Get a clue, lady?

Spread the love

I’ve been watching, and generally enjoying, the Occupy Wallstreet (and everywhere else) signs. But this one, I find annoying and offensive:

The sign indicates that you are complaining about the world you made, presumptive middle class straight white lady with the presumably genderonormative hat on her baby. And you seen to openly disdain all those who have been telling you this all along (and thus by the exclusionary list you’ve given me I’m guessing as to whom you are). I’m glad if you’ve suddenly decided to become aware and enlightened. But judging just from this sign, you still need to get a clue.

(And what the fuck is a “vague”? What is that? Anybody know?*)

Either you sign needs a phrase added to provide context which would indicate that you are not distancing yourself from man of the movements or groups that have paved the way for you, or you need to rethink your message.

See comments below for a spirited if somewhat mean fight over the meaning of this sign. Which needs a phrase or two to add context.

See also this:

*That was irony

Have you read the breakthrough novel of the year? When you are done with that, try:

In Search of Sungudogo by Greg Laden, now in Kindle or Paperback
*Please note:
Links to books and other items on this page and elsewhere on Greg Ladens' blog may send you to Amazon, where I am a registered affiliate. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases, which helps to fund this site.

Spread the love

89 thoughts on “Get a clue, lady?

  1. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that she thinks she’s not vague about what she wants from the occupy movement. As with most popular movements, there’s been a fragmented message in the formative stages so far. This is an outgrowth (as much as anything) of how disparate and widespread the support is (Eugene, Oregon Anarchists marching alongside Paul-ite Libertarians here in Seattle, for example) but the lack of a unified message is being leveled as a criticism by those who have a vested interest in the Occupy movement failing.

  2. Umm, you lost me here. It doesn’t look to me like she’s disdaining all the types listed on the sign so much as trying to counter the mainstream mediia message about who shows up to these events. I don’t recall if any of the coverage used the word “vague, ” (which is what her sign says, not “a vague”), but certainly some of it implied that the protesters were mentally out of touch with reality. Can you tell by looking that she’s straight? Can you tell if she’s more or less middle class than you are? And given the weather, I imagine the baby cares more that it has a hat on than what color it is.

    To be fair, “left-wing nut job” is a tiny bit annoying, but could be ironic.

    White, Middle Class, 3/4 Straight Mom, Who Would Be There If She Coul

  3. Martha’s right. That’s a list of criticisms that have been made by Fox News and the like. Calm down, Greg. She’s on your side.

  4. Martha, the red NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT bit tells me about her disdain. I’m pretty sure that in this context “hippie” is being used as a derogatory term but perhaps I’m over reading the dog-whisle term “freak” following it. Not…

    I use ironically the term “a vague” because her list is a list of things that are nouns.

    “The baby does not care about the hat” is a typical post hoc excuse for genderibasedheteronormative double knit wear use.

    It is true that she does not specifically mention fags and queers so maybe she isn’t straight, but that argument requires assuming her list is a list of negatives.

    Which, really, honestly, clearly, no fibbing, it is.

    Something makes me feel it is safest to regard your blindness to her obvious message as less than sincere.


    It had to happen.

  5. I made most of the same points that the woman in the picture is making when I was at the rally today. I think she is there trying to counter the prevailing narrative about who is attending/supporting this movement, as Martha originally said.

  6.  “Genderbasedheteronormativeknitwearuse”

    Sure it could be that and not the hat grandma knitted or the only one she could find going out the door. Real political protestors plan the color of their kid’s clothes.

    No, it’s not me, but I was on Capitol Square in Madison enough times this winter to see that the media were deliberately misrepresenting who the protestors were and I can see how someone might make with the bright red “Nots” in order to break through the cloud of disinformation.

    And since we’re doing this, how did the anonymous lady with the baby wind up with more responsibility for “making” this world than you? From your profile, you look like someone who’s had at least as much of a shot at influencing the shape of the world.

    You have pushed all my Moms-Get-Dissed buttons and you must pay.

  7. Yep. You’re wrong on this one I think Greg. I was listening to CP24 (a Toronto news channel) about Occupy Toronto, and I don’t know how many times the correspondent had to say that everyone was there for different (i.e. vague) reasons, thus implying that no one there had a clue what the protest was actually about.

    Plus, you have no idea if that pink hat is on a boy. Nice heteronormative assumption on your part.

    And WTF is that “world you made” comment? What makes you think she’s a corporate CEO, monied lobbyist, or derivatives trader?

  8. And before I forget, your use of “lady” in your title sounds rather sexist to me. Sure, you’re not calling her a nasty name, but in that phrase, it’s said with obvious derision, as though being a lady is something people just don’t want to be called.

    I may be particularly sensitive to such usage since I just saw a commercial wherein a professional athlete goes onto a roof to get a ball for two boys and when he hands it back he says “Here you are ladies.”

  9. Yeah. Um. Considering how often the punditocracy are saying the Occupy Wall Streeters are “hippie freaks who just want to bang the bongos and smoke weed, and have no clue why they’re occupying anything, because their mission statement is so vague”, she’s trying to say “look, I’m none of those things.”

