I am amazingly and terrifyingly powerful. With a single sweep of my divine gaze I can reduce grown adults to whimpering spots on the floor. Against my godlike will, only the bravest dare muster a resistance!
Or that’s the impression I get from listening to feminists. This is very odd, because my actual experience of living my actual life gives me the impression that no one cares what I think about anything. In fact, I’m pretty sure that feminists have told me that too. “WE DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT ANYTHING!” they have told me. “SO SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP, YOU WORTHLESS ENTITLED MAN-CHILD! NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY!” Which is a somewhat unnecessarily mean-spirited way of putting it, but does fit the available data. Don’t get me wrong, I strongly feel that people should care what I think, but that’s neither here nor there.
So how do I square this with the assurances of Iliza Shlesinger, whose book Girl Logic I inadvisably picked up a sample of from amazon.com? I know, I know, I have only myself to blame. Haven’t I myself said that abuse you can walk away from is abuse that’s self-inflicted? But in my defense, I used to have a lot of respect for Shlesinger, who struck me as being everything a feminist should be – proud to be a woman while being perfectly aware of the failings of womanhood, and also while being perfectly unrepentant about those failings because feminism is the radical notion that women are human and humans are allowed to have flaws. As I have pointed out before, the alpha males who feminists tend to envy do not go around pretending to be perfect, or pretending that manhood is perfect – they go around proudly bragging about how incorrigible they are. Since the blurb of the book claimed that it was about uniquely female ways of thinking about how those ways were valid and powerful, I thought that that was what I could expect.
I should have known better, of course, because I knew perfectly well that Shlesinger had become a born-again feminist and vowed never to say a bad word about women ever again, because they already suffer sooooooooo much, the poor innocent little darlings. I should at least have checked the publishing date to see if I was getting the old, awesome Shlesinger or the new, self-pitying Shlesinger. Alas, I did not. Nor did I turn back at the foreword, wherein some person who I’ve never heard of gushed about Shlesinger’s general perfection in terms that gave me the impression that she was two seconds away from signing over all her worldly possessions to her. After all, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and I think it follows that you also shouldn’t judge it by overly fawning forewords.
And the book proper started promising enough, with Shlesinger describing, wittily and cheerfully, how women can appear to not know what they want because they see all the pros and cons, present and future, of any subject, and how that should not be seen as a weakness but rather as a tremendous strength. With that I absolutely agree, by the way. My experience is that women are much better than men at nuanced and detailed perspectives. Most men I run into make me grind my teeth with their way of trying to cram every peg that can be approximately called “round” into a round hole, and every peg that might charitably be described as “square” into a square hole, and never mind that both the pegs and the holes have unique and complicated shapes that don’t fit into those neat categories and that you end up breaking a lot of round-ish pegs by trying to cram them into a standard-issue round hole. Women are far less prone to proclaim that the world is wrong because it disagrees with the map.
Before I start ranting about what Shlesinger said next and how much I hate it and how wrong she is, let me belabor this fact some more. I believe in the power of women to change the world for the better. And not in the self-serving way that conservatives have of claiming that being a housewife lets them wield some kind of subtle power behind the throne – no, I believe in women’s power to take on traditionally masculine activities and do them in their own way, providing fresh new perspectives that have historically been ignored and neglected. This may require that we make some changes to our society, because right now we have a system that rewards masculine habits and punishes feminine ones, thus making sure that only a few women actually reach positions of power, and those women are the ones who are either inclined towards exactly the sort of masculine thinking that we’re trying to balance out or who have at least taught themselves to practice it. I believe we should make those changes to our society – bring on the gender quotas, bring on the family-friendly business practices, bring on anything that might dilute the concentrated testosterone at the top with some much-needed estrogen!
Is that clear? As far as Girl Logic – as per Shlesinger’s initial description of it – goes, I’m a fan.
But of course she had to mess it up, because she’s a feminist now, and feminists can’t stay positive for more than two seconds before they have to start wailing about how the world is being mean to them. So of course she goes on to say that Girl Logic is in fact a learned survival mechanism for living in a world that hates you and is constantly picking on everything you do, from how you look to how you act, and which catches you in constant double binds where everything you might possibly do is wrong.
