Let's Jam about Books, Wattpad, Gender Theory, and Reddit
Writer, pessimist, true crime enthusiast, and chaotic neutral.
I write a lot of books on wattpad.
I also read a lot of romance, lurk on a lot of Columbine forums, and listen to a lot of Die Antwoord. I'm a weird human and I write books that reflect that.
I’ve been calling myself a feminist since I was ten years old. I grew up in the heyday of the SpiceGirls. Girl Power. Girls are just as strong as boys. All of that. I believed in feminism with all of my heart.
Moving into my teenage years, I became more serious about my feminism. I started reading about issues like abortion and stem cell research. I read up on both sides of these arguments. I also became very interested in female sexual objectification in the media. I started reading books on the subject. My favorite was Jean Kilbourne’s “Deadly Persuasion.” I went on to watch her “Killing Us Softly” documentaries. I even became friends with an adjust college professor and finagled my way into attending a few Women’s Studies courses for free. She used to give me a ride from my high school to the campus and then home after. (She was a nice lady and I was a weird teenager).
Growing up in an abusive home and witnessing domestic violence firsthand, violence against women was another issue close to my heart. By college, I was reading Susan Brownmiller.
I loved being a feminist.
I believed in the ideology with all of my heart.
People often made jokes about what an “obnoxious feminist” I was.
I took it all in stride.
I loved being a feminist. Because feminism was important. Women, nay-the world, needed feminism.
But I don’t feel this way anymore, and the reasons are nuanced and many. I won’t be able to fit them all into one blogpost. I’d have to write a manifesto (and I’m not super interested in writing longform non-fiction).
Please understand my disenchantment with feminism can not be encapsulated in this one blog post. I will only be attempting to explain ONE of the many reasons I will no longer call myself a feminist.
And just to be clear (for anyone waiting in the wings to cry “If you believe in equality between the genders, then YOU ARE Feminist!!) I wasn’t the first one to say, “Hmmm….maybe I’m not a feminist.” Other feminists were.
I do not believe in the patriarchy. I do not believe that women are systemically oppressed in the Western World. I do believe that men and women are equally capable and should have the same opportunities and privileges. This should mean I’m a feminist, right?
Wrong according to fellow feminists. Since I believe women already HAVE the same opportunities as men, because I do not believe men are unilaterally in all areas of life privileged over women (and in fact men are the disenfranchised ones in many areas, including homelessness, the education gap, higher suicide rates, mainstream genital mutilation at birth, among many MANY issues), because I believe that women already have equality, I have been told I am not a feminist.
I do not believe that as a white middle-class woman in America I am oppressed. I do not believe my gender holds me back at all. I am not a victim of anything. I used to believe I was. As I’ve grown older and my worldview has expanded with my life experience, I no longer feel this is the case. I’ve been told in no uncertain terms; if you do not believe in the patriarchy then you are not a feminist.
So…*shrug* I’m not a trad-con or anything. I used to think only weirdo traditional conservative women steeped in internalized misogyny were the types to say, “I’m not a feminist.” But the feminist movement makes no room for women who believe that women have already achieved equality. I’m not worried about leveling the playing field, because it looks plenty level to me. I’m only worried about maintenance. This statement alone got me banned from four separate online feminist communities:
“I don’t feel oppressed at all. I don’t think my gender holds me back, and women have all the same opportunities that men have“
This brings me to the main topic of this post: silly little strawman issues. The fact that modern Western feminism is focused on issues such as the supposed lack of pockets on any and all female clothing (I have pockets on all my pants. Does feminism know about Target?), the “pink tax,” and my personal favorite: Emotional Labor; the fact that these are the current feminist talking points proves my point that women have already achieved equality.
Feminists use Emotional Labor as a catch-all for several different “issues” and I use that term as loosely as possible. They are as follows.
The emotional work required in customer service jobs. Smiling and being nice.
The imbalance in housework (I think technically it’s meant to be something separate, but I’ve seen a lot of feminists use the term in this way).
The emotional work required to “run a household.” Some examples I’ve seen used are tasks such as keeping track of family members’ schedules, remembering birthdays, sending thank-you cards, etc.
Listening to and supporting their husbands. Feminists claim that all heterosexual relationships are one-sided, and anytime a man goes to his partner to talk out his problems, it’s patriarchy.
Okay….deep breath…I’ll tear down these points in the order listed above.
You can’t get a customer service job and then make surprised Pikachu face when *gasp!* you actually have to perform customer service. Yes, you have to smile and be nice to customers.
But let me add this, I used to be a Front End Supervisor for Home Depot. My department was about a 50/50 split males and females (and a couple of FtM trans people-we had a diverse department). You bet your ass the male cashiers had to smile and make nice with customers. It’s part of the job. Hey, I am all for paying customer service employees more. They are absolutely underpaid and undervalued, but don’t use this bullshit argument to make the case.
2. Don’t marry men who don’t care about you. And anyone who doesn’t listen to your feelings and strive to compromise doesn’t care about you. A husband who refuses to split the housework 50/50 is a symptom of a larger problem: an unhealthy relationship.
This a YOU problem, girl. Your relationship sucks.
Thankfully, you’re a feminist! A strong empowered woman, and you have the power to change this TODAY. You have complete control over what you accept in a relationship.
3. Oh! The labor of remembering schedules and making appointments! The oppression! Are men oppressed because they do most of the repairs and upgrades in Western households? If sending thank-you notes is EMotioNAL LABor, than what the hell is changing the wax ring on the toilet, cleaning out the gutters, special ordering storm doors, and keeping track of when the oil needs to be changed on the car?