  10. Greg,
    If I may be permitted.

    Hey, Mr. anthropologistsciencecommunicatorwritesforalivingcollegeeducatedmiddleclasswhiteguy: is this the world YOU created? Or me? (I’m a middleclasswhiteguy too, who teaches science for a living, and every day is an effort to get my kids to see that the world isn’t as easy as it looks from their suburban houses. This woman is OUT THERE, in the crappy weather of a New York October, risking getting rousted by the cops, even having her baby taken from her for speaking up. The 99% is no joke, and it shouldn’t be an indictment. We ALL live in the machine, accepting what it offers us and doing out best to make it humane. We don’t succeed a lot, but we succeed a little. A few of us run it — a very few have their hands on the controls. There are a lot of us out here who try to mitigate the effects of that (yes, you too, with the power of your word processor). But don’t rip on the ones who are just like you, just like everybody. We’re all trying.

  11. I don’t mind being a bit of all of those things, and more! “I’m every wom-an!!” And I’m a bloke, too. Here’s to appreciating the varieties of human experience.

    On the subject above, Greg, you’ve gotten it wrong. She’s countering stereotypes and other peoples’ prejudices, not saying there’s anything wrong being all those things.

    Quit looking for things to get offended at, and YOU get a clue, guy.

  12. How do you know the hat is gender-normative? It could be a boy. I’ve got a bright pink onesie for my son. I thought it was nicer-looking than the blue one.

  13. “If she is saying she isn’t something, she’s therefore trying to insult them”, I don’t agree with you. I’m not a hippy by any stretch of the word. Does stating that fact make it an insult?

    I see it as a sign trying to say “No, we’re not all hippies or just one type of person, I’m a part of this protest despite not being part of any of those categories the media is using.”

    It’s a claim of diversity and of the commonality of the struggle. She is none of those things the media claims all the protesters are, yet there she is.

    It’s like hearing “atheists are just a bunch of old entitled white guys”. I’m not white or old, so me honestly stating “we’re not just older white men, there are women and people of color and people of all ages in our movement” doesn’t mean I hate white people, guys or old people. That diversity and difference is just a fact, and one worth bringing up to counter the dismissal and mis-portrayal of the movement.

    As for the colors of her baby’s clothes…really?

  14. I’m guessing from the Toronto Maple Leafs sweater wearing lady on the left and the maple leaf on the sign in the background on the right that this is a photo from the protest in Toronto. Given that, I would propose that her sign is a specific response to Kevin O’Leary and his interview with Chris Hedges regarding the Occupy Wallstreet movement. You can watch the video As a note to non-Candadians, O’Leary had to apologize for his remarks as CBC deemed they “…violated the public broadcaster’s journalistic standards.”

    Knowing this would in turn suggest to me that it is you Greg who should perhaps “Get a clue”. You obviously were missing the context in which this sign was made and this caused you to make silly judgmental remarks like “Get a clue, lady”. As well, if you are going to comment on the use of words on the sign, you should probably make sure you read it before being nasty. As other posters have pointed out, it doesn’t say ‘a vague’.

  15. Martha, in case you don’t watch the interview I posted, the “left-wing nutjob” is a specific reference to what Kevin O’Leary said to Chris Hedges. The CBC has received thousands of complaints from citizens about his unprofessional remarks.

  16. How do you know it’s a genderonormative hat? The baby might be a boy. I have a daughter, people gave us all sorts of pink stuff. We hope to have another kid soon and if it’s a boy I won’t think twice about putting the same pink hats on him.

    You’re the one seeing pink and thinking girl.

  17. Sorry. There is no evidence she is providing a parody of Fox news. Red NOTs are negatives, negations, a way of separating, distinguishing. Some of the terms are unambiguously pejorative, the rest are so by association. And, she has undeniably provided a laundry list of a) things she claims not to be and b) sorts of people who have been fighting what has suddenly become her fight all along.

    The preponderance of evidence strongly suggests that she us participating despite the association of those she has listed, rather than joining them. She is making that statement very plainly.

  18. And, I have explained my use of the term “a vague” to those of you with the broken irony bone, and I couldn’t give a fuck about the hat. But you know damn well I am right about that.

  19. Greg,

    Watch the interview. You are obviously missing the context. I repeat, watch the interview. Check out the CBC or the Globe and Mail or the Toronto Star and do a search for Kevin O’Leary. If it’s not still on the front page, you’ll find stories from the past few days. Her sign is quite obviously a response to his remarks.

  20. Also, your “fuckedupwhitelady” scroll over caption along with the “get a clue, lady” really do make you sound like a sexist jerk.

  21. A mom on the street in Toronto wearing grungy jeans and what looks like a lumberjack jacket, and carrying her baby dressed in fall clothes from the baby shower: obviously one of the 99%. And is there some rule about middle-class people joining in? Not that she is obviously one of them; she doesn’t look like it.

    You blew it this time, Greg.

