Advertisements

Katie Roiphe: The Other Whisper Network

How Twitter feminism is bad for women

Of course, the prepublication frenzy of Twitter fantasy and fury about this essay, which exploded in early January, is Exhibit A for why nobody wants to speak openly. Before the piece was even finished, let alone published, people were calling me “pro-rape,” “human scum,” a “harridan,” a “monster out of Stephen King’s ‘IT,’?” a “ghoul,” a “bitch,” and a “garbage person”—all because of a rumor that I was planning to name the creator of the so-called Shitty Media Men list. The Twitter feminist Jessica Valenti called this prospect “profoundly shitty” and “incredibly dangerous” without having read a single word of my piece. Other tweets were more direct: “man if katie roiphe actually publishes that article she can consider her career over.” “Katie Roiphe can suck my dick.” With this level of thought policing, who in their right mind would try to say anything even mildly provocative or original?

For years, women confined their complaints about sexual harassment to whisper networks for fear of reprisal from men. This is an ugly truth about our recent past that we are just now beginning to grapple with. But amid this welcome reckoning, it seems that many women still fear varieties of retribution (Twitter rage, damage to their reputations, professional repercussions, and vitriol from friends) for speaking out—this time, from other women. They are, in other words, inadvertently creating a new whisper network. Can this possibly be a good thing?

Most of the new whisperers feel as I do, exhilarated by the moment, by the long-overdue possibility of holding corrupt and bullying men such as Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, and Matt Lauer to account for their actions. They strongly share some of its broader goals: making it possible for women to work unbothered and unharassed even outside the bubble of Hollywood and the media, breaking down the structures that have historically protected powerful men. Yet they are also slightly uneasy at the weird energy behind this movement, a weird energy it is sometimes hard to pin down.

Here are some things these professional women said to me on the condition that their names be withheld:

I think “believe all women” is silly. Women are unreliable narrators also. I understand how hard it is to come forward, but I just don’t buy it. It’s a sentimental view of women. . . . I think there is more regretted consent than anyone is willing to say out loud.

If someone had sent me the Media Men list ten years ago, when I was twenty-five, I would have called a harmlessly enamored guy a stalker and a sloppy drunken encounter sexual assault. I’d hate myself now for wrecking two lives.

One thing people don’t say is that power is an aphrodisiac. . . . To pretend otherwise is dishonest.

What seems truly dangerous to me is the complete disregard the movement shows for a sacred principle of the American criminal justice system: the presumption of innocence. I come from Mexico, whose judicial system relied, until 2016, on the presumption of guilt, which translated into people spending decades, sometimes lifetimes, in jail before even seeing a judge.

I have never felt sexually harassed. I said this to someone the other day, and she said, “I am sure you are wrong.”

Al Franken asked for an investigation and he should have been allowed to have it; the facts are still ambiguous, the sources were sketchy.

Why didn’t I get hit on? What’s wrong with me? #WhyNotMeToo

I think #MeToo is a potentially valuable tool that is degraded when women appropriate it to encompass things like “creepy DMs” or “weird lunch ‘dates.’” And I do not think touching a woman’s back justifies a front page in the New York Times and the total annihilation of someone’s career.

I have a long history with this feeling of not being able to speak. In the early Nineties, death threats were phoned into Shakespeare and Company, an Upper West Side bookstore where I was scheduled to give a reading from my book The Morning After.That night, in front of a jittery crowd and a sprinkling of police, I read a passage comparing the language in the date-rape pamphlets given out on college campuses to Victorian guides to conduct for young ladies. When I read at universities, students who considered themselves feminists shouted me down. It was an early lesson in the chilling effect of feminist orthodoxy.

But social media has enabled a more elaborate intolerance of feminist dissenters, as I just personally experienced. Twitter, especially, has energized the angry extremes of feminism in the same way it has energized Trump and his supporters: the loudest, angriest, most simplifying voices are elevated and rendered normal or mainstream.

[Read the full story here, at Harper’s Magazine]

In 1996, a six-year-old boy with Coke-bottle glasses, Johnathan Prevette, was suspended from school for sexual harassment after kissing a little girl on the cheek. This was widely interpreted as a sign of excess: as the New York Times put it, a “doctrine meant to protect against sexual harassment might have reached a damaging level of absurdity.” Yet I wonder what would happen today. Wouldn’t feminists be tweeting, “Don’t first grade girls have a right to feel safe?” Wouldn’t the new whisperers keep quiet?

One thing that makes it hard to engage with the feminist moment is the sense of great, unmanageable anger. Given what men have gotten away with for centuries, this anger is understandable. Yet it can also lead to an alarming lack of proportion. Rebecca Trais­ter, one of the smartest and most prominent voices of the #MeToo movement, writes:

The rage that many of us are feeling doesn’t necessarily correspond with the severity of the trespass: Lots of us are on some level as incensed about the guy who looked down our shirt at a company retreat as we are about Weinstein, even if we can acknowledge that there’s something nuts about that, a weird overreaction.

