This Texting Lawsuit May Be The Epitome Of Male Entitlement

A case being treated as cheer-worthy should actually make you uncomfortable.

Imagine going on an awful date, feeling uncomfortable during that date, leaving that date early — and then finding out your date is suing you for texting during the film.

Now imagine that groups of film nerd types are gleefully gloating over your lapsed date wanting to take you to Small Claims Court for — yes, $17.31 — because you dared to text during the film. The A.V. Club has lauded him as a “hero,” seeing in him a man willing to take action against the “assholes” who “can’t look at only a single screen for .002 seconds,” while blatantly overlooking the preposterous scenario of a woman going out with a stranger, who is willing to sue her for a harmless disturbance.

Brandon Vezmar sounds like a real catch.

What’s incredible and so fitting is that this one bad date has been blown up by this man’s childish behavior to become a fight for societal propriety itself. I’m not exaggerating.

In his petition, he states:

“While damages sought are modest, the principle is important as defendant’s behavior is a threat to civilized society.”

What’s troubling to me are two issues.

First, it’s disturbing that this man feels it necessary to use the court system — albeit a minor arm of it — to exact revenge on a woman. He didn’t like her behavior and now wants compensation for her refusal to act as he expected. Like, what kind of shit date are you that you opt for obedience to some vague public standards of theatre conduct, over inquiring into finding out if your date’s OK?* (Or at the very least, acknowledge it as an open indication of her boredom.)

Of course the idea that he was making her uncomfortable didn’t even cross his mind or that she might, I don’t know, have an emergency.

Again: I ask you to consider logic.

How comfortable could she have been, alone with a man who is literally willing to sue dates for texting? Her behavior doesn’t inspire me to believe he was warm, welcoming, or engaging with her. (Also, let us consider that she was his ride: Have you ever been in a car ride alone with someone who makes you uncomfortable? Yeah, it’s terrible.)

Aside from wanting to get money using the court system, I am further not inspired to view him as a great date because he allegedly harassed the woman’s family — to the point where she is seeking protection against him. As the Austin-American Statesman reports:

“She… planned to file a protective order against [the entitled man] for contacting her little sister to get the money for the movie ticket.”

Yet, somehow the general takeaway from — for so many — was: Those damn people who text in films! I’m glad she’s being sued. Even the otherwise excellent A.V. Club dismissed any notion that she might have some kind of emergency or be uncomfortable. One commenter on The A.V. Club article even says, “This man is the warrior we all wish we could become.”

Just who is this “we”? This leads to my second concern.

How do you ignore the woman’s claims she did feel uncomfortable? And, I can’t stress this enough, he is a grown adult man suing a date for a film ticket because she… texted? We have plenty of reason to believe her when she indicates he wasn’t Mr. Perfect.

I find it disturbing that in situations where a woman claims to be acting in terms of personal safety and space (as well as an emergency, involving a close friend), we opt to cheer the man targeting her. We’re opting for his telling of the situation as some shitty defense of “civilized society.” We’re going with his narrative, not even bothering to assess what kind of person would do this. Indeed, maybe we shouldn’t be cheering judicial action, however small, against a harmless person.

Maybe we shouldn’t be cheering judicial action, however small, against a harmless person.

I want to direct men’s attention to this situation: A man is using the courts to dictate how a woman should’ve acted. Really let that sink in.

While it obviously sucks if a woman is acting this way towards you, I want men (and here I’m referring only to cishet men like me) to think broader. Yes, a woman who rejects us on a date can be a kick to the gut, but we should look broader. We should use opportunities to improve, not sue her for fuck’s sake.

I want men to realize that we don’t live in some neutral, equal society; that notion is a fallacy. Women aren’t unreasonable or out of line when they act to protect themselves: a woman might feel trapped and thus use the opportunity of, I don’t know — texting — to find a way to leave.

Women are navigating fragile masculinity all the time — for example, when women reject men, men hurt them, brutally. These are not “evil men” or cartoon villains — these are men you might have drinks with, be friends with, work with. This is why we must say “men” — not “some men” or “not all men”, but men, to drive home the reality that it’s known, familiar, sometimes beloved men who harm. Pretending it’s some fictional supervillain class of men doing the harm worsens the situation because it means puts no burden on so called “Good Guys” to improve, when they’re exactly who can and do most of the harming.

