When women cease to be defined by our sexual behavior and our appeal to men and can fully participate in public discourse without our gender being dismissively scrutinized, and when our experiences are considered human instead of strictly female and outside of the norm, there will be no such thing as a barfly. Until then…
Women who frequent bars by themselves do it for a number of reasons. (Just like men! Imagine that!) Sometimes it’s to get shitfaced drunk and forget about everything that stresses her out. Sometimes it’s as simple as wanting to be alone in public, or to be with those wacky bar friends who don’t judge her as harshly as everyone else does and don’t pretend to know her well enough to explain all the ways in which she’s not living up to her potential.
She does it to not be home alone. To not be home with someone she doesn’t want to be at home with. To feel attractive for the first time since the last time. She does it because dusk always reminds her of her mother and she doesn’t want to think about her mother. Or because she has a physical craving that she has to satisfy despite not really wanting to, sorta like taking a 1-minute smoke break by the dumpster in the rain with no coat on only because your body is demanding that you do so.
Imagine: Broken-hearted dude goes to the local tavern where everyone knows his name, sits at the bar for many hours chatting up the bartender, drinking whisky shots with PBR backs. Says stupid shit, accidentally cries a little, drunkenly sings along too loudly to Tiny Dancer, goes to a lady’s house late night, has stupid semi-hard drunk sex, does the 2-mile walk of shame home in the morning, passes out. Repeat. Goes on 3-year-long bender of public drunkenness and sleepovers in strange places.
You know what that is? A song with gravelly vocals and elementary guitar chords. Americana. The human experience. Crazy Heart.
Imagine: the broken-hearted is a woman who does all of those things. You think: So sad! Why isn’t she at home making dinner for someone, or painstakingly scrutinizing her appearance? Where does she get the ludicrous notion that she has the right to be in a bar by herself? Doesn’t she have ladylike things to do somewhere? Does she not know what people think of her? Why doesn’t she care what everyone thinks? For fuck’s sake!
According to Urban Dictionary, and seemingly the general public, a barfly is a woman whose purpose is debauchery and destruction. She has no motivation for being in that bar other than to manipulate and eventually destroy the men that are stupid or drunk enough to pay attention to her. She does not exist in and of herself and has no self-awareness or integrity. She’s a slut, a drunk, a terrible mother, a washed-up spinster, a ruined woman. She deserves to be treated like shit, and in fact expects and seeks it out.
The hours she spends on the bar stool would be tragic if anyone actually cared about her well-being. But they don’t, because she’s just a barfly.
The truth is, a barfly is nothing more than someone who, like everyone else, tries to create her own brand of temporary happiness in the way she knows works. She just happens to do it in a bar – which, if she were a man, would be hardly notable. Cheers was full of ‘em.
That woman that sits at the bar by herself is not who we think she is. Let’s stop being deafened by the standard-issue patriarchal white noise that makes us think we know her and get over our rickety judgments about her worthiness and tragedy level before my freaking brain explodes.
And really, feeling so sorry for that woman who sits alone because you just can’t imagine how horrible her life must be, simply because she’s there, at the bar, drinking and maybe flirting? That’s not a whole lot better than judging her according to her fuckability score and next-day-embarassment index. We don’t know shit about her life and thinking that her mere presence in that place is enough to understand her… well, that’s plain fucked up.
Egads! The sheer number of songs performed/written by men that address the age-old angst of that silent beautiful woman he saw that one time, well it’s enough to make me want to write a song about that guy I played pool with at the bar a few weeks ago that was really, really cute. Except, ya know, he was just a cute guy and not my savior, so I don’t know really what the song would be about other than “Hey, I liked your face and your clothes and your hair was passable although perhaps not ideal and you made some good shots.”
But see, men can sing those songs and I guess it’s supposed to be all meaningful and shit, because apparently the mere site of a pretty woman can change everything a man thinks about the world and then he leaves his wife! Men leave their wives over the silent beauty they saw in passing! It’s true! I hear about it all the time on the radio in my mom’s car!
To wit: Mr. James Blunt says,
My life is brilliant.
My love is pure.
I saw an angel.
Of that I’m sure.
She smiled at me on the subway.
She was with another man.
But I won’t lose no sleep on that,
‘Cause I’ve got a plan.
You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful.
You’re beautiful, it’s true.
I saw your face in a crowded place,
And I don’t know what to do,
‘Cause I’ll never be with you.
Your love is pure? Are you kidding me? Okay Blunt, just so you know, you’re completely fucked . This beautiful girl that you shared a moment with? I really doubt that she remembers it, much less thinks about you as the one who got away. Why’s that? Because pretty girls get looks like that ALL THE TIME from countless dudes hoping to gaffle a so-called moment with the pretty girl.
