Tucker Max, in theory, seems like the most unlikely candidate to donate to Planned Parenthood. If you’ve read his novels (I have), they seem, at surface value, largely derogatory to women. He’s gotten a reputation for being an “asshole” (which is the term he openly uses to describe himself), but is well-loved by fans anyway — most of whom are female.
Long story short: in a sort of win-win scenario, Max planned to donate $500,000 to Planned Parenthood in Texas which would generate (good) publicity around the time he launched his two newest books, Hilarity Ensues and Sloppy Seconds, and also, of course, generate money for Planned Parenthood. PP was all for it until, at the last minute, they weren’t, and cancelled the donation altogether (with not even a suggestion of an anonymous one).
Based on his reputation alone there’s been some controversy surrounding the whole debacle (most of which has popped up in the last day), and the general consensus seems to be that Planned Parenthood made the right decision to drop Max as a donor. I don’t think they did.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am likely one of the biggest, and most improbable, Tucker Max fans around. If you know me (or, hell, even if you just read this blog and have never met me) you can safely assume I’m a feminist (albeit one still finding her footing). And feminism and Tucker Max seem like polar opposites, but not like the kind that attract. So obviously it’s weird that I adore his writing and find him hilarious (for “feminist” reasons and also because I’m the opposite of a party girl). But I digress. I love the guy, and that’s my bias here. However, I believe my arguments are valid.
Here’s the state of the union in Texas right now: Governor Rick Perry has basically waged a mini-war on family planning, and has deprived institutions like Planned Parenthood of $35 million dollars of federal funding, as well as funding at the local level. They’ve been put in a position where they need to close down clinics — which, for those who are unaware, do more than help women terminate pregnancies. To snag a quote from Ryan Holiday’s article in Forbes:
“Nearly 25% of Tarrant County (Fort Worth) residents lack health insurance, and 15% live below the poverty level… The 2011 legislative session was an especially difficult one for Planned Parenthood in Texas. The Legislature cut family planning funding by more than two-thirds, and now the non-partisan Texas Legislative Budget Board estimates than more than 300,000 Texans will lose access to family planning, cervical cancer screenings, breast health exams and other critical preventative health care services…”
There’s no question they could use the donation.
It only takes a cursory read of Tucker Max’s books to safely say he has acted in a derogatory fashion towards women (probably lots of them). And while I’m not condoning that (though I do get a good laugh at it), it isn’t a justifiable reason to nix him as a donor. Reputation aside, Max is also pro-choice, and a documented advocate for safe sex and regular STD testing — incidentally, three things that Planned Parenthood also advocates for. Yes, he is an asshole. But this donation, above all else, nixes the argument that he is “anti-woman.” (If you’re looking for an example of anti-woman, I’d point you to Texas’s governor, who has deprived the family planning “industry” of the funds it needs, and the candidates in the GOP who are wasting their time debating about women’s reproductive health.)
Aside from that, PP’s refusal of Max’s donation seems to be mostly image-based — meaning that they’re afraid to have a controversial figure “represent” them, lest it offend a certain type of donor. But worrying more about the way Max is publicly perceived, to the point of turning down a donation from him, led to the closing down of clinics in Texas — which, with his donation, could have remained opened. If nothing else, it appears now that PP is more concerned with its image than it is with helping men and women who need it.
The irony, and what I find funniest about this whole debacle, is that it’s clear PP was looking to avoid bad publicity when they turned down Max as a donor; assumedly having him associated with the company would bring them bad press. But isn’t that what they’ve generated for themselves now?
Seems like a lose-lose situation to me.