Pie fight

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Pie Fight Overview

On Friday, June 3, 2005 an ad for the TBS reality series "The Real Gilligan's Island" appeared on a number of websites, including DailyKos. The ad (above) depicted reality series contestants dressed as the characters Ginger and Maryann from the original television series. They were pictured from the waist up, facing one another, each showing a bit of cleavage due to their tight-fitting shirts. The ad was titled "Pie Fight" and there was suggestive captioning included with the advertisement. Click here to watch the ad (YouTube).

By the following day, some members of the DailyKos community were upset about the presence of this ad, prominently displayed on the DailyKos main page. The ad was indecent, objectifies women and a supposedly liberal site should not condone that sort of thing. This was countered by members of the community who did not consider the ad pornographic or offensive and rejected the idea that such imagery is in anyway disrespectful of women. This stalemate persisted until the following day when Markos himself finally decided to weigh in on the matter.

Markos' front page post that Sunday evening was not received well. He came down solidly on the side of the ad's defenders, denounced the ad's critics as part of the "sanctimonious women's studies set" and invited those who could not live with his opinion to find a more welcoming home in the blogosphere. Some of the ad's defenders felt emboldened by Markos' stance on the matter, cheering for "Bazongas" and ridiculing the "menstruating she-devils" who wanted the ad down. Meanwhile, many more than were initially upset at the advertisement were taken aback by Markos' tone and the tone of many other commenters, which was interpreted as dismissive of women in general, not just of the ad's original opponents. Accusations of misogyny and sexism became rampant.

Markos apologized for using too broad a brush in criticizing those who pursue women's studies, but remained resolved in his opinion, likening the ad's opponents to the right-wing's prudish anti-sex crusaders. He further explained that he had little patience for those who look for "signs of female subjugation under every rock". This did little to quell the uproar that had started.

Over the next three days, many diaries dissecting the issues surrounding the ad and women's concerns in general were written. The discussions were at times impolite. While some maintained that the fights were principally about the appropriateness of the sexually-charged ad, others claimed the fights were really about broader issues - the "fratboy" atmosphere at DailyKos leading to hostility and lack of respect to women and women's issues in general. Many well-known Kossacks decided to take Markos up on his invitation to leave, many migrating to Booman Tribune. Ironically, while these arguments were going on, the advertisment imagery changed to a much racier picture. In the new picture, the adolescent male lesbian-fantasy imagery became much more overt, with Maryann and Ginger prone on the picnic table, each covered in pie filling.

The television show aired Wednesday night and the pie diaries and exchanges of vitriol had subsided by Thursday. On Friday, the ad was gone, presumably because it had finished its scheduled run.

Timeline

  • Friday, June 3: The ad that started it all appears on DailyKos.
  • Saturday, June 4: boudicca objects to the pie fight ad.
  • Sunday, June 5: Kos has no patience for the "sanctimonious women's studies set" or those who look for "signs of female subjugation under every rock."
  • Monday, June 6: The ad gets a bit more risque.
  • Tuesday, June 7: Many Kossacks migrate to Booman Tribune
  • Wednesday, June 8: Kos says he is not the end-all, be-all of liberal blogging.
  • Friday, June 10: The ad disappears.

The pro-pie point of view

  • It's just an ad. Pick your battles.
  • Sexuality is something to be celebrated, not criticized.
  • The arguments of those who objected to the ad were listened to, just disagreed with.
  • Those who claim to speak for women do not speak for all women.

The anti-pie point of view

  • The ad treats women as sex objects, which leads to exclusion of women from meaningful discussion.
  • Sexually-suggestive images should not appear on DailyKos, at least on the main page.
  • It wasn't so much the ad but the way in which their concerns were dismissed.
  • This ad, and Markos' comment, merely triggered a boiling over of a long-simmering fight about far more important matters. Fights over the party's embrace of anti-choice Democratic politicians, the endorsement of Lincoln Chafee by NARAL, and the remarks of Larry Summers about women in science had already made emotions very raw.

Notable pie diaries

The pie brouhaha in the media

Epilogue

While DailyKos lost several prominent women diarists as a result of the pie fight, overall readership of the site was not significantly affected. Indeed, by August, traffic at the site, as measured by reach and page views, had tripled what it was in June.

The pie wars flared up again in brief in early August when some commenters objected to ads the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball tour had placed on DailyKos that featured athlete Rachel Wacholder in her competition bikini. Beneath the ad, Wacholder proudly proclaimed that she would "lay out for every ball". After running various versions of the ad for about three weeks, Wacholder and her bikini were replaced by Sean Scott and his chiseled abs. And there was much rejoicing.

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