In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Bozeman Slick | Main | Fact for the Day »

July 27, 2008

Women Crix?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Anne Thompson thinks male critics just don't get the appeal of certain movies. "Twilight" is her example. So why aren't more women writing about movies?

I left this comment on her posting:

May we hear more from the ladies, of course. But will we ever? As a practical thing, it seems to me that men tend to put their opinions out there much more aggressively than women do.

1) In the blogosphere, where anyone can say anything, how many people who loudmouth it about movies are women? A few, sure. But meanwhile scads of guys carry on.

2) In the mag and newspaper worlds (in my small experience) editors actively look for lively, sparky women arts-and-culture opinionators. They'd rather not hire a man. But they wind up hiring guys, usually, because the guys are so much more numerous, and so much more bullish (which can mean that they're more fun to read, because they love going out on a limb).

So maybe, generally speaking, opinionating for a living is a dick thing?

And I say all this as someone who came to movies (to the arts generally, really) via Pauline Kael ...

Years ago, The Wife and I did some editing for a small English culture magazine. One thing we tried to do was to scare up some fresh female arts writers. We turned up a couple, but only a couple. What we found generally was this:

  • Guys care more about their opinions (at least about matters like sports, politics, and movies) than women do.
  • Women are generally more solid performers than men are, but they tend to be cautious.
  • If what you're looking for is flashy and provocative stuff, 90% of what you'll turn up will turn out to have been written by men.

Women: Better students? Men: Bigger showoffs?



UPDATE: Robert Fulford wonders what Pauline Kael would make of the present-day scene. Link thanks to Arts and Letters Daily.

posted by Michael at July 27, 2008


That men/women trope can be applied to any employment situation.

women better students
men bigger showoffs
women box tickers
men creative
women conformity
men flair
women people pleasers
men trouble making risk takers

And finally but by no means least...
women: loyal and (ahem) grateful
men: potential rival or usurper

Posted by: Fred Kite on July 27, 2008 5:17 PM

AT: Many men are not trained to see things from the perspective of the opposite sex. All women are.

Hmmm. Training doesn't seem to have taken.

Posted by: PatrickH on July 27, 2008 6:15 PM

Depends on what area you're talking about - in many aspects of life (usually the ones they're more interested in), women are more show-offy or creative than men and in some ways, like the military or in more conservative business environments/industries, men are very conformist and strictly enforce a firm hierarchy & acceptable range of behavior, appearance, etc.

Posted by: jay on July 27, 2008 6:57 PM

This is a complete mystery to me. I thought there were less female critics and columnists because no one wanted to hear a "female" opinion. Or because male management didn't want to hire them.

Perhaps men are more inclined to think their views are not only valid but important. Maybe women are more afraid of being "wrong?"

Beats me, because I am constantly forcing my opinions on everyone, the more provocative the better.

Posted by: Sister Wolf on July 27, 2008 8:25 PM

Perhaps men are more inclined to think their views are not only valid but important. Maybe women are more afraid of being "wrong?"

utter gender studies BS. women certainly aren't afraid of letting their opinions rip or of being wrong when discussing fashion, culture, or their favorite pasttime, gossip.

Posted by: roissy on July 27, 2008 9:13 PM

Fred - That's a good list!

PatrickH -- Young women certainly seem to offer a lot less in the way of traditional sympathy-and-understanding than they used to, that's for sure. So much so that I've sometimes found myself wondering why any young guy would bother pairing up with these girls. Sex is nice, god knows. But god knows too that girls are inevitably an awful lot of trouble. If all they're offering in the way of a positive is the possibility of hot sex, well, an awful lot of trouble is a BIG price to pay for the occasional lay. Offspring, of course ... But still. I dunno. Beyond sex, what I used to get out of spending time with girls back in the dating dayz was friendship, sympathy, insight, patience. When I got along with a girl a whole different different dimension of life opened up, one I couldn't access all on my own. That plus sex was hard to beat, and well worth the price. (Inane self-involvement, chatter, gossip, whining, moods, plans, no interests beyond shoes, gossip, rearranging the furniture, etc.) But sex MINUS that whole-other-dimension thing? Jesus, why bother? Better to go gay. Well, maybe not, but you know what I mean.

Jay -- That's a great point about conformist guys. There's a whole population of guys whose guyness seems entirely invested in toe-ing some kind of line. But I'm puzzled about your idea about women. In which fields do women tend to be bigger showoffs than guys? Acting and dancing, maybe ... But maybe not. Hmm.

Sister -- "I thought there were less female critics and columnists because no one wanted to hear a "female" opinion. Or because male management didn't want to hire them." That's the usual interpretation, but in my experience 1) people just want a lively read, they don't care about the sex of the writer, 2) editors have been desperate for years and years to hire women writers, black writers, Asian writers, anything but a white guy. "I am constantly forcing my opinions on everyone, the more provocative the better." And that's why we loves ya!

