“Here in America, the girls, they give up their mouth, their ass, their tits,” the Argentinean said to me, punctuating each with the appropriate hand motion, “before they even know the guy. It’s like, ‘Hello.’ ‘Hello.’ ‘You wanna hook up?’ ‘Sure.’ They are so aggressive! Do they have hearts of steel or something? In my country, a girl like this would be desperate. Or a prostitute.”—Is college hook up culture harnessed and progressed by women? Hanna Rosin implores that very question in The Atlantic’s September 2012 piece, “Boys on the Side”
I don’t really read Slate as a rule, but this floated across my Twitter feed:
(TW: racism, misogyny, abuse)
Hanna Rosin basically asserts that the Onion’s jokes about Chris Brown were perfectly fine, funny and okay. And that there are some jokes about serious topics that are okay to make, feminists!
Guess what, it’s never okay to use another woman’s abuse as a punchline. Given the Onion’s sterling reputation of tweeting about Quvenzhane being a “c*nt” to elicit jokes, the Chris Brown headlines proposed weren’t just unfunny, but were more of the same racist nonsense that needs to be stopped.
Rihanna’s abuse shouldn’t be our laughter, but it’s pretty par for the course that a fellow white feminist would say that those jokes are completely okay. We have an absolutely shitty history with treating WoC with respect and turning a blind eye to our own white aggressors - Chris Brown gets lampooned but never Michael Fassbender or Charlie Sheen. Notice how there’s less jokes about them.
Hanna Rosin, you’re the white feminist that even other white feminists don’t like, and with good reason. You’re propping up the same shitty behaviour and “jokes” that have always been there, and they hurt all of us, but shit like the Onion hurts others more - particularly black women, who always get turned into a punchline, or even as kids, get sexualized or laughed at.
When you say that “Would the reaction have been the same if the joke were about a conservative Republican congressman assaulting a young boy? Definitely not.” I think you’re really the only one who actually thinks that.
Jokes shouldn’t be made just because they “aren’t funny” but because they shit on people, most notably women, even more notably women who have been societally oppressed and degraded way more than we have (as white feminists). Joke shouldn’t HURT people to make a point. A point should be made by the people who are hurt by this shit and no one else.
White feminists, we’re only as good as the shittiest amongst us, and we need to do better than Hanna Rosin.
“Instead of the real mother, this time we have an imposter, Liza Long, blogger and single mother of four who wrote the incredible post “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” which was reprinted by Gawker and Huffington Post this weekend and viewed by millions. Long is of course not Adam Lanza’s mother. She is the mother of 13-year-old "Michael" (whose name she changed but so what, since her own name is public), who she describes as belligerent and mentally ill, so much so that “he terrifies me.” The pure sympathy phase for Long after her essay went viral lasted about 24 hours before another blogger, Sarah Kendzior, pointed out that Long had written a series of “vindictive and cruel posts about her children” and was not to be trusted. This morning, Long and Kendzior made up and issued a joint statement about “the need for a respectful national conversation on mental health” and declared that they were not interested in perpetuating a “mommy war.” Good for them. “Michael,” meanwhile, has a long life to live, during which his neighbors and teachers and future employers will know that his mother regularly called the police on him, committed him to a mental institution, and considered seriously accusing him of a crime so she could send him to jail. (She didn’t because jail would exacerbate his “sensitivity to sensory stimuli,” she writes, a cold clinical rationale that in her piece passes for maternal sympathy.) People who meet "Michael" in the future have a good shot at finding out that his mother thinks he is the equivalent of a man who just shot 20 schoolchildren point blank, and that she once listed her son’s name in the pantheon of greats. (“I am Adam Lanza's mother. I am Dylan Klebold's and Eric Harris's mother. I am Jason Holmes's mother. I am Jared Loughner's mother. I am Seung-Hui Cho's mother.”) We have of course gotten used to mommy bloggers embarrassing their children, saying which child they like best or how much they drink while stuck at home doing art projects. Louis C.K. regularly embarrasses his kids and surely one day they will get their revenge. These are humiliations that might require a kid to get therapy later, but they are not on the same order as what Long did. They are unlikely, for example, to prevent the kids from getting a job. So far the children’s rights movement has focused on protecting children from neglect and abuse, but maybe it’s time to add a subcategory protecting them from libel, by their own parents. Long’s situation sounds genuinely terrifying. If she’s telling the truth, her son is prone to scary explosions. He calls her a “stupid bitch” and pulls a knife on her, and she and her other children have a kind of emergency evacuation plan when he goes into his rages. He sounds in fact very much like the children described in a recent New York Times magazine story, “Can You