I Need Your Help Understanding This Cancel Culture Thing (WARNING: Contains “offensive” material not suitable for minors)

I Need Your Help Understanding This Cancel Culture Thing (WARNING: Contains “offensive” material not suitable for minors)

The day before Dr. Seuss’ birthday, we started a sale at BookLocker to honor his birthday. The discount code was GreenEggs 21, and offered authors $125 off our most popular publishing packages. We ran the same sale last year, and the year before that. The very next day, on Dr. Seuss’ birthday, he was ALL over the news. A few hours later, Dr. Seuss Enterprises decided to pull six of his books from the market. For a brief moment, I wondered if we should “cancel” our sale. In the end, I did not. Nobody complained that our sale was offensive.

You might think it was the Dr. Seuss thing that started my brain buzzing but this has been on my mind far longer than that. To be completely honest with you, I just don’t get it. Maybe some of you can explain this cancel culture stuff to me.

Before you think that, by being white, I’ve never been a “victim” myself, read this.

The FIRST time I was sexually assaulted was at the age of 15. A stranger grabbed my breasts at a theme park, laughed, and ran away. The last time that happened was just a few years ago at a party. I was also assaulted by a medical professional while I was lying on a table (he pinched my nipples and laughed). I could go on and on about shame, and feeling disgusting, and all of that but, rather than miring myself in self-pity for months or years, I took steps to ensure that no man would ever get away with assaulting me ever again. I have a carry and conceal license now. My adult daughter has one as well.

I was flying first class (it was a free upgrade) to Washington, DC when I was in my 20s. I had to attend a training class for an accounting program. I found myself sitting next to a U.S. Senator. The stewardess had just served us breakfast. He was extremely flirty, and kept touching me and, by the time we landed, he’d given me his business card, wrote his assistant’s name on it, told me he’d give me a personal tour of the White House, and that we could go to his penthouse after. He then leaned close, and whispered, “My wife and your husband will never know.” Eeeewww!! He was so old! And wrinkly!! (He was probably only in his 50s at the time – he is still living, but is retired – but, to my young eyes, he was ancient. And gross!!)

I never called him. Had I been a weak and greedy young woman, who knows where that could have led? I was earning not much more than minimum wage at the time. I could have played that relationship to my financial advantage. But, I’m not that type of person. I wonder how many other women have refused the advances of rich and powerful (and old!!) politicians? I considered, for a time, compiling an anthology of stories from such women, and calling the book “Better Than Monica.” Say all you want about Bill Clinton but Monica Lewinsky had the choice to walk away, as so many women like myself have done. She did not. And, she said it was consensual…until the #MeToo movement started. Then, all of the sudden, it was not.

Back in the early 90’s, before I started BookLocker, I worked in corporate jobs. For years, I was paid far less than my male counterparts. I know because I was reviewing the payroll reports each week. The men got far larger salaries than the women. When my complaints were ignored, I simply worked harder. And, it paid off.

Men flirted with me, made physical passes at me, and even occasionally made disparaging remarks about me being a woman in a man’s world. Rather than letting myself feel like a victim, I simply worked even harder, maintained my professionalism, and moved up the ladder. One supervisor made public remarks about me being pregnant “again,” and said, “You know the fastest way to get that baby out of there? With a butcher knife.” Yes, he really said that in front of all of my co-workers. Did I hide my head in shame? Hell no. Soon after, I discovered he was stealing money from the company. I gathered the evidence, made photocopies, presented them to the CEO, and got my supervisor fired ON THE SPOT. As he walked out the door, he yelled, “Well, you got what you wanted!”

Damn right I did.

One guy actually showed me his junk in my office just to get a “rise” out of me. I pointed and laughed, remarking how “small” he was. I bet he never did that to any other woman! I didn’t report him. I simply resolved to be more successful than him. And, I am. I found him on Facebook a few years ago. While I am running a corporation, he is still “working for the man.” (Uh oh. Is that a sexist comment?)

My personal Facebook account was “cancelled” by that company without warning when I posted the cover of our Managing Editor’s book. Facebook “cancelled” him on the same day, too. I was then “cancelled” by Instagram for the exact same reason. (Instagram is owned by Facebook.)

Now that you know where I’m coming from with regards to “victimhood,” let’s talk about the original topic of this article.

Today, things are being cancelled that the “victims” don’t want cancelled.

People whose family members represented Aunt Jemima in ads are upset that Quaker Oats is “erasing” her.

Pepé Le Pew is offensive to women yet Dave Chappelle is allowed to laugh about it. And, don’t forget how awesome everybody thought Christian Grey was in Fifty Shades of Grey. Last I heard, that best selling book hasn’t been cancelled.

Mr. Potato Head shouldn’t be called a Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head shouldn’t be called a Mrs.

