Currently viewing the tag: "feminism"

lucy-steigerwald-previewI understand the premise of the insult when a cascade of neo-Nazi trolls suggest that I am ugly, un-doable, and/or Jewish. Nobody wants to be ugly, and a woman is supposed to be extra skittish about the very idea of someone thinking her repulsive. (Obviously calling someone Jewish isn’t an insult, but Nazis, those poor dears, are trying.)

But what to make of the folks who send me emails insulting my nose ring, calling my a bull and a cow? They know I chose the nose ring, right? It was something I selected and paid for, not a tragic birthmark. Calling attention to a fashion choice seems like an oddly ineffectual way to be cruel. “The thing you like is bad, and I am pointing that out!” I must know that my taste is making me less attractive to them. It always comes down to the type of men who believe in reporting what their pants are doing. Strange Women Must Know Whether I Find Them Hot, and If So, How Hot!

Twice while clashing on Facebook with people of the right, I was called a cross-dressing, or someone dressed in men’s clothing because at the time my profile pic was of me wearing a tie and suspenders. I also had long hair, lipstick, and a fairly femme look, as you can see above.

Piercings are not exactly breaking new fashion ground in 2016. Ladies in men’s wear is tragically underappreciated, but far from unprecedented. And yet, these people seem genuinely disgusted and troubled by this small aesthetic choices (mustn’t show them my legs then).

I see this in other reactions. A libertarian former coworker gets bangs and people find it proof that she was always a wicked leftist. Bangs plus glasses with any thickness is suspect. Odd colored hair, piercings, glasses — a definite look that I have some overlap with, but not entirely — is tagged as leftist, slutty, threatening. Why can’t they be blonde and wholesome like Women Were Before? Why can’t they like my aesthetic, not that ugly girl aesthetic?

This is why trans people, femme gay men, tough lesbians are amazing. Not trying to condescend about special flowers and the youness of you, but people are assholes a lot. And more to the point, they’re weirdly terrified of anything outside the norm. And to a surprisingly large number of them, outside the norm involves a nose ring or a tie on a woman. To kick gender roles and “normal” identity in the ass is an amazing thing. It’s very cool, and it’s actually brave (not like wearing a tie).

It doesn’t have to be teenage rebellion, or pretense of having a wholly original look. You’re not a maverick for daring to pierce your nose (or even BOTH SIDES OF IT). But I love my nose piercing more than I ever thought I would — it’s like my face is fancy every day!

Freaking out the squares is so oddly easy.

esq-megan-fox-cover-0213-lgShe sits across from you in the dark, bright, busy, empty restaurant cafe bar. Her familiar face from that number one critical darling TV show movie is so beautiful you would weep if you weren’t a man. She’s got a personality, so don’t feel guilty or anything. She contains multitudes, which you see reflected in her soul when she plays the fearless, nagging, comforting wife of a damaged spy soldier cop each week.

She expresses opinions and also she does a kind of exercise every day. She has voted. But that’s not really the point, is it? The point is that she is deep, like chocolate or wine.

By her, we mean her face. And tits. Not that the magazine that once published Frank Sinatra Has a Cold and The Falling Man would be so indelicate as to mention those lightly shaded mounds peeking out from the top of that girl next door, rock star, sex kitten blouse. Those breasts like femininity in 2015 America.

Also her face is symmetrical. Which is literary. It’s like a lyric essay, how her face is like that. The symmetry of it speaks volumes about late capitalism. She says things out loud, but it is her face that speaks in deeper, more fundamental tones, like a cello or your mom’s comfort food.

You see her in her underwear on the cover, right? But you didn’t see how comfortably she posed in that dripping, transparent tanktop. You, because you don’t know her and also live in Middle America, will never truly get that she is just as luminous while bare-assed in our studio as she is up on the big and also small screen.

She is poetry. Her thighs especially. They’re like molasses and cream and your first tentative erection. You haven’t studied poetry since high school because real poetry is in the calluses on your hands when you hold your son’s hand and you’re both playing baseball. But her skin and lips are the kind of literature that we have today in 2015. Metaphorically, you will study her vagina in English class tomorrow. Also literally.

