Ultra PC oppressed queer studies majors process “It Gets Better” to death
Since I pointed out the It Gets Better project (visit It Gets Better on YouTube and Facebook) a couple weeks ago, there have been tons of videos made and uploaded to the project, from all kinds of people telling their stories about growing up gay (or growing up straight but perceived as gay) and telling gay kids facing bullying today that life does get better.
You’d think that most people would approve of the message being put out to bullied queer kids contemplating suicide by the It Gets Better project—a message that there is hope, that life gets better if only they can hang in there, that there are resources available now to them (a great resource mentioned by many It Gets Better videographers is the Trevor Project).
Well, a lot of people do approve of the message, but some people do not. One person in particular, a cis (if you’re born female and identify as female, you’re “cisgender” or “cis”, as opposed to transgender or trans) lesbian who goes by the moniker “femmephane” when blogging, posted a lengthy criticism of It Gets Better. Apparently stories from me and other “classist, privileged, gay folk” are of no value to kids facing anti-gay bullying, at least according to femmephane. Dan’s and his husband Terry’s story of having met in a bar makes femmephane want to “vomit” (gay bars are bad because they’re “codified queer-space, restricted to 21+, w/ alcohol”). And gay men who can afford to go to Paris should shut up and let others talk.
Femmephane’s not alone in her disapproval of Dan Savage and/or It Gets Better. One woman “cannot separate her feelings about Dan Savage” and his “history of virulent fat hatred, misogyny, disablism, and classism” “from the [It Gets Better] campaign itself.” Another woman thinks It Gets Better is just something “dismissive” that people “talk[ing] over” suicidal teens’ heads say to make themselves (the grownups, not the teens) feel better without actually helping any “live LGBTQI [gotta use that PC acronym when you’re talking about queers] children.”
Watch this diverse group of kids from Youth Pride Chorus testify that “It Gets Better”These critics seem not to care that there are people from many backgrounds who like the message of the It Gets Better project, including a diverse group of queer kids from New York City’s Youth Pride Chorus. Don’t like what overly-privileged European American cis gay men have to say? Don’t like grown ups talking over the heads of LGBTQI youth? Well, look a little further. One criticism you cannot fairly make about the It Gets Better project is that its videos do not come from a widely diverse group of people.
A criticism of It Gets Better that is valid, however, is that It Gets Better is not enough. There’s more we can do now about anti-gay and other kinds of bullying.
Dan Savage addresses that in a followup SLOG post, pointing out that “there’s nothing about this project that prevents people from doing more.” And there’s another project recently launched to do just that, the “Make It Better Project, ” a project that “gives youth the tools they need to make their schools better now.” These folks are collecting stories on YouTube too, but they’re also encouraging kids to start Gay-Straight Alliances in their schools now, encouraging people to support the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act and organizing a Week of Action (going on right now) from October 5–11.
So compare and contrast, folks. On the one side you’ve got Dan Savage and the It Gets Better folk trying to reach out to suicidal teens and tell them life’s worth living and the Make It Better Folk and GLSEN and the ACLU working to make life better now for queer and other kids. On the other side you’ve got people using a bunch of rhetoric from their queer studies classes and complaining that overly-privileged European American cis gay men (and Jesus Christ, if lesbian African American transwomen get to self identify and choose their own labels, then God damn it, I get to call myself just a white queer if I want to) should just shut up.
Well, number one, good luck trying to shut us up, and number two, give some money to It Gets Better Now after you’ve ranted. I just did.
Friday, October 8th, 2010
How to negate a customer loyalty program
1) Offer a frequent customer a free sausage egg and cheese Ciabatta sandwich.
Yes, damn it, I’m complaining about Panera on Brown Street again.
2) Make that sandwich without egg.
3) To really fuck up your loyalty program, be sure to wait for a carry out order to forget the egg so the customer whose loyalty you don’t really seem to want gets to his office before finding out you omitted the egg on his sandwich because most customers don’t check your work because checking your work is something that really you should be doing and not your customers.
4) When said customer comes back to get a new sandwich with egg, don’t bother to offer him anything, say a free pastry, until he’s waited a while and be sure to do so only as an afterthought.
5) Be sure to pick a customer who’s blogged about your poor customer service in the past in the hopes that he’ll also blog about this incident. After all, you wouldn’t want to waste an opportunity to negate your customer loyalty program on someone who won’t tell anyone about it.
Update 10/13/2010: I got a nice phone call from Marianne Hach, Customer Relations Manager for Breads of the World LLC (the Ohio Panera franchisee), apologizing for the incorrect order, saying that they’re addressing service at Brown Street, and offering to send me a gift card. I thanked her for the call and declined the gift card. I already got a gift card earlier this year when I complained about a messy frozen caramel dripping on my shirt—it really has happened multiple times (the drippiness, not the dripping on my shirts) because I’ve learned to double-check—but I’m not looking for gift cards or anything free beyond what’s offered in their regular MyPanera loyalty program. I just want non-drippy frozen caramels (which, so far, knock on wood, they do seem to be doing better at) and breakfast sandwiches that include egg.