Roissy -- Women won't shut up about their opinions where many things go. But culture? I dunno. They're thrilled to yak amongst themselves (book clubs, lunches, debating the virtues of romance novels on Amazon, etc). They'll chew off the ears of the b.f. But not that many of them seem to take it to the larger public with the same kind of gusto that many guys do. "Larger public arena" means "battle," I suspect, and women and guys both seem to assume that "battle" is largely for guys. Happy to learn different, of course.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 27, 2008 9:33 PM

A meta-analysis of sex differences in personality traits tells us what we already suspected for the most part, but guys are not only more assertive but also more excitement seeking and open to ideas (as opposed to aesthetics, feelings, etc.).

Sex differences in assertiveness and excitement seeking are only half as big among college-aged people, and that's not because young guys are less assertive or excitement seeking, but because girls are more. Yeah, I know: if only they had something to say.

The sex diff in openness to ideas (how much you wonder about ideas, "get intellectual," etc.) does not change among youngsters, though. But it is about half as large among "the rest of the world" than in the US. Now, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America went into that, so we don't know if for example French female college students would be more intellectual than Americans. But if you just reached into the world's bag at random, you'd be more likely to find an intellectual female.

I will grudgingly accept the burden of sampling the doe-eyed college girls of Iran.

Posted by: agnostic on July 27, 2008 10:33 PM

Hey, are you reading minds today, or what, Mr. Michael Blowhard? I watched Barcelona today, and some of Aliens, and was totally going to write about it on my blog but decided the tbs show 'my boys' needed me to blog about it more (no one reads my blog but you, sporadically, but any little bit helps, or so the writers blog says) so I put off my particular take on two very commonly written about movies.

Shorter MD: Barcelona doesn't have to be the poster child for movies with a 'conservative' twist, it has other qualities, namely, bothering to actually show someone else in the movies besides the three top movie professions - hooker, cop, and impassioned, brave journalist.

Aliens works because Sigourney Weaver is a solid six feet tall. Hey, and that Hicks guy sure is cute, I mean, the character Hicks. I like the scene where he gives Ripley a locator-watch thing and says, "it's not like we're engaged" and my little girly heart fluttered. Swoony-swoon.

Somehow, I don't think my take on things is gonna sell.... :)

Posted by: MD (onparkstreet) on July 27, 2008 11:28 PM

As I was saying not long ago, even women with a strong and genuine interest in the arts, or indeed any subject of public interest, may be reluctant to offer their opinions out of a kind of modesty. Many women, believe it or not, will simply not speak freely in the presence of men, even today. Of course, you won't know about them because they're not talking...

Beyond that, women like me who are not especially modest or reluctant to voice an opinion, may still drop out of the fray because living perpetually in battle mode tends to undo those qualities that people of both sexes value in women. I can't live that way; or rather, I can, but I don't much like the person I become when I do.

Male critics also have to cope with a good deal of flak from readers, of course, and living in fight mode isn't all that good for men either, but no one is going to find them unmanly for doing so.

Posted by: alias clio on July 28, 2008 12:10 AM

"Young women certainly seem to offer a lot less in the way of traditional sympathy-and-understanding than they used to, that's for sure. So much so that I've sometimes found myself wondering why any young guy would bother pairing up with these girls. Sex is nice, god knows."

Michael, do you know this from personal experience or are you just convinced by all the carping by men on sites like Roissy's? Cause, if all you knew about these men was what you read on a women's blog, they wouldn't come across so well, either.

Posted by: CyndiF on July 28, 2008 9:11 AM

"Beats me, because I am constantly forcing my opinions on everyone, the more provocative the better."

Sister Wolf, this is what is called "being obnoxious." I haven't got a clue why a woman would take pride in this. Well, yes I know that the educational establishment and media have taught you to take perverse pride in that nonsense.

Why don't you learn to act like a lady? You could take lessons. If you like, I'll suggest a few places that will help you.

Alternatively, I guess you could grow a dick.

Just out of curiosity: Does any man want anything to do with you? If so, why? No wonder you are obsessed with latent homosexuality. You wish you had a dick and, apparently, you also want to sleep with men.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 28, 2008 9:39 AM

This is not meant to be challenging, clio, but why should a critic, male or female, be concerned with how his criticism is taken by its readers? You throw out your opinions, you make them as insightful and lively as possible and devil take the hindmost.

P.S. If a reader doesn't like what you've written and says so, aggressively, he doesn't have to be answered.

Posted by: ricpic on July 28, 2008 9:52 AM

Agnostic -- Any idea why non-U.S. gals would tend to be more intellectual? Just because people generally outside the U.S. are more interested in culture questions? I do know that it's one of the big heartbreaks for a lot of smart cultureguys I've known, that it's next to impossible to find smart gals who share those interests, and when/if you do most of them turn out to be nuts.

MD -- "Barcelona" has a lot of virtues, as does Sigourney!