We put her in that unbuttoned man’s shirt and loosened tie and nothing else because we know — we know — about the tumultuous state of gender roles in 2015. We see her laughing refutation of the archetypical American pinup girl, and we want to fuck her even more for it, and then give her another Oscar.

But we would fuck her respectfully. No — with reverence. Because she’s a sonnet about a lost, sexy deer, and she is a rich Bearnaise sauce. We would fuck her like we did in our minds while she fiddled with her phone in that cafe, almost like a person would. But she is not one. She is an essay. She is a limpid-eyed, babbling brook that you and your grandfather visited as a child. A strangely arousing painting of Elvis. A vintage sports car in a black and white portrait. A wounded sparrow you would totally do.

He is standing manfully, staring at other manful actions like maybe a pickup sports game or a beer tasting happening a short distance away. He would join in with lithe confidence, if he weren’t being profiled right now by the magazine that published The Falling Man and Frank Sinatra Has a Cold. Look at him relaxing, yet vigilant. He’s dripping with masculinity there in a t-shirt and jeans that you can purchase for 1500 dollars. Look at his face. His jawline is being a man today. Because he’s strong. But the kind of strong that exists in 2015, with its myriad post-feminist complexities and hunger for perfectly cooked meats.

He does stuff. It’s movie stuff, or possibly niche TV stuff, but by God he is just DOING THINGS ACTIVELY all day long. Now he’s leaning, and also standing with his legs apart, and also sitting confidently — like a man who knows how to play Mass Effect while wearing an eight thousand dollar suit and eating a rare steak. A man who has read Gravity’s Rainbow and feels it in his entire being as he lifts. A man who doesn’t hunt, but totally could.

He’s a metaphor for masculinity, this man. Manning about there. He’s kind of like Hemingway. But someone way less trite than that. Steinbeck, maybe? Yeah, he’s the kind of man who could wear a mustache like Steinbeck. The kind of man who invented mustaches. No, he’s someone more truly American than that. He’s like Captain America watching Humphrey Bogart wrestle Steve McQueen. But also like a cowboy detective racecar driver. But less hick than that. Because the essay on the decline of the American farmer, and what it means about your father, and all our fathers, is actually on page 68.

Anyway, he’s a man.

Manhood in 2015, can we ever dissect it? Can we — or he — ever figure out masculinity in a post-9/11, post-Obama, post-bailout, post-man America? Maybe. But that would be too navel-gazing for him. He’s thoughtful, but not in a way that would distract him from going skydiving while wearing jeans and a blazer that’s surprisingly appropriate for work or the bar afterwards. He knows manhood in his fingers, which he can use to please any woman, especially the ones you lust after. But he wouldn’t brag about that, he’d celebrate it with confidence.

Fundamentally, he is too much of a man to stop being a man today. He is manhood in the most fashionable past, and also its bold, unpredictable future. That’s why we took his picture in black and white for the cover! In short, he is you in all your contradictions and nuances. But better than you. But also surprisingly humble and also every single other man in 2015. Whiskey is great, isn’t it?

fd3d8e72-7cd9-4d03-893a-bbaa852cc462-620x372Option one:

If You Looked at Renee Zellweger’s Plastic Surgery, You Need to See These Photos

Mic writer Eileen Shim gives a Renee Zellweger’s face click bait headline, then self-righteously shames you for daring to click on such an inconsequential story. You should care about Kurds fighting, space travel, etc.

You should care more about all those things, that real news, but somehow Shim’s presentation makes me want to go read TMZ like I never have before. Give me good, real news. Find a way for me to want it, if I don’t want it. But do not lecture me about news. And do not sneak it in like a dog owner hides a pill in peanut butter. If I wanted a filibuster about the importance of true journalism, I would watch The Newsroom.