  22. Greg,

    If you’re not interested in the context that everybody else is seeing this in, can you educate us a little bit about your context? Who are the people you’re seeing in your head when you read her ‘laundry list’ and on whose behalf you’re so offended? What is ‘their’ fight that you see her as party-crashing? Get it all off your chest instead of muttering about it crypticly.

  23. Greg, when I was young enough to be a hippy, I was one. Okay, it was forty years ago, but I think I’m entitled to state that I am not at all offended by her sign. I am offended by those fools and bigots who affixed all those labels on the occupiers, as a way to dismiss legitimate grievances. It’s clear that they also offend the woman holding the sign. I think you’re just reading it wrong.

  24. Greg,

    you might be excused for getting it wrong initially … maybe.

    But insisting after having your mistakes pointed out by pretty much every single commenter – that takes an amount of privilege and irrationality (and, I’d guess, projection) that’s rather incredible.

    I’d suggest you examine your assumptions – they seem to be based in something very different from reality.

  25. I didn’t see it negatively — I took it as saying that most of the protesters were just ‘normal’ folks, not as a slur against the ‘fringe’ folks. It’s a reply to some of the right-wing characterisations of the protesters of being fringe weirdos.

    Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being a ‘fringe weirdo’, either. People of integrity often are.

  26. Greg Laden says:

    You are complaining about the world you made,

    How do you know that?

    Greg Laden says:

    middle class straight

    How do you know that?

    Greg Laden says:

    white lady

    Ok, so you guessed this one correct maybe.

    Greg Laden says:

    with the genderonormative hat on her baby.

    So what!

    Greg Laden says:

    And you openly disdain all those who have been telling you this all along.

    Greg Laden says:
    Nah, I’m with kagekiri and others on this one.

    It’s a claim of diversity and of the commonality of the struggle. She is none of those things the media claims all the protesters are, yet there she is.

    Greg Laden says:

    There is no evidence she is providing a parody of Fox news

    Sure it looks like the sign is not meant to be a parody. I’m not sure how you could arrive at the conclusion that it was supposed to be a parody.

    Greg Laden says:

    Some of the terms are unambiguously pejorative

    Next you’ll be telling us about reds under the bed.

    Greg Laden says:

    The preponderance of evidence strongly suggests that she us participating despite the association of those she has listed


    Greg Laden says:

    I couldn’t give a fuck about the hat

    Then why mention it?

  27. savage.spheniscus: You are telling me that I’m wrong about an obvious message (which she may or may not mean but is very obviously making) and your evidence is a link that you assert provides context. But, that link is something you’ve conjectured. It is not context. I’ll watch it if I get a chance. I will, however, look at the interview if I get a chance.

    Oh, and I’m a sexist jerk, am I? You demand that I spend time investigating context. Have you?

  28. Susannah And is there some rule about middle-class people joining in?

    Did you miss the part where I said I’m glad she’d join? I”m sorry, but “I’m not a nigger even though I’m still at this civil rights march” is not acceptable. That is not a whole lot different than this. Again, she may be presenting a very different message, and perhaps there is context I’m not getting, but she’s standing there with a sign that very stronly disassociates herself from … Oh fucki, it Weeta, I’ve made my point clear. You’re simply not interested in getting it. This time.

    Martha’ I’m interested in context. PHotographs like this don’t come with context. A sign on a piece of careboard that makes explicit remarks is a risk if there is some special context that someone is supposed to have before they read it. And, again, I”m not talking about party crashing. That’s in your head, not mine.

    JohnS: I get what you are saying, but you are “… offended by those fools and bigots who affixed all those labels on the occupiers, as a way to dismiss legitimate grievances.” What I’m saying is that her list appears to have dismissed all those other people. Have I not made that clear? Shall I say it for a fifth or sixth time.

    I will look at this video, and if it places this sign in perfect context, then I’ll adjust my comments IF you can demonstrate the connection. But only after it’s been acknowledged that comments taken out of context are … out of fucking context and can not be understood.

  29. khms

    But insisting after having your mistakes pointed out by pretty much every single commenter – that takes an amount of privilege and irrationality (and, I’d guess, projection) that’s rather incredible.

    Unless I”m right. And, if there really is a magic video that allows the “correct” interpretation of comments from this sign, I maintain that the sign is dangerously .. out of context.

    As far as suggeing that I have lost contact with reality, that is rather insulting.You can go now.

  30. OK, I’ve watched the video. It is possible that there is a connection. A simple word or two at the top of the sign directing her comments to Kevin O’Leary or CBC or whatever would have made the comments useful outside of those who have seen it. Here in the US we don’t get the CBC. There is no way to have seen this.

    I appreciate the comments. However, I want to mention that I did show this photo to a handful of people and got their independent reaction before I put it in the post. They all saw what I saw. We are not in Canada.

    Regardless of what she meant, it is impossible to make this connection using ESP. The sign needs to be edited.

  31. I agree this sign is offensive and shows a latecomer’s naiveté, taken at face value. Even contextualized with the remarks made in the news interview she is still making an overwrought distinction between herself and others, intentionally or not. The fact that many people see it as normal to casually denigrate counter culture is what makes it counter culture, I guess.

