February 17, 2018

"To the extent that there is a generational divide, it may have to do with the fact that many older women are still wary about the internet, which leads them to not only miss the context of a longstanding feminist internet tradition of ironic misandry..."

"... but also to overlook the more nuanced chatter happening among younger women on social media and digital sites.... And yet most of the disagreement has to do with age-old ideas about sex, power and the function of social movements...

Writes Nona Willis Aronowitz in "The Feminist Pursuit of Good Sex" (NYT). Aronowitz is the daughter of Ellen Willis, "who in a 1981 essay in The Village Voice asked a question that now looms over #MeToo 40 years later: 'Is the Women’s Movement Pro-Sex?'"

Aronowitz says:
My connection to this complex intellectual heritage is at the heart of why I find the prevailing narrative about #MeToo’s generational split baffling and harmful. Here’s how the story goes: Older critics, flattened into “Second Wave feminist has-beens,” are accusing the movement of becoming increasingly anti-sex, anti-agency and anti-nuance. Younger women, also known as “Twitter feminists,” are accusing these critics of being bitter establishmentarians, unable to cede ground to new ideas. They’re both wrong, but so is this tired mothers-and-daughters framing, which threatens to derail substantive debate in favor of a catfight narrative.
I note the assertion that both sides are missing nuance. The older women think the younger ones are "increasingly anti-sex, anti-agency and anti-nuance." And the younger ones think the older ones don't follow "the more nuanced chatter" of the internet so they don't grok "the feminist internet tradition of ironic misandry."

If only we could be more nuanced, maybe we could meet in the middle. But everybody's always only seeing the lack of nuance on the other side. You get the self-flatterer imperiously telling other people to compromise. But Aronowitz seems to be more of an onlooker, trying to mediate. I look at  Memorandum's River and see there's no significant internet talk about her column. I look at the NYT's own "most-emailed," "most viewed," and even "recommended for you" lists and don't find it. Even with "Good Sex" in the title, it's not getting traction.

From the Wikipedia article on Ellen Willis:
Willis was known for her feminist politics and was a member of New York Radical Women and subsequently co-founder in early 1969 with Shulamith Firestone of the radical feminist group Redstockings.... Starting in 1979, Willis wrote a number of essays that were highly critical of anti-pornography feminism, criticizing it for what she saw as its sexual puritanism and moral authoritarianism, as well as its threat to free speech. These essays were among the earliest expressions of feminist opposition to the anti-pornography movement in what became known as the feminist sex wars. Her 1981 essay, Lust Horizons: Is the Women's Movement Pro-Sex? is the origin of the term, "pro-sex feminism."

Willis was the first popular music critic for The New Yorker, between 1968 and 1975... In 2011, the first collection of Willis’s music reviews and essays, Out of the Vinyl Deeps (University of Minnesota Press), arrived. It was edited by her daughter Nona Willis-Aronowitz. Ellen Willis "celebrated the seriousness of pleasure and relished the pleasure of thinking seriously," a review in The New York Times said.
Is anyone celebrating the seriousness of pleasure anymore? Even Nona Willis-Aronowitz — seemingly dedicated to her mother's legacy — left off the "Lust Horizons" part of the title of that 1981 essay. She calls it simply "Is the Women’s Movement Pro-Sex?" — perhaps because few readers get the reference to "Lost Horizon" these days...
... but I think it's because "lust" — a popular and positive word in the 1970s — has become ugly again — returned to its stature as one of "The 7 Deadly Sins"....



The question are feminists pro-sex? becomes — with nuance —are feminists pro-good-sex? The easy answer then is yes, but we're left with the difficult question is how to find good sex when her own daughter edits out Ellen Willis's word "lust"?

ADDED: To be fair, Aronowitz does, in her first paragraph, call herself "lusty," but she's speaking of herself in the past and "before I’d learned much about feminism." She was, she says, "fascinated by what we now call the 1970s 'golden era' of pornography... Being a lusty, modern woman, I was enthralled."

But "lusty" doesn't mean "lustful." It means merry and cheerful or hearty and vigorous. "The Turk... gave him two or three lusty kicks on the seat of honour," wrote Edmund Burke in his memoir.

