[CONTENT NOTE: misogyny, sexual assault “joke”, hostility to consent]
Last September a story out of Asheville made the rounds in the Twittoblogoverse about two d00ds who ran a coffee shop there. For those unacquainted, Asheville is an arty, foodie, decidedly liberal bastion, a colorful little gem of a town set in the gorgeous hills of Western North Carolina. Anyway, by day these d00ds, Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens, were Members in Good Standing of the tight-knit, progressive Asheville community—but by night they moonlighted as pickup artists, and bragged about their exploits with local women in humiliating detail on podcasts, a website/blog and a Twitter feed. To be clear: the sexcapades were consensual. Well, at least some of them were, anyway: in one podcast, Owens muses about fucking a woman while she was a patient in a hospital. He refers to her, charmingly, “the two-vagina’d beast,” and then says:
“Hospital sex is weird, when she’s drugged,” he says. “It’s strange, but it’s really cool.”
“Could she give consent?” Rutledge asks. “Could she give consent, Jay?”
Owens then laughs while saying, “Uh oh. That’s my bad. That is my bad.”
“You might’ve violated some California laws,” Rutledge says. “Good thing we don’t live in California.”
HAHAHA. Good thing! Whew!
But even if all of their encounters were indeed consensual, the descriptions they gave of their partners were dehumanizing, objectifying, cruel and vile, obviously steeped in the misogynist manosphere and reeking of rape culture. (You can easily google them if you wish, but I won’t be posting quotes here.) Kayla Bott, a local video store manager, told the Asheville Citizen-Times, “The problem is not sleeping with people or talking about it. The problem is using women as things to boost your own ego. This is an act of dehumanizing women for self-aggrandizement and that is not a good reason or way to improve your own self esteem.” And while none of it was likely illegal, the women’s lives and relationships have suffered in the aftermath.
My friend (and self-proclaimed Loyal Subject™) SJ lives in the environs of Asheville, and we discussed the story back when it first blew up. My observation at the time was that the only thing remarkable about the story—and it was, and remains, truly remarkable—is that the community rallied around the women. There were boycotts, protests, rallies, petitions. “These are literally the women of the community that we live with,” Bott said. “These are our friends. These are our loved ones. These are our neighbors. There are mothers. We are taking this situation personally, and we are supportive of the women of the community.”
Fast forward a few months to 2016: Rachel Monroe did a follow-up on the story for New York magazine, which SJ just sent to me. I couldn’t help being struck by all the glaring symptoms of Conservative Personality Disorder (CPD) on display by Rutledge (Owens did not participate in the story), and in particular the interesting course such an afflicted individual’s life took in Asheville. Conservatives are deeply, hopelessly conformist after all; so what happens when their community’s norms embody progressive views of women’s sexual freedom and sexual morality? Well, as it turns out you still get exploitation, entitlement and abuse—except that instead of manifesting in the realms of business or government or “traditional” marriage, they manifest in dating.
Jared’s blog posts offered dating tips, braggy descriptions of sexual encounters [superficiality: braggart], angry venting about women who’d flaked on him [entitlement: feels inherently deserving of others’ time and energy], and pseudointellectual analysis of gender relations [limited dimensionality of thought: highly motivated to eliminate cognitive ambiguity by reducing complex real-world phenomena to discrete dualities]
a list of his sexual conquests, evaluated with a numerical score that ranked each woman’s face, body, and personality, as well as a brief description. [superficiality: fixation on appearance as an indicator of identity and character; boundary violations: outright rejection of others’ rights to privacy and personal autonomy]
“There are few things that give me more sadistic pleasure than witnessing the ever-increasing neuroses of a woman hitting the wall,” he tweeted. (“Hitting the wall” is manosphere-speak for aging.) [sadism]
“All of my life I have looked for certainty and attempted to make sense of the world,” he said. [limited dimensionality of thought: anxious and unnerved by cognitive ambiguity, and highly motivated to eliminate it by reducing complex real-world phenomena to discrete dualities.] That search for an explanatory framework led him to the manosphere, where his tendency toward judgment was amplified and given direction. “It’s like a rut in your brain. I’ve had this my whole life, in different arenas. Anger and judgment. Road rage or being mad at a customer who annoyed me. The actual thing to fix is why do I feel the need to — mentally or verbally or on Twitter — punish someone with words because they slighted me. The root of it is the need to judge the world because it doesn’t meet my expectation.” [entitlement: arrogant; self-righteousness: judgmental, hypercritical, scornful and disdainful of out-group “others”; emotionality: easily triggered outbursts; authoritarianism: punishment oriented]
he majored in philosophy and confidently told atheist friends they were going to hell. [irrationality: hyper-religiousness pervading all social interactions; self-righteousness: judgmental, pompousness]
[Rutledge’s comments in the next paragraphs on Game exemplify amorality: markedly unconcerned with the welfare or suffering of others, exploitative, Machiavellian]
“I didn’t write those blog posts or tweets for women,” he said. “I wrote them for men. I wrote them for other men in this corner of the internet to validate me and make me feel good.” [entitlement: narcissistic]
the men issued ham-fisted apologies (Jared: “Most of my life I’ve struggled with insecurities around dating”; [self-righteousness: inability to sincerely apologize for personal wrongdoing]
But, said Jared, “Nobody reached out to us to say, ‘What do you need to heal, to be better men?’ [^#^%&^%&!!! DEAR GOD WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE POOR MEN?! Priorities!]
