The Surprising Feminist Value Of 592 Emails About Hot Guys 

Being a woman who likes sex does not make you a perv. It makes you a person.

It’s all Tom Hiddleston’s fault.

It was June, and Maya* was leaving. Maya had joined the editorial team of the start-up I worked at not quite a year earlier, and it didn't take long for all of us to fall in love with her. She was great at her job, first of all, and was an obscenely talented writer. She was a wellspring of ideas. And she was hilarious as hell.

After a pay-slash-respect dispute with our editor-in-chief, Maya put in her notice. The concerns Maya brought up with our EIC that lead to her departure were concerns we all shared, and once we heard of Maya’s decision, we felt it necessary to show our support by, well, not doing much that week.

By Tuesday, the feeling in GirlTown—the corner of the office where I sat, which, historically, had been populated by only women—was a strange swamp of silliness, sadness, and a creeping bitterness about the terms of Maya’s leaving. We had reached a point of “Fuck it.” We were goofing off.

Eventually we came upon the topic of celebrity crushes. I don’t remember how we got there or what exactly was said—all I know is I fessed up to something (in this case, someone), and then demurred on revealing more. To which Brooke bluntly responded, “No, tell me. I’m curious. This is really interesting to me.”

I wasn’t surprised to hear this. From about age 14 on, people, when asked to describe me, often land on a very one-dimensional view of me that falls in a narrow range of descriptors: studious, smart, business-like, or if they’re feeling complimentary, classy.

I elaborated for her on whomever I was talking about (I have a feeling it was Jon Hamm), and she started opening up about hers. Then Maya joined in.

Then Victoria, without saying a word, emailed this video to the denizens of GirlTown (and a freelancer we knew would appreciate it). And The Thread, as it would come to be known, was born.

Victoria, 6/3/14:

Maya responded.

Maya, 6/3/14:


We each began offering up our own submissions: Paul Rudd. Karl Urban. Chris Hardwick. Chris Hemsworth. Viggo Mortensen. A still-lingering Titanic-era crush on Billy Zane. No man was too old; no actor’s public persona too unsavory. We liked what we liked, and within the confines of this email chain, we all inherently understood and accepted that.

Jody, 6/3/14:

I like watching him straighten out his jacket. And I can't say no to a skinny tie. Unf.

We kept typing, kept scouring YouTube, kept image-searching, kept right on emailing. GirlTown slowly took on the vibe of a 7th-grade sleepover: We confessed crushes in secret, the only audible acknowledgement of their receipt being the girlish giggles we were emitting from behind our desktop monitors. We hid our smiles behind our hands. We fanned ourselves when our faces flushed. At one point an engineer came by to ask a question and we all pretended to be busy.

Victoria, 6/3/14:

I'm sitting in a corner giggling into my hand between sending emails and working.

By that night we had reached 16 messages. By the end of the week, 67. Eventually it had to be split into a fresh thread just for searchability’s sake. It was around this point that it became its own entity, now known to the seven of us as simply The Thread.

The Thread felt weird at first, for a couple reasons. First, you’re not supposed to be a person around your coworkers. Even if, as I did, you work for a start-up with an anything-goes atmosphere, there are still some things you keep to yourself—and sexuality, aside from general dating woes, is usually one of them. Second, we’re taught it’s weird for adult women to openly lust and even just to like. Lusting is wrong; crushing is immature. Both are unbecoming and unladylike.

Maya, 6/4/14:

I feel that my crushing on Matthew Goode AND Tom Hiddleston is somehow redundant.

But the thing was, The Thread made us all more whole people around each other. It quickly became a place where we could admit to someone our own age that, OMG, we still like boys, and it didn’t make us any less adept at our jobs. It didn’t render our college educations moot; didn’t make our concerns about the depiction of women in media any less sincere. The Thread was a potent reminder that everyone, even your boss, harbors a desire to jump someone’s bones. And that’s okay, because, for God's sake, smart girls think about sex, too. It's really not that outlandish of an idea.

The Thread is also a world in which I am one of the alpha horndogs. Whenever other Threaders start sharing baby animal videos or Game of Thrones debriefs, I’m usually the one that steers the Man Train right back into the station. That's right, me. The girl who will always be a glasses-wearing geek to most people, who always got cast in matronly roles in high school theater, is responsible for statements like this:

Jody, 6/23/14

I like that the bottom edge of the photo doesn't show me where/if the shirt is buttoned.

And this:

Jody, 6/30/14:

I am not necessarily into Chris Hemsworth but I am REALLY into that ever-so-slightly-loosened tie. OMGOMGOMG.

And this:

Jody, 6/30/14:

YESSSSS. Ugh just thinking about him brooding over his typewriter is raising my body temperature.

And this:

Jody, 8/25/14:

Kinda sweaty and I don't think it's because I'm sick. UGHH that 5 o'clock shadow.

And, after one of the others apologized for posting so many links to half-naked men, this:

Jody, 8/22/14:

No need to be sorry. If I may soapbox for a moment, being a woman who likes sex does not make you a perv. It makes you a person.

And the best part about that? It’s not shocking to any of them. Even worse than the two-second assumptions that I am fussy, stuffy, and all business are the startled reactions I get when I say anything that even remotely acknowledges the fact that I like men. The Thread is the only place where I can be all of myself. The Thread has been an equalizer, a safe space, and one of the greatest feminist forces in my life that no one knows about.

500+ messages and almost a year later, it’s still going strong. The company started imploding shortly after (half of us got laid off) but The Thread lives on. All of us, almost every day, are still sharing, still fangirling, still secretly daydreaming about unzipping someone’s fly while we’re supposed to be compiling a spreadsheet.

Victoria, 7/2/14:


ESPN Body Issue. Just saying.

If you’re concerned that The Thread is just a big celebration of objectification, rest assured it’s not all vapid ogling (and trust me, we’ve drifted into discussions of the ethics of what we’re doing, too). We trade life-hack listicles, for instance. During the World Cup, Victoria and Adrianne kept us abreast of the rankings. We briefly mocked the structure of headlines relating to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s nuptials (he married the CEO of a robotics company, and the George Clooney effect had a clear impact on coverage). And sometimes the conversation diverts into plans to meet up for beers.

But right now, The Thread is mostly a tribute to Michael Fassbender’s fine, fine form. Here, have a GIF:

Jody, 3/17/15:

There’s more where that came from. So much more. 591 more. And counting.

*Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

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