The word that means "Full of, imbued with, or characterized by, lust or unlawful desires; pertaining to, marked by, or manifesting sensual desire; libidinous" (OED) is "lustful."

72 comments:

David said...

I seem to have missed most of the nuance in these discussions. Must read more carefully.

Robin Eatmon said...

I am exhausted not wary by all this feminist...#metoo, racial, political, sexual and mass murder chatter.

David Begley said...

Intersectionality run amuck. I guess.

Tim in Vermont said...

All of this time, the “all penis in vagina sex is rape” thing was an ironic joke. Makes a ton more sense.

JMW Turner said...

Perhaps the recognition that all this scatter shot misandry could usher in Victorian styled relations between the sexes will cool the ardor of some of the less radically doctrinaire feminists.

Tim in Vermont said...

“Intersectionality,” another concept best understood as an ironic joke.

Tim in Vermont said...

Also Amy Marquotte’s (deliberately mispelled so as not to giver her web Q rating a boost) Twitter feed makes a lot more sense as an on-running ironic joke.

traditionalguy said...

Examining the nuances of war propaganda doesn't affect the battle of the sexes. They still have to finally engage the enemy or make peace. All this Truce stuff complete with a Demilitarized Zone gets old.

Shouting Thomas said...

I'm 68. I hoping to live another 50 years so that I can get even for the 50 years of feminist bitching I've endured.

You've got it backwards, Althouse, and it's hard to see how you do it. Feminism was forced down my throat in school and in the office for 50 years. I was compelled to salute your ideological flag in the face of punishment or expulsion.

You are the oppressor. Your Marxist feminist ideology is the ideology of the boss, the HR department, the school principal, etc. You've got the entire institutional apparatus of the society behind you forcing me to submit to your ideology.

You're the one with your heel on my throat, not the other way around. Your Marxist feminist ideology is shoved down everybody's throat as a prerequisite for surviving in school and on the job.

As I said, I hope to live another 50 years to return the favor. I'm retired and secure now and I don't have to grovel before your ideology. I bitch at every feminist women I encounter for as long as they will take it. They have it coming big time. It will take me 50 years to catch up.

You have no idea how awful it has been putting up with you and your comrade sisters. Maybe in the next life you'll be on the other side and you'll be the one eating shit.

Unknown said...

I do hate that word, grok, so. It always reads as an affectation to me. I can't recall ever hearing someone use it in spoken conversation.

-sw

Eleanor said...

I teach a class at a senior center that's all women. They all have smart phones and pull them out to access the internet. They have computers and internet at home. They communicate with each other and get the monthly newsletter online. A couple of them are involved in online dating. The oldest lady is 86. The days of "grandma" not being internet-savvy are over. It's sad young women have so little contact with their elders they're not aware the internet is not their exclusive domain.

Tim in Vermont said...

I can’t recall ever hearing someone use it in spoken conversation.

I have heard it many times. Get over it, it’s a thing.

Amazing Quotes said...

Very interesting topic, thank you for sharing.
Famous Positive Quotes

Unknown said...

"I have heard it many times. Get over it, it’s a thing."

It seems sometime in the last several years 'Stranger in a Strange Land' must have made the rounds through older folks book clubs.

Not to worry, I'm not losing sleep over its use, its just a crap, ugly word. To me.

-sw

Angle-Dyne, Angelic Buzzard said...

The words "nuance" and "irony", used self-referentially, are pretty good indicators that what follows isn't worth any nuanced thinkers time. (And that the writer thinks "irony" means heavy usage of the cheaper grades of snark and sarcasm.)

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I find it pretty easy not to care enough to work at having an opinion about this sort of stuff. Instead, I find myself wondering why anyone cares at all. Pretty soon, the coffee and the bran muffin will kick in and my thoughts will turn irretrievably to something much more immediate. And so it goes.

Tim in Vermont said...

I am with Shouting Thomas on this one. I would go further, but the Disqus breach is one more reminder that you can’t really be fully honest on this platform.

Rob said...

Aronowitz refers disparagingly to “a catfight narrative,” as if there’s anything wrong with a good old-fashioned catfight. Sharpen your claws, kitties.

rhhardin said...

Thurber "How To Tell Love from Passion" in _Is Sex Necessary?_

"By and large, love is easier to experience before it has been explained"

Tim in Vermont said...