At first glance, this seems honest and insightful of her. She seems, for a moment, to recognize the energy that is unnerving some of us, an anger not interested in making distinctions between Harvey Weinstein and the man looking down your shirt—an anger that is, as Traister herself puts it, “terrifyingly out of control.” But weirdly, she also seems to be fine with it, even roused. When Trump supporters let their anger run terrifyingly out of control, we are alarmed, and rightly so. Perhaps Traister should consider that “I am so angry I am not thinking straight” is not the best mood in which to radically envision and engineer a new society. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Mark Hemingway: Scandals Aplenty

 lois-tinyhead

The media just pretended they didn’t exist.

Mark Hemingway writes: As achievements go, this would be one in which a modern president could take pride. But in making the claim for himself, Obama proves he cannot even accurately describe the events of his presidency. His tenure saw an astounding number of scandals: Benghazi, Fast and Furious gunrunning, Solyndra and green energy subsidies for campaign donors, cash for Iranian hostages, IRS targeting of conservative groups, spying on journalists, Hillary Clinton’s private email server, the Veterans Administration disaster, trading deserter Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders held in Guantánamo, droning American citizens without due process, and firing inspector general Gerald Walpin for investigating an Obama crony who was abusing federal programs. And that list isn’t exhaustive.

bowe-bergdahljpg

The media have certainly tried their best to buttress Obama’s claim to have presided over a scandal-free administration—starting long before he even made it. In 2014, New Yorker editor and Obama biographer David Remnick told the (skeptical) host of PBS’s Charlie Rose that the president had already racked up “huge” achievements. On his list: “The fact that there’s been no scandal, major scandal, in this administration, which is a rare thing in an administration.”

[Read the full story here, at The Weekly Standard]

Remnick was hardly alone. Veteran journalist Jonathan Alter wrote a column for Bloomberg back in 2011 headlined “The Obama Miracle, a White House Free of Scandal.” More recently, Glenn Thrush, then a Politico reporter, tweeted, “As Obama talks up legacy on campaign trail important to note he’s had best/least scandal-scarred 2nd term since FDR.” Even conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks last year declared the Obama administration “remarkably scandal-free.”

Hillary-Clinton-Benghazi-Funeral-Ceremony-900

Remnick’s remark is particularly notable for how it presaged White House talking points. Obama’s chief campaign strategist David Axelrod was asked at the University of Chicago in 2015 about the administration’s broken promise to bar lobbyists from working for it. Axelrod admitted things hadn’t been “pristine” but said, “I’m proud of the fact that, basically, you’ve had an administration that’s been in place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal.”

boast

As Noah Rothman observed in Commentary, “The qualifier ‘major’ lays the burden on shoulders of the press to define what constitutes a serious scandal, and political media had thus far reliably covered the administration’s ethical lapses as merely the peculiar obsessions of addlebrained conservatives.”

wa-times-holder

So what would constitute a “major” scandal? Would it involve, say, dead bodies? The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gave thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels; they used some of them to kill dozens of people, including American border patrol agent Brian Terry. When Congress tried to investigate why the ATF gave away so many guns and failed to track them, the Department of Justice engaged in unprecedented stonewalling.

The department withheld 92 percent of the documents requested and forbade 48 relevant employees from speaking to congressional investigators. Attorney General Eric Holder was ultimately held in contempt of Congress, with 17 Democrats supporting the measure. An explanation for why the ATF gave thousands of guns to violent criminals has yet to emerge—but we are to understand that this is not a “major” scandal. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REWIND: William F Buckley Jr interview on Charlie Rose, 1992

william-f-buckley-e1441933976668

 

 


Anti-ISISism on the Left

newrepublic-fp
PRIMAI’ve been trying to read as much as time allows of the left’s reaction to the President’s recent speech in which he unleashed at least a couple of the dogs of war. Here’s something from this morning’s sampling:

As for the the Hof article linked above, one of the things it shares with most discussion of the issues in leftish sources is a focus on state politics and an almost complete lack of discussion of the religious and other cultural elements of the ISIS phenomenon. This particular article lays the blame on the structural problem of “state failure”. I would reply that we’ve had chronically failed states in, for example, Latin America for 150 years, yet none of them have become the seedbed for global terrorism. The same could be said for Southeast Asia and, until recently, central and west Africa. I think the unwillingness of analysts on the left to see the uniquely Islamic elements of the ISIS phenomenon hobbles their ability to fully come to terms with it. Whoda thunk that I’d be on the same side of things as Bill Maher? What a world we live in, huh?

Charlie Rose of CBS, PBS Lands Interview with Syrian President Assad

charlie-roseAs President Obama makes his rounds on major news nets to plead his case for limited military action against Syria, CBS and PBS may have landed the biggest interview in the hotly-contested international crisis yet: one with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Charlie Rose interviewed the Syrian leader Sunday morning in Damascus, and discussed with the prez his alleged use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians on August 21. Per Rose, who called in to CBS’s “Face the Nation” and relayed details of the interview, Assad wholly denied the allegations. Read the rest of this entry »