The ripple effect of suicide

Drawing of Camp Counselor

[TW: Description of Suicide Attempt]

The summer I was 15, I was at a camp where we lived in sailboats for a few weeks, learning to sail. Midway through camp, all the adults and counselors were at a meeting elsewhere, on a different boat, some 10 minutes away, leaving the teenagers alone on their own boats. Most of us on my boat were on deck enjoying the sun, but my roommate was not — worried at her absence, I went to check on her.

She had cut her wrists direct across, there were pills bottles and pills everywhere, and she wasn’t moving.  She looked like me — she was pale with blonde hair.  My brain felt pinned down by the sight of her.  She didn’t move until I touched her and she started crying, saying she was so sorry over and over again, and something like it shouldn’t have been me that found her. I talked to her, tried to see how deep her cuts were and how many pills she’d taken. I cleaned it up, I turned her wrists over.

I stayed with her for a moment and then called and asked for help, shielding her from view. I felt absolutely dazed. I knew she shouldn’t be alone and I knew we needed someone who could get her help and I was pretty sure she wasn’t going to die immediately, but I didn’t know how to execute that. Which is approximately what I said to everyone. The eldest guy said, “Well we need to get on the radio, what are you fucking stupid!” And I said, “I don’t know where to radio to.” He pushed past me and messed with the radio until it reached adults.

The push is the thing that broke my daze and I cried for two or three hours. Cried quietly while staying with her until help arrived, cried explaining how I’d found her, and cried loudly and uncontrollably when she was gone. I couldn’t eliminate the image of the blood on her arms from my head, on this apparent corpse that looked eerily like me somehow more in death than in life. And then I stopped crying, I couldn’t cry anymore. The images were still there and wouldn’t go away, but my ability to feel had gone.

She went to the hospital, had her stomach pumped and her wounds bandaged, and was taken home by her parents.

The entire camp watched Dead Poet’s Society, which has Robin Williams and is partially about suicide, that night, and I didn’t want to because I knew the subject matter and that it made me cry and I couldn’t imagine what it would do to me in that state. They made me though, suggesting it would distract me.  It didn’t make me cry, though, it didn’t make me feel anything. Nothing felt real. I just did what I was told. I didn’t even get bored.

My camp counselor suggested that I was probably in shock, that he definitely was, and that it would pass and that they couldn’t really do anything for me but talk if I wanted to. Others told me it wasn’t a big deal and she hadn’t died, so I shouldn’t be worried about it. Anyway, she’d been threatening to hurt herself so she could go home, so how was it a surprise. It was just a cry for attention.  There was no comfort, no one there who could comfort me, no one I knew.

I recovered from the acute stress reaction in about a week, and it was awful.  Not feeling anything had been so superior with dealing with my anger and shame and fear, for being so “fucking stupid” and being rattled by something that “didn’t matter.” It was the first of what would be many difficult mental health experiences in my life.  It is also where my mind would dwell when I started cutting myself when I was in college, it’s where my mind would dwell when I became suicidal myself a few years after seeing it — on walking into a room and seeing what I thought was a bloody corpse, there by self-inflicted injuries, bright red on white skin.

This is part of what people mean when they call suicide selfish.  It doesn’t go away for other people either.

On the insidiousness of Depression, Suicide, and Robin Williams

yowoto-aladdin-hugging-genieIt’s hard to see something like this happen to someone like Robin Williams, much like Stephen Fry’s revelation of attempted suicide last year. It reminds me that if I make it to 63 I will still be someone who struggles with depression and who could fail in that struggle at any time. It reminds me that it will never go away. And it reminds me that it doesn’t matter how much I accomplish, accomplishments will never be bulwark enough against the thing.

Living with chronic conditions, including depression and I imagine addiction, is remarkably difficult, even when those conditions are “under control,” because you’re just a bad day or a single wrong step away from them being massively out of control. And the daily grind of dealing with them, all the energy and money poured into treatment and counsel and behavior and environment can build up without warning and pull you down.

I am lucky that all my conditions are treatable to some extent. I’ve been on medication non-stop for 22 years and I will have to take medicine every day until I die. It is remarkable, really, that I’m alive, and I am grateful for it and the science that’s made it possible. But some days are a punch to the gut. And some days I am physically unwell. And some days I am sad. And some days they all happen at the same time. And some weeks are just collections of those kind of days. And some months are collections of those weeks.

