Prairie Fire–More thoughts on the SD Blog War


The South Dakota Blog War intensified yesterday over Todd Epp’s “Today’s Babe” feature on Middle Border Sun.

The right, left, and center have all jumped in, and from the many comments and articles I’ve read, it seems the majority view is that “Babe of the Day” feature on SD Watch/Middle Border Sun isn’t appropriate–some say it’s because it objectifies women, some say it’s because it doesn’t fit with the blog’s overall message/theme/politics.

However, it seems Mr. Epp wants to continue feeding the flames (and his hits) by posting a rapid succession of blogs like “Middle Border Sun May be Hazardous to Your Health,” “Today’s Blog War: The SD Left vs. Epp,” and the latest: todays, “Men: The Middle Border Sun’s Guide to Being an Enlightened Male.”

If you’re wondering why I’m not linking, well, let’s just say I’ve given Todd enough hits in the last couple of days. I’m giving him a few more while I write this article, but if you really want to find his blog, just type in “South Dakota” and “Babe” in your Google search window.  As of right now, it’s at about number six–right after a couple references to Paul Bunyan’s Blue Ox.

When the latest article appeared as a link on Facebook, I clicked on it, read it, and groaned yet again. Todd’s digging himself a deeper and deeper hole, but he’s still racking up those hits.  The article includes such insights as,

Real non-women would never, ever look at a woman. Period.

Real non-women don’t hunt. Eating meat is ok but you just can’t kill it with your own hands…

Real non-[sic? women?]men don’t let their young non-women participate in activities where there are winners and losers. Real non-women believe we are all special and that everyone deserves a participation medal.

Real non-women don’t drink beer. They drink wine out of bottle with a cork in it. They may, on occasion, drink an imported beer if they receive the permission of the significant woman in their life.

Now I am pretty sure this is meant to be hilarious in a sort of, “truth in humor” kind of way, but this kind of humor is so not true or funny anymore (if it ever was).  It’s like that secret handshake that gets you into the chauvinist club. I don’t know anyone who actually subscribes to this tripe–including the blogger it’s obviously aimed at–Cory Heidelberger at the Madville Times (and by extension, Erin, his wife).

I don’t care if men look at women, or if men look at men, or any of the other two combinations possible there. I care that a person who professes progressive values and is, by his own admission, one of the few lawyers in this state who represents women in sexual harassment and discrimination cases is so adamantly repeating that publicly objectifying women on a SD news and information blog is OK–good, even.

And there’s the “real men” BS as well–haven’t we all moved beyond talking about who is a real man, a real “red-blooded” South Dakota male? My understanding about being a real anything is that it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.

Anyone publicly proclaiming himself a “real man” is in my book merely hoping for a self-fulfilling prophecy. And much of this talk is so obviously code for “not homosexual,” it’s scary–especially since, again, much of it is coming from a person who proclaims himself a “friend” on LGBT issues. I think it would be a fair interpretation of Epp’s language in his numerous posts and comments to suggest that he thinks a gay man is not a “real” man–even if Epp is willing to stick up for him in a court of law.

The thing is, I don’t hate Todd (even though he unfriended me in Facebook after my last comment on the above-quoted piece).  I just hate this chauvinist objectification bullsh*t, and I won’t stop naming it and giving him sh*t about it for as long as he keeps writing it.  I’ve got a few other friends about town I’m happy to provide that service for as well, and they haven’t “unfriended” me for it yet.

They also haven’t really changed their tune much in the years I’ve known them, and I don’t really expect they ever will.  But then, neither will I.

Update: Todd Epp has removed all comments from me, Madville Times, and Dakota Women from his Middle Border Sun blog posts re: “Today’s Babe.”  Well, almost all–he missed one of mine, but I pointed that out to him so he wouldn’t be incomplete in his censorship.   😉

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3 responses to this post.

  1. I’m glad you’re waving the bullsh*t flag on the “red blooded South Dakota man.” It’s incredibly heteronormative. At the risk of sounding too “shrill,” I would love to ask Todd how he reconciles having known lots of LGBT South Dakotans with this “real man like babes” theme.

    Unfortunately, I’ve been unfriended too. Guess we’ll never know.

  2. Posted by Ann on June 10, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    I think the babe business is just one more symptom of people who are tying their identities to blogs. Todd has bragged a number of times when his blogs get the most hits at Keloland. There is a juvenile bravado involved. Both he and War College go into spasms of petulance when someone rebukes them or finds fault with their blogging. What is disturbing is that grown people pay serious attention to them.

    I find it demeaning when women are used as commodoties and their features are used to attract attention, sales, and blog hits. But I am more offended by the character assassination that takes place in blogs, and we seem to accept it as permissible. It is at least as offensive, if not more so, than the exploitation of women as objects. I wish it would draw as much furor.

  3. Posted by redhatterb on June 10, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    I am really surprised at the way Todd has changed his site. But this “babe” deal brings it to a new low. I find it demeaning. I have been against beauty contests for several years for the same reason. It seems like Todd has been changing his site several times lately and not for the best. I like sites that are nice and easy without a lot of fuss. It seems like this new site is a lot of hullabaloo about nothing. Hopefully people will get tired of it and take Todd down a peg.

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