Numerous singers have been accused of racist speech and songs yet their careers didn’t end. Quite the contrary, in fact. Countless songs with racist lyrics are still for sale. I guess the cancel culturists haven’t added those singers to their lists yet. And, yes, there are anti-white songs as well. This guy got cancelled. Numerous black comedians make fun of white people. I LOVE watching stand-up comedians, even if they’re making fun of me. I’ve had blonde jokes lobbed at me my entire life and I always thought they were funny.

To be fair, I looked for songs with the word “honky,” but only found country songs about Honky Tonks. I’ve heard the term “cracker” more times than I can count since moving to Florida but it doesn’t bother me. Rather, it usually just makes me hungry. Remember that old margarine commercial with the Native American woman calling corn “maize?” Yeah, that always made me hungry, too.

The beautiful Native American woman on Land O’ Lakes Butter is NOT okay but Speedy Gonzales is just fine in Space Jam 2.

There are literally hundreds of other examples in the news online.

People are cancelling cultures of some people who don’t want the symbolism of their cultures to be cancelled. And, we are supposed to learn from history’s mistakes…yet many people want to cancel that history.

We’re watching book burning, celebrity burning, toy burning, cartoon burning, syrup burning, butter burning, and much more. Why?

One thing I have noticed, and perhaps you have, too, is this. Nobody is cancelling products, movies, cartoons, etc. that primarily represent white people. All of these people are screaming about stereotypes, and cancelling products that have actually promoted minorities, and made many of them money. If you get rid of all of the products, labels, etc. that represent only minorities, what’s going to be left? Think about that.

What am I missing? I seriously don’t get it. Please weigh in your wisdom and insights below.

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20 Responses to "I Need Your Help Understanding This Cancel Culture Thing (WARNING: Contains “offensive” material not suitable for minors)"

  1. A. R. TOLLE  March 17, 2021 at 6:19 pm

    Over forty years ago I worked with a guy that made a comment about the people of that day. The cancel culture promoters would fit right into his claim. He said “ignorance is eating them alive”. He was way ahead of his time.

  2. Karin  March 15, 2021 at 11:16 pm

    Someone (psychiatrist Robin Skinner) put it very well: “If people can’t control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people’s behaviour.” The “cancel culture” people want to be protected from feeling uncomfortable because someone disagrees with them. It is political correctness taken to absurd lengths and the emotionally and mentally immature demanding that the world conform to their wishes.

  3. Gil C. Schmidt  March 15, 2021 at 5:18 pm

    Sexual harassment is disgusting and should never happen to anyone, but it is not cancel culture. This sexually-abusive behavior is about power, boundaries, and opportunism. To equate that with cancel culture misses the point: cancel culture is about one group trying to impose its views on all others, and for too long, it has been white folks saying what goes and what doesn’t.

    To say that a corporate logo “enhances” a culture is specious, at best. Those are examples of using symbols in ways they were not intended. If you doubt that, think of how offended people were when Muhammad was portrayed as a dog (The Satanic Verses), or when Mapplethorpe photographed a crucifix in urine. I don’t give a whit about the religious meaning of either or any other such symbol, but I can understand rejecting their use in such ways.

    White people, and I am one of them, have been the judge and jury of “what’s right and what ain’t” for centuries in the U.S., and now that other people demand the same right, whites act like it’s an attack. To the privileged, the fact that others gain equality is taken as a loss, when it is nothing more than right and proper, a sign of progress that the fearful see as threatening.

    The “cancellation” of Dr. Seuss books was the PUBLISHER’S decision. Pardon my all-caps, but the point is absolutely essential to this example. No one said Dr. Seuss was evil, or needed to be censored. The publisher chose to remove certain poorly-selling books (compared to other works) for valid brand-protection reasons. And notice who jumped up like it was the end of days and we were within hours of the total entire complete full 100% soup-to-nuts collapse of Western Civilization? White folks.

    I’m not saying cancel culture is right: it isn’t, and it never has been. But it amuses me no end to see how the people who practically perfected the practice are all in a tizzy when the practice is used to reclaim what was taken from Native Americans, African, Asians, Mexicans, and so many more. “How dare they do to us what we do to them?” is the sotto voce moan of the cancel culture over-reactions.

    I know I’m not alone in wishing we had a more equitable and fair society, one where protecting and respecting each other is the common environment. Women do have a tougher time in this society than men, but racial and ethnic groups do as well, and denying any of those is willful rejection of the facts. To label things as “cancel culture” is often wrong, as with Dr. Seuss, or a means to pre-empt any fruitful debate or honest criticism, like slapping “racist” on many arguments. Both cancel culture and racism are real, both are heinously damaging, and both have long histories in the U.S. Denying them or misusing their identification simply pushes the problem down the road, never to be understood, never to be resolved.

