it will go round in circles

Something called J. Bryan Lowder, one of the army of young striving types that David Plotz keeps in a closet, has written a straightforwardly Slate-y piece defending Katie Roiphe. Now, I’m willing to do the dance again; given her slut-shaming, rape-denying ways, I don’t mind. And Lowder’s piece isn’t much of a defense. So here goes: supposedly, the critique of Roiphe in Gawker “amounts to a temper tantrum.” But Hamilton Nolan’s piece isn’t a tantrum. It has a very basic and essential point: Roiphe makes a lot of grand claims about what is popular and widespread and doesn’t adequately support those claims with evidence. She refers to feminists as a broad class without referencing specific feminists and specific arguments.  Nolan demonstrates that quantitatively. To ask for a professional writer to do her homework and show basic diligence in researching isn’t anything like throwing a tantrum. Lowder goes on to accuse Virginia Heffernan of being the real sexist for criticizing Roiphe, which is the most well-worn trope in the category “Defending Katie Roiphe’s Contrarian Bullshit.”

Referring to some entity known as “feminism” or “many feminists” or whatever is a constant in Roiphe’s career, just as references to “many women” or “most young women” pop up whenever she’s asserting that women secretly endorse retrograde sexual politics. Some people thought that Ayelet Waldman embarrassed herself when she went after Roiphe. I actually found it refreshing, given the contrast with Roiphe’s constant references to the vague and ill-defined: Waldman had a beef with one specific person and made that plain. In response, Roiphe referred to her only as “Mrs. C,” thus reducing a very successful lawyer and author into nothing but a wife. But, you know, Roiphe’s critics are the real sexists.

But, on another level, I recognize the feebleness of actually responding to Roiphe. As some at the Atlantic have pointed out,  Roiphe is trolling, and her troll hand is strong, and by feeding the beast her critics only make her stronger.

Roiphe got her career the old fashioned way, through nepotism. But she’s kept it with a durable formula: write essays trolling feminists; send those essays to publications for self-hating yuppies like Slate; defend self by claiming to be the true feminist; repeat. She’s gone through so many cycles I’m inclined to start referring to Roiphe Units in homage to Atrios. Cyclical publishing is nothing new. One of the little secrets of our failed media experiment is that our “content generator geniuses” really only have a couple dozen stories that they print over and over again. (I dig Salon, but Joan Walsh blows dust off essentially the same “is monogamy antiquated?!?” story literally every three or four months.) And for the type of people who go to Slate for cutting social commentary (read: boring, vapid people), gender trouble is endlessly amusing. So she’ll have a long, profitable career. And people like me, who think date rape actually happens and that the best thing for every woman isn’t necessarily a strong man and that Norman Mailer’s ultramasculinity was a sad affect– we’ll just get worked up, again and again. So it goes.

56 replies
  1. 1
    Veritas says:

    So, liberals are already whining that Mitt’s new slogan is RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACIIIIIIST! That’s always a good sign. Word is Karl Rove came up with it himself. OIW T-shirts, bumperstickers, and yard signs are on the way as well!

    #OIW–Obama Isn’t Working

  2. 2
    pragmatism says:

    there is a fine line between whining and opining. for Baghdad Bob a/k/a veritard and his righty cohorts, the line is IOKIYAR.

  3. 3
    Veritas says:

    @pragmatism:

    The RAAAAACIST stuff from the Left crossed the line into whining about thirty years ago.

    #OIW–Obama Isn’t Working

  4. 4
    pragmatism says:

    @Veritas: or you are whining about other people whining. or it could just be your opinion.

  5. 5
    cmorenc says:

    FORTUNATELY, no one outside of a handful of people have ever read or even heard of any of the writers/bloggers referred to in Freddie’s post. I somehow doubt the future of American women or practical feminism turns on who’s properly on what base and who’s out in this particular tempest. Not that I don’t appreciate Freddie for informing me these people exist and what their positions and disputes are about.

    Yeah, so Rolphe wrote a cover Newsweek piece, which has declining readership and no one will remember in two or three weeks.

  6. 6
    Brachiator says:

    One of the little secrets of our failed media experiment is that our “content generator geniuses” really only have a couple dozen stories that they print over and over again.