A. Clio -- Am I misunderstanding you? You seem to be saying that it's society's, or maybe men's, fault that women don't take part more in critical battles. That doesn't seem like your usual tough mind speaking. After all, on the web no one (and nothing) gets in anybody's way.

CyndiF -- It's pure impressionism. But based on a little more than just reading Roissy: watching and knowing kids in their 20s, watching the changes in pop cult, that kind of thing. I'm sure you're right about the boys too -- hard to know what would be appealing about sheepish, bed-headed, formerly weight-lifting Maxim junkies. On the other hand, it isn't as though a "men's movement" has helped create this state of affairs, where feminism has certainly played a role.

ST -- You don't get a kick out of ballsy outrageous gals with some campy flair? I've always had a weakness for them myself.

Ricpic -- I think we guyz have no idea how much many women fret over things (no idea if Clio is one such). I mean, I know they do, but I'm still surprised over and over by how eager to please and be liked and anxious and nice-making many of them are. Veils and veils of it have to be gently parted before you find out what's really going on. Sigh.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 28, 2008 10:18 AM

"You don't get a kick out of ballsy outrageous gals with some campy flair?"

That's difficult to answer.

In the U.S., those "ballsy outrageous gals" don't face any repercussions for what they do. If you live in one of the coastal cities, they get applauded for this behavior. So, what and who are they outraging? It's all play acting without consequences.

Particulaly among U.S. white women, I regard this behavior as the pretend courage of spoiled brats who know that an indulgent daddy is standing in the wings. What, exactly, does this prove?

The game of the rebellious, ballsy woman has become so predictable that it lacks any punch whatsoever. It is a staple of prime time TV, and has been for several decades.

I think that this goes back to the hip vs. square dichotomy that you often propose. It long ago ceased to have any meaning. The hip left wants so badly to kick daddy in the shins. Daddy is supposed to get mad and chase the little dears, thus martyring them.

Daddy gave up the fight a long time ago (and probably even turned queer). Even you seem unwilling to accept that the old stances have become so much BS. In the spoiled brat society we have become, these postures are meaningless and laughable.

This is the dilemma, isn't it? For that rebellious, ballsy, campsy stance to work real opposition, and real penalties must exist. And, they don't exist.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 28, 2008 10:56 AM

And, I forgot to add Michael:

I'm doing Sister Wolf a great service. I have the sense of humor to do this for her.

I'm playing the mean, nasty daddy who will give her a spanking for being an obnoxious brat. Thus, she can feel appropriately oppressed and martyred.

I've saving her, at least momentarily, from just being ignored.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 28, 2008 11:02 AM

MB: "not that many of them seem to take it to the larger public with the same kind of gusto that many guys do"

That's my experience.

In my crowd, when we get going on movies and books, etc., the guys go at it with gusto, and the girls might toss in a thought or two, but if it gets boisterous (someone calls out a friendly "oh, bullshit, that flick sucks.") the ladies tend to fade off into their own conversations elsewhere about food, shoes, home d├ęcor or kids. So I think guys' demeanors is one issue (we play rough), and the other is the topic isn't all that to the ladies. They just don't seem to care about Batman. Go fig.

There might be another angle. One of the wives is an avid reader like me, so I'd search her out to see what she'd read recently, get recommendations, and tried to compare notes. The first couple times she seemed game, but after that she wouldn't really get into the conversation and usually went and found another conversation. First of all, let's assume I was a bore or something, because that's probably the case. But I did inquire with the wife as to other possible causes, and she said most married women don't like to be seen talking exclusively and often with a guy who's not her husband, for fear of rumors and such (or that he will mistake it for a come-on). It seemed plausible, but what a drag if it's true.

Posted by: yahmdallah on July 28, 2008 11:04 AM

ricpic: This is not meant to be challenging, clio, but why should a critic, male or female, be concerned with how his criticism is taken by its readers? You throw out your opinions, you make them as insightful and lively as possible and devil take the hindmost

Great question, and it prompted a response derived from an insight from Neuro-Linguistic Programming, of all places: a communication's meaning is only determined when it has been responded to.

NLP says this is true of people, but I think women are more sensitive to this issue, feeling that a comment that is not responded to has been somehow invalidated. Feminists often speak of women's "voices being silenced", when they mean that they are being ignored. Men would, I think, be more inclined to view "silencing" as being direct suppression of speech.

Women may therefore be more reluctant to share an opinion that is a) important to them and b) about which they are not certain. Not getting a response would be as stressful, or more so, than getting a negative one. It might be that a medium that requires the expression of personally important opinions that are not self-evident and which could, by the nature of the medium involved, allow that opinion to be ignored completely, pushes that set of buttons for women more than men (I think both sexes have these buttons, but women more so). To share something personal, and have it go CLUNK into the ensuing silence, might be something women are particularly reluctant to face.

ricpic, your challenge to clio was, IMO, very much a challenge of a man to a woman that women should be more like men. God knows, I've often wanted that myself in my Henry Higgins moods, but in the end, women aren't going to change, anymore than men are.

