"here are some things that can happen to you if you have a fairly high-trafficked blog, on the Internet, and also are a lady:
# You can be called fat. # You can have someone opine that the reason you write about rape is that you want someone to rape you, because you are so fat. # You can be called a slut and/or fake feminist for looking okay in a sweater, and standing at an angle in which the viewer cannot help but notice that you like many women are in possession of real human lady breasts, and sharing a room once with President Bill Clinton. # You can have an online voting poll in which dudes decide whether they would prefer to bang you or your co-blogger. # You can be called a fake feminist and a hypocrite because clearly you are hot, and wear makeup, and therefore cannot possibly believe that you deserve rights. # You can be the subject of an online game, in the Tucker Max fan forums, in which the goal is to Photoshop your face into the most unflattering possible scenario. # You can be told that the only reason anyone pays attention to you is that you are hot. # You can be the same person, and be told that you are old, disgusting, ugly, and not worthy of attention. # You can have the only existing photo of you online stolen and posted on a BDSM website in a fake personal ad about how you want a man to come along and rough you up to fulfill your “rape fantasies.” # You can have your own hate blog! # You can have the only existing photo of you online stolen, and posted on a hate blog, along with the only existing photo of the lady you do Sexist Beatdown with. One of you will be deemed too ugly to rape; one of you will be deemed rapeable. Which is which? (SPOILER: I was the ugly one. I got off easy.)
And this doesn’t even begin to address your comment section.”
Yes, I’m a feminist. It is an extension of my lifelong war against pantyhose. To me it means that as women we are individuals before we are gendered people and that we’re not defined by our gender except in the ways we chose to appropriate that definition. We’re in a weird generation, right? Our Moms were forced to grapple with that definition more immediately, and I think it’s changed as we’ve grown up. The core issue “how do I fight bias against me because of my gender” is still there but has gotten more complicated and wrapped into all kinds of identity issues about how you present yourself as a woman and I pretty much think it’s your choice and fuck pantyhose.
Femininity is a gender expression. It is not an index of competence; liking frilly dresses and flowers in your hair (or whatever; shows how much I know about it), being a girly girl, has all of zero effect on how good you actually are at stuff. Feminine women write law and change tyres. But currently the way we approach clothing forces the confluence of femininity and incompetence: bags that restrict a hand, shoes you can’t run in, clothes that don’t let you carry things. Massive impracticality is, unfortunately, solidly coded feminine.
"What happens, apparently, is that a dude watches a few too many episodes of Mad Men and reads one too many Raymond Carver stories and takes at least one beer commercial just a bit too seriously, and then he decides to engage in some HISTORICAL RE-ENACTMENTING, buying books with titles like The Retrosexual Manual: How to Be A Real Man, and playing dress-up in his special Don Draper costume that he got at Banana Republic, and getting his hair did at special man-focused man-salons which ensure their manliness by putting Elvis memorabilia all over the place (because women HATED Elvis, duh), and also probably pretending that he likes how scotch tastes and that cigars don’t make him want to barf his rare steaks back up onto his pseudo-vintage-trouser-encased lap, and in all other ways attempting to embody some wacky vision of pre-feminist manhood that, unless he is actually ninety-seven years old, he has only ever seen on TV.”
At first I found myself somewhat offended. In Hey Baby a man says, “Wow, you’re so beautiful,” and that is license to kill him. It should be obvious that a video game in which you play a man who can shoot only women would be culturally unthinkable, no matter the circumstances.
But as I played on, I came to realize that it is equally unrealistic and absurd to suppose that saying, “Thank you, have a great day” is going to defuse and mollify a man who screams in your face, “I want to rape you,” with an epithet added for good measure.
And that is the point of Hey Baby. The men cannot ever actually hurt you, but no matter what you do, they keep on coming, forever. The game never ends. I found myself throwing up my hands and thinking, “Well what am I supposed to do?” Which is, of course, what countless women think every day.
So where is the line between saying “Hey, sweetheart” and “Baby, I could blow your back out”? Is there one?
I doubt any noninteractive art form could have given me as visceral an appreciation for what many women go through as part of their day-to-day lives. Just as I have never been sexually harassed, I have never accosted a strange woman on the street. After playing Hey Baby, I’m certainly not about to start.
"Our psyches have been warped to focus on pleasing rather than establishing our own pleasure. This isn’t just about sex. This is about constantly being a compliant caretaker, or doing the emotional work to keep a relationship working smoothly, of anticipating desires.
I was thinking earlier this week about the psychological effect that performing femininity must have of women, because in its purest form, it is not only humiliating, but kind of disturbing. I am thinking specifically of two videos that are getting a lot of attention, which present performances of femininity by people that are not adult women. One is deemed to be hilarious, the other disturbing.”