Such is the way of all things. An older generation, confused and frustrated over the world’s ability to triumph over its ambitions, projects its failures onto a younger one. For those involved in such fundamentally vain professions as opinion writing, the anxiety of obsolescence is particularly acute. Mickey Kaus can’t stop obsessing over Ezra Klein, for example. Feminism’s Mickey Kaus is named Linda Hirshman.
Hirshman published an ugly and ignorant screed against Jezebel at Slate’s new Jezebel rip-off — form follows function, I suppose — accusing Jezebel of "hurting women." Jezebel, to Hirshman, is not staffed by feminists, but whorish simulacra who are "clearly familiar with the rhetoric of feminism," the better to perpetrate their nefarious trick on womanhood whereby women live as human beings without fear of the world. Hirshman, by contrast, employs authentically feminist tropes like describing Moe Tkacik as being "apparently" date-raped. (Hey, who you gonna believe…) Predictably, Hirshman brings up the Thinking and Drinking episode without exploring some of the ugly impulses of Moe and Tracie Egan’s accuser — like, for example, how she blamed a rape victim who doesn’t have her rapist arrested for all of the women he rapes in the future.
Any attempt at taking Hirshman seriously runs into two major obstacles. The first is this, which is the essence of the argument when you strip it away from cowardly insinuations like how Jezebel writers slutting up their posts to titillate men and make Nick Denton rich:
These Jezebel writers are a symptom of the weaknesses in the model of perfect egalitarian sexual freedom; in fact, it’s the supposed concern with feminism that makes the site so problematic. How can Tracie, who posted this picture, criticize the men who go to Hooters? How can writers who justify not reporting rape criticize the military for not controlling…rape? It’s incoherent.
You just put those tits out there, whore, so how can you blame the poor guy for grabbing. Does Hirshman really think that there’s anything at all comparable between a writer working out her conflicted feelings about dealing with the aftermath of her sexual assault and an institution‘s reluctance to forthrightly deal with rape? Somehow, Megan Carpentier, one of my closest and most cherished friends, despite being merely a "supposed" feminist, possessed greater clarity: "[T]he problem in a unit isn’t the woman, it’s the dudes who think rape is okay." And the legal and policy apparatus that tilts in their favor.
And that brings us to the second obstacle: Hirshman’s piece is written in transparent bad faith. Several of her linked attacks on Jezebel writers are links to posts written by Megan, who has criticized Hirshman directly or points that Hirshman’s made. Moe, another friend of mine, had the temerity to critique Hirshman in the Washington Post, so the bitch was asking for it. Why bother to write about Moe at all, who works for TPM now and hasn’t written for Jezebel for something like nine months? Why mention Emily Gould’s New York Times Magazine shoot, when she’s written for the blog a handful of times (sorry, she’s an "occasional Jezebel contributor" in Hirshman’s reading)? Why fuck with Tracie, who gave up the Slut Machine narrative voice months ago? Why ever criticize Megan by recourse to telling her to essentially keep her legs together ("drunk party girls in a bathtub") in a photo shoot from before there was a Jezebel?
For the simple reason that Hirshman doesn’t care to understand the blog. She has her perspective on it, filtered through a certain conception of feminism, and if the facts don’t fit the theory, so much worse for the facts. Hirshman knows exactly what she thinks she needs to know about a blog that doesn’t operate along her assumptions. I pity her for not having read, for instance, Megan’s work with an open mind. Even counterfeit feminists like Megan know better than to suggest that rape is the fault of rape victims and only persecuted truth-tellers have the courage to say so:
Suggest that women report the men who rape them for the sake of future victims, say, or that women should be asked why they stay with the men who abuse them, or urged to leave them, and the Jezebels go ballistic. Judgmental, judgmental!
I know: unafraid women approaching the world in its complexity. What’s wrong with bitches these days?