February 8, 2016

Gloria Steinem's nonapology doubles down on the sexualization of young women.

Gloria Steinem ran into a bit of criticism when — explaining why some young women support the male instead of the female candidate — she portrayed them as thinking "Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie...”

Now, she has put up a statement on Facebook:
In a case of talk-show Interruptus, I misspoke on the Bill Maher show recently, and apologize for what's been misinterpreted as implying young women aren't serious in their politics. What I had just said on the same show was the opposite: young women are active, mad as hell about what's happening to them, graduating in debt, but averaging a million dollars less over their lifetimes to pay it back. Whether they gravitate to Bernie or Hillary, young women are activist and feminist in greater numbers than ever before.
It's a nonapology — she only purports to regret the way other people have misinterpreted her. And there's nothing to explain how the specific words — "Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie" — did not have the meaning that's been read into them. She only said there were other words too, and those other words are the ones that convey her real attitude toward young women. But those other words were about the way young women care about feminism, not why these women might prefer Bernie to Hillary. On that topic, she needed to grope for an explanation, and what popped out was a dismissive insult: The young women are boy crazy, looking for sexual partners. That still feels like unfiltered Gloria — what she really thinks of these girls today.

In that light, let's look at the striking phrase that begins her statement: talk-show Interruptus.

I can only think of one interpretation of that. Maybe what I'm going to say is a misinterpretation, and I eagerly encourage you to offer any alternatives that escape me. To me, it seems that it must be a play on the only "interruptus" phrase in common parlance: coitus interruptus.
Coitus interruptus, also known as the rejected sexual intercourse, withdrawal or pull-out method, is a method of birth control in which a man, during sexual intercourse, withdraws his penis from a woman's vagina prior to orgasm (and ejaculation), and then directs his ejaculate (semen) away from the vagina in an effort to avoid insemination. 
So... in Gloria's metaphor, she was fucking us, hoping to inseminate us with her idea that women must vote for Hillary — is there an abortion for that? — and she pulled out too soon and her idea-ejaculate spewed fruitlessly.

Look, there's nothing really wrong with this metaphor — ideas as sperm, communication as insemination, other people's brains as wombs. It's just pretty weird and telling, under the circumstances, for the grand old feminist to see herself in the male sexual role as she sets out to reach young women! And this wasn't just what popped out of her when a talk show host put her on the spot. That was "Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie." This was the written word — her thought-out response to the criticism. She was in a position to choose her words carefully and strongly motivated to redeem herself, and once again, she gravitated toward thinking of sexualizing young women!

***

Bonus: Found while Googling "coitus interruptus" — a new AV Club listicle, "Coitus interruptus: 15 reasons to knock first," with 15 clips from movies (e.g., "American Pie") trading on the comic trope of getting interrupted while having sex.

55 comments:

tim in vermont said...

We all know young people are frivolous and interested in sex, which is what they should be interested in, on account of that is how the human race protects itself from extinction. There is nothing more important than finding a suitable long term sexual partner and life partner for young people, not politics, not nothing. I am not saying that ironically, either.

Anybody who has reached the age of 81 knows that. Her problem is that she espouses an ideology that denies it, so it gets her into all kinds of contradictions.

pdug said...

Do women actually graduate from college with the same levels of debt as men?

pdug said...

Ok. it seems they are. Then why aren't women going into petroleum engineering (120K graduation starting salary) vs psychology (30K starting salary)?

rhhardin said...

My log says I bought American Pie, but I don't remember it. That means it was too stupid too fast to finish, probably.

Things with proms in them usually stink.

rhhardin said...

If you're not really into received feminism, sexualizing young women isn't a big problem.

The two are in conflict and lean on each other. It's called social dynamics.

It's actually a piece of the eternal war of men and women, the overarching comedy.

buwaya puti said...

What's wrong with saying people adopt political positions for illogical reasons ? That is certainly true, and may even account for most political alignment.
Her particular statement is silly, but making much of it is sillier.

richlb said...

There's a pretty good CI moment in the recent film The Overnighter (on Netflix now) that is timed perfectly.

rhhardin said...

The reason that the patriarchy survives is that men have a sense of humor.

buwaya puti said...

And Tim is right.

Shouting Thomas said...

I have daughters who have girlfriends.

None of them are angry. None of them ever talk about feminism.

I'm around them a lot because I babysit the grandkids.

Are you aware of this alternative universe, prof?

Ann Althouse said...

"My log says I bought American Pie, but I don't remember it. That means it was too stupid too fast to finish, probably."

I've never seen that movie, but I watched the clip and found it funny and touching — touching in the father-son bonding ("We’ll just tell your mother that we ate it all").

Ann Althouse said...

"If you're not really into received feminism, sexualizing young women isn't a big problem."

An elderly woman seeing young women in terms of their sexuality — for the purpose of putting them down — it's politically disgusting. She's not finding them sexual, respecting their sexuality. She's defining them by their sexual aspect and denying their other aspects.

