Guys: It’s been a fun weekend. I went out with some ladies, including the lovely C.L., and drank “ironic” Amaretto sours (here’s some advice: DO NOT DO THAT. IT’S AWFUL. And no-one but you thinks it’s funny) and did various sensual dances which resulted in me tripping and falling face-first into a couch. Sensually! On the following morning, I felt a heretofore-unknown spiritual kinship with Ke$ha. I cooked up some pretty good risotto. I firmed up our new Tiger Beatdown Contributor Roster, which: More news on that to come. My best friend and I found a bar like three blocks away from me, and it had a smoking patio, and the music there wasn’t awful! I was excited! So, yeah, I had a good weekend.
And you know, it occurs to me that there is maybe a 3,000-word post to be written on how exactly Freddie’s sadness is a textbook demonstration of the Dude Privilege at work, and a stunning, nigh-perfect lesson on How Not To Be A Feminist Man. We could start that blog post out, for example, by talking about that first post he so generously promoted on this blog, which attacked this blog, and basically boiled down to saying that Freddie knows his feminism way better than most people because he’s read some books, and therefore he is not required to privilege the voices of actual women, who have actually experienced sexism and oppression in conversations about feminism. Even before we get to the closing paragraph, which is about whether Amanda and I would be good dates who are mature and enlightened and Authentically Feminist enough to basically tell Freddie he is right about everything, there’s this:
That guy you see in the picture there to the right (that handsome fellow) is indeed what a feminist looks like, a particular feminist, this feminist. And this feminist is not looking for validation, confirmation or blessing from any particular female feminists. Feminism is not lady business; it is the business of all people who pursue equity and liberation, and who take the elimination of entrenched power imbalances as their ethical duty…
[Blah blah blah there should not be] an excuse for female feminists, whether cisgendered or transgendered, to be empowered to have a constantly shifting definition of how male feminists are allowed to operate within feminist discourse. Far too often, the expectation that male feminists should be equally devoted to advancing the feminist cause is carried by female feminists who will turn around, when an argument arises about what best represents and advances feminism, and assert their privilege over feminist discourse based on the fact that they are female.
Read that passage. Read it, like, several times. Because what Freddie is saying, in fact, is that he is such a good feminist that he should not have to listen to women. He is such a good feminist that, when he enters feminist spheres, he should not have to give up the privilege that he, as a man, has experienced his entire life. He should not have his authority, his experience, or the validity of his insight questioned on the basis that he has not actually experienced the oppression he claims to be fighting. For women to assert their own primacy, their own knowledge and expertise, which is gained not primarily from “intellectual” sources such as works of theory, but which is based on the simple, practical, gut-level experience of being oppressed every day of their fucking lives, with (in my case, and many other cases) theory consumed and utilized, not to teach them much that is new, but to help them verbalize and explain what they already know… well, that’s “privilege,” it’s “privileging women,” and it’s unfair, because it means that Freddie isn’t treated as the World’s Foremost Expert. On our fucking lives.
Yes: Freddie, as a feminist, wants to be regarded as knowing more about women than women do. And he gets really, really sad and angry when you tell him that, because he is a man, he will never know more about womanhood or women’s oppression than women, and he will never be allowed to define feminism for women, and he will never be able to engage in feminist discussions without having his privilege pointed out to him. That’s what’s at stake here: Whether Freddie’s “feminist” engagement should involve listening to women, and valuing their voices enough to make them central to his understanding, or whether (as he explicitly seems to wish) he will be allowed to be a “feminist” while keeping his ability to oppress women, his privilege, intact and unchallenged. Don’t think for a second it’s anything more advanced or “intellectual” than that. Freddie is a man, and it makes him mad that women don’t listen to, agree with, and obey him. Because of his “feminism.” Which, as he explicitly states above, is not based on any obligation to listen to or learn from the people that feminism is intended to help.
In social justice circles, this phenomenon is known as “entitlement.” Or, in Internet social justice circles, where we give everything LOLcatty names because we can and it amuses us, we call it “mansplaining.” If Freddie were an actual ally, someone who was coming correct to feminism, he would still probably fall into the Pit of Mansplanation every so often. Just as I, an anti-racist white woman, fall into the Pit of Whitesplaining. Just as I, a pro-trans cisgender lady, fall into the Pit of Cissplaining. But when it happens to me, I try to behave myself. When Nitsuh Abebe tells me to fucking stop referring to hipster indie music criticism as a “white thing,” because he works for Pitchfork and he writes hipster indie music criticism and he’s black and I fucking well know that enough to not erase him from my account of the world, well: I type the words “you’re right,” and I apologize, and then I fucking stop doing it. Because that’s how an ally behaves, as I understand it. When C.L. Minou points out to me that I need to stop complaining about how awkward period sex is, because the worst thing that’s going to happen to me if I have an Unpleasant Revelation For A Straight Dude along those lines is that the dude is not going to want to have sex with me, and will maybe act like a douche about it, whereas if she discloses some of her own Revelations to a straight dude she’s been making out with, there’s a substantial chance that she will get fucking murdered, because that happens often, well: I shut the fuck up about period sex, is what I do.