Trust me, as the frumpy BFF of a series of pretty girls for as long as I’ve been alive, with my hawk-like senses and protective insticts, I can tell you most assuredly that you did not share a moment. When a beautiful woman is as enrapturing as you describe, you can bet you weren’t the first guy that day to stare at her. At some point in pretty girl’s life, usually around age 12, such moments are just so damn commonplace they become non-moments.
No, when she saw you and smiled she was most likely thinking about that kid Manny on Modern Family.
It’s also possible that she thought you were cute and was kinda flirting with you. But not likely. And she certainly didn’t go home and write a freaking song about it.
So why do you do this to yourself Blunt? She was beaitiful and smiled at you and now you’re all you’re ‘my angel’ and ‘I know we’ll never be together’ and blah blah blah. You know nothing about her whatsoever and all the sudden you’re in existential turmoil.
I think that Blunts of the world really don’t want the pretty girl to speak because if she did she would be a real living breathing person and not a lovely fragile thing that stands there smiling at you, making you think about how you are not all the glorious things you wish you were but maybe, just maybe, if she never spoke or had an opinion about anything, this girl might just save you from yourself.
Women: If silent, angelic and catalysts to mens’ personal growth. If speaking, cause of all problems, personal and global.
As I go out and tonight mentally prepared (though perhaps not emotionally) for most women I come across to be clad in a Sexy ___ getup, and for the regrettfully harsh judgments I will inevitably pass on their taste and lack of ingenuity, I will remember my disturbing trip to the Halloween costume store a couple of weeks ago.
I will remember that these were not in the “Sexy” aisle of the costume store. No, they were all around me. Everywhere. There were no non-sexy options. The dude section was full of fully clothed doctors, cowboys, folktale heroes. What was the lady alternative was to those? I don’t even have to answer that. You know what I’m saying.
I have a friend that waited too long to get her costume together and ended up at the Halloween store. She wanted something funny and cool. She got Sexy Robin Hood. She hates it. Even though she had no intention of going sexy, she didn’t have much of a choice once she was there and in a hurry.
So I will remember all of that as I head out into the craziness tonight, and I will only blame the patriarchy for demanding that women are sex, even on the one day a year we’re supposed to get to be something else.
You know the world’s gone to shit when opera singers feel like they need to get gastric bypass surgery so they’ll have a better chance at getting parts.
Slimmed-down soprano Deborah Voigt, back at London’s Covent Garden four years after bosses fired her for being too fat, says opera, like other forms of entertainment, is increasingly obsessed with looks.
The 47-year-old American accepted an invitation from theto return to the same production she was dropped from in 2004 when the casting director felt she would not suit the “little black dress” he envisaged for the part.
The decision sparked heated debate in the world of opera and beyond about the importance of artists’ appearance. Voigt shed 120 pounds with the help of gastric bypass surgery and is back asin Richard Strauss’s “Ariadne auf Naxos.”…
Voigt said she was initially upset at being dropped by the Royal Opera House, although she now understood she would have looked out of place in the stylized ‘Ariadne’ production.
Potential perk: “when the fat lady sings” is no longer part of the lexicon.
Potential bummer: Women increasingly starve themselves to infertility and death and the human species rides into extinction. Robots and aliens blame the End of Man on woman.
On a not-unrelated note, has anyone seen The Happening?
I’m in the kitchen washing dishes (!) and making dinner (!) and my teenager is in the living room watching the TV. A movie promo comes on and I hear these words: (in deep man voice)
“There comes a time in every man’s life when… ”
Take your pick: He must choose between good and evil. He must stand up and be counted. He must learn the meaning of redemption. He feels the need to make a difference in the world. Whatever.
Now let’s imagine for a second that the TV says: (in a woman’s voice, of course)
“There comes a time in every woman’s life when…”
No really, close your eyes and imagine hearing those words, and then try to hear the rest of the sentence.
Sure as shit ain’t you ain’t gonna be hearing the word redemption, I’ll tell you what. Experiences like that are way too human and serious to be the purview of women. No, when we hear this one it’s usually a personal cleansing cloth commercial or a shitty romantic comedy promo and the sentence always ends with something related to a wedding, fine jewelry, someone else’s’ precocious children, giving up a lucrative career, a bad boyfriend, getting old, or body odor.
Women are such funny little creatures, aren’t they? They’re all so exactly alike, so removed from the real business of life, so obsessed with stupid girly things.
(That is, of course, until they realize the important of sacrificing themselves for others and accepting change instead of making it. Duh.)
