If Planned Parenthood did a background investigation on all of its donors before taking their money, chances are it would find incriminating stuff that might preclude it from accepting a number of contributions.
But because Tucker Max, the bestselling Austin-based author I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, and other fratboy-style humor essays and books, is not shy about who he is– a self-proclaimed asshole that sleeps with more women than is safe or reasonable–the cash-strapped organization has turned down his $500,000 donation to have a building named after him.
This was after Aimee Boone, a VP in the Dallas office of Planned Parenthood, had already graciously accepted it. Max’s publicist, Ryan Holiday, who hatched the idea with his client as a way to get a tax break and to publicize such titles as Sloppy Seconds: The Tucker Max Leftovers, wrote in Forbes that Max was en route to Dallas when he got a call from Planned Parenthood that they had a change of heart.
PP: “I guess it’s the way you write about women.”
Tucker: “What do you mean? I’m not negative towards women in my writing. Women love my writing; more than half my fans are female.”
PP: “Well…there are certain jokes you make we feel can be perceived in a certain negative manner.”
Tucker: “So because I made a fat girl joke you won’t accept a $500,000 donation?”
PP: “I wouldn’t characterize it that way.”
Tucker: “How would you then? I’m listening and I want your best quote.”
PP: “We don’t feel it would be appropriate, given Planned Parenthood’s mission and your body of work, to accept your donation.”
Tucker: “What? I thought Planned Parenthood’s mission was about helping women, not passing judgment on humor.”
It’s admirable that Planned Parenthood won’t compromise itself for the sake of a dollar, especially since Governor Rick Perry has stripped it of a lot of funding. But as Holiday pointed out, isn’t it a double-standard considering what just happened with the Susan G. Komen debacle?
“Planned Parenthood did to Tucker exactly what the Susan G. Komen Foundation had done to Planned Parenthood,” he wrote. “Let perception and moral superiority and BS politics get in the way of their real mission of helping people in need.”
Of course, there are those who accuse Max of being disingenuous, this this latest action is just a stunt. “Rest assured it was not out of the goodness of his heart, but for a tax break, to promote his new book and to prove he is not a massive a-hole misogynist,” Samhita wrote on Feministing. “But, Tucker Max is a career misogynist, the type of misogynist that creates space in our culture for hateful attacks on groups like Planned Parenthood. He perpetuates retrograde ideas about women with his lazy garble.”
Samhita supported her argument with the following tweet by Max from March 14, which has since been deleted from his account.
It’s hard to know where Max really stands. His humor has diluted what sincerity he does have. As he told Holiday, “[Planned Parenthood] really did help me and my girlfriend when I was poor, I really do believe in their mission, and if this money doesn’t go to them it goes to the government anyway.”
Irin Carmon of Salon** confronted her confusion when she asked Holiday about the deleted tweet. “Don’t know about Tucker’s tweet though,” Holiday responded, “Is that true?” Carmon sent him the links, she wrote, and that was the last she heard.
In Carmon’s conversation with Holiday, the topic came up of alternative ways to make the donation. “You know they didn’t even suggest doing an anonymous donation instead,” Holiday wrote. “It was a complete rejection. Not to say that’s an option we would have gone with, donors often have conditions for their donations and naming rights is pretty standard.”
Now Planned Parenthood is stuck between another rock and a hard place, and Max got more press than he could have ever bought.
**Correction: In an earlier version, we misidentified Irin Carmon as working for Slate, not Salon. We regret the error.