And by the way, if you, free of received feminism, go out and about in public life — in business, in politics — portraying women in terms of their sexuality, you'll find you do have a big problem.

You may be told not to talk to the women.

Ann Althouse said...

"I have daughters who have girlfriends. None of them are angry. None of them ever talk about feminism.... Are you aware of this alternative universe, prof?"

Are you aware that you are limited to hearing them when you are around? Are you aware of motivations they might have not to talk about it in front of you?

You undercut your own credibility when you say "None of them ever talk about feminism." You are making an assertion that extends beyond your knowledge base and don't seem to know how to frame your statements to avoid claiming knowledge that you don't have. Or you just don't care.

My rule of thumb is: People believe what they want to believe.

Test it out. Challenge yourself. Don't just aim your set beliefs against other people all the time. It doesn't impress me.

rhhardin said...

And by the way, if you, free of received feminism, go out and about in public life — in business, in politics — portraying women in terms of their sexuality, you'll find you do have a big problem.

You may be told not to talk to the women.


What if you talk about kettle logic?

rhhardin said...

The disincilination of women to abstract from problems but instead to draw other stuff in to raise the complexity level, versus the opposite male interest, leads to all sorts of entertainment.

Sexual difference is comedy.

Humperdink said...

Let's face it, Hillary is a terrible candidate. About to get smoked in a large way in NH. The Albright/Steinem comments were first of many Hail Mary's. These two twits have been on the stage long enough for their remarks to have been planned.

MaxedOutMama said...

Indeed. And may I say, more than a bit creepy. Certainly denigrating.

It reminds me of Harry Enfield:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Nk9vSx7nE0

rhhardin said...

Humor may be a STEM field.

jaydub said...

After reading three consecutive posts on feminism I had to undergo a brain enema before I could process a logical thought.

dustbunny said...

Excellent! I read her non apology and thought well, that's it, people are going to say she apologized so let it go. But Althouse nails the creepiness of it all.

Shouting Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

I'm not sure what sexualizing is in a feminist context.

The unfeminist word would mean something like dressing your 4 year old girl up as a beauty queen. That's your fetish and not hers.

20 year olds have their hormones up and running, not yours.

Maybe in a feminist world you make women infants so that you can disparage them as sexualized.

dustbunny said...

I wish there was a way to edit comments after posting them. I seem to only notice grammar and punctuation mistakes after they are published

Laura said...

How much does she pay her staff?

Shouting Thomas said...

Could be that you're the one believing what you want to believe, prof.

My daughter married a locomotive electrician, a blue collar tough guy.

When she got engaged, she told me... "Uh... You know, his family is, well, kind of redneck."

My answer: "Where in the hell do you think I came from?"

My granddaughters are all dressed in pink and adore Minnie Mouse. My grandsons are all dressed in blue and have trucks and gun toys. Same for all my daughters' friends.

I suspect that it is you who is clueless. You've been cloistered in the hothouse of academia for a long time.

Brando said...

Why does anyone talk to Steinem like she's a good faith feminist? She sold out everything she stood for when she defended Bill Clinton with the "one free grope" rule. Nothing she has to say deserves any weight.

And now this "you must support Hillary or there is something wrong with you" nonsense has graduated to telling young women that they must vote for a candidate based solely on gender (though it seemed only a minute ago that it was "insulting" to suggest someone was voting for Hillary just because of her gender, so they can't even get their hackery straight).

As for "young women just want to meet boys"--if that was all there was to it, wouldn't these young women just join up with a Republican campaign, which tend to have a higher ratio of men working for them?

Gahrie said...

I wish there was a way to edit comments after posting them. I seem to only notice grammar and punctuation mistakes after they are published

Unfortunately the only method is to copy the post, delete it, paste the comment in a new form and edit before you publish. I do this if I catch the mistake immediately like I just did on another thread.

tim in vermont said...

I have daughters too, and I think they let the mask slip around their parents on feminism in a way they wouldn't do around their professors as well. It's a double edged thing this situational self expression.

Meade said...

"Sexual difference is comedy."

Now you're getting it, bro. Intercourse = mutual laughter = intercourse ...

Timeless.

tim in vermont said...

I am hoping he is writing a book on rom coms, even if it is self published on Amazon, I would buy it.

tim in vermont said...

Remember that parents know their children's hopes, dreams, and fears in a way that their college professors never will.

rhhardin said...

Both Lucy and George, in Two Weeks Notice, said that the other was funny in an unintentional sort of way, albeit one in a deleted scene.

Hagar said...

Gloria who?

traditionalguy said...

The Bernie Movement is about to win. The song needed is The Day They Drove Old Feminism Down sung by Joan Baez.

Hillary will soon be retiring, but she will never lose her Secret Service protection.

Bill R said...

Gloria Steinem? Isn't she a washed up Playboy bunny?

Brando said...

At least Obama was a lot more subtle. I don't remember him coming out and saying "you have to vote for me because I'm black."

