Dear Men, Do you Hear Yourselves?

Because it doesn’t really seem like you do.

There were times in my life where I couldn’t bring myself to open my personal email account or later my social media accounts because I knew that among the smattering of messages from friends and family there would also be just tidal waves of unhinged hate from random men on the internet.

And now every woman reading this is nodding her head going, “yup, me too, sister.” And every man is going, “bUt I NeVer!!”

Sure, there’s times when it’s worse. For example, when a woman runs for office or when a man is actually held accountable for rape. But for the most part it’s just a constant thrum in women’s lives to be randomly attacked by men we don’t know.

But honestly, as bad as that is, it’s not what I’m mad about. Like, I get it. Y’all are defective. You’ve only got one X chromosome and not terribly much of that wonderfully neuro-protective oestrogen. I’m joking here, but the number of times really stupid guys have explained to me that women are just naturally less valuable than men for reasons makes me somewhat unwilling to be anything more than sarcastic. What gets me is how irrational these attacks all are.

You guys continually tell me that women are the irrational ones and yet your rhetoric is always kinda hilariously illogical.

I’ll give you some examples pulled from my own life. Trigger warning for just basically everything.

I knew this guy in undergrad who used to just randomly send me rape and death threats. I ignored the first ten or so but then decided he needed to stop. Stupidly, I took it to him rather than the police. He sat me down and patiently explained that I had nothing to worry about because he didn’t find me attractive enough to rape. So that was nice.

Another guy at one point decided it would be appropriate to break my rib. He played it off like an accident, but idiots don’t generally cover their trail too well and he had actually punched me in the chest. I let it go. Again, stupidly. But I later spoke to a mutual acquaintance who flat out told me the guy had done it because he felt I “needed to be taught a lesson.” Apparently, I am too arrogant. What with all my walking around and also existing. How very dare I.

At one point a friend confided in me that she had been raped. Since she knew I knew her attacker she also gave me a heads up as to who he was. He found out I knew and left a phone message on my mother’s answering machine threatening to sue me for libel.

But those are all variously criminal. Most of the guys in those three examples committed offences they could actually go to jail for. So let’s back off the completely insane and go for the ridiculous.

A few months back I wrote a feminist piece. Shocking, I know. Anyways, in it I talked about how American women are raised in such a way that we believe sexual assault committed against us is our fault. Naturally in the comments, some good Samaritan decided to correct me and explain that to improve my writing I should back off the “conspiracy theories.” Said “conspiracy theories,” were things I’d personally experienced. But gosh, I keep on forgetting that as a woman I should never trust my own eyes over what a man tells me. He also told me another author had plagiarised my work but also done a better job. She and I had written about similar topics, but there was no plagiarism involved. It is not my place to judge the relative quality of our writing.

I’ve deleted his comment and blocked him. I didn’t check if she did as well. He did helpfully give her a bunch of tips on how to appeal to a bigger (read: exclusively male) audience.

More recently a guy commented that he’d never seen women being dismissed so perhaps I was exaggerating or maybe it was just a “generational” thing. So let’s just examine that. This guy, who didn’t know my age, assumed I’m super old and therefore in his mind useless, dismissed my experience, and then said he’s never seen a woman’s experience being dismissed. And also, he dismissed me by saying guys his age never dismiss women.

See, this is the thing. I feel like male “logic” might be the best argument against Cartesian theory because they say stuff like this and don’t immediately collapse into a void. I’m basically arguing here that men are non-Euclidean. And at this point, really, with the evidence we presently have, what other conclusion can I actually support?

But let’s carry on. Another guy told me that my PhD thesis was a “fraud.” I still don’t know what that means. We were having a political “discussion,” at the time so probably what he meant was “how dare you have facts that undermine me!!!!” I mean, the PhD’s in Palaeopathology as opposed to Xenolinguistics, but … I think that’s a reasonable translation?

But I like to imagine it was something a bit less reactionary than that. Basically, this guy at the outset of the argument did not know I was a doctoral student. (I’ve graduated now. Yay, me.) So, he decided an effective way of getting me to stop supporting my political stance and join his side was to tell me that I’m a very stupid woman.