I’m having that sort of a month, but I am OK. Because there are a lot of people in the world who love me and who I love and I know that, and many of you are here on Facbeook. Depression lies, but I don’t think it could ever convince me I didn’t love you all. And that is enough for today. And tomorrow I’ll figure out tomorrow.

Richard Dawkins on Date Rape vs Stranger Rape

Richard-Dawkins-slider-14Sometimes it’s hard to remember who you’re supposed to be allies with.  Richard Dawkins and Ophelia Benson released this lovely joint statement about harassment and, in a moment of severe not surprise, Dawkins proceeded to blow up Twitter by saying something he didn’t realize was quite as wrong-headed as it was.

It started with this tweet:

OK, that is perfectly logical.  Fair. Then it moved on to this example.

OK, well, this is an odd example, but considering Dawkin’s history of abuse and the probable difference he’s referring to, groping vs penetration, I can see what he’s saying here.  It’s probably a bit more subjective than that, but I see what he’s getting at: pedophilia plus violence is worse than pedophilia without violence. And then he went off the rails and Twitter exploded.

So the only way this analogy would work is if he removed date vs stranger and said rape without a knife is bad, rape with a knife is worse.  Except it’s clear that the knife thing is just a weird addendum and what he’s saying is that stranger rape is worse than date rape.

1. Responses to abuse are pretty subjective.  Different people respond differently to being harmed in different ways.  Maybe Dawkins is saying that he’d prefer to be date raped than being raped by a stranger.  But that, of course, is not what he’s saying.  He’s saying stranger rape is objectively worse.

This would be like me saying “Being stabbed in your left arm is bad.  Being stabbed in your right arm is worse.”  I will have said this for personal reasons — I am right-handed.  There are, however, a lot of people who are left-handed or ambidextrous to whom this statement would seem absurd.  Further, it’s making the assumption that the amount of damage inflicted in either case is the same.  But Dawkins is talking psychologically, not physically.

 

2. The main reason that this blew up in his face is that the majority of rapes are acquaintance rapes, so the majority of rape victims seeing this post see it as delegitimizing.  This is happening in a society that already says that date rapes don’t count the same way that stranger rapes do.  As it turns out, acquaintance rape is just a pre-meditated and intentional as acts of stranger rape.  Even if his assertion was true, it would be perpetuating the stigma that surrounds date rape survivors and paints them, inaccurately, as overreactors or people who changed their mind about sex.

 

3. What he is saying is FACTUALLY INCORRECT.  I cannot state this more clearly.  Dawkins is absolutely wrong on the fact in this case, assuming the psychological impact of the rape is what we care about.

Victims of acquaintance rape are as traumatized as victims of stranger rape. Specifically, they report equal (and high) levels of depression, anxiety, hostility, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms…” (http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1997-08362-004) and victims of acquaintance rape are more likely to be unable to reconcile what happened with their beliefs in the world and to blame themselves. (Researching Sexual Violence Against Women edited by Martin D. Schwartz).

So, to be clear here, he’s claiming subjective feelings as fact, contributing to the deligitimization of the majority of rape victims, and not even operating with correct facts.  And doing so just because he did a bad job trying to explain what a syllogism is.  He could so easily fix this if he would just do a little research and listen to criticism and acknowledge he said something hurtful.  I have no reason to think he will do this, as he never has before.  It’s a shame, too, there’s just no reason for a man of his intellect and commitment to science to be so unwilling to examine facts and accept criticism of bad ideas.

Find me at CONvergence and SSA East

Ashley

Picture courtesy Amy Davis Roth

Hello all

I will be speaking at both CONvergence and SSA East, and I’m getting an awful lot of stage time! This is a preview for anyone interested.

CONvergence

You can start looking out for me at about 1pm Friday at CONvergence.

