Tuesday, June 14, 2011

At National Review, the facts don't matter as long as you connect a sex scandal to feminism

It was only a matter of time before somebody on the right tried to blame the Anthony Weiner scandal to ... feminism. What's remarkable about Sabrina L. Schaeffer's piece at National Review today is that it doesn't even bother to connect the facts of the Weiner scandal to feminism—in fact, the facts actually contradict the thesis.
For decades, modern feminists have undermined the idea of marriage, discouraged romance and courtship, encouraged a laissez-faire sexual culture, and done everything in their power to eliminate gender roles. Add to this the academic and professional opportunities available to women today, and the access to affordable birth control, and it’s clear that it’s much easier for women to participate in our “no strings attached” sexual culture than ever before. But this freedom, which has benefitted women so much, doesn’t come without consequences — namely, that it has allowed so many women to think it’s permissible to have an affair with a married man.
Two problems here:

• It's true: Before Betty Friedan wrote "The Feminine Mystique," it's true that married men never behaved badly, never tried to have affairs with women who weren't their wives. Feminism! (Shakes fist ruefully and angrily.)

• The evidence I've seen mostly reveals Anthony Weiner's behavior to be kind of predatory. The woman who was the recipient of the first underpants picture didn't appear to solicit it. Neither, apparently, did Meagan Broussard—the woman whose pictures forced Weiner to admit publicly his activities. Here's how she described their online relationship:
He was trying to get me to talk about myself sexually, and I said, straight up, I’m not an open book. I was real blunt. He would ask me weird things, like “Did you miss me?” I didn’t understand that–how could I miss someone I hadn’t met and didn’t know? What is there to miss about me if you don’t even know me?

He said that he was an open book, maybe way too open. And after that he said to me that I was “too fucking real,” not like other people who were all over him. He realized that I wasn’t taking the bait, and I think that intrigued him enough to send messages to me and open up to me and try to be real, too.
I gather Weiner and a porn star exchanged messages, but by and large it seems like the man was inflicting photographs of his torso on women he was talking to, hadn't established a romantic relationship with, and who didn't necessarily expect-welcome that kind of attention from him.

Nevermind that feminism—as I've understood it—tends to discourage such presumptuous behavior on the part of men. Clearly, by virtue of living in a feminist age, these women were asking for it.

I'd argue the idea that "modern feminists have discouraged romance and courtship"—I've got a pretty fine marriage with a feminist woman. But it's hardly worth the effort. Sabrina Schaeffer's mindset is this: Sex scandals are bad. Feminism is bad. Thus, when a sex scandal happens, feminism must bear the blame. It's such a simple framework that she drags it out even when the facts in question don't support the theory at all.

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