Anyways, then this guy needed me to “prove” I’m smart. I mean, firstly IQ tests are hugely problematic and I still have always scored in teh genius range but I wasn’t about to tell him that because … IQ tests are hugely problematic. And anyone can say they scored 134 or 165 or what have you. So instead he wanted to know what I knew about … Western classical music. Fortunately for me, I actually picked up a certificate in ethnomusicology and I nearly became an actual opera singer as in I got a callback to the Curtis Institute (and then a really bad cold) but just examine that. This guy expected me to prove my intelligence to him on his own personal — pardon the pun — scale. And when I did, he got super mad.

This wasn’t the first time some guy demanded I prove to him my intelligence. I’ve never demanded a guy prove his smarts, but guys do it to me all the time and then get absurdly angry when I tell them more about [obscure topic] than they knew. And again, I can hear women nodding from here because this is a standard thing you guys always always ALWAYS do. (Although, I think I am going to start making men prove themselves to me. How much money will you guys give me if I come up with just a completely absurd “intelligence” test for men?)

But anyways, to his credit he did eventually sort of apologise to me, but that means I will never know what he meant by my PhD being a fraud. I mean, he’d never read it. When I told him what it was on he had no clue what any of that meant. Perhaps he thought women can’t be doctoral candidates? Perhaps he didn’t like the application of Procrustes theory without the whole serial killer aspect? Or maybe I really did hit on something when I said men are non-Euclidean. We will never know. But yeah. Really great for impostor syndrome for a random guy online to call you a fraud when you’re trying to take a writing break.

I think though, that the absolute cake goes to the various men online who know I secretly love Twilight and/or Fifty Shades of Grey. (Note: I do not.) This happened to me the first time before Fifty was a thing. I was discussing Star Wars. Because you know, Star Wars and Twilight: basically the same thing. (I’m kidding. Please send all hate-mail to @iamjohnoliver. With luck he’ll do a thirty minute exhaustively researched comedy sketch explaining why I, and by extension Star Wars, suck. Since he’s about to get blasted, John, bring back the French kid. The French kid is hilarious.)

Yeah, so apparently girls can’t like Star Wars because we have cooties. This is another one that’s quite mysterious to me in spite of men’s best efforts to explain it in simple terms. As I understand it I can only like “romances” because … because. I’ve narrowed it down to two possible reasons:

  1. Romances in the past two decades have been designated “chick flicks” meaning only women can watch them and by the transitive property as explained by stupid, non-Euclidean people that also means that women can only watch them and nothing else.
  2. Romances are about women obsessing over men to an unhealthy degree and going to great and often dangerous lengths to completely alter their look and even personality to fit the desires of the elusive perfect man who is in basically all romance movies, just upsettingly average. Ergo, romances exist to train women to be compliant without getting their hopes too high.

Cool. I mean, I memorised the original three Star Wars movies, read the Thrawn trilogy, and took up training with swords just so I could be a Jedi, like my father before me, but I’m not a REAL Star Warrior because I don’t have outtie genitalia. And apparently that is a prerequisite. Also, the closest I’ve ever come to reading or watching Twilight is reading Awoken which … I mean … I don’t want to spoil it for you but … enjoy the beautiful madness. That’s a joke. And if you read it you’ll get the joke.

Despite the fact that most of the guys super mad that I like Star Wars don’t even know what the Thrawn trilogy is or why MaraJadeisthebestFIGHTME, they tell me that my love of Star Wars is ruining it for them. Like … okay … how? Apparently, I’m getting pink bows and hearts all over their manly man stuff. I’m in it mostly for the pew pew and lightsabers, but yeah. My liking it and being able to quote it is inherently bad because I’m female. This is MAN stuff. Star Wars, with all the wigs, is for MEN. Grrrrrr.

But the less funny problem with all of this which I’m going to try to present in a funny manner because … fuck you, I don’t need a reason … is that men upset with me for existing/being smart/liking a thing aren’t losing access to anything they need, or care about, but they are absolutely barring me from things I need or just like.

For example, the guy who raped my friend in high school was so scared of me that he went on a full on campaign to get me expelled and very nearly succeeded. My friend might have dropped out and she and I are still close but both of us were so messed up that over it that I know she told me, but I’ve blocked it. Sorry, I can’t make that funny.

But just think about that for a moment. He was totally capable of not raping her. That is a thing he could have done. It wouldn’t have cost him a thing. But, because male privilege is so out of control he destroyed BOTH our lives just so he could have two minutes of his disgusting little power fantasy. That guy is right now a corporate lawyer in San Francisco. He got a full ride to Harvard. He’s married. He had zero consequences. He was never even questioned by the police. I mean … he does look exactly how you would expect him to look, but for men that’s not so much a consequence as a thing that gives them the “right” to shoot people.

