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Monday, July 21, 2014

Foil

Who doesn't love Weird Al Yankovic?  He's really been on a roll lately -- "Word Crimes," his take on Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" is hilarious -- and this latest parody of Lourde's "Royal" may tickle those who delight in the "Dark Enlightenment" blogs with all their conspiracy theory lunacy.

Why Is This Newsworthy?

So the contents of deceased actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's will were disclosed, and we all learned that he had left his $35 million estate to the mother of his three children instead of setting up trust funds for the kids. He indicated he did so because he did not want his children to bear the burden of being considered "trust fund babies," and because obviously he had complete faith in his partner who is, I repeat, the mother of these children.

Why is this even remotely controversial? As far as I know, this is the arrangement most couples make. When my own father died, he left his (albeit much more modest) estate entirely to my mother, his surviving spouse, and it never occurred to anyone, least of all his daughters, that he should have done any differently. We were profoundly grateful that she had the means to support herself comfortably in her old age. And when she used some of that money to indulge herself in ways my father had previously denied her (foreign travel, a new house) we were even happier, since our central regret was that our father had not enjoyed the fruits of his own labors more when he was still alive.

The fact that Hoffman also stipulated that his son was to be raised in Manhattan, Chicago, or San Francisco, and not "Hollywood" suggests that he was trying to protect his child from the perils of growing up as a rich celebrity's kid in an environment where he would have difficulty establishing his own identity and be vulnerable to the predations of "users."

Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, among other wealthy men, have spoken openly about their own intent not to leave their children and grandchildren vast, unearned fortunes. One has only to watch documentaries like Born Rich, which chronicles the experience of growing up as a "trust fund baby," or read the tragic biographies of heiresses like Huguette Clark and Doris Duke, to appreciate that these men are "disinheriting" their children out of love for them. The expectation of unearned wealth, on whatever scale, cripples children. (Some might cite Vox Day aka Theodore Beale as a cautionary tale in this regard.) After all, most trust fund babies don't grow up with their heads screwed on as well as former "poor little rich girl" Gloria Vanderbilt Cooper's* and documentary film-maker Jamie Johnson's appear to have been. 

* In fact, her son Anderson Cooper recently evinced gratitude that she had never given him any expectation of inheriting her wealth.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dalrock Is Not an MRA!


I don't really follow Dalrock, a "Christian" blogger who describes himself as a "happily married" family man while pontificating endlessly about divorce and the perfidious, slutty ways of American women (excepting that paragon of feminine virtue, the often-referred-to-but-never-seen "Mrs. Dalrock").
  
David Futrelle has described him as a "nitwit with a penchant for pseudoscientific defenses of old-fashioned misogyny," but then, that describes 99% of the manosphere. What distinguishes Dalrock is that his targeting and "slut-shaming" of various young hussies is "justified" by his conservative Christian scruples. Not that there's anything new about that, either. I mean, WWJD? (never mind, let's not go there...)
The Scarlet Letter (1926) Poster
Mathematically proven to reduce out of wedlock pregnancies,


The auditory equivalent of reading a blog like Dalrock is the whine of a dentist drill, something I'm willing to subject myself to on a strictly "as needed" basis.

I'm an agnostic, or a nominal Christian myself (depending on the day you poll me) and find faith-based arguments about as fruitful and pleasant as repeatedly sticking my wet finger into an electrical socket. Freedom of religion means freedom from religion, thank God the Founding Fathers. And although I appreciate the pious' concern for the state of my eternal soul, I do wish they'd take my word for it: I'll take my chances.

I am also not very invested in the topics of marriage or divorce, maybe because I have never been married or ever been particularly interested in becoming so. As Groucho Marx once quipped, "Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?" (Marx himself married three times, so he was perhaps not as cynical as that famous quote implies. And that marriage is a socioeconomic contract that benefits many people in many circumstances is patently obvious.)  Of course, I may very well change my mind up the road:

My sentiments exactly!
And I'm a liberal, in the sense that I support every individual's right to organize their personal lives according to their own values, providing their choices do not impinge on the rights of others to exercise the same freedom.