    We can not expect everyone who shows up late to the table to know about the appetizers.

  32. Greg,

    You missed my point. This photo is bugging you in a way that’s puzzling to many people who otherwise think you are a nice guy. Have you noticed that you’re almost the only one swearing? (I counted one WTF from someone else.) I think you have some kind of context of your own for the words on the sign that’s either different or a lot more vivid than what some of us are bringing to it. If that’s the case, why not share it? Everyone will know more.

  33. There are ways to say, “I’m not what you think this protest is all about, but I’m here too.” This sign didn’t. It left off the “too.” Is it a crime? No, and Greg isn’t saying it is. It is, however, thoughtless and not particularly respectful of the people who have been carrying the anti-corporate message for the last few decades while everyone else has been fairly comfortable.

  34. Martha, yes, you are correct. I have a context, which is a sore spot. I should probably write a blog post about it. I (possibly incorrectly) interpreted her intention as an example of something that I’ve seen emerge every time there is a new round of protest about something (Roe v. wade through anti war in Iraq, etc.) Put briefly, this is disrespect for and/or failure to acknowledge prior protests and movements (and the people in them) that made it possible to stand there and even be holding a sign.

  35. The lady has to edit her sign and provide context so people in another country can understand it? I’m all for globalization, but that strikes me as a little over the top. What’s next, signs in Quebec shouldn’t be in French because then the (US) Americans, who aren’t in Quebec, can’t read them?

  36. Yoritomo: It is hard to know where the speaker must work harder vs. where the listener must work harder. One can’t say arbitrarily or a priori where this responsibility lies. I and a handful of people were put off by it, and we’ve been able to articulate why. She is free to be misunderstood, and she is advised to clarify if her intention was to make a point for everyone to understand rather than present a riddle that only certain Canadians will understand.

  37. Greg,

    I suppose that if she had added a word or two at the top to make it clear to you who she was responding to then it well, would have made it clear to you, but this sign wasn’t for you. Everyone on this side of the border who I have shown that photo to has known exactly what/who she is responding to because O’Leary’s unprofessional comments/tone are news here. Journalists on CBC doesn’t descend to those kind of attacks, or at least they don’t without some public outrage. I’m glad you watched the video. I love the fact that you have seen this picture. It’s wonderful in many ways that we have access to media from other countries, but not living in those countries there is going to be times where we miss the context in which certain comments are made. It was not necessary for her to add any words for anyone here to understand what her message was about. I highly doubt that she imagined that she would end up on an American blog being called a “fuckedupwhitelady” and having her choice of children’s clothing critically analyzed. Her sign, her presence and her protest is about her experience here in this country, which though it has many similarities to yours, is not exactly the same.

  38. but this sign wasn’t for you

    Hahaha! Very funny. Then, why didn’t she turn it around so I couldn’t see it when I looked at it!?!?

    Everyone on this side of the border who I have shown that photo to has known exactly what/who she is responding to because O’Leary’s unprofessional comments/tone are news here.

    As I said, not here. I suppose next time a Canadian points out to me that I assume everyone is an American (like if I say… “the problem with our system of education is… ” or “the problem with our government is…” and I mean the US but forget to say that) I can point out that sometimes Canadians also forget that their messages go beyond their borders. It’s a good lesson.

    I highly doubt that she imagined that she would end up on an American blog being called a “fuckedupwhitelady” and having her choice of children’s clothing critically analyzed.

    That is a little bit ingenuous, though. How reasonable is it to expect a protest about Wall Street (which is part international metaphor and part a street in New York City, which is not in Canada) to be insular? And, the protesters should be told if they don’t know that when they make the signs and get them photographed and put them on facebook …. oh, you get the point.

    No, there clearly is a misunderstanding here and I’ve acknowledged it. And, there is more than one way to read this sign, and you’ve acknowledged that. But the idea that a person who is part of an international movement is not making a small error by assuming that only Canadians will see their sign is not really convincing.

  39. I was just talking about this with a friend on Facebook. I suggested a change to the end of the sign. It would be lovely to see it read, “Not an X, Y, Z but at least I can tell when they’re right.”

  40. Hi. First time commentor here, so I apologize for the long-winded introductory comment.

    I’m offended by this sign and here’s why: I came of age in the punk rock scene and started my protest activism when I was 20 during the first Gulf War. Since then, I’ve been involved in a lot of various activist movements like Food Not Bombs. I’m not as involved anymore, but when I was, do you know who the people alongside me were? Punks, hippies, and freaks. And I lived most of my young adulthood having people discredit the activism me and my friends were doing because we were punks, hippies, and freaks. Because apparently trying to feed homeless and hungry people doesn’t count if you have tattoos and a tendency to wear all black (serving vegetarian and vegan food was the nail in the coffin). I have no idea who this woman is or what she’s all about, but that sign reinforces a narrative that I’ve witnessed time and time again over the past 20 years. No movement is “legitimate” until the “normal” people sign on. I honestly doubt that this women meant to disrespect the punks and hippies and freaks, but it’s still there in my eyes.