FRIDAY, July 4th

5pm Paranormal Romance vs Urban Fantasy

With the popularity of paranormal romance, has romance become a fixture in most urban fantasy to a degree? What about the combo of romance, action, and magic keeps drawing readers? What’s out there for readers who want less kissing and more butt-kicking? Panelists: Ashley F. Miller, Cetius d’Raven (mod), Emma Bull, Melissa Olson, Rory Ni Coileain

7pm Coming Out Atheist

Join us to discuss what it’s like to come out as an atheist in various parts of the country, with different religious backgrounds, and the intersection for many of us with coming out in other ways, such as in sexual orientation and gender identity. Panelists: Ashley F. Miller, Heina Dadabhoy, PZ Myers, Debbie Goddard, Brianne Bilyeu

SATURDAY, July 5th

11am Evolution of Disney Princesses

They started out helpless (Snow White), and now they’re shooting arrows. What changed, and why? Panelists: Ashley F. Miller, Kathryn Sullivan, Michelle Farley, Windy Bowlsby, Madeleine Rowe, Greg Guler

SUNDAY, July 6th

9:30am Skepchick and FreethoughtBlog Readings

In room 2201

11am Protofeminists in Shakespeare

Shakespeare portrayed several intelligent, independent, and self-aware women–Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Katharine, Beatrice, Viola, Rosalind. We’ll discuss the problematic and the remarkably (for the era) fleshed-out aspects of their representation. Panelists: Elizabeth Bear, Ashley F. Miller, Greg Weisman, Joseph Erickson, Alexandra Howes

12:30pm Loving Problematic Media

Social justice doesn’t have to ruin your fun! We’ll discuss ways to be a literate fan of problematic media, from reality TV to video games, recognizing (rather than rationalizing) its problems, and still finding ways to enjoy it without getting defensive. Panelists: Rebecca Watson, Ashley F. Miller, Emily Finke, Courtney Caldwell, Amanda Marcotte

I will be leaving for the airport as soon as there are no more people with questions for me after this panel.

 

 

SSAEast

I will be at SSAEast for the entire program, I’m speaking in one of the 45 minute slots in union.

SUNDAY, July 13th

10:30am Feminism, Atheism, and Welcoming Women to Your Group

World Cup: Round of 16, who to cheer for

For a reminder, I did a ranking of who my favorite teams were by spreadsheet.  This is difficult because Uruguay has lost probably my favorite player, in terms of maximum entertainment value, do to his antics, but continues to have Diego Forlán, so I think I’m going to leave them at #2 and not readjust everything.  Also I’m lazy.

Cheer for Uruguay

Cheer for Uruguay

Updated list of 16 ranked:

  1. United States
  2. Uruguay
  3. Mexico
  4. Argentina
  5. Costa Rica
  6. Brazil
  7. Colombia
  8. Chile
  9. Algeria
  10. Nigeria
  11. Netherlands
  12. Greece
  13. Switzerland
  14. Belgium
  15. France
  16. Germany

Brazil v Chile (I’d be happy for Uruguay with a Chile victory, though)
Colombia v Uruguay
Netherlands v Mexico
Costa Rica v Greece
France v Nigeria
Germany v Algeria
Argentina v Switzerland
Belgium v United States

Can I add how exciting it would be to get to the next round with two african teams and no European teams.  #BigDreams

World Cup: Who to Cheer For (or who I cheer for anyway)

For me to be really interested in a football match, I have to decided who I am going to be cheering for.  It’s not enough for love of the game, you have to be emotionally involved with the outcome.  I came up with a little spreadsheet that accurately reflected how I make choices on who to cheer for.  This is a little different than my attitude in the Women’s World Cup where I cheer solely based on what is best for the US.  I ranked them based on the things I care about.

  1. If your are related to the US Women’s National Team (which is to say the USMNT) then I award you five points.  It’s nearly a trump card.
  2. If you are in the same region (CONCACAF) as the US, you get one point.
  3. If you’re on Continental Europe, you lose one point.
  4. If you speak an Iberian Language (functionally Spanish or Portuguese), you get one point.
  5. If you’re uniforms are a pretty shade of sky blue, you get one point (Uruguay and Argentina).
  6. You get a point for every player I know and like.
  7. You lose a point if you were an Axis power in World War II.
  8. Any ties are broken by Five Thirty Eight’s Soccer Power Index — I will always cheer for the underdog, all other things being equal.

