In Slate, writer Andy Hinds has provided us all with one of the most cringe-inducing “unsolicited penis updates” since our old friend Paul Elam filled us in on which “fuckmuffin” body parts make his Little Elam happiest.
Hinds starts off by assuring us he’s one of the feminist Good Guys, a stay-at-home-dad who respects the heck out of the ladies:
I celebrate every inroad that women make into business, technology, science, politics, comedy, you name it, and I get angry about “slut-shaming” or “stereotype threat” or whatever is the affront du jour.
But he also admits to having lurid sexual fantasies about, well, woman he finds attractive,
as if a never-ending porn movie has been playing in my subconscious for the last 30 years, and any lull in cognitive demands, or interaction with a woman who is perfect for a cameo in it—the woman walking her dog past my house, the neighbor’s nanny, the Valkyrie on the elliptical trainer at the gym—rotates the film to the main screen. In 3-D.
Yes, that’s right, we’re going to have to endure the sad spectacle of a grown man wrestling with his weird guilt over his sexual fantasies in public.
Though Hinds, thankfully, doesn’t spell out any of his porny fantasies in detail, it seems clear from what he writes that his everyday naughty thoughts, while evidently quite numerous, are more or less in line with the everyday naughty thoughts that every human being with a sex drive has on a fairly regular basis, not the extreme and intrusive thoughts that might require actual mental health treatment.
But, armed with advice from Sex Addicts Anonymous and an ebook called Porn Again Christian, he decides, for a day, to try to clamp down on his lustful thoughts anyway, forcing himself to imagine the potential objects of his lust wearing burqas, and evidently finding that this … helps?
Hinds’ piece has gotten him the attention I guess he wanted from feminists and anti-feminists alike.
From the latter, he’s gotten mostly ridicule for being a self-professed “beta dad” who feels guilty for having normal (hetero) male desires. On Reddit, he’s been bashed by Men’s Rightsers and Red Pillers in mostly predictable ways; on the manosphere blog Gucci Little Piggy, our old pal Chuck Ross complains that Hinds “doesn’t want to be, essentially, a man.”
Feminists have responded with a bit more cheek, telling Hinds, in essence, that’s nice dear, most of us think about sex, we just don’t need to hear all about the filthy thoughts you have about the grocery store cashier. Accompanying a short post on Hinds’ piece with the laconic title “Man Thinks About Sex When He Looks At People,” the Awl helpfully provides us with a photoshopped image of Hinds in a burqa.
On Jezebel, Katie J.M. Baker points out that having fantasies isn’t the problem here.
[I]t’s not sexist to think about boning strangers, [but] it’s horrifying, really, to resort to mentally censoring women so you don’t have to consider the possibility that you’re not actually as much of an “enlightened” feminist as you think but a dude with a latent Madonna-whore complex.
But to me the really cringeworthy aspect of Hinds’ piece is, well, what you’d have to call its exhibitionism. He doesn’t just talk about the women who inspire his fantasies in some vague generic sense; he specifies who these women are — not by name, but in such a way that if these women read his piece they’ll know he’s talking about them in particular: the staff at his kid’s school, the cashiers at his local grocery store, the women in his yoga class.
My classmates are mostly women, mostly in yoga pants and tank tops; and naturally the ones with the best form are also the most fit and attractive. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to honestly say that I can look at a woman in a downward facing dog pose and be struck only by her strength and flexibility. Today is not that day.
His post on Slate is the journalistic equivalent of going up to them and saying, hey, pretty lady whom I run into on a regular basis but otherwise know nothing about, whenever I see you I think about doing you. It’s almost, if not quite, the journalistic equivalent of sending them unsolicited dick pics.
EDIT: That’s not quite right. That might be the appropriate metaphor if he had spelled out his fantasies. But he didn’t. What he’s doing is more like the journalistic equivalent of a catcall. Which is still pretty icky, especially if you’re virtually catcalling the woman in front of you in yoga class, or your kids’ teacher.
At the end of his post, Hinds proudly reports that his Day of the Burqa has helped him to lust after the ladies less.
This technique of essentially ignoring women’s physical presence may not be sustainable, and it may not be desirable. But it also seems like as good an alternative as any to giving women unwanted (or even wanted) sexual attention … .
Yeah, then you went ahead and wrote an article for Slate announcing to these women, and the world, that you’ve been thinking all sorts of nasty thoughts about them for years. Keep it in your pants, and off the internet.
EDITED TO ADD: Hinds has written a defensive yet indignant response of sorts to his critics, the gist of which is “come on, guys, it was supposed to be funny!”
In apportioning blame for people not “getting” how utterly hilarious his sort-of “satirical” piece was, Hinds blames, among others, “crazy” commenters on Slate, “internet pundits whose default setting is snarky outrage,” his editor (for telling him he was funny) and, oh yeah, himself, a little bit, “for not fully committing to the humor piece.”
Keep digging, dude!