"Fuel to the Fire: the Alchemy of Respect, or the lack thereof" - Caricatures of Misogyny, Episode 1

Episode 1: Fuel to the Fire - the Alchemy of Respect; or the lack thereof

Here lies the tale that sparked this hotbed of thought and criticism – the original caricature of a misogynist, one might say.

I will spare as many details as possible in regards to identifying features of the humans involved in this story – I'm not out for revenge, just awareness. The point of the story isn't my personal life, but rather the hidden ways that people can display disrespect towards women and also how sometimes someone looks like a normal person but is actually the angel of death. (Shoutout to my girl Nora/When Harry Met Sally)

I live in a community type house where a lot of people come over to garden and/or sit around watching other people garden, so naturally this is a great opportunity to meet new acquaintances or friends and show off my sparkling personality. In one's own home, your guard tends to be lower than usual because you're thinking, hey, mutual friends, they must be cool. Much cooler than strangers at a bar, in fact I should trust that they are excellent and I can turn off my idiot radar.

Almost a month ago, I met a guy at one of these gatherings. We had eye contact, introduced ourselves, and then he made a New Girl reference. Le disaster. Ways to make Becca not only like but also trust you in one fell swoop? Reference female based audience media.

Over the course of the day, I spoke to this fellow, who we will call Bartonbe Spleen, for quite a while. Our conversations 'went below surface level.' He was interested in my favorite game of asking strange would you rathers as taught to me by the venerable Gaelan Harmon-Walker. When he got up to look for a cigarette or some other pursuit, he said “I'll be back, this is a great conversation.” Bartonbe S got my number before he left and did that thing people do where they return to hug you more times than is necessary. Just, you know, generally signs that someone is semi cool and interested in you as a person rather than an object.

Being a human with emotions rather than a robot, I thought hey, maybe I like this guy. I then found out that he went to high school with one of my best friends, Natasha. Wow, a random connection, even more trustworthy! Is what someone who has not been raked over the coals by such a person might say.

Two weeks later we were having another gathering at my house and Bartonbe Spleen came back over. This time, Natasha was also there so they had an opportunity to reunite. Everyone was joyous. Bartonbe told us how he has no friends in San Diego and never hangs out with anyone, he only works. Gee, I guess that two awesome girls with a giant social circle would have been really good people to not piss off.

Things happened. To quote that guy who used to be on Everwood on Parks and Rec - “I know what things are.” (Actually I'm 90% sure that wasn't the context of the quote, but you get me.)

The next morning, I did what I do most mornings and drove to my job as a pancake expert at a breakfast institution (re:waitress). I told my lovely coworker all the details that I spared the internet, and she agreed with me that signs were good and Bartonbe seemed to be a stand up guy who had acted kindly. It was a moment straight out of Sex and the City at brunch, except we were the waitresses rolling silverware.

The next day, my friend Amber suggested I invite Bartonbe Spleen to the San Diego institution of Taco Tuesday, which we frequent at Fred's. I thought, great idea! It's casual because it is my friends, and kind to the fellow because he said he had none. So I texted B. Spleen -

“Hey! Natasha and I and some of our college friends are going to taco tuesday tonight. Wanna come with us?”

Now I've sent some dumb texts in my life. But I think we can all agree that this was a perfectly fine, not clingy, friendly text.  Alas, apparently Bartonbe Spleen found some fault in it, because he didn't respond. I am a trusting and optimistic person so I decided to write that one off.

A few days later I friended Bartonbe on Facebook and sent him a message explaining that I was actually the girl he knew, Becca, and not a stranger named Casa. His reply, five hours later, was 'oh hi.' Meh, strange, but could mean anything. However...he didn't accept my friend request. He just left it there – pending. An odd choice for someone you know, ahem, better than most people that send you a request on facebook.

The red flag rose out of the ground and began to inch its way to the sky.