    • Bryan Quinn  April 5, 2021 at 3:50 pm

      Great reply, from a white guy.

  4. John Rieske  March 15, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    I had a very good friend, David, who was a Native American who lived in Cleveland. His favorite baseball team was the Cleveland Indians: he loved their mascot. He thought Chief Wahoo was very funny and had a picture of him on the rear window of his car. (his license plate was INJUNS). He would often get stopped by cops because of it, with the explanation that it was hurtful to Native Americans.
    His response: ” I am an Injun and I like it! It has not hurt me a bit I find him to be funny, because he looks just like me! I am a true Cleveland Indian!”.
    I was majoring in Native American Anthropology and I was very involved in pow wows, I was providing many authentic style clothes and equipment for participants at that time and would dress the part too.
    When a group of younger participants started to harrass Whites, including myself at one of the larger events, He stopped the event and walked over to the trouble makers and challenged them.
    “Who do you think you are?” he asked them, “Why are you treating my guests this way?”
    “We don’t like whites dressing like Native Americans!” the ring leader replied.
    My friend turned to me, “Where were you born?” he asked me.
    “In America,” I answered.
    “He sounds Native American to me!” David proclaimed, “And it looks like he knows more about Us than you guys do! Look at you guys! You are dressed like a bunch of Cowboys and Hollywood Injuns! I am ashamed of you! Now shut your mouths and learn to be men!”

  5. Jim  March 15, 2021 at 12:34 am

    Hi, Angela:
    First off, sorry for what some people do. The Doctor could have lost his license, if I am not mistaken.
    If you search for “Grandiose sense of self worth”, try the Wikipedia article. It should be the first one.

    • By Angela Hoy - Publisher of WritersWeekly.com  March 15, 2021 at 9:09 am

      He didn’t get away with it. Don’t worry.

  6. Donna  March 13, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    Bravo! The whole world has changed within the new normal. Families, schools, private schools, businesses, and corporations blame the virus around the world, but that is not all true. What is true is when they cancel books and television programs. Why? Companies do not have the support from their sponsors to support them on the money. When they expire, they cancel the product or pull out. Violent verbal remarks were taught at home as the child witnesses the abuse between parents, siblings, or copy from others.

  7. J Epperson  March 13, 2021 at 11:21 am

    Thank you Angela. Well said. I think they simply want to cancel history and they’re doing it one book or song or picture at a time.

    • Jane  April 1, 2021 at 11:39 am

      I agree as well. Angela – a big thank you for stating what many of us are already thinking and for sharing your personal story.

  8. Tami  March 13, 2021 at 11:04 am

    Thanks for sharing your very relevant story. It is truly inspiring to read about the hero’s triumph.

    What we’re learning during these strange times is; there’s more than one way to burn books.

  9. Rob  March 13, 2021 at 9:33 am

    P.S. In response to Ms. Powell, cancelling is cancelling and “frankly, aren’t very good” is a subjective determination. Here’s a great example of something quite “offensive” from none other than our friends at Disney: the original Pinocchio movie. Twenty years ago when my kids were small I often curled up with them on the couch for a nap, and they ALWAYS wanted to watch it. Over and over and over again. There are tons of things in that movie that are either flagrantly racist (the song “What Makes the Red Man Red?”) or out of touch (banishing “bad boys” to a remote island… albeit with lots of bad boy vices like smoking). Perhaps a tad distasteful, but would I ban it? Hell, no! In fact, the Red Man song became the topic of a lively discussion one time with my daughter, and at age 23 she is, if anything, quite “woke.”

  10. Rob`  March 13, 2021 at 9:26 am

    I couldn’t add a word to this, because you said it perfectly. I am sorry to hear of all the grief you experienced that was dished out by loutish men, but it also frames your argument perfectly. It’s definitely a thing where massive numbers of folks have just blindly swallowed the cultural koolaid about “what’s right” and there is definitely a generational component to it: I get into heated discussions all the time with my 20 something daughter as well. By the way, I am a Native Floridian but I live in New England now; so was my dad (born in 1918… a certifiable Cracker!). I often think the Sunbelt tends to be a bit more sensible on these cultural topics, but apparently not.

