(tw: virulent misogyny, violence, victim blaming)
Because I was in a hurry and completely misread something, I accidentally found myself on the Return of Kings website the other day. (If you’re unfamiliar with it, don’t bother googling it. It’s awful.) It’s basically a pick-up artist website, at least in theory; in practice, it’s just a general exercise in blatant misogyny. As an example, the article I first landed on put forth the theory – not hinted at or insinuated, blatantly stated – that if women don’t lower their standards to have sex with unattractive men, they are the ones to blame if sexually frustrated men go on killing sprees.
So, y’know. That sort of website.
Like a gawker at a car wreck, I couldn’t look away. Titles of articles beckoned me, each worse and more darkly hysterical than the last. I read on, awash in a sea of horrified giggles.
Eventually, knowing full well how futile this was, I left some comments. Got into it today with someone who apparently thought he’d scored a valid point that if I told a man to leave because he was rude and mean and assholish to me, then he would leave and I would be single and that would show me, ha-HA!
…honey, that’s a feature not a bug.
Anyway, after responding to this and reading some of the awful, awful comments, I suddenly realized that I felt… good. Happy. Elated, actually. Which is weird. You would think that reading the ignorant, harmful things these guys were saying would bring me down, but no. Instead, I had this sudden surge of pride – in myself, my friends, my lovers past and present. At a time when there’s so many things to stress me out and bring me down, I was suddenly reminded of just how special and awesome we are, how fantastic it is to be part of something that these guys don’t even know enough to realize they don’t have.
I think the lightbulb went on when I read the list of “ways you know it’s time to break up with a girl,” and two of the things specifically listed (and cited as things you should really be screening for from the beginning, because they’re apparently a red light): having a lot of male friends, and keeping in touch with ex-boyfriends.
Yep. If you have platonic friendships with dudes, and if you can maintain a friendship with someone you used to fuck, these guys want nothing to do with you.
And that… that is when the contempt turned to pity. Because yes, these guys are awful to women. They’re treating women not like people, but like pussy and favors and decoration. The idea of enjoying a woman’s company for her own sake or being her friend without trying to get anything out of it is alien to them.
And apparently they are self-selecting for women who feel the same way about guys. Who don’t see men as people, but as dicks, wallets, and status. Who have no interest in a man unless that man is materially benefiting her in some way. The men who write for these sites think all women are horrible because they intentionally surround themselves exclusively with horrible women.
(Note: this is not to imply that you are horrible if you don’t have guy friends or if you don’t have any exes that you’re friends with – but apparently these guys are hoping you are!)
It doesn’t excuse them. Nothing excuses them. But it does cause me to give a sigh of relief and fervently hope that all these petty, shallow, awful people will exclusively prey on each other forever and leave the rest of us the fuck alone.
So you know what? Fine. While I still hate that they’re trying to spread their poison to others (and I would like to point out that misogyny towards shallow women is still misogyny and still not ok), it’s hard to conjure much more than bemused pity for men who live in a world where the measure of a woman is how conventionally pretty and submissive and sexual-but-not-too-sexual she is, and the measure of a man is his status and “assertiveness” and how many of these “approved” women he can string along sexually at once.
Meanwhile I live in a world with men who tell me stories and get giddy about quantum physics and are sentimental about their cats and email me at 2 am because it’s important that I know the conversion rate between 2014 and 1912 right then and wake up one day going “I think I’ll create a realistic-looking lightning gun prop” and then go do it because they can and get overly excited about teaching me how to cook risotto and can discuss computers and Norse gods in the same breath and dash off beautiful impressionistic sketches without seeming to put forth any effort and play with toddlers and watch Disney movies without giving a damn whether they’re “manly” or not and argue with me about English grammar and make smoke bombs and teach me the correct stance for fencing and compose classical music and trade head skritches with me and know everything about every conspiracy ever created and write moving fiction and give me workout tips and engage in Victorian cosplay and distribute fake moustaches to their coworkers on Halloween and have serious discussions about religion and philosophy and rock the bar on karaoke night. They have sweet smiles and gentle hands and they tell bad jokes and adopt silly accents, they bop my nose when I’m being cheeky and hug me when I’m sad and make me laugh so hard I can’t breathe, and they’re worth more than all of these self-proclaimed “alpha males” combined.
And they look at me and they see my fat body and my crooked nose, my brilliant smile and my stormy eyes, they see my laughter and my joy and my passion, my geeky intellect and my creativity, they see my compassion and my mischievousness and my loyalty and my silliness and my love of bright colors and absolute lack of fashion sense, my way with words and the songs I sing, and they take a deep steadying breath and say “Damn. I want to spend time with her.”
I like my world. And after getting a glimpse into the minds of people who apparently inhabit a completely different one, I’m more grateful than ever to be living in it.