The bottom line, once again: Women are women and men are human. The male experience is the human experience. The female experience is not only specific to females, it is entirely insignificant.
And here’s what I say to that:
I was in and out of the hospital for a few weeks a couple of months ago with some crazy intestinal bullshit that made me walk all hunched over popping chewable fiber tablets, terrified of eating bread products or spicy food. I was suddenly a hundred years old. I most definitely blame the patriarchy.
I went in to see my doctor in the morning a few days after the last hospital visit with some new belly pain and she forced me to go to the ER because she was worried my condition may have worsened. I really, really didn’t want to go. The last time I had gone to the ER with stomach pain I was there for 4 days and left with a mild morphine addiction. They sure are liberal with that stuff when they don’t know what’s wrong with you, lemme tell ya.
On this ER visit, I was attended to by a creepy ass old doctor with a long grey ponytail that despised me. I could tell this by the way he sneered at, chuckled, and dismissed my complaints. I wanted to scream at him that my doctor had forced me to come. I wanted to go home and curl up in bed for the rest of the week. I was mos def not on a mission to get narcotics. If a cup of Maalox was gonna make the pain go away then please, give me the goo and let me be on my way. Please please please, don’t admit me.
But this guy straight up hated me. He didn’t believe a single word that came out of my mouth. I knew this the way that people just know things.
Needless to say, I didn’t trust him much either, so when his evaluating presses on my abdomen became a little too gentle and caressing, I got tense. It wasn’t egregious fondling, and if it had been my own doctor I would have thought she was just expressing care, but it was a little too gentle for a doctor that had showed nothing but skepticism of my illness and contempt for my existence since I walked in the door.
He fed me some tummy medicine and came back a few hours later to see how I was feeling. “I think I’m fine” I said. “No more pain.” I got up and waddled around the room in a haphazardly-tied hospital gown and old undies, declaring myself fit as a fiddle. It worked! The Maalox worked! Can I please go home now? Then the doctor says:
“Jump up and down.”
“Jump up and down?” I asked.
“Yeah, let’s see if you’re really feeling better.”
“I will absolutely not jump up and down in front of you.”
Looks at me quizzically. “You won’t?”
I sit back down on the bed, determined. “No. No. I won’t.”
He looks at me from the side, with his eyes all squinty, and writes something down.
I lose my shit. “I’m not a crazy person! I’m not! Why are you looking at me like I’m crazy? Seriously, I can’t jump up and down in front of you. No! No. But I feel better, I feel just fine. Let me go home, okay? I won’t jump up and down. No. Definitely not. And I’m not insane.”
Looks at me as if I’ve just threatened to blow up the hospital. “I’ll just have to take your word on that.” Audible Pfft. “You can go.” Wave of the dismissive hand. “I’ll have the nurse bring in the papers.”
Of course I acknowledge the possibility that there was some sort of medical necessity at work there and that my doctor was truly attempting to determine, via the random jump demand, if I was lying about feeling better. In this scenario, my creepy doctor was looking out for my well-being.
If this is truth, it’s partial at best.
Taking in the whole scenario, I think it’s clear that dude was on a serious fucking power trip, to say the least. Me: A sickly woman in a stiff, cold, sterile bed, mostly naked under a thin hospital gown, who has expressed fear about her impending bankruptcy from these endlessly escalating hospital bills and wants nothing more from this man than to be allowed to go home. This is a portrait of vulnerability, and we all know how appealing female vulnerability is to men who get off on their assumed patriarchy-given power to demand things from women that they have no right or reason to demand.
Maybe I’ve been fortunate in my choice of female doctors and therapists, because in all my years, no female doctor has ever demanded uncomfortable personal information that was irrelevant to whatever I was there for. No female therapist has ever asked me for sexual details. No woman has ever demeaned me by asking me to jump up and down in front of her for any reason, ever. No woman has ever asked me to do something that made me feel like my vulnerability was being taken advantage of. That’s not to say that no woman has ever done such things, but never to me.
Or maybe I’m more conscious of my vulnerability and discomfort with male doctors than with women and more suspicious of their motivations. Yeah, maybe that’s it.
Or maybe I’m absolutely right to think that men in positions of close authority over women’s bodies are allowed to force a level of intimacy that is uncomfortable and wholly unnecessary, and that this is true especially in the most sanctioned of authoritarian relationships – the ones where the disparity in power is accepted near-universally.
Whatever little sovereignty a woman may have over her experiences, her body, her choices – these are negated entirely when in the presence of an authority man. Especially when she is at her most vulnerable, when she is most dependent on his assessment of her.
