November 13, 2016

Robert Stacy McCain reads Jessica Valenti's memoir "Sex Object."

Excerpt:
Dear God, what awful choices she has made in her life! Her personality was warped by insecurity, a problem made worse by the way her parents burdened her with their own ambitions and, of course, there was New York City itself.... The working-class neighborhood where Jessica Valenti grew up was frequented by hookers and their customers, and when she traveled to school via the subway, she encountered the notorious “flashers” and “mashers” (exhibitionists and frotteurs) who have menaced the city’s public-transportation system for decades. Ms. Valenti doesn’t seem to understand this as a uniquely urban hazard....

Many genuinely despicable behaviors are commonplace in big cities, including violent crime, drug abuse and sexual hedonism. Ms. Valenti was a practitioner of the latter two vices from an early age, but goes to some length to avoid admitting that her behavior was wrong. She recounts her use of marijuana, ecstasy (MDMA) and cocaine as if being a dopehead was an ordinary aspect of life, the same way she discusses her drunkenness and all the various “hook-ups” and “relationships” in which she engaged from the time she lost her virginity as a 14-year-old freshman at Stuyvesant until 2009 when, at age 30, she married a Harvard boy five years younger than her. What emerges from the pages of Sex Object, discernible to any thinking adult, is the tale of what happens to girls growing up in a culture devoid of morality.
Speaking of cocaine, McCain quotes Valenti, as an undergraduate student, doing coke with one of her women's studies professors at the professor's house. This was at SUNY-Albany. McCain is amazed that a professor would not take pains to hide her drug taking from students. There's more cocaine later, including in what is my favorite of McCain's sentences (paraphrasing her text):
Yeah, she already had a master’s degree in Women’s Studies from Rutgers (2002) and was working for NOW, but she was drunk when she got to this bar, met a broad-shouldered 6-foot-3 guy, showed him her panties and when they got back to her place at 4 a.m., cocaine “seemed like a decent idea.”
I'm glad McCain read that so I don't have to. It sounds like it's mostly descriptions of sexual encounters, and that's not the kind of writing that's ever likely to be much good, and it's really unlikely to be good if it's written not for the sake of sex but to make political points. It doesn't sound from McCain's discussion as though the sex stories support the the proposition that men are misogynists or whatever Valenti's form of feminism propounds.

As McCain tells it, Valenti sees misogyny whenever men care about how women look, but she enthuses over the looks of her male sexual partners. McCain is staunchly anti-feminist, so his paraphrasing of the feminist ideology would have to be double-checked, and I don't feel the lure to read "Sex Object."

I had a very annoying interaction with her years ago, and I don't have enough neutrality to want to invest my time in figuring out what she is really saying. And of course, it's not the kind of thing I'd read for pleasure. And I read "Mercy" by Andrea Dworkin, so I've seen enough writing depicting sexual degradation from the feminist viewpoint.

58 comments:

Michael K said...

Feminists need a year or two in their favorite Muslim country to get some sense.

Bill Peschel said...

I agree it's always worthwhile to read behind someone's assumptions. It's just that it takes too long, and by the time you do so, the public argument's moved on.

McCain did do us a service this past year by reading feminist works and discussing them, including long quotes from the works in question.

You could see that what most women's view of feminist (e.g., equality under the law) is emphatically not the same as those who are in charge or who want to be.

coupe said...

I've tried reading pornography written by women, but it's always a bummer.

Women writers just don't know anything, or take the time to research what it is that drives men.

I won't cover that here, but I would find any story that included the life of a scag (Skank + Hag), as to be unreadable.

"We were just about to shut the bar down the other night when these two scags stumbled in looking for some man-meat."

madAsHell said...

I had to google Jessica Valenti. I see that she has a master's degree in grievance studies.

I also notice that our Hostess (Prof. Ann Althouse) is prominently mentioned in her wiki page. Prof. Althouse's criticism is really her only validation.

chickelit said...

I need Laslo's take on Valenti's memoir for guidance.

buwaya puti said...

This was an epic destruction of her book, much commented on over the last two weeks.

McCain is required reading for his coverage of academic and radical feminism; he is the only serious hostile critic that has done a detailed analysis of feminist academic theory, its history and development. Not even Paglia has attempted that. He is the Paul Johnson of feminism.

His short (and cheap!) book "Sex Trouble" is a necessary read for anyone looking to take a womens studies course, or a great deal else in the liberal arts these days. Perhaps he may complete the great work on which this is a down-payment.

His blog posts on the subject can be quite repetitive, so YMMV

rhhardin said...

