Class and Cake: Using your Twitter powers for good

Or, show your class, not your ass.

Earlier today, a professional blogger tweeted, “Hired some drywallers for a project. The pregnant lady in flip-flops on a ladder & smoking? Yeah. She’s with them. #Really #NoReallyReally.” Then, a bit later, “I agree with you guys: perhaps we could coax her off the ladder with a stiff drink. 😉 #RethinkingOurHiringStandards.”

I replied rather, uh, stridently, that I found such behavior to be tacky. You can see the blogger’s reply here.

Yes, smoking while pregnant is not the best choice one could make. Neither is climbing ladders while pregnant and shod in flip-flops. No one is disputing that it’s a less-than-safe idea. But you know what else is a bad choice? Making fun of a stranger who’s trying to make a living in front of 1,216,469 followers. And you can justify your comments all you want by expressing concern about safety and lawsuit issues, but once you start making cracks about enticing a pregnant woman with a cocktail, you’ve crossed out of “concern” territory and into mocking someone you consider to be beneath you.

Let me break it down further: I think we can all agree that if you’re drywalling someone else’s house the day before Thanksgiving and you’re wearing flip-flops (and you live in Florida, ZING!), you’re probably not rolling in cash. You’re probably doing what you need to do to keep the lights on and maybe finance a box of Stove Top and a turkey for tomorrow. And if you’re a professional blogger who has access to the funds to hire a team of people to come drywall your house, and you then take to Twitter to make fun of those folks you’ve hired, you’re probably extremely blind to your own privilege. Which you will then, of course, deny (even though you’re not a dude!).

Again, my issue is not with expressing “concern” over a pregnant woman’s (fetus included) safety; rather, it is using a platform such as Twitter when you have a following in the seven digits to perpetuate the hegemonic construct of the woman’s body as public property, available for any- and everyone to comment upon, not to mention perpetuating classist attitudes about working-class individuals. Which, invariably, takes us straight to Eugenics Land.

Of course, if you dare call said professional blogger out on their tackiness, you are of course, branded as the stupid pariah feminist who “us[es] feminism to excuse the woman’s behavior.” Or, when you initially express your frustration with the commentary, you get told you have an unwarranted sense of entitlement. And she’s right, this blogger owes me nothing. But I do think that when you’re a public figure who blogs about silly desserts, and you have 1.25 million followers, you do bear some responsibility for what you put out there. You help set the tone. And it’s not about feminism, it’s about being a decent human being.

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  1. Bystander

     /  November 25, 2010

    The woman was smoking during pregnacy thus not being able for nine months to stop as it will damage the child for their entire LIFE. If they can’t do that much, abort the fetus. When you become pregnant you give up putting your selfish needs first.

    • Christine

       /  December 16, 2010

      my mother smoked the entire nine months of her pregnancy. glad she didn’t feel the same way you do.

  2. boxingoctopus

     /  November 25, 2010

    Did you even read what I wrote?

  3. Cheering over here. Thanks for writing this.

  4. Marcee

     /  November 27, 2010

    Huzzah! I am also cheering. You hit these things so hard and between the eyes and I love reading these kind of posts of yours. Thanks for calling out said professional blogger and for posting about it here. I think there are so many of us who get outraged but don’t know how to respond or properly channel it or articulate it in a useful way. So many people just shrug it off and don’t say anything. I love that you say.

  5. Zach

     /  November 28, 2010

    Hi there,

    I followed this little debate closely when it first happened and I just found your article. And frankly, while you conveyed your opinion very well, I think you’re completely wrong. Please let me explain.

    The blogger in question didn’t use any names of either the person or the company. It was a comment on the behavior and nothing else. Even you agree that the behavior was wrong. The question is, how wrong would the behavior have to be before you would consider it okay to mention on twitter? What if she had hired a tree trimmer who brought their 3 year old to work and let them play under the tree they were trimming? Would that be wrong enough? I would say that being on a ladder in flip flops while smoking and pregnant is no less dangerous for a very real child. In addition, if any of her readers have done the same thing before or plan to do it again, perhaps this little bit of commentary might persuade them not to.

    Also, your whole commentary makes it out that she somehow condemned this person based on class or social standing. I can’t find that anywhere. What I do see is a whole load of assumptions on your part and a hasty generalization that someone working like this must be low class. Being in construction myself, I can tell you that most of the people I work with live in quite lovely neighborhoods and probably make more than you do. Additionally, the class of the person has nothing to do with the stupidity of the action.

    This particular blogger has done more positive on twitter (and for that matter, the internet) than most people. If this commentary and mocking of an anonymous worker from an anonymous company in an anonymous part of a very large state has really offended you as much as it seems, than perhaps it’s time to look around the rest of the web for comparison.

    Finally, reread your article and see if you’re not overreacting just a bit. No one was hurt by the tweet. No one was belittled by the statement. No one even knew who she was talking about. And honestly, if the woman happened to follow her on twitter and saw the many comments agreeing with the tweet, than maybe she’ll change her ways. I doubt this has changed your mind but it should have.


  6. boxingoctopus

     /  November 28, 2010

    Look, my point is that if she was so concerned about this woman’s safety or about getting sued, why didn’t she go fire her, or at least go out and say, “hey, not comfortable with that, get some proper footwear/please don’t smoke on my property” rather than mocking the woman on Twitter?

    My issue here is the lack of critical thinking about what you put out there when you’ve got such a huge audience. Not only were the responses along the lines of “stupid people should be sterilized,” but they were also classist in nature (one I read came from Australia, in which the author said, “LOL sounds like a bogan mum to me!” in which “bogan” = “white trash”). What Jen/Cake Wrecks did was make this woman the butt of a bunch of mommy drive bys and white trash jokes via a social networking platform. To do so serves to further dilute and poison the discourse of women and class in our culture. THAT IS MY POINT.

  7. Zach

     /  November 28, 2010

    So what you’re saying is that by making a statement about something stupid that someone did, Jen was directly responsible for all the comments that followed? Should we, as a society, avoid pointing out wrong behavior because some idiot might make a racist, classist comment in response? The fact is, Jen made a statement which was correct. What that lady did was far more irresponsible than anything Jen wrote. By opting to maintain the woman’s anonymity, I think she showed far more class than you give her credit for. I won’t bother you any more.


  8. boxingoctopus

     /  November 28, 2010

    Yes, that’s sort of what I mean. Being mindful of the tone you set by Tweeting responsibly. Being impeccable with your word. Not being a dick. And it is my reasoned opinion that her Tweets were, collectively, a dick move.

  9. after following this post I am still of the opinion that whether or not the mother was using the best of judgement, it is HER judgement and we might all do well to mind our own business occasionally. we’ve become a society of insufferable know-it-all’s, oh so morally superior. we build our personal communities by bullying and exploiting those we think are ‘less than’. spending that ‘tweeting’ time by supporting prenatal education might be a better use of one’s efforts, but then again, it’s not the clever, witty, cooooool thing to do, huh?

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