In other words, there isn't much a pompous gasbag like Dalrock has to say that is relevant to me. He is probably younger than I am, yet even in my cataract-clouded eyes, he's a dusty relic.

And last but not least, he simply isn't very amusing. I have trouble following Dalrock because his writing style is so verbose and ponderous. This is a man who takes himself very seriously. (Occasionally he can be oddly inventive: among his contributions to the current vernacular are phrases like "post-marital spinsterhood.") Like most "manosphere" bloggers, he is, in short, an Utter Bore to everyone in the universe except that handful of Angry White Guys who share his particular obsessions and drink from the same wellspring of bitterness... These are the kinds of unlucky-at-love divorcees that, if they corner you at a party, recite variations on the theme "I got the shaft / she got the gold mine" until you are forced to practically chew off your arm to escape.

What I do know about Dalrock -- without even reading him -- is that not only is he a boorish bore, he is a hypocrite of the first order.

Back when I was doxed, Matt Forney tried mightily to make his piece "go viral." The attempt fell noticeably flat. Most of the manosphere studiously ignored it, partly because it (I) wasn't interesting, and partly because most of these pseudonymous bloggers are very leery about publicizing doxings. They know that if they were doxed themselves, they would face the ridicule (at least) or dire socioeconomic consequences (at worst) of being linked to their secret lives online. Being doxed would expose to the world their horrible ideas virulent misogyny, which chances are -- assuming that most of them are functioning in modern society -- is an aspect of their inner psyches carefully cordoned-off from public view.

Not Mister Dalrock! Perhaps he's too arrogant to worry about being doxed. Of course, he's too passive-aggressive to link to Forney's piece directly; instead, he posted several readers' comments that did so. Like many of these guys, he gets his minions followers to do his dirty work. Then he can hold up his clean hands and claim he is only promoting "freeze peach." Cuz that's how hypocrites roll...

Anyway, not to belabor my own story, but all this is in keeping with his recent behavior regarding Rebecca Vipond Brink. Brink writes short, breezy, irreverent pieces for The Frisky, XOJane, and other sites that appeal to young women. Taking umbrage with a piece in which she wrote about dating-while-not-yet-legally-divorced,* he decided to "slut shame" her big-time, and his fan-boys obliged by trawling the internet for any smidgen of dirt personal information about Brink they could dig up and post to his comments feed. The frenzy of comments are vile, obscene, and, well, not exactly "Christian." But hey, Dalrock has a moral duty to subject such harlots to an improving session of "shaming," doesn't he?

The manosphere is all about "slut-shaming" because it's all about "sour grapes." If these men cannot possess a beautiful, intelligent, sexually autonomous young woman for themselves, they can sure as hell try to tarnish her reputation. It's standard, textbook abusive behavior, in other words.

Although "slut-shaming" is a pathetically transparent way that socially impotent men vent their frustration, and Ms. Brink hardly needs anyone to rescue her from being "slimed" on the Internet, it needs to be called out when we see it. I've had a long lifetime of watching men (and plenty of other women) "slut-shame" girls for the "crime" of being sexually autonomous beings: I'm sick of this shit!

Fortunately, the volley of verbal assaults against Brink did not go unnoticed; a small campaign was launched by Adam Lee aka The Daylight Atheist asking that Dalrock's Wordpress site be reported for abuse. Lee admits he didn't expect Wordpress to take any real action, but wanted to send a message that bullies will be socially sanctioned. Cuz that's how decent, fair-minded people roll...

Dalrock responded with a self-righteous, pearl-clutching post the other day in which he claimed that it was Dalrock himself -- that fine upstanding Christian husband and father! -- who was being victimized by evil atheists simply because of his efforts to "promote Christian morality." 