Not to worry, I'm not losing sleep over its use, its just a crap, ugly word. To me.

And so it goes.. <-- Vonnegut reference.

People make literary references. They sometimes become words, it’s one of the paths in English. To be fair though, when I use it, I usually only do it when talking to a person I am pretty sure will get it. It’s kind of a shibboleth, and you see it used outside of the group. I guess it’s like the use of “ironic misandry” Some of us find it “crap” and “ugly,” while other people think its cute. I personally think grok is a word that is useful, as there is a difference between intellectually accepting a fact, and accepting it on an emotional level too and treating that fact as true with your whole person. Maybe you can tell me that better word we could use in place of “grok”?

Mark said...

are feminists pro-good-sex? The easy answer then is yes

But the correct answer is NO. Good sex is not about power and hedonistic self-satisfaction -- good sex is about love, love in its true sense, which is about total gift of self, subordinating yourself for the good of the other, who is embraced as a subject not an object of pleasure. And the one consistent thread throughout secular feminism is that they are in favor of the former, not the latter.

rhhardin said...

The chatter is from women not abstracting, but relating what they feel at the moment, having just read this or that.

"They let you grab them by the pussy" was a good litmus test. It took over all women's neurons, where guys just wanted somebody who's not PC to fight the establishment.

rhhardin said...

True love is what a Scotsman experiences.

Fernandistein said...

ironic misandry

The definition of "ironic" is not "pretending that you don't mean it".

Humperdink said...

Mark said: ".... Good sex is not about power and hedonistic self-satisfaction -- good sex is about love, love in its true sense, which is about total gift of self, subordinating yourself for the good of the other, who is embraced as a subject not an object of pleasure. And the one consistent thread throughout secular feminism is that they are in favor of the former, not the latter."

Bulls eye.

Tim in Vermont said...

Much of feminism fails to grok that millions of years of evolution really did happen.

Ralph L said...

Left out is the reality that if young women throw their bodies around like young men do (as prescribed by feminism), they're a lot more likely to lose their self-respect and be me-tooed.

Fernandistein said...

Tim in Vermont said...
And so it goes.. <-- Vonnegut reference.


Coulda fooled me.

Ralph L said...

I can't hear the word "nuance" without picturing David Gergen tongue-bathing pre-Pres Clinton for being "thoughtful and nuanced." Nothing said about his pants crease, which was probably ruined by the up and down activity of his trousers.

Ralph L said...

Wiki:
While the Oxford English Dictionary summarizes the meaning of grok as "to understand intuitively or by empathy, to establish rapport with" and "to empathize or communicate sympathetically; also, to experience enjoyment", Heinlein's concept is far more nuanced

Well, that's a relief.

Bay Area Guy said...

"The Feminist Pursuit of Good Sex" sounds like an oxymoron. In my experience, one must studiously avoid feminists to have good sex.

Who wants to roger some angry, humorless, activist who doesn't shave her legs?

Re Shouting Thomas - he has some excellent observations and wisdom about the negative effects of the feminist Marxist ideology as practiced in the real world. I'd love to hear more of it. My only critique is that I'd wish he'd detach our gracious hostess from his searing cultural indictment. As a public figure, Althouse is and has never been a leader in the radical feminist movement (Thank God). As a private figure, I wouldn't know, but I doubt she has either.

My 2 cents.


RNB said...

Wait, wait! "Ironic misandry." I thought "misandry" was a term without a referent, a thing that does not exist in the real world, just a way for men to whine when a woke woman gives a man a righteous drubbing.

So now it's more like, "Can't you tell when I'm joking"?

Ann Althouse said...

"I do hate that word, grok, so. It always reads as an affectation to me. I can't recall ever hearing someone use it in spoken conversation."

That's the first time I ever used the word on the blog. It's a word that annoys me, and I thought a lot about it before using it.

I did once refer to the word in the context of talking about "glom": "Glom is a funny word. I've always mixed it up with grok. Only grok is a Martian word."

Ralph L said...

I thought grok was chunky gunk. Wasn't there a cartoon character on BC whose only utterance was GROK! ?

tcrosse said...

Nona Willis Aronowitz could write a nuanced account of How the Feminist Lost Her Hyphen.

Rob McLean said...

But everybody's always only seeing the lack of nuance on the other side.

