May 1, 2020
Sunday Bloody NYT Sunday: Special Don’t You Dare Say "Not All Men" Edition
As it damn well should, the Times leads with the horrific shooting in California Friday night, but nothing about the Times’s dispassionate reporting style can capture the godawful misogyny that is at the core of Eliot Rodger’s murderous rampage in Santa Barbara. To its credit (?), the Times does link to Rodger’s full manifesto, which is a document that oozes hate for women, that causes the hair on the back of your neck and your arms to prickle with sick recognition: this might be mental illness, but it is an illness that is not unfamiliar to women who routinely and disproportionately are the victims of harassment, neglect, violence, and death at the hands of men. Rodger’s actions were an extreme manifestation of a cultural view that is not actually uncommon: that women “owe” men attention, that women who don’t put out are bitches, that women who do put out — for other guys, of course — are sluts, and all these women get what they “deserve” — violence from men.
Sorry, there’s actually nothing funny in that intro, but fuck if we’ve got something funny to say about this.
There’s a repulsive sort of fortuity to the fact that the Times also has a piece this week about traveling alone while female, an act that is often fraught, and rightly so, with the fear of violence, even when it doesn’t lead to actual violence.
The piece is comprehensive and far-flung, tackling whether violence against women in countries like Turkey, Mexico, and India is more prevalent (SPOILER ALERT: maybe, maybe not!) and the pervasive view, abroad or at home, that bitches be asking for it.
Hakan Haykiri, 51, who owns a store that sells tourist knickknacks in the [Turkish] neighborhood in which [American tourist Sarai] Sierra was found dead, agreed that the case had not affected his trade, dismissing the violence as too common globally to matter.
“The same things happen everywhere in the world and it does not affect tourism,” Mr. Haykiri said. But he went on to say: “If the woman does not flirt, a man would not attempt to do anything, any harassment. Everything starts with a woman.”
This kind of victim-blaming was not terribly uncommon among men I spoke to in Turkey. Erkan Turkan, 30, a manager at Istanbul’s Volare Tour, interrupted a question about whether Ms. Sierra’s murder had affected business by saying, “She was asking for trouble.”
Oh and hey ladies, if you’re not worried about violence, sexualized and otherwise, being exacted upon your person for the crime of being ladies, why not instead fret about how ugly and old your lady-hands are, even as you celebrate your engagement?
Dr. Matthew Schulman, a Manhattan plastic surgeon, said he sees about eight patients a month specifically for hand treatments. “Everyone wants to see pictures of engagement rings, whether it’s looking at their wish pic or sending photos to their friends to announce an engagement,” he said. “They are becoming more aware of what their hands look like, much more than getting a manicure.”
Age spots, veins or a bony appearance (or, horrors, all three) have become an obsession for some women. And as with all obsessions, there is a price to be exacted. In Ms. Valencis’ quest for that perfect selfie of her diamond-adorned hand, she contracted for a series of six intense pulsed light (I.P.L.) and chemical-peel treatments and two syringes of an injected gel substance called Juvéderm Voluma XC for a total of $3,000.
God forbid your friends just bask in your happiness, or even in the glow of your new engagement rock. Naw, your friends better bask in the glow of your PERFECT FUCKING HANDS.
Everything is terrible.
God, after all that we’re relieved to read some cool New Pope news about how Pope Francis totally gonna fix the Israel-Palestine crisis, yo.
Pope Francis waded into the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process upon arriving here on Sunday, issuing an extraordinary invitation to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and President Shimon Peres of Israel to join him in his home in the Vatican for “a heartfelt prayer to God for the gift of peace.”
The pope also gave the Palestinians an uncommon boost by openly endorsing “the State of Palestine.”
Oh. He also kissed Abbas and called him a peacemaker. Can’t nobody rein in Pope Francis.
Remember when we had to pretend that callow fuckface George W. Bush was a man of letters and thoughtfulness? Guess what?! It’s time to do that with baby brother Jeb!
But in ways big and small, deliberate or subconscious, the younger Mr. Bush seems to have defined himself as the anti-George W. Bush: an intellectual in search of new ideas, a serial consulter of outsiders who relishes animated debate and a probing manager who eagerly burrows into the bureaucratic details.
Allies said that reputation — as what the Republican strategist Karl Rove called the “deepest thinker on our side” — could prove vital in selling Mr. Bush as a presidential candidate to an electorate still scarred by George W. Bush’s legacy of costly wars abroad and economic meltdown at home.
Haha yes the best way for us to recover from the skin-flaying level of wounds inflicted upon American and the world by W. is to elect his little brother. Genius plan.
Keeping it fresh, social etiquette guy gets to tackle something that is much more akin to Advice for the Lovelorn today than his usual beat.
My boyfriend and I have been together for about two years. Last week, I overheard him on the telephone telling a good friend that he would like to break up with me. (Literally: “Bro, I want to dump her.”) He thought I was out of the apartment, so I haven’t said anything about it. It felt like eavesdropping to me. But he’s not acting as if he wants to break up. In fact, he’s been incredibly sweet lately. I’m afraid I’m being delusional. Should I say something to him? And if so, what?
Our advice to this, of course, would involve yelling and confrontation and perhaps several creative iterations of the phrase “what the fuck, dude?” including, but not limited to, “what the ever living fuck, dude?” and “what the fuck, dude, fuck you.” Social etiquette guy is way more graceful and tentative, suggesting waiting for a good relaxed moment to tackle the question and also noting that sometimes bros need to blow off steam to other bros. He does at least point out that the writer should ask him or herself if they want to remain in this relationship, because social etiquette guy is nothing if not even-handed.
