Twenty-five-year-old columnist and resident expert on close-minded douchebaggery, Dave Hon, recently penned a viral declaration that he will never date a feminist. In it, he states that women have “been told there’s a wage gap (I disagree). That there’s a culture of rape on college campuses (I also disagree). And the patriarchy is keeping them oppressed in almost every facet of their lives (I really, really disagree.)”
He includes several links to YouTube videos created by American Enterprise Institute, a shady and former ExxonMobil-funded think tank with close links to the Bush administration, who once offered payments for scholarly articles that emphasize the shortcomings of global warming research. He also included an article by Business Insider showing that 1.3 million women in America are making over $110,000 a year — as if that’s a drop in the bucket considering there are 157 million women in the United States with a median income of $36,000 a year. In fact, according to a 2015 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women won’t reach pay parity with men until 2058. That’s well after people are predicted to have landed on Mars (in the year 2030), and the projection that 3D printers will be able to produce a human heart (in the year 2025).
And as for rape culture, Hon feels that a woman asking for physical safety is just too much. Here are the disturbing facts: “80-90% of rapes are not reported to authorities. Current trends project that 1 in 3 American women will be sexually assaulted at some point during her life.”
I happen to work at a university. This summer, I sat through three discussions on consent with incoming college freshmen. The goal was to help students understand what it means to ask for explicit permission when it comes to sexual relations, and if the person cannot respond, or does not respond, that does not translate to a “yes,” regardless of how he or she is dressed, how much they have had to drink, or how they may have positioned themselves at a party. “Yes” is “yes.” Anything other than “yes” should be interpreted as a “no.”
With each presentation, two things happened: Several Dave Hon-type characters in the group argued against the statistics and tried to make themselves out to be the victims. They talked about lies and deceit on the part of women. They told stories of friends who were with a woman who didn’t say no, and their buddy is now locked up. But I never heard them say that the woman said “yes.” Only that they didn’t say “no,” which sounds a lot like silent consent, which isn’t consent at all.
And sadly, unless asked directly for an opinion, most of the women in the room sat silent, listening to the men — men like Hon, who clearly seem to really grapple with the simple act of asking for permission.
What Hon did was add fuel to the fire of inequality and rape culture, while perpetuating the falsehood that feminism is a movement of hating and resenting men, rather than the fact that it’s a group of like-minded and sensible humans demanding equality for women in both equal pay, safety, and opportunity.
Obviously, Hon just doesn’t get it. But honestly, I’m not 100% sure what it is that Dave doesn’t get. Is it the personal experiences of women that he doesn’t have empathy for? Or is it years of hard data that just don’t add up in his little mind? Or is it the fact he just can’t wrap his head around what it means to treat people equally regardless of gender? Feminism is not something to fear. And perhaps that’s what this is all about. Perhaps Dave is afraid of something. Maybe he’s afraid that a woman might say no if he actually asked to kiss her. Or if equality keeps pressing forward, Hon might suddenly have to compete with a woman for his columnist position at a no name, shit-show news site.
Honestly though, the more I read Hon’s article, the more I realize that he just might be too young and naïve to understand what inequality really looks like on the ground level. Perhaps it’s the fact that he has the complexion of a 12-year-old boy, or maybe it’s the way he ended with this sad attempt to tug at heart strings, “Maybe one day, men and women will stop trying to eliminate the lines between us and realize it’s the differences between the sexes that make romance, family and love an enjoyable experience.” I mean honestly, what could be sexier than wage gaps and a booming rape culture?
But there’s something about Hon that tells me he hasn’t seen the full scope of things. Maybe he’s never had to watch a single mother struggle like I had to do when my father walked out on my mother. She was saddled with full custody of her three children because my father had no desire to accept responsibility — emotionally or financially — so she worked a shitty job as a receptionist at the local power plant during the day and cleaned houses in the evenings to make ends meet. Or perhaps Dave’s never sat in a college office and consoled a young rape victim who was terrified to report the crime against her — or more than one, or more than two — like I have. Perhaps he’s never looked in his daughter’s eyes, realized just how special she is, and wondered if she will ever have the opportunity to accomplish her full potential because the wage gap is alive and well.
I suppose that’s the real issue with Hon and many others who push this close-minded shit. They just haven’t seen it. They don’t want to believe it because it might mean changing the way they interact with women. It might mean taking a moment to think about respect and equality, and realizing that their white middle-to-upper class male experiences are not the whole of all experiences. It might mean taking a step back and realizing that hardworking women deserve a fair shot at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, same as Dave. And that we don’t actually live on a level playing field, but rather a rigged system.
Dave Hon, I’d suggest dating a feminist (if one will have you) because it might cause you to take a step back, and to really think about your fears, your life, and your safety and opportunities, and realize that what you have should be accessible to everyone, not just you.