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 an in-your-face, 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 go to jail to defend Tom Brady during Deflategate?
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 probably was doing that move before Jeter did. People often confuse these personalities for how these guys actually conduct themselves beyond the Barstool sphere, which really isn't the case. People also can take Barstool’s irreverence too seriously when really, it’s just satire. What makes Barstool especially unique is that it really isn't the kind of website you read once in a while, it's a site that many of it's readers are devoted to and pore over daily while at work.
This week, Barstool's Chris Spags' credibility as a writer and his microscopic chances of sleeping 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 sleeping with Rihanna won't take a hit when I say Barstool doesn't hate women and doesn't deserve to be tarred and feathered. Chris’ attempt at being sardonic was just tone deaf and fell flat.
Publications that dragged Barstool during this fiasco clearly did not take the time to actually read the site. I promise you that if you took 30 seconds of your precious time to read other Barstool articles, you would understand that they are hardly vicious or misogynistic. They’re not parsing out Simone de Beauvoir or discussing boring, politically correct crap because that’s not the purpose of their site. The intention of Barstool is to be an absurd, sardonic portal that brightens up your day.
The media's flagrant obscurantism, ruthless hyperbole, and eagerness to pigeonhole Barstool as ignorant and misogynistic is more despicable than Chris' failed attempt at satire. Hurling those kinds of accusations at a site is far more of a moral transgression than saying Rihanna gained a few extra pounds. I can assure you that any of those writers who brutalized Barstool for being offensive have gone too far with a joke and been offensive many times in their lives. If they haven’t done this, then they are boring and probably not fun at parties. The truth is that no one has a panoramic worldview where they can make statements without being insensitive or offensive. We all have blind spots that make us privy to being oblivious and going over the line. Barstool has just made that kind of transgression on a more public forum.
Feminists need to accept that only a sector of Stoolies are misogynistic assholes and Barstool hopefully understands that only a sector of feminists are misandrist assholes. Assholes aren’t just limited to certain to communities- our population is abundant with them because that’s how the real world works. 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 shitty poetry blog. 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.