I let the weekend and next week pass without contacting Bartonbe. I had my theories about his weirdness, but just went on living my life. Then the next Sunday I got sick of his weirdness because ya know I'm not really partial to people ignoring me after such instances, so I texted him at work. (Mistake: PSA: texting anyone like this from work is a MISTAKE.) I said:

“Hey, what are you up to today?”

Again, relatively innocuous. Nothing that would invite the torrent that was about to arrive. The next portion of this will be in text message form. Most of it is accurate but I cut out some parts for reasons.

Bartonbe Spleen: “Chillin.”

BS: “I'm sorry, but I'm in a relationshp”

Casa de Schruh : “WOW.”

BS: “It's new, I wasn't when we got together.”

Casa: “If you think that makes you not an asshole you are sorely mistaken. You literally used me then ignored me and started dating someone. If you can't see how fucked up that is I just hope you never do it to someone else.”

BS: “No, I know it. But I didn't pressure you so I'm not a bad guy, maybe selfish. Ironically I've found myself in this situation once before with one of Natasha's friends. Sorry if I led you on, I thought it was pretty obvious*, maybe it was hard for u to see bc u liked me” *for this go back to the beginning and read how we interacted. It was not obvious.

Casa: “Actually you did pressure me, I said I don't want to hook up with you yet and you gave me some bullshit speech about living in the moment and societal standards. And please don't talk about other people's lives like it's the irony in a novel.”

BS: “Wow I'm such a scumbag. [edited out for personal details and crassness]”

BS: “[entire text edited out for extreme level of malicious intent and crassness. If you want to know I'll tell you, don't hesitate to ask, just wanted to keep it out of the internets]

BS: “Also, feel free to despise me. I'm not sensitive”

Casa: “[edited out because it was a response to the edited out text]

BS: “Anyway, I gotta go, great talking to ya”

Casa: “It's great that you think that not being affected by other people's emotions makes you cool. Have fun going through life as yourself.”

I'm not ashamed to say that I was extremely upset by this at first. Not by the 'rejection' of this guy, but of the sheer level of maliciousness in the messages. I had already guessed by the fact he'd ignored me for two weeks that he was going to turn out to be a d-bag, but I had no idea that he was going to be this cruel.

I went home, talked on the phone to a bunch of friends, and one of my great friends, Alyssa, said she was going to come over to my house. This helped immensely. Being around a friend and repeating the story and parsing it got me back into good shape very quickly. My emotions about the situation receded, but my societal anger remained.

Now this is where things get interesting. Remember how Natasha went to high school with Bartonbe? Remember how he was in a 'similar situation' six years ago with one of her friends? We'll call that friend Jessa. Well, he also sends shirtless snapchats of himself and flirts via text with one of her other friends from high school, who we will call Marnie. Uninvited shirtless snapchats and flirtatious texts. Clearly we have a winner right here in Bartonbe.

So naturally Natasha immediately told both of her friends about the incident and the text messages. I have met Jessa, and she sent her solidarity along to me via Natasha. Then Natasha told Marnie. I have never met Marnie, but after this I would quite like to – after hearing the story from Natasha, she was so angered on my behalf, a girl she's never met, that she texted Bartonbe herself to call him out on his actions.

All Marnie said was 'hi,' and Bartonbe immediately called her. She said, “I can't talk now but I've heard you've been wreaking havoc out there.” She hung up and called Natasha, and while they were on the phone Bartonbe texted Natasha -

“Hey I'm really sorry about [hooking up with] Becca. I know uve probably had to deal with it a lot. I just want u to know that this isn't very typical of me. Also I never had intentions of this happening, she was just all over me, and I was [twirly] that day. Haha so basically I just hope you can filter this out.”

This text. This text is the crux of everything I have to say. This text is what inspired this idea, this text summarizes everything that is fucked up about this situation. Everything he said to me? Bad. Don't like it. But this text is what confirms Bartonbe Spleen's status as a misogynist and failure as a human.