Plus ca change, and all.

Posted by: PatrickH on July 28, 2008 11:10 AM

No, I'm not saying it's society's fault at all, Michael. I'm blaming a quirk in nature, perhaps an issue of logic: the fact that women cannot be both "tough-minded" and sweet at the same time. Ordinarily we can only manage one at the expense of the other. The fact that men on the whole prefer women to be sweet rather than tough is an additional issue, but not necessarily a critical one. Some men do prefer tough women, after all. The real issue is whether women like themselves - or each other - when they become hardened.

One of the things I tried to do with "Alias Clio" was to find a voice and a persona in which I could engage in debates without being tempted into the termagant mode. On my own blog I've been successful, on the whole, but that's partly because other considerations (my former job and the need it imposed for discretion) kept me away from certain areas of controversy. When posting comments to other blogs, I do sometimes allow my inner terrier-bitch to show through. It's not always helpful to debate, though. In fact, I think that allowing tempers to rise too much in debate often ends with people being unable to pay real attention to what others are saying to them.

As for that need to be liked, yes, it's a real problem, at least for me, perhaps partly because I set up my blog not so much to voice my opinions as to find kindred spirits. I'm fiercer in person than online, and it has sometimes cost me dearly, both in terms of lost friendships and in physical stress. I think, though, that that's a personal quirk, and many other women aren't quite so conflicted about disagreement. Instead, they just stop arguing and retreat to circles of like-minded people, something neither my character nor circumstances allows me to do.


p.s. Shouting Thomas rather proves my point, doesn't he? Of course, he seems to have welcomed the expression of vigorous opinions by his Myrna, but I don't think he allows other women as much leeway.

Posted by: alias clio on July 28, 2008 11:16 AM

I don't allow or disallow women anything, clio.

The issue here seems to be more about attractiveness and impact, which is what I actually replied to.

Myrna believed in the old way of doing things. She believed in what modern hip Americans call "hypocrisy," which seems to be a very bad thing to them.

Traditional Filipino society in general seems to hold this "hypocrisy" in high regard. Thus, gays are expected to keep their sex lives private and go to church as if they were hetero. Yet, gays are respected and well accepted within Filipino families. Women really run Filipino society in private, but you wouldn't know it if you were just looking at their public stance.

This "hypocrisy," I consider a very good thing.

Myrna was quite outspoken with women, but she considered it the most serious breach of etiquette to publicly humiliate a man (any man) with vigorous and open disagreement. That didn't mean that she didn't have her own opinions. She believed, in short, that a woman should know her "place."

In fact, in the West we now expect a man to always know his "place" while we encourage and often encourage women to act like assholes.

The old world was and is better, clio, and I'll give you an iron clad, money back guarantee: the old way will return with a vengeance and triumph. The direction in which we are headed cannot be defended... and I do mean in battle.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 28, 2008 11:33 AM

'Myrna was quite outspoken with women, but she considered it the most serious breach of etiquette to publicly humiliate a man (any man) with vigorous and open disagreement. That didn't mean that she didn't have her own opinions. She believed, in short, that a woman should know her "place."'

Do all men find it humiliating to be vigorously and openly disagreed with by a woman in public? What about in the workplace?

Posted by: CyndiF on July 28, 2008 1:10 PM

Speaking for myself, CyndiF, if a woman disagrees with me in public in language and with a level of vehemence that would be considered aggressive or hostile if it came from a man, then I consider it, not humiliating exactly, but frustrating, because I cannot respond with the appropriate signals, you know, like, "Smile when you say that, mister", or even in really bad cases, "Um, do we, like, have an issue here?"

Since the woman knows that I cannot respond with even implicit "threats", and she nonetheless gets in my face, then she is a bully. Bullies are those who attack (in any way) while believing that they are immune from any response. An incident like that therefore constitutes a woman bullying a man in public. And in that sense, it would be humiliating.

Just some examples from my past of the kind of comments I've had to endure coming from a woman:

"You are such a f*cking liar!"

"You racist sh*t!"

"You don't know what you're talking about! Just shut up already!"

"Excuse me? Was I talking to you? Excuse me?"

"Whatever. [Sigh] The point is..."

Sometimes accompanied by slaps (not to the face, usually the arm), or a contemptuously tossed object. None of which ever got the slightest reaction from anybody watching.

After all, I'm a man. Man gets bitch-slapped, hey, it's probably his fault.

Posted by: PatrickH on July 28, 2008 2:47 PM

If men must be so assiduously protected from public embarrassment, does that not imply they are fragile? The fragile male ego you imply by lauding this tradition plays right into derisive feminist (or let's say male-bashing) stereotypes of men.

Surely men do't want to be seen as sensitive little flowers whose status or very manhood is threatened by disagreement from a woman!

