a brief note on this Katie Roiphe business


Freddie deBoer used to blog at lhote.blogspot.com, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

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13 Responses

  1. Freddie,

    You of all people should know that a Slate headline and subhead can hardly be counted upon to reliably state the view of a piece’s author! Katie doesn’t actually claim that feminism claim that feminism “won’t admit the pleasure of infants.” That phrase appears in the subhead — and is pretty clearly based on a distinct part of Katie’s piece:

    “One of the minor dishonesties of the feminist movement has been to underestimate the passion of this time, to try for a rational, politically expedient assessment. Historically, feminists have emphasized the difficulty, the drudgery of new motherhood. They have tried to analogize childcare to the work of men; and so for a long time, women have called motherhood a ‘vocation.’ The act of caring for a baby is demanding, and arduous, of course, but it is wilder and more narcotic than any kind of work I have ever done.”Report

  2. For a writer accusing Roiphe of “straw feminism,” the Prose rant seems to rely almost entirely on, well, straw manning. In the process, I even think she manages to prove the very small point that Roiphe was making in the aforementioned paragraph.Report

    • Ryan in reply to Mark Thompson says:

      Wow, indeed she does. For someone who is arguing that feminism doesn’t politicize and mechanize motherhood, the intense focus on maternity leave, running an orphanage, and (inexplicably) being able to write books (?) basically makes the point about as well as one could.

      I’m with Freddie on the not-wanting-to-generalize business, but my goodness are feminists an angry and thin-skinned lot. Remind me of libertarians.Report

      • E.D. Kain in reply to Ryan says:

        Very true, Mark. Seems like the proper response would have been something along the lines of “Hey, I’m a feminist, and I really, really love my kids and you know? Whether or not the perception of feminists is that they don’t place enough importance on child-rearing, the fact is I personally find it very important and that is totally compatible with my beliefs.”Report

  3. E.D. Kain says:

    I don’t know – I think personal experience should count for something. I would think just living in the world and associating with more of the feminist-types would be enough to formulate these opinions – do we really always need journals and quotations to back our points?

    In my personal experience this (feminists frowning upon motherhood, or treating it as a burden) is very, very true – as we deal with our various friends, with other families, and so forth, this becomes more and more true, but it’s often not stated. It’s as often as anything just implied, either by silences or offhand remarks; by the stacking up of tiny clues and pieces over time.Report

    • Freddie in reply to E.D. Kain says:

      I get what you’re saying there too, Erik… I just wish Roiphe had been a bit more rigorous with her ideas and a bit less vague about what she was saying or who she was referring to. I know there are different kinds of posts, and that she was going for more of a thoughtful tone, but maybe just a bit more explicit information about what arguments in feminism she was reacting to.

      I am ready, though, to go with Conor, and chalk the whole thing up to Slate’s slimy subhead writer. That guy’s gotta go!Report

  4. greginak says:

    If you read the comments section at the Shapely Prose rebuttal there are many comments defending their dislike/disinterest in children. they sort of missed the point of the article.Report

  5. Hal Espen says:

    “I’d like a quote where a feminist actually emphasizes the difficulty and drudgery of new motherhood!”


    Adrienne Rich, “Of Woman Born” (1986): “I did not choose this subject; it had long ago chosen me… I only knew that I had lived through something which was considered central to the lives of women… a key to the meaning of life; and that I could remember little except anxiety, physical weariness, anger, self-blame, boredom, and divisions within myself…”

    Re Slate’s headlines and subheds, those grotesque and compulsive bits of pathetic, hot-button link-bait do a real dissservice to the many excellent writers there.Report

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