July 11, 2017

Slate must think the word "male" in this headline makes it not just okay but hilarious.



Oh, no! I'm wrong. I clicked through from the front page, above, and the article looks like this:



Wow. I'm surprised. It begins:
There’s a certain class of public figure whose face routinely gets described as “punchable.” He’s usually male; though arguably society shouldn’t be encouraging the punching of anyone (with possible exception for Nazis), good etiquette would seem to indicate that women are considered the less punchable sex. The guy with the punchable face is usually white; it’s hard out there for white men lately, in case you hadn’t heard. He’s usually young, too: What’s more annoying the know-it-all grin of impetuous youth? In addition to the privilege that being young, white, and male already affords him, he of high punchability often has a look that somehow scans as extra-privileged, a mouth seemingly born with a silver spoon in it....
Is this the way we're talking now? It seems so wrong, and yet I admit that in private speech, I do sometimes say "I just want to smack that guy." Smacking is less violent than punching, but it shows that I've got the hang of this metaphor.

Is Trump mentioned in this article? (The question occurs to me because I'm thinking about Trump retweeting that CNN wrestling video, which some people found funny and comprehensible as metaphor and some people deplored as encouraging violence against journalists (if only in the mind of the mentally deranged).) Donald Trump isn't mentioned in the article, but both of his sons — not just the much bloodied Don Jr. but the other one, Eric — are presented as most squarely within this concept of punchable, along with 5 other men: Martin Shkreli, Scott Disick, Ryan Lochte, Miles Teller, and Justin Bieber.
[O]bviously the Trump sons are beady-eyed paragons of smugness. There is a relationship, then, between punchability and self-knowledge. Misbehaving so badly when they have the advantages that they do is what tends to raise the public’s hackles. Can they all be so blithely unaware of the tiredness of the “bad boy” trope, or the many overgrown babies who have already trod this ground? And yet they continue to smirk.

53 comments:

Mr. Majestyk said...

I'd like to punch whoever wrote that article.

Robert Marshall said...

What a collection of stupid ideas!

If someone suggested that black faces look "lynchable," would that be an idea worth discussing in an article? I don't think so. So, why are white faces "punchable?"

The fact that someone is getting paid for writing drivel like this is appalling.

Jim said...

Justin Trudeau.

traditionalguy said...

The no aggression look that says you have to do what I say or I will tell my mother.

bgates said...

https://www.theatlantic.com/author/heather-schwedel/

-in case you wanted to put a face to the name, for some reason

Bill Peschel said...

David Brooks has a punchable face now that he's mocking his high school friend's inability to order a sandwich.

bgates said...

beady-eyed paragon of smugness

Mary Beth said...

I don't think they're beady-eyed. I haven't noticed smugness, but I haven't had any conversations with either of them.

Gahrie said...

Who the fuck cares? They're just a bunch of deplorables.

bgates said...

David Brooks had a punchable face back before he left his wife to continue his affair with the research assistant who was helping him write a book about developing moral character.

n.n said...

Wow. [class] diversitists and abortionists. National socialists and Democratic socialists, too? Punchable faces.

Women, yes. Unless they punch first, then the rules of chivalry are suspended. Even then, a natural force discrepancy must be noted.

beady-eyed paragons of smugness

An act of projection or self-parody?

The smuggest people on Earth are prone to narcissistic indulgence, conflation of logical domains (e.g. positive or negative assertions about phenomenon outside the limited scientific domain), and are invariably found at the twilight fringe.

The envy runs deep. This in part explains the acutely phobic response to Trump. They tolerated him in their crowd, but he deigned to overstep his class and inhabit the domain of mortal gods and journolistic oracles.

Ralph L said...

I had to google 3 of the punchees and got this from CNBC

"Pharma bro" Martin Shkreli said he might try to have sex with a male worker at his hedge fund or with a male restaurant worker, comments that made a gay investor in Shkreli's fund "uncomfortable," that investor testified Tuesday.
[snip]
Richardson said he got Shkreli to stop making "gay" comments by bringing Shkreli into Richardson's bedroom while they were having drinks at his apartment, sitting him down, and asking him if he was sexually interested in Richardson.

An odd way of alleviating his discomfort. Later, Richardson was chairman of one of Shkreli's companies. This was important to his trial?

glenn said...

I hit back.

Sebastian said...

"Wow. I'm surprised." Faux surprise, right? I mean, cuz, wow, I'd be surprised if you are surprised.

Luke Lea said...

With the possible exception of Nazis? https://goo.gl/3fBQzD

I think this is exactly the road we don't want to go down. Even racists have rights. Can't the Justice Department prosecute organized crime like this?

fivewheels said...

It's posted under their feminist "Double X" section. How is it a feminist issue or topic, unless you agree with the premise that feminism is defined by or at least includes the hatred of men? The only connection with women's issues is the enjoyment and celebration of a culture of violence against men. That's it.

William said...

