Contra Miss Manners, I Consider Tasteful Personalized Stationery Acceptable

by Belle Waring on August 31, 2006

You’d probably like to hear Ross Douthat explain how Margaret Mead, Stanley Fish and a bunch of hippies are responsible for the excesses of racist BMOC frat boys who hire strippers. C’mon, you like that sort of thing in small doses, admit it. It’s a good thing that last month’s secret feminist world-domination meeting involved a solemn pledge by all sexually active women to deny young Mr. Douthat any sexual contact outside of marriage, or going beyond the plain vanilla missionary-position type sanctioned by traditional mores, otherwise all this insufferable priggishness might have a whiff of hypocrisy about it. Best comment: “Yeah, raping strippers is awful, and meaningless sex isn’t great either. Also, some academics are crazy. I guess we should ban birth control.” Roy’s suggestion is bumper stickers reading “If you can eat pussy, thank a liberal.” I am afraid that a cold appraisal of continuing sexism leads me to conclude that advertising to men that they owe liberals a thank-you note for every blowjob would be even more effective. Black ink on white or cream stationery only, please. I suppose you can send them to Norbizness.

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Crooked Timber » 2006 » September » 01
09.01.06 at 10:41 am



Scott Lemieux 08.31.06 at 11:49 pm

Who says Harvard can’t teach the kids to put together a world-class bunch of non-sequiturs these days? You’re not going to get that kind of training at Northern Alabama…


rented mule 09.01.06 at 1:07 am

This disappoints me, because I found Douthat to be quite charming when I watched him spar with Matt Yglesias on I wish I was friends with Matt Yglesias. Maybe I shouldn’t post comments when I’ve been drinking.


Belle Waring 09.01.06 at 2:18 am

rented mule: we never let things like that stop us from posting, so carry on. also, I can attest that MY is indeed a funny, smart, nice person IRL just like you imagine. and he’s taller than you think.


ogged 09.01.06 at 2:53 am

Douthat’s piece is so obviously an exercise in throwing together sentences to support a pre-judged opinion that I have to believe that the feeling that one is scoring points in a big game called “public discourse” is like a drug to some people. I wish they’d take up narcotics and soil physical space, which is generally easier to clean.


norbizness 09.01.06 at 8:08 am

Hundreds! Hundreds of mailbags! All with letter addressed to Santa Claus!


bi 09.01.06 at 8:41 am

That best comment reminds me of Dave Barry:

“We need rain; your wife is great;
Here’s a frog; let’s cultivate!”


Steve 09.01.06 at 8:53 am

“Douthat’s piece is so obviously an exercise in throwing together sentences to support a pre-judged opinion”

How is this different from any other opinion piece ever written?



marcel 09.01.06 at 9:09 am

Belle – sounds like your conclusion can be summed up as “Girls say yes to boys who are liberals.” Phil Ochs would be horrified.


bi 09.01.06 at 9:46 am

Steve, you’re absolutely right. Are you still using the blogosphere as a newswire service?


Seth Edenbaum 09.01.06 at 10:59 am

So Duke spends all it’s money to create sport and academic franchises for elites of one sort or another Education as a whole suffers (all around the time the humanities were completing their transition into pseudo-science.)

Am I supposed to pick sides? Not wonder at the beginnings of such things? Blame what, history itself? The hippies? Sputnik?

Ross Douthat is a model of contemporary revanchist anti-feminism.
B. Waring has the very contemporary habit of conflating respect for the hoary ‘feminine prerogative’ with feminism.

And that idiot Sedgwick calls herself ‘gay-identified because she likes to get fucked in the ass.


Molly Bloom 09.01.06 at 12:57 pm

It’s interesting how predictably Belle and Roy caricature Ross’s post, whatever its other limitations, as anti-sex — even while they casually construct the beneficiaries of “liberalism” and sexual freedom as male.


Barry 09.01.06 at 6:48 pm

Posted by rented mule: “This disappoints me, because I found Douthat to be quite charming when I watched him spar with Matt Yglesias on I wish I was friends with Matt Yglesias. Maybe I shouldn’t post comments when I’ve been drinking.”

I’m afraid that you’re confusing ‘charming’ with ‘not an a**hole’. It’s a common mistake, particularly in the media, which the Right has learned to exploit.


Belle Waring 09.01.06 at 9:47 pm

molly: I was saying that continued sexism will make the political point more palatable if the beneficiaries can be presented as male. hence the “cold appraisal.”


The Continental Op 09.01.06 at 11:44 pm

This disappoints me, because I found Douthat to be quite charming when I watched him spar with Matt Yglesias on

I don’t know about Douthat, but one of his (inactive) co-bloggers was my student last year at Country Club University Law School. When I saw, in the 1L facebook, that he was a former editor of the Dartmouth Review and a former editorial writer for the New York Sun, I was both horrified and petrified (that he’d turn me in to Horowitz). To my simultaneous disappointment and relief, he turned out to be a very nice guy and among my favorite students, despite our stark political differences. I’m not at all sure what lesson to draw from this.

Anyway, to judge from his commentary on Duke, Douthat is a twit. But perhaps he’s a pleasant and charming twit.


Bill Gardner 09.02.06 at 7:30 am

Seth @#11:

Kosofsky has a wonderful recent quote:

I daily encounter graduate students who are dab hands at unveiling the hidden historical violences that underlie a secular, universalist liberal humanism. Yet these students’ sentient years, unlike the formative years of their teachers, have been spent entirely in a xenophobic Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush America where “liberal” is, if anything, a taboo category and where “secular humanism” is routinely treated as a marginal religious sect, while a vast majority of the population claims to engage in direct intercourse with multiple invisible entities such as angels, Satan, and God.

