Morning Ed: Vice {2018.01.17.W}

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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135 Responses

  1. Pinky says:

    Vi5 – I’m very happy that I’m no longer exposed to cigarette smoke. But the science was always weak, and it was used opportunistically by people who either didn’t know better or didn’t care. The impact of garbage science adds up. It naturally leaves the public with less confidence in the people who claim to be reasonable authorities.Report

    • Richard Hershberger in reply to Pinky says:

      There was a lot of this on both sides. On the pro-smoking side we were assured that the bar and restaurant industries would collapse if smoking were outlawed. This was implausible even at the time. Even more hilarious were the free-marketers explaining how there clearly was no market for smoke-free bars, or they would already exist.Report

  2. J_A says:

    Vi3 I don’t follow it closely. Is it still true that a glass of wine or beer a day will improve your heart condition? Will we then have a picture of a bloated liver and a healthy heart?Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to J_A says:

      When my blood pressure was doing weird things last year, my regular doc sent me to the practice’s cardiologist to rule out some possibilities (as I have reached an age where there are more bad possibilities). She said a glass of wine at dinner would cause arteries to relax somewhat, which was good. Also that three would cause them to tighten up, which was bad.

      I lost a bet with the radiology techs who did the nuclear stress test the cardiologist ordered. They bet that everything would be fine; I was pessimistic and said they would find something bad (so, a bet I don’t mind having lost). When I asked why they bet the way they did, they said that it was because exercise is the most important factor by a very wide margin, and that anyone who could chat about bicycle bits while waiting for the radioactive stuff to circulate had exercised enough over their life.

      Also learned that the US no longer produces enough of the proper isotopes to meet our nuclear medicine needs, so imports from Canada, Europe, and South Africa.Report

      • Dark Matter in reply to Michael Cain says:

        My blood pressure got really high last year in spite of my chosen exercise (swimming). I got a home robot to measure it which confirmed yep, it was a real thing.

        Then I saw a doc and he lowered my BP by 35 points with no drugs or anything.

        He looked at how I was measuring it (which matched how the Red Cross had done it) and told me I was holding my arm wrong.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to J_A says:

      Of course you don’t follow it closely. That’s what one does – wait until a study comes out that says that one’s preferred vice has some health benefit, then studiously avoid all follow-up studies of that vice, lest they contradict the one you like.Report

  3. LeeEsq says:

    Vi3: I think it’s going too far. People have been seeking pleasure through food and drugs since prehistoria. If the health risks of moderate drinking are low than you shouldn’t moralize over it. There seems to be a general war on pleasure for health.Report

    • fillyjonk in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I fully expect, in my lifetime, to see warning labels on anything containing added sugar, even maybe rising to the level of showing a diseased pancreas or some such.

      The thing is – even though I try to be careful about the amount of added sugar I consume – cutting it out altogether (something I have tried in the past, in the name of Weight Loss) eventually makes me kind of cranky and miserable.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to fillyjonk says:

        Many people overindulge on pleasurable food, don’t exercise, and suffer physically as a result. But trying to ban it forever?Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to fillyjonk says:

        I fully expect, in my lifetime, to see warning labels on anything containing added sugar

        WARNING: Not if you don’t cut back on sugar.Report

        • fillyjonk in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          well, also not if Trump and Kim keep having contests about whose (figurative) schwanstucker is bigger, mediated through nuclear sabre-rattling.

          I go back and forth: part of me says “you need to eat ascetically and exercise more because you don’t want to be crippled with various chronic diseases when you’re 80” and part of me says “why are you holding back on stuff you enjoy, if there’s half a chance you will wind up as a glowing radioactive particle in the next five years?”Report

    • InMD in reply to LeeEsq says:

      I always want to ask the proponents what the point of a long healthy life is if you aren’t allowed any fun or self indulgence.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to InMD says:

        But that is the wrong kind of fun. You need to indulge only in safe, approved fun, with proper equipment.

        And as for self indulgence, how about you indulge yourself of a few more push-ups, or another km on your run, enjoy that endorphin high!Report

        • InMD in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          So much for my cabinet of bourbon, cigars, and fireworks.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          @oscar-gordon @inmd

          I don’t think the truth is that far off from Oscar’s sarcastic second sentence. People are not very good at predicting at what other people like to do for pleasure (myself included). Lots of fitness zealots seem to think everyone can and should learn to be as hardcore as possible about working out.