Jesus Christ… okay, first off, did I mention that this is maybe three pages after she admits that men don’t notice or care about the sort of details women obsess over? And after she vividly describes judging a man on how he looks and dresses? Should I understand that this is not just a description of Girl Logic but a demonstration? Because if so, I don’t think it paints it in a very favourable light. In fact, it kind of lives down all the worst stereotypes of it. “Well, sure, this isn’t technically true, but… it feels like it is! And that’s what matters!!!”
Secondly, let me tell you a little secret about the male experience, Iliza Shlesinger, since you’ve been so generous in letting me in on the female experience. You know those alpha males who are in charge of everything? The one who yell and curse and insult people? The one who brag and smirk and sling their dicks about? The ones you envy so much because they don’t “have to be LIKEABLE”?
Those unlikable men? The rest of us guys… DON’T LIKE THEM.
I’m serious. When our bosses are yelling at us about how inferior we are, what do you think we’re thinking? “Oh, he’s such a strong leader! I am so lucky to be allowed to serve him”? NO! We’re thinking that he’s a douchebag! We’re calling him every ugly name in the book inside our heads! Oh, we say “yes, sir!”, because he can fire us otherwise, but what we’re thinking is, “I hope you get lots and lots of cancer, you worthless sociopath!”
And he knows that we’re thinking that. Does he care? Does he write long books about how unfair it is that people don’t like him just because he happens to be unlikable? NO! He feels great about it! He goes home and sleeps like a baby, dreaming of angels singing hymns to his supreme awesomeness! The more people hate him, the more successful he feels, because they can’t do anything about it and that proves that he’s all-powerful.
You know who does seem to get a naughty little thrill at the sight of a man being a complete ass and getting away with it, while raising hackles at the sight of a woman doing the same? You know for whom an entire genre of literature is marketed that is all about the sexiness of alpha-douchebags? You know who makes endless excuses for douchy men as long as they’re successfully douchy, but who comes down like a ton of bricks on any woman who does anything wrong ever? WOMEN! WOMEN DO THAT!
Having made that declaration (which even I think is flirting uncomfortably with misogyny), I need calm my tone for a moment and make a few disclaimers. First off, and most obviously – hashtag-not-all-women. Not all women let men get away with crap. In fact, the group of women you’d think I’d be the most hostile towards, the hardcore feminists, are, funnily enough, the ones who are pristinely innocent of that accusation. You won’t catch them making excuses for any man, no matter how dashingly workaholic he is. When it comes to men, hardcore feminists are great egalitarians: they hate all of us, without prejudice or preference. Which, as a fellow deeply hateful person, I kind of have to respect.
(in fact, the thought occurs that the hardcore feminists are so gung-ho about hating men specifically because they know that they are inherently inclined to let men get away with murder, and that they are so relentless in making excuses for women because they know that they are inherently prone to nitpicking and finding faults with women. In which case I can only say that I fully support fighting against one’s natural inclinations, but that I think that they may have overshot the mark just a teeeeeensy bit…)
And even among other women, there are variations. Casual feminists seem to be the ones who specifically despise weak men but are shameless apologists for strong men (the worst combination, if you ask me). When I rant, assume that I’m mostly ranting against those – partly because the hardcores are too few to matter and partly because I at least grudgingly respect their consistency. And below even them on the hating-pole, there are the non-feminist women, who really do seem to go easy on all men, even whimpy ones like me, while simultaneously being very hard on other women.
Secondly, let me be clear that the tendency to go easier on the group of people you’re programmed to want to mate with than on the group of people you’re not is very much present among men, too. That, of course, is the exact opposite of what feminists believe, but feminists know nothing. Men – other than MRAs, who are sad and broken creatures who should not, I damn well hope, be held up as representatives of all of manhood – don’t like to criticise women. It’s just no fun. Men want to like women, and they particularly want to like strong and decisive women.
I’m serious. You know all those man-feminists who are always kissing your ass and saying how great it is to see a woman speaking up? Yeah, they’re 100% sincere, but it’s not because they’re such staunch, virtuous little allies. It’s because strong women are awesome. Men are hardwired to think that strong women are awesome. I can tell you with complete honesty that while, as per above, I loathe alpha-douchebags who yell at me, I am strangely okay with women who yell at me. I mean, I don’t like being yelled at, in itself, but when it’s a woman? Then I actually do kind of think, “Oh, she’s such a strong leader! I am so lucky to be allowed to serve her.” And I feel like a complete doormat for thinking that way, but I still can’t help it.