Have other critical theorists returned to our home planet?


ingrid robeyns 09.02.06 at 8:41 am

Feminism — a new category on Crooked Timber?! This is great news – I can’t wait to see what follows under this category.


Belle Waring 09.02.06 at 9:38 am

yeah, I finally remedied our lack of one; we just had sexual politics before. I blame my inherent laziness for not having done it sooner.


Molly Bloom 09.02.06 at 8:46 pm

Yeah, Belle, I understood the point of your “cold appraisal,” but since Roy’s construction of the beneficiaries of liberalism was male and/or lesbian to begin with — despite what you might think about the likelihood of men being thankful to be able to “eat more pussy” — I found it interesting that you ignored Roy’s oddly telling construction in favor of the “Ross-Douthat-hates-sex-and-is-probably-a-hypocrite” reflex.


bi 09.02.06 at 10:49 pm

To summarize Molly Bloom: “here, just look at the cute panda!”


Molly Bloom 09.03.06 at 1:19 am

And what have you got against cute pandas, bi — especially since we were already looking at them anyway?


bi 09.03.06 at 1:42 am

Molly Bloom: oh, nothing. But I find it interesting that you automatically, reflexly assume that I hate cute pandas. Now that’s what I call “telling” — at least with regard to your thought patterns.


Molly Bloom 09.03.06 at 1:49 am

You’re right, bi. It’s only Ross Douthat’s posts (and my comments) that are “telling.” And Roy Edroso is just a cute panda.


bi 09.03.06 at 2:56 am

Molly Bloom: Of course I’m right. Wait, what was your point again?


Belle Waring 09.03.06 at 10:19 am

molly: if you really need an explanation as to why I didn’t spend my time calling roy edroso out on the weakly implicit claim that men and lesbians are the main or sole beneficiaries of the sexual revolution, rather than mocking douthat’s bizarre non sequiturs, it’s because the stuff douthat said was a lot funnier. did you see the part where he blames the archetypally sexist bad behavior of priviledged white men on a motley collection of feminists, hippies, irritating english professors and possibly misguided sociologists? cuz that was off the chain!!!1!. you’re right that the more neutral bumper sticker “if you enjoy oral sex, thank a liberal” would be preferable from the point of view of more truthfully implying that everyone benefitted from the loosening of sexual mores in the ’60s and ’70s*, but I have a sneaking suspicion roy just wanted to say “pussy”. blogging is funny like that sometimes. finally, yes, statements from someone who embraces a captial C Catholic view on abortion rights, contraception, and women’s sexual autonomy will get the uncharitable reading from me. life is too short to pretend that the world was created ex nihilo moments before douthat posted. the moral of the story is: pandas are teh cute.
*except mr. douthat, presumably.


Molly Bloom 09.03.06 at 12:16 pm


Yes, I understand that the point of your post was simply to mock Ross Douthat, but instead of merely mocking the non sequiturs — which you did quite well in the opening salvo — you proceeded to the rather tired and unjustified accusation that Douthat was anti-sex (unjustified, at least, by the post you linked to). And the fact that the world was not created ex nihilo moments before Ross posted . . . well, while that’s a clever justification for the hackneyed rhetorical ploy (“Ross is anti-sex and a hypocrite and probably not getting any!”), it seems to dispense with the requirement to respond to, or mock, what Ross actually said by diverting our attention to the Big C Catholic philosophy which Ross supposedly espouses. Big C Catholic philosophy *may* be anti-sex, but as far as I know, you’ve never bothered to post a devastating, point-by-point critique of it. What, for instance, is the “big C Catholic” view of women’s sexual autonomy?

I know I’m making a fuss over a post that was meant only to make fun of a bad argument, or string of non sequiturs. But as someone who regularly reads both Ross’s blog and Crooked Timber, I get kind of weary of the “let’s mock the other side” reflex.

I am a woman who happens to think that the sexual and cultural revolution was a “mixed bag” for women (good for the lives of privileged white women, bad for the lives of poor women, poor minorities, and their children — and for a good number of the children of privileged white women). And maybe it’s partly because the fomenters of the revolution treated the world as if it were created ex nihilo after the Pill and “women’s lib,” as though sexism wouldn’t survive into the era of the new sexual utopia. And maybe it’s partly because the fomenters of revolution relied too heavily on the blank slate model of human nature. And maybe it’s partly because the fomenters of revolution were too willing to trash “traditional morality.”

I don’t know, but it would be nice, for a change, to see an intelligent person like you actually engage a socially conservative critique of the “sexual revolution” without taking the easy, mocking way out.

You’re certainly right, however, that Ross’s post was not the one to engage, and it’s your prerogative to blog about whatever you wish.


Belle Waring 09.03.06 at 10:45 pm

ok molly, I was thinking of posting seriously on the topic anyway so I’ll give it a go later this week. douthat invited the mockery on this one, though.


Molly Bloom 09.04.06 at 1:46 pm


Looking forward to reading your post.


theogon 09.04.06 at 2:26 pm

Getting back to the mockery, did anybody see the post where the one fellow tried to make a point about feminism by quoting David Sim? Some people are just too precious.


Belle Waring 09.05.06 at 9:00 am

wait, WHAT? who did that? when? I must know more, because that’s kryptonite crazy.


bi 09.05.06 at 12:06 pm

This in from BoingBoing. “We” need to get those bumper stickers out pronto.

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