And a bit of deja vu too. Katie Roiphe, Mary Daly – what do these two women have in common BESIDES both being mentioned one atop the other on several blogs over the past couple days?
Here’s a clue:
Ah, Katie Roiphe. Always with the feminist controversies, that one! And, you know, I’m fond of feminist controversies: they typically open up some interesting issues, and make us talk to each other about things that are uncomfortable but important…
That post apparently wasn’t about any of the interesting issues though. Pity, it seemed to me a particularly timely opportunity for discussion of interesting issues in feminism, but instead it was more of the standard fare:
It’s true! The literary celebration of the male boner, and its various uses on dumb sluts who don’t even get how degrading this is to them, probably because of how dumb and slutty they are, is a lost art.
Now, a momentary aside to study the use of “dumb sluts” in the above quote. Surely Sady, who wrote so eloquently just days ago, isn’t calling anyone a dumb slut – she must be satirizing what Roiphe said… right? Well, I read Roiphe’s piece and she in no way said that. Or anything that could logically result in a satire worded as above. Here’s the least boring part of Roiphe’s article:
After the sweep of the last half-century, our bookshelves look different than they did to the young Kate Millett, drinking her nightly martini in her downtown apartment, shoring up her courage to take great writers to task in “Sexual Politics” for the ways in which their sex scenes demeaned, insulted or oppressed women. These days the revolutionary attitude may be to stop dwelling on the drearier aspects of our more explicit literature. In contrast to their cautious, entangled, ambivalent, endlessly ironic heirs, there is something almost romantic in the old guard’s view of sex: it has a mystery and a power, at least. It makes things happen.
Kate Millett might prefer that Norman Mailer have a different taste in sexual position, or that Bellow’s fragrant ladies bear slightly less resemblance to one another, or that Rabbit not sleep with his daughter-in-law the day he comes home from heart surgery, but there is in these old paperbacks an abiding interest in the sexual connection.
Simply put, Roiphe says “oh how sexy books used to be! the men were dashing, the women swooned!” — and simply put, Sady has called the swooning women dumb sluts, who never realized they were so dumb and slutty for swooning.
As I said, what else is radical feminism doing today?
Katie Roiphe is a harsh critic of much of Mary Daly’s philosophy, theory, theology, – what have you. Roiphe calls it “victim feminism”, and already – even from Sady – we get a clear-cut signal that if we go looking for criticism of Daly, then Roiphe is someone we should immediately discount. Is this because it’s still ok to hate the sluts, and the submissives?
The worst bits of the Roiphe scandal is tied up in college rape statistics – and in a bit of survey-speak in a few simple questions, where the understanding of the question, and the motivation of the woman answering, made an enormous difference. If you wonder why so much of Rape Prevention is focused on the woman’s drinking or women getting high - there you go. Women – rape awareness folks in particular – are wondering why all the prevention materials put the onus on women not to drink, and they don’t realize it grows right out of the surveys that Roiphe criticized. And see above about the preclusive warning-away about looking into what Roiphe alleged, and then try to ignore it.
The importance of this sort of thing was brought home to me just a month or so ago, when a study on casual sex conflated “freinds with benefits”, “hook-ups” and also completely THREW OUT 40 or so responses which were – imo – the most important responses. The reason for half of those answers getting thrown out was that the researchers decided that respondents who answered that they’d had sex-with-a-stranger were most probably raped, so much so that those answers were stricken from the study. The study was about regret – does casual sex become something to regret, that seems to me an issue where complete information should be encouraged.
When I say these things are all about religion – they are, just because one group is WOMEN arguing for women as victims, the result is still the warning to avoid casual sex, or sex outside the bounds of relationships that the leaders do not understand or approve of, and further – it’s the belief that any woman who does choose those unapproved forms of sex must have been forced to do it. The unapproved sex is still women with strange men – it’s still the same unapproved relationship it ALWAYS was. Not a damn thing radical there.
Roiphe is mentioned scathingly in The Idea of Prostitution, written by Sheila Jeffreys. Heard that name recently? Maybe it was on Questioning Transphobia, where QueenEmily wrote:
Mary Daly had a substantial hand in creating … another generation of transphobes from Sheila Jeffreys to Julie Bindel—feminists who argue in the name of (a certain kind of) feminism against trans women’s rights—against legal recognition, against access to necessary medical treatment, against anti-discrimination policy, and against our ability to access women’s homeless, domestic abuse and rape shelters.
Here are a few snippets from the applicable chapter of The Idea of Prostitution , Prostitution As “Choice” and the scare quotes are from Jeffreys.
Mis-Information, Dis-Information, Obfuscation — it’s everywhere. Did I mention my Question Authority video over there in the sidebar thing?…