It's comedy if you get married and tragedy if you die.

buwaya puti said...

Further on McCains take on things -
Its clear that "womens studies", the academic specialty and the organizations that operate it, as it exists today, is not really an intellectual endeavor but a political faction, or perhaps a religious cult.

Virgil Hilts said...

A big problem for JV and her ilk is that they really, really want to believe that we still live in a misogynistic rape culture, where violent gang rape by upper class guys at top school is not extremely unlikely. Re Jackie Coakley - "I choose to believe Jackie. I lose nothing by doing so, even if I’m later proven wrong – there is a reason that people believed and continue to believe Jackie: There are so many people – too many people – who report similar attacks. . [citing to a 25 year old book]" BS; only similar recent reported attack was the Duke LaCrosse read Valenti's writings on that!).
Just as Jackie/Crystal's lies ultimately harm real rape victims, writers like Valenti, over the top, intellectually lightweight and unpersuasive, ultimately harm and undermine the very type of feminism they supposedly to support - like those global alarmists who make exact and ridiculous predictions, which fail again and again to come true and as a consequence feed growing AGW skepticism.

Quayle said...

"I don't have enough neutrality.....

A question, Ann - just curious - when you don't have enough neutrality, do you proportionally turn down the cruelty to keep a balance, or do you fill the void with added cruelty to preserve the whole?

gadfly said...

This "Other McCain" piece (he needs a new blog name BTW) is a poor example of Stacy McCain's "Rule 5."

buwaya puti said...

Politically speaking, a propagandist is generally at least marginally successful if they have a megaphone. It is the megaphone that matters more than anything. Valenti and her kind do not need to make sense in order to have an effect. And Im not going into Scott Adams land here, this is political propaganda 101, going back to Plato and Aristotle.

John said...

Coupe,

Story of O was written by a woman. Pauline Reage/Ann Desclos was told by her lover and employer the married Jean Paulhan that women could not write erotic novels. Boy, did she prove him wrong.

While looking up Desclos, I find that the full text of Story of O is available here:

http://www.benpadiah.com/otherstuff/elib/o.pdf

It is a very Lazlosish novel. (That's a compliment, Lazlo)

Enjoy!

John Henry

Ann Althouse said...

@Quayle

I don't want to have to pull punches to avoid the criticism that I'm biased.

I could deal with that but it's a deterrent to reading a whole book.

And generally it's hard to blog a whole book as opposed to an article, so it doesn't make blogging sense.

John said...

I think, Ann, when you say McCain is anti-feminist, you should use quotes.

He is certainly not anti-woman or anti-equal rights for women. He is most assuredly against what is taught as "feminism" in our universities.

John Henry

Quaestor said...

I've seen enough writing depicting sexual degradation from the feminist viewpoint.

Valenti wasn't chained to a wall. Her "degraders" weren't protected by religious and temporal legalisms as is common in Muslim-dominated lands. How can her sexual degradation be anything but self-inflicted?

William said...

I read the entire McCain article. She inspires a certain amount of fascinating repulsion. I noted that in her book she talks about all the kids at Stuyvesant and Bronx HS who came from families that were wealthier than hers. Both Stuyvesant an Bronx HS have huge Asian enrollments. Most of them come from much poorer families than hers. Apparently she didn't date them or, for that matter, even notice them. Can I flag her for classism or racism?...........After what number of sex partners can you label a woman promiscuous. This is a delicate question with many subjective factors in play. Catherine the Great only had seventeen lovers that are known to historians. Perhaps she was discreet and had a few more on the side, but I don't think the total number is staggering. She rode her horse astride, but sadly there's no credible evidence that she actually fucked horses......Jennie Churchill, Winston's mother, was said to have had about four hundred lovers. That seems, even by today's standards quite a large number. But the way posterity works, Catherine becomes notorious and Jennie becomes the model for a heroine on BBC........I don't fault Valenti for her number of partners, but I do question the criteria she used for choosing her partners. That was kind of slutty. No mercy fucks, no dorky guys with glasses, no funny guys who literally kidded her Into having sex. She seems shallow and self indulgent.

Quaestor said...

The lurking croc wrote: ...perhaps a religious cult.

Bingo.

Patrick said...

Coincidentally, I halogens to re-read portions of the Breasts post a couple of weeks ago. My, what efforts they made to avoid the point you made.

n.n said...

Progressive corruption to normalize friendship with "benefits" and a hallucinogenic exit to escape the ensuing progressive dysfunction. Men and women, interns, and babies, too, were necessary sacrifices for political progress. One step forward. Two steps back.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Points for both honesty & self-knowledge, Professor. Good for you.

