Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Return of the Angry Feminist

Next weekend is my birthday. It will also be another anniversary--one year since the morning I was bored at work, Googling myself, and came across the Angry Feminist, who had blogged a couple times in response to my essays in Dialogue and once in response to mine and FoxyJ's appearance in the Salt Lake Tribune. The gist of her blog posts was that I am a misogynist because I dared to marry a woman and that Foxy is a stupid brainwashed cow because she married a gay man. I had come across quite a few tactless comments about us on the internet before then, but these attacks by the Angry Feminist were colder, more thought out, and more personal than any of the others. This was clearly a woman who had issues with me, and I'd never even heard of her. I commented on her blog in my defense, and it all went downhill from there.

I would feel bad about caricaturing this woman with an offhand blogonym like "the Angry Feminist," but truthfully she fell into the realm of self-parody when she started using stock phrases from her 1963 edition of The Angry Feminist Handbook like "male defender of patriarchy." That and, believe me, there are much worse things I could call her (and believe me, I do).

I spent much of the months following my discovery of her attacks and our ensuing comment war trying to figure out why I was so bothered by this random stranger's critique of me. Seriously, even now, a year later, my hands get shaky just thinking about it.

Tolkien Boy suggested at one point that perhaps I reacted so violently because somewhere deep inside me I believed her accusations. Was it possible that I believed I really was a misogynist? It would make for a nice, tidy explanation, but the more I thought about it the more I knew it wasn't true. My parents divorced when I was four and my brother went to live with my father when I was nine, leaving me with my mom and various combinations of my five older sisters, so I was basically raised by women. I have long believed in feminist ideals of equality and subversion of the status quo--though admittedly not so much in feminist ideals of Men Are Evil Scumbags and Should Be Subjugated To Make Up For Centuries of [their ancestors'] Male Aggression, but then most feminists nowadays are more rational than that. I wouldn't call myself a literary feminist because I haven't researched the theories beyond the representative excerpts found in the textbooks read by the average English major, but when push comes to shove I have always identified with--and defended--the feminine experience more than the masculine. It comes with the territory of being a gay man in what is still largely (and unfortunately) a straight man's world.

I concluded eventually that what threatened me about the Angry Feminist's accusations was that what she called misogyny I saw as narcissism. Yes, to be honest, I do all too often think of my needs before I think of Foxy's; but it has nothing to do with the fact that she's a woman and everything to do with the fact that she's not me. And I really don't like that about myself, so I'm not crazy about being called on it.

And then there's the fact that many of the Angry Feminist's arguments were so inherently illogical, which drove me crazy. She accused me, for example, of invoking the name of feminism in my essays without first doing my research. But see, the only thing I mentioned--and briefly, at that--was "women's liberation movements," which Angry Feminist snarkily pointed out to me is not the same as feminism, as if I were the one to equate the two. And then she had the gall to make all sorts of wacky accusations about me based on assumptions she was pulling out of her butt, rather than doing her own research. I mean, we're talking about really basic stuff here, facts I even mentioned to her, like that I was no longer Mormon, and yet she persisted in saying that I was benefiting from the patriarchal system of the Mormon priesthood and making bad jokes about me getting my temple garments all twisted in a knot. Or her equally bad joke about me living in Orem in order to be around closed-minded people like myself, when a cursory glance at my blog (which was linked from every comment I made on her blog, and sported a picture of Seattle's skyline at the time, in addition to the location prominently displayed under my name) would have told her otherwise. How dare you accuse me of not doing my research, you lazy snob?

What really bugged me, though, and it bothers me that it's taken me nearly a year to consciously recognize this, is that on top of her attacks on my character, she was attacking one of the most important people to me and attempting to strip her of what makes her who she is. Suggesting that only a stupid cow brainwashed by religion would marry a gay man is not only incredibly insulting (and, by the way, misogynistic), it's simply untrue. Foxy has a master's degree in Spanish and is currently applying to (and will probably be accepted by) PhD programs at Oregon, Davis, and Berkeley. She presents papers at feminist conferences on women's literature. She's brought to light, through her translation work, obscure Renaissance women's writings. Sure, Angry Feminist, if you bothered to learn any of this you could claim that these are all superficial signs of intelligence, that any idiot can get a degree. If that's the case, though, I'm afraid you've lost the only proof of your intelligence, as it sure doesn't show in your rational thinking skills.

