Dan Choi, the poster child for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” who recently, albeit unsuccessfully, tried to be re-instated in the Army, is a hero to many in part thanks to his outspokenness. But last week, his outspoken nature got him into a great deal of hot water. In “Bad Lieutenant, Dan Choi,” an in-depth interview with Village Voice writer Steven Thrasher, Choi said, “Harry Reid is a pussy and he’ll be bleeding once a month.”
Immediately, there was outrage across the spectrum. Choi, somewhat defiantly, apologized, calling himself a feminist, and, via Twitter, stating, “Go ahead: call me a ‘misogynist.’ I’m still pro-choice, pro-ERA. I also happen to think @HarryReid is a #DADT #FAIL.” While he later removed that statement from Twitter, and added, “I appreciate your criticism; I apologize for using the slur, and resolve to educate others in any capacity I’m afforded in the future,” many were not satisfied.
Among those not satisfied are four womens’, service members’, and LGBT groups, and they have today sent Choi a letter demanding an apology and offering education.
Here’s the text of the letter:
AN OPEN LETTER TO DAN CHOI
The Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) and the undersigned advocacy
organizations were shocked and extremely disappointed by your comments
about women in your recent interview in the Village Voice. You should
know as we do that there is no room for misogyny, racism or other
forms of hate speech among people who are working to end
discrimination and bring about equality in the military, and
Your comments about women are irresponsible, indefensible and
inexcusable, and you should publicly acknowledge that fact. As a
human rights advocate, you should know that degrading one group of
people to promote the rights of another disserves everyone. Your
sexist comments also undermine SWAN’s efforts to achieve our policy
objectives, which include promoting equality for all servicemembers.
As an organization that advocates for equal opportunity for all
servicemembers and veterans, SWAN is keenly aware that there is still
a tremendous amount of misogyny both within the military and the LGBTQ
community, and that misogynistic and homophobic language is rampant in
the military. Comments denigrating women’s bodies, or suggesting that
simply being a woman is abhorrent, are unacceptable. Unfortunately,
this type of language is all too familiar to women in the military.
As a direct result of misogynistic language, a hostile work
environment for servicewomen–both heterosexual and lesbian–is
allowed to thrive. Hate crimes, sexual harassment, lesbian-baiting,
gay-bashing and sexual assault have flourished. Adopting and
promulgating hate-filled speech against women only serves to increase
the danger that servicewomen and LGBTQ servicemembers face on a daily
We must hold you accountable for what you say as a spokesperson for
equality. We encourage you to render a genuine apology, rather than a
half-hearted, perfunctory tweet on Twitter. We also encourage you to
discuss this issue with us further. It is part of our mission to
educate the public about the serious challenges facing military women
and women veterans, and we’d be more than happy to assist you in
deepening your understanding of these issues.
There will be more here shortly, including statements and analysis from our own Tanya Domi, a former Army Captain and former legislative director at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
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