Bill said...

Ultimately, she's her own worst enemy - and doesn't even know it.

Quaestor said...

She seems shallow and self indulgent.

Seems?

campy said...

Ultimately, she's her own worst enemy

As Rudolf Bing supposedly said re George Szell, "Not while I'm alive."

JAORE said...

Just like the white privilege movement "Feminists" have the everything-is-misogyny movement.

It's the cure all as to why you have not attained your wildest dreams. Why your degree in Wymyn's studies did not usher you into the CEO office straight away. Why your dating scene is dark and bleak. Why voting does not always go your way. Why Hillary is not President.

Feminists just need to get a few more shrill, howler monkeys out there saying insane things like, "All penis-in-vagina sex is rape".

I'm sure it will help.

JML said...

Gadfly, my oldest son was in HS or just started college and had a little blog going...at one point he replied or commented to something Stacy wrote. A few weeks later Stacy linked to one of his writings and said some sincere and flattering things...The Boy Was in Awe... and even though he doesn't blog any longer, he still reads him. The boy picks his blogs well -- he got me to start reading both Stacy and Althouse. BTW, he lives in Fitchburg and enjoys going to the capitol building and watching the various protests the liberals put on. Good theater in a very bad way...

Bay Area Guy said...

There are 2 kinds of feminists: (1) the ugly ones and (2) the attractive ones.

As to the first, just simply ignore them. They are angry and unpleasant, and totally unrepresentative of the millions of hard-working Moms and professional women who make our lives and our country great.

As for the second, it's more difficult because they are attractive, and the normal desire to flirt and dream may take hold, but stay away from them too. No lasting good will occur.

There are too many well-adjusted, attractive apolitical or conservative women out there to waste time with angry feminists.

chuck said...

> "Confident and compelling." ~ Publishers Weekly

> "A powerful literary memoir that expertly makes the case for feminism today." ~ Harper's Bazaar

The usual suspects. Does anyone take them seriously?

JPS said...

Patrick, 12:22:

Speaking as a chemist and a straight man, any comment that mentions both halogens and breasts is a real attention-grabber.

Terry said...

Is there any commenter here who has not had sex with Jessica Valenti? Other than Laslo?

boycat said...

One thing I like about Althouse is she doesn't back down from a cat fight, and she's not afraid to reach out and scratch again from time to time just on general principles.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, there's Jessica Valenti, there are the women described in The Right Stuff who made it a point to seduce as many Mercury astronauts as possible, there are the sort of women who flock to rich and famous men literally at the snap of his fingers. Trump and Billy Bush didn't have much respect for them, and I hope you will pardon me when I tell you that they don't deserve much respect.

The challenge for you and like minded feminists is how to teach these young women to respect themselves so that men can respect them too.

chuck said...

> Is there any commenter here who has not had sex with Jessica Valenti?

Me. Did I miss something?

rhhardin said...

It's so bad that people have even accused me of misogyny.

Bruce Hayden said...

McCain is required reading for his coverage of academic and radical feminism; he is the only serious hostile critic that has done a detailed analysis of feminist academic theory, its history and development. Not even Paglia has attempted that. He is the Paul Johnson of feminism.

I do read McCain, maybe once a week. His strident "anti-feminism" can be tiring. Still, I read him because he has good points, and good insight into the feminist movement. I do appreciate his insight here into NYC and environs. Who the heck, who is the least bit rational, wants to live in that grossly overpriced hell hole? And, esp. a woman, looking for a mate, since the odds are typically so bad for them in such environments. My strong preference is raising kids in the suburbs (and then moving to rural America when you can get away with it). My problem with raising kids in rural America is the lack of educational opportunity - such as getting AP or IB classes for them if they are bright and driven. But, having a yard, space for field sports, low crime, etc. is good for kids.

One of the threads that runs through McCain's writings is that much of the feminist leadership are lesbians. They don't care about what happens to men, because they have little interest in them being a part of their lives. Which is maybe why it is so hard to be a dedicated feminist when, like Valenti, a woman is straight. She must live in a society where what men think about them is important, where looking nice helps attract, them, etc. The lesbian feminist leaders, whom she follows, often don't have this constraint.

Jupiter said...

