Tuesday, July 08, 2008

X and Woman X

Woke up this morning to this on Jezebel, which was sad and disturbing and reminded me a lot of this from the world of Gawker Media lady overshares, and also made me think about this:

None of this would be happening if they were men.

Because there are no "men's issues" blogs. There are "issues" blogs and "women's issues" blogs. Imagine for a second that Ross Douthat and Joshua Michael Marshall and Reihan Salaam were invited to an event called "Thinking and Drinking." Would their sex lives EVER be on the table as discussable? Would their behavior from college? No, and partly because they didn't put these issues there. They, like their "old media" counterparts, Leon Wiseltier and Sy Hersh et al, talk about the election and the economy and the environment, while Sandra Tsing Loh and Caitlin Flanagan and Judith Warner talk about their children and their sex lives. When 2nd-wave feminists coined the phrase "the personal is the political" I don't know if they intended it to be this kind of substitution.

Women get attention, lots of attention from people (including avid reader me) about their personal lives. It's interesting. I'm interested. In their STDs and tampon follies. In their visits to the ob/gyn and their heartbreaking breakups. But, I don't know what this attention all adds up to.

One of my good (male) friends asked  me recently, apropos of the young male writer deal (Ben Kunkel, et al) where all the young women writers are . . . and my first, uncharitable, thought was: getting drunk, having sex, and writing about it on their blogs. Yes, it's unfair and there's institutional sexist, patriarchal reasons behind these differences, but the comparison stands: Emily Gould has a memoir coming out where she talks about, um, herself. Keith Gessen wrote a novel and founded a magazine. With almost no women writers. Which somehow doesn't make it a "men's magazine."

And, finally, the shittiest part of all of this comes down to biology. Yes, men aren't oversharing as much on their blogs and they're way further ahead in both old and new media in talking about the big-picture political stuff, even though I'd take Megan Carpentier's analysis over Matt Yglesias's any day. And, yes,  I have to wonder if the hunger we have, as a society, for the inner lives of women writers creates its own kind of glass ceiling where you can have a column as long as you promise to self-gossip. But, even if we did away with all of the societal crap, we'd still come down to this:

What are the two hot-button issues on the Jezebel interview? Rape and abortion. Two things that even feminists will fight each other about, two things that lead to blame and judgment and "how dare you" or "why didn't you" or "I never would have" or "you don't understand." The twin worst outcomes of sexual behavior -- the demons lurking around the corner of supposedly liberated, late 20s carousing. 

Two things that are never, ever going to happen to straight men.