The actress first doubled down on the comparison before deleting both of those tweets and issuing an apology that wasn't all that well received, either.
Bette Midler probably thought she was making a powerful statement about how women are perceived and treated in the world, but all she did was insult one of its most oppressed minorities.
It took three hours (and one double-down) for Midler to reconsider her original comments, deleting her tweet and replacing it with another where she attributes her careless comparison of women to the black community to her anger over the brief FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
In a since-deleted tweet late Thursday afternoon, the actress wrote that women are "the most disrespected creatures on earth," summing up her thoughts with the quote, "Women are the n-word of the world." The tone-deaf comparison immediately drew the ire of people of all races and genders.
Her eventual apology, though, did little to quell the growing tide of discontent over her comments and its perceived dismissal of the historic suffering of black people, and black women in particular.
It didn't help that it came only after she tried to defend her initial tweet, doubling down on her intentions while missing the point entirely why people might find it incredibly insensitive. This tweet was also deleted when the apology finally emerged.
Midler was paraphrasing a line from one of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's more controversial songs entitled "Woman Is the N----r of the World." The song stirred up plenty of ire in 1972 when it was initially released for largely the same reason people are finding Midler's tweet offensive today.
Almost immediately, Midler's name began trending on Twitter and continued to do so deep into the night. She was chastised by several prominent figures in the worlds of politics, entertainment and social activism, accused of showing her privilege and reminded that a white woman shouldn't be marginalizing black women, or black people, like this.
The too brief investigation of allegations against Kavanaugh infuriated me. Angrily I tweeted w/o thinking my choice of words would be enraging to black women who doubly suffer, both by being women and by being black. I am an ally and stand with you; always have. And I apologize.
Even her eventual apology did little to quell the growing storm. The whole debacle launched a discussion about policing the emotions and reactions of people of color when faced with this kind of tone-deaf demonstration that people in positions of privilege just don't seem to get it, no matter how well-intentioned they might be.
We've gathered some of the most passionate responses to her initial tweet, its deletion and her subsequent apology below:
Nah. This apology don't get it. I'm a big fan of your work @bettemidler but this will not do. Black women exist. They are treated like niggers. You are not. You have never been treated like a nigger. Trust. Please stop erasing black women. Thank you. https://t.co/2mA5mMxvaV
@BetteMidler I see you have decided to double-down on this insensitive, ridiculous madness. Your arrogance and deliberate disregard for the experiences of Black women and by extension The Black community as a whole is breath-taking. Your privilege is showing! https://t.co/yUNGB69WUx
Do people think black women don't know John Lennon songs? It's so weird to me that so many people keep bringing up Lennon. It wasn't ok for him either. We all know the song. It is still not okay for Bette Midler to use it now.
IDGAF if Bette Midler, the Riddler, Betty Boop, John Lennon, Yoko Ono or the fucking Man in the Moon said that shit. To "whoa is me" on the backs of the actual "N-words" of the world, namely BLACK WOMEN, is some white feminist/meninist/supremacist asshat bullshit!!! pic.twitter.com/1s65E7J9iC
What Bette Midler is doing is an example of why black women have never felt fully embraced or respected by white feminists. Often, you don't even understand that you're being disrespectful, and when you're corrected, instead of apologizing, you dig in.
Bette Midler comparing a demeaning racial slur used to describe people who are black is literally saying black people are the lowest on the totem pole and how dare America treat women like how they treat black people. BETTE fire your whole ass PR team. pic.twitter.com/MAUOnXGilB
Bette Midler does not get to appropriate a word that demonstrates the struggle, mistreatment & oppression of black people in order to try and draw a fucking parallel with women (some of whom are white & mostly all aid/abet in our fucking oppression) for effect. 😡
For those who missed Bette Midler deadly display of white feminism. Apparently it has nothing to do with race but misogyny. Fact the N word is always associated with race, did this bitch forget black women were fucking slaves! White women check urselves before comparing with us pic.twitter.com/Y1V5kzAFDN
Someone needs to tell Bette Midler that expressing "I'm an ally and always have been" in an apology makes the apology seem performative and goofy. Look, White people; y'all fuck up when it comes to race relations no matter who you are. That's just how it goes, yanno? BUT