By Jennifer Saylor
Following the Waking Life scandal, as the coffee shop stands empty, a colleague asked me what outcomes our community should seek. Here’s my response:
First, I hope that we are clear on the level of the offense, and what is actually offensive.
This was not just about two men who were promiscuous, or sleazy, or who wrote cruel things about the women they slept with. It’s not about them trolling for sex among customers at their coffee shop, or bragging about having sex in the little white garage on the building we westsiders have driven by a thousand times.
The real outrage here is about Waking Life co-owner Jared Rutledge calling women “stupid,” and “fuck puppets.” About him decrying feminism because it causes women to compete economically with men. About him posting that only women should do laundry.
About posting that women are unable to be self-aware, or act like adults. That women are unable to “swallow hard truths.” That fat women should die without reproducing. That Mexican women look like “sunburnt cane toads.”
The “@HolisticGame” Twitter account these statements are from is archived here. The account has been deleted, but some Tweets are still viewable via archive.org. Other Tweets appear to be archived in this blog.
Rutledge, who ran the Twitter account, has not denied the content I reference, and has acknowledged authoring the @HolisticGame Tweets paraphrased above.
Explore the Holistic Game content for yourself:
Some have called one of the Waking Life owners a rapist for a particular part of a podcast in which he recounts a sexual experience with a woman who was in the hospital, and jokes about not having consent in a sexual encounter during which the hospitalized woman was drugged.
You can listen to this part of the Holistic Game podcast here, which closes with one of the podcasters noting that consent had “probably been given over and over.” Listen to it yourself.
I don’t see the basis for an accusation of rape here. Rapists are people who have committed rape, not podcasters making poor decisions.
Most of Asheville does not reject nonmonagamy, promiscuity, or sleaziness so harshly. Community backlash here is not about that. It’s about ongoing racism, fatphobia, and disturbing misogynist statements in a now-deleted Twitter account in existence since July 2014.
Do these things and you get called out, by the community, the city, the nation and the world.
And you deserve every minute of it.
Second, I hope it’s clear that the community response was appropriate to the extreme level of the offense.
Misogyny, and disgust and contempt for women, fat women, and Mexican women, are not crimes. However, when these things are expressed in the extreme in public (with a failed attempt at anonymity as protection), the consequences are equally extreme, and can involve your own community subjecting you to scorn, outrage, and public protest.
Currently, consequences seem to include Rutledge and co-owner Jacob Owens losing their business, losing a new shop location about to open, losing their livelihood, suffering damage to their reputation, and being subject to local and international censure and scorn.
The extreme level of the local response is not about rejecting tacky online behavior of the kind that might have just led to people choosing not to patronize Waking Life. Protesters are protesting in response to unchecked misogyny and unacceptable statements of hatred and disgust.
Objectification of women is dangerous, unhealthy behavior, and robust, informed, public responses that decry it preserve community health and make a community safer for our mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters.
Third, that we begin to understand as a social issue the online communities that support men in misogyny and objectification of women, and call in or cast out the men who subscribe to them.
Both Rutledge and Owens identified with the Red Pill community, a white male American subculture that views women as incapable of logic or reason, that believes women choose sex partners based on displays of ego and power, and that encourages the sexual manipulation, objectification, and coersion of women.
Explore this subculture for yourself below. It is a human cesspool of disgust toward women:
“He should have doubled down. Recanting makes you look weak and validates these cunts.”
“yeah he looked like a massive faggot crying about how wrong he was. Should’ve said ‘All I’m saying is shit every real man thinks privately in his mind. I just had the balls to say it'”
“Bitch you’d be lucky to be anyone’s plate. Always the fat ugly bitter one’s that have something to say.”
Rutledge and Owens have been told, consciously or unconsciously, that as white males they represent the top of the human food chain, and everyone else is here for their entertainment and enjoyment. For their exploitation.
And other men who are supported and encouraged by these online communities in the objectification, sexual coersion of and disgust with women, and who will act in a more extreme and violent way? Ask yourself how the vocabulary and “guidance” of these communities will affect your mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters.
