The “Game” Women Play Every Day (Now in Handy Game Form)
Here’s a sad and infuriating fact:
Among the women I know, not a day goes by when one or more of them isn’t in some way harassed, threatened, bullied, stalked, badgered, endangered, or even subject to physical abuse or violence at the hands of a (usually, but not always, male) member of our misogynistic culture. Think about that. Literally not a single day. When this stuff happens to women, it’s terrifying, it’s enraging, it’s demoralizing, it’s wrong, and sometimes – often, even – it’s deadly. And nobody who supports feminism needs to be told any of this.
But recently, another angle of why this behavior is so fucking insufferably awful, why it routinely sucks the very life out of women I love and want to protect, has been particularly visible to me. I’m thinking about the rote exhaustion and boredom of dealing with misogynistic behaviors day in and day out. And yes, for any readers who are wondering: it is indeed possible to be simultaneously afraid for your life/safety and bored to actual tears. Welcome to the living nightmare experienced by roughly 50 percent of the human population at least part of the time!
At the end of the day, in addition to everything we already know to be wrong with it morally, ethically, legally, and logically, misogyny (not unlike other forms of hatred) is incredibly unoriginal and void of intelligent or analytical thinking. This means that even when women’s need to be heard, understood, and respected outweighs our need to put some real distance between ourselves and the misogynists we encounter, the emotional labor and rote repetition of calling people out, explaining why they are hurting others, and saying “Hey, that’s not okay!” is mind-numbing. Sometimes, our patient, genuine attempts to engage and educate pay off with a show of genuine understanding or empathy. And to be absolutely clear, when there is a real opportunity for discussion and dialog, I encourage it, and in general I am strongly in favor of talking things out as much as possible. Among those who are at all open to discussion, attempts to understand and build on common ground generally yield better results than attempts to attack, even when someone seems interested in being a real piece of shit at first. But sometimes misogynists make it very clear that they have no intention of being open to discussion, or even accepting our statements of fact: that their behavior towards women is hurting us. So what then?
Today, two women I know and care about (and probably others who have not yet told me) had to deal with some aggressive and abusive misogynists on social media. For both of them, the issues of emotional exhaustion, the need for safety/distance, the worth of engagement, and how fucking awful it made them feel to experience the misogyny in the first place were pressing questions. And I thought, what if there were a stock response that demonstrated just how terrible this behavior was, while also protecting us from the emotional labor and profound boredom of repeating ourselves over and over again?
And then I had this thought: This stuff happens so often that most of us could fill a bingo card regularly.
Half jokingly, I started kicking some ideas around in a feminist discussion group I belong to. But the more ideas we shared, the more we realized we were really onto something.
Misogynists love to believe they are special: that they have some unique righteousness or wisdom to impart on the world, that they are charged with the noble responsibility of keeping us unruly women in line, that their views are one-of-a-kind and borne out of valid individual experience, and that this experience is characterized by victimhood. And when certain particularly die-hard misogynists experience negative emotions in connection to even very peripheral interaction with women, they believe these negative emotions are acts of warfare by women towards men or society at large, and must be addressed with aggressive counterattacks. They believe that their experience of feeling insecure, wronged, threatened, or any other negative emotion even loosely connected to interacting with women is both unique and massive in scale and urgency.
This, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, the perceived slights (if they occurred at all) are minuscule in comparison to the violence and aggression of the response, and the response itself is so predictable and uncreative it seems scripted from some master copy of the Bigoted Garbage Thinking Manual.
As Atwood famously noted, men fear being laughed at by women, while women fear being murdered by men. The implied parallelism of the deeds reflects the parallelism of the harm inflicted in the minds of committed misogynists. Since the first cave man clubbed the first cave woman over the head for not providing him with sex on demand (or did she just roll her eyes?), misogyny has been one of the most predictable and boring trends of human interaction, in addition to one of the most dangerous. Its existence is a testament to humanity’s difficulty overcoming brutal past narratives and behaviors and replacing them with new, innovative thinking that is both humane and logical. It’s always wrong, and it’s often horrific and deadly, but it’s the opposite of interesting or unusual. And sometimes, misogynists don’t deserve the time it would take to respond as though their behaviors were anything but common, uncreative, and boring as fuck.
