Oct 8, 2019
I Am Mad About A Thing: A Sneak Preview
[Content Note: Welcome to the inaugural post of my new series, I Am Mad About A Thing, in which, as the most astute of readers may have surmised, I string words together to express to you, in ways that hopefully will entertain and delight you, and if not, well, go fuck yourself, I wasn’t talking to you anyway, that I Am Mad About A ThingTM. I am not even supposed to start being Mad About A Thing until I return from my vacation, but I am so Mad About A Thing that I have interrupted my vacation to be Mad About A Thing, so my second column will probably be about how mad I am about that time I interrupted my vacation to be Mad About A Thing.]
Ugh. Ewww. Arggh. Grrrr. Other onomatopoeic expressions of disgust because I Am Mad About A Thing, and it is this thing I read by Very Serious Feminist Melissa McEwan, who is a Very Serious Feminist who writes Very Serious Things about Feminism.
It starts like this:
Content Note: Policing; emotional auditing; projection; heterocentrism; disablist language; misogyny.
I don’t know about you, but I am already sooooooooo ready to be sooooooooo Mad About A Thing, and I don’t even know what the thing is yet! Let us brace ourselves for the -ists and -isms ahead:
This “Frisky Rant” in which the writer, Sara Benincasa, splutters bile at women who brag about their husbands on Facebook, is one of the most strangely hostile things I’ve read in awhile.
Wait, Sara Benincasa? Our Sara Benincasa? The delightfully delicious new editor of this here blog, who is funny and fun, is somehow guilty of writing what McEwan labels “so the worst thing you’re going to read all day,” and it is this funny and fun post called Please Stop Bragging About Your Husband On Facebook?
Oh, I Am Mad About A Thing, all right.
First of all, I am mad that McEwan — who regularly insists, on her blog and also on The Twitters, that you must never, ever co-opt another woman’s telling of her experience for your own exploitative purposes by writing about her without linking to her words, but only after you receive her explicit permission — uses a “do not link” link to link to a cross-post instead of the actual, original interweb location of Sara’s words, which are right here, you’re welcome. (And no, McEwan did not seek Sara’s permission to do-not-link link to, let alone discuss, Sara’s words about her own MyFacePlace experience.) Links and credit for thee but not for me, I guess. So feminist! Many sisterhood!
In case you missed it — and shame on you if you did, you should go read it as soon as I’m done with you — Sara wrote about those friends some of us — but not all of us! — have on the internets who are always bragging about their “hubbies” being the most bestest, and how some of us — but not all of us! — roll our eyes and wish there were a “Don’t Like” button because we are not all that impressed that your spouse “exchanged paper money for shiny baubles or, I don’t know, fixed the shower head.” Sara expressed her personal opinion about her personal observations based on personal experience, which is a thing we are supposed to applaud women for doing because an important part of feminism is encouraging women to Speak Out! and Share Our Stories! and refuse to be policed and emotionally audited (whatever the hell that means; I don’t know, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know).
However, all of that apparently does not apply to those women whose stories do not support the (I kid you not) 22,000-word definition of Feminism, according to McEwan. Here is Sara, policing and emotional auditing and projection-ing and heterocentrism-ing and disablist language-ing and misogyny-ing:
Ultimately, hypercompetitive wives freak me out because they are boring and empty, and boring and empty people are dangerous. They are dangerous because when they open their mouths at parties I die a little inside and fear I may pop a blood vessel from the strain of not rolling my eyes. If the most fascinating thing you’ve done in your life is get married, I am sorry for you and sad that you do not have a better and more exciting life. I recognize that it’s very nice indeed to meet the love of your life and get hitched (this is great!) but when it is the only interesting thing about you, you are not very interesting at all.
Your experience may differ, and good for you if it does. Luckily, Sara didn’t claim that she was speaking for #YesAllWomen, because really, only some kind of smug, self-righteous, narcissistic, gender-neutral asshole who thinks their understanding of the world is the only understanding that matters would do such a thing. Ahem. But to McEwan, Sara is guilty of “spluttering bile” and perpetuating a “misogynist narrative” and “needs more feminist friends” because Sara’s Facebook experience does not mirror McEwan’s Facebook experience, and is therefore bad and wrong, and Sara is bad and wrong.
Also, at least among my friends, most of the male-partnered women with whom I’m friends tend to happy share about their partners in ways that undermine, rather than reinforce, patriarchal norms. Like: He’s so great for being so supportive of my work, or he’s such a nurturing parent, etc.
Maybe Sara does need to get herself some better feminist friends who brag about their husbands in the appropriately feminist way, who don’t just say “my hubby’s so great, he changed a diaper!” but instead “my hubby’s so great, he changed a diaper — for feminism!” See the difference?
As for the claim that Sara’s post uses “disablist language,” well, I’m not sure I have words for that, so just insert eyeroll here. Unless being married is some kind of disability? (Actually, some of us — but not all of us! — who have been married might actually agree with that, so yeah, screw you, Sara Benincasa, for using words like “hubby” and “wife” and “married” and “the.”)
Anyway. The real reason I am mad — other than the obvious: I am awake, and it’s a day that ends in “y” — is because McEwan uses some pretty nasty words, or, as one might say, “splutters bile,” at Sara because she dared to write a funny-because-it’s-true-for-some-but-not-ALL-of-us observation about a thing. McEwan is world-famous in her corner of the internet for being a Very Serious Feminist (22,000 words, fer crissake!), and it sure seems like she’s engaging in exactly the sort of behavior she’s the world’s greatest champion against. (Ugh, what a horribly written sentence. See how Mad About A Thing I am? I can’t even make words good.)
If part of being a feminist means not “policing” the experience of other women, then Jesus Heterocentrist Christ, maybe McEwan should take a nice big swig of her own medicine and consider the possibility that her experience on MyFacePlace is not the definitive MyFacePlace experience, and seriously, who in the wide wide world of sports does she think she is to dictate to another woman how she should experience the internet or what kinds of friends she should have or that her reaction to something is the wrong reaction and therefore “emotional auditing”? (Yeah. Still no idea what the hell that means, but I’m pretty sure bloggess needs to heal thyself.)
Anyway, anyhoo, and whatevs. Because I have a bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies, I know there are many different kinds of feminism, which is why I would never write 22,000 words telling you that there is One True Feminism and It Is Mine. If you want to be the kind of feminist who can’t even enjoy a good chuckle at some of the silliness of Facebook, well, knock yourself out, sister, I guess (but not in a misogynistic way that normalizes violence against women and perpetuates an oh my god, I don’t even want to finish that thought, it’s just a joke, can we please be allowed to be feminists and make jokes once in a while? Hahahaha, I am just kidding of course we can’t, DON’T BE RIDICULOSE.).
We don’t have to all agree about every damn thing in the name of Feminism or Being A Woman. However, when your whole damned raison d’être is advocating for women’s voices and not dismissing their experiences, perhaps you shouldn’t be quite so quick to dismiss a woman’s experience by summarizing it oh-so-snidely as “some women are such stupid bitches, amirite?”
Well, you may be “rite,” but Sara would never call her fellow womyn stupid bitches. She’s a lady like that.