Last December, I decided to create an online dating profile, because I wanted to meet people who I would not normally run into through the course of my life. I know there are amazing people everywhere, and I wanted access to more than the ones my social circle were providing me. So far, it’s been a really rewarding experience.
Now, on this particular dating site, users create a profile, similar to that of Facebook, where they fill out sections like “my self-summary,” “what I’m doing with my life,” and “you should message me if.” In these sections on my profile, I clearly state that I am a feminist, write for FEM, I am bisexual, I have a Gender Studies minor, and I am interested in open-minded people. You would think that this would steer away misogynists or anti-feminists or people who do not support queer rights, but somehow it has not.
Case in point: recently, I received a message from a guy whose opening line was “Isn’t it hard to edit a feminist magazine from the kitchen?” This is not the first time a guy has messaged me with something along these lines, and it will doubtfully be the last. And despite having done it countless times with no change, I decided to confront him. I messaged him back, telling him that I had heard that joke before, it is not actually funny, and then asked him why he would open with that. He said,
“Well my custom version was pretty funny. Humor is fundamentally about contrast and betrayed expectations. Context is important. [sic] some random misogynist saying women should be in the kitchen isn’t funny, but a liberal college student using it as an opening line on a woman who openly states her seriousness about feminism is because it’s intentionally the exact opposite of what would work and being said facetiously. ”
This is a problem that I see, not just in online dating: people who think that they can make fun of a class/race/gender/sexuality “ironically,” because they “obviously” do not think that about the class/race/gender/sexuality.* This guy, whether he is a feminist or not, has benefitted from sexism, and joking about women’s roles from the past, present, and possible future does not alleviate the problems of the social system that enforce these roles. Misogyny is not a joke, stereotypical and societally-enforced gender roles are not a joke.
That all being said, it is not hard to edit a feminist magazine from a kitchen. Feminism is powerful everywhere, and if I feel like sitting down in my kitchen to destroy patriarchy and edit FEM, I can and will.