I asked a male associate what men could do who begin to perceive themselves as misogynistic, who have begun to question their beliefs and behavior. He said there aren’t nearly enough programs in place for men.
The Waking Life scandal points out that Asheville needs options. I can’t think of one place in Asheville where men help men out of the emotional and social mire of this level of misogyny.
And I would rather that as a society we offer help and healthy examples to questioning men than that we have to heal the women they victimize.
Fourth, I hope the message goes out that Asheville does not tolerate misogyny.
Misogyny is not tolerable, and communities like ours that demonstrate no tolerance toward it should feel encouraged and supported in public demonstrations of intolerance.
I hope the message goes out that Asheville will rise to offer resistance to the same level as the offense. I hope the people who spoke out against abuse of women feel like what they did mattered, and that our city is safer and better because they spoke out that misogyny is not tolerated here.
A friend shared with me her feelings of security and pride in how quickly and how powerfully Asheville responded to the Waking Life scandal, knowing that Asheville (or at least white, feminist, liberal Asheville) would never stand for this kind of speech and behavior.
Let it be known: Asheville will sit on its ass when police shoot an unarmed black male, and make sounds of distress when its latest old building is knocked down to become the latest boutique hotel, but if you call women stupid fuck puppets, Asheville will put you out of business and send you packing.
Fifth, I hope that the owners of the former Waking Life are not punished beyond their present ordeals, which currently include the loss of their local reputation, their business, their livelihood, their business loan, their new location, and their bottled coffee product; as well as the overwhelming stress, fear, and shame I imagine both are now experiencing.
I just listened to a new two-hour interview with Rutledge and Owens in which Rutledge was overcome with emotion and what seems to be very real shame and sorrow over his actions, at about 30:48 in this Planet Waves interview. In it, both men show remorse, reject Red Pill and manosphere ideas, and seem to be emerging from the sewers of Red Pill misogyny.
Jared, for every Red Piller who shames you for showing emotion in an interview, a thousand women step forward to welcome a show of humanity and decency. The ones who are kind to men? That was always us.
You see, some of the women you spent two years denigrating might make good friends, or offer you good counsel, or buy your coffee, or even be willing to help talk you down from the Red Pill ledge that brought you international mockery and derision.
Or even forgive you.
Or even, if we or our children have survived too much abuse already at the hands and actions of misogynist men, have the strength and self-awareness to never feel a moment of sadness for the suffering you have brought on yourselves.
Asheville is trying to encounter your humanity now, Jacob and Jared. What a shame you learn too late how to do the same for us.
I’m glad waking life came to light, but how is it worse than Hector Diaz? Arested three times for violence against his family and the public.
He’s a wife beater.
Several articles in the mountain express and citizen times have brought this to light, yet he enjoys commercial success with his 4 downtown restaurants.
Because he’s charming, and talks about god and redemption, does he get a pass?
BOYCOT: Bomba, Salsas, Choriso, Modesto!
Fine assessment of the ongoing response to their outing.
The question to you is, do you accept their apology?
That’s not a question at all. I’m not trying to wiggle out of an answer, but apologies are only for someone who was harmed, by the person who harmed them. I’m just a person who liked those vanilla lattes.
If you want to know what I think makes a real apology, I tell you: it goes beyond a public statement. It requires understanding of the offense, and that action is undertaken to make up for it. And if the owners do the work of understanding their wrongdoing and put forth effort over time to make up for it–that’s the very definition of an apology no one should refuse.
Maybe one day I can pull up Ashvegas and not see literally every story be about this.
Can we just let it go already?
“Both Rutledge and Owens identified with the Red Pill community, a WHITE (emphasis added) male American subculture that views women as incapable of logic or reason, that believes women choose sex partners based on displays of ego and power, and that encourages the sexual manipulation, objectification, and coersion of women.
Are black men not part of this PUA sub culture? Or, did you just decide to throw race into the discussion?
Harry, this comment springs from a black colleague who noted that this protest is a white-on-white issue–white misogynists, white protesters. PUA and Red Pill are different, and I don’t have figures on what percentage of self-identified Red Pillers are black. Here’s one black Red Piller, but it looks like a movement so rooted in white male entitlement I can’t imagine many black men are part of it: https://youtu.be/8d58l1GTWas
Don’t have facts and figures though, and I should have before making this statement. Are you trying to make a point or just looking for an answer?