It's also amusing to note how distressed he was to be identified as "an MRA." You see, he's not an MRA himself; he's "a Christian" who just happens to have a large MRA readership. There's a world of difference. Bear that in mind while you watch the following clip from Monty Python's "Life of Brian."



Of course, my mentioning Dalrock on my blog is like throwing chum to the sharks. Like most of the manosphere bloggers, who are addicted to any attention whether positive or negative, I imagine Dalrock scours the internet on a daily basis looking for any mention of his name. Oh well, in for a penny, in for pound, I say: Bring on the flying monkeys.
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* Personally not recommended, but meh! It happens. See How to Survive Your Boyfriend's Divorce if you find yourself in this unfortunate but common situation.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

These Guys...

UPDATE: A couple of commenters have reminded me that the reason my story is significant to anyone except me is because it represents a broader pattern of harassment and intimidation by various manospherians of women bloggers or critics. The significance of my story is that it represents part of a deliberate malicious campaign to silence women by using the technology of self-publishing -- which, ironically, gives everyone an equal "voice" -- as a weapon against them.
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Attila Vinczer's recent attempt to intimidate David Futrelle via Twitter by threatening to post scandalous revelations about him is pretty funny.  After all, Futrelle has nothing to fear from AVFM's attempts to "smear" him, being, as he is, an established (male) journalist who is recognized as such by the mainstream media. 

But for someone who has been the victim of "these guys," and who is an obscure female (non-professional journalist) internet "voice," it's not something to be lightly mocked, is it?

Several months ago, I was the target of another "manospherian," Matt Forney, who revealed my IRL identity, including my Facebook pictures, my home address and phone number, and my employer, and attempted to paint me (carefully couched in the language of "opinion") as "a dangerous feminist stalker."  I had annoyed Mr. Forney by mocking and critiquing his blog; in response, he attempted to frighten me into removing my blog and to discredit my words by scurrilously questioning my sanity.

The most intimidating aspect of being doxed, as Mr. Forney did me, is that I was initially very afraid of physical harm. The point in identifying me as "the enemy" and publishing my photos and home address was to send me a clear warning that I was being targeted for potential violence. The fact that Forney issued a "retraction" the following day via Twitter (that he did NOT wish me physical harm) was an acknowledgement of this: an intent to absolve himself from liability, in case a follower interpreted the dissemination of such personal information, along with my identification as "the enemy," as a kind of "call to action."

And initially Forney's plan worked: For several weeks, I patiently awaited the sniper through my living room window, the bullet in my back as I walked to my class, or, at the least, the message from my employers that they were being inundated with calls for my immediate expulsion. I'll admit here, once and forever: I was fucking terrified.
  
And make no mistake: That was precisely Matt Forney's intent.
 
What Forney failed to consider (because these guys really aren't that smart) is that his actions forced me into a defensive corner. In other words, had Matt Forney warned me, "Take down your blog or else...!" To be honest? I would have taken it down in a New York minute. However, I was not given that option (which would, of course, have constituted actionable extortion). After the fact, the damage (to my "google-able identity") was already irrevocably done. And once I had consulted with a handful of local attorneys, and realized that I had little legal remedy under current U.S. law (and being disinclined to throw money at a slender chance of proving that at least part of his post was pure "libel"), I had no practical recourse other than to mitigate the damage done to my online reputation.

I did so in the time-honored (or perhaps hard-wired) "female" tradition: I sought the protection of the group.  I couldn't "fight" nor could I "flee"; I could only immediately appeal to people whom I sensed would be willing and able to come to my aid. In other words, I appealed to bloggers whose internet voices were "louder" than my own. Since my own blog was pseudonymous, I had virtually no internet presence whatsoever. How hard could it be to find a more prominent blogger to publish a "favorable" post that would outweigh Matt Forney's hit job? Well...

I sent messages to a number of people whose blogs I followed or websites I routinely commented on and admired. Very few responded, and of the few that were kind enough to at least express sympathy via e-mail, no one was willing to devote even a line to remedying my personal (and admittedly very trivial, in the broad scope of things) "problem."

