Yesterday I wrote this article about the misgivings surrounding Kony 2012. A lot of people called me a monster, but most were complimentary, relieved to have an excuse to hate on some corny American filmmakers. However, since the article went viral-ish, it exposed a lot of people unfamiliar with VICE to the ugly timbre of my crappy writing, and I had a surprising number of complaints about my foul language.
This one in particular stood out:
Thank you for bringing attention to Invisible Children's reported shortcomings, and for shedding light on the complexities of the LRA and child soldier situation in Uganda. The internet is powerful, yes, but that power can undoubtedly be put to harmful use.
I am writing to you about a separate concern I had with your article, however. Your article, "Should I Donate Money to Kony 2012 or Not?", uses three derogatory, and I believe sexist, terms to describe Kony and the founders of Invisible Children. Kony is referred to as a 'Cunt,' and the founders as 'douchebags' and 'twats.' As a thoughtful reader, and also as a woman, I was offended. And to be honest, quite shocked. How is it that in a reputable publication, in 2012, one of the world's worst war criminals can be called the nastiest name in the book for a vagina (or for that matter, one of the nastiest words in the English language)? Or that in capturing the total lameness of the male founders, negatively charged words for vaginas and vaginal cleansing are used?
It's high time that we all start being more careful with the words we use. I would think that writers, more than anyone else, should realize the power that words have to reinforce social meaning and cause stigmatic harms. Today is International Women's Day. In honor of the day, and in honor of all women, everyday, an apology to your readers would seem appropriate.
[name withheld] The email made me ashamed. It was quite surprising to realize that most of my insults stemmed from the vagina, especially considering how much more I hate cocks and balls than I do vaginas. I wish I had called Kony a nut sack full of turd and I wish I'd called the Invisible Children people dickheads rather than douchebags. In all sincerity, I believe the author of this letter is right, so here I am, apologizing to you, readers. I had no idea it was International Women's Day until I got that email. But now that I do, I want to celebrate it by making an apologetic gesture to womankind.
I know that I can never make a gesture which will satisfy, or appeal to, every single woman on the Earth, or on the internet; so all I can do is make a gesture to all the women I know.
All the women I know like dancing around to Stevie Nicks, so here's a great version of "Edge of Seventeen" for everyone to enjoy. Happy International Women's Day. I'm sorry I was rude about your stuff.
It's in two parts!
Follow Alex on Twitter: @terriblesoup