          Obviously physical health is important.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to InMD says:

        Besides Oscar’s sarcastic but accurate response, they would say they point of the healthy lifestyle is to look the best you can, live as long as you can, and not have to worry about bad health because of your lifestyle.Report

        • Damon in reply to LeeEsq says:

          I’ll give you the best damn reason. My step mother was in the best shape a 60 year old woman could be. No seriously. Low body fat, very strong. It was fortunate she was, because when my Dad got sick, she was able to care for him in their home and didn’t need to put him in a home. She could physically move him from the bed to the wheelchair, etc.

          So you or your spouse can die in their own place and not some god forsaken nursing home with indifferent staff and half insane patients wailing in fear and loneliness–that’s how my grandmother died.Report

        • Oscar Gordon in reply to LeeEsq says:

          As with so many things, the poison is in the dose.

          I remember this past year when a medical org announced that since it had no idea what a minimum safe dose was of alcohol for pregnant women, it was advising that pregnant women avoid alcohol completely. Actually, IIRC, they went a step further and advised that all women of child bearing age who were sexually active should avoid alcohol, since they had no idea how even a tiny bit could affect the baby very early on in the pregnancy, before the woman would know she was pregnant.

          Now normally some org making such a statement would not be a big deal, but this was either a government org, or a private one that government and insurance listen to carefully.

          Clearly, given the fact that humanity and alcohol have been a thing for millennia, the actual risk has to be pretty low, unless the woman is a heavy drinker. But that kind of qualifier was missing.Report

          • George Turner in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

            By modern standards, every single baby born in Europe from the Dark Ages to [insert 19th or 20th century war] had fetal alcohol syndrome. As a result Europe dominated the entire world.

            Drink up, moms of the future!Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to InMD says:

        There are many kinds of fun that aren’t self-destructive. Most of them, really.Report

  4. Oscar Gordon says:

    Vi4: They can have my caffeine when they pry it from my twitchy fingers!

    Seriously, I don’t smoke, do drugs, and I drink maybe 5 drinks a month. Coffee is my only daily vice!Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      She said Justin Bartholomew’s family were “convinced” his intake of more than 15 cans a day had increased his anxiety and contributed to his death.

      Well, a grieving family has spoken. It would be monstrously insensitive to question their judgment, so let’s start passing laws!Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        It would be monstrously insensitive to question their judgment

        Lucky for me, I am monstrously insensitive! And really, where do these people get off interfering with the edict of Darwin?!Report

      • PD Shaw in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        And that’s in Sussex, so those are imperial cans.Report

      • dragonfrog in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        15 cans of energy drink a day? Jeebus!

        I can’t think of a drug I enjoy, where I could consume 15 “servings” a day (cups, pints, bowls, tabs, whatever) and be even remotely functional. The fact that he survived any time at all does support caffeine being one of the safest recreational drugs going.

        As the other link on Vi4 notes “In other words, you’d need to drink 100 cups of coffee in rapid succession to hit the deadly dose” – but still you couldn’t actually consume a deadly dose of caffeine that way. The water in the coffee would kill you around 1/4 of the way to overdosing on the caffeine.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Hm, I had not heard of Bitconnect before this moment. I take it there were people who thought that a company offering 40+% a month interest wasn’t obviously a Ponzi scheme?Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to dragonfrog says:

        Considering I have a very low opinion of crypto-currency in general and think of it as a Ponzi scheme/bubble, my answer to your question is yes.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          People have been saying Bitcoin is a bubble since it hit $31.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Stillwater says:


            Bubbles expand until they don’t and then the burst quickly.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Stillwater says:

            What problem does Bitcoin solve? You still need government cash for it to be worth anything.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              Anonymous transfer of cash.

              If the government doesn’t know the money changed hands (let alone to whom), it cannot be taxed.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              How to get bright young technically savvy men to frantically shovel US dollars into my bank account in exchange for nothing?