There's something likable and engaging about Ivanka, but the Trump sons do not have those qualities. "Punchable face", however, is putting it way too strongly. They're rich and good looking. That's two strikes against them right there, and they don't have any counterbalancing flaws or humor to subvert the envy. They should take up some kind of charity work. Maybe they could rehab dogs that were abandoned by celebrities and place those rehabbed dogs in the homes of wounded veterans. Maybe take up bowling and ditch the big game hunting. It can be done. Prince Harry is as privileged as they get, but people like him.

clint said...

Donald Trump may not be mentioned in the article... but if you follow the link under "(with possible exception for Nazis)" the picture at the top of the page is of a guy holding up a picture of Donald Trump. For all of its cutesy equivocating and abstract moral philosophy, the Guardian article is really a slow drumbeat repetition of two unsupported assertions: 1) Trump and his followers are Nazis and 2) Violence against Nazis isn't really a bad thing. The completion of the syllogism is left as an exercise for the reader.

And if you follow the link under "at least one," (in the Slate article, not quoted in the post) the first of the "14 most punchable faces" is none other than the President of the United States. The next entry is his two sons. The third is one of his campaign managers. Even when they want to punch someone the right doesn't like very much either (like Zucker or Comey), the reason is usually, "He helped Trump!!"

On a slightly different note, the Slate "punchable face" article seems to continue a nasty trend on the left of exporting one's own uglier feelings and blaming the target of those feelings for making you feel them.

Hillary Clinton didn't say, "I hate those people" -- instead she called them "deplorable" as though her hatred of them was a property of the hated other rather than something ugly existing in her own heart and mind.

Now Heather Schwedel at Slate wants to say that people -- like the male Trump kids -- are "punchable" rather than owning her own violent urges. She wants to commit politically-motivated violence -- or at least wants her readers to consider doing so. But it's not her fault. It's just that the people she hates are so awfully punchable.

Just like those Republican Congressmen. They're trying to pass a law that Bernie Sanders says would be worse than 9/11. Maxine Waters tells us it would kill hundreds of millions of people. And after all, some blogger said that Scalise once spoke to a white supremacist group. Those guys are just so awfully shootable. Is that really an unfair paraphrase of Scott Pelley?

Kathryn51 said...

Althouse said: ". . . Smacking is less violent than punching, but it shows that I've got the hang of this metaphor."

This is why I enjoy reading this blog.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Hey, you left out Barron! Just because he's eleven years old doesn't mean that he isn't punchable, too.

Danno said...

My question is- what is their definition of Nazi?

Ben said...

Deep down you probably think white men are less likely to punch back, but you won't admit that since you're a coward.

Kelly said...

Malia Obamas face is punchable, but not her sisters. Sasha has alaways been adorable.

Laslo Spatula said...

The ones who get a vicarious thrill about the idea of punching someone they deem 'punchable' are the ones who could never do it, even if it mattered.

Can they next tell us who is 'shootable', too?

I am Laslo.



IgnatzEsq said...

SNL did this better a decade ago. https://youtube.com/watch?v=EkQlM9DfP-o

buwaya said...

On the female side, such feelings are, I think, mostly rooted in sour grapes. Here is a man they desire, out of reach, already taken or otherwise the preserve of more charming women. So he must be unworthy somehow, through some imputed defect of character.

Why white men? I suggest because they are on the whole more desirable. They are higher-perceived status anywhere.

Male (personal) envy of these gilded youths seems less common than female despair. Or perhaps women are more likely to express such emotions?

A to the C said...

Lazlo,that's what I've wondered as well -- how many of these Screen Berets tweeting about punching those they deem worthy of fistual intervention have ever punched another person (strangers only, younger siblings don't count) in the face, or taken a shot themselves?
Also, when fantasizing out loud about delivering a "smack," the low-key violence of the act can easily be ramped up with the addition of a well placed "fucking" or two and a specific target. For example,"Sometimes I swear I'm gonna smack that goddamned idiot right in his giant fucking horse teeth."

Big Mike said...

You can try punching me in the face. You might get an aikido lesson that you won't forget.

Heather Schwedel does not have a punchable face. Hers is a face you want to hit with a cream pie.

Ann Althouse said...

I absolutely was surprised. I kept my original post title, which was based on a big double standard about violence. I thought the idea of a woman being punchable was completely unthinkable.

Fernandinande said...

The Visibility of Social Class From Facial Cues -
"To better understand how people infer others’ social class, we therefore tested the legibility of class (operationalized as monetary income) from facial images, finding across 4 participant samples and 2 stimulus sets that perceivers categorized the faces of rich and poor targets significantly better than chance."

Big Mike said...

I thought the idea of a woman being punchable was completely unthinkable.

Well, Althouse, now you've failed to recognize your female privilege. Men -- real men -- don't hit women, do we? Yet I've often looked at videos of lefty harridans screeching away a some guys and thought, if you were a guy you wouldn't get away with what you're doing because one or more of the guys you're screeching at would feel compelled to punch you hard in the mouth.

Laslo Spatula said...

The Guy Who Wants To Shit On People He Doesn't Like....

