically similar.
I want to change them because I want to change myself.
But I can’t change them, just like they can’t change me. We are who we are, and while my brother’s death was horrific in so many ways, it wiped away our differences, highlighted our similarities and brought us all so very close to acceptance.
I am a queer, feminist, fat, activist, sexpert, writer and my small town farming family loves me. And I love them.
Well, it would be easy to simply say “because we are blood” but it goes beyond that. We are bonded together because we talk. We sit and share our lives with each other. We always have been a family of talkers, but it wasn’t until after my brother died that we really started listening. A wall came down and we’re able to communicate in a much more real and authentic way.
My brother’s death was horrific beyond belief, but there’s something wonderful in the bond it created between my family.
The words I use around my father have helped shape him into a more understanding man, one that checks his privilege in ways I’m so very proud of, one that recognizes that he will never understand the world his queer, writer daughter lives in but tries anyways.
My Republican, farmer, small town father makes a very large, very substantial, very conscious effort to understand me and my world, and I am am so lucky, honored and privileged to have a father who makes any kind of effort, more or less such a grand one.
He does this because he loves me, but he also does this because I require it to be in my life. I require the men in my life to have conversations about feminism. I require everyone in my life to have critical conversations about all kinds of hard topics.
I wish Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick had reached out to the women who called him sexist to have a conversation about it, instead of attacking them for being offended. I wish every person who gets angry when they’re called out for hurting someone could talk to that person about why they’re hurt instead of assuming the person was overreacting.
Critical conversations are key and an opportunity was missed by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick to have one. But just because they weren’t having them, doesn’t mean we all don’t have a chance to talk.
Venting about Peg Fitzpatrick’s article gave me a chance to talk to my whole family about benevolent sexism and gender stereotyping. People analyzing my cleavage gave me a chance to talk to the world about my body image issues and how I’m hyper aware of the space I take up.
Good can come out of these highly emotional, provocative situations if we just take a step back and talk to each other.
If you’d like to read more in-depth analysis of Guy Kawasaki’s remarks by people who are having critical conversations about this issue, check out these blog posts:
- Lea over at Becoming Super Mommy wrote a great piece on “benevolent sexism,” what it is and how it existed in Guy Kawasaki’s remarks.
- Mona Darling over at Dead Cow Girl wrote a piece about a dominatrix’s position in feminism that included how I got her into this mess in the first place. (Oops.)
- Martinis and Minivans loves Guy Kawasaki and doesn’t think his comments towards her were sexist.
- The Sarah Monologues probably was the person Peg was talking about and she responded in a great piece about feminism
- Almost a Kiss wrote about the Guy Kawasaki incident and my notorious titcircle debaucle
- The Mom Pledge talked about how Guy Kawasaki and Peg Pitzpatrick missed an important opportunity
- And, of course, there’s the original piece from Peg Fitzpatrick with lots of comments underneath (however I would like to point out that I know people whose comments have been deleted, so this isn’t necessarily a fair representation of the conversation people are trying to have).
Keep talking. Keep putting yourself out there. Keep having critical conversations.
P.S. My dad wasn’t the only support in my family after the titcircles incident. My sister and mom also were great.