              Magical beans, er, coins that someday can be exchanged for toys, hookers, and blow.Report

            • dragonfrog in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              It provides electronic payments that act more like cash

              – crooked payment recipients cannot issue arbitrary bills once they possess your card information (pay a $40 restaurant tab, find out later you were billed $400; buy gasoline from a gas station that got its payment terminal hacked, two months later you find someone’s bought an iPhone with your card). With BTC, you gave them $40 worth, that’s all they’re going to get, just like cash.

              – cantankerous customers can’t later force a refund despite having received the goods.

              – you can buy illegal stuff with it.

              That said, the recent huge fluctuations in value mostly destroy its utility for those purposes. Why would you spend your BTC on goods when you’re hoping it will double in value by next week? Why would you accept BTC for goods when you’re afraid it will tank by the time your next order goes to the wholesaler?Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to dragonfrog says:

                “That said, the recent huge fluctuations in value mostly destroy its utility for those purposes. Why would you spend your BTC on goods when you’re hoping it will double in value by next week? Why would you accept BTC for goods when you’re afraid it will tank by the time your next order goes to the wholesaler?”

                And this is what makes a speculative bubble. Even without this, I would not accept Bitcoin as payment,Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Cryptocurrencies are being treated as a commodity right now but once all the coins are mined owners will receive dividends on collected transaction fees, which over the long haul will help determine and stabilize their price.Report

              • Troublesome Frog in reply to Stillwater says:

                That seems extremely optimistic. Central banks weren’t created for no reason. The volatility of commodity money is one of those reasons.

                Limiting your economy’s ability to expand based on how fast we can shovel metal out of the ground wasn’t very clever. Limiting it based on how fast we can compute hashes (or just capping it, or both in the case of BTC) probably isn’t going to work any better.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                Especially when there’s both a hard cap and it’s deflationary by design (ie, each additional “coin” takes longer to mine, up until you run out of mine-able coins.)Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                All of these criticisms are on the money, so to speak, if something like BitCoin was intended to replace government backed currency. It wasn’t, and most people who use it are not interested in it doing so.

                It’s meant to be a digital medium of exchange that is outside of government control.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                That’s why I think looking at Cryptocurrencies as a gold substitute is probably wrong. I get why it looks like gold in some senses, but gold is unique precisely because it was used as a standard. If cryptocurrencies survive – and my personal suspicion is that their success will spell their ultimate demise at the hands of global finance – they survive as an alternative to *The Standard* (TM) whatever it turns out to be… and it survives on its ability to process transactions for which it is a thousand times better than gold, a hundred thousand times better than oil, and a million times better than corn.

                However, as others have pointed out, the (current?) technical limitations of its transactional processing make it a billion times worse than fractal moneys… and any serious gains in efficiency would likely trigger a regulatory death warrant… or if not actual death, then a perpetual assassination contract.

                So, my personal opinion is that it is a very risky speculative play where success increases the risk rather than reduces it… so the Marchmaine rating is [Sell].

                Note, [Sell] is also the exact same rating I gave it when I thought $100 was a stupid price to pay for such a risky proposition back in ’12/’13… so bear that in mind.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                That seems extremely optimistic.

                Intel, Microsoft, IBM, JPMorgan, others think Ethereum is worth developing and investing in. They seem to be optimistic too.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Stillwater says:

                Ethereum is more than just a crypto-currency, though.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Even without this, I would not accept Bitcoin as payment,

                I don’t think the Bitcoin players are upset by this. 🙂Report

              • dragonfrog in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                You’re not selling forged passports or 2C compounds online, so you’d likely have no particular reason to…Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to dragonfrog says:

                Alternatively, if your local government is using it’s power over the currency and banking system to oppress people, crypto is a way around that (the police can’t seize your BTC during a traffic stop unless you give them the encryption key to your wallet).Report

              • dragonfrog in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Rubber hose cryptanalysis works fine for that.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to dragonfrog says:

                Depends on if the government is trying to maintain a veneer of legitimacy.Report

              • dragonfrog in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Contempt-of-court cryptanalysis?Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to dragonfrog says:

                If a cop pulls you over and you have $50k in cash, he can seize it easy peasy. If you have $50k in bit coin, he needs a warrant to compel you to open your wallet, which means he needs to make a case for it.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Given that the Bitcoins most famous claim is that it facilitates non traceable, irreversible transactions between people of ill repute, “can’t be stolen” is a non sequitur

                Look, we can settle this right here and now.
                Here, you transfer those Bitcoins into my account, and no one will be the wiser.
                And I won’t decide that you pose a threat and have to shoot you.
                Easy Peasy!

