An odd piece of news caught my eye this week, mostly because I thought it was from a comedy or satire site like The Onion or Babylon Bee.
It was an announcement of a convention being held in Orlando, Fla., May 1-3. It is called the 22 Convention — “The world’s ultimate event for women.”
The slogan for the convention caught my eye: “Make women great again.”
For the low price of $1,999, a “natural born woman” and one guest can hear about 15 speakers — all male — explain how the ultimate woman can make a man happy, be a baby-making machine, be thin, feminine, subservient and stop having a positive self image. Because after all, anything else is unattractive to a man. These men promise to restore the concept of the “ideal woman.”
First, a woman must reject “unhealthy militant feminism.” Some of these speakers also offer such thought-provoking ideas (insert eye roll here) as “women were not exploited through history” and “feminists are the new KKK.” To buy a ticket, a woman must be thin, attractive, debt-free and able to pop out kids nonstop before getting old and stale, allowing her eggs to get old and therefore having kids with birth defects.
I have so many thoughts on this . Let’s begin with the founder, Anthony “Dream” Johnson. He’s using the public’s disgust and outrage about this Neanderthal event as a marketing ploy to spew his hatred and nonsense to the world.
So, in that respect, I suppose he’s won, to a degree.
He is active on Twitter, of course, because people like him generally seem to have the most luck bloviating from the position of keyboard warrior.
I did a bit of research into this “Dream,” and wasn’t terribly surprised to find he’s also a dating coach and fancies himself an “ideal man.” I also looked up definitions for an ideal man, and most of them include character and maturity.
Hmm, looks like “Dream” is out of the running.
He’s a college dropout, too. He couldn’t pass a business course, so he’s running a business. A narcissistic guy telling women how to be perfect for guys like him. Seems legit.
When I read things like this, I think of the women in my family. Guys like “Dream” should have to work alongside country women who rise at 4 a.m. to start the chores for the day, and learn what being a real woman is all about.
Serve alongside a female soldier, police officer, firefighter, doctor, nurse, Children and Youth Services caseworker, rape counselor or so many other things.
The reactions from people on the internet are interesting as well. I saw some men of various ethnic backgrounds expressing their belief that the entire thing was funny, and cheering the man on with cries of “it’s about time.”
To folks like that, I would posit the following: Would you be so thrilled if the conference were teaching someone of a particular race or ethnicity to be more white or more acceptable to white men? No, because that would be hate speech.
Last year, there were a lot of discussions about toxic masculinity, and a lot of people saying it was an attack on men. I don’t agree. To me, this entire conference and the men behind it are showing the world what toxic masculinity really is. It is defining manhood by violence, sex, status and aggression, where strength is everything and emotions are a weakness.
And, of course, misogyny is a given.
I can’t say that I considered attending this ridiculous farce of a conference. While I was born female, I am past my baby-making years and really don’t fit the other conditions, either.
So, on May 1-3, perhaps I will spend some time reflecting, not on my failings as a woman, mind you, but on my success of not meeting these people’s definition of one.
(Marcie Schellhammer is the Era’s assistant managing editor. She can be reached at email@example.com)