I hate Facebook a lot. I think it's stifled social interaction for a generation, and it's secretly a tool for the CIA. I started a profile there in 2004 when it seemed like it might be a cool thing similar to Friendster, and of course, now I can't get rid of my profile, because they won't let you delete it.
So, even though I use Disgracebook all the friggin' time, I don't have any personal information or photographs up on the 'profile' page. It's been this way for several months.
About a week ago, I came across the above picture somewhere (probably 4chan) and I decided to make it my facebook picture. There were two reasons for this.
- I wanted to see what kind of attention a picture like this would get, specifically from men who I don't know. I wanted to experience firsthand what it's like to have strangers on the Internet breathing down your neck with romantic/sexual intent.
- I think it's funny because it's a picture of a teenage girl where users were expecting to see a picture of me.
First, a woman who we'll call Ms. X left me a snarky message on my wall and then deleted me as a friend. I thought that was surprising, since I'd never given anyone any context for why I'd put the picture up, and I'm not quite sure what the deal was. At any rate, I figured if she was upset by the picture, then she couldn't possibly object if I changed my profile picture to one of her. Wrong again. She left me a couple of messages saying that if I didn't take it down she would file harassment charges on me. So I finally changed the picture to the original with a sad face, which was the best thing I could think of.
So that was all well and good, sort of. Ms. X is a really cool person, and it really sucks that we're not friends anymore, but at least I assumed that the issue was put to bed.
Which is when Ms. Y let me know that we weren't friends anymore because of the misogynist stuff I do on the Internet. I tried to take the high road this time. After all, trying to be clever failed me so miserably with Ms. X, and Ms. Y's response was much more direct and much less out-of-left-field. Ms. Y has told me several times that she hates this blog and that she doesn't believe I respect women.
Still, I can't just take these sort of accusations with a grain of salt. I strive to be as feminist as possible, and I don't see this as trying to maintain a delicate balance between my rampant heterosexuality and my ethical concerns. I think the two coexist, and even compliment each other, very nicely. In fact, I'd argue that feminism and my sexuality aren't mutually exclusive phenomena in my life. That is, the two come together more than they conflict. Suffice to say, feminism is very important to me, both as someone who strives to be a good person, and as a man who is unable to live up to societal prescriptions for men on a regular basis.
So I thought about the matter for some time, and I furrowed my brow. I guess my problem with the whole thing, is that posting the picture on the website in order to discover the result was a creative endeavor on my part. I might even call it art, and that's the sort of thing that I need in my life. I don't think I could physically function without it. Even if I was in Unit 731 and my arms were rotting off from the inside while scientists took notes, any probing into the human experience that I did would be done with art. It's not even a conscious decision that I make. It's more like a natural phenomena. Many times I deal with gender and sexuality in these endeavors, because that's an area that I find constant need to explore. To that end, I can't just stop doing things that could potentially be interpreted as sexist any more than I could stop thinking pizza is delicious or stop hating the way my pinkies curve inward.
Does that mean I can't stop myself from making misogynist material? Fuck no. I just can't stifle my creativity, and I can't control how others interpret what I do. I'm not saying everything that I do is totally wicked feminist. I am saying that I always strive to be as feminist as possible, and if anyone wants to talk to me about a problem they have with my work (That is, if they actually come to me wanting to talk, and don't just start hurling accusations), I'm willing to do that. Look at the picture above. There's feminist and non-feminist ways of analyzing the art.
So I called Brad. He's one of my best friends in the whole world. He's much more liable to not give a fuck what others think about him than I am, but he also has taken much more women's studies classes than I have, and if there's an issue that I'm having in this department, he can usually provide some useful insight. I asked him what the deal was, and he said something like (I paraphrase) 'You're weird and you try to be funny, and when the Chico Women's Center is on the warpath you don't immediately back down, so in their simplistic idea of feminism you automatically become a target.'
I can't totally get behind that argument, because I'm not of the opinion that Ms. X, Ms. Y, and other women necessarily have a simplistic idea of feminism. In fact, on my old livejournal blog, I once made a post about how the Chico Women's Center's annual erotic art show was contrived and uninspired, and Ms. Y had my back when a bunch of people started getting really pissed off at me about what I said. If this same person doesn't have my back now, that's reason for concern.
So I finally changed my facebook picture to one that I imagine no feminist will have a problem with:
Finally, this morning, somebody wrote 'fuck you' on my facebook in response to this post. We'll call her Ms. Z. I called Brad again, since he knows Ms. Z a lot better than I do, and he said, 'Yeah, your shit is sexist and creepy. Like, you put up pictures of women and then write a bunch of things about them.' I was trying to figure out who the woman was, and I was using the skills I've learned through watching detective shows to see if I could figure anything out. I didn't realize that was creepy. Or sexist. Can anyone explain that one to me more?
Or don't. I'm having sort of a shitty day already, and a bunch of comments that say 'You're creepy and sexist because of this reason and this reason and this reason' aren't going to improve my mood.
I mean, I want to tackle these issues, but I'd rather do it later. Like I predicted, this was a draining post, and now I just want to go back to bed and/or smoke some weed.