There are more posts about street harassment these days then there are stars in the sky, so I don’t often say anything myself. However, one author who has written repeatedly about the article stands out. Not because she is saying anything new, but because she is writing for the conservative, decidedly anti-feminist National Review. It’s akin to a liberal writing about the inefficiencies of government bureaucracy: the words somehow carry a lot more weight if they are coming from an unexpected source.
Because Christine Cristo, no matter how much she may believe in supply-side economics, voter suppression or bashing feminazis, still has to walk the streets of a crowded urban area as a young woman. Catcallers don’t exactly check voter registration cards before letting loose, and so she experiences the verbal abuse as much as a young female writer for Jezebel would.
More than that, she notices the online abuse that also ignores partisan lines, which brings us to the anonymous, largely atheist, rabidly misogynist commentators who make up the online MRA/Gamergater “movement.”
Why the online misogynists are so stoked about the viral catcalling video — besides their jumping on any opportunity to send rape threats to any woman who doesn’t know her place, of course — goes back to the weird logic on how the woman is at fault for daring to be attractive (despite the woman in the video’s relatively bland attire.) As one of these men reveals:
She wears a tight jean revealing her magnificent a** to the world and doesn’t make any effort to hide it. The description tries to pretend she is wearing some modest and anonymous combination . . . Well, the black doesn’t changes reality [sic] and she also has no problem sticking her booty out there.” [Cristo then adds:] In fact, many comments under the YouTube video make a reference to Roberts’s jeans, implying that if she wore baggier pants, the men would have left her alone, apparently not realizing that might as well be Iranian morality police logic.
I’ve long said that one useful thing about these little men of the MRA/Gamergater universe is that they lend such insight into the inner workings of their close cousins in religious orthodoxy. Unlike the latter, the MRAs/Gamergaters can’t just wave their hands and say “God wills it” to explain their hatred of women, even though the misogynists of evangelical Christianity, orthodox Judaism and fundamentalism Islam are motivated by *precisely* the same misogyny. Because MRAs/Gamergaters have to be more honest with their thought process, they by extension tell us what motivates the religious fundies as well.
So here, we have the thought process behind the burqa. Women are at fault for “sticking it out there,” which means wearing anything no matter how casual or dowdy which shows she has a feminine form. Therefore, that feminine form must be repressed. And this is why oppressive anti-female dress codes are enforced by orthodox Evangelicals, Mormons, Jews, and both Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Not because God told them to. Not because there is a burning bush declaring it must be so. But because the very male and very misogynist religious leaders hate the feminine form.
As the MRAs/GGs prove, this attitude of hate extends even to atheists who have no God to hide behind. Instead of ignoring women on the sidewalks the way we urban dwellers ignore every other goddamn person on the sidewalks, they take the appearance of the feminine form as an affront. The “why” of this still eludes me, but there it is.
And finally, it’s remarkable that the new misogynists are turning even a fluffy publication like Cosmo and even a nominally anti-feminist mag like William F. Buckley’s creation into more feminist-friendly environs. The new misogynists are the problem, and as much as Cristo may hate to admit it, feminism is the solution.