I’ve been dealing with media for about a decade now, and I’ve seen some crazy, ridiculous things. But this recent controversy might legitimately be the most insane thing I’ve ever been witness to.
In short: I tried to donate $500,000 to Planned Parenthood, and they turned me down because they were worried more about other people’s perceptions of the donation than helping women.
[The most factually accurate article about this is in Forbes, you can catch up on it there. There has been a ton of analysis on this as well, most of it profoundly stupid, but the best is probably here.]
I am writing this on my blog because, even though I’m used to being misquoted and misrepresented in media, I’ve never seen anything like what’s going on now. It’s like people have absolutely no regard for any sort of facts or analysis based in reality; all anyone in media wants to do it use this to rant about whatever ideological position they hold. Let me clear some things up:
I was very serious about this donation: Lots of people have tried to call this a “publicity stunt.” That’s funny, I didn’t know that a 500k check is a joke to them. I offered real money that PP could really use, there was no ruse or stunt involved. I’ve been pro-choice my whole life, I went to PP many times with girls when I was poor and got help, I believe in their mission and in universal access to family planning services. I’ve ALWAYS believed in those principles, and this was a sincere attempt to cut Planned Parenthood real check. A “publicity stunt” would be doing something designed only to get me attention without actually doing anything, like a prank or, I don’t know, something that didn’t involve giving HALF A MILLION DOLLARS to them. Its ridiculous how people think what you do doesn’t matter, it’s only their perception of your action that defines you.
This was not about my image: Some people have tried to say this about me “rehabbing my image” by using PP. That’s comical bullshit. Right now, I have THREE books on the NY Times Non-fiction Best Seller List and I sell millions of books to millions of fans, I’m VERY happy with my current image. I have no need or desire to apologize for anything or try to change into some bullshit that other people should think I am. So why did I want to donate this money (other than the fact that I believe in PP’s mission)?
Yes, I did want something: What I really wanted from this–aside from that good feeling of doing something actually positive for men and women who need help–was a way to get a different type of press for my then-upcoming book (which was now been out for two months). There is a bullshit idea that comes from a certain type of media person that my writing is anti-woman. Mind you, none of these people have read my writing, and none of them have EVER addressed the idea that my writing can’t be anti-woman when half my fans are women, but whatever, who needs facts in media, right?
Anyway, I thought this would be the perfect hook for a ton of stories that would spin this idea on its head, and I was laughing just thinking about these idiots trying to explain this away. After all, if you think Tucker Max hates women, how to do you explain him giving 500k to PP? Well, they said this made me…MORE anti-woman? HAHAHA! I swear to god. So to these people, cutting a 500K check to help women out is ANTI-WOMAN!! Politicians cutting money to PP is anti-woman, and now, so is me giving money to PP. I guess regardless of what I do, I’m against women. That is kind of awesome when you can make someone so angry, they can’t even be ideologically consistent in their criticism of you.
[Another thing to consider: Think about how completely fucked up someone’s worldview is when they don’t judge you based on your ACTIONS, they judge you based on their PERCEPTION of your actions. That’s what all the articles critical of my donation are attempting to do: They create some mental gymnastics to try and make my act out to be evil, even though it’s unarguably good. That’s when you know someone doesn’t care about truth, just about defending their own ideology.]
I really thought PP would be excited about this: Look, I recognize that, on one level, it may seem absurd to name an abortion clinic after Tucker Max (of course its also funny as well). But once you really think about it, it makes a ton of sense, and perhaps it was dumb of me but I honestly thought PP would be excited about it. And they were at first. Of course my assistant told them who I was and what I wanted from the donation, and they were falling all over themselves pitching me. They set up a lunch to talk and finalize the deal. I expected the lunch they scheduled would be about negotiating how much the donation would be, and what would get named. I was cool with whatever spin they wanted to put on this, I really just wanted my name on a building or a room or something big. That was it. And then, as I was DRIVING TO THE MEETING, they called and cancelled everything. The meeting, the donation, everything.
I don’t know why PP turned the money down, but I can guess: People keep asking me why they turned the money down. Other than what they said to me on the phone (“We don’t believe taking your money would be in the mission of Planned Parenthood”), I have no other information. I do have speculation.
