Dealing with a sexist guy is frustrating, especially when they’re in the same class as you. Sometimes their sexism is so implicit that they aren’t called out on them, much less aware of them. Here is an open letter to one particular sexist guy in my Creative Writing class.
1. Man’s Class
One of the major reasons I went to Mount Holyoke College was to avoid sexist guys. But that didn’t mean I was afraid of a co-ed environment. It was the start of Spring semester and I was looking forward to my Creative Writing class at Amherst College more than any other class. Like every MHC student, I was aware of the (male) Amherst stereotype: preppy, rich, arrogant. I expected some sexist guys, but didn’t give it much thought.
When I arrived on the first day of class, I was surprised that it was mostly made of men, including the professor. I was used to the comfort of all-women classes, so it felt intimidating to be one of only three female students. Yet, having completed the class, I can genuinely say that all my classmates were well-meaning, supportive people.
That didn’t mean that your writing didn’t irritate the crap out of me.
2. The Male Fantasy
Your main character’s girlfriend, Chloe, is the most cliché male fantasy I have ever read. The lines describing her made my skin crawl. “He watched her little nose flair as she slept… a nose she didn’t like until he met her”. What do men find so attractive about low self-esteem? You want a girlfriend who’s beautiful, but not one who’s confident about it. A girl who needs a white knight like you to love her into loving herself.
It gets better: “He brags to his friends that she likes cigarettes and listening to albums with him, that she is more adventurous in bed than any girl he’s had.” Congratulations! You just lived up to the sleazy sexist guy Amherst stereotype! There’s something pathetic about men bragging about their sexual conquests and objectifying their girlfriends. I don’t know anything about this fictional girl other than the fact that she likes the same things you like, she’s “hot”, and she’s kinky. Apparently, that’s all you look for in a girl.
I regret to inform you that I did talk shit about this story with my friends, we did laugh about it, and did briefly spectate on whether you masturbate to it. Please tell me you don’t.
3. Conflict in Class
During the time in class when we go around the room sharing the strengths and weakness of our classmate’s stories, I didn’t want to get too critical of your writing style because I didn’t want to embarrass you in front of the class. I also didn’t want to be dismissed as angry feminist, even though I am one, but that doesn’t mean I’m not right.
As might remember, when it was my turn to critique your story, I mentioned that I was bothered by this line: “She is innocent and cute and on their first date dirty, too…” which was followed by what I assume is a sexual fantasy of yours. (This is what happens when sexist guys take creative writing classes).
No one is kinky and innocent. Those two characteristics are mutually exclusive. That term implies youth and naïveté. The fact that you apparently want to date someone “innocent” is disconcerting.
4. Hurt feelings?
When I shared this, you rolled your eyes, but I could see that it was to hide your embarrassment and hurt. Still, I don’t regret saying what I did. I wonder how you’ll feel if you ever read this. Probably a little offended, but maybe I’ll change your mind a little.