ST, I will withhold my list of Men Who Like Me And Why for later in this thread.

Posted by: Sister Wolf on July 28, 2008 3:38 PM

"Do all men find it humiliating to be vigorously and openly disagreed with by a woman in public?"

Yes. Because women are incapable of disagreeing objectively. They must personalize the disagreement, resulting in the humiliation of the man with whom they disagree.

Posted by: ricpic on July 28, 2008 3:40 PM

Something else that just occurred to me: I've posted my thoughts on quite a wide range of topics on my blog. The ones that have drawn the most comment from male visitors are the ones on personal subjects - not necessarily posts that address my personal experience (though there are some like that), but the ones about men, women, and the mating game.

It's more often women, or rather, a group of my regular blog-commentators who happen to be women, who comment on the issue and arts pieces. There's a handful of women scholars who read my blog and they are the ones who lead in most serious discussions.


Posted by: alias clio on July 28, 2008 3:42 PM

"Do all men find it humiliating to be vigorously and openly disagreed with by a woman in public? What about in the workplace?"

Who knows? I don't and I don't care.

As I said, I prefer the old way. I think that the old way produces a better quality of life, and I do not believe that the direction in which we are headed is defensible. The old ways will triumph in the future, whether or not you think that that is just or good.

As for abstract issues of equality and ideology, I really don't give a fuck.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 28, 2008 4:19 PM

I wonder sometimes whether ST ever considers the similarity between some of the views he expresses and those of the Taliban and other fundamentalist religious groups. If it were the Imam of a mosque in Detroit making comments like ...a woman should know her "place." ... the old way will return with a vengeance and triumph. The direction in which we are headed cannot be defended... and I do mean in battle. would ST be cheering or calling for the irradacation of an Anti-American and possibly terrorist oriented cancer in our midst?

It fascinates me how rapidly an innocuous musing about the dearth of female film critics becomes BATTLE OF THE SEXES.

Posted by: Chris White on July 28, 2008 5:30 PM

When Chris quotes ST's opinions and links them with the Taliban, he's forgetting that not too long ago in our society they were simply called "normal."

Posted by: PA on July 28, 2008 6:30 PM

I seem to inhabit an entirely different universe. My medical school class in the early nineties was one of the first that was fifty-fifty guys and gals (at that particular school), and nowadays, in my area of 'teaching hospital' world, it's a slight female predominance. I have worked for male and female chairpersons, and varying experiences in those separate departments. I didn't like my prior department, but, it had nothing to do with me being a woman, and more to do with the feudal politics of academic medicine, which are vile to man and woman, alike.

I just haven't noticed the tensions at work between men and women that seem to be raging in these comments sections. The residents and med students seem to be buddies, males and females alike, many with a good-natured 'work wife' or 'work husband' relationships. They are friends. I am friends with both men and women at work and I have a clear idea of what it takes for me to get ahead in my profession. It's no secret: work hard, publish a lot, teach well.

I dunno. It doesn't seem like a pitched battle in my neck of the woods. Is it really so horrible out there? Yikes. As for the personal, well, most of the trouble I've gotten into is no one else's fault but my own and I haven't noticed being a physician really hurting me in that arena. If anything, it's allowed me to meet some really interesting people.

Posted by: MD (onparkstreet) on July 28, 2008 6:39 PM

Excellent question you pose, Chris White.

As for the Battle of the Sexes, it seems like many of the regulars here are continually engaged in the imaginary battle. Thus, any post about anything veers off into loony sexist attacks.

You should see what happened in the comments about the Great American Novel!

Posted by: Sister Wolf on July 28, 2008 7:01 PM

MD, it's a little of both. The pitched battle is mostly hidden. Most people with any sense stay out of it, as do I except for forays into discussion boards.

I see it in the oddest places. It is becoming more and more common when I play gigs with my dance band to see a roomful of unattached women in the bar... and virtually no men. This was entirely the opposite 30 years ago. The women are successful, ready to roll and liberated... and the men don't want them.

Yes, Chris, I know that it sounds like the Taliban. And, so what? I've been convinced for some time that the West is doomed to lose the battle with the Islamacists and their comrades. I do not agree with these people, but I still think they will win in the long run. It might take 100 years. The Islamacists have a realistic view of the human condition. The West has discarded this in favor of absolute Utopian idealism.

Chris, considering your past comments I think that it will surprise you to discover that I am an intellectual. I have a hideous and largely useless mess of degrees, including one in Russian history, language and literature. I know the history of the Russian revolution. I'd suggest that you read Jim Kalb's essays for a little insight into the shell game anti-traditionalists have been playing for the past 50 years. Liberals have been insisting that tradition must be defended on a point by point basis with abstract logic, or else each facet of that tradition must be discarded. And, we've been doing precisely that.

