anita sarkeesian

2014 isn’t even over, and yet it was a singularly awful year for women in the public spotlight. When you read about various public incidents, it seems like a lot of essays – and not just the ones in Jezebel – conclude by asking men to take more responsibility for less sexist behavior.

Agreed. As a man, let me answer that call. While I recognize my male privilege, I do not seek to wield it, unlike, say, Robert Downey Jr., who today called feminism “make believe.” Men do terrible things, especially to women, and so sometimes men need to stand up and say: “Hey Dude! That’s wrong.” I believe that one reason that Bill Maher can get away with saying that Muslims tacitly support things like imams’ persecution of Salman Rushdie and Jyllands-Posten (the Danish newspaper that published satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed) is that you never seem to read (translated) web articles from Muslims who condemn imams (and other Muslims) when they call for murder. So yeah, men, let’s not just sit on our privilege, let’s stand up for what we believe.

I get why some guy hashtagged #notallmen to distinguish himself from Elliott Rodger, the maniac who went on that murderous rampage in the U.C. Santa Barbara community, but my real sympathies are with most of the people who hashtagged #yesallwomen to indicate that every woman has some experience with stalking and harassment and men presuming emotional connections – and then lashing out when learning those connections don’t exist. I’ve been one of those guys in the past – never to the point of violence – and I honestly and sincerely repent. Women should be able to say and wear whatever they want without men taking it as “incitement.”

I recognize that sexual harassment and rape continues to be a tremendous problem in all parts of society, but particularly on college campuses, where procedures for grievance redress are often arcane and even contradictory. (Who takes care of complaints? RAs? Campus police? “Real” local police?) I don’t have a silver-bullet solution here, but I support efforts to make universities be clearer about their policies…as well as websites which rank universities based on safety and transparency.

Boko Haram are bonkers barbarians. However many troops we’ve sent to Nigeria to find those 300 kidnapped high school girls, we should send 10x as many, if the country would let us. Something we need to be supporting in no uncertain terms is girls being educated to lead instead of being bred to breed. When we do get involved in overseas conflicts, you will sometimes hear certain fatuous warmongers making the case that we’re really helping women – for example, we have to fight the Taliban because the Taliban are terrible to women. Yet what’s the stated policy of whoever we’re supporting in the fight against the Taliban? Is it “equal rights for women”? Dream on. So when we go overseas and take the pro-women moral high ground, we eventually look like hypocrites. Fighting Boko Harum would be one case where we wouldn’t do that. #bringbackourgirls – right now.

Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling: Love them.

I think all normal people agree that the NFL made an enormous mistake when it initially gave Ray Rice a 2-game suspension for coldcocking his fiancée, only to change its mind when TMZ made public the incident on video. I think we can all agree that it shouldn’t take a public video to change NFL policy or start a national conversation on domestic violence. But I do think we can be grateful that #whyistayed was a trending thing, just to nudge people past simplistic questions – “Why doesn’t she just leave him?” – and toward complexity. If you watch as many Sunday talk shows as I do (not a good idea), you’ll see that talking heads will often conclude by saying “We need a national conversation on ______” and you sit there thinking, yeah, wishing isn’t going to make it happen. In the case of domestic violence, for about two weeks or so, it happened. That’s not enough, but it’s not nothing. As for me, I support the league suspending indefinitely any player accused of domestic abuse – as soon as the player’s lawyer starts working on a plea. If the guy’s lawyer doesn’t think he can get the guy off with Not Guilty, then he did it, and the guy should suffer. Linebackers aren’t working for Doctors Without Borders; it’s not like if we suspend a tight end, 20 more people die from Ebola. Bench these players, but follow the Michael Vick playbook: if they do their time and show genuine contrition (contributing to causes, etc) they should be able to play in the league again.

The Fappening was disgusting. I swear on my kids’ lives, I did not click on the illegally distributed nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and the other victims of this crime. Morally, I stand with whoever is prosecuting the revealers.

Gamergate is becoming increasingly repellent. I play video games. I do not play video games like Grand Theft Auto where the women NPCs (that’s non-player characters to you non-gamers) are presented as bimbos and victims. I can’t recall the last game I played with a damsel in distress – or in a state of undress. Bring me the video game women who kick ass, not dangle ass.

Is it possible that a few reviewers and video game makers have been iniquitous bedfellows? Sure, but that hardly justifies the absolutely lunatic fringe that has come out of the gamer woodwork to doxx people like Felicity Day and Zoe Quinn and successfully death-threat Anita Sarkeesian from speaking at the University of Utah. In no uncertain terms, I condemn this behavior and demand that the FBI (or someone) prosecute these idiots to the fullest extent of the law.

The Fappening and Gamergate have revealed the persistence of a certain sort of misogynist asshole who throws cyber-bombs from behind a veil of internet anonymity, disguising himself as a defender of free speech. Uh, douchenozzle? Free speech is for people who admit who they are, not people who make up dumb avatar names. Did you think free speech entitles you to destroy someone’s reputation, to libel and slander them, while sitting back in your own hidden black hole of singularity? That’s not free speech; that’s Joe McCarthy tactics. Back in the 1950s, Senator McCarthy would appear before committees claiming to have the names of several people who could vouchsafe that X Y and Z were Communists; X Y and Z would suffer, while McCarthy never had to reveal his names. Douchenozzle: you are those names. And like McCarthy, you need to stop pretending you’re such a defender of freedom.

Get a grip, men. No matter how much women #leanforward, we’re not losing anything. Instead we’re gaining a better society to live in. Thank you, sisters, and let me know what else you’d like me to say.