As we have covered here, Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski today called Mike Pompeo a (trigger warning for homophobic language) “wannabe dictator’s butt-boy” on air. She then half-assed an apology in response to a tweet calling out the deep upfuckedness of this language.
Totally agree with you -SUPER BAD choice of words .. I should have said “water boy”… like for football teams or something like that.. apologize to @SenatorDurbin too! SO SORRY! https://t.co/zIqsGdK3Tk
— Mika Brzezinski (@morningmika) December 12, 2018
I have two problems with this exchange. The first, of course, is that the language Brzezinski used draws on centuries of vile and rhetorically florid homophobia, all of which she dismissed by calling it a “SUPER BAD choice of words,” creating a false equivalency between a slur and a colorful metaphor, such as her suggested replacement “water boy.”
The slur “butt-boy” draws on antiquated ideas of homosexuality almost always imposed by heteronormative society. It implies not only that there is shame in homosexual sex, but also that it is more shameful for the man being penetrated, which in addition to being homophobic also draws on some distressingly rigid notions of masculinity. The use of the term “boy” also echoes accusations of pedophilia that have been lobbed at gay men since…well, since always. (This, in turn, comes from a hysterical misunderstanding of certain aspects of LGBTQ+ history, but I don’t have the space or, indeed, sufficient expertise to address that here. If you’re confused, I suggest you read some books). And this doesn’t even touch on the way such language can hurt other members of the LGBTQ+ community.
So, that’s my first issue: Brzezinski used deeply offensive language and tried to pass it off as a “whoopsie” instead of what it is: evidence of deep-seated bigotry. She may be guilty of failing to question society’s homophobia rather than harboring such hatred for her own sake, but either way, she has an important platform and should know better.
My second issue is the frankly absurd assumption that Mohammed bin Salman would, in any universe, be a top. Like most dictators, he is obviously a bottom, and I cannot believe more people are not talking about this. There’s bigotry, Ms. Brzezinski, and then there’s straight up ignorance.