So I fed all that information into a spreadsheet and very happily got a list that put the teams that I knew I liked or hated in the right place, and gave me some insight on how to apply my preferences to teams I didn’t ever think much about.  If you’d asked me before I made this whether I’d cheer for Netherlands or Japan, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you.  But now I’ve got numbers telling me what to do.  As you can see, if it wasn’t for the association with the US Women’s team, the US would only be 6th on my list, and France, Germany, and Italy, who I only cheer against, are all at the bottom.  They really should be tied, because I can’t imagine cheering for any of them.  On principle.  (Thank you England for these wholly irrational prejudices).  That said, I love to watch Germany play, they make beautiful soccer.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 12.22.50 PM

 

For those who can’t read the chart:

  1. United States
  2. Uruguay
  3. England
  4. Spain
  5. Mexico
  6. Argentina
  7. Honduras
  8. Costa Rica
  9. Brazil
  10. Ecuador
  11. Colombia
  12. Chile
  13. Algeria
  14. Australia
  15. Iran
  16. Cameroon
  17. South Korea
  18. Nigeria
  19. Ghana
  20. Ivory Coast
  21. Portugal
  22. Netherlands
  23. Japan
  24. Croatia
  25. Greece
  26. Switzerland
  27. Russia
  28. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  29. Belgium
  30. France
  31. Italy
  32. Germany

Oh, you want to know who to cheer for in all the matches?  Many of the first matches have already passed, but I am going to put the whole list here.  Will update when we have knowledge on the next rounds.  A reminder that this isn’t meant to be a prediction of who will win, just who your heart should belong to for ~2hrs. Bold is who I cheered/will cheer for and gray is games that had passed at the time of posting this.

Brazil v Croatia
Mexico v Cameroon
Spain v Netherlands
Chile v Australia
Colombia v Greece
Ivory Coast v Japan
Uruguay v Costa Rica
England v Italy
Switzerland v Ecuador
France v Honduras
Argentina v Bosnia-Herzegovina
Germany v Portugal
Iran v Nigeria
Ghana v USA
Belgium v Algeria
Brazil v Mexico
Russia v South Korea
Australia v Netherlands
Cameroon v Croatia
Spain v Chile
Colombia v Ivory Coast
Uruguay v England
Japan v Greece
Italy v Costa Rica
Switzerland v France
Honduras v Ecuador
Argentina v Iran
Germany v Ghana
Nigeria v Bosnia-Herzegovina
South Korea v Algeria
USA v Portugal
Belgium v Russia
Australia v Spain
Netherlands v Chile
Cameroon v Brazil
Croatia v Mexico
Italy v Uruguay
Costa Rica v England
Japan v Colombia
Nigeria v Argentina
Bosnia Herzegovina v Iran
Honduras v Switzerland
Ecuador v France
USA v Germany
Portugal v Ghana
South Korea v Belgium
Algeria v Russia

Guess who got posted about on ChimpOut again?

This might be my favorite ChimpOut thread I’ve been featured on because it’s so juvenile. I mean, it’s still racist and ignorant, but it’s also almost quaint in it’s schoolyard level antics.

For example, they said I was secretly a man by posting a link to Austin Powers:

They also seem to be under the misapprehension that I want to be martyred and decided to make fun of my self-descriptors by repeating them and laughing at them, which is so boring.  At least actually come up with something to say.  I swear even “Activists are lame” would be better than this nonsense.  And of course, wishing for my death.

Uh oh! Look out! We have a “polemicist, activist, nerd” after us! I’m quaking in my shoes. I’m sure she is hoping for “martyrdom” so that, one day, there will be an “Ashley F. Miller Day” holiday like MLK Day.

Guess what? No one gives a shit about you, your lousy blog or your views. You’re preaching to an empty auditorium. Your blog has MSNBC-level ratings and your views are a distinct minority in your city, your state and the country as a whole.

Please go choke on a negro dick and die.

I wish my blog got MSNBC level ratings, that’d be like a million people a day.  Guess it’s time to cancel Lawrence O’Donnell’s guest blog.

I also learned that they were technically not supposed to talk about “Coal Burning” on the site, which is fascinating as the entire goal of the site appears to be to say the nastiest, most racist shit they can invent.  But they have rules.

Which include looking forward to my death by beating.  I will say that the only time I’ve ever been hit by a man, it was by a white man.

Who gives a fuck? Really. She will be beaten to deff like all the rest.:

Sent from my non obama phone

inevitable statistic.

no loss.

I don’t know what an Obama phone is, but if these guys hate it, i want one.