Perhaps, instead of the mocking being dished out by David Esrati and now me, Cox Media deserves some credit for continuing to try to expand their business.
Alas, poor Fred is dead.
Perhaps Cox Media will be more successful with DealSwarm than they were with MeetFred.com. Or perhaps in a few years, DealSwarm.com will also be a placeholder, owned by some Chinese domain squatter.
I can own that. I can also own that some of her criticism is valid.
However, I guess that her post also proves that even the people who claim to disapprove of name-calling and of taking people out of context can be guilty of those things.
I posted a comment on her blog (a privilege she extends to her readers that I do not), but I’m posting it here as well:
Message received. Yes, I can see how my post was a bit asshole-ish.
I make fun of the ultra PC LGBTQIAA alphabet soup because I think it’s a bit extreme—when do we stop adding letters to this acronym?
And you may not have read my post very clearly because in the very first sentence I link to an IGB post by someone who is not LGBTQ or I (but is a straight Ally). I know there are all kinds of kids who get bullied.
And I didn’t assert my right to call myself a “white guy.” Go revisit my post and do a search for the word “guy” — it’s not there. I asserted my right to identify as a “white queer,” without the “LGBTQIAA” or “cis” labels. I guess taking people out of context is a skill that you and I share.
I also didn’t say you or femmephane sucked, and I certainly didn’t issue any bodily threats and I don’t think that my post, though admittedly mocking, quite counts as verbal abuse. If criticizing or mocking someone counts as saying they suck or as being verbally abusive, then femmephane, by mocking how Dan Savage and his boyfriend met (quote “vomit”) did so as well.
My blog post wasn’t just about criticizing critics of IGB—I did acknowledge one criticism, which is that IGB isn’t enough. I agree with 300baud’s comments above, that criticism goes down more smoothly if accompanied with some positive suggestions. Perhaps that’s part of why I and so many others found criticisms of IGB difficult to hear.
I won’t say that I’m sorry if I offended you—those kind of non-apologies aren’t worth the time it takes to say them. I also won’t say I’m sorry I wrote what I did—I still believe what I said. I will say that I do appreciate your willingness to put yourself out there.
Approve my comment or don’t—I do recognize your (and femmephane’s) right to choose which comments appear on your blog, and I admit that I don’t even allow comments on my blog. Even if you don’t approve this comment, I intend to put it on my blog. I can own the fact that someone thinks I’m an arrogant asshole (wait, just who was it who did the name calling?) whose opinion’s not even worth listening to.
Update 10/14/10: Oh, I get it, Samia. You don’t like me and don’t welcome my comments on your blog (any more than I welcome yours, or anyone’s, on mine). You also think it’s okay for oppressed queer studies majors (or science majors who have the language of queer studies down pat) to be snarky or mocking but not for white guys who have any privilege. You also are in a place in which you have no sense of humor. I guess we’re not meant to understand one another, which is a shame because I think we both do want things to get better for queer teens even if we disagree about how best to work towards that, but I’m sure we’ll both have perfectly happy lives nonetheless (or at least I hope we both do—I realize that telling you that you will would be condescending).
Friday, October 15th
I’m not mentioning any names or locations but some employees of a certain location of a certain restaurant should realize that if they hand me beverages with drips running down the side, not only will I be asking them to wipe the drips off (even if I have to hand the drink back to them multiple times pointing out the drips on the other side that they missed) but I will also be calling the customer relations manager of their franchise.
Yes, I’m an asshole with privilege, but come on, is it really that much to ask that you wipe the drips off the drinks you serve your customers? That’s not privilege—that’s just basic customer service.
Sunday, October 17th, 2010
The last frozen caramel I will ever get from Panera
Panera of Central Ohio a.k.a. Breads of the World LLC is incapable of serving frozen caramels without drips running down the side
You win, Panera of Central Ohio a.k.a. Breads of the World LLC.
It turns out that it’s not just your Brown Street employees who are incapable of making large frozen caramels without drips running down the side. This is also too difficult for your Town and Country employees as well.
The woman today, unlike the woman on Friday, knew she’d made a mess and tried to wipe things up. She should have offered to make a new one, one that wasn’t filled to overflowing and thus wasn’t dripping, and I thought briefly about asking her to do so, but then I thought, fuck it.
A MyPanera card cannot get you a drip-free frozen caramel
Unfortunately for Panera, today fits in with “How to negate a customer loyalty program” because this last frozen caramel from Panera was, courtesy of their MyPanera program, free, well almost free, since to get a large I paid 50 cents.
Whether it’s a message from God or from Panera’s employees, I get it. What I cannot get is a drip-free frozen caramel from Panera, and I hereby promise to never again try to get one.
Having managed to get me to promise to stop asking for these drinks, you’ve also taken away an incentive for me to visit your restaurants, but I imagine we all can live with that. My friends will be glad I’m not whining about you, and you’ll be glad I’m no longer posting about you.