And guys … it is actually okay for you to be wrong. Maybe not quite that level of wrong, but mistakes are okay. But at the moment what’s happening is you dumbasses are basically always wrong and we just let you think you’re right. Seriously, every argument you’ve ever been in where the woman ended it yeah, you made her feel terrible but she also no longer has any respect for you because you were wrong and you just could not stand it. Women automatically don’t want to be around you guys because so many of you cannot admit when you’re wrong. So yeah, guys call me stupid all the time and it never stops hurting but I know that you do it because you’re just too juvenile to understand these complex topics and having it explained to you by someone you think you’re better than hurts your pride.

The thing that I’m really trying to get at, dear men, is what you’re asking is impossible, but also hilariously stupid. I can’t put that nicer because ultimately every bad interaction I have with guys — and they’re roughly daily — boils down to you men wanting me to warp the laws of reality to fit your whims. No, I know you totally don’t want that blah blah reasons, but look at the few little examples just from my own life.

In some cases the men doing bad things wanted control of me, but they didn’t want the consequences for that which would have been either me hitting them back or them paying my bills. You break a girl’s rib you either get broken or you pay for her meds.

In some cases the men wanted me to change politics for them. I mean, okay, that I actually can do, but only if you elect me to office.

Ari 2020: Euclidean Geometry.

But yeah, no man in the history of being manly men has thought me in power was a good thing so … I mean … guys you have a choice here. Either you screw up your courage and put me in office or you stop demanding I change the world. I will actually take either option.

But in most cases what you men want from me is for me not to cease existing, but to cease existing as I am. And no, that doesn’t make sense and yes, that is the problem. I’m sorry, but I’m brilliant and magnificent. And that belongs to me. Not you. I made me brilliant and magnificent. The only human that gets any credit for making me awesome is my mom. You random guys who yell at me for reasons don’t get a piece of that.

My dear dumb, non-Euclidean men, the real tragedy here is you. You do actually have potential and people remind you of your potential day in and out. Me? I have to prove it, but you’ll get hired on a supposition. So … I know why you’re mad, but do you? You men could be brilliant and magnificent. I mean, y’all can’t touch this, because I’m a redheaded, opera singing, horse-riding, sword-fighting, arrow-shooting, poorly parkouring, doctor who looks awesome in an evening gown, but you could learn to knit or something. That would be pretty awesome. Not everyone can be a redhead. The gingerocracy looks forward to your sweaters. (And to the guy who’s scrolling to the comment section to explain to me how I’m all egotistical and never gonna find a man, lols, I got one and he loves both my big ego and my big eagle. I’ve also taken up falconry. I kid. Or do I? BTWs did you know raptors tend to be sexually dimorphic but with larger females? I learned that from Lone Wolf and Cub. Because of course I did.)

But guys, just … calm down. The entire world is made for you. I have to basically jack myself into weird convulsions just to fit into it. No, I’m serious, do you know how long it takes to do makeup and one’s hair? And don’t tell me about shaving because 1. beards are socially acceptable, inexplicably and 2. stubble on women’s legs is not. (Just so we’re clear, if you elect me President my first Executive Order will be outlawing beards. Except for Joaquin Castro. He beards rather nicely. And just to be further clear my second Executive Order will be to get a friend of mine who wears a lot of tweed to get a matching tweed jacket and doggie booties for his pup, because honestly. Honestly.)

I will never understand why men treat me with the sort of contempt and derision that they do. Seriously, I’ve done absolutely nothing to hurt you guys. And a lot of what I have done benefits you. So, why do you hate me so much? Why are you so terrified of me to the point that you regularly try to destroy my life? Yeah, I make fun of you a lot, but do you actually think that me poking fun is as bad as any of the things you men have done to me? Men, you’ve got to do better. You’re not quite half the population, but you’re enough that the hate and derision you hold for the rest of humanity is actually hazardous. I’m making fun here, but this is a serious issue.

Join us in logic. We have cookies that aren’t actually a projection from a non-Cartesian plane. (Although, I don’t know what that would be. Probably oatmeal.)

Doctor of Palaeopathology, rage-prone optimist, stealth berserker, opera enthusiast, and insatiable consumer of academic journals.

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