Misogyny is color blind Jennifer. And you’re right. You should have had the facts before making the statement.
Misogyny is color blind.
She was not referencing misogyny in that sentence.
She was referencing a particular community.
You moved the goalposts…that’s a logical fallacy.
See…in your first comment…you spoke to this particular “PUA subculture”….then when she answered you….you decided to change your tack to “misogyny.”
You really should work on your argumentation…you have a habit of forming terribly illogical responses.
Nothing wrong with my argument Doc. The PUA sub culture is comprised of misogynists of all colors.
Here’s the deal. The political left believes that they have an obligation to insert race into every discussion of societal woes. I believe that’s exactly what we have here.
Here’s the deal. Harry believes he has an obligation to insert himself into every discussion that might (however tangentially) touch on his own prejudices.
Stop Harrysplaining. You’re protesting way too much.
And the blithering idiot believes that his comments on this blog are much more important and relevant than anyone else’s.
Well, they’re more relevant than yours, Harry.
I mean, c’mon, that just goes without saying. Mr. OneNote. Toot!
My cat could walk across the keyboard and the result would be more relevant than anything you could vomit up.
Chris, you have nothing to add. Although, I did notice your brilliant cut and paste work. No, the only relevancy you can add here is that you are most definitely part of a sub culture.
I want to offer some thought about the hospital story because I think it’s important. You wrote, “Some have called one of the Waking Life owners a rapist for a particular part of a podcast in which he recounts a sexual experience with a woman who was in the hospital, and jokes about not having consent in a sexual encounter during which the hospitalized woman was drugged…[the podcast] closes with one of the podcasters noting that consent had “probably been given over and over.” Listen to it yourself. I don’t see the basis for an accusation of rape here. Rapists are people who have committed rape, not podcasters making poor decisions.” In the podcast he doesn’t admit he raped someone. I have no idea if he assaulted/raped/abused anyone, but I hear the language used in the podcast and I want to talk about that. When asked if she gave consent, he says “my bad,” I don’t know what that could mean other than she didn’t give consent. There’s laughter in the podcast about that, the idea of there not being consent is something that is funny and creates more pleasure for him, it’s why he did it. So him saying “my bad” is the basis for the accusation of rape. So he 100% created that storyline with his words. A second element of the story that’s important, is that she was drugged. A patient can be in a highly drugged state when they’re hospitalized and in pain, could she give consent if she wasn’t totally conscious? I don’t know, I wasn’t in the room. But he wanted us to know in his podcast that it was a sketchy situation and he created a climate of conversation to suggest that might be true. That does’t mean she was assaulted, but he is 100% responsible for the creation of a story suggesting he didn’t care very much about consent. The third and last thing I want to mention is his remark about her consenting over and over again. I hate to state the obvious, but he’s saying it wasn’t rape because he thinks she kept having orgasims, that’s the big joke of what he’s saying and then laughing about. Is that our standard? She had an orgasim, so it’s can’t be rape? I think that’s very sad. And I hope to live in a world where we wouldn’t say that and we don’t belief that. Who would say to a woman that was assaulted, you had an orgasim so you can’t call it rape? I guess some folks would say that, I wouldn’t. We don’t talk about it much, but a man can be raped during a sexual act that is brought to completion, and that can still be rape. I have no idea what happened in that hotel room, but I do know he told a story and described himself as someone who cared very little about sexual consent, he’s probably someone on the spectrum of abuse/assault, but I don’t know where. Also want to say thanks to Jennifer for writing this article, she’s an amazing part of the Asheville community, but I want to go on record with some thoughts on the hospital story.
oops, meant to write hospital room, not hotel room!
By Charles Eisenstein:
Misogyny and the Healing of the Masculine
My new home of West Asheville is in the news. A local coffee shop, Waking Life Espresso, closed its doors after its owners Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens were outed for hosting a misogynistic blog. In addition to repulsive and degrading comments about women and details of their supposed sexual exploits, they boasted of one or two incidents that may have crossed the line into rape.
