A Gay Girl in Damascus and Lez Get Real: The lessons of the fake lesbian bloggers.

Media criticism.
June 14 2011 6:53 PM

How To Be a Lesbian Blogger

Tom MacMaster and Bill Graber show the way.

(Continued from Page 1)

By going lesbian, MacMaster and Graber capitalize twice: first on the oppressed class of women and then on the minority status of lesbians. As the more-ambitious fabulist, MacMaster expands his con to include ethnicity and faith by making Amina a half-Syrian Muslim. I'm sure that had he continued his ruse, MacMaster would have eventually put Amina in a wheelchair, sent her to a 12-step program, and hospitalized her for anorexia.

The premise of the two blogs is this: If you possess a rare political or social identity, the world will find your social-political observations keener and more worthy. The downside of the premise is that when it comes to issues that don't buffet your identity—like war and taxes and zoning—the world doesn't want to hear from you at all. MacMaster and Graber knew that if they commented from the ghetto they'd be credible, which should give us all pause.

That MacMaster and Graber communicated with one another, each thinking the other was a lesbian, adds the inevitable Shakespearean dimension to the story. According to the Washington Post:

In the guise of Paula Brooks, Graber corresponded online with Tom MacMaster, thinking he was writing to Amina Arraf. Amina often flirted with Brooks, neither of the men realizing the other was pretending to be a lesbian.

Advertisement

If only we could arrange for Viola and Rosalind to fall in love with Amina and Paula and then step out from the wings to embrace MacMaster and Graber and marry them in a final scene, this farce could be transformed into romantic comedy.

The lesson of the bogus lesbian bloggers—if there is one—is of the limitations technology puts on political and social identity. If the Web allows us to be whoever we pretend to be, if we can all be lesbians or Syrians or Muslims by pressing the right keystrokes, then identity begins to lose its uniqueness. If there's a Turing Test for being a lesbian, the events of the last week prove that we're all lesbians now.

*****

Thanks to the miracle of Google Cache, you can read the preposterous apology from Lez Get Real for publishing the counterfeit works of Amina "Tom MacMaster" Arraf. Maybe somebody could stage this as a musical. Send score and book via email to slate.pressbox@gmail.com. Or give my Twitter feed a whistle. (Email may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

Track my errors: This hand-built RSS feed will ring every time Slate runs a "Press Box" correction. For email notification of errors in this specific column, type Amina in the subject head of an email message, and send it to slate.pressbox@gmail.com.

Jack Shafer was Slate's editor at large. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at Shafer.Reuters@gmail.com.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 2:05 PM Paul Farmer Says Up to Ninety Percent of Those Infected Should Survive Ebola. Is He Right?
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 22 2014 2:27 PM Facebook Made $595 Million in the U.K. Last Year. It Paid $0 in Taxes
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 23 2014 6:00 AM Monster Kids from poorer neighborhoods keep coming to trick-or-treat in mine. Do I have to give them candy?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 10:00 AM On the Internet, Men Are Called Names. Women Are Stalked and Sexually Harassed.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 10:39 PM Avengers: Age of Ultron Looks Like a Fun, Sprawling, and Extremely Satisfying Sequel
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 2:59 PM Netizen Report: Twitter Users Under Fire in Mexico, Venezuela, Turkey
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.