So at any rate, I wasn't too happy this afternoon when FoxyJ told me that the latest issue of Sunstone Magazine has an article written by the Angry Feminist and which appears to be an adaptation of her presentation at last year's Sunstone Symposium, which by the way was dedicated to insulting me and Foxy. We'll find out when we get our copy, but I'm hoping that someone on the editorial board at Sunstone had the class to say, "Hey, Ms. Feminist, you've got some interesting ideas here, but slander really isn't in our mission statement, so could you maybe cut back on the haterism? Because honestly, redirecting the anger you have toward your gay ex-fiance at some other guy, then dressing it up in the rhetoric of literary feminism, does not equal scholarship. And it's not very empowering to women."

We can only hope. If that's not the case, you'll hear more from me--and FoxyJ, who has been publicly silent about this all so far, but is just as pissed off as I am.

8 comments:

Mr. Fob said...

PS

I intentionally did not link to AF's blog. If you're really curious, it thrills her to see people find her by Googling "Ben Christensen misogynist"; in her wacky little brain, that validates her arguments. Do me a favor, though, and don't beat the dead horse by commenting on those posts. It's been said and done, and I don't feel like reviving the war (any more than I've done so by posting this).

FoxyJ said...

I've also been publicly silent because PhD applications are a lot of work, plus I have a class to teach and a child who destroys things if I even think about using the computer while he's awake...

ambrosia ananas said...

Yeeesh. I really hope she toned it down in her article, because she's not doing feminism any favors with her vitriolic rants. I'm surprised that she was even published--she seems a smart woman, but her thesis of men = evil (sub-topic women who like men = stupid and subservient) undermines the whole intelligence thing. You can't have a reasonable discussion with someone operating on those assumptions.

(Also, I'm sorry about the Googling.)

Mr. Fob said...

No need to apologize, Brozy. I thought it was funny that she chose to interpret the stats that way when it was obvious you used the search phrase to find her because of its statistical improbability. I also thought it was demonstrative of her hypocrisy that she admitted to being too uninterested to click on the link to your blog, yet went ahead and insulted you based on faulty assumptions.

Samantha said...

Wait--I thought she died--she's not dead???

...sigh...

So disappointing. Kind of like the day I found out Santa Claus was a fictional misogynist.

Th. said...

.

I'm past being really angry at her, myself. But then she never attacked me and I got my dig in when she wasn't looking. So I came out pretty good. And, well, you're right: She rants in a way that prevents respect.

I do kind of secretly hope the press blows up though....

Th. said...

.

Oh: And I don't know if it's still true (I've no intention of ever returning to her site), but she did cut off comments on those posts at one point.

JB said...

The part that's especially interesting to me is that it seems like you were totally upfront with FoxyJ the whole time and she's always been a willing participant in this whole thing. You've talked about how much you love her and everything and it never sounds fake, anyone with half a brain can tell you're sincere.

I sometimes hate when other people do this to me, so feel free to hate on this next part, but I have yet to see someone really preach something they don't do themselves and hate about themselves. It bothers me to think I probably do the same. . . In any case, maybe she was in a relationship that was similar from the outside but she was only in that relationship because she is prone to being brainwashed. So much so that she doesn't do her research (again, the same thing she's saying you don't do) and just plugs ahead to forward whatever idea she's been seduced by at the moment (or for the decade or however long she can be so seduced), where FoxyJ strikes me as nearly the exact opposite. I could see FoxyJ having to warm up to an idea before she really liked it and even then I could see her needing to feel like she was doing it for the right reasons.

In any case, this lady's probably just chewing you out for whatever it is that she hates about herself and that she pretends to see in you and FoxyJ. I think that's ridiculously common. Especially among the commonly ridiculous. . . . hehehe