    Secret? It’s foundational. For example,

    Has “IBM Microsoft google Apple got too big and powerful?”

    And Cosmopolitian Magazine (is it still published)used to recycle this series of stories:
    How to get a man.
    How to keep a man.
    How to keep yourself sexy while you are pining away over that man you couldn’t get or keep.

    Haven’t read Slate in years.

    As far as this Katie Roiphe vs Virginia Heffernan stuff, it just seems to be another example of people getting uncomfortable when women write about sex.

    And only an idiot would think that what anyone enjoys or is curious about in a novel has any connection with what they would accept in the real world.

  7. 7
    pragmatism says:

    tina brown frequently overplays her hand. this is one of those times. good stuff freddie.

  8. 8
    Veritas says:

    @pragmatism:

    I’m not whining. I’m laughing my ass off!

    #OIW–Obama Isn’t Working

  9. 9
    Jebediah says:

    @Veritas:

    Well, he is doing 100% better than the Republicans at protecting us from terrist attacks. After all, Bush brought us one 9/11 attack, zero with Obama as President.
    You guys didn’t do so hot in teh killing-Bin-Laden territory either.
    Bookmark it – in November, Romney becomes Mitt Mondale.

  10. 10
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Veritas:

    Yes, it’s going to be very effective for Romney to complain from his easy chair that Obama isn’t working. How long has it been since Mitt had a job? Five years?

  11. 11
    pragmatism says:

    @Veritas: sure you are whining, using your definition. you’re whining about perceived whining. way to go meta with it.

  12. 12
    Veritas says:

    @Jebediah:

    Good luck re-arguing the Bush years. Voters want jobs, not whining about the ’00s.

    #OIW–Obama Isn’t Working

  13. 13
    Veritas says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Well, if Obama wants to give Mitt a job, he can have Biden resign, appoint Mitt, and then he can resign himself and we can avoid this whole election thing.

    Obama isn’t working–Mitt will.

    #OIW–Obama Isn’t Working

  14. 14
    MattF says:

    You’d think that people would understand why ‘introspection’, as a method of analysis, can lead to errors. “Well, I think such-and-such.” OK, great.

  15. 15
    Ash Can says:

    This word “feminism” that Roiphe and her cynical ilk keep using. I do not think it means what they think it means.

  16. 16
    Jebediah says:

    @Veritas:
    You call it “re-arguing the Bush years” but everyone else calls it your party’s resume. No one gets hired with a resume that crappy. And as Mnemosyne just pointed out, your boy has a five-year hole in HIS resume. No job, no elected office… what was that about GOP projection again?
    Bookmark it – Mitt Mondale.

  17. 17
    Veritas says:

    @Jebediah:

    Let’s take a look at Obambi’s resume, and the results of his policy–let’s start with his own hometown.

    #OIW–Obama Isn’t Working

  18. 18
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Veritas:

    So Mitt’s too lazy to get out of his easy chair and actually work for the job he wants? Obama is supposed to just hand it over to him?

    Yeah, that sounds like Mitt’s life so far — everything’s been handed to him on a silver platter and he’s never had to work a day in his life. Even when he “worked” for Bain Capital, he didn’t actually take any risks.

    No wonder you guys are so worried about this election. I can’t think of anyone more out of touch with ordinary Americans than Mitt “I’m unemployed too!” Romney.

  19. 19
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Brachiator:

    And Cosmopolitian Magazine (is it still published)used to recycle this series of stories:
    How to get a man.
    How to keep a man.
    How to keep yourself sexy while you are pining away over that man you couldn’t get or keep.

    I have bad news: not only is Cosmo still published, it has metastasized into national editions all over the planet — including, alas, Cosmopolitan Malaysia. Cosmo Malaysia is bilingual, which means you get the “How to get a man, etc.” articles in Malay also too.

  20. 20
    Veritas says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Mitt is out there working for the Presidency right now.

    Did you know that unemployment in Chicago has increased 56% since Obama’s election?

    http://obamaisntworking.com/st.....d-chicago/

  21. 21
    jl says:

    I read that Romney insulted the cookies he got from local campaign staff today. I think near Philly in PA.

    Not a winning strategy, and yes, whining is what they do, dammit.