So yeah, I have a massive double standard. It’s the completely opposite double standard that Shlesinger is accusing me of having, but since I’m going to be accusing all of womanhood of having a streak of inherent favouritism towards men, I’d be a hypocrite not to admit to a streak of inherent favouritism towards women. Rule number one: we all of us suck. We just suck in different ways.
As for nitpicking women’s appearance… look, not to repeat myself, but Shlesinger literally started the chapter by admitting that that’s something women do. To men, yes, but to other women too. Seriously, we don’t care what you look like, as long as you broadly register as “female.” You’ve got breasts? Don’t worry, you’re golden. You don’t have breasts? Grow your hair long and you’re golden. You can say a lot of bad things about men, and I’ve said most of them myself, but accusing us of having a high visual standard is just plain bizarre.
Look, there is such a thing as a man who nitpicks women’s appearance, yes. That kind of man is technically referred to as “a despicable little bitch,” or as I like to put it, an alpha-wannabe. Any man you see whining that a fat girl wore a revealing outfit and OMG, has she no SHAME, how can she let herself be seen like THAT?!… any man who would say that out loud is no kind of man at all. A true beta male does not judge, and a true alpha male doesn’t look closely enough to even notice. And both kinds look down on the kind of malicious little turd who tries to push himself up by pushing others down.
No, nitpicking and finding fault with everything is a predominately feminine pastime. When it’s directed at men, it’s called “feminism.” And when it’s directed at women, it’s called “patriarchy,” and people like Iliza Shlesinger writes long books proclaiming that it’s all our fault. Never mind that outside of the wretched online hives where screeching alpha-wannabes congregate, something like 90% of all criticism against women comes from other women. Whenever I hear that some woman is supposedly such a bitch and crazy in the head and entitled and horrible and and and and… the person telling me that is invariably another woman. Because a man with self-respect wouldn’t be able to get halfway through that sentence without hating himself. (hell, case in point – I went back and erased a ton of text here, because it was just too angry. I am very comfortable raging against feminists, but when I get closer to raging against women in general, I start to feel gross)
Bottom line? If Iliza Shlesinger feels judged on her appearance, I submit that that is because if she were someone else, she’d be judging herself on her appearance. If she feels pressured to be likeable, I submit that that is because if she were someone else, she’d be sniffing and scoffing about how unlikable she was. She’s not correctly noting how others feel about her, she is projecting her own feelings onto them.
But you know what really kills me? I don’t believe for a second that Iliza Shlesinger, who has always come across (even in this book, even when talking about how incredibly victimised she is by men supposedly thinking ill of her) as a powerful, confident woman who could get into a scrap and give back as good as she got and most certainly didn’t worry about whether anyone thought she was likeable, actually feels judged and oppressed. Oh, I am sure that she believes that others are judging her, because she knows that if she was someone else she’d judge her, I just don’t believe that that’s something that bothers her, no more than douchy male bosses are bothered by being hated by their subordinates. What I do believe is that there are other women, such as that pitiful creature who wrote the foreword, who really are terrified of not being seen as perfect and convince themselves that that terror is perfectly rational and justified because those evil, evil men would totally punish them for not being perfect. But because they are weepy and neurotic and useless, they aren’t in a position to actually argue their case – so along like a knight in shining armour comes Shlesinger, who is not weepy or neurotic, to support their narrative in the name of right and justice and sisterly solidarity.
And why shouldn’t she? The entire world tells her that the neurotics are objectively right – that women suffer horrible torments at the hands of those evil men, and that any woman who doesn’t suffer is an anomaly, someone who has by sheer accident avoided the all but omnipresent hatred towards women in our society. Why shouldn’t she take up the cause of protecting her sisters? If everyone says it’s right, how can it be wrong?
And people ask me why I don’t just avoid and ignore feminism. Because it spreads, morons! Because every woman I admire always turns into a feminist and starts telling me how awful I am! Because the only way I could avoid feminism would be to admire no one, listen to no one, like no one – to just sit in a dark room all day long and never feel or think anything ever again! Because I like strong women, and feminism keeps getting hold of strong women and turning them into self-pitying wrecks who spew unfounded allegations at me!
Because they really are unfounded. I do not have sinister telepathic powers. I am not making you feel what you’re feeling. Your feelings are your own. Take pride in them or work to change them, but own them. Stop blaming them on me.