“If you’re going to say you’re a loving, supportive community and then just kick out everybody that does something fucked up — I think that’s wrong,” Jared told me. “You don’t get to say, ‘We’re loving and supportive and inclusive’ and not put in the work to be that. ” [Hahaha no. They didn’t kick out “everybody,” they kicked out a pretender and betrayer who deeply shattered a tight-knit community’s trust. That’s what healthy communities do. People who have been used and betrayed are not obligated to forgive, love, support or include those who have used and betrayed them (entitlement much?). Also, Jared didn’t just “do something fucked up,” he did it over and over and over, continuously bragging about his exploits on the internet, and after being caught and called on it is still making it all about him. Unbelievable. Except, no, not really. stunted self-awareness: insistence that self-created problems are entirely the fault of others or of circumstances beyond one’s control, minimization and rationalization of one’s harmful behavior toward others.]
He admitted repeatedly that what he did was wrong: “I used fucking nasty language. I used hurtful and violent language. I shared things I should never have shared about lovers and I objectified women and broke them down to box scores in a way that is objectifying and gross.” [Translation: I’m sorry I got caught saying what I really think about women.]
Still, having spent weeks in the depths of self-examination, he wondered when he’ll be able to reemerge in town as the new, humbled version of himself — and on what terms. [WHOLE WEEKS! “In the depths of self-examination!” This man has suffered enough, people.]
I asked him if he still wanted to follow the plan he’d written about in his pre-reflection-and-repentance era: fuck around as much as possible until age 38, then marry a 24- or 25-year-old. “Yeah,” he said without hesitation. “Derek Jeter’s doing it.” I must have looked incredulous. “It’s kind of a double standard, right?” he said. “Because everyone’s okay with him doing it, nobody has a problem with that.”
“Why do you want to marry a 25-year-old?” I asked.
“Hotness, absolutely,” he said.
“I’m open to new information always. I think that’s where I got off the mark a little bit with this. I thought I had the answer — but the answers I thought I had hurt a lot of people and hurt me.” [Especially ME. Me, me, me. What about me, huh?]
If anything, [the women betrayed by Jared] said, it was Jared who wasn’t able to take the sex casually. Now they know that when a woman turned him down or canceled a date or otherwise didn’t live up to his expectations, he lashed out online. [stunted self-awareness: inability to recognize blatant hypocrisy in self, emotionality: temperamental, easily triggered outbursts; entitlement: believes he is inherently deserving of others’ time and energy]
When I asked her about Jared’s attempts to become a better man and be reaccepted by the community, she sighed and looked sad. “There needs to be time for the community to heal, and time for the healing within them … They needed a lot of growth.” [He’s already spent WEEKS in the depths of self-examination! Gosh, women are so selfish and bitter, amirite?]
Well that was a fun exercise. If nothing else, we see once again that atheists—our friend Jared here is an atheist—are just as capable of being misogynist conservative doucheweasels as Bible berserkers, Talmud toadies and Qur’an connoiseurs.
SJ helpfully suggested that I add some indication of just how incredibly ugly the manosphere is. If you want to learn about it in all its glorious grotesquery, I highly recommend reading We Hunted The Mammoth. David Futrelle not only tracks its terrible inhabitants, but mocks them—sublimely.
SJ also adds:
These are our sons and brothers and fellow citizens who pass for normal. These are the kind of people we are…at least a whole fucking large percentage of us.
Misogyny is the rule, not the exception.
Fuck this ugly, fucking conservative country.
^What SJ said.