I know some feminist is waiting in the wings to tell me it’s sexist to say men do the majority of that shit but like….come on. Gender roles are only still in effect when it’s convenient for you? Women are spending all their time on bullshit like sending thank-you cards and remembering birthdays (for real, why in the fuck?) and also doing all the home repairs and car maintenance? I feel like…no. And did I mention I was a manager at Home Depot for about half a decade. Yes, across multiple stores in multiple states. It might sound real pretty to say that women do everything men do (and hey, you want to build your own deck, go for it! I ain’t stopping you!) but I have seen the reality. Men still do all this shit.
I’m waiting for one of them to collect some data and slap a pretty name like “Emotional Labor” on the stress that comes with chasing down the contractor to find out where the hell the double-hung windows are, because that has to at least be in the ballpark of remembering birthdays, right? (I’m being sarcastic. That’s a lot more stressful. It is a known fact that contractors never answer their phones and special orders are always six weeks late minimum).
4. If you think listening to, supporting, and encouraging your man is “labor” than I’m not surprised he never does the dishes. You’re a shitty partner.
by Whitney Carter Fantasy is virtually synonymous with magic, all the way from fireball wielding sorcerers to dragons to simple elemental manipulations. It is in our epic tales, slaying wicked villains, enabling bold heroes, creating social divides and protective wards alike. Given how varied in trait and definition “magic” can be, you’d be […]
I love romance. Really, I do. But dammit if that genre isn’t on a level of internalized misogyny cringe that r/redpillwomen wishes it could reach (keep trying, ladies. That post about how women are water waiting to be molded by men-the supposed ‘containers for women’-came pretty darn close.)
Let’s dig into it. Internalized misogyny. Go!
1 The Virgin Protagonist
But let’s be real, it isn’t so much the fact that the protagonist is a virgin. It’s the way the narrative frames her virginity. In the romance genre, virginity is often used as a symbol of purity and moral superiority. The protagonist’s “innocence” is harped on.
Often she is juxtaposed against a sexually-active female antagonist. This antagonist is usually minor, a “slutty” blonde in class who has the gall to flirt with the male love interest (often before he even knows the protagonist exists and she has no claim to him, but still, what a bitch, right?) The adjectives used to describe this brazen hussy with the absolute uncouth to actually signal interest in a man (the horror!) almost unilaterally have a negative connotation. This girl wears “too-tight” skirts, “flaming” red lipstick, and “dagger-like” nails. Every interaction she has with the male-love interest is made to look desperate and unseemly. She bats her eyelashes, giggles uncontrollably, latches onto his arm possessively; you get the idea.
Innocent virgins who wait around for men to choose them=good.
Women who own their sexuality and aren’t afraid to go after the men they like=bad.
Has anyone told the romance genre we’re actually in the third (fourth?) wave of feminism? They seem to be stuck somewhere between the first and second. Like, women can vote and hold jobs (usually in publishing houses or bookstores), but no self-respecting woman would sully her good name by admitting she enjoys (gasp!) intercourse.
2. She’s Not Like The Other Girls
If you don’t know what the NLOG phenomena is I highly recommend watching this video by one of my favorite content creators. She also explains why the reaction to the NLOGs, the ‘Pick Me’ language is equally sexist. Which is exactly what I told the femcels. I’ve said it once and I’ve said it again, I detest femcels; they are my sworn internet enemies until the end of time. They’re way too nasty without a legitimate enough reason to be so. At least most of the incels are probably clinically depressed. But half the femcels admit to having boyfriends, all while shitting on fat/ugly men and the women who dare to date them (you awful ‘pick me’ desperate bitch! We ALL want to fuck Chad and you’re lying for male validation!) Anyway…I digress. Here you go:
The best example of the NLOG narrative I’ve read lately is Johanna Lindsay’s “Joining.” The MC loves to hang out in nature, raise birds of prey, and dress like a man. She describes women who are conventionally feminine as vapid and shallow. Lindsay didn’t invent this.
The protagonist proving how deserving she is of love by being quirky and interesting (as if these qualities are incompatible with femininity) is a classic hallmark of romance. I’d say it goes back at least as far as Austin’s work, but probably even further than that.
The protagonist is never actually interested in romance. She’s independent! She’s strong!
So, strong women can’t be interested in romance…no, of course not, that’s just silly vapid female thinking. Sorry, my brain don’t always work so good with all my lady hormones.
I don’t know about other romance readers, but I am SOOO freaking ready for a romance heroine who actually wants to be in love. Not one who falls in love despite herself.
I mean, as romance readers, we have an interest in romance. Do we view ourselves as silly vapid females?
This is a lot to unpack. The internalized misogyny is actually pretty painful once you get started. It gets worse though…
3. Dubious Consent
I’ll be plain and clear here. I’m sick of female protagonists getting raped.
And I’m not just talking about the clear-cut that-was-definitely-rape-holy-shit! scenes, like the one I’m still traumatized by from Judith McNaught’s, “Whitney, My Love.”
I’m also talking about the more insidious, sneaky stuff. Like Colleen Hoover’s sexual assault scene in “November 9.” Fallon says, “Stop.” And Ben responds by saying, “I’m trying. Ask me again.” In between these two lines of dialogue, there’s a lot of steamy narrative meant to make the scene erotic and appealing.
Dear Romance Writers: Stop Trying To Make Rape Sexy. Full Freaking Stop.
And Hoover has since come out and said that this scene was an editing error. Apparently, the dialogue between the two main characters was supposed to be referencing some in-joke, but the in-joke was cut from the final draft, making the scene seem worse than it is.
That’s a flimsy excuse that I’m not quite sure I buy, and even if I did, there shouldn’t be any in-jokes that could be construed as sexual assault. Even with all the in-jokes in the world, if a woman says “stop” and it isn’t some carefully-negotiated scene of consensual nonconsent complete with safe words, then the dude should stop and check in. Also, women shouldn’t jokingly say, “stop.” Women can muddy the waters of consent too and I don’t like it from either side.