What are the rich people up to this week? Oh, buying apartments with master bedrooms bigger — and of course more ornate — than your entire house, you sad sack of poor.
[T]he floor plan shows just two bedrooms, including an enormous master suite that takes up roughly half of the 31st floor with an expansive sitting room, a large master bath and two capacious dressing rooms, one of which has its own half bath.
Truly, who could bear a bedroom without a sitting room? It’s just boorish to even contemplate.
Before we tackle our regular columnists, there’s an op-ed in this week’s Times by novelist Karl Taro Greenfield that has everyone all-aflutter because it is one of those thinkpieces that flails around at the question of whether our current media appetites are making us dumber or more shallow or why choose, and its very existence is going to spawn SO MANY MORE thinkpieces.
It’s never been so easy to pretend to know so much without actually knowing anything. We pick topical, relevant bits from Facebook, Twitter or emailed news alerts, and then regurgitate them. Instead of watching “Mad Men” or the Super Bowl or the Oscars or a presidential debate, you can simply scroll through someone else’s live-tweeting of it, or read the recaps the next day. Our cultural canon is becoming determined by whatever gets the most clicks.
Is that true? Perhaps! Or not! But fuck if we are going to write a thinkpiece about it, and neither should you, Gentle Reader.
Today, Thomas Friedman performs the neatly Friedmanian trick of making you fucking hate him and his topic, even though he is writing about something you entirely agree with, which is that we must tackle climate change as a comprehensive global issue, and as one that will affect our descendants and their real ability to thrive in the world. But of course Friedman descends into being Friedman, and then it is just terrible and all Flat World-ish.
The abiding strategy of our parents’ generation was “containment” of communism in order to be free. The abiding strategy of our generation has to be “resilience.” We will only be free to live the lives we want if we make our cities, country and planet more resilient.
Urm, Tommy? Not all of us are your age, and presumably there are many readers of the Times who have parents who struggled only against the horrors of mid-1970s soft rock. Also, for fuck’s sake just show some restraint. You could have written an entire column about how we need to act on climate change RIGHT FUCKING NOW without delving into your nonsense-speak and we would be far more likely to heed its call.
Perhaps we’re feeling a bit stretched thin, taut, over the whole Elliot Rodger thing, but Maureen Dowd’s column this week strikes the creepiest false note imaginable. Dowd set out to write a little remembrance of Arthur Gelb, the former Times editor who died earlier this week, but it turns into an icky little vignette that is more shudder-inducing than charming.
My favorite story, which I made Arthur retell on a BBC radio show a couple years ago, was his “drunken prank” on Marilyn Monroe.
One night in the early 1950s when he was about 30 and was working on night rewrite, he and his fellow rewrite guys took their 10 o’clock dinner break at Sardi’s. Monroe came in with a group and was seated at the next table. Her dress had a low-cut back, and Arthur said he and his pals were “mesmerized by her back” and her “absolutely flawless skin, very white, very pure.”
“One of us said, ‘You know, wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to just touch that back?’ And before we knew it, we were talking about who would have the guts, the nerve, the bravery to touch her. We all put up a couple of dollars and said the first person who leans over and touches her will collect the money. And I, with bravado — I was kind of a wise-guy young man — leaned over quickly and just touched her with my forefinger.
“I thought I’d touch her and maybe she wouldn’t even feel the touch. But she swung around and said in the loudest voice imaginable: ‘Who did that?’ And we just went into our clothes to hide. It was just the most horrible moment you could possibly imagine. And her friends said, ‘Come on, Marilyn,’ and they calmed her down and turned her around. I collected the 10 bucks and we got out of there.”
That is not actually a charming anecdote! That is a fucked-up view of the world where you figured that a living breathing person was just a porcelain goddess and you bet over who should go up and touch her like you were betting on seeing who would touch Boo Radley’s front door and you DIDN’T THINK SHE’D NOTICE BEING TOUCHED.
We never thought we’d be relieved to get to a Ross Douthat column, but there you have it. Ross is nattering on about the Tea Party and how their legacy is yet unwritten and what the fuck is he even on about?
[T]his is why the Tea Party’s legacy is unfinished — there are several politicians, all elected as insurgents and all potential presidential candidates in 2016, who still aspire to be the Tea Party’s version of Obama: Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. And because each embodies different facets of the Tea Party phenomenon, each would write a very different conclusion to its story.
Ross then goes on to explain all the cool different things a Rubio, Paul or Cruz victory would bring to the table, forgetting that all of these people are simply cruel little men who want to kick the poor and reward the rich and also too make sure they control what ladies put in and take out of their bodies. Not a one of these people are revolutionaries but they are all indeed reactionaries. We can see how little Ross would get confused.
Small blessings: Thank god the Pope thing happened too late Thomas Friedman to write about it this week and thank god the Elliot Rodger thing happened too late for Ross Douthat to scrawl about it, because we’d have to endure Friedman’s bloviating about how the Square People made the Pope see the light and Ross Douthat pretending to be even-handed about misogyny while really just talking about how college ladies are slutty slut sluts and if colleges would just crack down, ladies wouldn’t get themselves murdered. Something to look forward to next week!