I just hosted this guy for six days. He spoke at a conference I helped organize. He didn’t say “Thank you” to me, either publicly or privately. His politics are right on—we believe in the same things and dislike the same people—but he was a total boor. He would walk into my kitchen in the morning and grunt—not even a “Good morning”! He never acknowledged any of my work, the great conference, or the amazing woman who delivered the other plenary lecture. He talked nonstop and alienated almost every person who came into contact with him. He will never get an invite back here—ever. And yet he complains bitterly about his career and being treated like shit.
He is over 60. Is it too late for him? Should I not bother giving him a piece of my mind?
I’m glad he came, but I think these kinds of male socialists have actually held back political solidarity by being such dicks. He was so full of himself and his labor strategy and his connection to Jeremy Corbyn. I kept thinking, “Oh, shit—this guy is out there doing damage to the Labour left by acting like an entitled, drunken 16-year-old.”
These men do not grow up!!! What should we do?
—Hostess With the Mostest (Feminist Rage)
Dear Hostess With the Mostest,
Your story reminds me of a couple I know who hosted a celebrity leftist back in the 1990s. He stayed for two weeks and never took a shower. He was messy and expected them to clean up after him. At one point he declared, addressing the woman of the couple, “I’m ready for my tea now.” It’s ridiculous that men like this still exist, and it’s high time someone schooled them.
Your oafish guest could redeem himself (slightly) with a courteous thank-you note, but if that’s not forthcoming, Hostess, do him—and the movement—a favor and give him some constructive criticism.
He has, quite possibly, decades of political life left. His alienating behavior could continue to hurt his own career (no doubt his manners have much to do with why he’s been “treated like shit,” though I’m sure he imagines it’s because of his politics). As you suggest, without an intervention, he’ll also continue to make democratic-socialist politics look bad. Particularly in the United States and the UK, the failings of men like this are easily exploited by neoliberals who don’t wish us well (infuriatingly, since we all know plenty of neoliberal misogynists). Worse, such behavior from celebrated left-wing men is also divisive, sending the message that women don’t belong in our movement’s intellectual circles.