Cherry Adair’s “In Too Deep” is another example (although to be fair to the specific works I’m calling out, there are a LOT of other books I could have gone with. Dubious consent is a major problem in the romance genre). In this cringe-tastic example of propagating rape culture, the main character is saved from a shipwreck by a super hunky dude. She’s afraid of the storm, so she sleeps in a bed with him. As she is sleeping, he starts kissing and groping her. She wakes up and he is already all over her. And she is into it! Adair really strove to make a man pawing an unconscious woman he met only hours earlier look sexy. It ain’t sexy! STAHP.
The vast majority of romance novels have a female protagonist between the ages of 18 and 23. This is despite the fact that the male love interests tend to be a wide variety of ages. Sheila Roberts’ contemporary Christmas romance ‘Christmas in Icicle Falls’ (which I had issues with for other reasons) and ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ (which I also wasn’t crazy about) are the only two romance novels I’ve ever seen with elderly women falling in love.
Forget elderly, what about middle-aged? Where are the romance novels with women in their 30’s?
I guess there aren’t any since women over 25 shrivel up and die, right? For real, can a woman past the prime age of 24 even HAVE sex?! That would just be crazy.
5) The Dread
The Dread is an idea I’m pulling straight from the pick-up artists over on r/asktheredpill. These men believe that women only like men who have other women after them. Here, look:
I didn’t always have a name for this phenomena in the romance genre. This element of female FANTASY, just soak that in-romance is female fantasy, where the female protagonist competes with other females and wins. Is this something any women in the world are actually getting off to?
One scene that comes to mind is the weird-ass part of the 50 Shades trilogy, where Christian’s crazy-ex shows up (and we could really dig into the misogyny behind the crazy ex character trope, but I’ve digressed enough). The part that made me cringe so hard I think I got whiplash was when Christian tells Ana that he gave his ex a bath. A BATH. Because she was so filthy from being so severely depressed for so long.
Ew. Okay, maybe I’m being a little bit of an NLOG myself now. I guess I’m hoping there actually aren’t any ‘other girls’ getting wet to the idea of their man bathing a woman on the brink of a psychotic break.
There’s also the sub-genre of historical romance known as the Shiek Romance. Maybe these aren’t published anymore now that we’re living in such progressive times (but for real, can the romance genre catch some of that SJW energy?) All I know is I keep finding them in used bookstores and I’ve bought a few and that’s a me-problem that I will cop to. These books usually involve a harem. This is a man who has been banging loads of women on the regular, but then the protagonist shows up and she is so special and wonderful, that he gives up all other females FOR HER. SHE IS THE SUPERIOR FEMALE!
I might enjoy the historical setting and some of the power imbalance (sorry-tis true) but the dread? I’m not feeling it.
Throw it away. Throw the whole trope away.
Stop proving all these red pill jokers right. (Isn’t Joker blackpill?-shhh….none of my readers are weird enough to get that joke…..or ARE they? Leave the weirdness in the comments below!)
Okay, that’s all I got for you. The Romance Genre is horribly misogynistic and in an SJW-world, I don’t understand why a purple-pilled MRA like me is the one complaining about it.
I first heard about the incels back in 2014, probably right along with everybody else reading this. That was when Elliot Rogers went on his shooting rampage in California.
I remember being shocked, utterly shocked that any human being’s brain could work the way that his did. He felt that those women deserved to die because they didn’t have sex with him. Attractive men also deserved to die for being able to get the sex that he could not.
I was floored. He felt that entitled to sex? He felt that people deserved to die over his inability to get a female human to fornicate? That’s….crazy….and I couldn’t get my brain away from it.
Like the creep that I am, I watched Rogers’ videos. I read snippets of his manifesto. Eventually, I stumbled across a toxic and hateful online community. This subreddit no longer exists. It was r/incels.
Lurking on that subreddit made me feel physically ill, to the point that I could only do it for brief periods before a thick cloud of disgust would settle over me. What I read made me feel so nauseated, but at the same time so saddened, saddened for the men writing such awful things.
I’d read one irate post where a self-proclaimed incel ranted about wanting to rape every female he saw.
Then I’d read one from a man who hadn’t spoken to another human in person, nor gone outside, in weeks. NEET. That’s the acronym that fits many of them. Not in Education, Employment, or Training. This is where I started to wonder if this might be more than a sex/relationships issue. I was seeing a lot of Hikikomori-esque behaviors in these men. I started to wonder if the incel phenomena might be closely related to other male issues, like the male-as-provider archaic gender role, or the financial objectification of men and male disposability.
I continued on.
I read incoherent rants on the virtues of incest, lowering the age of consent, female sexual slavery; truly some of the most despicable opinions I’ve ever read.
But what outnumbered all of those posts were the ones that dealt with suicidal thoughts (Cope or Rope?), depression, and extreme social isolation. The common thread among all of these men was that they were lonely, unbearably sad, and without any idea of how to deal with that crushing sadness.
Are you conflicted yet? I know that I was. That’s why I dipped the F out of the incel community and aside from a few meandering lurking sessions here and there, didn’t take another look at that community until 2017. That’s when I decided to write a fiction with an incel main character. It was called “The Box Under The Bed” and dealt with a young man named Adam who was having trouble with women and thinking about going on a shooting spree, so that he could end the lives of many others along with his own. I ditched the project when I realized I was basically writing an Elliot Rogers fanfic. Maybe some creators can craft fine art from true events. “Zero Day” is an incredible movie. I’ll just say I’m not the type of writer that can do that well.
And so again, I left the incel communities, still never actually having spoken to an incel. I focused my attention on revising my book “Combustion” and I wrote the story that would eventually turn into “Of Time Storms and Tourniquets” along with plenty of other projects.