This comment thread has featured this sickness in glorious detail. Men are required to adjust their characters and psychologies to completely abstract notions of "equality" and if they cannot, they are condemned as weaklings with soft egos. We've been collapsing in the face of these tactics for 40 years, and point by point we've destroyed the rituals and traditions that make a society work.

I not longer pretend that the Sister Wolfs and CyndiFs are engaged in a logical above board debate. They are, in a quite literal sense, possessed by the devil. They are driven to continue this frontal assault on tradition because they want to see the very structure of this society demolished. Hatred of authority and structure blinds people to what they are doing.

America has a long history of waking up to these things at the last moment and rediscovering the will to fight back. Maybe I'll be proven wrong and this will happen again. I certainly hope so.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 28, 2008 7:29 PM

Shouting Thomas, I have to say that I see nothing in what CyndiF or Sister Wolf say that constitutes a "frontal assault on tradition". CyndiF is rather conservative in her views, as far as I can make out. Sister Wolf, while not a conservative, is I think a housewife and mother, as she has mentioned here before. Neither of them advocates the dismantling of western traditions; Sister Wolf doesn't even think that women should be sportscasters. Of course, neither of them believes in God, but there are as many men who don't, or more.

And I have to ask too, do you really think that vigorously expressed disagreement by a woman is so dreadful? Is that what you really mean to say here? I don't mean in the manner PatrickH describes above; I mean polite but nevertheless serious disagreement over major issues. From what you've written elsewhere, I find it difficult to believe that you think these things are wrong.


Posted by: alias clio on July 28, 2008 7:58 PM

Vehement public disagreement is OK if it's objective, but that's very rare. It usually *is* the petty personalized stuff that someone else mentioned.

BTW, that's why women like Clio and Lemmonex have a large male audience -- they have their girly sides, but their thinking is much more masculine than that of the average female... by a longshot.

Not only do their vehement disagreements not seem obnoxiously pointless, but it also allows the guys to hit them back pretty hard in return. When a typical female gets into a public pointless tizzy, what you really want to do is tell her to stop mouthing off like an idiot because she's embarrassing herself, but that will shatter or enrage her -- "Don't treat me like a little girl!" (well, then stop acting like one...).

With a logical-minded female, your rejoinders are also objective and won't hurt her personally, so you never get embroiled in a personalized war of attrition (just a fact-based war of attrition!).

At any rate, the best way to end a public tizzy is to laugh off whatever she says and poke fun at how immature she is, while completely keeping your cool (deep, slow breaths, lean back or stand in a relaxed pose, and don't gesticulate). I got into one of these awful debates a few months ago in the campus dining hall -- a friend of mine (with a very female brain) didn't believe my casual report of evidence that male bisexuals don't really exist, that nearly all are either gay or straight.

She didn't know anything factual -- I was just toppling over an idol of hers without realizing it.

I kept my cool the entire time (maybe 30 minutes), while she was flying out of her chair. At one point, some guys at the next table over turned around and remarked how coolheaded I was being, while she was having a fit. I think that embarrassed her enough to simmer down, but she still wouldn't drop it. Just don't give her the reaction she's hungry for.

Posted by: agnostic on July 28, 2008 8:56 PM

Just a quick addendum to that anecdote. A mutual friend of ours, also female, was there and also did not believe my claim. But she is a masculine-brained alpha female and therefore didn't throw a temper-tantrum or raise her voice / use profanity at all. It was just a good-natured competition with her.

This natural experiment proves that it's only the male-brained females who are capable of objective public debate.

Posted by: agnostic on July 28, 2008 8:59 PM

Hahahaha! Now I'm literally posessed by the devil?!

Hahaha! This is the Happiest Place on Earth, better than Disneyland! Where else can one be slandered in so many idiotic ways, by people who know almost nothing about you?

Again, I am a wife and mom, not remotely a feminist, radical, or Ivy League brat. I try hard to be a good person, even though I don't believe in heaven or hell. The bizarre attributes I've been assigned here are miles off target. But I did laugh out loud at the latest!

Posted by: Sister Wolf on July 28, 2008 10:04 PM

Sister, you have been greviously insulted. You are not possessed by the devil, you are the Devil. As for mere possession, is not one of its signs to be always "Shouting"? I think thanks are in order from You in Lower Down, for I am obviously succeeding in driving this "ST" buggy!

As for the other...if "Chris" is short for "Christi--"[NAME THEM NOT!!! THE ENEMY!], and his last name refers to the state of his soul, well then, he will be a tougher nut to crack. Perhaps I will have several dozen illegal aliens from Our Country Down South move into his neighbourhood. Yes, that would be a start...

Screw tape (Who needs it? I've gone digital!)
Woodstock, July 28, 2008

Posted by: PatrickH on July 28, 2008 10:47 PM

Thanks for inspiring such a lively talkback, Michael. I stole so much great dialogue for my novel from this thread.

I think the self-centered, callous, uncultured career women who are inspiring so much hatred in this post are like the Muslim Brotherhood or any other fascist group; they represent a very, very small percentage of the overall female population, but are by far the most vocal.

