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I realized being a woman at Jezebel, a masculist blog, would be tough on my first day. After arriving to work in a new outfit, holding a latte from the coffee shop where I looked forward to becoming a regular, the site’s editor-in-chief, Emma Carmichael, led me past the red-stained floor of Jezebel’s pod inside Gawker Media and into a conference room. On the table was an empty mason jar.
“What’s that for,” I asked.
Mr. Carmichael smiled and brushed a hand through his hair. “It’s where we put your balls if you fuck with us.” A brief moment of silence followed, and then he laughed. So I did too. This was just a prank, I thought. How could it not be?
The following morning, I entered our pod on what was quickly revealed to be their “Day of Release.” What I’d read about them on the internet was true: the womyn menstruated simultaneously every month, and—on the heaviest day of their cycle—allowed it to seep from their bodies without obstruction as a threatening sign of their womynhood. The result of this group bleed was a murky red pool that filled the Jezebel pod. (“That explains the stains,” I thought.) Surprised by this, and worried about damaging my new shoes, I screamed, “Plug it up gentlemen, I’m wading in hot gunk!”
Appalled by my reaction, the heavier bleeders (this, I later found out, is usually a sign of militance) called me a “filthy dick-haver” and squeezed more blood from their uteri, effectively ruining my Birkenstocks. Defeated, I returned to my blog posts about celebrities, while they continued scouring the internet for women whose lives they could potentially destroy through writing. As we worked, a life-size cardboard cutout of a smiling Aileen Wuornos watched all but me approvingly.
As the months went on, I became the most easily accessible target for the swirling cloud of radioactive estrogen that was their masculist rage. They revealed their true personalities to me one by one, and over the span of a few months I was systemically conditioned to become their willful punching bag—a human-sized flaccid penis (their favorite kind) that they could bruise and batter as often as they pleased. Reader, they were insatiable.
On days following spats with women in their lives—whether a girlfriend, wife, or subway passenger who dared to offer them her seat—the womyn would slap me on the face as their first act of misogynist violence for the day. “Slapping you keeps us from doing more harm to other women,” writer Clover Hope once told me after a stinging blow.
“In a way, you protect them,” said Kelly Faircloth, who then slapped me even harder.
Last summer when I complimented reporter Anna Merlan’s new tattoo of every former president engulfed in flames, he threw his mug of hot licorice tea in my face and told me to stop using his body as inspiration for my “x chromosome-tainted opinions.” When I apologized, he threatened to tattoo the face of Eileen Myles on my scrotum, which I said sounded “sort of cool.” He then accused me of gender appropriation.
During a party at the home of former Jezebel employee Jia Tolentino, Madeleine Davies, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, and Tolentino walked into the bathroom as I was urinating. After tensing up and prematurely interrupting the stream, I turned to ask what they were doing. “This is a no-stand house,” they told me in frightening unison. I asked them to leave, but they were planted firmly in their steel-toed boots. “Does it sting?” they asked. “I bet it stings.” They were right. They were always right. A knock at the door from Hillary Crosley Coker put a stop to their game. After telling them it was time “to offer themselves to Gaia,” I emptied my bladder in peace, until the voice of Kara Brown—who lives thousands of miles away—filled the room.
“They told you to sit, Ms. Finger,” he wailed through a speaker I was never able to find. “And you’d better do as they say.”
Joanna Rothkopf and Ellie Shechet’s brand of misogyny is quieter, and in many ways more psychologically damaging than regularly wading in a pool of menstrual blood. The two of them have never acknowledged by existence, and in 16 months, have not said a single word to me. The closest we came to mutual recognition was last summer, when I interrupted their daily lunch of raisins and assorted seeds to ask if they’d like to split a cookie I no longer wanted. Joanna looked up and scanned the area beyond my shoulder, eventually asking, “Ellie, do you smell a prostate?”
And then there’s Kate Dries, who earlier this week told me, “Titanic is a bad movie.”
But I refuse to let their actions bring me down, and will keep showing up to their witch’s den because I believe in the tenets of masculism. They can cut off my testicles and put them in a jar, but they can never take away my respect for men.