liminal misogyny.

Something troublesome I encounter every so often, a certain attitude I see expressed that's even moreso a gripe insofar as it requires a lot of context to people not involved in online communities. It seems so insignificant the less I try to puzzle it in my mind, which makes me think on the one hand it could just be a rather gauche example of shitty behavior, to put it bluntly, and nothing more. I'd like to believe, though, that it's emblematic of an issue inextricable from just the bare concept of being a known presence on the internet, as enough of being a face and a voice on any kind of social media has a way of territorializing the involvement of other people. This happens, of course, with other visual media like film or even photography. But the component of being able to possibly 'interact' with the face you see, the way you're able to on the internet (even with something likely to go unnoticed like a tweet) adds another psychic element, I believe, that seems to make the interaction more inwardly focused for viewers, making people think more their own thoughts and feelings in terms of what they would externalize. I say 'I'd like to believe' this is more than anecdotal if only to highlight that it's with a sustained effort that this attitude is properly marked as harmful.

So, the idea of donating money to an online content creator has obviously preceded recent phenomena like OnlyFans and streamers who use virtual anime avatars (otherwise known as “VTubers” or Virtual YouTubers, although many of them also use Twitch). This is not, obviously, to equate these two things so much as to bring up two examples that seem germane to this current moment in time when people are tied more than ever and almost slavishly to their monitors and phones because of the pandemic. (It's always worth noting that the perception that vilifies sex work specifically is something far more entrenched in many other dimensions than the ones I feel comfortable talking about. Mostly I'm just formulating these thoughts as someone who saw in real-time how popular OnlyFans had become.)

A thing I notice that I think would almost be fascinating (if not for how poisonous it is) is just how, in ways that seem so often taken for granted, how some of the more vocal consumers of content created by VTubers, for example, exhibit a kind of entitled behavior that's seemingly able to pare down certain aspects of the usual harassment that comes with misogyny as it's enacted on the internet, where a lot of what they're doing is more transparent yet at the same time so confounded by, it seems to me, the special kind of 'interaction' I mentioned before that being online affords.

The term 'simp' seems to have been used as early as December of last year, but it didn't truly enter casual parlance until the following March. It's a word that seems suitable for the internet, in that it's appropriately vague and has come to connote either a mood of derision or irony, depending on whether it's used sincerely or not. In its most basic usage, it's meant to mock a man for giving money to a woman in the context of online communities. But it's a word that's by now bled into the suspended realm of a 'meme', where the dual nature I mentioned before regarding its use would need to be parsed entirely by the context of the situation to know whether it's being used ironically or not.

There's a lot to be said of the idiots who would ever use the word unironically, that they for some reason see it as inherently worthy of open mockery for someone to want to support another human being. There was, a while back, an uproar among the fanbase of the YouTuber iDubbbz when it was revealed that his girlfriend had an OnlyFans, and that he was not only okay with it but supportive. Even to this day you notice there are people who feel some kind of moral justification in condemning iDubbbz over his being okay with his girlfriend doing what she wants, which would imply that they believe he should have either reacted with extreme prudishness, or should be more controlling over the actions of his partner. Reading about this very stupid controversy was actually the first time I encountered the word 'simp', and it perfectly contextualized in itself what was happening, what the supposed outrage was about, and how much the nerds had hijacked the discourse to a point where they felt as if they needed to be angry on behalf of someone else's relationship.

But it's the very fact that the term was created and had caught on enough for it to be used in such a way that's always bothered me. Nowadays I guess it's less so, and I don't mean to sound like I'm being hyper-sensitive of its use. Recently I'm enjoying watching Amelia Watson. I love her comedic timing, the upward lilting 'dumb' voice she uses when telling her chat another horrific story from her childhood, and her bro-y quips about their moms. I jokingly boast about being an Amelia Watson simp to anyone so inclined to know who she is, and it's largely because the people in my life know that I would only ever use such a stupid word with the utmost irony.