God, I see his scrunched up potato-face and his smug attitude and I SO want to SHIT ON YOU, MATT DAMON! Take THAT, Will Hunting! I shit on you, Jason potato-face Bourne, and I'd shit on you AND Ben Affleck if you guys still hung out together...!

I SO want to SHIT ON YOU, JOHNNY DEPP! Fuck you, pretty-boy pirate fuck! Ohhh, you're SO pretty, Jump-Street Boy! ! Look up with your soulful puppy eyes and see my asshole above your face as I SHIT ON YOU GILBERT GRAPE! I shit on you AND Richard Grieco...!

Oh man I want to SHIT ON YOU, BRAD PITT! Ooooo, you are SO dreamy! Ooooo, you have Great Hair! Ooooo, you've seen Angelina Jolie's AND Jennifer Aniston's assholes up close, you fuck! Now look close at MY asshole, Pitt! Look at my asshole while I shit on you AND GEORGE CLOONEY...!

Speaking of Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston, I WANT TO SHIT ON THE BOTH OF YOU! You wouldn't fuck me if I was the Last Guy On Earth, so PLEASE GOD LET ME BE THE LAST MAN ON EARTH AND THEN LET ME SHIT ON ANGELINA JOLIE AND JENNIFER ANISTON! AND FUCKING REESE WITHERSPOON, TOO! SHE HAS THAT PINCHED-UP BETTER-THAN-YOU FACE THAT BEGS TO BE SHIT ON...!

I am The Guy Who Wants To Shit On People He Doesn't Like....

I am Laslo.

sestamibi said...

What happens when the punchable face punches back?

sane_voter said...

I can't think of women as punchable, but however you want to call it, Joy Behar fits that bill.

n.n said...

sestamibi:

I think the "consensus" is that the response depends on your diversity class?

If you're a white Hispanic male, you should adopt the punching bag position.

If you're a white white male, you should bend over, empty your pockets, kiss the moon, and apologize.

Gahrie said...

I thought the idea of a woman being punchable was completely unthinkable.

Why? I thought men and women were equal?

I mean, I know why I think men shouldn't punch women, but then I think women and men should be treated differently.

n.n said...

Women are not punchable.

Is there some Urban invention that reinterprets its denotation?

Men are also not punchable.

Babies, maybe. In the 1st and and perhaps second trimesters. In the third trimester and later, not even the devil will escape unscathed. Although, she will try.

Self-defense is a natural right, but force should be proportional to the threat. A cream pie, as someone suggested, is a good option. Perhaps a squirt gun to deter a persistent pest.

As for ladies, there are the rules of chivalry. Under normal circumstances, the man is to withdraw and cede the floor, forcing a global cooling, or climate change, whichever may happen first.

n.n said...

I thought men and women were equal?

Equal and complementary. Hmm, what is the complement to punchable?

Ladies are in a separate class, and a gentlemen will normally defer.

Gahrie said...

Ladies are in a separate class, and a gentlemen will normally defer.

Those are the old rules, and frankly I prefer them. However women have demanded that these distinctions be eliminated. In fact the very idea that a woman should be a lady is now considered sexist. Equal means equal...not equal in ways that benefit me, but still unequal in ways that benefit me.

Dan Farmer said...

The Germans have a word for this. Backpfeifengesicht

robother said...

Shia LaBeouf.

Che Dolf said...

Can they all be so blithely unaware of the tiredness of the “bad boy” trope...

Can they all be so blithely unaware of the tiredness of "trope"?

Barry O'Blarney said...

Replace face with body and punchable with rapeable. People would NOT approve.

Curious George said...

I thought Chuck was much older, didn't you?

Rusty said...

Curious George said...
I thought Chuck was much older, didn't you?

No. I had him pegged at 22-24.
Or a very bright 18.

Very few people who tell you're punchable are actually going to punch you.

Jeff H said...

I dare anyone who claims I have any privilege based on the fact that I'm white and male, to step into my life and see if they experience any "privilege".

I guarantee I'll get no serious takers.

St. George said...

"There’s a certain class of public figure whose face routinely gets described as “punchable.”

Classic essayist B.S.

"Routinely" described by who?

Lost My Cookies said...

So "punchable" means " makes me feel insecure or inadequate" got it.

Roger Sweeny said...

If it's all about having advantages that you seem blissfully unaware of, then Chelsea Clinton certainly qualifies.

Trashhauler said...

Moving beyond being punchable, is it still "Women and children first?" 'Cause equality. And conservatives only care about kids before they are born. And many young women are now stronger than me, so can I hit them back?

Terry said...

There is a French expression about people who are somehow constantly annoying and that one would want to slap: Têtes à claques; https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/t%C3%AAte_%C3%A0_claques.

It's not particularly oriented towards males but, at least during my time in France (many decades ago), it was mostly males that were the recipients of this descriptive.

Brando said...

Reverse the genders and it suddenly isn't okay, is it?

And why are black celebrities free of punching? It's slavery, isn't it?

Unknown said...

I know of no more punchable a face than Chuck Schumer's.