    Maybe I’m just taking it too personally, but that’s how I feel.

  41. I saw this sign (I am not Canadian) almost the same way. As a hippy freak lefty I felt she wanted to avoid associating with me, and that is something that I have seen before. But I see that this could be interpreted in a different way with special knowledge.

    I do think it is interesting to see Canadians being so provincial. I suppose this is why they are called provinces instead of states.

  42. I don’t think there is any way this can be interpreted in a positive light. If she is saying to the cbs anchor that she is not a hippie, etc., she still denounces all those on her list and the only non-offensive denouncement is that she is not vague, and I am not so sure about that.

    Her intentions may have been good but the execution was bad and what she is saying is actually offensive.

  43. Greg,
    Do any of the writers for “The Big Bang Theory” know you? I get the feeling that Sheldon is modeled after you, with his issue of not recognizing sarcasm because he expects everything to be exacting.

    Are you that isolated from the right wing noise machine that you are completely unaware that those terms have been used incessantly to deride the 99% participants? You need her to spell that out? Does she really have to address someone/something directly to get her point across? I’m just a lowly tech and I picked instantly that she was refuting the right wing’s overly broad stereotyping of the protesters. I didn’t need her to compose her sign better. It’s a sign at a rally, not a research paper.

    Sorry, but you really got yourself all bent out of shape over something pretty trivial.

  44. Lance, way to tell a person to shut up. Right wing much yourself? There is sarcasm in the poster but it does not mean what you think it means.

  45. Lance, the only way those terms can deride is if you think those terms are derisive. If you feel the need to explicitly distance yourself from those groups of people, you are basically agreeing with the right wing noise machine that they are undesirable.

    She could have just made a sign that said “just a mom here for a better world for my kids.” Tells us who she is without dismissing anyone else.

  46. Kevin, exactly, it is the dismissive nature of the list that is at issue.

    Lance, yes, you do seem to have a problem with hippies and freaks, so I’ll place you to the right of center until I see any reason to do otherwise.

  47. How about “different”? The right derides those terms but she (or I, or you, or anyone) doesn’t have to deride them while simultaneously not being one of them.

    So, as a straight person I wouldn’t be allowed to share that I’m not gay at a gay rally to illustrate that even straight people want gays to have rights? I would be dismissing gays at that point?

  48. Lance, if you made it a point to be VERY CLEAR that you were not gay at a gay rally, you’d be dismissing gays and it would be embarrassing. A tee-shirt like one that was at the pro-gay event I was at yesterday might be better: “Straight guy for gay Marriott” or words to that effect. (I didn’t see it by my gay bff was all teary eyed about it and told me of it.) But having a list of things you are not with the big red NOTS in front of it is clearly distancing, disassociating, and all that.

    Acknowledging that this sign may well be a response to the horrible remarks made by the Canadian Rush Limberger guy, one could be troubled by either “I’m here but please don’t mistake me for one of THOSE pepole” or even “I’m here, so now this is important. Before that it was just freaks and hippies.”

  49. First, I think it’s terrible that the national discourse claims the Occupy Wall Street movement is all about the hippies. The movements of the 1960s were laudable, but the pushback against them were largely successful. I also think it’s horrendous that the recent Tea Party protests (pre grassroots, when they were still astroturf sponsored by Fox News) were considered serious and grave things and they had, even with that astroturf, a tenth of the size and momentum of these movements.

    The fact that the prevailing opinion of OWS involves pretty well every smear against the 1960s movements and the corollary fact that these smears are working, shows just how ingrained into culture this hatred of the Hippies happens to be. No matter how right they were about corporate control of governments, wars being fought needlessly, the environment needing better stewarts, et cetera.

    So I get where your rage is coming from now, Greg. The fact that she’s trying to prove she’s a counterexample to the prevailing discourse is rather disheartening, in that it means she’s bought into that discourse herself. And signs like this reinforce that anti-hippie mentality.

  50. I didn’t watch the previously shared video so I assume that you’re referring to a “Canadian Rush Limberger” in that video. I wasn’t referring to him. The USA right wingers have been saying the same type of things.

    I suppose my point is that “one could be troubled by” but one doesn’t have to be. Not everyone writes as a part of their job and may not be cognizant of these semantically based fine points. She just wanted to be part of a movement and show her support (and wanted to take a shot at the right wing noise machine while she was at it).

    Her reward? Being vilified by the same psycho-analysts that have pegged me as right winger. If you’re wrong about me, and you are, the possibility exists that you could be wrong about her.

  51. I don’t think Greg or anyone else is vilifying her. We’re just pointing out that her sign is in bad taste and disrespectful to the very people that tend to start these types of movements. I’m pretty sure Greg specifically said that he’s glad she’s decided to be a part of the movement.

