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Stay Woke

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Sportz! (An actual image from the Barstool Sports site)

As more women, feminists, LGBTQ, and people of color take up space on the internet, it–ironically–creates fewer “safe spaces” for many of the men Drew Magary describes in this tremendously readable article. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve got the numbers when it comes to fomring harassing mobs on social platforms, but the fact is that ultimately we all share the internet and even the voices of  minorities and the marginalized get to have their say, too, sometimes. This has caused some men to retreat to feces-filled little Hobbit-holes, but for men like Drew, it’s been a learning experience.

We didn’t post much about Barstool here in the past, just as we rarely post about former Deadspin editor and current After-Shave Rights Advocate Clay Travis, the reasoning being that both Travis and Portnoy are deeply shitty men who crave attention any way they can get it, usually by race-baiting or screaming BOOBS in a crowded theater. Don’t feed the trolls, etc. But as much as I’d like to ignore both men, there is the harsh truth that they are good, in a sense, at marshaling a very specific and damaging niche of the Internet for their own personal branding and enrichment. They are catering, quite effectively, not just to white dudes, but to the white dudes who feel, wrongly, as if the greater Internet has left them behind. And I know this breed of fella quite well because, in some ways, I am one.

This could have been an article where Drew showed us lovingly-rendered drawings of his enormous, woke penis, but it’s not that at all. It’s a call to keep listening and growing. Something [I say as I point a big fat finger at myself] we all need to work on.

I have written for this site for a decade, and if you dip into my back archive, you’ll find posts that are just as shitty as some of the posts that Portnoy had thrown in his face after his ESPN deal surfaced. One time I wrote a post called “In Defense of Female Objectification,” which featured the standard frat bro logic of, “Don’t blame men for being horny! That’s just the way we are!” I also joined in the comments on a post that goofed on high school football player Holley Mangold (sister of former Jets center Nick) for her size and appearance. She was 16 at the time. And, of course, I wrote a post calling LeBron James a cocksucker. Threeposts, actually. When GLAAD got angry about the first post, I remember going to my old boss and being like, “Why are they mad? Cocksucker just means asshole!” I considered only my definition of the slur to be valid, conveniently overruling the definition of people who rightfully take the term literally.

There’s more. I started my blogging career with a Blogspot site called FKS, with the motto “Now 10% less gay than other blogs!” I also co-founded Kissing Suzy Kolber, and if you find it objectionable to jokingly name a site after an incident where a drunken ex-quarterback hit on a woman and made her horribly uncomfortable live on national television, I can’t blame you. The first thing I wrote at KSK that really took off was “Fuck It, I’m Throwing It Downfield,” featuring then-Bears QB Rex Grossman getting hornier and hornier with each successive long incompletion (hence the little throwgasm thingies you see in the game write-ups below). That post is LITTERED with gay jokes. I remember a friend Gchatting me and telling me, “Drew man, you shouldn’t call things gay,” and I remember, again, only caring about my own definition of the word. “But to me, it just means lame!” That was my defense.

This is pretty a damning inventory he’s taken of his past writings. While I cringed reading this stuff, I give him a butt-ton of props for admitting to this stuff and admitting it wasn’t good. That is way way way easier said than done. I want more people (men, let’s face it) to get on this Drew-Drew train and keep huffing and puffing towards real wokeness. (Spoiler Alert: You never reach Peak Wokeness. We are always learning and growing and getting better.)

You’ll hear that word a lot from white dudes on the internet who believe no one else ever has the right to be upset about anything. Anyone who gets offended is overly sensitive. PC. Hysterical. Weak. They’re just pretending to be offended to get attention. White guys simply can’t imagine anyone getting truly upset over words, mainly because there are no such words that can traumatize them similarly. In fact, anyone triggered is a dick for impeding a frat bro’s right to make SICK JOKEZ. In the days when the internet was dominated by the likes of Tucker Max, and Maddox, and early Bill Simmons, and the now-disgraced Harry Knowles, it was easy to write shit like this and not expect much in the way of reprobation.

Obviously, it’s not like that anymore. The most prominent corners of the mainstream internet are a great deal more diverse than they used to be (though still not diverse enough; Deadspin’s editors heavily tilt male and white, and far too many gifted female writers and editors have left Gizmodo Media Group, our parent company, in the past year). And that diversity has been a surprising boon to some of us online white boys who were long in need of some goddamn manners.

I am not here to boast to you that I am a changed man. I’m not here to put my hand on my heart and declare the GMG elevators abuse-free, or scrawl ALLY across my chest in red letters. All I can tell you is that I’m not making sexist jokes here anymore. I’m not topping posts with the first Erin Andrews photo I can find. I’m not calling everything gay. And that’s not because I’ve been forbidden from it. I’m not screaming at Marchman to stet SLUT across articles. I just … I don’t wanna make those jokes anymore. They’re not funny. They’re not necessary. And they’re not true. I’m well aware that cultural sensitivity can sometimes careen into the realm of the absurd, but that does not mean I get to dismiss the very real hurt some posts can do.

Please continue reading. It’s long, but it’s not a slog and honestly it made me feel happier and more hopeful than I’ve felt in a long time.

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