Via a reader, JuliaM, here’s a footnote to yesterday’s adventure with Amanda Marcotte and the Hysterical Sisterhood. Faced with the aforementioned disapproval, Ms Marcotte’s publishers, Seal Press, distinguish themselves with this:
We do not believe it is appropriate for a book about feminism, albeit a book of humor, to have any images or illustrations that are offensive to anyone… As an organisation, we need to look seriously at the effects of white privilege. We will be looking for anti-racist trainings [sic] offered here in the Bay Area.
In the meantime, please know that all involved in the publishing of It’s a Jungle Out There, from editorial to production were not trying to send a message to anyone about our feelings regarding race. If taken seriously as a representation of our intentions, these images are also not very feminist. By putting the big blonde in the skimpy bathing suit with the big breasts, the tiny waist, and the weapon on our cover, we are also not asserting that she is any kind of standard that anyone should aspire to. This 1950s Marvel comic is not an accurate reflection of our beauty standards, our beliefs regarding one’s right to bear arms, nor our perspectives on race relations, foreign policy, or environmental policy.
Beauty standards, gun laws, race relations, foreign policy, the environment… Heavens. That covers everything, surely?
Please note that, upon reflection, we realise that the second to the last paragraph of this post doesn’t do a good job of conveying our intended meaning… We apologise that this paragraph undermines our apology. We acknowledge that the images are racist and not okay under any circumstances. We are wholeheartedly sincere in our apology, and the actions we’ve laid out above will be acted upon immediately.
As I mentioned in the comments yesterday, there’s a farcical through-the-looking-glass quality to outpourings of this kind. But it strikes me as more than just absurdity. It’s disabling too, and more than a little malign. One of the surest ways to erode a person’s probity is to make them repeat in public, among their peers, things that are unrealistic and absurd; things they know, or suspect, to be untrue. The more incoherent and ridiculous the claim - or apology - and the greater the mismatch with reality, the larger the effect. Bad medicine.