Then they got in an argument about whether I was black because I have Sub-Saharan African DNA.  Sophisticated genetic understanding from these guys.  Also more about my imagined beatings.

she isn’t a coalburner she has african dna to begin with. Was just hiding, blacks in the past did alot of passing and pretended to be white.

It’s too ginger to be a nig, I think we can still classify it as a burner.

Still, it has the dead soulless eyes of an ugly girl who’s received one too many beatings from their pet nigger.

-Agreed. There’s definately a “looks at me” gene in her. Classic nigger DNA traits.

I find this denial of humanity and gender to be fascinating.  Like the guy who called me a man, it seems to be that to qualify for femaleness in their world you have to only have sex with white men, preferably just your husband.

I find this one interesting because it shows a deep lack of reading comprehension.  I was not given an ultimatum, there was no us or him, there was no warning, nothing like that.  So I didn’t really have a choice.  I’m no longer dating the guy, but my Dad’s still not talking to me, so I’m pretty sure it really didn’t matter what I “chose” after being alerted to my Dad’s racism.

How these dopes choose nigger over family is a mystery to me.

May her STD’s be fast and furious.

If having Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel develop in my nether regions is an STD… I’m really fine with that as long as they make out.  Spoiler Alert: They’re both half black.  And super gay (in my dreams).

fast_five_movie_image_vin_diesel_dwayne_johnson_01

But some of these guys do have a sophisticated understand of what I think about them:

Oh she’s an idiot. She think’s we are all YT; typical libtard stereotype of racists, she thinks we are all religious; another typical libtard stereotype of racists. Libtards don’t even have brains in their heads. They just pull out their script and regurgitate the same old tripe.

 

Fortunately, he doesn’t resort to any stereotyping in his descriptions of others.  What a charmer.

My main takeaway is that I am clearly a drag queen who will get to have a threesome with Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson.  Not literally everything I want in life, but I can’t complain.

bringing willam makeup RAYLness

To Summarize: These assholes can suck my (admittedly imaginary) dick

Salon and Jezebel: Honey Boo Boo and 8 reasons you should be ashamed of yourselves

Honey Boo Boo is a child, not a monsterAs you know, I spend a lot of my time with Honey Boo Boo because of my dissertation, and people often say disparaging things about the show and the weight of the family and other things.  And for the most part, I keep my cool, but occasionally, I read something that makes me incredibly angry.  I am loath to even link to this article, because it is so unfortunate, but here it is: “Honey Boo Boo is a monster: What reality TV did to the pint-size pageant queen” and the Jezebel uncritical repost: “Honey Boo Boo Has Turned Into a ‘Visibly Troubled’ Monster Child.”  (UPDATE: Since this article was posted, Salon has changed the headline to remove the world “monster.” Small victory!)

I am not, in general, a defender of Reality Television.  I find it fascinating, yes, but not always ethical.  That said, blaming ills of the world on Reality Television is ignoring the fact that the world created it in the first place.  Reality Television might reflect societal problems, but it’s very rarely the cause of them.  Unsafe workplaces, brutal contracts, and terrible pay, sure, but they don’t create societal wide poor education, poverty, or violence.

So when I see articles posted that use the word “monster” to describe a real little kid, I find it upsetting.  When those articles purport to be doing it because they care about the girl and come from sources that I generally find reasonable and feminist minded, I become slightly apoplectic.  Here are 8 reasons that the article on Salon, and Jezebel using it for hits without saying anything critical about it, were terrible.

1. Calling a little kid a monster is severely uncool.  Doing it in the headline to get hits is exploitative and uncool.

2. Calling a little kid a “monster” for having a temper tantrum because she doesn’t really like doing interviews on TV and for not wanting to give away her property is blowing things well out of proportion.

3. “The quick wit we’ve come to expect from Honey Boo Boo…” Have you ever even watched the show? The quick wit is from Mama June, Alana is just weird in a charming and amusing way.  Just because she’s in some of your favorite gifs, doesn’t mean she’s quick-witted.

4. Fallon intervening and trying to discipline Alana wasn’t ” Finally someone is addressing this child’s attitude,” it was shaming her in front of a live studio audience and assuming her mother was incapable of doing her job as a parent. Not your role, Mr. Fallon, and not something to be commended, Salon writer.

5. Wishing she had the chance to develop her creativity without television is ignoring the reality that the money and exposure and opportunities she’s been given from this show has meant far more opportunity to develop her creativity.

