Patriarchy-blaming is a crappy business. The Internet feminist must beware the fine line, or slippery slope, or pot-calling-kettle-black, or hoist-on-own-petard or what have you, when aiming the Super Spinster Truth-Ray at stuff. Attention must be paid to the potential stinkiness of one’s own role in the proceeding. Care must be taken to inspect the fists for ham. Sometimes, denouncing a particular instance of exploitation produces unwanted side-effects. Ethical concerns. Knots in the lobe. Sensations of inner grubbiness. Such that, when the denunciation is completed and the sun sets on another day of blaming, instead of writing, with the usual glowing satisfaction, “Dear Diary, today I exposed some pernicious culture-of-oppression shit for what it is, goddammit!” one is obliged to say “Crap, I think I just participated in misogyny most foul.”
The blaming goal is to expose oppression without compounding it with one’s own voyeurism, but this can be pretty difficult when dealing with subject matter that is by definition dependent upon — and therefore inherently sensitive to — the public gaze. I allude, of course, to the subject-victims of pornography. How do you write, “Here is a graphic representation of our culture’s hatred of women, and this is why I think so” without re-injuring the victim during the course of your argument? Is the pornulated woman to be made a casualty of feminist analysis in addition to her primary violation? Is a woman, once pornulated, swept away into some skeezy two-dimensional purgatory to remain there forever?
These issues are looming large down at Spinster HQ at the moment, and have been ever since that dangole chump PhysioProf hipped me to the existence of an extremely disturbing website. Maybe you’ve already seen it? It’s the “crying wife” website. In summary: asshole tapes wife when she cries piteously at movies, asshole mocks and laughs at tearful wife, asshole puts videos on YouTube, asshole’s website becomes popular. It’s not pornography in the fetishy sex-smut tradition, but it is definitely the graphic representation of dudely woman-hatin’.
Just Google “crying wife.” It’s the first result.
Not realizing what I was in for, I watched one of the many videos. In this video the woman reacts to the ending of “Star Wars.” I do not exaggerate when I say that it caused my jaw to hang open quite a bit further than usual. Also, my eyes started twitching, and I experienced the nasty sensation of self-loathing that I suspect must afflict all losers when they do loser-y shit.
The woman becomes weirdly and inconsolably emotional, yeah, but my slackjaw was occasioned not by her piteous, painful sobbing, but by her grinning asshole husband goading her on. That’s right, when she actually stops sobbing, he intentionally re-exacerbates her sadness by inviting her to remember sad scenes in the film. He also makes a big fucking point of saying that it is so hilarious to pimp her on the Internet as she experiences this extended moment of private weirdness and acute vulnerability. His tone as videographer can be summarized as “I invite you to point and laugh as I proudly make the lovable simpleton I’m married to cry and cry over stupid shit.”
As PhysioProf wrote in his email, “the sheer gratuitous pointlessness of the cruelty is shocking.”
The husband-dude’s laffy obliviousness adds a whole nother layer of crapulence, but it’s obvious he knows on some level that he’s exploiting her, because he’s got a whole FAQ dedicated to explaining how he isn’t exploiting her. First he makes a hi-fucking-larious joke about how she’s insane “only 4 days out of the month ;-)” [sic]. Then he makes his argument, which can can be boiled down to three points. One, it isn’t exploitation because he just can’t help laughing at his wife. Two, his wife “thinks it’s funny” and is “able to laugh at herself afterwards.” Three, it isn’t exploitation because he says it isn’t. He “loves [her] to death and thinks she’s the cutest girl in the world!” Also, “She’s a good sport and we all love her :)”.
Well, that makes it okay, then!
I’ve wanted to complain about this for a couple of days, but the idea of my own complicity in propagating the virus and contributing to the sobsploitation has made me queasy. It still does make me queasy. I have attempted to mitigate my quease by omitting to link to the website, but I have to admit that the astonishing degree of misogyny displayed by this loving husband moron has to be seen to be believed.