Sady Doyle at Broadsheet whips out the “ignore bullies and they’ll go away” argument when it comes to Tucker Max, an iconic douchebag, a saint to misogynists everywhere. Alas, hating women is considered such delightful entertainment that Max is out promoting the movie version of his memoirs “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell,” a movie that’s so misogynist that even in the trailer you have Max declaring that killing fat girls for sport is acceptable because they’re not people. As a joke, it’s a miserable failure. (Look up the trailer if you want to see what I mean. I’m choosing a video that I think embodies the response that Max deserves.) It has no rhythm, wit, or even that twist of surprise that generates a laugh. It’s “funny” in the same way that racists believe using racial slurs is “funny”—the laughter is the release of wretched human beings trying to distract themselves from their own awfulness by pretending others are inferior. Max has sworn to sue anyone who calls him a rapist, but he has bragged about filming a woman having sex with him without her consent, which is a form of sexual assault in some states, and I suspect if the victim would like to press charges or sue, she’d have a case.
The point is, some college campuses are allowing this anti-woman film to be shown, and feminist groups are protesting. Doyle is protesting their protests on the grounds that it violates the ignore-the-bullies strategy.
But the protests may benefit him more than anything else.
Max is a showman. Being hated is a part of his act. He’s a self-described asshole who succeeds by getting people to agree with him. His fans think he’s saying what they can’t; his critics think he’s saying what no one should. But if you’re offended, you’ve noticed him. And for his fans, knowing that he’s picketed by feminists — feminists! Dreaded nemeses of parties and good time! — isn’t cause for concern, but a ringing endorsement.
Giving Max his very own protest makes him seem far important than he actually is. It gives him the enemies he needs.
Unfortunately, I have to point out that the strategy of looking the other way when men mistreat women has been the preferred one throughout most of human history, and it really didn’t do much to reduce the incidence of rape. In fact, it wasn’t until feminists started to speak out against rape and the rape culture that rape incidence began to plummet. In fact, dropping the “ignore the bullies” strategy has caused the rape rate to go down 85% since the 1970s. If continuing to speak out puts the fear of prison into Max and his fans so that they think twice before acting out their hatred of women in a violent manner, then I’m willing to accept his self-aggrandizing as a trade-off.
Because there’s more people at stake here than Max and his misogynist fan base. As anyone arguing with misogynists needs to understand, you don’t argue with broken woman-haters in order to change their minds. Believe me; I’ve spent a lot of time arguing with anti-choice nuts online, and I know that they’re brick walls. Something is broken inside of them, and they have to take it out on women who have sex, and you’re not going to change their bone-deep hatred of sexual women by arguing with them. Nor are you going to change Tucker Max’s belief that women who have sex deserve to be dumped on. He’s got the same disease, even if it manifests differently. But you should still protest misogyny and push back, because the people who promote it aren’t the only people involved. You have an audience, and you should aim your message at them.
Will the protests cause Max to stop hating women, or his fans to stop toying with the idea of violence against women? No. But college campuses are stuffed with young women, too, and many of them have been assaulted, abused, or mistreated by these frat daddy misogynists, and they often feel alone, like the whole world sides with misogynist men and no one cares about them. They may even feel pressured to go to this movie and pretend to think it’s funny, even if it’s causing them miserable flashbacks to some mistreatment at the hands of some dickwad. The protests send the signal that you aren’t alone if you think there’s something wrong with misogyny. That there’s people out there who agree with you. That you have allies. And that if you’re raped by one of these assholes, you can pursue justice.
That doesn’t mean that the message can’t be refined, of course. Knowing that your audience is the fence sitters and women who feel uneasy at being regarded as subhuman can help you craft a message that will reach more people. You can’t approach a protest as an attempt to change the misogynists, and certainly not as an attempt to shut down their freedom of speech. But you can and should package the message that women are people in a way that is fun and enticing and clever—particularly since Tucker Max is not clever, which gives you space to one-up him with ease. For instance, for someone who pretends to be fun-loving, he actually is working to make the world less fun and sexy. By making sexual experimentation dangerous for women, he’s discouraging it, and less sex overall will be the result. Max may prefer hating women to a sexy, fun world, of course, but how dreary and fun-hating to you have to be to join along? When your opponent is a mega-douche like Max, then the strategy should be to demonstrate the feminism is cooler by far, and that women having real orgasms while being considered human is way more fun for everyone, and only a tedious, unfun douchebag would want it any other way.
The trailer preemptively tries to take the knees off any woman who sees this and gets angry at being hated for no good reason, by showing eye-rolling and angry women as the villains. They use this tactic because it works to shame young women into not standing up for themselves and saying no to this dehumanization and abuse. But there’s ways to get around that, again by having fun and making fun of the sorts of douchebags who consider this entertainment. I’d suggest playing some music like Peaches or something at the protests, and having events and contests that make fun of Max and his fans. Perhaps a Douchebag Olympics, where you award prizes for who can pop their collars or yell at their friends through a Bluetooth the loudest? A simple and easy to pull off stunt would be rolling out a whiteboard and have the crowd come up with suggestions for things that would be more fun than going home with Tucker Max or any of his fans. Suggestions:
*Pulling your toenails out with pliers
*Wiping dog shit in your hair
*Flunking your classes
*Joining a nunnery
Max and the men who enjoy schtick like his are able to intimidate women because they imply that men can judge women, but not vice versa. Simply proving that women can mock back and the world doesn’t end—and that it’s a lot of fun!—can be a huge relief to young women who are genuinely afraid that either they go along with the misogynist schtick, or they will be left utterly alone. Sending the message that there is a community of women who push back, say no, and have fun doing it is well worth the effort.
You can also push back against Max’s message that sexually active women are bad and deserve to be punished. Pass out condoms, have silly sex toy demonstrations, have lots of giggles while sending the message that women who have sex are real people, and a lot more fun than weasels like Max or his angry fans who want to punish women for being attractive.
And what the hell, here’s some more Garfunkel and Oates.