Kind of like how "dog whistles" are only ever mentioned by the very people who claim they can't hear them.

n.n said...

And paradoxical misogyny... and misandry.

1650s, from Modern Latin misogynia, from Greek misogynia, from misogynes "woman-hater," from miso- (see miso-) + gyne "woman" (from PIE root *gwen- "woman").
etymonline.com - misogyny

1878, from miso- "hatred" + andros "of man, male human being" (see anthropo-). Related: Misandrist.
etymonline.com - misandry

Women who hate women. Women who exploit women. Women who compete with women... and their babies.

When did misogyny become limited to men who hate women? Or misandry to women who hate men? In the age of transgenderism, this insular thinking is especially peculiar.

Tommy Duncan said...

"Nuance" and "dogma" are incompatible. The progressives have always lacked self awareness. Remember the violent protests against war in the 1960's?

n.n said...

Awake but drowsy.

Is it possible that there is a special, peculiar, and perhaps foreign interest that is trolling Americans with the express intent to sow discord and set men and women at each other's throats?

At least the tax is good.

Tim in Vermont said...

Apparently “ironic” is also very “nuanced.” It doesn’t mean simply, as suggested by Ferd “Pretending you didn’t really mean it.” It’s more precisely: “If anybody asks, we didn’t really mean it.”

Let me just say that eric used “and so it goes” in a very Slaughterhouse Five way. We all know that Vonnegut didn’t make it up, like “grok” was made up.

And yes, Althouse and sw have well established that they reject membership in the group that sees ‘grok’ as a valuable addition to the argot.

How the Feminist Lost Her Hyphen.

LOL,

John Lynch said...

Grok is martian-speak for "to drink." English translation is "to understand fully." Misses the nuance.

From "Stranger in a Strange Land," Robert Heinlein.

I am Six Words or Less said...

The Feminist Lost Her Hyphen, Hymen.

-6W

Temujin said...

If you have to think about it all that much, it's just not sexy. There's a thing called passion. Either you have it for the person next to you, or you have it for your own 'nuanced thinking' (heh). When both have it for each other, that leads to good sex. But if I'm in a room with a woman and I have to hear all of this...I'm outta there. We are, of course, all allowed to have our own thoughts. But don't expect men to be turned on by that. That is...if you want sex from a man.

Bob Boyd said...

Nuance vs Old Aunts

rhhardin said...

As ye grep so shall ye grok.

gg6 said...

I must conclude that 'feminists' - freed to lustily vent their views on everything, including themselves - will in the end (so to speak) mostly screw themselves.

Seeing Red said...

Typical lefty condenscention. If you don't see it their way, their argument is "too nuanced" for you to understand. Since Clinton we've been listening to that bs excuse.

Michael K said...

UCLA held a seminar on "Toxic Masculinity" and 10 students showed up.

No mention of how any genders were represented.

Ambrose said...

"Older women are still wary about the internet."

I wonder if the author is aware that apparently the Russians are using fake identities on the internet to sow political discord. Whose wary now?

Birkel said...

Wait? Does this mean every bicycle gets its very own fish?

And does the bicycle get to declare, after lustfully and willfully accepting sex from a fish, get to declare that because it was not good sex that a crime has been committed?

Run with that. With scissors.

Peter said...

Can anyone imagine a "father-son" divide between generations of men being played out in the upscale media about whether or not they were pro-sex or anti-sex? Readership would plummet. Why are women so endlessly fascinated by their biology and sexualities? #Metoo activists claim they need and want a dialogue with men about sex, but it seems to be turning one massive catfight. Which is probably just as well because we really don't have much to say beyond "Yes, Dear".

Sebastian said...

Wait, so the answer to the old question, What do women want, is that they don't know? That they don't have a g**damn clue themselves?

That explains a lot and clears things up.

Jupiter said...

Evolution is patient. It has been many years since the US population bred fast enough to replace itself, and the reason is feminism. But certain sub-populations are growing rapidly.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Let me just say that eric used “and so it goes” in a very Slaughterhouse Five way.

Yes. That's what I was alluding to.

Making it about poop was . . . well, let's just say I was living in the moment.

Earnest Prole said...

My side's principles are infinitely nuanced. Your side's ideology is so oppressively black-and-white.