The man in this kind of power position has the legitimate right to take for himself anything and everything that belongs to a woman, all in the name of her health and well-being. He can demand her humiliation with little challenge, as long his demands aren’t outright illegal, because the world expects its men, especially those with his kind of power, to dominate the half of the species that are supposed to exist solely for the purpose of arousing, satisfying, and comforting the other half. And because the patriarchy expects its authority men, its doctors and psychiatrists and police officers, to verify for the rest of the world how not-quite-human women really are, what with their odd afflictions and emotions and behaviors, by treating them as not-quite-human.
He can tell a woman to jump up and down in front of him. He can ask her questions that nobody should ask for any reason. He can softly caress her belly when he should be pressing down on it. He can write down notes about how crazy she is because she didn’t do what he told her to do. And she’s the one with the problem, because she’s a woman. He’s a doctor. Enough said. End of story.
And I say boo.
I had a conversation with a guy friend recently in which he told me that my friend Pam’s intelligence, humor, friendliness, beauty, and kick-ass pool playing skills were not enough to make her attractive because she was “just a barfly.” Another good friend told me that he would never have a relationship with a woman he met in a bar because he wouldn’t want to be with a woman “like that.” I challenged them both on their sexist double standards and I’ve been mildly obsessed with the idea of The Barfly ever since.
(Okay, before you go questioning my choice of friends, let me just say that I live in a small town. If I didn’t begrudgingly tolerate feminist ignorance among my friends I would have exactly zero of them)
So I decided to do a little investigation into this whole Barfly thing. The official definition is a person who spends a lot of time drinking in bars. However, the slang definition, according to the oft-cited Urban Dictionary, is as follows:
1. A bar fly is a sleezy woman that hangs out at bars with no other intent but to hook up with a man for the night. Bar flies normally leave a wet stain or mark on bar stools. They are disgusting whores.
2. A heavy drinking woman with a mom face but milf-like qualities such as a nice rack and a small ass. Can be surprisingly tight in the vagina. Will deny being a bar fly.
Apparently there are several synonyms and spin-offs to the Barfly. Yay!
A chick who hangs at the bar on a daily basis, fucks whover buys her drinks/drugs and thinks she’s hip to the scene.
Horribly skanky girls that regularly occupy the local bars trying to hit on bartenders in the attempt to integrate their alcoholic or otherly abused life with someone who is trying to earn money to get through college by holding a part-time job because they want their futures to be stable enough to avoid people like this.
A stupid drunk ass bitch who goes to the bar strictly to spread her taco.
A loser whore who tramps around the bar looking for anything that has anything between its legs.
A woman that takes a man’s offer to buy her a drink with no intentions of dancing or going home with him. After the girl gets the drink she will usually “recieve a phone call that her brothers in the hospital and she has to go”
Similar to Barfly but a MUCH Nastier Uglier Version, that not even all the alcohol in the world could get you to sleep with her.
Ugly drunk women who always seems to be at the end of the bar. Will go home with anyone who has at least 5 dollars in pocket.
Ah, there’s nothing quite like the sneak-up reminder of how despised women are. Especially the ones who go out into public.
I have many things to say about the Barfly, but I’ll have to say them in another post because for now, the Urban Dictionary has gotten me all kinds of riled up.
The tagline: “A slang dictionary with your definitions. Define your world.”
My world. Funny.
Under the current reviewing system, newly submitted definitions are entered into the editing queue before appearing on the site. Volunteer editors vote to accept or reject definitions in the queue…Each submission is reviewed by a number of volunteers (the exact number varies, but lies between two and nine), with controversial definitions being viewed by more people. Definitions with more accept votes than reject votes appear on the site.
The quality control issues with that site are obviously enormous and I realize that the bulk of entries are being written by teenage boys (but wait – is the fact that the guys writing this crap are young supposed to make me feel better about the world?), but I’m still quite unnerved by the fact that entries are actually reviewed before being posted and this kind of shit still gets up there. Hot damn, the hate is palpable. These entries were approved, for chrissake.
Ever read the forums at the bottom of movie pages on IMDB? Or the comments on any girl’s YouTube video? Or spam subject lines? My inbox terrorizes me daily. The internet has made it possible to spew hate before unsuspecting and oddly captive readers, the likes of which have never been seen before.
Online public spaces are so often dominated by proud misogyny. Boys write for boys as the default audience and women are intruders, lucky to be let in and laughed at and threatened when they try to point out that they’re actual people and not sex dolls or cartoon characters or ideas. Websites where anyone can say anything inevitably and tragically become places for men to alienate and degrade women; to remind us that we exist on the margins of humanity. Anonymity + no rules = the truth comes out. The gloves are off. No reason to pretend. And it feels fucking awful.