Option two:

‘I don’t care if you landed a spacecraft on a comet, your shirt is sexist and ostracizing’

Ponderous Verge writer Chris Plante cares not for science. He cares only for the fact that British rocket scientist Matt Taylor wore a garish, goofy “girly” shirt on television while discussing how he was going to (along with other scientists) put a God damned probe on a God damned comet.

Alright, Plante later admitted to being a bit excessive, yet cheered poor Taylor’s apology which came earlier today. Taylor might be a big old softy who was actually wounded at being accused of sexism. Or he was just bummed out that the gnats of the internet managed to swarm around and diminish his bad-ass day of SCIENCE. Certainly he had been experiencing some seriously keyed-up emotions and stress levels for several days. We don’t know exactly why he was so upset. We do know that Plante’s satisfaction was cold and creepy. And his conviction that the apology at least meant something good came of this was asinine. Yes, Taylor was bullied into an apology — that will teach him to never wear a quirky shirt designed by a rockabilly woman ever again. I am sure that means his eyes were opened about sexism.

Dear feminists, I may be more contrarian than average. But I strongly suspect I am not the only person completely repulsed by your petty myopia. I am not of the right, but you’re certainly not making liberalism or feminism anything I wish to be affiliated with.

Cream of the crop is option three:

‘Woman Gets Death Threats for Tweeting About Disliking A Dude’s Shirt’

This Jezebel post was so painfully wrong that a quick scan of the comments shows folks asking “uh, what death threats?” People were rude to the woman who originally expressed disgust over Taylor’s shirt. I especially dislike “kill yourself” as an internet insult — and it seems to be only gaining in popularity. But neither “kill yourself’ or “jump off a cliff” are death threats.

Not to mention, see the headline. See the fact that only the woman’s narrow focus is acceptable. She is allowed to be offended by a shirt, but the men aren’t allowed to be frustrated by the fact that someone is making a big deal out of a clothing choice. It may well be worse to experience sexism than to be accused of being a sexist. Yet, in order to accept that sexism is bad, men (or women) are not obligated to become prostrate at every accusation of it. They are allowed to fight back.

Death threats are garbage. Everyone should calm down about almost everything except the state. But try to actually include death threats in your piece which advertises that they occurred.

There are small issues to talk about in the world. I hate high heels. I wish women wouldn’t change their last names so often. But yet another thing that violates the sanctity of choose my choice feminism is how I wish that women (and their allies) would stop obsessing over and writing about things as small as a goofy shirt. Especially on a site which has expressed teenaged-style fawning over Barack Obama, while failing to mention his unfortunately less cute attributes like killing Pakistani children and spying on the media and public. Can we not go a little bigger than #shirtgate — without turning into the social good preaching of Mic? Can we not ever learn that powerful, arrogant people who feel as if they have a right to our lives are the enemy — not a badly dressed* British rocket scientist?

Or is it all about pageviews? Yeah, it is. Never mind.

[*11/15 edit: I think I like the shirt now, but it could just be spite. It’s very hard to tell.]

A libertarian panel hosted by Lucy Steigerwald, where ranting is encouraged, and smashing the state is mandatory.

-Lucy Steigerwald: Columnist for,,, and Editor in Chief of The Stag Blog; @lucystag
-Michael Tracey: New York City-based correspondent for, contributor to The American Conservative, Reason, The Nation, The Awl; @mtracey
-Joe Steigerwald: Publisher for The Stag Blog, technical dude; @steigerwaldino
-Joshua M. Patton: Writer for the internet,; @joshuampatton
Our cranky, liberty-loving panel discussed the possibility of NSA/spying reform, Michael Tracey’s VICE piece on heroin panic, and the drug war in general, then we had a long, long discussion on libertarianism, feminism, and the horrors of the Buzzfeedification of the media.

Recently Julie “Token Libertarian Girl” Borowski caused a stir, at least in internet Libertopia, with her “Addressing the Lack of Female Libertarians” video. In the video, Borowski buries some good points under generalizations and arguable slut-shaming of women who are less personally conservative than is Burowski. Borowski argues that women are more susceptible to peer pressure and outside opinion than are men, meaning that a fringe political idea like libertarianism is even less appealing to them. This is debatable and invites long and tedious conversation about nature versus nurture, gender roles, and other topics.