6. You have no reason to think that being on Reality Television has caused this in her.  She has been remarkably little changed from her first appearance on Toddlers & Tiaras to the second season of her own show.  Newsflash: Little kids can be bratty sometimes, and editors know when it’s amusing or not.  Your own article points to the fact that this is being edited, where on earth are you getting evidence that it is television’s fault?

7. Don’t you think publicly calling a child a monster in Salon is exactly the wrong thing to do if this article expresses your real feelings about her fate?  Do you really think that publicly shaming a little girl makes it look like you care how she is treated — because you’re treating her badly.  You don’t get a pass on that.

8. Finally, finally: Christy O’Shoney, I don’t think you’re a very nice person or a person who cares very much about Alana Thompson’s future. And Jezebel, you’re just as bad for uncritically repeating this article because you wanted hits.

I realize my blog is just a tiny corner of the internet, but if you’re decent people who actually care about this little girl you will 1. Change the title of your articles 2. Release an apology for being cruel to a child 3. Think twice before calling a child names in order to get hits.  Frankly, your behavior is far worse than anything Alana Thompson did on the set of Jimmy Fallon’s show.

Introduction to “Redneckaissance: Honey Boo Boo, Tumblr, and the Stereotype of Poor White Trash”

As you may have noticed I have been somewhat absent from these parts of late, because I have been working on my dissertation proposal for my study of Honey Boo Boo and Tumblr.  I have finally finished the proposal and will defend it next week, at which point I will hopefully be cleared to write the second half, which is the actual independent research.  I thought I would share with you the opening of the dissertation.  As you may have guessed, working more than full time and writing a dissertation leaves little time for blogging, but I thought I’d take advantage of my week of breathing room and the fact that I have actually written something.  Enjoy.

Mama June on a waterslide honey boo boo

“Who knew television audiences would be completely enthralled with a Southern family acting out every stereotype of “redneck” on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo…” – Alison F. Slade[1]

My first realization that Here Comes Honey Boo Boo had become a complex discursive phenomenon came with the appearance of an image from the show in my social media feeds.  In this animated image, June Shannon, the overweight matriarch of the show, careens down a water slide in her bathing suit with joy on her face.  This image became popular on Tumblr, with hundreds of reblogs, and spread elsewhere online.[2]  Most of the previous discourse I had encountered around the show was negative and focused on how “trashy” the show was, but, in my social media feeds, people praised the show for fat acceptance of “real” bodies and embraced June’s joy.  There were still negative comments about the show but they were complicated by people claiming identity with her around one of the same signifiers, her weight, that was used to mock her and call her “white trash.”

This study seeks to explore how online content creators engage with television stereotypes online.  Specifically, this study seeks to understand the ways in which online content that is created using a reality television show as source material supports, undermines, and interacts with the tropes of the white trash stereotype.  It also seeks to discover how online content creators participate in the construction of meaning using the show.

In particular, this study will examine a selection of Tumblr posts about Here Comes Honey Boo Boo for the ways in which online content creators uphold, undermine, and “play with” white trash stereotypes. The goal is to gain insight into online content creators’ participation in television culture and its use of the white trash stereotype as well as into how they use Tumblr to communicate. This research uses discourse analysis to examine the Tumblr content created with, around, and about the show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

In seeking to explore this phenomenon, the study addresses the following research questions: How do Tumblr users use Here Comes Honey Boo Boo in discourse explicitly and implicity about race, class, gender, sexuality, and geography?  What are these discourses?  How do these discourses adopt, negotiate, or resist common U.S. stereotypes of “white trash” and “rednecks?” How does the online audience’s role as a secondary content creator change meaning and discourse around and about the show?  Honey Boo Boo represents a unique intersection of poor, white, fat, southern, LGBT-allied, and female-dominated social actors, positioning the show along the power axes respectively of class, race, weight, geography, sexuality, and gender.  This dissertation attempts to understand Tumblr discourse about the show through the framework of intersectional theory. Intersectional theory assumes that social categories of race, class, and gender are intertwined and together constitute identity and describe power relationships. How do these axes of power interact in online discourse?  The study is an attempt to understand the online content creator’s role in creating meaning around a show that relies heavily on negative stereotypes.

