I watch as they call him Father, this scrawny tattooed man who has made a career out of humiliating and exposing women for sport. I watch as they follow him blindly, both men and women, most of them young and stupid, like lost sheep looking for a religion. I watch as they vie for his attention, exposing themselves; women send him pictures of their naked bodies, men egging them on, fervently worshiping him.
I watch as She is retweeted by him, this little lost girl living somewhere in the bible belt, blonde and pretty, a young mother, really, with pictures of her barely one year old child on her profile next to the picture of her bare asshole that she sent to the Father. I watch as She basks in the attention the Father grants her, watch as the wolves descend. I watch, already knowing what’s coming. I doesn’t take too long. She indulges them at first, loving the attention, her moment of fame. Then when the attention gets to be too much, tinged with a touch of violence, she ignores them and quietly, sets her profile on private. Then I watch as she deletes it, quietly, without fanfare, leaving the ghost of her messages. The cult still remains.
The Misogynist and the Feminist
When I tell people about my background I feel that they don’t really listen, so that when they ugliest part of my character appear, they are always shocked, and I’m forced to go, see? I warned you. I was very clear. And yet, they still somehow don’t get that I am so wary of being manipulated that with me, it’s full disclosure or nothing. I am paranoid. I am anxious, coupled with a Sociology degree and a background in Child Protection Services (really, a detective for families) and you will find that I will hang out to every word, every nuance and omission. Thankfully, my friends are incredibly patient, and while I drive them nuts with my suspicions, they love me enough to sit down and explain things to me, or simply tell me to calm the fuck down.
I once had a friend, frustrated, scold me about this. Just because you’re trained to find pedophiles and rapists, he said to me, doesn’t mean everyone is a potential pedophile or rapist.
Are you sure?
I started following the Father after an attempt at online dating. I met this big-eyed boy, let’s call him Manny, with lips to die for and a dirty talker to boot. And oh man, am I a sucker for a dirty talker. Manny and I had been texting for a couple of weeks, but I had yet to hear his voice or see him in person. Any attempt at solidifying the person separately from the online persona I made yielded no result. Whenever I brought up the topic he deflected or ignored my messages altogether. Oh, I was in the shower, he would reply. I was sleeping. I’m dying to meet you too, but no actual, real attempt at seeing me in person, and this, of course, sent up major red flags.
It was during one of these attempts at contact that I decided to do a search on Manny. When we first started speaking he’d given me his name, but it was too generic and it yielded no results. Then a light bulb went off: search his screen name. With that I found twitter accounts, a website, vine, tumblr, even a resume. He told me he had no online links to share. He had also given me a false last name. He had lied. And I don’t take very well to being lied to.
Still, Manny didn’t take too kindly to my detective work. He called me crazy, called me a stalker, told me I was feeble-minded and needy. And then he boasted: what did I find, really? Information that was lying all over the internet. I wasn’t that clever. Find my MySpace password, he taunted, that would be more useful. The irony struck me. This man who accused me of crossing boundaries and stalking behavior when all I wanted was to know the person I had been talking to, here he was suggesting better ways for me to stalk him. I had asked him repeatedly for a phone call. I told him that I needed to hear his voice. Listen to his tone. Still, he avoided it.
And then I saw his lust for the Father.
The Lost Boys
Everything about me says Girl. Most about me says feminist. The label is prominently displayed on all my online profiles and it is where my passion lies. No, I do not hate men. That is a myth. There is a quote that says something along the lines of, the best way to disenfranchise a group is to delegitimize their message. I know too many incredible women who are too afraid to identify themselves as feminists for fear of being labeled man-hating dykes. I am not one of them. I am as confident in my femininity as I am in my beliefs. Doesn’t hurt that I’ve got the genetics to back it up. Still, I learned at a very early age that I was much more intelligent and talented than the men who tried to boss me around or use me simply because they were male.
I do not hate men. In fact, I pity them. I feel sorry for my boys. I know way too many single, lonely, overgrown boys with a sense of entitlement a mile long who cannot fathom why women won’t come near them. But I’m a nice guy, they’ll say. And I’ll groan. Last guy who said this to me did so while repeatedly dipping his bare fingers in a communal bowl of chilli dip at a party. I don’t get it, he said, smacking his lips, licking his fingers, and dipping them again shamelessly. I stood there frozen, staring as his face. I knew for a fact that he hadn’t showered in the past 48 hours. And I was embarrassed for him. I just don’t get you girls, he said, licking his fingers again.
You’re all crazy.
I’m a girl’s girl who also hangs with the boys. In many ways, I am bilingual. The relationships I have with my girl friends are deep are complex, multi-layered, sometimes frustrating and passive-aggressive but unquestionably worth it and amazing. I’m also no stranger of being the only girl in the room.
I call them the lost boys, boys who have yet to grow up, who are afraid of women, who don’t really know how to socialize so that are left alone, baffled, as to why their attempts have failed. I try to help them. It’s the social worker in me, the do-gooder. Maybe, teaching a man how to be in a relationship, during a relationship, is a mistake. Maybe doing it as a friend would work better. But this has massively blown up in my face every single time. Too stubborn, too self-involved. To wrapped up in their own reality to be truly self-actualized. I’ve tried to help boys who are convinced that women are nags and it ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. It doesn’t matter what I’ve done to try to help my boys, they are set in their ways.
Once, a friend told me a story about a girl he dated. The Dime Piece, he called her, never giving me her name. He told me how she kept trying to change him, buying clothes to wear. He told me this story while loudly proclaiming that no woman would ever change him.
And before I could help myself, I blurted out: But you’re not that great to begin with.
I haven’t heard from him since.
Every generation seems to have one: a Joel Francis, a Hugh Heffner. But the misogyny and pure disdain for women seems much more palpable in every new incantation. I don’t know, maybe I’m looking back with nostalgia tinted glasses. After all, I wasn’t alive in the 60s, during the time when Playboy ruled the world. But I have heard hushed stories about Bunnies being subjected to pap smears as a requirement to work.
The Father is nothing new. He is a parasite, the kind of man that will fuck you and call you a disgusting stank and mean it, wholeheartedly, and probably thinks he’s doing you a favor by giving you his honest assessment of your value.
Shouldn’t there be laws against this? If drunks and nicotine addicts get taxed for only hurting themselves, shouldn’t there be a tax for those who make the world a little bit worse just by existing?
And it makes me wonder, if there is so much money and fame from exploiting women, is it time, then, for us to unionize and just exploit ourselves? Control our own images and stop signing over control to these over-hyped middlemen who have little talent beyond testosterone?
It’s all a fantasy
I’m doubting myself again. I wonder if I was too harsh with Manny, if maybe I should’ve been more patient. This is what men like him do: breed doubt. They live in ambiguity: never confirming or denying anything, lying by omission, qualifying. I remind myself that he lied to me about his name. I remind myself of all the red flags, of the one video he sent me that wasn’t even for me. In my fervor to get to know him I asked him to send me a video just saying hello. He’d made a mistake however and sent me a video of a friend first. I knew what that meant, even then, but I wanted to ignore it and believe otherwise. The video he had sent me wasn’t made for me, it was sitting in his files. He was playing with me and was being lazy about it, using cut and paste.
Still, I can’t help myself, and I search him again for some indication either way. I find an outdated resume with pictures. He’s sporting a different look: suit jacket, button down shirt and spiky hair, a far cry from the emo kid vibe he’s currently sporting. Although the picture quality is bad, On his left hand I see a wedding ring prominently displayed.
I close my laptop and rub my eyes. He is not my responsibility. Not at all.