Call a 9-Year-Old a Psychopath?” There are some critical differences, though, between the parents quoted in that story and Long: Those parents stayed anonymous, and did not publish photos of their children. They did not sentence their children but kept their minds open. (Note the question mark in the title.) These were kids who did much more disturbing things than Long describes her son doing; one, for example, slowly sliced the tail off the family cat. Still, the point of the story is to encourage parents NOT to condemn their children, because “psychopath” is not a certain fate. Also, the parents in that story seemed to have a reasonable parenting plan in place, a way of talking to their children that most parents can relate to, even if it isn’t always effective. (“Remember the brainstorming we did yesterday?” one mom asked her son.) Long, meanwhile, plays chicken with her son, threatening to take him to the mental hospital if he says “I’m going to kill myself" one more time. Maybe because doing a sudden U-turn in the car and heading for the mental ward is more dramatic than talking about “brainstorming.” I might trust Long more if she doled out the drama a little more carefully. Is she actually going to call a parole officer if her 11-year-old doesn’t stop poking his brother, as she writes in one old post, or is that just something moms say when they’re frazzled? Does she really think it’s crazy for a 5-year-old to cry if he drops his lollipop, or for an 11-year-old to shoot rubberbands at his brother? Or was she just in a bad mood that day? Surely it was just a bad mood, right? But then she claims that her ex-husband actually did have their 11-year-old incarcerated for failing to do his chores, and their 14-year-old committed to a mental hospital, so these things are in the realm of possibility in their family, I guess. One reasonable conclusion is that Long is in the middle of one of those lunatic divorces where the kids get sacrificed to the altar of parental hatred. Another is that she has some kind of mommy blogger Munchhausen syndrome, where she creates narcissistic fantasies in which she stars as the long-suffering mother. (Note the high tragic cadence of “I am Adam Lanza’s mother.") Or a more disturbing conclusion: In this era, when we worry about whether we need to keep a closer eye on the dangerous and mentally ill, “Michael” is not the one in that family we should be monitoring. Because this, from one of her older posts, is not the musing of a sane person: "Safety is never anything more than a pretty illusion for any of us, at any time. We are all just one car accident, one cancer diagnosis, one unimagined catastrophe away from death. But what makes this situation bad—no, intolerable—is that someone, somewhere, for some reason, is actively seeking to destroy me." A boy wielding a knife perhaps?”—
Hanna Rosin for Slate, “Don’t Compare Your Son to Adam Lanza”
This. So much. As is, I think it’s incredibly creepy and an act of terrible bad faith for a parent to share embarrassing (not to speak of exaggerated for rhetorical effect) stories about children who are too young to even know that their parents are doing this, let alone give informed consent. In particular, though, the information that this non-anonymous person gives about her teenage son in the “My Son Is Adam Lanza” piece shows a disgusting lack of regard for her son’s feelings and well-being. If this kid is suffering from Asperger’s, it’s bad enough that he got screwed with a developmental disability that knocked out his ability to empathize with others: his mother should at least try to have a modicum of empathy for her own son.
Get thee behind me, Satan
This “War on Men” article from Fox News that’s been making the rounds is hilariously stupid: biotruths (“[Men] want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA”), gender essentialism (“Women aren’t women anymore”), slut-shaming (consequence-free sex? OH NO!), etc. Its thesis is that women are to blame for men feeling bad about themselves and that if we’d stop being such selfish bitches, maybe the poor, frightened men would want to marry us.
I think the funniest part of the piece is a throwaway line where Venker refers to Hanna Rosin as a feminist. She would probably like Rosin’s book if she gave it a chance. It’s basically chapter after chapter of “but what about the menz?” It’s also been well-received by MRAs.
I guess Venker is one of those people who assume that if a woman writes about gender, then she’s automatically a feminist. It’s just funny that Venker is putting down (because ‘feminist’ is a put down to conservatives) Rosin, when Rosin’s work is just as anti-feminist as her own.
Playlist: Male call(TED is on its annual two-week vacation. During the break, we’re posting playlists from the TEDTalks archive. We’ll be back with new talks on August 29th.)
It ain’t easy being a guy. The stoic and monosyllabic John Wayne/Clint Eastwood/Gary Cooper cliché that was once regarded as the apex of male emotional development can hobble our understanding of how men can develop more richly, researchers say. Philip Zimbardo explored the many challenges facing young men in his recent brief TED Talk and survey entitled “The Demise of Guys?” It’s also the topic of his upcoming TED Book. Smart men and women have been exploring the elusive needs and possibilities of the male from the TED stage for a while.
1) Philip Zimbardo, The Demise of Guys?