    Imagine if I showed up to a protest with a sign that said:

    NOT gay
    NOT a woman
    NOT a Muslim nutjob
    NOT on welfare
    Just a punk rock atheist freak for social justice

    Those are all terms that the right wing regularly uses to deride people and movements, and it’s true that I am none of them, and yet, I suspect that if Greg had posted a picture of me carrying that sign and called bs, nobody would take issue with him.

    So, what’s the difference? To me, to define yourself in terms of not being what the right wing has determined is bad, is to accept the right wings’ definitions.

    I could care less if you’re a hippy or freak. I do care whether or not you are on the side of fairness and justice.

  52. Kevin,
    “her sign is in bad taste and disrespectful” trends more to vilifying
    than it trends to “Hey, thanks for the support.”

    I would actually laugh out loud at your sign (and I would be laughing with a “way to go!” sentiment.)

    Again, just because the right thinks they’re bad doesn’t mean she (or I) concur. She’s just pointing out that they’re wrong to make the accusation that these rallies are being attended only by hippies, freaks, etc. You guys are the only ones who are assuming that her differentiation is tantamount to agreement that the hippies, etc. are lesser.

    I am not a hippie. I am not a freak. And, I don’t have a problem with them (sorry Karen, nice try). I was tossed a question once about a guy I recruited for one of my volleyball teams.

    “Don’t you know he’s a burnout?”

    “I don’t care. The man never, ever loses at the net. He’s on my team.”

    Now, if someone comments that “Lance’s team is nothing but a bunch of burnouts” and I reply that I am not (to show them they are wrong) then Mark should take offense? Or, if someone claims that my team is just a bunch of brainiacs and Mark extols “Hey! I’m not a brain!” then I should take offense?

    All I can say is that in my world no one would have taken offense if the above scenario had panned out. As a matter of fact, Mark and I probably would have turned it into an ongoing inside joke between the two of us. : )

  53. Lance: You said (to Kevin) “her sign is in bad taste and disrespectful” trends more to vilifying
    than it trends to “Hey, thanks for the support.”

    I don’t want to speak for Kevin (he’s doing fine) but that smacks of oversimplification. It is absolutely possible to see (many?) aspects of her sign as disrespectful and at the same time be very happy about her support.

    She’s just pointing out that they’re wrong to make the accusation that these rallies are being attended only by hippies, freaks, etc.

    So you say, and that might be true, but what I see is only one thing and one thing only: A person standing there using ALL CAPS AND RED INK to distance herself from other identities as a way of establishing her identity. I accept the interpretation suggested above that she is giving the finger to the right wing, but she’s doing in a way that is, at best, what we in Minnesota would call passive aggressive. And sure, she might not mean it that way but it is not unreasonable that people take it that way.

    “Don’t you know he’s a burnout?”

    “I don’t care. The man never, ever loses at the net. He’s on my team.”

    Hippie is a cultural form. Burnout is an insult. So now are we to understand that you are equating hippies with burnouts?

    Now, if someone comments that “Lance’s team is nothing but a bunch of burnouts” and I reply that I am not (to show them they are wrong) then Mark should take offense?

    Mark is already mad at you because you called him a burnout.

    Or, if someone claims that my team is just a bunch of brainiacs and Mark extols “Hey! I’m not a brain!” then I should take offense?

    You’ve shifted to the false equivalence argument before we even got to this stage!

    As a matter of fact, Mark and I probably would have turned it into an ongoing inside joke between the two of us. : )

    Lance, Imma let you in on a little secret: People who are denigrated by others in their own social group often go along with that jokey thing just because it is easier.

  54. Greg;

    Oh fucki, it Weeta, I’ve made my point clear. You’re simply not interested in getting it. This time.

    I get it, in the sense that I understand what you’re saying, and partially agree.

    I am or have been all of those things the mom is “Not”. I’ve been proud to call myself a hippie or a freak; I’m definitely a left-wing nutjob. And I find myself getting hot under the collar when I hear some politician or media hack calling the people who care enough to speak up “hippies” or “punks”, not because the words are insults, but because the speakers intended them as such.

    I don’t see this woman using those words pejoratively; I see her as sarcastically objecting to their use in that way. If so, I’m with her.

    Maybe I’m wrong.

    And you’re probably right in that she, like most of us, have internalized those words as put-downs, and that she has reinforced that meaning, in spite of her good intentions. I credit her for her intent, although she could have expressed herself more clearly. (In that sense, she is vague, whether or not she denies the term. But that was clearly a response to the accusations made by O’Leary and others.)

  55. I read that, earlier. More recently, Stephanie wrote, in the comments,

    Whatever this protester meant to do, she’s perpetuating that meme. She probably didn’t mean to, did it without thinking. Unchallenged, however, the effect is still there.


  56. ps – just finished reading your efforts against slimy people in your Magic of Reality post. My skin is still crawling; how you managed to carry on reasoning with those festering slimepits for so long is beyond me, congratulations for your herculean patience

  57. I spent all of .353 seconds looking at the picture and came to the logical conclusion that you weren’t the intended audience. But as a native Minnesotan – we at least understand context.