    Romney and Obama neck and neck, when Romney has been in news constantly, and GOP points promoted constantly due to primary.

    And Obama has not even really started campaigning.

    Whining. And hectoring. It is what they do. It will be a long campaign season.

  22. 22
    Veritas says:

    And that’s just his hometown–things are even more dire in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.

    #OIW–Obama Isn’t Working

  23. 23
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Veritas:

    #OIW—Obama Isn’t Working

    Then it’s a fair contest, because the Romneybot keeps malfunctioning.

  24. 24
    Jebediah says:

    @Veritas:
    Then let’s also look at Mitt’s resume. Over the course of his career at Bain, how many companies did he dismantle? How many American jobs did he destroy? Entire towns were ruined by Bain’s vulture capitalism. You think that won’t make into campaign ads? You think Americans will prefer a dude whose livelihood involved destroying American jobs, and dismantling profitable conmpanies? Good luck with that. I’m putting my money on Mitt not getting past double digits in the Electoral College.

  25. 25

    @Amir Khalid:

    Cosmo:

    What hath Helen Gurley Brown wrought?

    Not bad for a poor girl from Arkansas [I think].

  26. 26
    Veritas says:

    @Jebediah:

    Even more jobs would have been lost at those unprofitable companies had Mitt not turned them around and restored them to solvency.

    How much experience did Obambi have in the private sector?

    #OIW–Obama Isn’t Working

  27. 27
    MattF says:

    The trolls here have gotten pathetic.

  28. 28
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Veritas:

    But you seem awfully upset that he’s having to actually work for it. You want Obama to just step aside and let Romney have it so poor Mitt doesn’t have to do all of that hard work.

    What’s the matter, is it starting to dawn on you that there’s no way Romney is going to make it to the finish line unless he gets to start on third base like he has the whole rest of his life?

    Poor Mitt Mondale is in the first contest of his life where his money and his family connections won’t automatically win it for him, and he doesn’t know what to do. He’s never fought for anything in his whole life. No wonder you guys are panicking.

  29. 29
    Argive says:

    @Veritas:

    How much experience did Obambi have in the private sector?

    Private sector experience means jack shit when you go to Washington. Running the country is nothing at all like running a business. If you are the CEO of a major corporation and you lay off 30% of your workforce with no corresponding drop in productivity, you will be hailed as a genius. If you are the President and 30% of the country becomes unemployed, the country plunges into a depression. Our last president to have extensive private sector experience was George W. Bush, and he gave us an economic bubble fueled by credit that mostly benefited the 1% while leading to anemic job growth. I don’t want to go back to that.

  30. 30
    samara morgan says:

    have you decided who you are voting for yet Firebagger Freddie?
    and no one cares about katie roiphe.

    @jl: no Romney and Obama are not “neck and neck.”
    the horserace media just portrays it that way.

  31. 31
    Veritas says:

    @Argive:

    I can’t wait for Obambi to campaign on the fact that he believes private sector experience means “jack shit”, since most Americans think otherwise.

    I think Obambi’s failed record bears this out. It’s why he, for example, constantly favors union bosses over workers.

    #OIW–Obama Isn’t Working

  32. 32
    samara morgan says:

    on the upside freddie, Nate isn’t deleting my comments anymore.

    no “neck and neck” for youuuu.

  33. 33
    uptown says:

    @Veritas:

    Chicago’s unemployment (unadjusted) was 4.5% in Oct ’06 and rose to 9% while Bush and the Republicans fiddled. It continued it’s rise to 12.4% over the next year, but with the help of Obama’s policies, has since dropped back to 8.8% as of today.

  34. 34
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Veritas:

    What “private sector experience” does Mitt have? Putting money up to form a company that guaranteed him a profit?

    But, really, don’t we all have the experience of being able to take Daddy’s millions and form our own companies that we can never be fired from? Mitt’s a real man of the earth there. He understands hard work. After all, when Mitt Mondale sits on his veranda with a glass of lemonade and watches the gardeners mow his lawn and weed his flower beds, it’s just like he’s right down there in the dirt with them!

  35. 35
    samara morgan says:

    (read: boring, vapid people)

    like you freddie, cher? only rhetorics professors and po-mo-cons like James Poulos (the Tarnsman of Gor) care about bullshytt like “Norman Mailer ultra masculinity”.