Then the summer of 2019 hit. “Combustion” was being queried. I was 2/3 of the way through the first draft of my wattpad novel “Of Desire and Destruction.” I needed a new project to be excited about. Revisions are a necessary evil, but there is nothing like the thrill of a first draft. There’s nothing like the research phase.
And I don’t know why I chose this topic, don’t know what led me back to the community I’d never found a story for yet in all my years of lurking, but there I was back at the incels’ door, and this time I had an actual idea for an original story.
I dove headfirst into the strangest research I’ve ever done, and probably ever will do.
The first thing I did was start by lurking again. I watched the subreddit r/braincels (recently banned along with r/geekcels and several other incel subs). I also made my way over to .co and if you don’t know what that is, good for you. I’m not linking that site on my blog.
I read a lot of the same misogynistic and awful stuff. Femoids are deformed men. All women deserve to be raped. Awful stuff. It was difficult to believe real human beings were on the other side of the screen.
Then I stumbled across a new subreddit r/incelswithouthate. I was intrigued. They didn’t hate women (or at least, if they did they kept it to themselves). And they even had a female moderator. I won’t put her name here, but I’ll just say she’s a bit infamous in the incel communities. Some say she even moderated r/braincels at one point. True or not, the rumor speaks to how highly respected she is by the incels. r/braincels bans women on sight. Women are not allowed to post there. Yet, they had a female mod, or they did if the reddit rumors are to be believed. Interesting…
I lurked, I read, I watched youtube videos by self-proclaimed incels, and I watched the BBC Incel documentary more times than I could count. I was ready.
I posted on r/braincels.
If you’re saying to yourself, ‘Jyvur, that sounds like a really stupid thing to do,’ you are correct. Everything I did from this point on was stupid. That’s why the title isn’t “Well-conducted Research, Where I Made Smart Choices and Had Journalistic Integrity.”
What I had realized about the incels was that some of their grievances were legitimate. Heightism is absolutely a problem men have to deal with. Look at all the women on Tinder putting height requirements in their bios. Look at the stereotype of the “angry short guy.” Short men are emasculated constantly.
There are a few other issues that incels speak of where I agree their complaints are valid, but the heightism one (for whatever reason) spoke most to my heart. And I had a stroke of brilliance (Ahem…”brilliance”). I thought that if someone outside of their group validated what they were saying, agreed that they had a right to be upset, then they might feel a little better. And these men were so sad, so angry, so hopeless; I thought giving them a kind sentiment to make them feel better was the right thing to do.
So r/braincels is gone now. I’m sure some of the techy incels have found a way to retrieve and archive it. But for a plebeian normie like myself, I can not access it. So, I’ll have to dig back in my memory to tell you what I typed. It will not be 100% accurate as this was several months ago now.
In response to a screenshot of a woman of Twitter making fun of short men, I said something to the effect of, “This really is despicable. I’m a woman who agrees with you. It’s disgusting the way men are objectified. Making a fun of a man for his height is just as bad as sexually objectifying women. I want you guys to know not all women feel this way. Some of us know this is wrong, and I do call out other women when I see this kind of behavior. I get a lot of eye-rolls, but hey, at least they can’t call me an incel. Sorry if I’m not wanted here. I know, what do I know? I’m only a femoid.”
I was probably too flippant and I don’t think my sense of humor always translates. Anyhow, I won’t subject you to the responses I received. I didn’t actually read most of them. The ones that I did were surprising.
‘Women are obsessed with Incels, because they love to see men in pain.‘
I was first introduced to those concepts via my own comment. Then, as I continued to spend time in incel spaces, I saw these sentiments repeated each time a female entered the space. And surprisingly; It happens A LOT.
I’m not even mad at those guys anymore. Women really do bother the fuck out of these guys on a regular basis. I made the same mistake. I assumed they wanted and needed validation from a female. Isn’t that awful? Their anger at women, I believe, is partly a tool to reject the male need for female validation. Giving them something that they are trying so desperately not to need anymore is both insulting and hurtful. I wouldn’t have bothered them had I realized that right away.
Still, something interesting happened from that comment (along with a few others I dropped in r/incelswithouthate). Incels started to talk to me. And the conversations I had with them were actually enjoyable.
To add a caveat to that, I did not respond to any messages that were nasty. Like the one that began so charmingly, “How does it feel to be a stretched-out hole who spent their youth getting pounded by Chads just to settle down with some beta cuck and bleed him dry?” This was in response to a public conversation on r/incelswithouthate where an incel had asked if any lurking normies could offer him help or advice. I told him I’d love to help in any way I could and I went on to say that I married a guy who probably would have qualified as an incel. He didn’t date until his 20s and he never had a serious long-term girlfriend until he met me at age 24. I don’t know. They have such disdain for women who like tall, built dudes. Did I use my short, fat, socially-inept husband as a bargaining chip to gain street cred with the incels? Yes, yes I did. He’s a sweetheart and puts up with far too many of my high IQ schemes.
I suppose I have to admit, had I responded to every incel private message, I probably would have far less sympathy for them. But I ignored the hostile ones.
The very first message I received was one that read, “Hi, I see you’re a female on the incel boards. Wanna be frens?”
I was skeptical and nervous. Here I was poking around in the incel forums. I’d said my piece on public subreddits. Was I really ready to talk to one of them? One of these mysterious internet humans that hardly seemed real to me.
I already knew that incels love to troll. And they are brilliant at trolling. Did you know that r/femaledatingstrategy is full of incel shitposters posing as women? Yeah, me neither and now I’m annoyed I wasted all that outrage.
I decided to reply to that message, but I was going in with a clear head. I told myself there was a 99% chance that I was about to become the victim of an epic troll, made to look like an idiot, and have screenshots of everything posted to fourchan.