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                That assumes the officer knows you have bitcoins. A bag of money is obvious, a digital wallet isn’t.Report

  5. Will Truman says:

    Late addition to this Morning Ed on Vice.


  6. Jesse says:

    In which reasonable centrist Megan McArdle endorses slut shaming, since forcing men to change is impossible.

    • j r in reply to Jesse says:

      I’m tempted to ask why you would even bother to read something if you’re going to go out of your way to offer the most hamfisted, uncharitable interpretation possible. I think that I know the answer though.

      What I like about your comment is that it almost perfectly illustrates what McArdle is talking about, which is how this particular way of talking about sexual encounters is so backwards that it eliminates the very thing that it is meant to encourage, individual empowerment and autonomy.Report

      • North in reply to j r says:

        I think I fall in between you and Jesse. I mean McMegan is pretty wrong here in that the idea seems utterly unworkable both in principle and practice but she seems to mainly just be spitballing and certainly isn’t claiming that her suggestion is the moral course of action.Report

        • veronica d in reply to North says:


          I’m okay with what McArdle is saying until she gets to the part about “browbeating” other women — which, good luck with that. I fuck who I wanna fuck when I wanna fuck. Likewise, talking about what an insipid dipshit Ansari was seems useful, as was that “Cat Person” story — and don’t they seem like the same basic thing!

          I’ve had my share of awkward, weird, and kinda depressing sexual encounters. That said, I’ve never behaved like those men. In turn I’ve never been called out like they were. How did I manage this feat?

          I think I know, but it is hard to summarize.

          In any case there is space for women to talk among ourselves about crappy men, and strategies we can use to deal with them. Powerlessness is not a good response. Solidarity is. Strength is. Taking our power and knowing the score — these things! There are ways to preach that message without being a moralistic scold. However, McArdle seems to miss that and instead has to turn to “browbeating.”

          Which of course. That sums her up.Report

        • j r in reply to North says:

          Only on the internet could the suggestions of exercising your own autonomy to improve on real world situations be called “utterly unworkable both in principle and practice.” If that’s your opinion, you are entitled to it. But it’s likely not going to work out the way you want it to.Report

          • North in reply to j r says:

            What I am referring to as unworkable in principle and in practice is the core thrust of her article which is that women, in general, should form an impromptu cartel to impose some kind of supply restriction on sex and re-institute some kind of neo-victorian set of standards. If you, or even McMegan (who certainly knows better than to say her suggestion is much beyond spitballing speculative), actually thought that all women everywhere could be persuaded to join up with such a cartel or to acquiesce to the enforcement it’d have to take to achieve it’s ends I have a bridge to sell you.

            Hmmm.. or I suppose one could argue that such a cartel is kind of coming into existence and it’s the very elements of the #metoo movement that McMegan and antifeminists dislike the most.Report

            • Maribou in reply to North says:

              @north Or you could say it’s an obvious Lysistratan somewhat tongue-in-cheek provocation, and that in her contrarian, difficult way, she’s actually endorsing the #metoo movement.

              It’s not an either/or.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Maribou says:

                I’ve always wondered if you could do a gender reverse Lysistrata where men refuse to have sex or romance with women and have it not come off terribly misogynist. One of the problems with the Lysistrata is that the goal of the women was noble, ending a terrible war. I can’t think of similarly good goal of the men in modern Lysistrata. Its also a bit unbelievable that your going to get every man to go along with sex strike.Report

              • Maribou in reply to LeeEsq says:

                @leeesq Generally when one category of people has relatively more power than some other category of people, the story is only funny if the less powerful category is the one in revolt.