  36. 36
    Brachiator says:

    Sadly, I think that Veritas is getting paid to come onto every thread and deposit his little turdlets, from now until election day.

    I imagine that other GOP wingnuts will be encouraged to try this attempt at disruption as well.

    So, unless his comment actually has anything to do with the topic, I will just ignore him.

    As always, your mileage may vary.

  37. 37
    Ash Can says:

    Shorter Veritas: I don’t wanna talk about women’s stuff! It makes me nervous! I wanna talk about PIE!!

  38. 38
    muddy says:

    I would be better entertained if Samara trolled Veritas. And vice versa. On another blog.

  39. 39
    Blackfrancis says:

    @Veritas:

    So this is what an ALEC troll in the wild looks like. Is it a decent paying gig?

  40. 40
    jl says:

    @samara morgan: When I look at averages of polls of ‘likely voters’, Obama has held a consistent lead of around 5 points. Average for all adults is similar.

    Averages of registered voters is variable, due to mess of inaccurate tracking polls, and Rasmussen, which has consistent GOP bias.

    So, you have a point.

  41. 41
    jl says:

    @samara morgan:

    thanks for link. It had some interesting concluding points.

    ” 1) Mr. Romney’s mediocre favorability ratings at this early stage of the race are no death sentence. ”

    It had good news for Romney. /snark

    Break out the cookies for the Romney campaign, but make sure they are of appropriate quality, lest they be deemed unworthy but the very likeable just regular folks GOP candidate.

    If the economic recovery, even though weak, continues, Romney is cooked, I think I hope and I will work to make it happen.

    Edit: econ recovery is weak due to GOP influence on policy, BTW.

  42. 42
    jpmeyer says:

    “Katie Roiphe’s Rape Fantasies” would be a great name for a band

  43. 43
    samara morgan says:

    @jl: i think it is WMB, white male bias.
    no one uses rasmussen but conservatives anymore.
    its either sampling bias or poor weighting.
    we will see if nate says anything about it.

  44. 44
    Marc says:

    For Chrissakes, this isn’t the universal “let the troll make the topic whatever they want” thread.

    There is an actual topic, and weak irrelevant bullshit posturing about Romney isn’t it.

    Roiphe is annoying. The article attacking her by Virginia Heffernan was actually quite weak. It’s entirely possible to use bad arguments against a bad article, and there was more than a strong whiff of prudery in Heffernan’s article. The Gawker article was, pretty much, just mockery (with a valid point about thin sourcing). A much better litany of problems with Roiphe is this article by Andrea Reiher.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Marc:

    I think it’s mostly because no one really cares about Katie Roiphe (sorry, Freddie!) so it was easy to derail everyone onto a new topic.

  46. 46
    Argive says:

    @Veritas:

    I can’t wait for Obambi to campaign on the fact that he believes private sector experience means “jack shit”, since most Americans think otherwise.

    I like how you didn’t actually try to disprove my point. The problem here is that part of Mitt’s campaign revolves around the idea that he was a successful businessman, and as such will make a good president by running the country like a business. If he tries to do that, he will fail. You cannot run a modern nation-state, much less the USA, like a business.

  47. 47
    jl says:

    @Argive:

    ” [Romney] was a successful businessman, and as such will make a good president by running the country like a business. If he tries to do that, he will fail. ”

    Partly because Romney’s line was buying distressed businesses, playing corporate shell games, stripping the business corpse of assets, laying off its workers and taking away their pensions.

    That is just a gold mine of inspirational examples of how Romney will use his business experience to run the country.

    That will rank right up there with Teddy R (fought in a war, ran a ranch) and Hoover (ran real mines, and ran huge disaster relief programs), and Eisenhower (ran western front in Europe during WWII).

  48. 48
    El Cid says:

    VICTORY! ROMNEY’S MASSIVE SPENDING BOMB PACKAGE WILL STOP THE KENYONESIAN STEALER OF WOMENS’ JOBS FROM CONTINUING TO BOW TO THE SAUDIS! YAY!

  49. 49
    Jebediah says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    But, really, don’t we all have the experience of being able to take Daddy’s millions and form our own companies that we can never be fired from?

