Well, not really. But Slate.com really has gotten over-the-top #slatepich-y lately. I thought the site reached its nadir when it came out against cute kittens last month. But it turns out there was yet more WTF-ery to follow. This week, Slate contributor and editor Hanna Rosin wrote a post arguing that “The Patriarchy Is Dead.” No, really! No link, because then you’ll click, and the terrorists win. But you can easily find it, if you must.
Apparently, Rosin wrote a book making a completely intellectually irresponsible argument about the “end of men,” and it sold poorly. But it’s now out in paperback and she’s trying to sell a more few copies by trolling us all. I’d be reluctant to even call attention to the post, except that it’s inspired some smart responses by the likes of the always-excellent Bryce Covert and Slate’s own Matthew Yglesias (Yglesias tends to be quite good when it comes to feminist issues).
But the best response of all was written by Salon’s Roxane Gay. Here’s an excerpt:
Rosin suggests that feminists are holding onto a grudge, that feminists are willfully clinging to this notion of patriarchal dominance as if we would be unable to function if we weren’t suffering. I’m only one feminist but I’m confident we’d be just fine if all were right with the world. She writes, “The closer women get to real power, the more they cling to the idea that they are powerless. To rejoice about feminist victories these days counts as betrayal.” The flaw here is the same as the flaw in “The End of Men”—an all or nothing outlook, and an unwillingness to consider nuance. Some women being empowered does not prove the patriarchy is dead. It proves that some of us are lucky.
In some ways, Rosin’s is a clever rhetorical move. No matter how you respond, she places you in the position of seeming like you do, in fact, have a grudge, that you are holding onto anger and unwilling to see the truth as she frames it. Disagreement, however, is not anger. Pointing out the many ways in which misogyny persists and harms women is not anger. Nor does disagreement mean we are blind to the ways in which progress has been made. Feminists are celebrating our victories and acknowledging our privilege when we have it. We’re simply refusing to settle. We’re refusing to forget how much work there is yet to be done. We’re refusing to relish the comforts we have at the expense of the women who are seeking comfort still.
Roxane Gay, btw, is a wonderful writer who you all should be reading. She’s a regular at Salon and she’s currently guest blogging at The Nation, where she wrote this disturbing post about the troubling lack of coverage of books by writers of color in the major literary reviews. Even better is this brilliant personal essay about sexual assault, trauma, and using literature as a survival tool. Gay apparently has a couple of books coming out soon. I am looking forward to them.