I was really cautious at first. I tried to keep my responses short. I turned most questions back on him.
I was scared of him at first. Especially when he brought up the beheading of that egirl. If you don’t know the story, basically an egirl went on a date with a guy she met online and he brutally murdered her and posted the pictures on Instagram. Many incels delighted in this.
He didn’t say he was happy about this. And when I said that I thought what happened to her was awful, he agreed. But he seemed far more focused on how incels were being portrayed in light of her murder. This concerned me. I wondered if I might be talking to somebody dangerous.
But as I spent more and more time talking to him, the conversations became more normal. We talked about music, movies, books. I stopped thinking of him as an ‘incel.’ He was just a reddit buddy and one that I really enjoyed talking to. This wasn’t research anymore. It was friendship. I had somehow made friends with an incel.
Other incels reached out to me. One was a self-proclaimed ‘fatcel.’ I told him I was married to an overweight man and that lots of women like me find fat men attractive. He was guarded and didn’t believe me. He tried to ‘disprove’ my attraction to my own husband, saying fat men have more estrogen. I was basically like, “I don’t know, bruh. He doesn’t seem less manly to me. I’m not about to do a chemical analysis on him.” After grilling me on my preferences, the conversations with him petered out quickly.
Some of my favorite conversations were with the ForeverAlone crowd. r/foreveralone is a community that came from the original incel website (if you ever heard that the person who started the incel community was a woman-this is her website) loveshy.com. This community is so different from the incel community. There is no hate, no misogyny. Just normal men and women, who struggle romantically, looking for support.
At this point in time, I had posted on braincels and incelswithouthate. I had struck up a friendship with an incel and was talking to him a few times a week. Obviously, it was time to start creating content. I know. Big brain time.
First, I made a podcast episode. I have a shitty podcast that nobody except for my wattpad readers listen to. I rambled in my usual stream-of-consciousness style about how I felt bad for incels, but was conflicted about that because they say such terrible stuff.
Nobody cared about the podcasts. At least, not enough to comment publicly. Cool. Lots of listens though (yeah, the traffic on that episode as compared to my other episodes…nobody throw shade at me for being obsessed with incels. My analytics be proving everybody else is weird with me).
Then I made some youtube videos.
A lot like my shitty podcast, it was just me rambling and saying whatever came to mind as I scrolled through incel content using screen-recording software. I made videos of r/braincels, r/incelswithouthate, and videos of their becky/stacey memes. I was now fully-immersed in the incel subculture and having a grand old time.
My incel buddy didn’t seem offended. If he was cool with the content, I guess I figured I wasn’t doing anything wrong.
I started to get some incel comments on my videos, but nothing too bad. I got a few comments about ‘I don’t believe you don’t like Chads. All women like Chads’ and stuff like that. It was mostly okay though.
I kept doing my thing. I started writing my book ‘Incel’ on wattpad. I asked my incel friend to tell me what he thought. I asked for feedback on my character.
I kept talking to guys on r/incelswithouthate. I suggested a geek dating website like the one I met my husband on. I agreed to mod for a subreddit related to gender issues that an incel created. I was having a grand old time.
I was trying to become part of the community. My research had gone terribly wrong, and I’d lost sight of everything.
The first wake-up call was when my content was linked on that .co website I mentioned earlier, a website so scary it’s rumored half the edgeposters are actually honeypot FBI agents.
I started getting mean comments. Not just mean, but scary mean. And I know...my face when I walk into an online community known for being fucking mean to women and they are fucking mean to me
An incel called me a ‘sperm toilet’! Who ever could have predicted this?
To be fair to them, the vast majority of incels who left comments didn’t say anything rude about me. They just didn’t like my content and let me know it. That coupled with the insane amount of youtube traffic coming from .co (hundreds of views per hour is a little overwhelming for a brand new youtube channel with all of 3 subscribers) and the fact that the guy who wrote the incel wiki personally left me a comment to thank me for making a video about his articles (is it weird that I was a little starstruck by this incelebrity? Will actually seems very cool. He has an incel forum that is gender inclusive. https://incelistan.net/ You can also see the incelibrity catfishman lurking about on that forum. I got a kick out of that. He’s the catfisher from the BBC documentary); anyway, it was all a little much for me. I was freaked out, worried I was being an obnoxious ass, and took all of my videos down.
I went back to focusing on my book, and I kept my incel content confined to my podcast, which the incels don’t seem to care about even though I have far more podcast subscribers. *shrugs* As long as they don’t mind, I guess. It’s not like they didn’t see it. It pops up way before my youtube channel when you google me.
So, I kept writing, kept talking to people in the incel communities, discovered the femcels and very quickly came to hate them beyond anything that is reasonable (they called me a ‘pick me’ and I will never not be butthurt about it. Never. They are my sworn internet enemies until the end of time. Until the wheel stops turning and the age becomes legend, and maybe even after that…). I kept doing my thing, and I noticed, my very first incel friend, the one who actually read my book and gave me great feedback and first made incels seem REAL to me; he was pulling back. He wasn’t talking to me as often, and when I reached out to him, he kept it short, very curt. At one point, he asked me if my husband was actually a Chad. Things were getting weird and I wasn’t sure what to do about it.
Unfortunately, online friendships are always tenuous. I backed off.
Our friendship ended entirely one day, when he sent me a message saying it seemed like I didn’t want to write about incels anymore, and he felt like as long as he kept talking to me, I’d feel like I had to tell the incel story. He had several times before this told me to be careful with my online activities, to maybe be more anonymous if I was going to write about incels. Now, he was telling me in no uncertain terms that if I wanted to keep on with my bull-headed sloppy research, kicking up all kinds of hornets’ nests, that he didn’t want to be part of it.
He blocked me.
I deleted that reddit account.
To my knowledge, I haven’t spoken to an incel since.