William said...

If you're into "ironic misandry", your life already has far too much nuance........I lived through "the golden age of pornography". Very bliss it was to be young in those days. I can't tell you what an erotic shock it was to see movies which featured naked girls in the locker room. One of mankind's oldest and most cherished dreams was at last realized and made flesh. I don't think naked girls in the locker room has quite the same erotic valence nowadays as did back then, but it was quite a treat at the time. The sad paradox is that in order to feel sexually liberated, you must first undergo a process of sexual repression.

FIDO said...

To bad they both can't lose.

Unknown said...

I thought grok was chunky gunk. Wasn't there a cartoon character on BC whose only utterance was GROK! ?

That's "Grog". He usually can't speak except beyond his word except when it would be funny for him to be unexpectedly articulate. (Or when late in the strip when Hart was establishing the setting as post-apocalyptic rather than pre-historic, and Grog was seemingly delivering messages from God during Peter's around-the-world raft trip).

FIDO said...

Which is probably just as well because we really don't have much to say beyond "Yes, Dear".

Or 'no thanks'. Whichever works

FIDO said...

Does anyone see what they are doing anything good for society?

mockturtle said...

Analyzing sex tends to take the fun out of it.

Can'tFindADecentAlias said...

I have been listening to neurotic women talk for 30+ years now. I see no signs that women know what will make women happy. They DO like to talk about it though.

ALP said...

I think there are simpler explanations for the generational divide. If you are older, life has had more time to throw any number of tragedies at you: cancer, death, dismemberment, divorce, etc. Any number of things are far worse than getting sexually harassed at work.

Ironic misandry? Again, women get a special pass being assholes.

Nuanced discussion? Don't make me piss my pants with laughter.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Ironic misandry? Again, women get a special pass being assholes.

Women who engage in this only please each other; normal people think they're shitheads. No sane woman who has men in her life whom she loves and respects is amused by their 'male tears' mugs. When my daughter's friend brought a "funny" book over to a second-grade sleepover called Boys are Stupid: Throw Rocks at Them I confiscated it and gave them all a stern-talking to.

I had a friend who went through a phase like this in college and shortly afterward; then she married and had two sons, and repented of her misguided ways.

lennyjoels said...

Nuance is bad for clickbait.

A sophisticated analysis cannot be contained in a single paragraph.

mockturtle said...

Pants reports: I had a friend who went through a phase like this in college and shortly afterward; then she married and had two sons, and repented of her misguided ways.

Falling in love is the best cure for radical feminism.

Gahrie said...

I thought grok was chunky gunk. Wasn't there a cartoon character on BC whose only utterance was GROK! ?

Grok is a word in the Martian language invented by Heinlein in Stranger in a Strange Land It has since become appropriated by English.

It basically means to understand something as completely and thoroughly as possible.

Gahrie said...

"I do hate that word, grok, so. It always reads as an affectation to me. I can't recall ever hearing someone use it in spoken conversation."

I use the word grok both in conversation and in writing. I usually only do so when I have a reasonable chance that the person I am conversing with will understand it. At least once I have taught someone the meaning of the word in order to use it effectively to communicate my meaning. It does have a meaning that can be difficult to convey using other English words.

Gahrie said...

As a public figure, Althouse is and has never been a leader in the radical feminist movement (Thank God).

I'll go further and say she continues to ignore it and deny it exists. She insists that feminism is some gauzy, feel good, "everyone is equal" empowerment thing, instead of the weapon to attack and punish men it has become.

Ironically, she can become pretty hostile to the interests of men if she thinks they might be impinging on the "rights" of women.

Besides the whole splooge stooge assault, there is her refusal to admit that the "20% of women who attend college will be raped" statistic is an absurd fraud designed to attack the interests of men.

BJM said...

The juxtaposition of Bruegel and the NYT reminded me of one my fav Stuart Leeds cartoons.

Ralph L said...

Falling in love is the best cure for radical feminism.

With a guy. Not with a girl or something in between.

Caligula said...

Well yes, nothing's quite so side-splitting as declaring that one wishes one could "KILL ALL MEN." Isn't that at least as funny as, well, hanging a noose somewhere?

See, you've just got to appreciate the nuance of it.

And, no, feminist humor is not transitive.