Borowski then moves into mourning the lack of libertarian ideas in popular culture. Her rant against general interest lady-mag Cosmopolitan is appealing to me, the female magazine-nerd who hates Cosmo as much as that opposing pillar of monthly bullshit Adbusters, and indeed, when publications like Cosmo address politics at all, they do operate from certain liberal assumptions…. (Cosmo, so archaic in its inability admit that women may have a wider range of interests than sex, was once downright brazen in its acceptance that women do indeed have sex outside of marriage.)

Borowski’s rant about the absurd cost of the aspirational products touted for sale in Cosmo versus the magazine’s implicit assumption that government should cover birth control and other goods is enjoyable, but to come down so harshly in a public forum against shallow, supposedly feminine interests muddies her earlier argument that libertarianism should be part of the fabric of popular culture. She’s funny, but she’s shooting her own argument in the foot here when she scorns the admittedly mockable high-heel and pricy handbag culture. I don’t like it much either, but she’s doing the cause of more libertarian ladies, please! No favors.

(To me, a more useful place to look at libertarianism, women, and pop culture might be the success of the Twilight series and The Hunger Games series. Both are young adult novels starring young women protagonists. Both are staggeringly successful and are adored by mostly young women.  Both even have a love triangle. Both are bad-to-mediocre in their writing quality, but demand that you keep turning pages anyway.

The difference between them is that Twilight is a soppy, mushy, purple-prosed tale of a girl getting everything she wants out of life (sexy vampire husband, immortality,  a child that takes care of itself) and The Hunger Games is the story of a girl who has to grow up much too fast and who is nearly completely destroyed by life in a dystopian society and the hell of war — even one of liberation. It may not be perfectly libertarian, but The Hunger Games series is pro breaking bad laws, pro fighting for freedom (but with serious questions about war and its worthiness and not being as bad as your enemy). It even explores whether political assassination is just and whether a new leader can be just as bad as the old tyrant. Heavy stuff, and yet those books have sold more than 25 million copies and teenage girls are obsessed. You want your accessible fun, libertarian messages? Give girls (and boys) more Hunger Games.)

Now, the back and forth Borowski hath wrought — Thomas Woods says yay! The Bleeding-Heart Libertarian says ugh — may be nothing more than a sign of the same libertarian squabbles of the past 50 or so years, the paleos versus the cosmos; the socially conservative versus the supposed “libertines” or hippies or what have you. But to me, the lack of women in libertarianism makes this a more interesting debate than it might be.

Cathy Reisenwitz of Reason offered her own response to Borowski’s video, and it’s, shall we say, cosmo-friendly in two ways. It’s opposed to slut-shaming and is pro-expensive handbag and I don’t really have an issue with it, only that she has continued what Borowski started when it comes to dancing around a point, but not getting to the heart of the question of where are the libertarian ladies.

Borowski and Woods and other’s basic premise that one can be a libertarian and a personal social conservative is one with which I strongly agree. It should be obvious. Other the other hand, the more paleo types have a habit of using words like “libertine” to describe anything outside of their conservative comfort zone. That is lazy and insulting, and is utterly lacking in nuance. It turns off those of us in the gray middle.

On the other, other hand, Reisenwitz may be overstating the joys of casual sex for all ladies in her video, but the libertarian answer to this should simply be a free market in all goods (handbags, etc.) and birth control available over the counter. Simple, the liberals would be happy, and the amount of sex anyone has would be their business, period. Reisenwitz ends with “Libertarians love sex and expensive handbags.” Libertarians are pro sexual freedom and pro free markets, so in a sense that’s true, but it’s also an imprecise summary that mirrors the same problem that Borowski’s video has. My problem with both these videos is that they are talking about bite-sized issues and they are both alienating to their fellow potentially middle-road libertarian women  (to say nothing of those still unconvinced by libertarianism).