My dilemma was this: I was (and still am, and will forever be) a Big Fat Nobody. I was not someone who was worthy of A Story under anyone else's byline.  My tiny audience of twenty-odd regular readers could hardly help me either although a few bravely tried (and I -- and Google -- acknowledges your efforts).

I am not complaining, or indulging in self-pity here, by the way: I am simply acknowledging the unvarnished reality of what it means to be have an online voice as a woman. 

Nor was I willing or able to make my pathetic little tale into a story that would excite the interest of commercial websites like Jezebel or XOJane.  However, I thought that my very obscurity might, in itself, make this A Story. The fact is, groups like A Voice for Men or notorious misogynists like Roosh, very deliberately target female bloggers that are "nobodies," because we are vulnerable in ways that professional journalists or celebrities are not. The idea that ordinary female bloggers are being forced off the internet appeared to me -- and still does -- a very important story indeed. Unfortunately, Mother Jones could not care less.

P.Z. Myers did agree to post something that puts the whole contretemps into some kind of palatable perspective. Approaching him was the smartest, or luckiest, move I made during this curious, furious month of "damage control": His little post on Pharyngula "saved" my Google-able identify by putting the Forney smear job into a context that most employers will understand. It also spoke volumes about Myers' personal character.* 

I also quickly slapped my legal name on my hitherto-pseudonymous blog, confident that there is nothing here that was likely to compromise my modest professional opportunities. Let's face it, my blog is (in Lindy West's words), "pretty innocuous" stuff. I called out a handful of the manosphere for being liars, and misogynists, and being pretty much dreadful, all-around evil people, and I stand by pretty much everything I have written here. I shared aspects of my personal life that were true and that are not particularly damning or even surprising to anyone who knows me. Let history be the judge.

The only question future employers might have for me is this: Why did I devote so much of my free time in the past eighteen months to an online "movement" that is so marginal and patently unworthy of my attention? That is the topic of another post, but suffice to say right now that I didn't necessarily find it as "marginal" as most people would like to believe: Rather, I found the "manosphere" to be a kind of window into a hidden subculture of seething misogyny and masculine entitlement. It has not been a perverse waste of time; it has, rather, been a journey to the edge of the abyss of human dysfunction, one which has fundamentally transformed my perspective on the state of gender relations in the West today. It would not be an over-statement that these guys have made me the self-identified "feminist" I am today. The New Misogynists have taught me a lot more than they could ever guess, and there is nothing I have read in their blogs that I haven't, on some level, "recognized" from my personal experience. Are the manosphere blogs "triggering?" Hell, yes!

Meanwhile, I hearken to the words of Arthur Goldswag, the SPLC writer whom I had initially approached who was unable to "help" me in the fashion I had hoped he would:** 

If you really care about gender equity and empowerment, then the Andrea Dworkins and Paul Elams of the world are mostly a distraction. It's easy to demonize MRAs, but they don't do anywhere near the damage to women that, say, the Hobby Lobby is trying to do, or the GOP. They're easy to hate, but engaging with them is about as useful as it is for LGBT activists to fight with the Westboro Baptist Church.

I cannot help but feel that Mr. Goldwag is speaking directly to me here, as when, in his rather condescending personal e-mail to me, he admonished me to "try not to let these guys get under your skin."
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* Prof. Myers is one of those people who is willing to make a difference in one stranded starfish's life, even while the beach is littered with them. A small act of generosity, perhaps, but he can never know how much it meant to me.

**I expected that the SPLC would report specifically on the ways that online female writers were being targeted, harassed, and intimidated by misogynists. I was very disappointed that responses to my reports to this organization consisted solely of relentless solicitations for donations and an unwanted copy of Morris Dee's biography.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Foreign Brides

It's summer, and being at the moment much distracted by matters of love & real estate, I have decided to do a little "recycling." I wrote this about ten years ago, in response to seeing the following post on Seattle Craigslist Rants'n'Raves (which was the masochistic pleasure I indulged in before discovering the "manosphere").
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Guys if you want a Real lady Thailand is the place to find them! The bitches here ( I wont call them ladies) are a bunch of fucking Flakes 

Ah, yes, the enduring allure of the Asian wife: slender, petite, soft-spoken, submissive. 