What Freddie does is to leave nine comments and write two blog posts about how mean I am. For the record. Because that “I shouldn’t have to listen to women because I’m a better feminist than they are” thing is, like, not something he is willing to give up. And my tone, well: My TONE! It is just OUT OF LINE! In Freddie’s estimation. Why can’t Freddie define the terms on which I am allowed to engage with Freddie, on this blog, written and edited and run by me and not by Freddie, and expect me to obey him? You guys: I’m just really, really, really mean and awful, for not doing what Freddie tells me to do.
And it’s true! I am mean! I may, last night, have given a dramatic reading of Freddie’s latest blog post about me, in which I started out in an only slightly quavery and whiny voice, and by the end of it was dramatizing the full-blown hysterical sobbing in which I imagined Freddie to indulge, helplessly, while writing it. I may have taken no small pleasure in that. But here’s the thing: When it comes to fighting back against my own oppression, which Freddie is blatantly trying to enforce on me in my own space, I don’t play nice. As a woman, I do have to fight to be recognized as an authority on anything and everything up to and including my own personal fucking life. I created this blog specifically so that there would be a place that I could publish my opinions, on my oppression, without being subject to anyone else’s ideas about what was “appropriate” or “acceptable” or “marketable” or good. I wanted to carve out a Room of One’s Own on the Internet. Without editors, without filters, without inhibitions. So if you try to act like my editor, on my site, of which I am editor-in-chief and sole paramount authority? I stopped going to church a long time ago. And my philosophy, on the topic of responding to sexists on my personal blog, is not so much, “if a man strike you, turn the other cheek” as it is, “if a man strike you, knock the fucker unconscious, break into his house, and sell all his shit on eBay before you burn his place to the ground.” Because I am a woman, and I find that, as a woman, there aren’t all that many places in the world where it is totally fucking unacceptable for men to treat me disrespectfully. But Tiger Beatdown is such a place. And when a man breaks the rules, we make an example out of him.
And, yeah, the “I’m Sady fucking Doyle” thing turned people off. You think I didn’t know it would turn people off? Women are not supposed to say that shit, even when it’s true. And it was there completely on purpose, with full acknowledgement that people would call me a narcissist, self-absorbed, in love with myself, etc, for saying it. Because I wanted to convey to Freddie that Freddie ain’t shit, largely because he actually ain’t. But I also wanted Freddie, who is hugely terrified of women who assert their authority and primacy in the feminist movement, to be confronted with the sight of a woman acknowledging, accepting, and reveling in her own authority and power. That shit is terrifying, often even to women, but definitely to men. So now Freddie’s sulking that Sady Doyle is “telling everyone about how impressed with herself she is.” And I am. Because I knew that would piss him the hell off. Because I’m a woman, and I have accordingly been taught my entire life to view myself as lesser-than, to devalue my own accomplishments, to accept it when other people treat me as lesser-than and devalue me, which they (if they are men, especially) have been taught to do. And I refuse. I say no. I tell you I’m Sady fucking Doyle, and I expect you to believe it. Being a woman who likes herself, is proud of herself, is impressed with herself, in public: There might not be a more subversive act.
Although, also, I write that I “find myself unbearable,” and otherwise make fun of myself, all the fucking time. So.
And, yeah, it doesn’t escape my attention that, amongst other blowback, I’ve been called “shrill” and “self-obsessed even for a blogger” and at least one person with a male screen name has expressed the desire that I be (verbally) “bitch-slapped.” It’s not the first time I’ve been threatened with a slap designed specifically for bitches like me, and it won’t be the last. But it’s fun to know who’s on Freddie’s side. And it might just, when put in context, point out to you why it is important for feminist, female bloggers — and we all do this, because we’ve all experienced the same bullshit — to police their spaces, and to make them distinctively unsafe environments for hostility aimed at the blogger in question. We pick on Freddie because we want all the other Freddies to be scared of what might happen to them if they try to pull the same thing. Because, otherwise, they will pull it. You have an unmoderated comment section? You have a 100-comment pile-up in your thread about how you are a terrible bad man-hater for making that joke about the pickle jars, and did you know women like to lie about being raped. (UPDATE: That pile-up has gotten bigger since I posted. Sample comment: “Next time I give you two any attention, I’m expecting one of you two to suck my dick so I can put up with the other one’s ‘edgy’ ranting.”) The fact that Freddie can get so worked-up about a single, relatively small incident is illustrative; it shows how, as a man, he is privileged and protected from the massive amounts of hostility women on the Internet face every single day.