I have considerable sympathy with the feminist complaint. There is a substantial subset of men who feel justified in abusing women, simply because they are women. This is above and beyond the large subset of men who feel justified in abusing anyone they can. The societal response boils down to "that's just the way it is", which is not really very satisfying when you have been harassed or raped or beaten or kidnapped and tortured to death for someone's amusement. The fact that the people who will treat you this way are almost all members of a readily identifiable physical type leads rather necessarily to the idea that those people should be -- well, locked up. Or something. "They aren't all like that" is not very satisfactory either. It only takes one.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
holdfast said...

One of the amazing things about the patriarchal oppression of women is how guys with too much money so easily locate women with an appetite for free cocaine.


One of nature's immutable laws, really.

I am glad that I was in the military reserves all through college and law school, and thus at least theoretically subject to random drug testing. It gave me to a good reason/excuse to abstain - west coast, weed was everywhere and coke very common in law school - though my liver probably regrets that it likely resulted in even more booze consumption.

YoungHegelian said...

I'd like to second (or third...) buying McCain's book Sex Trouble.**

It's not a great read, because it's hard to write about craziness in great detail without seeming crazy yourself (a fault that I felt afflicted even classics such as Paul Hollander's Political Pilgrims). It has a great bibliography, so that one can put together a reading list of the "Founding Mothers" of modern academic feminism lickety-split if needed. But what it's really great for are the quotations! Oh, man, those quotations! If you ever have a conversation with someone who doesn't believe a major chunk of academic feminism is stocked with utter whack-jobs, yank out some of those quotations, & watch 'em squirm!

** Did you know that it's available through our hostess' Amazon portal? I bet you didn't....

Forbes said...

>"One of the amazing things about the patriarchal oppression of women is how guys with too much money so easily locate women with an appetite for free cocaine."

Actually--> The amazing thing about the patriarchal oppression of women is how women with an appetite for free cocaine locate guys with cocaine.

JAORE said...

"The fact that the people who will treat you this way are almost all members of a readily identifiable physical type leads rather necessarily to the idea that those people should be -- well, locked up. Or something. "They aren't all like that" is not very satisfactory either. It only takes one."

Jupiter, I'm sorry you experienced such.

But, change the tale somewhat to someone robbed and beaten by black youth. Check out the crime stats on black crime.

Now see how your conclusion, "leads rather necessarily to the idea that those people should be -- well, locked up". 'They are all like that' is not very satisfactory either. It only takes one".

I'm pretty sure you would take the second tale/conclusion as horrifyingly racist. It is obvious the trauma you experienced has had a profoundly negative effect on your life.

I wish you find peace somehow.

Laurent Canup said...

Ann,

I was having trouble with the link about your past interaction with Valenti. Just making a note.

Also, learning about you from Mrs Hoff Summers and Ethics Alarms has been such a rewarding thing. I love what you do.

Quaestor said...

Jupiter wrote:The fact that the people who will treat you this way are almost all members of a readily identifiable physical type leads rather necessarily to the idea that those people should be -- well, locked up. Or something.

Necessarily?

Men are not responsible for your androphobia. Seek help.

Odd that of all possibilities you should choose the Olympian father-figure as your identity. Electra complex much?

chickelit said...

Odd that of all possibilities you should choose the Olympian father-figure as your identity. Electra complex much?

By Jove, you nailed it Quaestor!

Sebastian said...

@Forbes et al.: "Actually--> The amazing thing about the patriarchal oppression of women is how women with an appetite for free cocaine locate guys with cocaine." Actually, the amazing thing about the patriarchal oppression of women is how women with an appetite for free cocaine locate guys with cocaine, and then land book deals writing about it as if this represents a feminist object lesson. Who knows how nasty the book would have been if the guy(s) had refused to share their cocaine. Hell hath no fury like a feminist junky denied a snort.

readering said...

So the prior unpleasant encounter was over a group photo of Valenti that drew attention to the breasts under her sweater because of an ex president in the group. At about the same age Melania Knauss was being photographed in a way that drew attention to her breasts and the rest of her body. Some photos with the involvement of a future president in her life. I'll have to look for the Althouse comments on those photos, those breasts.

Paddy O said...

Post title: "Let's take a look at that book"?

It is interesting in how people's experiences become generalized as part of their understanding of everyone. A very unusual experience growing up that was, for her, a shared normality among her circle. So, of course she views men in a certain way, both a prize and the enemy, with her view of men's views shaped by the men she views.

It's a warped view, but still the only view she has from her New York perspective, so it seems like everything, because she's told that's what people at the top of life live like.

She's wrong. But it's not very sophisticated to say so.

Laslo Spatula said...

Authentic Big City Dialog...

"Hey guy, you got any coke?"

"Bitch, I got coke."