The friendship was short, strange, and it taught me so much. Incels are real men in pain, and while I knew that, I don’t think I really KNEW that until I talked to one. I’m not sure why I connected with this particular incel, or felt like I did, because honestly, for all I know it was four different guys scheming to get content for .co, and maybe there are screenshots up there mocking me right now. I guess, either way, I’m glad I got to see the human side of incels. The side that knows books like ‘Bridge to Terabithia’ and masks sadness with rants that go too far.
It’s hard to know how to feel about incels, because so many of them say such disgusting things.
What I learned from my time with the incels is to never forget the human. You can have empathy for someone even when you don’t agree with their actions. And not all incels are hateful and misogynistic.
Check out r/incelswithouthate or incelistan to see the more level-headed side of the incel community. But don’t bother them, and dear god other women, don’t go running into their communities thinking you’re some kind of savior. Don’t be me.
Read the book that started it all. I hope I do the incels justice without ever glossing over the truly problematic sides of the incel community.
Can I watch two people fall in love without a bunch of sexist problematic tropes? And to be clear, I do think the romance genre is sexist towards both men and women.
I’m covering the ways we women objectify men in this article, but stay tuned! I’m not forgetting about all the terrible internalized misogyny. That will be coming in a future post.
5) Financial Objectification
Men aren’t financial objects. Get out of here with all of that Billionaire/CEO romance. Like, dudes can’t even be regular rich in romance. It’s never “Taken by the Guy Who Invested in Bit Coins and Made a Decent Chunk of Change.” It’s always Billionaires.
Speaking as a feminist here, if we can talk about the ways that porn objectifies women, we can hold our own gender accountable for this BS.
And this trope really contributes to a culture that’s talking out of both sides of its mouth when it comes to men as providers. Women are unapologetically lusting after very rich dudes, while at the same time saying “Women should earn just as much as men. We should be independent and not need a man to provide.”
Hey, I’m so on board with that. Both people should contibute financially in a relationship. Neither should feel pressured to make more because of outdated gender norms. But can we say all of that while reading Billionaire books? I feel like no.
I want more romance with broke, hardworking dudes. I want more romance with retail workers, Uber drivers, accountants, IT help desk workers.
Men are not financial objects, and in a world that’s striving to be post-patriarchy, we have to give men a break. It’s just not fair to want to be treated as equals when it suits us, but also want to put the burden on men to provide.
4) The Player
The dude is always a player, or if it’s historical romance, a rake. He’s always banged a bunch of chicks. He’s super experienced.
Can I take this moment to give some props to season 23 of The Bachelor? I’m not embarrassed. I watch The Bachelor/Bachelorette. I know that’s not exactly the intellectual opinion to have, but I don’t give very many shits. I’m not fancy.
Anyhow, Colton is a virgin. That’s cool. Now, I do think it would have been better to lay off the virgin talk a teensy little bit. Just act like a dude being a virgin is a normal thing. But hey, they brought attention to the double-standard that is male versus female virginity. Pretty cool for such a mainstream show to do.
Females are almost always virgins in romance. So much so that when they aren’t, I’m pleasantly surprised and make a note of it. If that isn’t evidence of internalized misogyny, I don’t know what is.
In romance, the guy being experienced is painted as sexy, while the virginity of the female is held up as evidence of how desirable she is. Freaking gross.
There isn’t something wrong with a man if he’s a virgin. Men aren’t sex-crazed beasts, and they can choose to wait for all kinds of reasons, just like women can.
3) Creepy/Stalkery behavior
What’s up with the romance genre presenting creepy shit as sexy?
We’ve got Christian Grey following Ana on vacation, like a fucking creep. Like, dude, you weren’t invited. Get out of here. She wants to see her mom. If he wasn’t a hot, rich dude, I feel like the story would be less erotic/romance, more thriller, with Ana fighting to protect herself from this possessive, boundary-crossing creep.
I just read one Romantic Suspense that incensed me so much, I wrote a Goodreads review, Amazon review, and sent the author a message, demanding to know why her book is so rapey. I will let you all know if Cherry Adair ever gets back to me.
2) Lack of Diverse Body Types
We’re supposed to be such a body-positive world, but there is only one body type to be found in romance; full of muscles and TALL.
Poor short guys. They have to deal with the psychological damage that comes from being told they are failing at masculinity. To be a man is to be TALL. Also, ripped.
Here’s some r/nicegirls for y’all
This is our dirty laundry fellow women. Most of aren’t so brazen about it, but the attitudes the Nice Girls TM are displaying towards short guys aren’t all that unusual.
Let’s write men with all kinds of bodies in romance. Tall and short and ripped and skinny and fat and able-bodied and disabled and dark and light and….you get my point. It’s too damn homogeneous in the romance genre.
1 ) Broken Boy/Wounded Puppy
This one disgusts me more than any other. I’m so sick of male leads with emotional baggage. Just give me an emotionally healthy, well-adjusted male lead!
Christian Grey-Mommy issues and neglect
Hardin from Anna Todd’s ‘After’ series-severe trauma do to abuse and neglect
Caleb from ‘Chasing Red’-Daddy issues.
Looking at the sheer number of ‘cold and distant bad boys’ in the romance genre, you’d think we women can’t get off to a normal, chill dude. We can! But why aren’t those men more prevalent in the genre?
The romance genre is a problem ladies. We need to get our shit together. Men are not objects. They’re people like us.
Let’s start working together to get the romance genre to reflect that.
I’ll end by shouting out an erotic romance writer who really has her shit together. I know that I struggle to find non-asshole dudes in books with BDSM elements. Check out this fantastic lady and her refreshing twist on the BDSM sub-genre. Emotionally-intelligent empathetic men and badass women who can take care of themselves. A dom who is a sweetheart. My heart might just leak all the way out of my chest ❤
Check her out on wattpad. That site gets such a bad rap, but I think some of the most original content can be found there if you know where to look. PixieStormCrow. Super hot, without all the emotional abuse, financial objectification, or other problematic tropes.
