Gender Bender: A Look at Modern Misogyny
March 8 marks International Women’s Day, and we’ve come a long way, baby – or have we? Here, a look at modern misogyny …
When I was hired as a columnist in the late ’90s, the message on my answering machine. “You’ve got the job,” said my new boss, “even though you didn’t put out.”
The newspaper’s offices were out in the sticks, so we had met at a downtown restaurant for a drink and interview the evening before. I’d pitched him on why I was ideal for the position; he’d agreed. Then he got drunk and wrapped things up by attempting to paw me in a taxi. I gamely fended him off until I was able to leap out at my address, deploying the nuanced rebuff with which women in this situation are all too familiar – the one where your disinterest is conveyed but in a jovial manner that won’t offend the man who’s offending you. After all, you do want the job.
Jerks on the loose in their private lives? I’m old enough not to be surprised. That women in the 21st century – navigating office hard-ons and “hate f***” asides – are told they are responsible for a male colleague’s arrant sexual entitlement stuns me.
Raised by a Ms. Magazine subscriber in the most liberal of Canadian milieus, I thought we were over this garbage by the ’90s. Or, assuming men now “knew better” that, at the very least, we’d moved passed its more boorish articulations. Instead, decades after women fought for equal rights at work, we’re circling back. We may now have legislation on our side, but a familiar dynamic, only more vulgar, has insinuated itself. It’s helped along, as usual, in that women don’t want to be “difficult,” branded the office harridan or impede their professional advancement by making a “fuss.” Coddled by this convenient silence, (some) men feel free to behave badly. There’s nothing new in this stale equation, the question is: what’s at the root of this prickly brand of post-modern misogyny?
Discussing the recent, well-documented wave of Flintstone gender politics with friends, one demurred with, “I think if you asked a secretary from the ’60s, she’d say it was worse then.” Most pointed to social media. “It’s the CNN effect,” offered a university professor. “Things aren’t worse – they just seem worse because we hear about everything now.”
Last May, CityNews on-air correspondent Shauna Hunt was treated to the sport’s world’s fun new lark: men screaming “F*** her right in the p****!” as a female reporter broadcasts live from a game – an affront so popular that it enjoys its own meme: #FHRITP. Covering the Toronto FC’s opening soccer match while a man shouted the vulgar epithet at her, Hunt turned the camera to confront him, coolly inquiring how his “mother would feel if she saw him talking like that.”
The moron’s equally boorish companion, Shawn Simoes, informing Hunt – on air – that she was “lucky” they didn’t have a “f***ing vibrator” while dismissing his pal’s vulgar inventive as “f***ing hilarious.”
A civil servant, Simoes was summarily fired from his job at Hydro One – before the government-owned utilities corporationwas forced to reinstate him to his $100,000-plus post after he took his case to arbitration. A verdict his female coworkers could only have been thrilled with – another victory for the doucheoisie.
One might look to Marc Lépine, who massacred 14 women at Montreal’s École Polytechnique in 1989 while shrieking “I hate feminists!” to make the case that lady-hating lunatics are nothing new. But that was a different era and set of circumstances. Lépine was born Gamil Gharbi to a first-generation Algerian immigrant who – lugging some Old-World baggage that included noxious views about women – beat his wife while insisting she exhibit no affection toward their son, whom he also abused, before abandoning both when the boy was seven.
Armed with an aberrant gender perspective earned at his father’s knee, Lépine would nonetheless have had some trouble locating a bustling like-minded peer group back in the ’80s, while, today, any man who thinks violence toward women is a righteous, even sexy, idea merely requires a Wi-Fi connection to drum up a global support team where thousands of anonymous allies urge each other on in a porn- and vitriol-soaked vacuum.
We’ve come a long way, baby.
In the mid-century, we had male chauvinism (“the belief that men are superior to women”) with all the glass ceiling pats on the ass and maddening paternalism that came with it. Now we have Postmodern Misogyny (“the hatred of women”), a spikier class of assumed supremacy embraced by the sort of men who, maladapting in an era of gender parity, react poorly to the “pressure.” They then recoil into Internet-enriched delusions, incapable of assessing their own conduct.
In 2014, “dating coach” Julien Blanc caused a media maelstrom when an online video appeared of him in Japan, encouraging men to grab random women by the neck and shove their faces into their groins. “In Tokyo,” schooled Blanc, “if you’re a white male, you can do whatever you want.” Blanc is a disciple of Real Social Dynamics (RSD), cofounded by Canadian Owen Cook, whose company runs $2,000 three-day boot camps on how to pick up women. Tips include dealing with females who are “not in the mood” (“throw her on the bed”). The RSD corps also includes California-based executive coach, Jeff Allen, who tools around San Francisco in his vibrantly painted self-proclaimed “rape van.” This is a multi-million dollar a year business.
When Elliot Rodger snapped, he drove to a sorority – as he wrote in his infamous manifesto before slaughtering half a dozen people – to give the “female gender one last chance to provide me with the pleasures I deserved from them.” Gee, wonder where he got ideas like that between free 24-hour Internet porn, the culture pushed by machismo goon squads like RSD and the bitch-conspiracy theories that fuel the emerging Men’s Rights movement?
Employing the same backward logic as “white rights” factions, the central forum for “male empowerment” is the site A Voice for Men, a website flagged as a ‘hate site’ by Norton Symantec’s virus software in 2013. The site hawks Feminists Are Stupid T-shirts and Femi-Nazi posters that co-opt Third Reich imagery. Advancing from whining online to hosting public symposiums, the organization held its first conference in 2014 to dismiss rape and place blame for domestic assault on women.