OPINION While we mourn the tamping down of the fiery progressive idealism that characterized City Hall in the early 2000s, we celebrate the departure of that era’s dated man-warrior posturing. Last week proved a good occasion to pop a bottle: Misogynist blogger and progressive scene queen H. Brown announced he would soon be leaving San Francisco for destinations unknown.
Brown, a proud bigot famed for hurling invective from behind a double shot of whiskey at ex-Supervisor Chris Daly’s since-closed progressive hangout Buck Tavern, took the occasion to hang out for posterity with an SF Weekly reporter. Joe Eskenazi wrote a lyrical, subtly satiric ode to the aging troll’s legacy, “Last Call for Know-It-Alls: The Departure of a Classic Specimen of Old-San Francisco Bon Vivantery.”
But nuanced pokes at the longtime “character” proved too subtle to the victims of his bullying throughout the years. And since the piece failed to include the voice of a single woman, we thought we’d remedy with a retrospective of our own. Behold, the legacy of a real jerk:
“At a benefit at the Buck Tavern I walked in and there were all these progressive journalists sitting around a table with him. [Brown] said ‘you’re the one with the great ass!’ He started asking me if I had family members he could date. I was standing there horrified. I’m a mouthy lady, and even I couldn’t think of anything to come back with — not just to him, but to every other progressive journalist who was sitting there listening to him who laughed! I said hi to a few people, and then I left the event.”
– Laura Hahn, president of the San Francisco Women’s Political Committee
“H. is a bully and a sexist. If you want to look at why the progressive movement is failing it’s because it alienates youth, women, and people of color. Deifying somebody like him is shutting women out, the message is they aren’t welcome. It’s not separated from the fact that progressives are really faltering right now with no leadership and very little inspiration.”
– Debra Walker, artist and longtime activist
“As a purveyor of alcohol, I found that the man was a lawbreaking mooch and a pain to deal with. As a woman, I found him pathetic, insulting, gross, or all three, depending on his mood. The first time I met him he cussed me out for an imagined slight in a way that was actually shocking — and it takes a lot for cuss words to flummox me. For a time, I simply refused to serve him.”
– Siobhann Bellinger, Buck Tavern bartender
“His behavior symbolized the running joke amongst some progressive men that women were there for their own entertainment to be mocked and harassed with no one blinking an eye. FUCK. THAT.”
– Anonymous ex-City Hall aide
Ah, old San Francisco bon vivantery. Of course, the real reason we’re cheering on whatever Greyhound that will ferry this foul-mouthed sprite from our burg has nothing to do with Brown. Rather, we’re hoping no one will step into his shoes as your supervisor’s personal Bobby Riggs, to invoke the publicity-pig chauvinist who famously challenged tennis legend Billie Jean King to a match, the infamous Battle of the Sexes in which King mopped the floor with her opponent.
We hope that our purported progressive leaders will no longer invite woman-haters and homophobes to their household Sunday salons, or take Speedo-clad dips with them in the bay. That they will no longer think it’s OK to enable the presence of their own yapping id in polite company.
In the middle of City Hall’s current and unfortunate drift toward elite-serving “moderation,” one must wonder about what hangers-on like Brown did to the strength of our political movement. He and his ilk were allowed to establish through constant bullying, both online and off, that only straight men have the right to feel comfortable in our city’s high-powered progressive circles. What heroes did we lose in the process?
Caitlin Donohue is a staff writer at Rookie magazine and editor of AHDM4U.com.