Schrodinger’s Douchebag: make an offensive statement, then decide whether or not you were joking based on the reactions of people around you.
The vast majority of vocal or active feminists will, at some point in their lives, have encountered a Schrodinger’s Douchebag. These lovely people, usually DMAB guys, tend to hijack posts that you might write about issues you’re passionate about and have strong feelings about.
Basically, they act like assholes. They argue against your points, usually using incredibly racist/sexist/ableist/generally offensive ideas in an attempt to undermine your position. When called out on their shit, they either stand by it or say ‘I was only kidding’/’learn to take a joke’/’I was just doing this to wind you up’. However, in the same way it seems impossible to know whether Schrodinger’s cat is alive or dead, it also seems largely impossible to know whether the people acting like douchebags are *actually* bigoted douchebags, or doing it because they find it hilarious to get someone (justifiably) angry. But just as Schrodinger’s cat is actually both alive and dead, these people are both finding joy in your frustration for the lolz and douchebags. There’s no real distinction between the two. Even if their excuse is that they were doing it just to get a reaction and they don’t actuallybelieve what they’re saying; what purpose does that serve? Why do they find it entertaining to enrage you by acting like a douchebag? Because they aredouchebags.
If we don’t get pissed off, if we don’t rise to their offensiveness, they get away with it. They get away with making offensive statements and they will more than likely continue to make them. Yet when we do get offended, as is inevitable, we’re told to ‘just calm down’, sure ‘it’s only a joke’. But it’s not. People who find it entertaining to be offensive to get a reaction aren’t ‘just joking’. They’re doing something intentionally which they *know* is wrong and offensive, and they’re just annoyed that they’re getting called out on it.
I most recently experienced a Schrodinger’s Douchebag alongside some mansplaining. Mansplaining, for those of you who don’t know is, according to the delightful Urban Dictionary definition, “condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course, he is right, because he is the man in this conversation”. Basically, the menz *always* know more, even if the woman* they’re mansplaining is an expert in that field, and he isn’t.
Anyway, I had a really shitty lecture (Men in Contemporary Society) in which the lecturer said that relationships are always unequal and the poor menz are under pressure from us mean horrible women to bring more equality and trust to the relationship, which leads to crisis and the high rates of suicide among young men. This pissed me off, and I took to Facebook to complain. A guy, who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in like 5 or 6 years (we had gone to primary school together) decided to explain what the lecturer actually meant, despite not being in attendance in that class, the course, and who has no background in sociology or women/gender studies. After going on about how us wimminz just play games and he knows this because 90% of his friends are women, he’s clearly not enjoying being given out to by me and some femmo-friends, and admits he was just “trying to wind Becca up” and he isn’t really a misogynist, he just says misogynist things to get a reaction.
In these situations, it is probably easier and better for your blood pressure to just let it go and be like ‘oh, ok’, but this tends to do more harm than good. These guys aren’t necessarily horrible people, they’ve just grown up in a society which holds that this kind of behaviour is acceptable and when women react to Schrodinger’s Douchebag’s, we’re labelled as ‘crazy’ and ‘over-reacting’. Calling these people out on their shit is what, hopefully, begets change. They might realise that what they’re doing isn’t actually alright, or think twice about being an asshole for the lolz next time. Or they might actually be misogynistic assholes, in which case I recommended a large glass of wine and pictures of cute baby ducks to remind you that the world isn’t as shit as it sometimes seems.