How not to be a male feminist thanks to Ben Schoen

August 21, 2015
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Dealing with rejection can be tricky. Sometimes it can hurt your ego, and sometimes it just hurts. Whatever the situation, the best way to deal with it is to always, always politely accept the letdown and move on to greener pastures.

But that’s not everyone’s policy - especially not Ben Schoen’s. The former host of popular Harry Potter podcast, Mugglecast, recently decided that the best way to deal with his rejection was to issue a string of abusive and condescending tweets at his would-be paramour, Buzzfeed writer Grace Spelman. When Spelman publicly called him out on Twitter, it initiated one of the most spectacular displays of self-destruction the blogosphere has ever witnessed. The kicker? Schoen is a cofounder of feminist website, Feminspire.

But there’s more than just a bit of schadenfreude to this story. What Schoen has personified in this saga is an extension of the “nice guy” culture Hijacked has covered before. It’s the douchey perception that because you’re nice to women, women somehow owe you.

Also, Schoen’s story provides a pretty detailed roadmap for anyone interested in abandoning civil society for the giddy delights of becoming a huge creep. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Make unsolicited advances over social media

Even though he came on pretty strong, one can forgive awkward attempts at flirtation. At this stage, Schoen is displaying little more than over eagerness and a certain ignorance towards social media etiquette. Some people aren’t great socially – fair enough. After that, however, it gets a little weird.

But if you really want that creep factor, you need to go the extra mile: a marriage proposal and a suggestion that you’ve found your soulmate.

Step 2: Bite the hand that lets you down gently

Once you’ve been politely rejected, it’s important to maintain your cool. Resist the urge to move on with your life, and start tweeting insults.

Follow these up with an apologetic email that’s only vaguely passive aggressive.

Step 3: Go on a misogynistic, anti-Semitic rampage

Has the object of your affection aired your creepiness to the world? Are you receiving dozens of negative mentions on Twitter? Then it’s time for all-out social suicide.

In classic nice guy-style, show the world the monster that it’s made you become. Everyone’ll pay once they see how far they’ve pushed you!

Step 4: Confuse feminism with a “get out of jail free” card

After the whole mess blew up, Schoen then wrote to the Daily Dot claiming:

“I have done more for the cause of advancing women’s rights than any of the people who are criticizing me. This so-called crisis is manufactured by Ms. Spelman as a way to increase her profile as a social justice warrior.”

And herein lies the problem. Schoen isn’t simply bad at handling rejection; he actually seems to think that advocating women’s rights gives him some kind of free pass, and that he’s somehow incapable of being a douche if he calls himself a feminist.

Unfortunately for Schoen, being a feminist doesn’t mean you can’t be an asshole; the two roles aren’t mutually exclusive. More to the point, failing to acknowledge a woman’s right to reject you isn’t very feminist. In fact, it is precisely that kind of attitude that feminism aims to negate.

By contrast, Schoen’s view of feminism appears to boil down to: “I support equality! As long as that support earns me some entitlement with tha ladeeez.” He pays lip service to women’s rights, but he doesn’t seem to understand what they’re for. It’s fedora culture played out in macro; the nice guy attitude applied to women as a whole.

Does this mean that Schoen deserves to have his reputation publicly trashed? Maybe not. But then again, if you use a public forum to attack someone for refusing to date you, that kind of backlash will tend to come with the territory. Either way, the public antipathy is likely to continue until Schoen actually acknowledges his hypocrisy and owns up to his mistakes. So far, he still seems pretty clueless:

Joel Svensson

Business major, journalism minor and sometime voice-actor, Joel Svensson pretends to be smart at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

Image: Romana KleeFlickr Creative Commons license