Yes, you heard me right: self described progressive men go out of their way to write me notes in which they sound like sexist jerks. They deploy words that I won’t repeat, because this is a family blog, but which center around my reproductive parts, and what I might or might not be doing with them. If I have written something nice about a conservative man they dislike, they’ll ask me how it felt to have him come on my face. They tell me that I really ought to have kids, because that’ll learn me about the folly of my political views. They not-so-subtly imply that I have gotten my job by sleeping with my bosses, or friends of my bosses, or hell, the entire Washington DC phone book.
Then there’s the more garden variety guy stuff, like “mansplaining” a subject upon which I have done extensive reporting, even though the sum of their own knowledge on the topic consists of a 250 word blog-post they read. Not infrequently, when their encyclopedic lack of knowledge is gently pointed out, they go for the reproductive jugular. Or they disappear. So far, not one of them has simply said, “Oh, wow, I guess my operating assumption that you spent eight weeks reporting a feature without learning anything at all about the topic was the kind of tacit sexism that we progressives are trying to fight!”
And don’t forget the women! I’m (painfully) reminded of the progressive woman who wrote a long and spiteful note, the upshot of which was that since my husband is younger than me, he’d probably eventually leave me for a younger woman. She detailed the extensive mental suffering that she hoped this would engender–though of course, only because she hoped it would make me a better person, and open my eyes to the terrible error of my political views. It was the sort of speech I would only have previously imagined finding in a particularly lazy body-ripper, issuing to a younger married woman from the razor thin lips of an embittered spinster with a bible clutched to the sunken hollow of her chest. But its author would have been drummed right out of the Realist Fiction Writers League.