It’s 2017, I don’t need to read you the riot act about what feminism is. I believe that while women and men have complementary and different roles, they’re still equals. Full stop. I was raised in a household of mostly women, and if I learned anything in that household it was to use your voice and at the same time have a sense of fucking humor. That’s why I love Barstool Sports.
Barstool started as a grassroots blog years ago that was created "by the common man, for the common man" and has flourished into a lifestyle website geared towards men, but it has garnered female readers as well. Whether they're famous or infamous has been up for debate due to their subversive, controversial attitude. They have a lighthearted, acerbic approach to their stories that makes it so much fun to read, while many other publications hijack stories and take it as an opportunity to get up on their soapbox. Barstool's attitude is what makes it hard to defend sometimes, but it's also why a lot of fans, or "Stoolies" have such an unshakable devotion to the brand. Where else am I going to find a blog that writes about how the universally revered (and now retired) New York Yankee Derek Jeter pounds his chest and says his own name while getting a blow job? What other blog is brave enough to say that Beyoncé is insufferable and kind of needs to get over herself? What other website is going to hire a porn star like Asa Akira to create content for them because they acknowledge that she brings a unique perspective and is really witty?
The site is represented by a few "personalities" who act as caricatures of themselves. For instance, Dave "El Presidente" Portnoy plays the role of the bombastic Boston sports fan who thinks the only man above Tom Brady is God himself and the only man below Roger Goodell is Satan himself and he has such an inflated ego that he probably says his own name during sex, much like Derek Jeter. In fact, he'll probably tell you Jeter stole that move from him. People often confuse these personalities for how these guys actually conduct themselves beyond the Barstool sphere, which really isn't the case. What also makes Barstool especially unique is that it really isn't the kind of website you read once in a while, it's one that many of it's readers are devoted to and pore over daily while at work. Think of it this way: a lot of other websites are kind of like Seinfeld, where each piece of content they produce can stand on its own and needs no past context. Barstool is more like Arrested Development, where you actually have to know their past content in order to understand their musings and running jokes.
This week, Barstool's Chris Spags' credibility as a writer and his microscopic chances of hooking up with Rihanna were tarnished with his musings about Rihanna's apparent weight gain. The Internet had a field day with it, and he along with Barstool got called out for their alleged "misogyny." Hopefully my credibility as a writer or chances of hooking up with Rihanna won't take a hit when I say Chris doesn't hate women and doesn't deserve to be tarred and feathered. His attempt at being sardonic just fell flat because he took it too far and didn't realize the magnitude of Barstool's newfound ubiquity.
I feel like I can vouch for Chris a little bit because I have interacted with him in a limited capacity. Our first exchange wasn't personal. I got featured on his blog "Tinder Bios of the Week," which is a widely anticipated blog published every Friday. In this round-up, he chooses the most noteworthy dating app bios he gets from readers. In my bio, I referred to myself as a "sommelier of semen" who was looking for a guy to "split me in half with his sex tomahawk." What I wrote could make it seem like I have had more frat boys dicks out for me than Harambe did, but Chris actually acknowledged how funny it was, calling me the Danny Woodhead of Tinder because I'm "scrappy and hardworking." I graduated from a safety school at 25, so that's the first time someone ever called me hardworking and I loved it. Ending up on that blog was, in a sense, the first time my writing got published. To say getting featured on that blog was what made me want to be a writer is tantamount to a professional wrestler saying they were inspired to go pro because they were really good at lube wrestling at frat parties. So no, that wasn't what made me want to be a writer, but it was my first thrill of being published (sort of) and it incentivized me a little bit to chase that feeling. I've also talked with Chris a bit before on an interpersonal level, and he's a pretty cool guy. This kind of personal engagement that the writers have at Barstool with their readers is why Stoolies will back up Barstool during controversies like this, and that's why it's such a great movement.
Or, you know, you don't have to take what limited interactions I've had with Chris as gospel. You can see for yourself by looking at Chris' other blogs to see that he actually is witty and brings a unique perspective. He's not parsing out Simone de Beauvoir or Mary Wollstonecraft in his content because it's not his job to be a voice for feminism, but his blogs are women-friendly.
If any of these websites actually did their research, they would know that Chris and Barstool Sports aren't bad people at all. The media's flagrant obscurantism, vicious hyperbole, and eagerness to pigeonhole all Stoolies as ignorant and misogynistic is more despicable than Chris' failed attempt at satire. He, along with Barstool, does not hate women, he just has some blind spots that hindered his ability to understand how this could have offended people. It's not just Chris that has these blind spots - everyone does!
Feminists need to accept that only a small sector of Stoolies are misogynistic dicks and Barstool hopefully understands that only a small sector of feminists are misandrists. The "bro" community is hardly a problem population. Show me a frat boy who has awful sentiments about women, and I would show you a Nietzsche loving, pseudo intellectual hipster who treats women even more terribly, but that would involve me unblocking my ex-boyfriend's phone number who justified cheating on me because I laughed at him for having a rap comedy mixtape about musical theater (Heyyyy Will!). Besides their shared disdain of Lena Dunham and the fact that they think it's empowering when girls show their boobs in public, radical feminists and Stoolies really do not have much in common because they don't speak the same language. These two groups will always be at odds, and it would be naive for me to think that they will be amicable any time soon.
But the sooner we accept that humans are wonderful, horrible, and figuring it out all at the same time, the sooner we can live in an America where we can all get along and hate Lena Dunham together.