I think this is about status and signaling and institutional power, and has nothing to do with women. Planned Parenthood proved something I have always believed: Most charities are not run to help people, they are run because they are ways for people to signal status about themselves to other people. I think there are many great people that work at PP, but I think the people who run PP are power-hungry bureaucrats who care only about how a select group of their friends and peers view them, and that’s what this is about. I wasn’t the “right type” of person to take money from so they’d rather close clinics. It’s the worst kind of elitism, the kind that cloaks itself in altruism. They care more about the perception of themselves and their organization than they care about its effectiveness at actually serving the reproductive needs of women.
How else can you explain Planned Parenthood’s preposterous logic: that a CLOSED clinic is better than one with my name on it. Seriously—after they turned my money down, they CLOSED CLINICS IN TEXAS. That is not better for poor women. It is only better for people who run Planned Parenthood. Because it doesn’t threaten their delusion self-image and offend the people whose opinions they care about. But it does hurt the poor women they’re supposed to he helping.
You want to know how I know this wasn’t about money, that this was just about them judging me? They never even suggested an anonymous donation. Never suggested I name it after someone else. Never brought it any of it up. They just flat out said no.
Now, I’ll be honest, I don’t think I would have done an anonymous donation for that much, but the fact is, THEY NEVER EVEN BROUGHT IT UP! To them, just taking my money signaled the wrong things to the people they want to impress, so they wouldn’t do it, regardless of the circumstances. We don’t want your dirty joke money!
[And when you read the criticisms of me and my attempt to donate, pay attention to who’s giving them and their real reasons. They’re ALL from rich white women (and men) who don’t even use Planned Parenthood, but who use their support of PP to signal something about themselves. To them, its more important that PP stand for the things they want to believe, than it is to help actual poor women who need the help. They NEVER address that issue in any criticism, because they can’t, so they ignore it.]
What should have happened?: Well for starters they should’ve taken the money. It would have helped people (anyway, I found charities who were happy to take it). Beyond that, there are many ways they could have spun my donation into a positive. Off the top of my head, here are three different ways:
1. They could distance themselves from me, but say they are being put into a position to take the money because of government cutbacks, and they need it to help women (of the $500k a small percentage could have gone to an ad campaign or something like that to reassure other donors).
2. They could stay neutral on me, but say that their mission is about helping women and they will take a sincere donation from anyone who shares that goal. I would have been happy to collaborate on a public statement with them that said we hardly see eye to eye on anything, or put them in whatever position they wanted to be in.
3. Take a more controversial endorsement stance, and say that though they disagree with some of my jokes, they feel that anyone who is pro-choice and in the current political environment is willing to step up and give 500k to help women is OK with them. Seriously, think about it: You’re PP. You’re already controversial. I have a big ego, but not so big that I trump ABORTION as a divisive issue. And the people who hate PP are going to hate it no matter what, why form your fund-raising decision around them?
But of course, they didn’t do any of this. Ironically, Planned Parenthood chose the worst of all options. They got none of the money and all of the bad press and embarrassment they wanted to avoid.
The Biggest Karmic Retribution: This whole thing went down in August. Since then, the Susan G Komen Foundation did the EXACT SAME THING TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD THAT PP DID TO ME. They threatened to pull funding because they didn’t like the perception that came with who the recipient of the money was. And of course, a TON of people got upset at the Komen Foundation–and rightfully so, its total bullshit–yet those SAME PEOPLE are now MAD AT ME because Planned Parenthood did to me what the Komen Foundation did to them. What preposterous fucking irony.
I told PP when this whole thing went down that I was going to tell the truth about what happened, and so I have. That it enrages people is not my fault. They need to look at Planned Parenthood and how it conducted itself, not blame me for trying to help the organization out.
BTW: Please don’t email me about this with some preposterous rant. I’ve moved on. And if you agree with me, that’s awesome, but there’s really nothing more I can do about this now. I can’t make them take my money. If you want to talk to someone how about stupid this all was, email Planned Parenthood in Texas and let them know how you feel: firstname.lastname@example.org