An article on “The New Single Woman” in Atlantic Monthly led me to a teen dating website called “Hooking Up Smart.” It’s moderated by a woman named Susan Walsh who’s about my age who was a self-proclaimed slut in B-school and developed a teen advice web site after advising her own teen-aged daughters. Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be Mama.
After reading a few of her posts, a pattern emerged and I started taking bets with myself on how many paragraphs would elapse before she turned the topic into blaming feminism for whatever was wrong with the world and some of the misguided choices she made in her life. (Hello, Lori Gottlieb.) And then she accuses the “women living alone movement” of having an agenda, while she of course has none.
Apparently even teens/20’s sex is a Red State/Blue State issue. It appears that the Walsh site is populated by a lot of guys who believe in “Men’s Rights Activism,” (MRA) which states that I alone, Melinda Bruno, am why nice guys can’t get laid and Western Civilization as we know it is in jeopardy. The Blue State guys are on a site called the Good Men Project. Both have some truths and are at least somewhat of an insight into the young male psyche, at least the “Angry Young Man Psyche.” Both were established by women. The Good Men Project gave this description of MRA philosophy (italics mine, because I take things personally):
Problem: Men have to do all the work asking women out, and women are often hostile to men’s overtures, which hurts men’s feelings.
MRA explanation: Women are lazy princesses, who enjoy forcing men to dance for the pussy, and then enjoy shutting them down, because it strokes petty female egos.*
Reality-based explanation: These are two separate issues. Women reject men forcefully because 1) a lot of overtures are actually just harassment, and 2) even men who are sincerely hitting on you sometimes are really rude and entitled about it, requiring a forceful response. (Plus, some MRAs experience all rejections as women being too big for their britches, making it impossible for a woman to say no without being labeled a bitch.) Women don’t approach men very often, because doing so often gets you labeled slutty, bitchy, or desperate, or sometimes all three.
MRA solution: Pay a lot of money to creepy men who label themselves “pickup artists”** and who promise to teach you how to get any woman you want in bed. The method usually involves taking an abusive posture to women, and learning to identify insecure women, extracting sex from them through bullying. You know, instead of doing something as quaint as sleeping with women who actually want to have sex with you.
Reality-based solution: More feminism. A world where rape victims weren’t denounced because they were overly flirty, where women weren’t mocked because they acted “like men,” and where the word “slut” had no meaning is one where women would feel freer to hit on men. Plus, a world where women weren’t harassed on the street, or where they could tell men “no” and be heard the first time, would be one where women weren’t immediately suspicious of every man who approached them.
*What’s this, the Scumbag Manifesto?
**The “Rules Boys”?
I hadn’t realized how angry I was at what I’d read on the Walsh blog until I was on my way to my tax appointment. (Here’s a rule of thumb: When you find yourself siding with the troll, you’re on the wrong blog.)
I was still upset when I settled down for the night with my book in hand, of course a book and not a man because of feminism! Not because cancer kills the person who you did marry, not because you value your autonomy and aren’t willing to desperately throw it away, but because of the evil feminism, which caused Susan Walsh to be a slut back in business school and which will turn you into a miserable lonely spinster.
I wanted to get on that woman’s site and call her every kind of name, and I had to tell myself calm down, you’re too good for that, you’re above that. And look how she responds to the troll, telling her she has to put a bag over her head to get laid. You want to stoop to that level?
Too goddam much of that, and that’s what gets the attention these days, while I get none…and that’s what’s really upsetting me.
Aha, a Feminazi, complaining about how she’s getting none! Au contraire, mon frere. I’m an iconoclast who’s had a problem with feminists since I was in a Second Wave-era women’s group as a teenager…along with anyone else who’s told me what I should think, do and be. But “feminism” and “anti-feminism” are just two sides of the same coin and often have nothing to do with the reality of how real men and women live. And they’re often used not to encourage communication and understanding, but to shut it down.
We’re all influenced by the mores of the era in which we came of age. In my parents’ generation, you didn’t do it until you were married except if you were a boy doing it with a “bad girl.” Today, kids are pressured in every media and by their peers before they even reach puberty. My generation, and Walsh’s, had its own mixed messages to contend with. But no matter when you grew up and what somebody was telling you what to do and not do with your body, ultimately your road is your own personal story, and your own responsibility.
In light of what’s been happening lately with the arguments on contraception, I’d like to see it stay that way.