So, also, let’s look at the specific passages he seems to have objected to! First, he was sad that Amanda and I made jokes on Sexist Beatdown about creepy guys who hit on you at the pro-choice rally, or who walk up to you after Women’s Studies classes to say that you’ve Opened Their Eyes, while said eyes linger just a little too long, and too intently, on your upper torso. Now: A common phrase, which just about every ally has ever heard or been instructed to heed, is, “if it’s not about you, don’t make it about you.” That is: If someone is describing a gross, oppressive behavior that some people in your privileged group engage in, then there is no reason to get defensive unless you personally engage in that behavior, in which case you need to stop complaining about your hurt feelings and focus on how quickly and completely you can cut that shit out. And rushing to the defense of people who do engage in the oppressive behavior, even if you don’t engage in it, is not acceptable, because you’re showing solidarity with your privilege, rather than with the people who are being hurt or oppressed. There is no better way to announce that you seriously don’t care about racism than to leap to the defense of some racist-ass people and ask people of color to stop talking about them in such a critical tone, for example. So I would just tell Freddie that if our jokes about pseudo-feminists who are in it for the pussy aren’t about him, he shouldn’t make them about him. But I’m pretty sure they are, in fact, about him. Because he closes the post by wondering whether Amanda and I would be total boner-killers on a date.
Next, there’s the post on which he left the comment that led to his downfall. He characterizes this post, on his blog, as “very mean.” This post was a Sexist Beatdown, again. And it was explicitly about how feminists should listen to and heed oppressed men on the topic of their various oppressions, and about how women and other marginalized people can and should ally with each other. But, in the meantime, we also made jokes about how some dudes are so wrapped up in their own privilege that they can’t bear to see women write about their own experiences of oppression, and about how they make up fake “oppressions” like being asked to open pickle jars (or not being automatically regarded as The World’s Foremost Experts on Feminism, when they are on dates with professional, well-published feminist writers), and how they leave obnoxious comments that boil down to “WHAT ABOUT ME,” which are clearly intended to shut women down and make them focus on dudes, as The Patriarchy has trained us to believe that all women should do at all times. This was the “very mean” post that got Freddie so riled up he had to leave his self-promotery comment about how much he hates Sexist Beatdown and/or the Tiger Beatdown on which it appears. This was where he got really fucking offended and scared about the jokes. And, again, I would tell Freddie that “if it’s not about you, don’t make it about you.” But are you kidding me? It’s completely about him. It might as well have been written specifically about him. He’s doing the exact thing we described in that post.
And, I mean, here’s the fucking cherry on top of Freddie’s shit sundae, the thing that makes all of this so glorious: His comment? And his blog post, about how women don’t listen enough to men? Well, he linked me to that blog post at the end of Visions of Manliness week. In which, if you didn’t notice, I published exclusively men, on the topic of their experiences and oppressions. In which I not only advocated for men as feminist allies (and for feminists as allies to men), I pointed out, promoted, praised, and defended the work of feminist men. For an entire week. And I capped it off with a dialogue on how women can better ally with men, and how men can better ally with women. And that’s when Freddie decided to scold me, publicly, for not listening to men enough.
Because none of this is actually about “feminist men.” Hear me: none of it is about that, or has ever been about that. At all. It’s not about the role of men in the feminist movement (they have one); it’s not about whether men can be feminists (they can, and are); it’s not about how feminist men and feminist women work together (they do a good job of it, around here), or whether those feminist men and women focus on the issues and oppressions that affect men (we do). All of that has been explicitly addressed and dealt with, on this blog, over the course of this week. It’s not about whether feminist women value feminist men; it’s about whether feminist women value male privilege. And it’s about, specifically, whether feminist women value Freddie. And it’s about, specifically, whether I value Freddie and his male privilege. And you know what? This particular feminist just does not give a fuck about either of those things. I value Freddie, and male privilege, not in the least, not at all, not one little tiny bit. And he can just sob into his pillow and/or his Blogspot about that for the next year, for all I care. Because I, me personally, I don’t care about Freddie’s [BONERS].
But here’s the thing: You don’t care about Freddie’s [BONERS], either. For, pursuant to Freddie’s epic hissy about how scared and offended and sad joke-making ladies make Freddie, I made you a promise. “Goof away, it’s the Internet, and it’s your dime,” Freddie wrote, sulkily, and I was inspired. I was inspired to tell you that, if you enjoyed the goofing, well, it could be your dime, too. And so I founded the We Don’t Care About Freddie’s Boners Foundation, the first action of which was to start a pledge drive in which every dollar you donated would result in me making a joke. It is a dollars-for-jokes transaction, this thing I am describing. And here, now, is the minimum number of jokes which I personally am required to make:
Holy crap! Two thousand, one hundred and thirty point one nine jokes in the next year alone! And most of you only requested like two or ten or fifteen jokes, individually! There are just a LOT of people who don’t care about Freddie, apparently! (Also: This is enough to cover rent this month! And, potentially, food! So thank you.) Clearly, I need to get to work. For example, here is a joke for you!
FREDDIE: Knock, knock.
SADY: Who’s there?
So, a joke for you! Oh, look, here’s another:
FREDDIE: Knock, knock.
SADY: Who’s –
FREDDIE: OH MY GOD YOU ARE BEING SO MEAN TO ME I’M GONNA TELL MY BLOG WHY DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT DUDES?!??!!
There! Only two thousand, one hundred and twenty-eight (point one nine) jokes to go! I don’t know what equates to 0.19 jokes, I will tell you now. Maybe I could post a funny GIF?