"Don't you be calling me a bitch if you don't have no coke."

"Bitch, I got COKE."

"You calling me 'bitch', it better be some DAMN fine coke."

"Bitch, I got coke, and it is DAMN fine coke. Bitch."

"Like you know what good coke is. I've had coke from millionaires."

"And I blew coke up Britney Spears' asshole back in the day. I KNOW good coke, bitch."

"If you keep calling me 'bitch' and it ain't good coke..."

"Yeah? What are you going to do -- have a 'millionaire' come beat my ass? I got coke, and it's not just good coke, it's GOOD COKE. Bitch."

"You thinking of sharing?"

"What you got to share, bitch?"

"Maybe we can go back to my place, do some lines and see what happens."

"I don't know. Coke this good, I might find me a finer bitch."

"Oh, she won't be as freaky as I am."

"You freaky, bitch?"

"For good coke, I'm REALLY freaky."

"You better be REAL freaky for coke this good."

"Oh yeah, I -- wait: you didn't call me 'bitch'. Did I say something wrong?"

"Uh -- you better be REAL freaky for coke this good. Bitch."

"I don't think you mean it anymore."

"What are you talking 'bout?"

"You gone soft. You ain't got no good coke."

"I GOT good coke."

"See? You didn't say it again. You wasting my time, aren't you?"

"Ummm... well: yeah. I just got some ground-up baby aspirin. You are WAY out of my league."

"I knew it."

"Okay, okay. I think I'm gonna go and get a Big Mac. You wanna come?"

"You gonna buy me a Big Mac, bitch?"

"Yeah, yeah: I'll buy you a Big Mac."

"Bitch, you're gonna buy me a Big Mac and a large COKE...":

I am Laslo.

Ann Althouse said...

"I was having trouble with the link about your past interaction with Valenti. Just making a note."

Oh! I'm surprised more people didn't point that out.

I screwed up the link. Try it now.

Fabi said...

I'm getting tired of complimenting Laslo for his brilliant offerings, but I hope I never have to stop.

Laurent Canup said...

@ann

Works now! Thank ya, ma'am.

Bill Peschel said...

"My problem with raising kids in rural America is the lack of educational opportunity - such as getting AP or IB classes for them if they are bright and driven. But, having a yard, space for field sports, low crime, etc. is good for kids."

Bruce Hayden, I live in Hershey. Great place. Not entirely rural, but The Hershey Co. owns a lot of the township and raises crops and keeps their land neat.

We have schools that have to be good, because Hershey execs and their families send their kids there, plus we get professionals from the local teaching hospital.

The main reason, and here's your economic lesson, is an accident of history. Hershey is HQed here, and the company's owned by the The Milton Hershey School, the orphanage founded by the old man himself. The place is swimming in money from Hershey stock, and they fulfill their function of raising kids through college.

The last time the company had a major buyout offer, the townspeople revolted, but more importantly, the state moved in. Because the foundation is a charity, they operate under different rules from corporate capitalism, and the offer was beaten back.

So long as the company's here, Hershey will still be a great place to live and raise your kids.

MayBee said...

Reading McCain's review, I am once again struck by something that Vogue, Cosmopoltan, an Seventeen tried to tell me when I was growing up:
Girls have sex to get intimate
Men get intimate to have sex

They created a generation or two of women believing, basically, that men don't really have feelings. Any feelings they have are feigned to have sex with us.
They aren't romantic. They move on if we break up with them. They don't have real emotions. It's all about manipulation.
They can't love, they want to subjugate women....whatever. It all stems from the idea that women want love and men want sex.

These magazines have messed up 2 generations of women. It looks like Valenti is one of them, and now she writes for one. Men deserve to be given back their humanity just as women deserve not to be sexually objectified.

Wilbur said...

"McCain is amazed that a professor would not take pains to hide her drug taking from students.'

I did lines with more than one law school professor. In their offices. Almost 40 years ago.

Laslo Spatula said...

Thank you, Fabi...

I am Laslo.

Amanda said...

"Whatever Valenti's form of feminism propounds."

And none of you would know because you haven't read the book

Amanda said...

"The anti-Jesus vote went 59% for Clinton. Democrats hate God."

"Let’s face it: Hillary Clinton is a loser, and all the Democrats who supported her are losers. If you want to spend the rest of your life associating yourself with losers, OK, but why not reconsider your loyalty toward the Democrat Party?"

Yeah, Grandpa is a genius.

mikee said...

The John Norman scifi Gor books of the 1970s should be required reading for feminists.
Know your enemy, as it were, even if Pogo was right.