My daughter came home from college all jazzed up. Apparently, Matt Forney, a 25 year old blogger who hails from Ithaca, New York wrote on his blog about his "love" for insecure women. His archaic attitudes rolled downhill from there. FIU's campus newspaper, The Beacon, had an op ed response, which she read. She wanted to read the original, because she couldn't believe a guy her age would write anything like this. How could he be such a jerk?
She made a bit of noise, because Mr. Wolverton emerged from his office to listen in. He thought he was helping when he said, "Honey, it's been my experience that if a guy feels like being a jerk; he'll succeed at it beyond your wildest dreams." That little gem got my attention and gave me a chuckle which had him quickly add, "Of course, I'm the exception to that".
I smiled, which got me a "What?!?".
I hastily answered, "We're cool". I raised my hands and shrugged, "I would add that in general, anyone has the ability to go off the rails at any time."
By then Chibi had found the original screed and was playing out alternate emotions of scorn, laughter and sputtering. "Mommy!" (I still haven't been demoted to "Mom"), "You gotta turn this into a diary!" The comments got to her the most. They were pretty much all complementary. Her dad snorted and said that the derogatory comments were most likely deleted or hidden and we later found a comment on the site that admitted as much.
Mr. Wolverton skimmed the piece over Chibi's shoulder and gave a running commentary, "Ok, He's got.....respect issues...maybe some insecurity himself...impotence anxiety...." That got a raised eyebrow out of me and a look from Chibi, but my husband was intent on what he was reading, "There's a loose outline. Huh? He's obviously not got anyone like you, your mother, your grandmothers, or any women role models in his life. Ha! He admits to being a dog!" Hubby shook his head, "How old is he? 25? Oh, well, he's a single guy with no dependents, little responsibility and ...." He started clicking around the web site and came across his "Consultations and Services" page. He clicked back to the original. "You know what? You don't have to read anything he has to say. This guy wouldn't be a keeper by anyone's standards. No father would want him to date his child. He's not worth your time." And, with that Mr. Wolverton moved onto the kitchen to make his lunch. Decision made.
Intrigued, I had to read Mr. Forney's opinion (clicked around his web site) and came to realize, I married well.
As an instructor, I've had to read my share of position papers and this one is...let's just say it's a position paper and leave it at that. Mr. Forney was kind enough to give us an outline to his argument, The Case Against Female Self-Esteem:
1. Most girls have done nothing to deserve self-esteem.
2. Insecurity is integral to femininity.
3. Women don’t want to have high self-esteem.
I read something like this written by James Dobson. Immanuel Kant wrote similar stuff in the 1760s, only more negative toward women. It's the old "guys have egos that must be fed" meme. You know, the one where men need to feel important and women need to be fluff. Men focus on "real" issues and women deal with the frivolous. The idea that men are real and women must be twits has been around for thousands of years. Anything that challenges these memes are "unnatural" to the likes of Forney. He got it from people like Dobson and Kant.
Matt Forney hasn't realized what a real partner in life can do for him. I feel sorry for the women in his life. Their accomplishments dismissed as a waste. Their very personhood dismissed as irrelevant. When I look at my daughter, her female friends and cousins I see young women with a range of accomplishments who don't need men's approval. I see young women, not girls. What a limited view of women do you have to have to say, "Most girls have done nothing to deserve self-esteem"? Forney is 25. Why is he still talking to "girls"?
Later, Mr. Wolverton and I went out to take a whack at the jungle growing on our north side yard and asked about his views on women's degrees, "What did you make of that essay's take on women's degrees and work being fluff jobs and the worst thing that would happen if all women stopped working is that all elementary schools would close, but if every man stopped working; "the country would collapse"?
He was pulling out the tall step stool for me while I gathered the leather garden gloves, saw and clippers. He shook his head, "That guy's just trying to be a dick. You did see he took 6 months to hitch hike from NY to Portland, Oregon. I don't see how that is "meritorious" using his standard." He was guiding the 7' stool through the side door of the garage. "A college degree is good for women. It helps them get more money on the job". He snapped open the step stool and headed toward the back of our lot. "This is a guy who's stuck. He still into having lots of shallow relationships that land him in bed instead of finding a quality relationship that would give him a springboard into greater things in life. He should be looking at that degree as a help to a potential partnership like when you worked full time, so I could start our business. He's too insecure to do that. He sees a degree as an affront to his masculinity. That's just stupid."
We could hear some kid practicing his trumpet. Whoever it was, they were actually good. I paused, shrugged, listening to the melodies, "I don't know if we can make these assumptions. It's just one paper".
My husband shook his head and continued both toward the Areca Palms and with his thoughts, "You and Chibi would see Forney coming a mile away. Women who have a degree, career and a modicum of self-respect see him as a fling, entertainment, maybe a useful tool." I was clipping low branches that would get in the way of the step stool. Clip, clip, clip; that last made me blink, turn and look at him, "I know, women like sex. Women maybe use Forney for a booty call, but don't connect with him because there's nothing to connect to. He's a user. Forney gets around this by attacking women's self-confidence. At 25, women his age are sizing him up short. He doesn't like it. So, he wrote an [misogynistic] essay. He's stuck because intelligent women aren't grateful for his abuse. He needs an inexperienced "girl" because women don't want him. His loss." He stopped, paused, "That kid on the trumpet is pretty good".