Here is why that text message to Natasha is incredibly offensive to me, to her, and to women/humanity in general:

Bartonbe apologized to one of my best friends for having to 'deal with me,' as though I'm an unruly horse, after sending me malicious text messages regarding a situation that he was already cruel in. What does this mean? This indicates that he respects Natasha more for 'dealing with' the emotions of the female sex object in question than he respects me – and shows that he thinks of Natasha as a human deserving of respect while he thinks of me as an object that he can use, abuse, and be absolved of responsibility for.

Just going to repeat myself one more time: Bartonbe Spleen found it acceptable to verbally attack someone that he had been intimate with. When Bartonbe Spleen found out that I had shared this story with one of my best friends, he apologized to my friend for me being hurt by his actions and making her deal with it. He attempted to absolve himself of responsibility by looking for solidarity with someone who I had also apparently caused problems for. Bartonbe believed that as a male, he was entitled to be intimate with someone because he was in the mood for it without consequence, and assumed he would get sympathy from my friend for his extreme hardship.

Unfortunately for Bartonbe, he looked for solidarity with the wrong girls.

Because Natasha, and all of my friends, I hope, are feminists. They believe in equality of the sexes, and they also believe that all humans deserve respect. And they aren't going to sympathize with someone who exhibits clearly sexist and misogynist attitudes.

Natasha hasn't responded to the text yet, but she will. She is taking the time to craft a response that will explain to Bartonbe precisely why she isn't going to sympathize with him, among other things. Will he take it to heart? Probably not. But she's fighting the good fight.

Marnie called Bartonbe back and calmly tried to explain to him why his actions weren't acceptable. He replied that he 'got it' and 'would never do any of it to a girl like her.'

Wait, let's go back to that.

I don't know Marnie, so I can't compare what the difference between girls like her and girls like me are. But here's the thing: it doesn't matter. Marnie could be a business woman or a pole dancer, she could be a mother or a musician or a virgin or a vaulter. She could be a girl who is always in relationships or she could be always single. It. Does. Not. Matter. Bartonbe implied that Marnie is a woman who deserves more respect than another woman. It doesn't matter that it was me. It matters that I'm a person, and whatever flaw in me he chose to see and mark it as a reason that I don't deserve respect is not a reason to use me, ignore me, and then be cruel.

Marnie called out this logic too, and continued to explain the flaws in Bartonbe's thinking. The next morning, Bartonbe sent Marnie another shirtless snapchat.

In her words: “So I woke up this morning to a snap from [Bartonbe Spleen] with his shirt off...what has he learned from this?”

I guess you can't teach an old misogynist new tricks.

Other humorous tidbits from this fiasco:

  • After this, I posted the tumblr straight white boys texting on Natasha's wall. Bartonbe commented on it – "guys r dumb." And then told Marnie via text that 'he hoped he wasn't adding fuel to the fire, but if it was about him he wanted to get in on it.' Fuel to the fire? What fire? The fire of us laughing at other idiots text messages?

  • Bartonbe told Marnie on the phone that I had sent him some 'mean text messages.' lol.

  • So you found a girlfriend on the street in two weeks and then are still sending shirtless snapchats to a girl on the east coast? Sounds real.

  • Some of the texts Bartonbe sent to me, Natasha, and Marnie indicate that he thinks I'm really sad about him, because he is obviously a huge prize in the dating world. Alas, I was sad for approximately one hour, and now am happy to have dodged a smoking bullet.

  • Bartonbe has posted things on facebook such as: reasons women shouldn't wear makeup and should be naturally beautiful, statuses ragging on girls making faces in pictures, AKA, numerous instances that show that he believes women should act in ways he wishes them to act because he is a man.

That's all folks! Hope you enjoyed this first installment in Caricatures of Misogyny. And don't feel too bad for me. Bartonbe's an idiot but I'd rather be screwed over by him than be him. Hopefully this little fiasco will inspire some people out there to think twice about their actions and language.