  58. My only concern with the sign is that it buys INTO the right-wing frame, albeit in an attempt to defy it. The woman in the picture is saying that she is “normal,” by which she is asserting that “hippy,” “freak,” “anarchist,” “punk,” and “left-wing nutjob” are not-normal, and therefore lower in the social hierarchy. (One can’t be a “vague,” and of course she and the child DO constitute a “mob,” at least to the champagne-swilling pricks watching from the Goldman-Sachs balcony.)

    And that’s the fucking problem with the right wing, isn’t it? In their view, anyone who is not a white middle or upper-class conformist authoritarian straight male IS lower in the social hierarchy. In fact, even if the right accepted all of her assertions about herself, they’d still shun her because she is “just” a woman.

    So yes, actually her sign is a bit insulting to those whose company she eschews. Speaking myself as a left-wing nut-job, why should my participation in OWS be held in any less esteem than hers? And honestly some of the finest people I know are “punks.” When my punk friend Moldy Ramone was dying of cancer, it was the bouncer from the local punk club who would appear without fail, night or day, rain or shine, once at 3:00 a.m. in a driving snowstorm, in order to help his partner lift him into their van to go for medical treatment. Every. Fucking. Time.

    So you’re not a punk, lady? Well on Moldy’s behalf, fuck you. I mean, welcome to OWS and good luck with all that, but fuck you. Hippies and freaks and anarchists and punks and even vagues are welcome in MY left-wing nutjob mob.

  59. Albatross, I love you so hard right now. The right wing’s memes about hippies and whatnot need to be challenged, and that can only be done if we don’t let the “normals” that join the OWS make them “others”.

  60. Or how about this compare and contrast:

    Would she be “othering” gays if she was at a gay rights rally with a sign that said “I am not gay, but I want them to have a better life!”

    She is not contrasting herself, I read it that as saying that “this is a big fucking tent and I am in it, too!”

  61. That sentence “I am not gay, but I want them to have a better life!” would be great at a gay-rights rally. But I don’t take this sign as saying that. See, you don’t put NOT in red in front of all the other people in the tent, and then pull the Mom card. She says nothing about a big tent. She refers to some other tent that she’s not part of, with freaks and punks in it. She seems to be saying that she’s in the Mom tent.

  62. What the hell is all the fuss about? All this woman is saying is, in effect, “I’m not any of the bigoted stereotypes the Republicans want you to think I am; I’m one of the mainstream ordinary people the Republicans pretend to represent, and I’m here for my kid’s future.” That’s it. Any attempt to read anything else into her sign is pure bullshit and a pointless distraction.

    Seriously, folks, are we really going to go apeshit over every non-grade-school-level protest sign we see at a left-of-Reagan gathering? Because there’s LOTS of really clever, funny, and spot-on signs we can quibble about, if facing reality gets to be too much for us.

  63. As a white, ex-middle class, small business owner who spent a few days at my local OWS and goes back for a few hours every chance I get, I have two thoughts on this post.

    1) An empathetic smirk at the sign. When I first showed up – neatly dressed, clean and well-rested, I was ignored by every camera. A news cameraman told me that he only wanted “real occupiers.” I was setting up a tent while we were talking.

    48 hours later, after no shower, sleeping in a tent, a forgotten hairbrush, a t-shirt pulled all funny from sleeping in it and no coffee, I’m a prime target for cameras.

    2) There are thousands of signs. Some of them are awesome, some are heart-breaking, some are succinct, some are totally stupid. There are thousands of people in over a thousand places worldwide, most of them holding signs. Why this one? It doesn’t say anything about OWS or the protests, it’s just one woman’s opinion.

  64. Kerfuffle:

    Regarding 1, that’s funny, thanks for the story.

    Regarding 2, that’s an interesting question to ask. Often, when I talk about a single issue, people who don’t happen to like what I’ve said ask a question like that. It is a form of concern over my diversity as a blogger.

    In response, I give you the link to the tag “Protest” on the X Blog and “Politics” on my Science Blog, and to all my stuff on Quiche Moraine:

    I was just telling my friend Mike Haubrich last night: I was actually “collecting” this sign along with about 100 other icons of the protest, which I’ve memeed out in support of the protest on G+, Facebook and here, and was in the process of changing the file name from the 37 digit long name Facebook gives files (I had stolen it from facebook) when I asked myself “What does this sign say, what is this woman saying, so I can rephrase it in two or three words to use as a more useful filename” (I was doing this with all the images.

    That caused me to think about the sign. Not just react to it, but think about it.

    And then I wrote this blog post.

  65. Which, as it turns out, required additional thinking so I modified the post. But no matter how hard I try, via the whole thinking thing, to change my mind to be in line with all those who disagree with me, I still come round to the same conclusion: Regardless of what her point or intention really were, she marked up a sign that is either a declaration that she’s “NOT” like “them” … or, she accidentally created a sign that says that she’s “NOT” like them, and that her arrival on the scene, as a mom, validates the protest that was hitherto “NOT” … something. In red. In ALL CAPS.