I am not ready to give up on American women or put myself up for an arranged marriage yet. The '70s kind of culture chick with a brain and a heart are still out there.

Posted by: Joe Valdez on July 29, 2008 12:59 AM

Michael, FWIW, I think it was Chesterton who said; "Men speak to the subject, women to the person."

I think that this trait tends to explain a why women generally don't like to publicly voice their opinions. I think women are quite happy to give their opinions when the recipient is specific, however they are not likely to throw out their opinion to a third person audience. I presume the phenomena is "hard wired".

I think it also explains why the "Aspergy" subjects like math, computers and physics tend to be dominated by men. Men seem quite capable of forming an attachment with the abstract in the same way that women seem to be better able to form relationships with the personal. I think it also explains why men tend to be better with the theoretical, while women are better with the practical.

ST: My knowledge of Filipino women is limited--but my observations would concur with yours--generally speaking, Filipino and other non-Anglo influenced women, "know their place". To all appearances, they would appear subjugated by their husbands but this would be a false impression. Their "submission" would be as a result of positive self control rather than negative dominance. No Filipino woman would want to give the impression that she married a husband who is easily hen-pecked, as this would give the impression to her friends that she married a beta male, lowering her status. No I imagine an insulted Filipina would take it on the chin in public, but let the husband have it with both barrels in private: Hell hath no fury. It's the same when a woman starts buying clothes for her boyfriend; she wants him to look good at her expense.

These women are not wallflowers, they usually have incredible will and self discipline. As a side issue, most of the Muslim women I have met rule the roost, the man is the titular head. They wield the domestic power.

When a man rudely berates his wife in public, we have sympathy for the wife and condemnation for the husband. When a woman rudely berates her husband in public we have condemnation for both. Nothing says double loosers like a woman pushing around a hen-pecked husband. She couldn't get anyone better.

Clio: May be men comment on subjects they fell competent to comment on. Literature is something a lot of guys aren't interested in or don't have an opinion on. Most of us have an opinion on the dating game because we have all been in it and feel qualified to talk about the subject because of personal experience. I have nothing intelligent to say about literature or handbags because I'm uninterested in both. If I did feel qualified about the subjects I would voice an opinion, even if you thought me an idiot. Men tend to value public opinion less than women do. FWIW, Ralegh-however you spell it--sounds like an Elizabethan bad boy; big deal. Clio likes bad boys with manners. Roissy, where are you?

Sister Wolf:

Those boots! Perfect wear for "acting" in a porno movie.

As for the Battle of the Sexes, it seems like many of the regulars here are continually engaged in the imaginary battle

Well the battle isn't imaginary. The sisterhood has been working bloody hard to white ant our traditional conception of female nature. Sure the old view had its faults, but it did have some virtues; the new view has more fault than virtue.
Young women, especially the educated seem an unhappy bunch and lonely. Reflective minds feel that feminism may be responsible for this state of affairs. The boys are trying to stop the girls from hurting themselves. Maybe we're not all self interested pricks, just interested in pussy after all. BTW, I don't think you're a feminist, just a girly girl with a bad attitude.................. and a potty mouth. (duck for cover). Are your bowels better?

Posted by: Slumlord on July 29, 2008 6:34 AM

Slumlord: The sisterhood has been working bloody hard to white ant our traditional conception of female nature.

That is such a cool phrase, I have to know what it means. White ants are termites, right?

Posted by: PatrickH on July 29, 2008 9:42 AM

That is correct, white ants are termites.It means a gradual undermining of something.
I thought it was a common term in the U.S.'
it's certainly common here in Australia.

Posted by: Slumlord on July 29, 2008 10:08 AM

Slumlord, your comment contains some insights, as always. I've already observed myself that Ralegh was an Elizabethan bad-boy.

BUT the original purpose of Michael 2B's post here was to suggest that women are reluctant critics of the arts. That's why I thought it worth mentioning that men seldom commented on my literary, political, or historical pieces. A small group of women - and men - do. That's fine by me. I have many interests, and I am happy to discuss them with any man or woman of good will who shows up at my blog to do so.


p.s. Stop trying to match me up with Roissy. We can take care of ourselves. Besides, it's a non-starter. He's about 12-15 years younger than I am, if I'm guessing correctly.

Posted by: alias clio on July 29, 2008 10:40 AM

"Yes. Because women are incapable of disagreeing objectively. They must personalize the disagreement, resulting in the humiliation of the man with whom they disagree."

Thanks, Ricpic, PatrickH. Since I spend most of my time with fellow scientists, where analytical argument is the foundation of our work, I forget about this aspect of female disagreement. Women are certainly not incapable of disagreeing objectively but it does tend to be a more of a learned skill for them than for men.

