When I initially read the recently-gone-viral post “The Case Against Female Self-Esteem” by a guy named Matt Forney, I was viscerally upset, so I closed the tab on my laptop and decided not to look at it again. I waited about four seconds before I re-opened it and read it again. I posted it to Facebook with a very short description of my feelings on it: something to the effect of “I don’t think this post is a joke, but I wish it were,” albeit in more Facebook-friendly English. As people began to comment on my Facebook post, I ended up re-reading Forney’s post yet again, and I realized I had to write something in response. While at first I had been so overwhelmed that I just didn’t know where to start with a response, I had some temporal distance from my first reading now, and I figured I could go bit by bit through Forney’s writing and respond, if only for my own sake.
After his small graphic introduction about his own physical reactions to a girl’s “bragging” of confidence, I thought nothing more than that he seemed like an unenlightened person who does not put much thought into his own actions; someone who would, of course bang someone who has a repellent personality does not strike me as a person who cares too much about their own personal doings. I don’t want to say that as a blanket statement, because if he said that physical attraction of a girl’s body can sometimes trump all else for him and he just gives into desire, I could understand. But his use of “of course” emphasizes to me that this is a central part of his attitude towards life, towards his life, towards himself, ultimately.
Ok, so not a particularly thought-driven person. Not someone I would interact with by choice. Fine, moving on. Next paragraph…he just kicks it way up. I was completely blown away by his nonchalant mention of suicide and the fact that he basically expressed the sentiment that he would like to have half of the world’s population exist at a level only just above suicide. Half of the population of the world. Just barely above killing themselves. Think about that for a moment. Just let that sink in…there was a huge what-the-fuck red flag waving in my face if I ever saw one.
His phrase “man with a vagina” is an interesting one. It demonstrates a lack of understanding of the separation of gender and sex, a lack which is not all that surprising, given the context, I suppose. Still, noted.
Next, we have a call to action, for a war to be waged against female self-esteem. Wow. I’m not going to touch that quite yet—just didn’t want you to think I missed it.
Forney’s next paragraph is notably contradictory (content aside, it simply does not make any logical sense). First he mentions how girls are “bombarded with propaganda” that boosts their self-esteem (which, on a side note, could hardly be further from the truth). He says they are told how special they are because of their sex, their inherent nature as girls (“because they have an extra X chromosome,” “merely for existing”). Next, he contradicts himself, saying that girls are (direct quote) “encouraged to derive self-worth not from their inherent feminine nature but from their college degree, their job”, etc. So which is it, Forney? (Hint: either way, you’re pretty far off base.)
I’m not going to go through every sentence of the rest of his tripe-ridden post, but I will say this: Matt Forney, you sound very sad. It upset me to read this post of yours, and it scared me. I cannot imagine that anyone who desires another person to live and die for him, to be so vulnerable as to literally not be able to survive alone, can be very confident himself. I challenge you to perhaps look at yourself, and see if maybe there is some loving that needs to be had there. A confident person should not be a threat, nor a turn-off.
A person who is happy and well-adjusted to the world is not necessarily one who shows no emotional need. On the contrary, I rather find the strongest people, the most confident, are those who can also show their emotional vulnerability, who are willing to let others in so that they can grow. But this vulnerability is not the same strain Forney claims to lust after; it is a strength, borne of a person with a strong soul and, yes…confidence.
P.S. Not all women are into men. But I suppose that entire section of humankind is just another group of men with vaginas, along with any of us feminists who do prefer the guys? Cool…I learned a whole lot today.