There You Go Again: Clueless White Folk Stylee

The social media people at the American Political Science Association recently sent a sizeable portion[1] of our discipline into existential angst tweeting an irrelevant and offensive photo promoting an article recently published in an association journal.  Wendy Wong, a co-author of the article the tweet promoted, has explained it better than I can in her post at The Duck:

Instead of contacting us to request a photo, or choosing a stock photo that reflects the subject of our article, APSA decided to accompany this promotion with a photo of a random Asian woman.

I was stunned.

So it’s pretty obvious to me why this is offensive, but let me spell it out.

  • What does the Getty Image “Portrait of a young woman smiling” have to do with INGOs? Or authority?  Or politics?
  • What happened to my co-author?
  • What kind of search terms were being used to even generate such a photo that APSA found worthy of posting not just on PSNow, but tweeting?
  • Has all of my work on INGOs boiled down to some irrelevant stock image?
  • Is it that hard to Google “NGO” for images related to the work being advertised?
  • Yea, “all Asians look alike,” but REALLY?!


My daughter, who advises on social media campaigns for her PR firm, had this response when I shared the story with her.

What.  What what what?!  What would possess someone to do that?  The photo doesn’t relate to the copy!

To which I replied:

We know what possesses them: white othering.  It is horrifying, but the PR person is a normal white person: neither her/his parents nor society taught her/him otherwise.  Still lots of that out there.

Cue the white males at Inside Higher Ed!

I know, you are thinking there is noooo fucking way a blog that covers higher education will add insult to injury covering this story.

Au contraire!  From central casting I offer you Scott Jaschik, a founding editor for the site.


Here is Jaschik’s coverage:


I’m gonna let John Stewart handle this.


Following Wong’s lead, while it is obvious to me why this is offensive, let me spell it out:

  • Political scientists, men and women, were angered and expressed their frustration on social media.
  • Framing a story as a “women’s issue” story recreates the insidious media practice of treating so-called “[white] male” politics as “normal” and “other” topics as “speical interest,” which is to say, of lesser import.

OK, I need to run and teach a class, so I will leave it at that rather incomplete, but hopefully minimally acceptable list.

To the best of my knowledge Jaschik does not yet understand his gaffe: he has engaged in no ownership, made no correction, nor offered any apology I am aware of.  And yes, I did tweet at him last night, so there is some reason to believe he is aware that some of non-women are miffed.



[1] A majority, no a super majority, right?  Please let it have been a super majority!

About Will H. Moore

I am a political science professor who also contributes to Political Violence @ a Glance and sometimes to Mobilizing Ideas . Twitter: @WilHMoo
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2 Responses to There You Go Again: Clueless White Folk Stylee

  1. Pingback: News Report: Angry Women Angry Again, Part 1 of 2 - RelationsInternational

  2. Chris says:

    Wow what an incredibly sad story …as you suggest some folks just don’t/won’t get it

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