Guest Post: Austin Simpson

Welcome to a new feature on Misadventures In Writing, I’m going to start featuring some other writers that I admire on a semi-regular basis! The first up is Austin Simpson, enjoy!

MASSIVE REWRITES NEEDED: An Unasked-for Workshop for Matt Walsh

The article in question can be viewed in its entirety here: http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/06/19/dear-single-men-time-man-figure/

Hey Matt!  Just got your blog post, let’s go through it and see if I can give you any notes!
“Dear single dudes: it’s time to man up”
Okay, first off, that title has GOT to go.  It’s way too audience-specific.  What about single women?  What about single, non-gender specific people?  The name of the writing game is universality.  If you can’t connect to every type and style of reader out there, you’re bound to lose a few who think you’re nothing more than another sad, white dude desperately shilling “traditional values” so that your much vaunted privilege can be enshrined like the dusty bones of some long-dead saint.
You wouldn’t want that, would you?
And then there’s this part, where you make it out like every inter-gender relationship is just man+woman=babies.  For example, you write

“‘Hanging out’ is how we describe what we do with our buddies. Is that what you want? Do you want that beautiful woman to be your buddy? Or would you ideally prefer it if you could distinguish between your relationship with her and your relationship with your friend Steve?”

Well, yes, I think some of us would.  Some people are perfectly capable of having a platonic relationship with the opposite sex…and the same-sex, trans-folk, etc. etc.  Again, and not to belabor the point, but you’re losing on the universality front.  If you post something like that in public, women will not only be left out because they’ve been portrayed as some exotic prize to catch in a cage and display for all the world to admire (and you must hate when people think that), but will also be confused; what do you mean by “beautiful”?  There are a lot of definitions of that term.  Be more concrete, more specific.  Plus, you’re leaving out the genderqueer community as a whole!  How could you forget them; it’s not like you’re some small-minded neo-conservative, hoping that by presenting the hetero, cis-community as the only real one you’ll somehow be snatched up by some hateful, far-right propaganda machine that can pay you oodles of money for wearing a suit…
…moving on:

“Time to end the nonsense, gentlemen. It’s time to be grown ups. It’s time to be men. I know this term really offends a lot of people nowadays, but truly, fellas, let’s man up.”

Really?  You know that a term is going to offend people so you use it anyway?  C’mon, are you really that thick?  I’m starting to think you’re doing this on purpose.

“Trust me, I’m not innocent. I’m married now, but I was once a part of this hazy, undefined dating-but-not-dating scene. I never liked it, because nobody does. I never found any happiness in it, because nobody does. But I was a part of the problem. I was a wimpy man-child, afraid of meaningful commitments, afraid of being alone, afraid of rejection, afraid of the future, afraid of being betrayed, afraid of being loved. Just afraid, really. Afraid of everything…See, I’d been floating like aimless debris through an ocean of cloudy intentions and half-heartedness, until I grew up and realized that romance isn’t a game, and most women aren’t frivolous bimbos. They want men who know what they want and aren’t afraid to verbalize it. And if they don’t want that, then they aren’t worth your energy. Get out now. If she still wants to pretend she’s in tenth grade, let her live that fantasy with someone else.”

Wait…what?  Chill out with the passive-aggressive holier-than-thou shit.  Just because you pretend like who you were in the past somehow makes you the expert on relationships, doesn’t mean you are.  And so far, this article hasn’t convinced me of that anyway.  You haven’t earned these statements; SHOW ME why you have the right to look down on how other people act.  Cuz frankly, I ain’t seein’ it.  Come to think of it, I never have.  (Also, lots of people aren’t very strong.  Being a wimp isn’t a bad thing, stop using that term in the pejorative.)
Now, lets look at one particular line in that mumbo-jumbo.

“…most women aren’t frivolous bimbos…”

DUDE, NO.  No women are frivolous bimbos.  If they act in a way you define as “frivolous” and being a “bimbo”, that’s because YOU DEFINED IT.  Which is completely unfair.  Why would you even think that’s okay to say?  What, do you want people to think you’re some half-baked, hyper-Christian goon with your head shoved up your ass?
Oh holy shit, the end is just a disaster.  You write

“You can’t go out and have sex (I mean, ‘hook up,’ as the middle schoolers at the lunch table might call it) and then claim that you ‘aren’t ready for something serious.’ It’s too late, friend. Sex is something serious.”

To you maybe, but again: universality, universality, universality.  Lots of people enjoy getting laid without wanting anything more than that.  And they do it in a variety of combinations!  Men fucking men, women fucking women, people fucking people, you name it!  Sometimes people don’t even get laid, and don’t want to!  The hetero model is just one amongst numerous sexual flavours.  You seem to have tunnel vision whenever it comes to this sort of thing…
Oh, and what is with this ludicrous analogy (which relies far too heavily on the False Equivalence Fallacy, BTW) in which you equate someone who doesn’t want to be in a relationship with a fiery plane crash.  Getting a little melodramatic, aren’t we?
Look Matt, I understand you poured your heart and soul into this, but frankly that wasn’t enough.  I’m not sure it ever will be.  I don’t normally say this, but maybe you shouldn’t be a writer; you too often present your questionable opinions as fact.  This, more often than not, is a detriment to yourself and to anyone who may not fall within the narrow confines of your worldview.  And the worst thing is, Matt, is that this is not new, nor unique.  This sort of boxing-in of people, whether they’re women or not, continues the systemic, endemic oppression within North America.  This sort of writing allows transphobia and homophobia to be a thing, allows rape-culture to be a thing, allows the brutalizing of young men until they turn into traumatized, hateful robots to be a thing.  You’re not the cause, simply the apologist.
In strictly metaphorical terms; you’re not the one ordering people to the camps, but you’re driving the bus.
Maybe you should stop the bus.
Maybe you should pack up your family, go out, and start a farm.
Raise some sheep.
Get the plague.
Die before you’re 40.
That’s as traditional as it gets, right there.

Austin Simpson is a North American writer currently living and dying in Victoria, BC.  He enjoys building fires, rolling his own cigarettes, hockey, Slavoj Zizek, and bell hooks.  He is currently finishing a BA in Creative Writing and European History at the University of Victoria, and plans on mooning the crowd when he graduates.  Austin can be found at likesomuchink.wordpress.com, in various publications on the internet and real life, and under a bridge (most days).

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