Hey, remember Patrick Farves, the 18 year-old high school senior who made national news by getting himself a 3 day (in-school) suspension for disrupting an assembly by asking Miss America to the prom? Well, feminist freelancer Amanda Marcotte decided to do God’s work and tell these kids, and/or their parents, to put an end to the embarrassing annual spectacle of pity-courting, and called the ritual “sexual harassment.” Conservatives responded by telling the ugly bitch to go masturbate herself to sleep. Or words to that effect.
If you’ve watched any TV news this week, you’ve seen the very shittily filmed viral video of Farves interrupting an assembly to ask out Miss America Nina Davuluri, or his Today Show appearance explaining how the whole thing was worth the 3-day in school suspension he deservingly received. The school had gotten wind of Farves’ plan, and had warned him not to do it. Marcotte tweeted about it, saying “I really wish people would stop acting like it’s cute when teenage boys sexually harass older women.”
When faced with a chance to war on a woman, of course conservatives took the beta-male side. Marcotte has a breakdown of some representative responses, but my personal favorite has to be the guy who told her “you must shop at Costco for batteries and cat food in bulk!” while sporting a “Dads Against Daughters Dating” logo as his Twitter avi. How proud his daughters must be of the masturbation jokes he sends young women on Twitter.
What’s amazing, though, is that the advice Marcotte gives in her followup post is exactly the sort of thing you’d expect the “don’t be a pussy” crowd to respect:
Every year around prom, there’s a “cute” story wherein a teenage boy gets himself some attention by putting a famous and beautiful celebrity he’s never met on the spot by asking her to prom, knowing full well that she would rather be at home pulling out her toenails than go on a date with some random teenage boy she’s never met. She, not wanting to look like a bitch, has to do a little song and dance of pretending to be flattered, instead of telling him to fuck the fuck off, as he royally deserves. The teenage boy is inevitably rewarded with back slaps and “go get ‘em” type encouragement. I oppose doing this, because the lesson we are teaching boys is that it’s not only acceptable to be sex pests, but that it’s downright cute. This is a bad lesson, because when he goes out into the real world and tries this routine of bugging clearly uninterested women for dates and attention—and exploiting their desire to be polite to force them to sit and listen to him while looking for a friend to rescue them—it will come across as the boorish behavior that it is.
When faced with the magic words “sexual harassment,” all of the usual conservative desire to slap the shit out of Pajama Boy evaporates in a cloud of reflexive panic. Better to ally with a beta-male who couldn’t even manage a full-strength suspension than to actually agree with a feminist, and even better to throw in some sexual hostility along the way.
But “sexual harassment” is a term with a definite meaning, one which includes “unwelcome sexual advances,” and since Miss America had never seen Farves before in her life, it is a necessary presumption that this advance was unwelcome. It also includes remarks like the one the World’s Greatest Dad/Costco Pitchman made.
In her blog post, Marcotte addresses all of the stupid arguments she heard along with the abuse, but here’s how she explained the term that they’re all so hung up on:
(I)f a man sincerely thinks he has a chance and he asks politely for a date, that is fine. (At least if he’s willing to take no for an answer.) But the reason the prom request was “funny” in this case is because the young man and his adoring audience all know for a fact that Miss America does not want to go on a date with him. The issue here is not a good faith request for a date. The issue here is whether or not we teach boys that it’s cool to pester clearly uninterested women, and exploit basic politeness to force someone to indulge their boorish behavior. I say no. My detractors clearly think being an asshole is a unassailable male prerogative.
She later concedes, for the sake of expedience, that there are other terms that are serviceable, as well. “The request was made specifically to make her uncomfortable, and so yes, I believe that belongs to the general category of harassment,” she says, “But if you want to simply consider it boorish, fine. Either way, it’s terrible to teach boys to do this to women.”
There may well be a silver lining to all of this derp, however. If we can get Amanda to begin tweeting about how expanding Medicaid is misogynist, or how gun regulations are paternalistic, maybe we can get some stuff done in this country.