Although Here Comes Honey Boo Boo debuted only two years ago, it has already been the subject of scholarly interest.  As a popular reality television show dependent on stereotypes of rural Southerners, it has offered scholars rich ground to explore those stereotypes.  Bevie Tyo examined the redneck stereotype within the show, doing a cultural value analysis of the problematic representation of the main characters and noting that the show was constructed to use those stereotypes for entertainment.[3]  Similarly, Ariel Miller did a quantitative content analysis of the show, alongside Duck Dynasty and Buckwild, to explore the construction of Southern identity on reality television and the frequency with which the shows used stereotypes.[4]  Unsurprisingly, these studies showed heavy reliance on negative stereotypes about “rednecks” and “white trash.”

But scholarship on the show has not exclusively focused on the negatives.  Scholars like Geoffrey Parkes and May Friedman have pushed back against a simplistic understanding of the show as merely exploitative of Southern stereotypes, suggesting instead that it also serves as a site of resistance.[5]  The show includes radical acceptance of fat bodies, female empowerment, and queer individuals in addition to the stereotypes about rednecks.  The show also offers resistance to issues of class expectations and, in that way, serves, at least partially, as a site of resistance against the Southern stereotypes it uses.[6]

Closer to this study’s interest, Andre Cavalcante has done a discourse analysis of the Facebook fan page of the show.[7]  Reality television and social media have been intertwined over the past decade. For example, reality television is dependent on social media for generating interest and in voting on competition shows, and social media frequently focuses on television as a source of conversation topic.  Social media has allowed audiences to interact much more closely with television while reality television has encouraged a sense of intimacy for audiences. These two phenomena have led to the creation of fascinating sites of discourse around reality shows.[8]  The tension between the resistance that Parkes and Freidman note and the dependency on exploitative stereotypes that Tyo and Miller observe is revealed in the attitudes and language used by the commenters on the Facebook page.[9]  Audiences use “the Thompson family and their show as reasons to debate the ‘proper’ and moral parameters of self, family, society and nation.”[10]

This intersection between stereotypes, power structures, identity formation, mass media, social media, reality television, and queer intersectional feminism is exactly where I want to situate my research. These studies help problematize the idea of representation issues in television, especially the relationship between what is presented on screen as the reality of the people’s lives and “actual reality,” and add to the body of feminist and critical television studies.  Cavalcante even extends this research into online social media spaces, where there has been less analysis of stereotypes, by locating his discourse analysis in the medium of Facebook. This study wishes to add to that scholarship by focusing on an area of social media that has been under-studied—Tumblr and the image macro—and that offers new insights into the stereotypes and resistance to cultural expectations while also offering insight into the cutting edge of online communications.



[1] Alison F. Slade, Amber J. Narro, and Burton P. Buchanan, eds., Reality Television: Oddities of Culture (Lexington Books, 2014), vii.

[2] “Chasingapril,” accessed May 12, 2014, http://aprilloveslies.tumblr.com/post/38232075183/http-whrt-it-rjyqn0; “Community Post: 25 Crazy Mama June GIFs,” BuzzFeed Community, October 2, 2012, http://www.buzzfeed.com/hyvesredactie/25-crazy-mama-june-gifs-7j5s.

[3] Bevie Tyo, “Coming to Appreciate the Redneck Stereotype: A Value Analysis of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” (California Polytechnic State University, 2013), http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1144&context=comssp.

[4] Ariel Miller, “The Construction of Southern Identity Through Reality TV: A Content Analysis of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty and Buckwild,” Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications 4, no. 2 (2013), http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/824/4/the-construction-of-southern-identity-through-reality-tv-a-content-analysis-of-here-comes-honey-boo-boo-duck-dynasty-and-buckwild.

[5] May Friedman, “Here Comes a Lot of Judgment: Honey Boo Boo as a Site of Reclamation and Resistance,” The Journal of Popular Television 2, no. 1 (April 1, 2014): 77–95, doi:10.1386/jptv.2.1.77_1; Geoff Parkes, “He’s Gonna Be a Little Gay: Redneckognising the Queer American Family in Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” in Proceedings of the 4th Annual International Popular Culture Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference (PopCAANZ 2013) (University of Southern Queensland, 2013), 138–46, http://eprints.usq.edu.au/23932/.

[6] Friedman, “Here Comes a Lot of Judgment.”

