Good ole Kim Davis, how we love to hate her. Long after she got sprung from jail and same-sex couples were issued their marriage licenses, it’s still Kim Davis as a lead on half the gay rags of the country and beyond. Mostly because she’s so easy to hate. She’s a woman, after all, and from rural Kentucky.
Her garden-variety bigotry gives you license to make jokes about hillbillies and incest, rednecks and Possum Bottom Kentucky Honeymoon Lodge and Bait shop. You get to rant smugly about her stupidity and backwardness and ignorant accent, and even declare that she shouldn’t be sent to prison because it was bad enough that she already lived in “the soggy backlands of Rowan County, Kentucky.”
And when you get tired of Kentucky-bashing Kim Davis, you get to ridicule her body and her hair, and her four marriages to three men, which allowed one self-declared Christian gay man the opportunity to frame an attack on her femaleness as a battle against hypocrisy, declaring, “God bless the whores who love multiple penises up their worn out holes…” and “cock-hungry crevices” to the delight of his “progressive” Facebook friends.
A Dyke Abroad
Women are participating too, in the same way former Southerners are first in line to sneer at redneck hillbilly pervs. I quit reading articles about Hillary Clinton sometime in 2008 when lefty dykes would join the men ostensibly going after her politics, but mostly attacking her shrill irritating voice, and her incompetent hair, and her childbearing, ball-breaking hips. In fact, they wrote similar attacks against Sarah Palin, who shared none of her program, but all the same shameful equipment.
I also don’t read what most “progressives” have to say about Southern politicians because there’s always gonna be some line in there equivalent to “Go BACK to the part of Amerikkka that hatches bigots by the hog full… GIT!!!” Because apparently there are no bigots up north. Or out west. No homophobia. No racism. No ignorance. No religious fundamentalists. No dead queers, no cop bigots.
And by extension, the hillbilly heaven of the South has only those things. There are no large liberal swaths, or restaurants where black and white middle-class couples might all go for brunch. Or book fairs arranged by committees including black and white women that might welcome a dyke like me. In fact, by implying the South is exclusively comprised of white ignorant hillbillies means there are no people of color at all, except, I guess, for a handful of morons waiting around to be the next certain victim.
You have to wonder where they all went, the growing numbers of immigrants, of Latinos, of Asians, but especially the African Americans who produced the likes of Martin Luther King, Jr. and now a huge crop of anti-AIDS activists that you’ve probably never heard of like Dr. Joyce Turner Keller. Or Dr. Gina Brown. Who don’t count at all in how we perceive the South because they are black, female, and alive.
Every time I see this kind of South-bashing, I can hear the pathetic little voices after the 2000 election blaming us for the Democrats’ loss, and asking why those idiot inbred hillbillies never vote in their own interests. Maybe we are. Maybe it was your own smug, bigoted assholery that sent poor people and women fleeing to the Republicans. And not just poor white people. And not just white women. Yes, racism is one of the primary reasons that the white working class keeps voting for the one percent, afraid those nameless hordes are gonna get their jobs or their homes or their women. But your classist, regionalist sneers do a pretty good job of alienating a wide range of people.
In fact, the current Kim Davis-bashing has almost as much to say about hating people of color and immigrants as it does about Southerners, not to mention women. Not just because the jokes and rants have managed to erase people of color from the narrative of the South with all that hillbilly crap. But because the nature of the rhetoric raises questions about just how serious white progressives can be when they support #Blacklivesmatter or Syrian refugees or abortion clinics.
After all, if you’re so fucking giddy, so absolutely happy to hate somebody with an accent, who comes from a region marked by poverty, who has a vagina, are you only gonna welcome those immigrants who don’t make grammar mistakes or too much noise when they move in next door? Or only support the “good” blacks who don’t interrupt Bernie Sanders’ nice speeches with their shrill and angry demands? What about the dykes or fags or trans people who refuse to keep to their carefully delineated place? What about all the rural queers? If we step out of line, will you hate us, too? You betcha.
Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.