2) Tony Porter makes a call to men everywhere: Don’t “act like a man.” Telling powerful stories from his own life, he shows how this mentality, drummed into so many men and boys, can lead men to disrespect, mistreat and abuse women and each other. His solution: Break free of the “man box.”
3) At TEDxPSU, Ali Carr-Chellman pinpoints three reasons boys are tuning out of school in droves, and lays out her bold plan to re-engage them: bringing their culture into the classroom, with new rules that let boys be boys, and video games that teach as well as entertain.
4) Hanna Rosin reviews startling new data that shows women actually surpassing men in several important measures, such as college graduation rates. Do these trends, both US-centric and global, signal the “end of men”? Probably not — but they point toward an important societal shift worth deep discussion.
Playlist by Jim Daly, Editor, TED Books
“Progress is not a zero-sum game. Society gains when the injustices against men are addressed equally with the injustices against women. Surely it would be wrong to hold one kind of progress hostage to the other. I hope we haven't forgotten how many young black men are in jail, or how many gay men are discriminated against, or how many poor men are denied a decent education. If we concentrate on the problems that all kinds of people are having, rather than dividing everyone up into the equivalent of rival football teams, won't we have a better chance of setting things to rights?”—Maria Bustillos in the LA Review of Books, “Rising Together: A Corrective to ‘The End of Men’”
THE LARB FUND DRIVE'S GREATEST HITS: Evan Kindley on Maria Bustillos and the End of Men
It’s odd now to reflect that Maria Bustillos’s first appearance in the pages of the Los Angeles Review of Books was as the object (or maybe it’s better to say “catalyst”) of a lengthy critique by Sven Birkerts. Maria — who, unbeknownst to any of us at the time of the publication of Sven’s piece, is a native daughter of Los Angeles — has since become one of our favorite writers, having written a fabulous review of Tom Bissell’s Magic Hours and participated in a dialogue on David Foster Wallace with two of our editors. My favorite Bustillos piece, though, is the one I worked on with her: “Rising Together: A Corrective to Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men.” You could call it a review, but it’s also an informed, passionate, and (as always with Maria) hilarious meditation on the very idea of feminism. Whether or not you agree with her position — that “a belief in universal human equality” is in tension with calling yourself a feminist — she brings a level of moral seriousness to the discussion that blows away the merely snarky and wonky responses that Rosin’s book has mostly elicited. Whatever conversations we’re having about gender and equality in the coming years, I only hope that Maria will continue to be a part of them, and that we’ll be here to publish her.
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Photo by Lisa Jane Persky
Okay, I know that word is kind of jarring, but stick with me for just a second. I only bring it up because I stumbled across this upcoming Slate event and it stirred up a lot of questions/rage/eyebrow movement. The debate is called “Are Men Finished?” and will supposedly argue whether men are losing their prominence in modern society. Histrionic title aside, the recent shifting of gender roles in this country is worth noting and exploring, and in that vein I might be interested in attending an event like this (in fact, I might go). Here’s where the confusion starts. One of the main debaters for the motion is frequent contributor to Slate and The Atlantic, Hanna Rosin. I feel about Hanna Rosin the way right wingers feel about Hilary Clinton. Or PETA feels about puppy mills. Or France feels about working overtime. I.e. not positively. I appreciate that she purports to bring feminist issues to light and spark discussion on topics that warrant increased attention. But I can’t stand her writing, her anecdotal whining infuriates me and I find her patronizing tone frustrating. Does that make me unfeminist?
I had a college professor call me a female chauvinist for reading (and enjoying) GQ magazine, so I’m a little fuzzy on exactly which requirements I’m failing in the feminism department (is this like girl scouts? are there badges involved? is that an unfeminist comparison to make? are girl scouts feminist because they’re entrepreneurial or unfeminist because they sell cookies? Are cookies unfeminist? SO MANY QUESTIONS), but I like to think that merely believing in political, economic, and social equality amongst the genders is enough. Whether you hold that belief at a rally for Planned Parenthood, or at home with your kids, or on the treadmill, or while buying your boyfriend dinner, or on a boat, or getting highlights, or whatever: it’s all good with me. Further, if you want to hold that belief while bashing a fellow “sister,” that’s fine with me too. Sometimes women are bitches or hos or trying to steal your man and if you want to make catty faces at them and text your bestie under the table that “it’s fine if she wants to wearing poly-blend to dinner, but could she at least put on a bra?” I’m not going to take away your feminist card. I want to make a dollar on the dollar. I want to make medical decisions without knowing/caring how my state senator feels about it. And yes, I do want women to call each other whores less and network more. I want to get those things without “The End of Men,” or pretending that Hanna Rosin could write her way out of a barrel. Okay?