[7] Andre Cavalcante, “You Better ‘Redneckognize’!: Deploying the Discourses of Realness, Social Defiance, and Happiness to Defend Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on Facebook,” in Reality Television: Oddities of Culture, ed. Alison F. Slade, Amber J. Narro, and Burton P. Buchanan (Lexington Books, 2014).

[8] Beverley Skeggs and Helen Wood, “The Labour of Transformation and Circuits of Value ‘around’reality Television,” Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 22, no. 4 (2008): 565.

[9] Cavalcante, “You Better ‘Redneckognize’!: Deploying the Discourses of Realness, Social Defiance, and Happiness to Defend Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on Facebook.”

[10] Ibid., 42.

I Get Racist and Sexist Hate Mail

donald sterlingIn case anyone thought that the amount of racist hate I was getting had died down since my last post about this, I am afraid I must dispel that notion.

For those catching up, Thanksgiving of 2012 my dad ceased contact with me because he found out I was dating a black guy.  Just under a year ago, I got DNA results from 23andme that said I was part Sub-Saharan African, which meant that my dad either was part black or had married my mother and she was part black, making his disowning of me more perfectly awful.  In February and March of 2014, my blog was linked to by a white supremacist website, so I shared that.

Here, then, are the kinds of messages I’ve been dealing with in response to old blog posts.  Some day, when I have free time, I think I’m going to analyze how many of these messages focus on me as a broodmare or sexual object.  I particularly like the one that accuses me of starting Atheism+, which I didn’t have anything to do with, and the one that suggests I got moist at discovering my Sub-Saharan DNA — is that meant to be a sexual comment?

 

This women ashley. Is now only good for someone to scoot their balls over her puckered lips. She is lost. No one will marry this worthless c*nt.

 

Ashley, your dad is right. You are a race-traitor. You’re gonna get beat up by your black boyfriend someday !

 

You disgust me. Your father cries his eyes out every day and you do not even understand why.

 

Your no hero, your an animal. Your father is a good man. My heart bleeds for him that he had such a worthless cu$t of a daughter.

 

Your hateful spiteful c*nt. Your shitting on thousands of years of your white ancestors.

 

He disowned her out of love. And he put himself at risk, and the outed him.

She is pure evil. Hateful and worthless POS. Set about destroying civilisation right down to her own ex familys DNA.

 

 Have all the sex with black men you want – nobody really cares. But if you think one nutcase Stormfront guy is a reason to start the ridiculous Stasi-esque organization that is Atheism+ then you’re a real quality fascist. All decent liberals hate fascists. You’re “damaged goods” because you’re a fascist, not because you had sex with a black man.

 

interracial mixers are the lowest of the low… you are a self loathing DEGENERATE… the HATE is all yours.

for anyone to suggest the only way to not be racist…is to condone or be willing to mix interracially IS HATE.

you dont want to be WHO you are, so you use racism to deflect from yourself. there is nothing more disgusting than a person with the kind of sense of worthlessness you must have in order to mix interracially. you couldnt denigrate yourself more if you tried.

 

you are the lowest a person can be.

 

this author is lowlife garbage… she absolutely is completely repulsive to the overwhelming majority of white men she will ever meet in her life. anyone…but any man or woman that does play into her mental illeness,

 

So why did your dad disown you? Because you completely messed up his genetic legacy. You put his genes at an evolutionary disadvantage by investing his genes in someone with low genetic stock value.

 

Black men and white women have the highest divorce rate in the country. Black men have the highest rate of HIV and STDs in the country. Black men are infamous for bailing on the woman after she gets pregnant. If he does that to you, and you’re a single mother with a black child, you will have zero value in the dating market. Good luck finding a decent man who will spend his hard-earned cash raising some other man’s black bastard child.

 

its not your belief systems…. its YOU. there is nothing more disgusting than you.

your “belief systems” simply point to the source of your own self hatred and willingness to have degraded yourself. now its just a matter of your living in denial, of just how truly disgusting you are.

its you.

 

Avoid this hideous turds blog site. Just an uber attention whore.

With emphasis on the word whore.

Right look, the reason i find it detestable what she is doing with her pet knee grow. Is this. Not only if she has offspring will she destroy her own family forever.

But also they will contaminate other White people.

 

When you have certain blue-eyed, blond haired types get all moist at the idea that they “are not 100% white” there is something deliciously ironic about racialists snapping back with celebrations of ‘white culture’.