Saturday, June 18, 2011

Exploitation, Identity and the Internet

I have a new post up at The New Republic:
In 1993, Peter Steiner penned an oft-reproduced cartoon for The New Yorker that has proven to be remarkably prescient time and time again. In it, two dogs sit by a computer and one, turning to the other, explains, “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

Meet the dog of the hour: Tom MacMaster , a 40-year-old white, male graduate student living in Georgia who, for four months now, has been masquerading as Amina Abdallah Arraf, the supposedly Syrian American author of the Gay Girl in Damascus blog. [...]
To add insult to injury, Paula Brooks, editor of the blog Lez Get Real (who, full disclosure, I corresponded with in passing in 2008, when both our blogs were just getting started), admitted a day after MacMaster that “she” is actually a 58-year-old heterosexual, male Air Force veteran named Bill Graber.


Basically, by taking on the personae of lesbian bloggers, what MacMaster and Graber were saying is this: “I am a white male and, as such, privileged by American society in almost every way. There is, however, one way in which I am not privileged; I don’t have the right to speak for minorities, and that makes me sad. Luckily for me, I’ve found a way that I can simultaneously enjoy all the privileges of being a white American male and all the media attention of being a disenfranchised political/sexual minority.”
Read the complete article here.

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