More of this guys…please romance writers…more sweet men who communicate and engage with their partners in a healthy way.
Go to Tumblr, type in Columbine, and then stare into the darkness.
Or, actually don’t, because within seconds you will definitely see the gory suicide photos of the Columbine killers, and if you’re really unlucky, you’ll see all that gore surrounded by hearts and fanart and women describing the killers as “sexy” “godlike” “adorable”.
Male killers attract female fans and I think we need to talk about it.
Why are we talking about this? And why am I specifically hung up on the Columbine fangirls? I could have picked the Ted Bundy fangirls, Manson fangirls, Elliot Rogers fangirls…The scope of this phenomena is really unsettling.
I know. It’s weird that I’m obsessed with the Columbine fandom. It took me awhile to figure out what my issue was with them. Okay, crazy women are in the dark corners of the internet getting wet to dead school shooters, it’s fucked up, but so is a lot of stuff on the internet. Why is this the degeneracy that has wormed its way into my brain?
I’m bothered by these women because their unapologetic lusting after killers is considered deviant behavior, BUT the attitudes they hold towards romance and the male gender in general are considered very mainstream. These women have a lot in common with fairly normal women. Women who enjoy books like ’50 Shades of Grey’ or basically anything ever written by Johanna Lindsey. Women who like ‘bad boy’ books or seek out men they can ‘fix.’
The Columbine fangirls are doing something absolutely heinous. They’re glorifying, fetishizing, romanticizing violent and abhorrent males.
But like…so are a lot of writers/readers of the romance genre. They’re just not being as brazen about it.
The Columbine fangirls are outliers. They’ve taken the whole bad/broken boy thing to a level most of us never would. But they followed the same path.
The Columbine fangirls are the logical conclusion of a world that positions bad/broken boys as the most desirable. Women want them, and emotionally damaged males have a social script available to them should they have no other way to gain the power that our world tell males is so vitally important for them to have. We have to stop telling males their worth is in their power, whether that power comes from money, social standing, or fear.
Males without power are failing at gender performance. What do nearly all male love interests have in romance fiction? POWER. They are CEOs, Billionaires, Nobles, Princes, Knights. Never peasants or retail workers. Those are NOT the males we value. Males need power, or so they’re told. Desirable males have power, or so say so many women, if not directly, then indirectly, insidiously, making it even worse.
The romance genre is a PROBLEM. Not all romance. Some is perfectly healthy and fine. I’m talking about themes and trends that are far too common, but I’m perfectly aware not every single writer is contributing to the same harmful mentalities that create communities like the Columbine fandom, and not every reader enjoys the very worst common tropes.
Brace yourselves. I went and collected some darkness for you. I even made a Tumblr account. May God have mercy on my soul.
I have to explain the picture to those of you who haven’t lost your soul in the circle of hell that is the Columbine fandom. The first picture is Eric Harris (Columbine killer) in his Senior photo. A fangirl has photoshopped herself next to him. The second photo is a girl LARPing as Eric Harris. He wore a white ‘Natural Selection’ t-shirt and black hat the day he committed the massacre. She is not the only fangirl I’ve seen do this.
Okay, I have to stop ranting and get organized. Where do we see the Columbine fandom overlap with mainstream beliefs about romance.
1 ) The Wounded Puppy/Broken Boy
One of the biggest draws to the Columbine killers is this idea that they could have been “saved.” This is especially true for the girls who focus on Dylan Klebold, the more obviously depressed of the two killers. He writes a lot about being in love with a girl in his journal. Fangirls like to think if the killers had girlfriends who loved and understood them, they wouldn’t have done it.
First of all….No…Klebold had a close female friend who was really supportive of him. She was even unwittingly duped into buying some of the weapons used in the massacre. She went to prom with him three days before the massacre.
They weren’t the bullied outcasts they’re painted to be. Females everywhere weren’t retching in disgust at the sight of them.
Even if that was the case…nobody’s pussy is that magic.
You can’t love away severe emotional problems. And if you want to, that is a problem.
Let’s use that last point to pivot. I have some tea to spill on ’50 Shades.’
“I’m a sadist, Ana. I like to whip little brown-haired girls like you because you all look like the crack whore — my birth mother.”
Christian Grey, 50 Shades of Grey
Christian Grey’s emotional baggage is a huge part of the plot, and more problematically, a huge part of his appeal.
The newest romance to hit theaters, ‘After’ based on the wattpad book by Anna Todd, appears to have a similar draw. Hardin is a “brooding rebel” according to the IMDb page. I haven’t seen it. I did see the trailer where Hardin is breaking shit and freaking out and the cardboard male trope inserted into this particular romance was fairly obvious.
Again and again we see it in romance; the male love interest is haunted, scarred, dealing with pain and inner turmoil, and the female protagonist loves/fucks it all away.
Men are people. They are human, like us. They are not projects.
Not only do we see ‘wounded puppy’ syndrome in both the Columbine fandom and mainstream romance, but we see it in real life. I’m willing to bet you’ve met a woman before who wanted a man she could fix, a man she could mold.
If we can hold men accountable for sexist attitudes and objectification, we women can be held accountable too.
The girls in the Columbine fandom want a broken boy that they can fix. And so do a great deal of mainstream romance readers. That’s a problem and it’s very telling about societal attitudes towards males in general.
2) The Bad Boy
The bad boy, the rebel, the outlaw. You’ve seen the trope, you know it.
Somehow school shooters have become a kind of modern cowboy, a sensationalized sex figure divorced from the violence that made him appealing in the first place.
