Ask three women that you know if they’re ever been stalked, sexually assaulted or violently threatened by a man. I don’t need to bet money to know you’ll get a yes from one of those women. Too lazy to ask anyone? That’s okay, I’ll fill in the blanks for you. I’ll raise my hand for all three.
Are you laughing at me? Is this so hilarious that you’re clearing the latte out of your nose right now? If this is you, I’m guessing you work for the New York Times. On saturday, the venrable institution that brings the world “all the news that’s fit to print” ran a piece that finished with a real kicker — a hee-larry-ous puff writeup (loaded with inaccuracies) about a blog written by a man who virulently hates a female tech journalist, and writes in detail *several* times a day including his violent fantasies about her, and her family (who he names). The NYT, big fans of newsworthy items like this, gave the site a nice fat pat on the back in the form of a link, and a buddy-buddy reacharound by making light of the site’s content, even going so far as to say the writer had an affable “Comic Book Guy” tone. As if he were some loveable-but-rascally cad, you know — just one of the guys having a good prank on someone’s uppity female intern.
Of course, the site was xenisucks — if you read Boing Boing, you likely saw Xeni’s post to it last week, which I felt was the most graceful thing one of us female writers has done with something like this, to date. Her response was eloquent and dignified. Mine would have been a fantasy involving a lethal machine and a clip of 2×4′s, but that’s just me. But what happened in the NYT wasn’t just good-old-boys’ ignorance about a pathological hate site, it was malice.
This is what the New York Times has rewarded with lighthearted puffery and back-slapping, and the gift of a link from the NYT site. Because pathological hatred of women is not *just* goddamn funny, it’s news that’s fit to print.
Why this is okay is completely beyond me. What’s obvious is that it’s patently okay to express hostility at women, for commentors to joke about when your pals have corpse fucking fantasies about them, and that it’s an important component of culture worth preserving — and defending.
Men like this do this because they want us out of their world. Every female tech and sex writer I have contact with knows this. But what’s really scary with the xenisucks fucker, and his pal at the Times, is that the line between fantasy and reality has been acknowledged, and crossed, publicly — and the Times *made it okay*. It’s one thing to have a fantasy about what you’d do to someone you despise, and it’s another thing entirely to act on it. This man has acted on his emotional hatred, continues to act on it, and has now been rewarded by his peers. I’ll bet cash money that if someone did a little poking around into his social history, we’d discover that this isn’t the first time he’s done this to a woman. It’s indicative of a pattern. But now that he’s acted on it and his buddies have high-fived him in print, it’s essential that we ask where this road leads. This type of pathological, psychotic behavior isn’t a pastiche of a parody between witers; it’s a big red flag. Women around him should be worried. People who work with him should be acutely aware that they’ve got someone on their hands who doesn’t know the difference between fantasy hatred and reality hatred — and that a bad trigger for him could impact them directly. Anyone who cares about this guy should be worried about his mental state, which is a ticking time bomb of pathos. And most importantly, local police and FBI should be watching this guy really closely. This isn’t fanfic; this is psychotic.
Unfortunately, the New York Times thinks it’s cool to reinforce that men like this can hurt us more than we can hurt them. They gave him a fucking *cookie* and patted him on the head. They’re joking, and we’re not laughing. We’re not talking about a lack of social skills here, we’re talking about a desire to destroy. Men like this hate women like me (I’m on his stupid blog, too) and want us obliterated because we are the enemy. Something like xenisucks and the NYT support lent to its corpse fucking fantasies by Dan Mitchell would never happen to a man, because it wouldn’t make sense. But for some reason, men like this feel validated on their core level by being hateful toward women, and joking about it like it’s okay.
This is the same kind of pschopathology that lurks behind the man who beats up the guy who just sucked him off; a horribly familiar stereotype that Patrick Califia wrote about in the Best Sex Writing 2005 essay “Sex With The Imperfect Stranger” saying, “This strategy relies on widespread social acceptance of the belief that this is what straight men are supposed to do when their heterosexual identities are threatened. They are supposed to murder in defense of their masculinity. Because if one of them doesn’t do this, if he does not violently repudiate the possibility that he found it pleasurable to have sexual contact with someone who was not born female, then he must be queer himself.” In these situations Califia tells us, “The victim in such cases is usually deliberately sought out by the attackers, hunted down and intimidated, battered or slaughtered. Violence against sexual minority people is a sport.” A female writer like Xeni is in a man’s world. So am I, and Annalee Newitz, and a few others. We are not asking anyone to like us, but we seem to be inviting a certain kind of male hate.
But we belong here, too.
Well, Matthew Neal Sharp and his “commentors” can write all the corpse fucking fantasies about me he wants. The first time I held a gun on a man in self-defense I was 13 years old. *He* did not rape me. When I was 21, a guy in my local arts community made friends with all my friends, moved into a house next to mine, then proceeded to break into my room when I was out and took things, like my artwork, my underwear, and he’d even leave me notes. Then he started telling my friends that I owed him money — and most of my male friends believed him, and told him my whereabouts regularly. He was an outspoken gun owner, and I fled town in the middle of the night. He followed me across three states, finding out from my “friends” where I was going by telling them the “she owes me money” line. I was visited by the police, who knew he’d been stalking me, but couldn’t do anything about it until something happened. I filed a restraining order and they served it personally. He was finally stopped when he got caught doing armed robbery in drag, and went to jail. This is how our system works.
I sincerely hope that if Matthew Neal Sharp or the New York Times writer Dan Mitchell ever visit San Francisco, someone lets me know. I am absolutely NOT afraid of them. But they should be, of me.