How many times have we, as women, laughed off a sexist, degrading comment from a guy, out of fear of retaliation, or worse, the dreaded “man-trum.” (For those who witnessed R. Kelly’s epic outburst on national television, Gayle King’s level of zen is where we should all aspire to be.)
I recently had an (online) encounter with a gentleman well into his 60s. A local food critic who proudly proclaims his disdain over the “snowflake culture” of hyper-sensitivity. He’s a wannabe 1990’s Howard stern, using shock value to solidify his persona of the perennial frat guy who refuses to quiet his catcall, even after his days of beer pong have long faded into oblivion.
I wanted to let Bad Grandpa (BG) in on a shocking little secret: Times have changed! In the last decade, even Stern has dropped the whole shock-jock schtick, trading fart humor and ass-spanking for a more polished presence on a network talent show. The difference is that Stern has something that BG obviously lacks– talent and an eye for cultural shift.
So here’s what went down: My boyfriend posted this picture of us on Facebook.
And yes there is (gasp) some cleavage visible. Even my boyfriend, who normally raises an eyebrow (or two) over my wardrobe choices, didn’t feel my outfit was “Kardashian level” of skin exposure.
BG felt differently. (He’s not my friend on FB, but a friend of my boyfriend).
I wasn’t able to find the exact GIF he posted as a comment. (My bf deleted the post, but, here’s one very similar).
Big. Bouncy. Cartoon. Jello. Boobs.
Sadly, my first instinct was to revert to what’s often been my default in similar situations: “Just smile/laugh awkwardly and go about your way.” It’s what so many of us women have been conditioned to do as the “least risky response” to situations of disrespectful behavior and harassment.
Every woman has a story where they “got feisty” and then came to regret it, since a bruised male ego can make an otherwise neutral reaction turn aggressive.
Although this incident happened online, I’ve actually met BG before in passing. (He was arrogant but not outright insulting). A part of me wanted to just “keep the peace” to avoid a confrontation during the next in-person run in.
But this time was different. I didn’t want to just cower and dash. I was PISSED. He posted something embarrassing to me in a public forum. As I was weighing the pros and cons of having a possible confrontation, an amazing thing happened.
Bad Grandpa actually friend requested me on Facebook! Wow. The fact that he posted something ridiculously disrespectful, and then had the gall to say – “Hey, let’s be buddies!” brought me to a level of sass on par with pulling out my Wonder Woman sword.
So I let him have it, in a “professional, work e-mail” type of way of course (on Facebook messenger). No profanity, no name calling – just letting BG know that I would not be accepting his request after he mocked and trivialized my body parts. Thank you. Good day sir.
Anyone want to take a bet on if he apologized? If you said: “Obviously not since you’re writing this blog post!” Then….DING DING! You’re the winner!
Here’s his gem of a response:
“I have no idea what you’re talking about…but yes, if you flash your ass at someone, you forfeit the right to complain about their reaction to said ass-flashing.”
Ahhh. The good old fashioned: “You asked for it,” just modernized to: “Well, you POSTED it.”
I ended the discussion there. While I knew my words wouldn’t ignite an instant blaze of enlightenment for BG, I was hopeful they may have a “crock pot effect” and work a slow simmer through his brain. Introspection can always create change at some point in the future.
But then, I was hit with the harsh and obvious reality. Most men don’t really like to admit that they’re card-carrying members of “Misogynists R Us”. It always seems to be under the guise of a bigger agenda (MAGA, religious values, protecting the unborn, free speech, etc). And if you try to call them out on the hyprocrisy, things tend to get ugly, reaaal fast (see Brett Kavanaugh’s ugly cry face).
As expected, the “man-trum” for Bad Grandpa was EPIC. Not only did he start a conversation on his Facebook page, he even blogged about it (on a FOOD website!).
A 25 paragraph diatribe on the injustice that had befallen him, by the woman who dared to revoke his “freedom of GIF.”
Yeah folks, BG went off on how OFFENDED he was that…wait for it, someone got OFFENDED, by him.
He went into a myriad of reasons for why I’m basically everything that’s wrong with America: “I didn’t post it on HER page; It was a just a GIF so it doesn’t count; Her boyfriend posts risque jokes, so why does she care?; I don’t even remember doing it; If she shows her tits then it’s “fair game” for comments; She just wants attention; She’s a snowflake with no spine or a brain.”
On and on…and on, he went.
It was intriguing that BG kept referencing my boyfriend, as if he was more concerned about (indirectly) insulting a fellow “bro” than upsetting a woman. This is actually a very common occurrence, and a throwback to the days when women were viewed as shiny, pretty accessories to their husbands. (Oops- Sorry for putting a dent in your Chevy pal, she’s a real beaut!”)
I’m proud that I spoke my mind about something that was offensive, not only to myself, but to my gender as a whole. I’m proud of all women who stand tall and speak up, despite getting pummeled with the blame game bullshit.
It was a valiant effort BG, but sorry, times are changing and your tired “bro humor” is becoming extinct.
We ladies are not here to play.
Hey, you asked for it.