As one would expect, the community exploded with outrage. Ample coatings of tar and feathers were applied to the two men, and many people think they will have to leave town.
I wonder, though, if there might be a better outcome. After all, their attitudes are an extreme version of a malady that afflicts many men, maybe the majority, in our society. Who among us, my brothers, has never used “getting laid” as a way to boost our self-esteem? I know I have – in fact there was a time in my life when that was my primary motivation. While I didn’t publicly rate my partners or say degrading things about them, I felt uncomfortable to be seen in public with them if they didn’t conform to cultural standards of attractiveness, and proud if they did. To some extent, I bought into using women as a kind of social currency. I also used sex and the affection of a female as a way to assuage my insecurities and salve my wound of self-rejection. In other words, I think the actions of Jared and Jacob are on a continuum with my own attitudes and actions, which makes me hesitant to join the public stoning that seems to be underway.
The outcome I’d like to see is healing, both of the two men and of the women and larger community that they harmed. Many of the commenters on the blog that exposed them thought that they were sorry only because they got caught. But perhaps they unconsciously *wanted* to get caught.
The unconscious shadow rises into our awareness for a reason – to be faced and to be healed. Here is misogyny, previously underground, made visible to the community. The community can accept this opportunity for healing, or it can simply banish the men and pretend that the problem has gone away.
Personally, I would like to see something like a truth and reconciliation committee arise out of this incident. I would like to see the men be confronted by those they harmed, and really hear what it was like for those women, their families, and their community to be humiliated. Getting caught brings regret, but only fully feeling one’s impact on another brings remorse. And from remorse, the possibility of healing arises.
Society is becoming aware of the damage that patriarchy has visited upon women, from economic oppression to domestic violence, sex trafficking, rape, and genital mutilation. But patriarchy also damages men. Many of us have grown up in a toxic cultural story of what it is to be a man. When women are turned into objects and sex is made artificially scarce (all things become scarce when subject to property thinking), then of course men will be insecure. As with money, they will attempt to gain a semblance of security through control of scarce resources. They will feel a compulsion to dominate – because in a world of scarcity, only the dominant experience abundance.
The life of man in patriarchy is a life of endless anxiety. Being a loser is never far away. Now you might say that this psychological suffering pales in comparison to the physical violence perpetrated on women, but consider: how much must a man be hurting, to violate and abuse the precious gift of the feminine?
Tragically, the dominating, controlling, and abusive behavior enacted by insecure, patriarchy-damaged men doesn’t meet their real needs. They are diverting their need for intimacy onto sex, and their need for unconditional acceptance onto control. Therefore, no matter how much they get laid, and no matter how many women they dominate, it is never enough. They will need always to up the dose, to push the degradation of women to new levels. And still it isn’t enough.
Men like Jared and Jacob are symptoms of a much deeper malady. Shaming and punishing them addresses the symptom. Can we also address the illness that the symptom points to?
Part of that, I believe, is to transition into a new cultural narrative that defines what it is to be manly. If the old narrative was about domination, control, and emotional shutdown, what would be an alternative? I would like to see men like Jared and Jacob be held in a circle of men that offer a story of the sacred masculine in a post-patriarchal world. In that world, a man does not dominate and abuse the feminine, but seeks to protect her, treasure her, pleasure her, be unshakable for her, make her laugh, bring gifts to her, and, as in a ballroom dance, sense where she wants to go and invite her there with clarity and confidence. He places his qualities of linearity, decisiveness, humor, calmness, solidity, directness, strength, persistence, generosity, mobility, and assertiveness in service to the dance. I offer this as a partial description of what a sacred masculinity might be, living to varying degrees within men and women both.
How would men like Jared and Jacob act if they were immersed in a male culture that upheld that vision of masculinity? It is hard to say, since we don’t yet have such a culture. However, I know that many men are striving to create it, gathering in men’s groups to hold each other accountable to the values I have named. They are not impressed by stories of sexual conquest. They are not impressed by weakness masquerading as strength. They are not impressed by insecurity expressed as dominance. They would say, “Man up!” Am I hoping for too much, if I envision these two men landing in a circle of brothers to ground them in a new Story of Manhood?
