I’ve written before about misogyny on my old blog. Along with racism, it’s one of the scourges of our modern times. Just as many racists will swear up and down they aren’t racist, many men can’t see their misogyny when it’s out there on display. People seem to lack the self-awareness to consider how they are presenting themselves. Many men, in particular, seem to have an attitude that their position is the only position and the way things should be.
I’ve made it a point the last 3 years or so to stay out of online debates. Not only is it better for my mental health, there just isn’t a point to it any more. When certain people are confronted with facts they don’t like, they say its all a conspiracy and only they and a few “enlightened” others know the “real truth.” This “truth” usually consists of videos from the likes of Alex Jones on YouTube. There’s no point in having a discussion with someone like that. For the most part, I’ve purged people like this from my life. It’s not that I need an echo chamber. I’m very willing to change my opinion when presented with facts, not the rantings of lunatics.
One of my Disney groups is a fairly close-knit group. Many of us have known each other 20-25 years, both online and in person. We go to great lengths to keep politics out of this group (unlike the old Usenet days where it was pretty much anything goes). Last week we entered into a discussion about Disney requiring masks at the parks once they reopen. The thread was up for two days before it went sideways. It went sideways due to one person, his politics, and his misogyny.
This is the beginning of it going sideways. I’m the first person to admit I don’t like the idea of wearing a mask everywhere. I bought a bunch of neck gaiters that are lightweight enough that it doesn’t make me feel claustrophobic and I can breathe. I wear them as a courtesy to other people more than anything else. I totally respect people who want to wear masks in public and don’t chide them for it – I’m usually among them except when I’m outside hiking, walking, driving, or just around my house. It’s a fact that people are dying from Corona Virus and we have no idea how many ways it’s transmitted.
The first issue here is he’s ready to throw grandma and grandpa under the bus. Who cares if it’s only people in nursing homes dying (and the people who work there, I guess)? It’s all a political thing. Because yes, every country around the world is locking people down as a political ploy for the U.S. (that was sarcasm). The other, as someone points out, is that if Disney says to wear them, much like stores, people will have to wear them. They are a private enterprise and can do what they want. These are all women he is responding to – professional women with high-profile careers, some in medicine.
And here comes the good part. The person who started the discussion apologized, knowing we go to great lengths to avoid political discussion. I pointed out that she had nothing to apologize for – only one person was making it political. He immediately feels the need to jump into the discussion I am having with her and defend himself. At no time before this did I engage him in the discussion. Two days before he started his ranting, I posted in the discussion my feelings on the issue and there was no debate, no political musings at the time.’
He is bringing right-wing fringe politics into the discussion, so I say he’s wearing a tin-foil hat. Immediately he uses words like “emotional” and “insulting”. There was nothing emotional at all in the conversation, but hey, I’m a woman. And I’m insulting him, but he’s the one who has been calling people who wear masks in public “living in fear.” Saying a woman is “emotional” and needs to “calm down” are typical of misogynists in conversations on the internet. He then turns it that I was targeting him, when he jumped into the thread between myself and someone else-gaslighting 101. He also tries me to get involved in his original debate, which I have no desire to discuss with him. I’m only there because I supported a friend. And note, the angry emojis are from another man in the group.
So now I challenged on why he thinks he has the authority to tell me to go away. I’m commenting to my friend, he jumps in, then thinks he can dismiss me when he wants to. He states that in the last comment above – he has the authority to tell people to go away. I made the discussion about me, when I did no such thing. Again, it’s like a neon sign of misogyny. I’m not even discussing the topic with him – I have no desire to. I’m attacking him (according to him), but his responses to other women in the thread aren’t attacking. I’m abusive to him (again, according to him) but his treatment of the women he responded to is worse and he doesn’t consider that abusive (I don’t either, but he’s the one that decided to bring up the term “abuse”). Another professional women chime in that he is the one who made it political – no one else was. At this point I am more amused than anything. His misogyny is so blatant and he’s patting himself on the back. In the old days I would have said he was just a troll looking for trouble, but this is a closed group and we’ve all been around for some time. My response is to let him keep talking and he’ll bury himself, because that’s exactly what he keeps doing.
Another person chimes in to own his bringing the politics in and his misogyny, but he’s oblivious or trolling. I tend to think he’s oblivious. Now he says I’m offended. I never said I was offended anywhere. I called him out a little on his misogyny, which is quite evident at this point. In fact, he made several misogynistic comments before I called him on it. I’m not offended by it; as I state, it speaks more about his character than anything else. It’s one of those things when you see it in someone, especially a passing acquaintance, you file it away for future reference. I’d have to care about his opinion to be offended by it. He’s gaslighting again where he says I’m not included in the conversation, but he clearly responded to the conversation I was having with a friend at the beginning. I call him out on everything in my next comment. I was reading on my kindle that evening, and every time he tagged me in his response, I was getting a notification and was getting a little annoyed at that. I knew he needed to have the last word, so he could say I walked away in the face of his superiority. I wasn’t giving him that. I was going for a “Handmaid’s Tale” image with my last comment. Didn’t quite achieve that, unfortunately.
Yeah, I admit I missed the mark with that comment. Oh well. Still, he takes the bait and again thinks he has the authority to tell me to go away and actually says here I’m not obeying him. Well, I guess we know his attitude to women now. No denying it. He tries to make it out that I’m a newcomer to the group and he’s been around a long time. I talked to my friend in the thread the next day, and she said she has no idea who he is, despite his claim otherwise. Me, I let him know I’ve been a part of the group for quite some time. He should have known that if he was around that long. Another woman, who he dismissed earlier, chimes in with her own credentials. Some of the smartest people I know only have high school educations and some of the most stupid graduated college. His credentials mean nothing as he falls into the latter category.
His first comment is to me, his second is to the nurse that responded in the last section. When confronted with someone who is in the medical field, he dismisses her, and he doesn’t consider that abusive or insulting I guess, because women have to defer to him. He tries again to engage me in his original argument and I want no part of it. He’s shown his true colors and in that little place in my brain where I file assessments of people’s characters, his is solidly someone whose opinions I do not value. He can’t handle that I don’t want to argue with him and continually comes back to try and engage me and have the last word. Maybe it’s petty, but I’m not giving on that.
I never wanted to discuss the topic with him – I think I made that pretty clear. He thinks he’s dumbing things down for me? Again, the misogyny that any woman who doesn’t want to talk to him on an intellectual level must be his inferior. No, I just think he’s an idiot and a legend in his own mind. But I let him keep going and dig his own grave with everyone else in the group who was reading along. He thinks he’s in control of the group and of this thread somehow and has the right to call the shots.
At this point, I’m starting to plan this blog post.
At this point he finally stops commenting. Whether it’s because other people are commenting about his behavior and he has a moment of self-actualization, finally understands I’m not going to let him have the last word, or is banned from the group, I’m not sure. These last two responses are from two educated professional women who see his behavior for what it is.
It was an interesting exchange on a Saturday night. I don’t think I’d ever experienced such blatant misogyny where I didn’t think someone was simply trolling for attention and responses. If it wasn’t for the fact that we are a closed group of people who have known each other for so long, I would have dismissed him as a bot trolling for attention and responses early on. What’s scary is there are so many people like him out there.