Dan Choi responds to using the ‘P’ word

Posted on 28 Oct 2010 at 9:44am

It’s not often that we get to talk about p*ssy, huh? In my post about the expansive, no-holds-barred profile of Dan Choi by Steven Thrasher in the current Village Voice, I cited this paragraph:

“Harry Reid is a pussy,” Choi angrily said after the failed vote in the Senate last month, vowing to speak out about the Democratic leader, “and he’ll be bleeding once a month.”

I left it hanging out there without any comment on my part, save “That won’t get him a job as a Beltway mouthpiece, lol.” It wasn’t that I didn’t have an opinion; I didn’t want to lead the conversation in any particular direction. However, it was no surprise that the maelstrom of responses (in the comments, my inbox, and on Twitter), decided to take on the misogyny embedded in Dan’s choice of words.

Obviously Dan, saw many of them and he responded in the blunt fashion that I would have expected from him:

Go ahead: call me a ‘misogynist.’ I’m still pro-choice, pro-ERA. I also happen to think @HarryReid is a #DADT #FAIL.

I appreciate your criticism; I apologize for using the slur, and resolve to educate others in any capacity I’m afforded in the future.

What do I think about the whole dustup? It’s good to have the conversation about misogyny within the community and how it manifests itself. But if you read the entire Village Voice piece, which digs a lot deeper into Dan’s foibles, his earnestness, and off-the-cuff manner, I was not surprised that a military guy would “go there” – it’s part of the military culture, for good or ill and there it was in black and white. It actually didn’t offend me as I read the article; it was contextually right in line with Dan’s lack of inner politically correct censor at times.

I’m not going to defend a military culture that denigrates women as part of daily conversation (not to mention institutionalized slaps on the wrist for sexual assaults by men against their female service member colleagues). The Voice profile is enlightening precisely because our heroes are flawed, and all too human. The last time I checked, we all have the capacity to learn from mistakes; those in the public eye don’t have the latitude to go private when they screw up. Dan did say something boneheaded. misguided – and he apologized.

So the misogyny discussion is important, one of those teachable moments, but it does also raise the question of how often are our own chosen words in private that reflect bias against women, people of different ethnicities, religions, etc.? How often do we think about those choices, and if they are something you wouldn’t say in public, examine why the ease in saying them privately? Good essential topic, but way far astray than the impression I was left with about Dan Choi, his activism and commitment to the movement after reading the entire Village Voice piece.

For two completely different takes on Dan:

* Rachel K at Autostraddle: Dan Choi is People

* Derek’s Big Fat Democratic Adventure: Dan Choi: Media Bully – Or It Doesn’t Get Better
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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