While a time of rage is normal, perhaps even healthy, in time it passes and we naturally turn toward a desire to make the fabric of community whole again. That transition is difficult in a culture of “othering” that takes certain people and assigns them to the category of evil. Any apology is interpreted as insincere, any attempt to make amends is interpreted as self-serving. The next step in the culture of othering, after the miscreant has been securely identified as a monster or a scumbag, is to degrade, humiliate, and punish that person. Step one: dehumanize; step 2: punish. Can you see how this recipe precisely mirrors the misogyny and abuse perpetrated by the two men? Can you see the same insecurity at play, when we assure ourselves, “I am better than that person. If I were in the totality of his circumstances, I would have chosen differently – because I am just better.”
“Let whoever be without sin, cast the first stone.”
Some readers will doubtless think that I am suggesting that Jared and Jacob’s behavior “go unpunished.” Certainly, in the logic of punishment, they deserve to be punished. In that logic, my suggestion for an alternative process (truth & reconciliation, restorative justice, etc.) can only be categorized as excusing or tolerating their behavior. What I’m suggesting is to step outside the whole mindset of deterrence and punishment (which, by the way, is the logic of the entire prison-industrial complex and much of U.S. foreign policy). That mindset only makes sense if “the terrorists,” “the criminals,” “the extremists,’ along with men like Jared and Jacob, are irredeemable psychopaths who will only listen to the language of force.
In a world of us versus them, punishment is the only way. Is that our vision for a more beautiful world: to purge it of evil people, so that only the pure remain? Is that our vision of a better human being, to purge ourselves of sin? It won’t work. In neither case does the evil disappear. It just goes underground and pops out in a different form somewhere else, and the War on Evil never ceases.
Do we want to send these two men out of town regretful but not remorseful, bearing even more self-hatred than they had already, perhaps to act it out a bit more discreetly in another place?
Instead, we can cultivate a community that moves past the old story of judgement and punishment, that is open to the redemption of errors, and that believes in its members’ capacity to heal and to grow. In such a community, we can stop hiding our hurting parts, our unacceptable or ugly parts. We know we are accepted at our core. When confronted with harm we have done, we feel safe to move through shame and experience remorse, knowing that forgiveness lies at the other side. As an imperfect human being myself, that’s where I want to live. Isn’t that the kind of community you want to live in too?
Without a female the misogynist coffee bros wouldn’t even be here. So there’s that.
How many of you political correctionists would support fundamentalist Christians who outed a formerly closeted gay coffee shop owner, publicly shamed him for being gay, picketed his shop Westboro Baptist Church-style, and then forced him out of business because they believe that homosexuality is an unforgivable sin? (No, you don’t get to cop out by saying there’s nothing wrong with being gay, since to fundamentalist Christians being gay is even worse a sin than misogyny.) Would you consider their actions “justified” to correct what they perceive as behavior that is “not tolerable”?
I had a feeling we’d have a politically-correct complainer show up at some point, crying for the abused rights of gay-bashers and bible-thumpers. “Woe is me, we’re SO oppressed!”
Welcome to the world, Skeptic. If you could pull your hanky out and dry your tears for a second, I’d like to teach you something you probably weren’t aware of: Those fundamentalist christians would 100% have the right to picket whomever they wanted.
It’s true! You won your battle and can go out and protest whatever your bleeding heart desires and not buy whatever it is you don’t want to buy. What a world!
I’m sorry to break this to you, though, but people who don’t see eye to eye with you can also boycott, picket and protest.
So in this light, to answer your question…Would I support those fundamentalist christians trying to destroy the life of someone who was outed as being gay? Hell no, why would I? I fundamentally disagree with that motivation for your hypothetical protest and therefore would not join in. Nor would I expect any of your hypothetical Westboro-style protesters to support a pro-choice rally.
And there you have it, Skeptic. Is good?
To put it plainly, if Asheville were a place where protesters pressured homosexuals out of business, that would point to a more (locally) ubiquitous mindset of fear and ignorance filling the area (my opinion, of course), and I for one would not be living here.