I truly believe most of the Columbine fangirls are not thinking about the violence when they’re drawing cute fanart. Like the abomination below.
I first saw this in a Vice article. The same one that alerted me to the Columbine fangirls’ existence. It’s a good read. I don’t really agree with the whole ‘lusting for killers is a female right of passage’ spiel, but it’s an informative read nonetheless. Here’s a link:
My point is pretty simple here. Don’t write bad boy books. Don’t read bad boy books. Bad boys aren’t cute. Stop contributing to a world where dead school shooters have thousands of women who adore them. They didn’t get that out of nowhere. Bad boy=desirable is a fairly prevalent idea in the collective consciousness. Let’s all work together to get rid of this shit.
3) Special To Him
There’s overlap here with ‘wounded puppy.’ The difference is that the females who fall into this group are pretty ambivalent to the violence. Not quite as twisted as the ‘violence is sexy’ group, but not wanting to change the man either. The focus here isn’t on stopping the violence, but in being someone special to a person capable of violence.
My theory is that a lot of women actually get off competing with other women and winning. In ’50 Shades Darker’, one of Christian Grey’s old girlfriends stalks him. She breaks into his apartment. And…he gives her a bath…Ana, understandably, freaks out. But I think the author included this because Ana competing with another woman, Christian having access to other women, it’s some kind of a turn-on. There’s even a point where the ex-girlfriend/stalker confronts Ana and says something to the effect of ‘What do you have that I don’t?’
Obviously with the para-social relationships cultivated for dead school shooters that competition with other women factor isn’t there. But the urge to be special is still there.
If you’re reading my current rewrite of Time Storms and Tourniquets on wattpad, you might notice this is the route I went with Veronika. She’s drawn to Jake, despite his violence, because she likes feeling special to him.
Twilight is another good example of this. I still remember the blurb on the back cover that got me to pick up the book when I was 17. I didn’t think much about why this appealed to me so much back then.
The idea of being in love with a vampire that thirsts for your blood, and then he has to fight against the urge to hurt you…man, 17-year-old Jyvur could really get turnt to that idea. I’m definitely not immune to all this, so please don’t let all my salt fool you.
So, Twilight is a good example of “Special to Him” with a teensy dash of “Violence is Sexy.” Also, Bella is the only person immune to his powers and it’s never explained why.
(I also don’t think it was ever explained why Bella hallucinated Edward’s voice all through the second book, which isn’t really problematic….just like a plot hole that bothered me all the way up to book four. I never did finish book four. I was like twenty by the time that came out, and I gave up on it right around the time Jacob imprinted on a newborn baby.)
4) Violence is Sexy
The worst of the Columbine fandom are the self-proclaimed hybristophiliacs
They’re turned on by violence. This is the same mentality that leads women to write love letters to serial killers. Unlike the Wounded Puppy crowd they don’t want to save these males with the power of their love; they just want a violent dude.
Well, this crowd can’t possibly have anything in common with the mainstream romance crowd….
There’s a lot of abuse in the romance genre. From the aforementioned 50 Shades to many of the classics in the romance genre.
Here’s one that I found through the amazing podcast “Smart Bitches Trashy Books.” They do feminist readings of romance. Awful name for a podcast, but it’s better than it sounds.
This book was….a problem. The guy hits her, rapes her, and all-around just never listens to a damn thing she says. It’s considered a classic of the genre.
Then there’s Johanna Lindsay. Her books have gotten better over the years. I will give her that. But a couple of her first books were…a lot. “Captive Bride” involves kidnapping, rape, and again, domestic violence. There’s even a kindly mother figure who jumps in to tell the protagonist that the man wouldn’t have hit her unless he loved her. “Prisoner of My Desire” was another adventure in misogyny and fetishization of male violence. My husband likes to call that one “Rape Castle.” It fits. The book begins with the villain hitting the protagonist’s mother and as it is usually done in fiction, the domestic violence is highly sexualized. Everything about the beating is sensual, despite the fact that neither of the women involved are enjoying it.
Virginia Henley is another author who has gotten better. Don’t read “Enslaved.” It’s as bad as it sounds. But I’m gonna give this lady some props for doing better. I was really impressed with “Infamous.” The main romance was very healthy, very consensual. And the baby at the end of the book was a girl. The baby is almost always a boy. In the aforementioned Rape Castle….I mean “Prisoner of My Desire” when telling others her newborn baby is a male, the protagonist cheekily adds “Could he have sired any less?” Any less….women are less…fuck that was on the nose.
Let me dig into my final point, and I’m going to circle back to the way we value men in our society: Power.
Seeking power is usually an element of mass shootings. So the fact that, to look at the romance genre, you’d think women can only get off to powerful men, I’m pretty bothered by that.
Mass murderers want power. They say as much in their manifestos, journals, videos.
Powerful men are idolized in the romance genre.
I’m really uncomfortable with those two facts existing in the same universe.
What’s my solution?
Write more romance with diverse men. Men who don’t have power, either financial or social. Let’s see more romance with broke, but hardworking dudes. Dudes with strong character, who aren’t total alpha males. Let’s see less Billionaire fiction. Less warriors as the male love interest.
I know I’m scattered. I’m throwing a lot out here, but I really do think it’s all connected.
Everything we do is, in part, a gender performance. Women contribute to the gender performance of men, just as men contribute to the gender performance of women, because it has historically been set up as a dichotemy, a binary system.
This is a systemic issue, but we can all do out small part.
Please don’t contribute to a world with fetishistic treatment of male aggression/male violence. It isn’t good for men OR women OR anyone else on the gender spectrum.
The Columbine fangirls are outliers yes, but they reflect a lot of very mainstream ideals. By looking at them, we can suss out the very worst of the guiding beliefs we hold about romance, and what it means to be a man.