Please, dear feminist readers, start a blog if you haven’t already and write in it if you have. We need more places where we can go to escape the hate.
Funny thing. I’ve noticed that the men who come on to feminist blogs to argue about how men have rights too and how feminists are woefully misguided about the true nature of women – these men very often have obviously male names. They make it clear, if not within their comments, then with their handles, that they’re men.
I wonder, if these guys want to actually engage in meaningful dialogue about feminist ideas, as they claim they do, why do they feel the need to make it clear from the get go that they’re men?
Could it be that they assume from a lifetime of male privilege that they have a right, an obligation even, to interrupt women, announce their manhood, and expect full attention? That any discussion among women is not legitimate until a man is there to guide the conversational journey? That what they say has more weight and is inherently more important that anything a woman has to say? That women joyfully welcome the wisdom of the male perspective on whatever topic is at hand?
Or are they hoping that the feminists will quickly see that one of the “enemy” is in their midst and then attack whatever he says (because he’s a man, of course, and not because he’s saying ridiculous and ignorant things), thereby giving him all the proof he needs to support his argument that feminists are a bunch of hateful irrational hags that viciously slander the kind-hearted men who only want to help them become better people?
Me a few weeks ago: Eating sourdough pancakes at the counter, reading the last pages of a thick Peggy Guggenheim biography. Guy: sits next to me, sees what I’m reading, and proceeds to tell me all about the life of Peggy Guggenheim as if I’d never heard of her. Hello? I’m on the last fucking chapter of a 1,000 page biography. You really think you need to educate me on the topic? Who are you and why are you giving me a lecture while I’m trying to read? Are you expecting me to take notes or some shit?
Tell me, what are men thinking when they approach a woman reading a book and attempt to teach her everything they think they know about the subject she’s reading about? Are they thinking “Hey, it’s a girl! Maybe she’ll fuck me!” or is it “I’m totally smarter than her because I’m a dude. I better go make sure she knows it.” Or possibly “I hate women.” Perhaps a little of each?
Me a few days ago: At the bar reading a thoroughly entertaining book about TV (the ideal gift for any Gen-x’er who was raised by the nanny named television and who found themselves abnormally attached to TV’s rich California high school kids/vampire slayers/”start getting real” roommates long after they left home). Guy: Sits next to me, sees what I’m reading, and tells me all about the kinds of books he reads, as if I was sitting there wondering about exactly that thing and not, in fact, reading a book. To make matters so much worse, the kind of book he’s damn proud of reading is Bukowski. This is seemingly intended to convince me that he’s WAY smarter and cooler than I am because I’m reading about television and he prefers the shitty prose of a drunken misogynist asshole. Edgy!
Tell me, why do so many men think that a woman reading alone in a public place is the perfect listener? Is this because they believe they are smarter than any given woman near them and that women, especially the ones that are trying to look all smart by reading a book, are anxious to be subtly reminded of their supposed deficiencies? Do they see a woman reading and assume she’s only doing so in order to get a man to come talk to her; that she can’t possibly be just simply reading a book? Is it because she’s without a male companion and has therefore made herself open game – i.e. that she brought such attention on to herself by daring to venture out into the public realm without a man clearly claiming ownership over her?
Me since I was old enough to read in public: Asked “Whatcha readin?” by countless men who never attempted to engage in any sort of real dialogue about the book I was reading, who never asked me questions about what I thought about the author or the subject, who never did anything but spew paraphrased, hand-me-down facts and theories about whatever topic they felt like discussing regardless of whether or not I seemed even remotely interested, who never assumed I might actually know anything about anything.
Tell me, would the kind of men who shamelessly approach single reading women suggest that these women not read in public if they don’t wish to be approached by men pretending to be curious? And if so, how unbelievably fucked up is it that?
I was wondering how long it would take before the rape threats made it into my comments. I know how any blog written by a woman, but most especially feminist blogs, get a ton of the “you just need a good fuck” comments, but I guess I thought my barely-read, barely-begun blog would be immune for at least a while. Ack, no such luck.
News flash! Suggesting that a female blogger be raped in order to cure her of having opinions you don’t like isn’t new, funny, or interesting. Male-dominated culture is defined by its relentless threat of violence against women – you aren’t saying anything that all of us haven’t heard a thousand times before in some form or another. Which is pretty much the reason that I started writing here in the first place.
I’d love to prevent people like you from even thinking the way you do, but that’s a big task. I need more time. Until then, keep away worthless little trolls. You’re fucking dumb and your words mean nothing to me.