So Skeptic, we probably may never be friends, but just know that as I drive down McDowell and see you protesting Planned Parenthood, I recognize your right to do so, as misguided and silly as you may be. And perhaps someday you may find your teary-eyed nirvana where people can bash gays, and assault mixed-race couples to their hearts content…and if you do, please PLEASE shout it out loud and clear! I encourage you to shout it out so that we hear it from coast to coast so that sane people will know which backwards areas to stay away from, fly over, and hopefully let fade into a distant, ugly memory.
Despite your childish arrogance, condescension and unwarranted assumptions about who I am, you missed my point entirely. The question is not whether the fundamentalists have the right to drive gays out of busisness, but whether they would be justified in doing so. In other words, would it be right? You failed to recognize the point of my hypothetical question. I’m not questioning their right to protest, but whether they are justified in trying to economically harm someone they don’t like or agree with.
You should do yourself a favor and get over yourself.
If you’re looking for “childish arrogance, condescension and unwarranted assumptions”, you need look no further than your original post, which kicks off with name-calling and assumptions right off the bat. The entirety of what you’ve written smacks of condescension and I was responding to you in kind.
I’m not saying I’m above all that, obviously I’m not, but this was a tone that you yourself set so don’t get all wingut-touchy-feely when you taste your own medicine. If you want civil discourse be civil.
As for missing your point, I nailed your point and I answered your question in full. If you go back and re-read what you wrote, you may see how off-target and ridiculous it is to begin with.
But to help you out a bit, your phrasing and re-phrasing of this hypothetical stretches the bounds of rational discussion. To paraphrase here ‘Christians are driving homosexuals out of business because of their sexuality, do you think this is right?’
In essence, you’re asking if it is ever a good thing for a group of people to destroy the life/lives of another…you’re also asking that the rule of law be excluded from this since you specify that this is not about the legal right to do so.
It’s obvious where you want to steer the answer; you’re waiting for someone to say, “No,” so you can say, “Aha! I got you! Cuz that’s what’s happening to the Waking Life guys!”
To play your own word-game with you I would ask a similar thing: ‘Is it ever a good thing for a group of people to destroy the life/lives of another?’
And if you said, “No,” I would say “Aha! I forgot to tell you that it was a group of countries grouping together to ruin Hitler’s life by stopping his dream of running things his way!” then I could prance around saying that Skeptic loves Hitler and thinks the world would be better off under der fuhrer. And asking why Skeptic hates freedom. He probably eats his burgers with nazi-fries…etc…
So back to the world of civil discourse:
The only way to honestly answer your question is from A) my personal feelings on each individual topic at hand, and B) the legal perspective as it applies in our country/state/locality. This is exactly what I did, at length, in addition to a couple jabs. Whatever, sue me. If there is another perspective from which to approach your hypothetical, let me know and I’ll give it a whirl.
But in the meantime, I’m apparently an ass, but I didn’t miss your point.
Your point is stupid.
Good lord, you can’t even begin to compare the two. What a weak argument. Comparing outing a gay business owner to what these jackwads did? No words.
Jennifer, you’ve done an awesome job putting into words how I’ve been feeling about this shameful event. Thank you for your clarity. I’m honored to call you my friend.
Tom, I am glad we are friends! Thank you for your support. 🙂
“Fifth, I hope that the men in this case are not punished beyond their current ordeals, which currently include the destruction of their reputation, their business, their livelihood, their business loan, their new location, and their bottled coffee product”
Vindictive bitches unite!
Men too cowardly to use their real identity, with a poor understanding of basic English, who will likely need years of therapy to have a healthy relationship with a woman unite.
Sick of it must be on his 6 drink, spewing his opinion of non-compromise. J saylor great article, but i can say their are some women who have done to men as the scum bags of “Waking Life” have done to women. It is not acceptable on either side of the fence in misogyny.
That’s truth. Treating each other poorly is never a good idea. It seems people that do these sorts of things do not value or respect other human beings very much.
I believe the other side of the fence, as you call it, is actually referred to as: “misterogyny”, as in “Mr. Rogyny’s Neighborhood.