Again: The stats consistently show it’s men familiar to victims who do most of the harm when it comes to cases of sexual assault or abuse.

Men are born into a culture that teaches us we’re entitled to women’s time and attention; but this is what we must fight against. And you don’t fight against that just by reading articles or books, but through actions, introspection and calling out other men.

I want men to realize that we don’t live in some neutral, equal society; that notion is a fallacy.

For example, instead of taking rejecting responses (only) personally, men should rather introspect and assess what they’re doing to make women uncomfortable. Your intention is meaningless and misses the point. Just as white people should feel constantly uncomfortable about their racial privilege, men should feel uncomfortable in terms of their gender and where they’re placing women. It should be a constant struggle because improvement is difficult, especially when we’ve been taught our whole lives to not care, that others must make way for us.

A common complaint from privileged people — whether in terms of being white, being rich, being cishet male, etc. — is how other people are “so sensitive.” You see this from columnists complaining about college students opposing Nazis, white people’s exasperation over anti-race activists, and so on. Men love saying this to each other when a woman behaves in a way they disapprove of. (See variations on “crazy,” too, as another awful exclamation from men.) This is an example of where, instead of examining what a man has done, we judge a woman’s responses to the wrong and blame her for acting “incorrectly,” rather than in response to a wrong done by a man.

It’s another language men have been taught to speak called entitlement: For example, it’s why so many men say: “it’s a compliment” — while women, groups, experts and even law tell us “catcalling/workplace sexual comments/groping/etc. is harassment.” That’s why there’s frustration because so often men are speaking their own language and expecting everyone — from women to society writ large — to cater to this entitlement. Thankfully, the world is changing and men are being forced — and should be forced — to learn that reality means other people’s spaces, needs and boundaries exist, too. That society isn’t going to bend because of cishet male boners.

Just as white people should feel constantly uncomfortable about their racial privilege, men should feel uncomfortable in terms of their gender and where they’re placing women.

Look at the man here: He claims that the fight is for “civilized society.” It seems to me he’s right on one level — no one will want to go to movies in case some asshole sues them. (Cinemas suck anyway.) He never once conveys concern for what might be best for her. It’s only what is best for him or, bizarrely, the movie house. Why they’re incapable of enforcing their own house rules is beyond me. His reaction to being called out as entitled is also telling. At the conclusion of this gross saga: He blamed it on “man hate,” yet another variation on the theme of men blaming women instead of examining their own behavior.

We must look at this through the language of entitlement so that we can see where he’s wrong. A woman behaved in a way he did not approve and thus she acted “wrong.” Instead of viewing her behavior as a response to his less than good actions — or even external factors he was unaware of — she is deserving of being punished because Mr. Man did not approve of a woman’s behavior. This should make you uncomfortable, not cheer for him as a fucking “warrior” for civilized society.

Large parts of society have and should move on from men’s arbitrary demands of women. Men must learn this themselves and interrogate their own behaviors, their own sense of entitlement and their own vocabulary when examining others’ behavior. Otherwise, you’ll end up going to the theaters alone because no one wants to date an asshole whose masculinity is so fragile, he’ll demand a ticket price back from a failed date — instead of questioning where and how he fucked up and if she’s OK.

*In the wake of publishing this article, Brandon Vezmar reached out with a series of concerns. For the sake of giving the fullest picture possible, we’re including a summary of his comments below:

  1. “I took legal action in a court of law over damages related to the Defendant’s refusal to pay moneys owed, not to ‘exact revenge’ or because she rejected me on a date.”
  2. “I’ve stated in numerous interviews that after the Defendant texted for some time I asked her, ‘Is everything ok?’”
  3. “I have rebutted the charge that I contacted Ms. Cruz family in inappropriate or illegal ways numerous times, explaining and offering proof that in order to locate Ms. Cruz’ mailing address to use in a small claims court filing I contacted several people using Facebook Messenger who I’d hoped were related to her and could provide an address where the constable could contact her. I made contact regarding this matter with each of these people only once. None responded, and I then used Spokeo to locate the address I used for the small claims court filing.”
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