With that, I present to you Misogynist Bingo. Is someone being a huge piece of garbage all over your friend’s blog’s comment thread? Is someone harassing or bullying you on Facebook? Is someone throwing the term “Social Justice Warrior” around on Twitter as though it’s a real thing and not a pretend under-the-bed monster invented by sad, cowardly basement cases? Simply download the file1, make any edits you want to the text2, and use color formatting to highlight how the human treasure you’re interacting with has “helped” you to “win” at the game. Then take a screenshot/convert to a high-def image file and repost as a photo comment.
If you like, you can also use the following script to add some text to your photo comment:
Autoreply: Congratulations! Your inappropriate behavior has brought me one step closer to winning today’s game of Misogynist Bingo. I have highlighted the square that shows how you helped me to achieve my goal on the attached Misogynist Bingo Card so that everyone can see your contribution. Have a great day.
Again, the idea is that misogyny, in addition to being, you know, a form of bigotry and just plain wrong, is sometimes not really worth the emotional labor it takes to explain to die-hard flag-waving types3 why what they’re doing is not okay. So this response is designed to:
- Highlight exactly how little attention particularly stubborn and hateful misogynists deserve
- Grab attention with a visual element, potentially garnering support from other participants in the space and making the message easier to share
- Position the misogynist’s response in relation to a sea of similarly offensive, hurtful, dangerous and deadly responses by other misogynists, forcing a look at the kind of company he’s keeping and how very boring and unoriginal the position is
I honestly have no idea whether or how it will work, but consider it a critical media exercise/thought experiment that was a lot more fun and interesting than actually gifting these fools3 with original and emotionally draining responses, only to be called one of the many boring and damaging names shown on the bingo card.
And oh yeah: it made me laugh. And it made some women who are struggling to deal with this crap today laugh. And even if that’s all it did, I consider it a pretty decent ROI.
Here’s the file, for your downloading and experimentation: Misogynist Bingo v1
If you end up using it, I’d love to hear how, and how it went.
Oodles of feminist love to ya,
Diana Bee Dash Bee
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1. A note on the format: Excel sucks; it is known. But I wanted to use an accessible program that’s relatively easy to edit and exists on most operating systems to facilitate editing and formatting by individuals so that this can be made to fit whatever purpose people have for it. If you don’t wanna deal with that hassle or are happy with the current version or wanna just add some photoshop or other image editing to the existing, you can also yank the jpg from the image in the post.
2. A note on content: I have included some of the most common misogynist behaviors, but this is by no means all of them. There is also much more than could be added or changed to shift the emphasis on how misogyny manifests as or intersects with homophobia, transphobia, racism, socioeconomic discrimination, and other forms of bigotry. Since the document can be edited by anyone, I welcome and encourage editing so that this fits your needs and addresses whatever are the most important issues for you personally. There are so many behaviors of homophobia, transphobia and other forms of hate that I feel each really deserves its own bingo card (or ten). Also, the content is a bit rough, and I intend to revise on a rolling basis based on any good feedback or suggestions I get from readers, so have at it! Also also, if this takes off at all, I’m considering starting a betting pool re: how long it takes before a troll hops on here and tries to create SJW Bingo or some similarly offensive piece of crap, because far be it from these turds to ever have an original idea, but alas, fair use and parody law protects trolls sometimes also.
3. A note on usage: please, please use Misogynist Bingo only a) to make other feminists happy or b) in cases when someone has demonstrated they are NOT open to dialog. In case (b), use only when you will not endanger yourself or others by doing so, and when you are sure that you are not engaging in trolling behavior of your own.