I really, really, REALLY hate the blog Fedoras of OKCupid.
Furthermore, I hate the use of “fedora” or “Redditor” or “brony” as metonymy for “misogynist,” about half of what people say about Nice Guys ™, anyone who accuses misogynists of being virgins or not getting laid or of living in their mom’s basement, and the word “neckbeard.”
But let me talk about Fedoras of OKC.
Fedoras of OKC comes from a particular genre of Tumblr blogs where they take screenshots of people from OKCupid and make fun of them. Perhaps the most famous is the now-deleted Nice Guys of OKC, which chronicled people who claimed they were nice and then proclaimed that men should be the heads of their households and homosexuality is a sin. (Full disclosure: I used to read Nice Guys of OKC, but then I read Ally Fogg’s blog post about it and started feeling guilty. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.)
I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to laugh at quotes from people being assholes on OKC. (It is, however, skeevy in the extreme to post their pictures, names, or other identifying details to accompany it.) Sometimes the most effective path is to shame and mock assholery, in order to discourage people from being assholes.
But the problem is that Fedoras of OKC mostly isn’t people being assholes! Sometimes it’s this guy:
[Long-haired slouchy guy in fedora and Led Zeppelin shirt. Captions: “I am often seen wearing a fedora.” “I can make an eggplant parm that will render chicken absolutely useless. True story.”]
This person is utterly inoffensive on every level, unless you count his belief that eggplant qualifies as a food. And yet he’s right up there next to this guy:
[Guy who is, in fact, in a fedora. Captions: “I am an unapologetic masculine man, not trying to fit in with the metro set or emulate the latest cool guy on MTV, I make it pretty simple here, I’m not selling more than what a woman who appreciates a real man could desire. I work hard, I sweat, I push heavy things, and keep moving overcoming obstacles and excuses where others may falter. I am the kind of guy you want to hug at the end of the day when you get home, to feel safe and happy that you got your arms around a big sturdy man.” “I am strong and masculine with a friendly smile.” Also he’d “take advantage of” a drunk person who wouldn’t want casual sex while sober but who was flirting with him. Yeaaaaah.]
As if Eggplant Parm Dude and Casually Admits On A Dating Site To Being Willing To Commit Possible Sexual Assault Guy are basically the same thing, because they both like the same kind of hat.
Obviously, there are lots and lots and lots of Redditors, bronies, virgins, basement-dwellers, people who are poor at personal grooming, and (yes) men in fedoras who are misogynists. I have no problem with anyone criticizing the Men’s Rights Reddit, bronies who insist that My Little Pony couldn’t possibly be a show for little girls because it’s well-written, or virgins who blame their virginity on women chasing after alpha males.
Furthermore, there is endemic misogyny within the geek community (and next-door neighbor communities like skeptics, tech people, fandom, gamers, etc). If you doubt this, please go to Geek Feminism and start reading.
But to me, it seems like a lot of people are using misogyny as an excuse to criticize a type of guy they don’t like anyway. That they dislike virgins, and socially awkward people, and people with geeky interests, and were like “hey! This misogyny gives us an excuse to criticize men in this category we don’t like and feel like awesome social justice advocates! Go us!”
(Please note that, as ever, if this is not about you it is not about you. If you have no problem with virgins, socially awkward people, and people with geeky interests, and perhaps even fall into one or more of those categories yourself, then this is not about you.)
People in our culture already like making fun of virgins, socially awkward people, and adult men who watch little girls’ TV shows. You are not fighting the power by making fun of them. You are just doing the same thing everyone else is doing, except you’ve justified it so you get to feel nice about yourself.
There’s a pattern across our culture of letting people off the hook for abuse, rape, and misogyny as long as they’re conventionally attractive, or popular, or someone we like. I feel like concentrating on misogyny within unpopular groups to the exclusion of misogyny elsewhere risks reinforcing this pattern, and that’s not okay.
It makes it seem like misogynists are identifiable, classifiable, and the kind of guys you don’t like anyway. In fact, misogyny is fucking everywhere, including in guys you think are really cool. It’s important not to get caught up in window dressing and lose sight of the actual content.
Some people will probably respond to this “but privileged socially awkward geeky dudes are not actually marginalized within our society! They do not face the problems that people of color, or trans people, or queer people, or women do. Therefore it is okay to stereotype them and make websites where we take their pictures off dating sites and make fun of them.”
To which I say: “Congrats. You’re not making fun of a marginalized group. Would you like a cookie?”