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Archive for April 6th, 2011

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. –  Revelation 3:16

Many of my readers are probably at least somewhat familiar with the website Jezebel, which describes itself as “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women”; it’s part of the Gawker family of news & commentary sites.  Jezebel’s political bent is more or less third-wave feminist, and though it’s very pro-porn and seems inhospitable to neofeminist anti-prostitution propaganda, its staff also appears vaguely uncomfortable with sex workers; I think of them as something like a gaggle of debutantes volunteering at the local homeless shelter because they think it’s the right thing to do, but unable to really disguise their disgust for the “icky people”.  There are occasional columns about strippers and whores, and once in a while one will see reader comments about sex worker rights, but that’s it; no sex worker rights news, articles condemning persecution of prostitutes, reprinting of any of the many articles debunking prohibitionist rhetoric, nothing like that.  Back at the end of January they even participated in spreading the “Super Bowl sex trafficking” hysteria, obediently repeating the lies promoted by Christian groups who would oppose most of what Jezebel seems to stand for.

I’ve never commented on any of the stories myself; the general tone of the replies is so party-line whitebread “feminist” that I don’t really feel I’d be welcome.  But while writing my December 8th column I read this article about Sugardaddyforme.com in which the author, Sadie Stein, starts a profile on the site for research purposes and discovers to her apparent surprise that the other members are “surprisingly human” (presumably she thought they were all robots, apes and spirits).  So I decided to take a chance by sending her an email, suggesting she start a profile on one of the escort boards so she could discover the same thing about sex workers and their clients.  As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, I got no response whatsoever.  After that, I sort of gave up on using Jezebel as anything but a source of stories which might inspire columns.

Then last Monday (March 28th), I was scanning the site as usual and saw this article attacking Satoshi Kanazawa, which was obviously directly inspired by his column of the night before talking about me!  Though the author, Anna North (who also wrote the aforementioned Super Bowl trafficking story) was clearly familiar with Kanazawa already, the suggestion that she could be “essentially” the same as one of those nasty whores seems to have set her off.  Interestingly, she has nothing bad to say about me (though she does misquote my description of a neofeminist by calling it my definition of a “contemporary feminist”, which as my readers know is not at all the same thing).  Considering that Kanazawa and I aren’t all that far apart on the subject I thought it was interesting that she was so vicious to him but gave me a free pass, presumably because of my sex.  Unfortunately, she also gives a free pass to the neofeminists by weakly describing them as feminists who “insist on lockstep orthodoxy”.  This kind of weak-kneed faux “sisterhood”, refraining from criticizing other women merely because they are women (even if one strongly disagrees with their beliefs), is exactly what caused the collapse of second-wave feminism in the first place; mainstream feminists should have had the sense to ostracize the man-hating, anti-sex crowd back in the 1970s, but instead they passively watched while monsters perverted the movement into a crusade for their own warped agenda.

Another example of Jezebel’s discomfort with the sex trade can be seen in this story (also from March 28th) about hookers’ business cards; apparently some New York politician who’s been living under a rock his entire life just discovered that some low-end escorts pay guys to hand out business cards for them and therefore wants to ban the practice.  Though the author, Irin Carmon, doesn’t seem too fazed by the idea of prostitution and also appears to have a healthy degree of skepticism about the politician’s attempt to paint his effort as “for the children”, take a look at her headline: “Pimps Use Alessandra Ambrosio’s Image To Sell Actual Sex”.  Actually, the (often Hispanic) males who hand out these cards are the hookers’ employees, not their bosses, and they’re usually teenage boys rather than grown men.  But Miss Carmon has clearly bought into the myth that any non-customer male who has anything to do with a whore MUST be a pimp, and her use of the term conjures up a lot of negative stereotypes a real friend of sex workers would not choose to evoke.

And then there’s this one from the day before the other two, which references this New York Times scare piece on the dreaded scourge of teen “sexting”.  Though the author, Morning Gloria, does seem to find the lugubrious tone of the Times article absurd, she yet agrees with its principle that photos of the human body are dirty, bad, wrong and “sexist”, and that something needs to be “done” about girls taking them.  Does she remember that girls of our generation (and at least 60 others before it) were slut-shamed quite effectively without any pictures at all by use of the grapevine (remember the word “reputation”, ladies)?  Hell, no!  Does she point out that the suffering of the girl in the story was caused not by the picture but by the other kids’ stupid parent-taught attitudes about it?  Of course not!  She instead feels compelled to turn the incident into a feminist parable:

And, while we’re at it, why don’t we get to the root of the problem and examine why, exactly, teenage girls only feel valuable insomuch as they’re seen as “sexy?”  How are we talking to our daughters?  When are we complimenting them?  Are we socializing them to be pretty pretty princesses or productive, thoughtful contributors to society?  As long as the greatest compliment that a girl can be paid is “you’re beautiful” and not “you’re smart,” shit like this is going to keep happening, no matter what kooky consequences we cook up for the bullies who attempt to use young women’s sexuality to shame them.

Maybe if the ladies at Jezebel would actually read about evolutionary psychology instead of simply mocking it, they’d understand why normal women (not just teenage girls) want to be seen as sexy, and why “you’re smart” will never have the same impact as “you’re beautiful”.  I was repeatedly and enthusiastically told I was fucking brilliant by nearly every adult I knew from the time I was about five years old, and you know what?  I still consider “you’re beautiful” to be a greater compliment, despite “socialization” to the contrary.  “You can process information well” is a fact, not a judgment; it’s no more a compliment than “you’re of average height” or “you have brown hair”.  There’s no feeling in it, while “you’re beautiful” is almost pure feeling.  If feminists would get over their fear of their own femininity they’d understand that, and Jezebel would be a much less annoying website.

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