  11. Nancy A Black  March 13, 2021 at 9:06 am

    Wow! One of the best articles I’ve read on this subject! You nailed it Angela! Like you I have encountered all sorts of “harassments”. Guys will try most anything! I’m thinking of the date I had many years ago. I was working as a secretary in a university ROTC office. One of our ROTC students had become something of a star in our department. He was from a poor family, with several children, and as I remember it was difficult financially for him to stay in school. But he was a diligent student if not a particularly bright one and was preparing for a career as a military officer. So the department was bending over backwards helping him stay in school, etc. Along comes an older brother, who had completed an enlistment in the military, and began attending school, possibly under the Korean GI bill, as it would have been in effect then. This brother was in and out of the office, we often talked, and finally he asked me out on a date. Well…he picks me up in his car, immediately drives to a deserted parking lot, and is that quickly all over me., Then he exposes himself, displays his junk, which is totally flaccid, and begging me to do what I’m not sure. It was almost laughable. He is displaying his “limp dick” expecting me to fix his “limpness” I guess.
    I said “no” again, pushed him away, and finally he drove me back home, nearly pushing me out of the car. Some date! I don’t believe he came back to the office after that and may have dropped out of school. Soon after I enlisted in the Army, The Women’s Army Corps, and never returned to that office. Did I report him? Did I go to the police? Of course not. It was 1957, and other than his exposing himself to reticule, nothing happened. Like you I experienced unwanted touching, suggestive conversations, and so forth. I later served with guys in the Army Reserve, with NO problems. At our annual summer camp we would work in these old barracks with one latrine. When I needed to use the latrine, the guys would clear it and one would stand guard until I was finished. Never an untoward incident! I actually preferred working with men as opposed to women as it was far easier to keep things on a professional/business level.
    I’m following the Cuomo mess. That interview with Norah O’Donnell was a joke! Just look at the pictures. Here is miss plain jane with her big glasses, cozying up to the governor. Look at how thrilled she was! As for him, he is a politician. He is going to plaster a big smile on his face, even if she has bad breath, offensive body odor, and he can’t wait to get away from her! And after all that suggestive talk, which she interpreted as a desire to sleep with her, NOTHING happened! It must have been such a disappointment to her! So now she has a “makeover”, gets rid of the big glasses, looks more like a grown woman, and she’s out to get him for disappointing her. Then there is a picture of another woman, who Cuomo has cupped her face and asked permission to kiss her (isn’t that what he is supposed to do?) at an Italian wedding, no less. Cuomo is an Italian male and acts like one. So what? I’m not fond of Italian males but they are what they are. Accept or stay away from them. And of course after one woman cries harassments there will be another and more. It becomes a band wagon. Yet in all, none counts as assault until finally one comes forth with a story of actual physical groping…which she doesn’t want reported to police! Really, women and men! There are numerous stories of truly horrendous harassment and abuse, women and their children, murdered by their husbands and lovers, and everything in between. We don’t need these imaged stories of disappointment, of unwanted hints and embarrassments, to wax indignant about. Like you, I’m white. Only my name is black!

    • By Angela Hoy - Publisher of WritersWeekly.com  March 13, 2021 at 10:49 am

      I haven’t been following the Cuomo mess, other than skimming the headlines, but I do, too, have an Italian male story. I was 14. He was 19. I was blonde. He was tall, dark and handsome, and had a delicious accent. I lied to my parents about his age and he picked me up for a date. He drove me somewhere (I can’t remember where), and pulled a present for me out from under the seat. I opened it. It was a pair of edible underwear. Chocolate. I thanked him and told him to drive me home. He did. I was not offended. Rather, it was hilarious! I saved that box of edible undies for a long time because it was such a funny story. Eventually, they dried up in the package so I had to throw them away. He was the brother of a friend of mine and he was nothing but cordial and polite to me after that. And, until Facebook “cancelled” my personal account for promoting Brian’s book, Blue Lives Matter: The Heart Behind the Badge, he and I were friends on that platform.

      Angela

  12. Ray LaVat  March 13, 2021 at 8:31 am

    Recently finished a manuscript I had been working on since 2009 and put it in a drawer as it predicted what is happening today and what will happen to this country shortly. My editor said to shelve it as the cancel culture would come after me. Controversy use to be healthy today is just plain deadly to publishers. What a waste of time twelve years off and on.
    Why does twelve percent of the population tell the other eighty eight percent how they are going to live? Simple answer no one says hell no I’m not going to take this anymore.

  13. Frank Arcilesi  March 13, 2021 at 7:03 am

    You are absolutely right Angela. The country is heading in the wrong direction. Unfortunately, half the people in this country seem to be asleep and are letting this nonsense happen. The door is open now, and all this crap is coming through. It’s only going to get worse now.

  14. Marian Powell  March 12, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    By coincidence, I was just discussing Dr. Seuss with a retired librarian today. She made the point that no one is cancelling any of his books except those six with offensive stereotypes. They are from early in his career and frankly aren’t very good as he was finding his way as an author. She said they just sat on the shelves because what was popular were all his wonderful later books. She also pointed out his estate is in favor of pulling those six as they were written when the stereotypes he reflected were commonplace. What is important is that he is not being cancelled, just those six early books.

    • Margaret Graham  March 13, 2021 at 4:06 pm

      Thank you. That needed to be said.