Well, that was unexpected on both counts. "Yeah, the kid's good." Snip, clip, clip. "Forney doesn't say women are dumping him, he's saying they like his dickishness on other parts of his blog."
Hubby set his saw on the palm that was nearly touching the electrical wires. He shook his head again, "He wouldn't admit to any woman dumping him. That would make him look sorry assed. Too insecure. He writes about getting off on weak women and derides strong, competent women as dick deflating." Mr. Wolverton seemed to be at a loss for words here, or maybe he was intent on sawing through the 4" Areca. He continued, "I look at your Master's degree and credentials and know what I did that helped you get them. I guess the fact my dad wasn't around growing up gives me a different view. To me a woman who can do demanding work in the office, come home and do more work at home doesn't make me less a man. That alphabet soup of letters after your name lets you work fewer hours for the same pay some people have to work 2 jobs to earn. When I think about that, it's not dick deflating. That's a rush."
I was separating the branches into compost and trash, I was taking in what my husband was saying. "Thank you for that. What about his next point that insecurity is integral to femininity?" BTW, We need a chipper."
Hubby flipped his hand, thump, an Areca hit the ground, "Yeah, we need a chipper, can you research that?" I nodded yes, snipping away - when did this hedge get so HUGE! He selected the next over tall palm and set his saw, "Forney conflates insecurity with vulnerability. Worse, he wrote about the woman he loved the most was trembling on their first date and it was because she felt unworthy of him. That's one sick puppy who gets his rocks off over something like that!"
I interrupted him, "I don't think that's exactly what he wrote. Besides, you like it when Chibi and I squeal when a palmetto bug pops out in front of us. And, you did come to my rescue last week when I laid the last paver stone and it ran 1/4" over the cement slab. Electric or gas?"
Mr. Wolverton smiled, "Electric if possible, gas if we have to." Thump, another palm hit the ground. "Forney wrote that his identity as a man is dependent upon a girl needing him. Well, everyone wants to feel needed and he doesn't know it yet; but he needs a woman as much as she needs him. I don't mind killing palmetto bugs and I didn't mind moving those 30 pound stones. Each stone you placed was one less I had to place. I appreciate it when you hold a flash light for me so I can see what I'm doing or holding a board steady for me when using the saw. This guy would consider those things frivolous, but anybody who's had to run a drill in the dark or handle a 12 foot long board without a table saw would know better. You negotiate most of our contracts and handle our investments, research a chipper and do stuff I hate doing. What I read is a guy who likes the power rush when a woman is trembling because of him, but can't see a day where a woman could save his sorry ass."
I thought over what Mr. Wolverton was saying, and asked, "How thick a branch should we go? 2"? 3"? I don't see me trying to chip 4" thick Areca palms." I was about done clipping the lower branches of the cherry hedge. "Anyway, what about his last point that women don't want to have self-esteem?"
"Pffft." I turned, I was concerned he got a branch in his face. Nope, that was derision, "What an idiot", he tossed his head as if there wasn't anything more to say.
I was tempted to let it go at that, but, "Aw, come on. Give me something."I moved the step stool to let me get to the top of the hedge.
Thump, another palm hit the ground, "Everybody wants to feel good about them self. This guy wrote women only need enough self-esteem so they don't commit suicide or enough to prevent depression. That's insane. You can't have an adult relationship if you don't let your lover in warts and all." He paused to pick his next target, "2 1/2" should be fine. I don't want to try and chip 4" barrels either." He thought another moment then continued, "If you push a woman down, so you feel good; how do you know she's not acting? How do you know if you have the chemistry, respect and the grit to make a go of a life together? That didn't really work for my aunt and uncle; he got his way every time, but look at her now since he died. She's happier than I've ever seen her. I wonder if uncle could see her now if he would have the balls to be ashamed of how he treated her for years or if he'd be furious that she's so happy? This Forney guy's a jerk who doesn't want a relationship, he just wants a fuck, a beer and a door mat. No woman should stick around for him. He's toxic."
It was going to take a while for Mr. Wolverton's words to sink in. Thump, thump, more palms hit the ground. "Thanks for your input." I was climbing top of a step stool to clip some branches headed for our electrical wires.
Mr. Wolverton was sawing through yet another Areca palm, "You're going to turn this into a diary?"
Busted, "Yup," snip, another branch fell to the ground.
He sawed for a few moments, "You going to compare a boy's attitude with a man?"
I smiled. Clip, clip, clip, and teased, "Nah, you're both men." After all Matt Forney is 25 years old - a man.
Thump. The Areca hit the ground. Hubby stabbed the hand saw in the ground and matter of factly pulled out the clippers to snip off the palm leaves, "Really?" Mr. Wolverton snorted. "Ok, suit yourself".
I kept on clipping, "They're your words. You want to read it before I publish?"
"Sure," he stepped back from snipping to let me gather the palm leaves. He' went back to sawing. Thump. Yet, another Areca hit the ground. We finished just before dark. The jungle cut back to some semblance of order.
And, there you have it. Another perspective.
3:52 PM PT: Thanks for the rescue. Thanks for reading.