Aesthetic issues are important to people, if not to libertarianism. I had paleo-libertarian friends who were annoyed when my former boss Nick Gillespie wrote about a transsexual woman in a beauty pageant. Is that relevant to libertarianism? No. Is Gillespie obligated to pretend that he is not pro gay rights, or pro transsexuals  or pro beat poets? No. The highest issue is whether the state should be involved in something or not, but individuals are not obligated to keep their personal opinions secret. This is a small, yet frustrating chunk of the great paleo vs. cosmo debate, but it seems to provoke the same conversations again and again. If the two camps are going to argue, let them argue about whether just wars exist or something substantial. Once and for all, the social conservatives are alienated by the “libertine” cosmos, and the cosmos are annoyed and turned-off by Christian shaming or a lack of love for rock and roll. We should be able to move on from that and agree with the basics of libertarianism, but Borowski and Reisenwitz’s videos show once again that we just can’t seem to.

I am glad to debate Cosmo and high heels and sexual libertarian or lack thereof, but it’s frustrating that both these ladies, who I admire and respect, have missed the bigger picture. (Besides more Hunger Games), what we need is to counter the idea that liberal ideas of legislated “fairness” and “equality” are the only ways to be emotional and caring. Women are supposedly more about emotions, even when it comes to the political realm. Furthermore, they are thought to be turned off by the stereotypical libertarian male who is awkward, creepy, or worse still, downright cold and callous about the poor and disadvantaged. Free markets themselves are of course thought to be the domain of the monocle-wearing fat cat. There’s a lot of reputation-changing that needs to happen.

An understanding of the basic benefits of free markets is essential to be a strongly-committed libertarian. And the right for any individual to be a selfish, uncharitable asshole is a right that is rarely defended and is also essential. Still, what libertarians need to do more than debate handbags is to counter the liberal propaganda that to care about other people is to legislate benefits “for” them.

GMU professor Bryan Caplan argues that it’s “inherently difficult to sell libertarianism to a Feeling” person (which women are much more likely to be). Why? Maybe a Feeling person is less likely to be a committed economist, but libertarianism doesn’t need everyone to be as smart as Caplan, Woods, or Borowski or Reisenwitz in order to catch on. Freedom just needs to be seen in a different, more positive light.

Why can’t freedom be fuzzy and emotional? Why can’t it appeal to all these soft, caring females? The drug war, crony capitalism, two million people in jail in the U.S., war itself, small businesses being crushed by bigger or more favored ones who have government help; taxi cartels, laws against treehouses and gardens in your homes, the racism of the justice system, the death penalty, etc. There are scores upon scores of libertarian issues that are more accessible to the average person than the quantitative scribblings of the dismal science or “letting the poor starve.” All of them could get right to the heart of people who, bless them, often do care about fellow humans and about injustices. Libertarian women (and men) should simply work on countering this idea that government-mandated fairness is kinder or gentler than freedom.

  • The Rebel Alliance had lady pilots after all! 
  • Rapper Big Boi doesn’t like Obama, or government in general.
  • But let me go ahead and ruin Louis C.K. for my fellow libertarians.
  • Fuck you, too, science. 
  • I love you, Conor Friedersdorf: “he embarks on a theoretical exploration of whether it is defensible in theory to kill Al Qaeda terrorists with unmanned aerial vehicles, ignoring real-world events and unintended consequences as obliviously as a 1970s liberal extolling the wisdom of rent control.”
  • Talking to aggrandizing screen-writers is one thing, but talking to journalists is forbidden.
  • “if feminism can be put through by pestering, despite the will of the people, so can socialism, pacifism, and other isms.”
  • North Korea is doing space stuff and people are nervous.
  • Oliver Sacks would like to tell you about hallucinations.
  • Amelia Earhart’s thoughts on marriage.
  • Time‘s photos of the year include some good stuff.
  • This is a gross reason to fire someone.