Open Letter to anonymous male activist regarding brow beating
Well, now that the nuptials are over, maybe it'll stop. But I really just did get tired of all the brow beating posts on their site, demanding that we all congratulate him on his new trophy bride. There's a reason for that.
Oh my God. This has just gotten so embarrassing.
Look. I'm a huge fan of your work. Really, I am. I LOVE that you are radically defending the whales. I love that you used the force of your passion and your personality to bring together so many people to fight on behalf of the animals. I love that you've committed yourself to the struggle all your life. Yes!
Why this, though. Why? Why these kinds of posts? I'm following this page because I care about WHALES, and I like the work you're doing. I don't really care about your personal life, and I'm utterly uninterested in who you're sleeping with. It would be none of my business or anyone else's who you're having sex with, and even marrying, this time.
Except that, buddy, you're MAKING it everyone's business by subjecting us to sooo many unseemly posts wherein you rail against anyone who dares not congratulate you with due adulation. Please just stop it. Otherwise, you force the response I now must give you. (That you filtered, so now I must go semi - public. But I'll leave your name out because I really do like your work and do not wish to sabotage it. But I do have a point that deserves to be heard and I believe in making myself heard over the din of dude voices like yours. So here I go.)
I, like so many of your fans, tried to just look away from the vaguely embarrassing spectacle. Tried to convince myself it was wrong of me to question anything about you parading your happy new dalliance around ad nauseam all over the internet. No matter how, well, icky all the "me 'n my trophy" posts felt on some unnamed, visceral level. I told myself I was being unfair, catty, ageist even, to feel anything but happiness or, at the very least, neutrality over the spectacle of a white haired man in his mid 60s suddenly trying to squeeze into skinny jeans next to a smiling, apparently much younger, conventionally and stereotypically attractive blonde woman with a demurely self effacing expression of unabashed hero worship on her face.
But you forced this out of me, my friend. This was just one too many of these posts.
So I've had to examine this a little. When you posted all the smitten duo selfies, the "me and my fiance" video, and even the "yay we're getting married, in PARIS" post, I just politely looked away like virtually everyone else. I had nothing nice to say, and so I said nothing. But when you now follow up with a grousing and defensive post like the one you just spit up, you invite me to consider the charges you say you're responding to, and to mull over my own discomfort with having to look at these posts of yours. And I do have to look at them if I am interested in following the work you do with the [organization you founded]. (Which I am. I'm just not interested in who you're screwing this time.)
So I'm gonna do it, my friend. I'm gonna be the asshole for a minute here, in the service of letting out some words that would at this point surely tear their way out of my face were I not to just write them down here.
There is nothing wrong with people loving who they love. And there's certainly nothing wrong with an age disparity between partners. Heck, there isn't even anything necessarily wrong with your serially marrying women apparently getting younger and younger than you.
So why did that paragraph explaining what you see in your much younger fiance, as you put it, "aside from the obvious," ... why did that bother me enough to finally goad me into becoming the unseemly guest who gets up and points out the big goiter on aunt Rose that everyone was trying to pretend wasn't there?
Well it's this. My friend, no one is questioning "what you see in her." It is, in fact, *patently* obvious and not just as an aside. And that alone would be no one's business except yours and hers, were it not for your continuing trying to force us all to celebrate along with you. THAT is the problem here.
Because, friend? Maybe some of us are TIRED of the dynamic of powerful men using their social and material capital to mine their circle of followers for sexual partners. (And do NOT pretend we are not all well aware that this isn't the first time this has happened with you. Or the second. Or even the third....)
Yes and maybe we're TIRED of the spectacle of these same men confusing sexual attractiveness with competence, plucking out the same thin, blonde, inexpert but coyly and conventionally attractive, fawning young thing and holding her up to the rest of us as some allegedly shining example of what we should all be aspiring to become.
This is especially troubling in activism, where we are supposed to be working together to build a better world, free of the hierarchies and oppressions that exist, for instance, between males and females. (All forms of oppression are interrelated and we cannot competently address one form while condoning or, especially, participating in another.)
Sexual objectification of women is not new to us. And yes, we're all very used to activist men who use what cred they can muster to dazzle pretty girls into sleeping with them while ignoring and dismissing the thoughts, words, and actions of women who are not sleeping with them. We are used to the one-sided ageism that suggests older women are useless while older men, such as yourself, are still vital to the cause. We're used to lookism and objectification and the offering or denial of privileges and resources based on how pretty we are and how young we are and how willing to flatter the ego or offer ourselves up to the libido of the Man in Command.
We are used to it. And we do not like it. We are, in fact, tired of it. And this is why I'm tired of your posts.