(This is one of the the two major hurdles women face in pursuing a scientific career, in my opinion, much more serious than residual sexism. The other is assertiveness. Do you know why the male colleague has a higher salary and more lab space than you? Because he asked for it!)

Posted by: CyndiF on July 29, 2008 11:51 AM

MD, your experience is a reflection that, if I read the signs correctly, you reside in the PC capital of Boston, as do I. The feminization of the Hub and surrounding environs was completed ages ago, and your profession has been coopted, as the soon-to-be-former head of surgury at Beth Israel/Deaconess can attest. The testosterone cowboys that ruled the ERs and ORs in the old days are mostly gone; so says my girlfriend, an RN at one of the aforementioned HMS teaching hospitals. She says that one problem she sees in medicine, especially nursing, is how the women tend to undermine one another. Maybe it's just a reflection of the tribal Boston Irish, where it's not enough that you suceed, but someone else also has to go down in flames. If women were more apt to support one another in criticism, and not fold or abandon when the debate is hottest, this discussion would probably not be taking place.

But your profession is fact based; diagnosing an infarction is not quite the same as discussing the imagery in Faulkner. Facts win the argument. Leaving aside the arts, how many women are a respected part of the big-time MSM punditry? How many of these are Dowd-like tokens?

I would love to meet a "ballsy, outrageous gal with some campy flair", but I suggest that such can only be a woman like the Charlie character in High Fidelity, at least an 8 on the Roissy scale, that men pretend to listen to in hopes that they may be able to bed.

Posted by: Brutus on July 29, 2008 12:56 PM

Of course, the true answer may be from the comments section of another site discussing the BlogHer conference:

Like the WNBA and Women's Studies, maybe you just bore them!

Posted by: Brutus on July 29, 2008 1:32 PM

Slumlord, the battle exists between men and women who see society in those terms. In my personal world, men and women are friends and lovers and don't go around accusing each other of gender-related failings and biases. This kind of battle exists mainly in forums like this or among the dating-challenged.

I AM a girly girl, as I've said a million times. Bad attitude and potty mouth? Hahaha! Spoken like a Church Lady.

Posted by: Sister Wolf on July 29, 2008 3:17 PM

Brutus: I am, indeed, familiar with that part of the world. I, uh, can't really trust myself to be objective, so I will stop right here. No wait, I'll say this: I am no longer in the Hub and my happiness is palpable. Should have left long ago; nothing against Boston, but, the medical world in the Hub is insular, difficult and not for the faint-of-heart. I can take care of myself, now, but I was truly a neophyte 'newbie to be taken advantage of' when I first got there. I, like some women (not all, of course), got into victim mode when I should have simply realized that I was working with jerks who would never be professional to me, or anyone else, man or woman. They had their own CV's to look after, after all. Anyone with brains would have left, and, finally, I got some and got the heck out of there. The whole victim thing is insidious. To the young women, and men, who are starting out in academia, I say: Know your worth and don't be afraid to leave if a situation looks bad. Come on, it's *your* career to manage :)

Shouting Thomas: you may find this anecdote funny. During my time in the Hub, I used to socialize with some other women who were communication professors at a different university. I remember they would complain about their salaries, called themselves feminists, and then, on the dot Friday at 5:00 pm, call me and ask me if I wanted to meet them for drinks. "There are a lot of men, here," they'd tell me, the cuckoo conservative of the bunch. I'd decline, saying, "Guys, I've got a ton of cases here and I'm too busy to leave."

I always found this amusing. It was as if there was no connection between my higher pay and my longer work hours. Also, I was horrified when one of the women married a man whom she stripped in front of at a girls night that we were all invited to, and he joined, later. I know, I know, I'm prude material and deserve my fate (actually, I'm a happy person with my life) but I remember thinking - sorry, I'm not gonna strip at a hen party and then marry the metrosexual dolt five years your junior that you invited to the hen party. The entire hen party was for you to do this in front of him, and, how do the two of you take yourselves seriously? Eeeww. I mean, good for you, hope you have a happy life together, live and let live, but. that. is. not. for. me.

The world is a funny old place, isn't it?

Posted by: MD (onparkstreet) on July 29, 2008 5:08 PM

Oh, I just wanted to clarify my comment above. I think what really stood out to me, and irritated, was how insistent this group of women were that men were bad, they were big tought feminists, didn't need men, and yet, all their free time was devoted to finding one! If they had just been honest, I would have found it easier to, well, find something to admire, but as it was, I was just confused and disgruntled. They kind of made fun of me for being at work all the time. I stopped hanging out with them after about a year when it was clear we didn't have too much in common.

I liked some of the other women I worked with better. These women were incredibly hard working and talented and I admired them and wanted to be like them. Also, they were kind. I really knew some amazing people there in the Hub. Too bad the place will likely chew them up, too.

Posted by: MD (onparkstreet) on July 29, 2008 5:12 PM


So is age the only issue?

You're fun to tease.

Posted by: Slumlord on July 29, 2008 5:50 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?