    But of course! I myself am particularly enjoying how I keep getting checks from past jobs, even if I haven’t worked there for years. Makes my current job search so much more comfortable!

  50. 50
    Julia Grey says:

    Katie Roiphe and Virginia Heffernan

    Who are these people and why should I give a shit?

    And only an idiot would think that what anyone enjoys or is curious about in a novel has any connection with what they would accept in the real world.

    Ding! Ding! Ding!

    It’s called “fantasy” for a reason.

  51. 51
    Ethan says:

    I don’t really think there’s anything to defend about Roiphe’s article, or work more generally. But,

    Lowder goes on to accuse Virginia Heffernan of being the real sexist for criticizing Roiphe,

    No, what she did was completely ignore Roiphe and write an article about how, specifically female, writers working for Tina Brown are manipulated victims, and deserve to be mocked for it. I don’t really know whether that’s sexist or not, but it doesn’t strike me as any kind of interesting criticism of any kind of article. Is it in fact, impossible to be sexist in the process of criticising Katie Roiphe? If not, than it would seem to only be wrong to say that someone’s criticism was sexist if it was not, in fact sexist, regardless of how many times that accusation had been falsely levelled at other criticisms. Do you think that Lowder’s description of Heffernan’s article is inaccurate? “The gist of Heffernan’s critique is that Newsweek/Daily Beast editor Tina Brown must have tricked or otherwise seduced Roiphe into writing her article in a steamy scene of editorial sadomasochism:” “So: impressionable, apparently agency-lacking lady-writers like Roiphe (and Daphne Merkin, another famous provocateur that Heffernan impugns) are merely grist for Brown’s media mill? And as a delicate woman writer, Roiphe couldn’t possibly have thought to write about a (pretty tame) sexual issue without the corrupting pressure of some outside force?” If that is inaccurate, what did you understand the article to say? If that is accurate, do you think that it’s totally impossible to honestly think that the article is sexist? Which part, specifically,of Heffernan’s article, did you think was good and worth defending, Freddie?

  52. 52
    samara morgan says:

    @Julia Grey:

    Who are these people and why should I give a shit?

    win.

  53. 53
    samara morgan says:

    hmmm…..i can’t reply to muddy41 for some reason, but I’ll gladly troll him if Cole makes him a frontpager.
    after all…he couldn’t be any worse than freddie and neither one of them is voting for Obama.
    ;)

  54. 54
    Tony the Wonderhorse says:

    God bless the Puritans for giving us so much to talk about.

    As someone who has toyed with B&D for 10 years (I’m 47 and a switch), I can say with certainty that the power exchange involved is an aspect of sexuality, period. People can repress it or ignore it or get mad about it or do any dance they wish, dominance and submission are inherently sexy and probably most of the people attracted to it feel some guilt about it. That’s why people are so upset.

    So work it out, people. Get as hot as you need to, in any sense of that phrase that works for you. But it’s a statement of the obvious that people are either tops or bottoms, or both. And I say Yay!

  55. 55
    The Pale Scot says:

    “One of the little secrets of our failed media experiment is that our “content generator geniuses” really only have a couple dozen stories that they print over and over again.”

    Kinda like how every sitcom plot every written is really just a re-imagining of the 28 original “Honeymooners” episodes.

  56. 56
    THE says:

    @samara morgan:

    on the upside freddie, Nate isn’t deleting my comments anymore.

    I am really glad for you that they are not deleting you. But I think you are still in danger of being deleted, from a highly public website like that, if you over-post. You need to watch the endless addenda and self-referencing serial comments.

    It’s much better if you take the time to compose a well-argued comment and post it once.

    I would suggest, maybe write it in Word or something, then go away for half an hour and come back and see what you can add to it. You don’t need to be in a rush to get your thoughts on the page — And then update every couple of minutes as you think of something else. Breathless multiple posting is classical troll-like behavior that gets you banned.

    When you have revised it a few times and you are sure there is nothing else to add, then copy and post it online. If you write it well you shouldn’t need to post again, unless you are replying to someone-else’s response.

    Consider apologizing if you absolutely have to post an addendum. That’s how you make it clear you are trying to avoid doing it.
    :)

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