I will acknowledge here that I do not know what goes on between you and [your fiance], nor do I want to know. But here is what I do know. I know what my experiences are with activist males, I know what it is to be subjected to a very long pattern of patriarchal objectification, exploitation, and oppression in activist circles. I know what unacknowledged privilege is, and what a double standard is, and I know what these posts are saying to me as a woman in an activist movement. I know that I am tired of this message and this pattern. Stop asking me to celebrate this perpetuation of objectification and one- sided ageism with you.
You are flaunting your unearned and unacknowledged male privilege in our faces at the same time that you are asking us to politely approve of your tiresome equation of sexual availability and attractiveness with credentials. Yes, friend. You have unearned privilege that allows you to sit at the helm of a lucrative franchise and mine your granddaughter's generation for sex partners while women your own age who have done just as much as you have are ignored, dismissed, and made to feel invisible, unworthy, and broken by the confluence of time and gender.
And yes, this is also why your "here's what there is to see in [my trophy wife], 'aside from the obvious '" comment finally annoyed me enough to respond. You expended a taxing paragraph trying to give activist cred to someone who really hasn't earned it yet, because you like sleeping with her. This is inappropriate. Not because you want to be with her, but because you are blatantly trying to brow beat us all into respecting her work as an activist in a way it doesn't yet merit, solely because she is your sexual partner.
She's a vegan and has a FACEBOOK PAGE and held a sign. Really, friend?! THAT is your enumeration of her alleged activist cred?!
Look. This is nothing against her. I'm sure she's very sweet, and obviously loves the animals. I'm sure she's very passionate and all. I'm grateful to her for getting up and holding a sign rather than sitting back and doing nothing. It is a start and I look forward to great things from her one day. But surely you realize, every one of us having to read these posts is also passionate about the animals and the earth. We have pretty much ALL held signs at demos. We ALL obviously have Facebook pages. (In point of fact, some of us have actually done a darn sight more than that. Some of us actually have REAL activist cred that goes way beyond posting our outrage to Facebook or holding a sign once in awhile. And many of us are even VEGAN.)
Do you seriously expect anyone to believe that her being vegan and having a Facebook page (or even holding a SIGN!) would have captured your interest, and that you would be promoting her to the public as a beacon of activism, had she been the same age as you, had she white hair like you, had she a paunch like yours? No. You would not have. You would have looked right through her. Even if she had ironclad credentials as an activist, you'd have ignored her completely. As would most of this misogynist culture that only values women for their fitness as sex partners, and only when they conform to very narrow and specific standards of beauty.
It is my fervent belief that you would never have even noticed a woman your own age and build, no matter how stellar her curriculum vitae. But because you find this woman sexually attractive, you hold up a very minor and Spartan activist resume as "proof" of her passion and commitment to the cause and her worthiness of your (and our!) attention. How DARE you try to equate looking pretty in a tight t shirt and arm warmers with FUCKING ACTIVISM.
Some of us have fought and bled and moved mountains for the animals. We have sweated and struggled and occasionally been broken. We've sharpened our teeth and wielded our pens like swords and our fists like battering rams. WE have CRED.
(Heck I've even heard tales of a woman who once jumped into the water with a knife in her teeth and swam for miles in the wine dark sea to cut through a net and free dolphins in Taiji. Now THAT is some cred!)
So yes. The idea of you telling US what it means to be a passionate activist, and holding THAT kind of fluffy resume up as some kind of cred so long as it comes with the (ironically attached) photos of "pretty blonde girl holding sign," dude that just smacks of patriarchal insult. The problem is not that [she] is pretty, nor that you are attracted to her, nor that you want to marry her. The problem is that you are pretending that your relationship should be of interest to everyone because of her qualifications as an activist when, in fact, she doesn't really have them yet while many others DO and are ignored. You're perpetuating a Disney Princess stereotype in which our real goal as women should be to appeal to men like you and when we do we get to wear the crown and marry the Prince and all the "lesser girls" have to bow down before the anointed couple.
Do you KNOW how often we women are asked to put up with that? Do you KNOW how tiresome and annoying that gets? I doubt it. And I encourage you to think about it.
So, friend, do go ahead and happily marry who you will. Just quit trying to brow beat us into pretending we aren't looking at this through a long lens of male privilege and patriarchy that mocks and insults women who are real, kick-ass activists. Marry this person, be happy together, and keep doing the work of fighting for the animals! But stop with these embarrassing posts. I'm happy you're happy, but stop asking me to pretend I'm not seeing one more activist dude who got a lot more attention and resources for his work than any of the women doing the SAME WORK, a dude who is now perpetually using that attention and those resources to get a pretty sex partner. May your young fiance's passion move her to do great things, and WHEN SHE DOES I will celebrate her (actual) accomplishments with you. May you both do great work, and may your posts reflect THAT from now on, instead of just showing off to your buddies that you get a pretty and much younger blonde girl. Ick.
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