Created By: Xzenu on April 10, 2011 Last Edited By: Xzenu on April 20, 2011

Straw Affiliation (Revision)

Someone assume that Bob have certain opinions, need or whatever based on his race, gender or similar

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Rolling Updates * Needs More Examples

"Damon, you can't be a Republican!"
"Why not?"
"Because only Democrats fight racial stereotyping!"
"Well... why me?"
"Why?! Because you're black!!"

Bob belong to a lot of groups. For example, he might be a man, an american, an atheist (reasonable or otherwise), a heterosexual, and me might also have black skin.

Now, Alice picks one of these many groups, and simply assume that Bob thus have certain opinions, beliefs, even needs. If Bob doesn't agree, it's because Bob doesn't know his own good, maybe doesn't even know what he really want. She might even go so far as accusing him of being a Category Traitor. Or simply dismiss him as not being a real man/american/atheist/heterosexual/black/whatever. When a character does this kind of stereotyping, it is Straw Affiliation. When it's the author who does this, it's something else... typically a Strawman Political, maybe in an Author Tract.

See also Gay Conservative, No True Scotsman, Uncle Tom Foolery. Contrast Mars-and-Venus Gender Contrast, where gender-based Straw Affiliation is justified by the narrative.


Live-Action TV
  • The 3rd Rock From The Sun episode "Dick the Vote" included this subversion:
    Mary: Hecky Mulligan! How can you vote for Hecky Mulligan? Nina, can you believe that?
    Nina: How do you know I'm not voting for Mulligan?
    Mary: I thought you were a Democrat.
    Nina: And why do you think I'm a Democrat, because I'm black?
    Mary: Go ahead, vote for Mulligan!
    Nina: I'm not voting for Mulligan!

  • Used to great effect in an early episode of The West Wing, where Josh is arguing with a Republican congressman, Matt Skinner, over provisions in a proposed anti-gay marriage law. He is baffled by the congressman's refusal to vote against it, even though Skinner himself is gay. When Josh finally breaks down and asks why he doesn't vote against the bill, and why he's even a member of the party when the Republicans always have an anti-gay message, Skinner replies that yes, he is gay. But he is also for lower taxes, less government, and most other Republican positions, and he simply chooses not to let his sexuality, rather than his principles, decide how he should vote.

Real Life

Web Comics
  • The Day By Day cartoon outlined at the top of the page.
    • It gets worse. It is later revealed that Damon is an orphan, causing Jan, the Straw Liberal to declare that this explains why he's a Republican as he doesn't know how a black person is supposed to act. Did I mention they're now a couple?
  • The now defunct online comic Queer Nation featured the examples of a black gay man who spoke at a Republican benefit and, during it, received superpowers; the "Lambda Rays" put him in blackface, a hobo suit, and apparently gave him the moniker "Uncle Tom". He immediately began dancing for the white crowd in front of him. One of the few Author Tract examples of this trope in action.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • In South Park, at the end of "Cripple Fight", Big Gay Al gives an inspiring speech about how he doesn't believe the government has the right to force the Scouts to accept homosexuals. A bewildered Gloria Allred quickly attacks Big Gay Al as being a homophobe.
  • On Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Master Shake is surprised to learn that Frylock is not amused by a Jive Turkey talking cellphone, despite the fact that Frylock is black. Or at least, he sounds black.

Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • April 10, 2011
    Like I said in the old YKTTW, I think that Category Traitor and what is currently called Straw Traitor works best as separate tropes.
    • Category Traitor is in itself not about straw, although the person making the accusation is sometimes a Strawman Political.
    • The trope currently called Straw Traitor is about straw and should remain as such, but judging from the examples I wasn't sure it was really about treason.

    After discussing it in the TRS Thread, I now think we should have two separate tropes. Putting them both up on YKTTW:
    • Category Traitor: Bob (is considered to) belong to a group, and gets accused of betraying this group - typically putting his own interests over the interests of the group.
    • Straw Affiliation: Bob is considered to be X, and is thus expected to be Y. X is a category of people, while Y is an opinion, agenda, particular need, or whatever.
  • April 10, 2011
    Just a note on one of your examples: Huckleberry Finn isn't black, and Pap Finn berates him not as a traitor to his race, but for thinking that the fact that he can read and lives in town and such makes him better than Pap or the rest of his family.
  • April 10, 2011
    Ah, okay! Thanks. Class, then, not race. Corrected the example in the other thread, and removed it from this one.

    Grr, people like that father... :-( I have seen it in real life.
  • April 10, 2011
    Since the "problem" on Family Guy is Out Of Universe I suggest putting it in the Real Life section.
  • April 10, 2011
    What randomsurfer said.
  • April 10, 2011
  • April 10, 2011
    This has come up a few times at YKTTW; we need to be very careful to mention RL examples only in the abstract (Uncle Tom, Gay Conservative, etc)
  • April 10, 2011
    Needs a pothole to No True Scotsman.

    Are you proposing we split Straw Traitor between this and Category Traitor?
  • April 10, 2011
    Uncle Tom is not real life.

    Also, Uncle Tom suffers from both this and accusations of Category Traitor quite a bit, as modern people keep projecting their attitudes about what a black man should think back on Tom.

    Somehow never picking up on the fact that Uncle Tom was a Christ figure who lays down his life, first for his brother slaves, and then for his enslaver. Thus making Uncle Tom a moral rebuke to all the Southerners who claimed that they were Christians and the black slaves heathens.
  • April 11, 2011
    1. Added wick to No True Scotsman (as well as Uncle Tom Foolery).

    2. Yes, that's what I have done in these two threads. The examples here are so far the examples in Straw Traitor, minus a few that have been deleted or moved to Category Traitor.

    3. Removed for now, maybe we can write a better example. As for Uncle Toms Cabin and Category Traitor, I'll respond o that in the other thread.