This is just another sign that Team Hillary is not firing on all cylinders. I hope Bernie takes her down.

Ann Althouse said...

"I wish there was a way to edit comments after posting them. I seem to only notice grammar and punctuation mistakes after they are published."

I know. I have the same problem.

The best solution is to redo your comment, publish it, and then delete the prior attempt.

That leaves a trace, but I remove these traces when I see them. I accept that people are doing this, so go ahead and redo it.

bgates said...

Why are the two categories of people denoted here "young women" and "boys"?

tim in vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" - Ghandi

I think Bernie is at the "Fight you" stage and like Aquaman's power to enlist the aid of sea creatures in his battles, Hillary has the power to enlist a coven of aged crones.

Otto said...

Your two sons and grandchildren (?) must be so proud of their >60 yr mother and her coffee table playboy upbringing.

wholelottasplainin' said...

For years my wife and I have used the term "phonus interruptus" to described those untimely calls...

Meade said...

"phonus interruptus"

Too much information.

coupe said...

Another attempt at 15 minutes of fame. At her age she should be dead by now.

R. Chatt said...

Steinem was suffering from temporary Trumpitiss. She said out loud what she really thought and what might be true, even though it was not politically correct. As you said, her correction is PC but didn't address the initial issue at all. What it is about Sanders that is more appealing to young women?

Among other things young women might have noticed that even though the black vote came out strongly for Obama (95%) he's done virtually nothing to solve the problems in the black community. The banks and the bankers have done well. Under Obama, Blacks Are Worse Off -- Far Worse

MayBee said...

Commentators give away the game by "forgiving" Steinem because she's always been on the right side of the issues.
That's what it's always about. Always.

mccullough said...

Referring to young men as boys gives away the game.

Young women and men also supported Obama heavily over Clinton. People assumed it was his youth but maybe it was his message. Bernie has a message. In 2008 and now, Hillary doesn't have a message. I get why Bernie is running for President and Trump and Rubio and Cruz. Romney had this problem as well. Why are you running, Hillary? She can't answer.

William said...

I think Gloria's youthful appearance works against her. People think that she's more in touch with the zeitgeist than you can reasonably expect an 81 year old woman to be. Allowance should be made for her age. Hillary, by way of contrast, looks her age. She's allowed to ramble on and say foolish things because that's what happens when you get old.......I'm not being ageist here. I myself am a septugenerian, but I look far younger. Young women are always mistaking me for Justin Bieber and getting all offended when I won't take selfies with them.

Scott said...

Feminists have been the ladies auxiliary for the Democratic party for some time now. Now Gloria shows us that they are only working for a part of the party...

Mike said...

Althouse, why do they call you Butter?

Because you're on a roll today!

tim in vermont said...

Islamic Feminist:

Some [Muslim] opportunists and extremists, who only harm Islam, say: “I will bring a woman from East Asia, as [as a sex slave] under the status of ‘right hand possessions.’ And with the consent of my wife, I will allocate this woman a room in the house, and will have sex with her as a slave girl."
This is nonsense. This is not prescribed by Islam at all. Islam says that a woman is either a wife or a slave girl. Legitimately owned slaves come from among prisoners from a war.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The Althouse interpretation mixes the gender roles and brings the audience into the orgy. The straight interpretation is that Bill Maher pulled out of the topic before Gloria Steinhem got to her orgasmic explanation of why young women who are supporting Bernie should instead vote for Hillary. The moment is gone, and now she can't get it back.

"And when you're young, you're thinking, 'Where are the boys?' The boys are with Bernie." That was just the foreplay.

And why did Bill Maher pull out? If he's a Bernie Sanders supporter, and it seems almost certain that he is, he got what he wanted out of Gloria Steinhem, and having got what he wanted, her reaching full orgasm was of no more concern to him.

The Godfather said...

William said, "Hillary, by way of contrast, looks her age." Oh goodness no! Look at the photos and videos of her in the latter part of her service (?) as Secretary of State, and you'll see what she looked like when she looked her age. She's OLD! Her husband is OLD! Her daughter is MIDDLE-AGED! When Reagan was elected president, he was OLD! When Ike was elected President, he was OLD! Fine, vote for the old candidate, but don't pretend that the old crone with the fresh make-up and plastic surgery "looks her age".

Tari said...

The Huffington Post has a blog post (it showed up on my Facebook feed, I didn't go looking for it!) that has young women saying:

"We're not for Bernie for the boys, we're here for the free healthcare and free college tuition."

So you're not boy-crazy, you're just free-loaders. Got it. Thanks for clarifying.

Bill said...

Steinem needn't be the male in the interruption of the interruptus. They were engaged in a pleasurable activity the flow of which was put on hold by a misstep.

I'd like to disabuse with this notion that her word choice was well-considered, even though she had plenty of time to prepare her response. I suspect, unproveably,that she had the word "eructation" (eructitis?), or burp, in the back of her mind but she prized the mangled pun over clarity. A "talk-show burp" would make sense.