I don't see my neighbor Frank much, even though he lives right across the street. He's a bit reclusive... or whatever you call someone who keeps all the windows in his house papered over with aluminum foil. But I hear (through my kindly neighbor, who's really in the loop on our cul-de-sac) that he was so set on marrying a virgin that he sent for one by mail, all the way from the Philippines. Unfortunately, after several years of marital bliss, she high-tailed it back to Manila. He still sends her money, though, so he must remember her fondly.

Fresh, tender cherry blossoms... or iron butterflies? 

In my line of work, I get to meet quite a few of these odd couples. A few years ago, a middle-aged Boeing machinist with a pronounced limp and one crusty eye swaggered into the office, towing a tiny, limpid Vietnamese girl who looked barely pubescent. "She needs to learn her some English," he growled. "I warn you, though, she's a real beginner. She no speak English good," he bellowed the last pidgin sentence into her ear.

I began to assess her proficiency by asking her name. She looked at me, mute and apparently bewildered, although, as is often the case, her control of the language increased exponentially once Big Daddy was banished from the room.

It didn't surprise me that she turned out to be a stellar student and is now enrolled in college studying to be an RN. In another year she will graduate and be ready to dump the lame-ass who brought her here and subsidized her education. Sure, his heart will be broken at first, but then hoo boy! will he be pissed off! Especially since Washington is a community property state.

It's easy to feel contemptuous of these suckers and to hate their beyond-patriarchal attitudes ("I paid for her, she's mine") which are rooted in a generalized misogyny and -- let's face it -- demonstrate a sound rejection of American women. (I mean, it's not like I want to marry a mean, stupid, toothless Boeing machinist, but still...)

It's easy to feel sorry for their wives, at least initially: vulnerable, exploited girls who should still be under the protection of their loving families and enjoying their care-free youths back home instead of sexually indenturing themselves to old coots. Local murders like that of Susana Blackwell (shot in a Seattle courthouse by her estranged American husband), or, more recently, that of Anastasia King, are not very common, but underscore how vulnerable these women are.

I'm not without a measure of compassion for both parties, actually: Everyone needs love and everyone needs money. On the face of it, these marriages should be win/win arrangements. And I suppose most marriages are compromises of some sort. We all make "deals." Hell, I'm not even married, and my sexual/romantic life is just one rather unsatisfactory "deal" after another. [Update: Glad to report that is no longer true since I climbed off the "cock carousel" and found my soul-mate alpha bitch.]

But these marriages are deals with the devil. The difference is that one party doesn't get it, at least not right away (and maybe never -- I heard Frank is courting another Filipina through one of the thousands of internet sites available for just that purpose). The other party is under no illusions, although perhaps underestimates the physical risk by underestimating the potential danger of violence. She jumps at the best chance life offers her: winner take all.

A reader followed up to this post by asking, "What is it about the Russian mail-order brides on which these guys hitch their fantasies?" 

That's an easy one: They are white. 

Guys who look to the former Soviet Union are a little different. They tend to be slightly higher in class (not high class, mind you, just white-collar rather than blue-collar). They are liberal enough not to require their wives be virgins; a surprising number marry divorcees with children. Their dream is to acquire the trappings of upward mobility (house, boat, trophy wife) for which they lack the personal means (looks, charm, income). Therefore, they are bargain hunters.

Former satellite states such as Moldava, Ukraine, and Kirghistan are, for them, a shopper's paradise. Nowhere can they get more bang for their buck. The women are beautiful in all the ways they, and the peers they want to impress, most value: statuesque, blonde, fashion-conscious. (Even though their fashion aesthetic owes more to Las Vegas than to Vogue, and on our suburban campus they stand out like very expensive call girls who have wandered into a Walmart.)

