Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash: Why women hold grudges — a feminist manifesto, notes to a panicked author, and sexual harassment in the workplace

Matt Labash Columnist
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Why do women hold grudges for so long? – Bill

Do they? I hadn’t noticed. Because I’m a man. Meaning I have the luxury of ignoring women as part of the patriarchal hegemony that relegates them to second-class citizenship in these United States of Amer♂ca. So if you say so that they’re holding a grudge, it’s probably because they’re angry. And to be fair to them, why shouldn’t they be? We, as men, have enjoyed all kinds of advantages over them. On average, women only make 77 cents to our every dollar. We experience less pain during childbirth, even if I got really thirsty watching my wife hog all the ice-chips during her 18-hour labor before she was wheeled in for a bloody C-section (selfish cow). We get to wear more comfortable shoes. We’ve invented most everything of importance, have written nearly all of the Western canon, and dominate any sport that matters (quick, name a WNBA player — any WNBA player). We get to pee standing up, making the world our de facto urinal, and by extension, marked territory. We have never had to pretend that we like Oprah, “Sex and the City,” Hillary Clinton, Nicholas Sparks,  Florence and the Machine, or “The Secret Life of Bees.” Let’s face it, men, we’ve been blessed.

Most important of all — we get to sleep with women. Whereas, with whom do straight women have to sleep? That’s right. With filthy, disgusting men. The kind of men who’d write the above paragraph. Men who smell like stale onions, greasy back hair, and Blue Star Ointment. (I’m just guessing, here — I don’t get close enough to men to smell them, on account of them making me sick.) The question you should then be asking, isn’t why are women angry? But why aren’t they angrier? Also, why aren’t more of them lesbians? If I were a woman, I’d have to seriously consider becoming one. Don’t take this the wrong way, Bill, I’m sure you smell just fine — like the Axe Body Spray I detected on your letter. And you can accuse me of being a strident feminist if you’d like. But if I were a woman, I’d much prefer sleeping with a woman than with you.

I’m writing a book, and occasionally have these panic attacks that no one will read it, is that normal? – Mike

Is it normal for you to feel the paw of fear crushing your diaphragm, making you wonder if you are engaged in a futile struggle against insignificance and obsolescence? Is it normal for you to worry that you are spending months or years of your life hoping people you’ll never know will spend days or weeks of their time paging through the leavings of your bankrupt imagination? Is it normal to worry that the very act of committing words to paper that you are engaged in at the moment — thousands , maybe millions of others are also doing simultaneously, hoping to give voice to their own enthusiasms and pain and  loneliness, though whatever any of you end up writing has probably been expressed before and better, so that your utterances will be  drowned out like muffled whispers in a cacophonous football stadium? Is it normal to think that you’ve chosen a vocation where the written word has come to be regarded as cheap and disposable and something everyone gives away for free since they already “write” on their Tumblr and Facebook pages? Is it normal to worry that when your book lands with a thud on some back shelf at Borders (make that Barnes & Noble — Borders is closing), a brisk seller means moving about 5,000 copies, whereas having 5,000 followers on Twitter is considered something of a yawn? Is it normal to think that your words are thoughts, and that your thoughts are you, and that if people reject your words and thoughts, it’s not just your words or thoughts that they’re rejecting, but rather, they are rejecting the very essence of who you are, if in fact you even know who that is anymore, because you don’t know if the words you’re putting on the page are actually you, or the projection of you that you need complete strangers to see and accept before you can accept yourself?

I’m sorry, what was the question again? Are you sure you want to do this? Forget everything I just said — don’t let me discourage you. Instead, absorb the words of the poet Rilke on the necessity of not anticipating the voices of others before you’ve been able to hear your own: “Allow your judgments their own silent, undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be forced or hastened. Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born:  this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating.”

Or as Blind Boy Fuller put it less eloquently but more succinctly: “Keep on truckin’.”

Hi Matt, This is a simple request. I am trying to read your articles but have failed so far. In the interest of good journalism, please try not to look too handsome as it is distracting.  – Marianne

Treacher, or “Marianne” if you prefer — I like you as a friend. I think you’re one of the web’s most talented bloggers. It is an honor to have my column abut yours on the homepage. And I’ll be a character witness for your knee if you ever go to trial with that creep who mowed you down from the State Department. But I cannot accept this rose. For I am married — to a woman. Okay?  This time, it’s a warning. Next time, we go see H.R.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is now available in paperback from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.