  66. Regardless of what her point or intention really were, she marked up a sign that is either a declaration that she’s “NOT” like “them”…

    So what? If I tell you I’m not black, gay, Muslim, or a Southerner, is that an attempt to insult or “otherize” any of those groups? Of course not — it’s just a true statement, and it says nothing at all about my feelings toward either group.

    The Republicans have only one response to legitimate criticism of their idiotic mindset and failed policies: label their critics and use the labels (and the bogus stereotypes associated with said labels) to divide, demean and marginalize all critics and criticism. This woman was only addressing the predictable right-wing response to her concerns. Seriously, dude, you’re an intelligent guy — are you really not able to understand what this sign is saying?

  67. So what? If I tell you I’m not black, gay, Muslim, or a Southerner, is that an attempt to insult or “otherize” any of those groups?

    No, it wouldn’t be. Missed my point, though.

  68. Greg, I’ve got your back!

    I would think that atheists would have a better understanding of where (at least I think) Greg is coming from. If some group like Fox News is degrading a group, you take the term back! You don’t say, “No, I’m not a left-wing nut job!” You say, “Yes, I AM a left-wing nut job!!!” You don’t say, “I’m an agnostic, not one of those arrogant atheists!” (And I know atheists who almost say that word for word, as I would bet many others here do, too.) You say, “Yes, I AM an arrogant atheist!!!” (OK, maybe leave out the arrogant part, but hopefully you get the idea.) Don’t run away from the derogatory terms; run toward them! Accept them. Take them back so that they are no longer derogatory terms. I would hope most people know what happens when a group runs away from a derogatory term – the discriminatory group invents a new derogatory term!

  69. You don’t say, “No, I’m not a left-wing nut job!” You say, “Yes, I AM a left-wing nut job!!!”

    First, if you’re left-wing and not a nut-job, you certainly don’t want to say “yes, I’m a nutjob.”

    Second, this woman clearly isn’t there to reclaim any labels; she’s there to say she’s concerned for her kid’s future and to protest policies she thinks (rightly) are endangering said future. Why is your demand that she “reclaim” something more important than her own concerns? You want to reclaim a label? Do it yourself. She’s not there to do your work for you.

    And third, why should she say “yes, I’m [whatever]” if she really isn’t? Did it ever occur to you that maybe she really isn’t any of those things she says she’s not? Did it ever occur to you that maybe that’s a major part of the point she’s trying to make? What’s so horrible about saying even mainstream white Americans are hurt by Republican misrule? It’s not like that statement is false.

    I think it’s just plain ridiculous (not to mention insulting) that people here are telling this woman what she should and should not be saying, and completely ignoring what she IS saying. Small-minded, selfish, AND patronizing.

  70. Actually, Raging Bee, that isn’t what her sign does. That’s what a sign like “I don’t want my baby’s future mortgaged for Wall Street’s success” does. That’s what a sign like “His/her allowance won’t let him/her buy a senator.” does. This sign is about identity, not protest.

  71. I am the woman in the photo.

    It was taken on October 15 2011, at Occupy Vancouver. To be there that day, I traveled 6 hours by bus and ferry with my baby. I left my older daughter (age 6)at home with her grandparents.

    I live in a rural community (pop. 2000) on the Sunshine Coast of BC, Canada. Since the pic went viral, I have enjoyed participating in several threads about my sign. As it happens, that was only one of my three signs. My other, larger banners stated:
    “Stand Together/Advance Together/Occupy Together”.

    The controversial sign under discussion was a response to the labels I had been hearing used by the mainstream media to categorize and invalidate all Occupiers. Yes, the label, “Left Wing Nut Job” was specifically in response to Kevin O’Leary’s shameful interview.

    Ironically and quite amusingly, I have myself been labelled by people who are offended by my use of labels on my sign.

    I am an aging hippy/punk/freak who now participates in building my own community by working part time and volunteering in the area of maternal and child development. Middle class, well perhaps we were back before 2008, but the economic woes have pushed us many steps back financially, and now we struggle as virtually everyone else does, to make ends meet for our family of four.

    I definitely identify as a left-wing nut job; I was proud to be part of that particular mob on that day (and on other days, other demonstrations).

    I happen NOT to be an anarchist; I am straight.

    There. Does that cover it?

    Anyway, I thought I’d drop by and contribute to the discussion by letting you all know, that, yes, the “lady” has a clue….

    Sarah Blythe Pond

  72. I also want to add that I am not a latecomer to the Occupy Movement, as I have been participating since September 20th, albeit not at an encampment, as my financial, geographical and familial circumstances prevent me.

    I fervently support the worldwide revolution.

    I came of age in the early 1980’s as a punk/freak. I live in solidarity with misfits of all casts.

    The labels on my sign were used against Occupiers by the likes of Mitt Romney (a mob), Kevin O’Leary (left-wing nut job), Bill O’Reilly (anarchists, hippies, freaks), and many news sources (vague).

    Also, I ain’t a “lady”.

    I regret any offense my sign caused any protester.


Leave a Reply to Albatross Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.