One can only squirm as their proud husbands gush about how well these women "fit in" with their families here in the States. After all, they already "look like" Americans (that is to say, white)!

These men are a bit too "evolved" and far too romantic to openly value submission in their wives. Instead, they will allude to other qualities: loyalty, beauty, maternal potential. Russian (or Ukrainaian or Moldavan) wives make good mothers, you see, because they (unlike American women) understand the importance of family. (Never mind that Russia has one of the highest divorce rates in the world, significantly higher than the U.S.)

The fantasy element these guys have in common with all American men who marry women from poor countries is that they are White Knights. They assume that the women will be grateful for having been rescued. And even more fatally, they believe that this gratitude will morph into love. Only in the movies, kids! 

They are ignoring a fundamental principle of human nature: We are not automatically grateful to those to whom we are economically beholden. In fact, we often resent and despise them. (My experience as a foster parent, which I'll write about later, taught me this.)

I see quite a few of these eastern bloc ladies in my classes, though lately fewer Russians, which makes me wonder if conditions there are picking up. Often well-educated in their own countries -- especially likely if they are Russian -- they tend to place high on entry and make rapid progress through the system. I find them to be excellent students and terrifying forces of nature. They are the least sentimental, most brazenly opportunistic, of the mail order wives. They're relatively easy to talk to -- forthright, articulate, poised -- and relatively difficult to like. They come with the attitude I've gotten this far, just don't get in my way, bitch. 

I've never met one who even pretended to like her American husband. It's not unusual, although no less bizarre, to see a Russian surgeon mated to a used car dealer. He's bursting with pride at her accomplishment, but what was he thinking? (She makes no bones what she's thinking: the more English she learns, the more he displeases her.) She encourages him to adopt her adolescent children and bring them over, which he practically bankrupts himself to do. But she isn't having any kids with him any time soon. Once she gets her permanent residency and is reunited with as many members of her biological family as possible, it's all over but the shoutin'. If she remarries (though why should she?) it will be to a fellow immigrant, one she recognizes as a peer, often someone from her hometown.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

What's Your Name? Who's Your Daddy?

One of the most cherished delusions of the manosphere is that women "hit the wall" (somewhere at the tail end of their twenties), while men go on and on and on, just getting more deliciously seasoned with age.  Apparently, this may not be true.  According to The Daily Mail, the age at which most men become "invisible" to younger women is 39.  Yep, that's the age at which girls begin to perceive men as "father figures." And who wants to be ogled by Daddy? I mean, like, ee-yewww... 

Roosh himself acknowledged recently that the party doesn't go on forever, even for experts of game:

No matter how good your game gets, a 23-year-old girl will have less primal attraction for your 53-year-old self than when you were 33. This suggests that there is definitely a peak for men, and while there is some argument about the exact age, consensus among men I’ve talked to suggests it’s around 43.

43? When I was 23, I thought 30 was plenty older, and 43 downright "old." But perhaps Roosh has a few good years of chasing nubile young poosy before he has to either "settle" or "sponsor a gold-digger" (which, unless he plans to come into an inheritance, he'll be hard-pressed to do on the slender living he ekes out from hawking his wretched little rape manuals). Hope he's making the best of his time in Russia, cuz any way you slice it, Roosh, it's all downhill from here...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sam Healy, Men's Rights Activist

Poor Sam Healy.  The hapless corrections officer on Orange is the New Black, Healy was dissatisfied with his selection of American women, so he married a Ukranian mail order bride, but she soon tired of his lack of sophistication and sparkle, and kicked his sorry ass to the curb. In this episode of Season 2, Healy continues to develop his avuncular role with meth addict/Jesus freak Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett, giving her cookies and hauling out a copy of The End of Men in order to warn her darkly of the "lesbian [feminist?] agenda."