                I mean, I guess if you were a really good satirist you could manage it but the reasons for the humor would be entirely different.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Maribou says:

                You can also make a good faith argument that the original Lysistrata was a pretty misogynist work to begin with. Ancient Greece was not a hospitable place for women and Aristophanes was on the more traditional side in Greek culture.Report

              • Maribou in reply to LeeEsq says:

                @leeesq It’s definitely not a play that admits of simple readings. (Have seen it performed live by two different companies, came off quite differently in each performance despite them using the same translation.)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

                I’ve got a number of complaints regarding the portrayal of women in the Lascaux cave paintings.Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Oog Singer, ground breaking philosopher of animal rights, had many complaints about the portrayal of animals at Lascaux.Report

              • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

                It’d be very very strange. Biology being what it is the defectors in such a scheme would have outsized capability to make an impact.Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

              Don’t many heterosexual men already believe that women already form a supply restriction on sex? Part of the current conservation regarding harassment and assault revolves around how many heterosexual men complain that getting sex is really hard work. Its part of the Nice Guy litany.Report

      • pillsy in reply to j r says:

        That’s literally what she advocates here, though:

        If you cast an eye back over history you’ll see that what most societies have actually come up with is the social equivalent of a cartel: if you want the sex, you’re going to first have to invest in some sort of relationship, because it’s not (readily) available any other way. Those regimes, of course, were often quite punishing to women, but then, that’s how cartels often work; when a cartel member cheats by selling below the fixed price, it is the member, not their customer, who suffers retaliation from the rest of the cartel.

        Which suggests an uncomfortable possibility. No, not a neo-Victorian morals police to force morally loose women out of town. But a decision by women to force better behavior from the men who offend them, and even to browbeat other women into going along.

        This isn’t even in the Top Five list of Terrible McArdle Ideas, due to an absence of kindergartners launching human wave attacks agains armed men, but it’s still pretty damned bad.Report

        • j r in reply to pillsy says:

          That is not at all what literal means.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to pillsy says:

          Pillsy, when you say McArdle’s idea is bad, are you referring to this one (from the quotation you cite):

          But a decision by women to force better behavior from the men who offend them, and even to browbeat other women into going along.

          I ask because this “idea” strikes me as the central purpose and goal of the #metoo movement: women tell their stories with a descriptive accuracy so appalling it compels men to change their sexual behavior and women browbeat other women (…Meryl Streep…) into agreeing that women should do so. I mean, nuance aside, that general characterization of #metoo doesn’t seem controversial to me. Does it to you?

          I picked up on two things she said which may be controversial. She appears to suggest that women should confront men more as agents of their own destiny, determiners of their own outcomes. The second is she thinks a discourse and culture limited to what she calls “hyper-consent” creates and reveals problems of its own, in particular by restricting the type of discourse men and women can engage in but also by limiting women’s conception of their own agency. I can see why both of those could be viewed as problematic suggestions for practical and ideological reasons.

          The line about browbeating women and what that means seems like an intra-feminist dispute to me insofar as it’s relevant to #metoo. Personally, I’ve always viewed libertarian’s reliance on public shaming as something they should be ashamed of, but that’s just me.Report

          • pillsy in reply to Stillwater says:

            Those two things strike me as much less of a disastrously reactionary suggestion than arguing that women should punish other women for being too eager to have sex with men. That’s what she’s advocating a return to with her endorsement of a cartel.

            That she dresses women bullying other women for having sex they disapprove of as advocating for efficacy and individual agency among women is just another in a long line of McArdle’s intellectual frauds.Report

            • Maribou in reply to pillsy says:


              Generally speaking if I see a woman who is reasonably aware of the last 30 years of US pop culture, and quite intelligent (leaving out several caveats here), advocating for “no sex until the 3rd date” as a somehow implementable cartel move, I assume she is being ironic and/or more complicated than a person might jump to assuming otherwise. Even McArdle. Because I assume that she, like me, and ESPECIALLY like women and many nonbinary people 10 or more years older than me, grew up reading that little dictum, being advocated at about that little dictum, hearing about how our *mothers* daringly adhered to that little dictum (or didn’t and were hurt badly by society over it) etc etc etc, and it *not working very well*. No woman who ever picked up a women’s or teen-girl’s magazine other than Sassy during the late 80s/early 90s, could have missed it.

              She’s arrogant and obnoxious but she is also not playing the argument straight here. Which is not an odd tactic if you look at all the ridiculous, off-topic, gendered and shaming stuff that has been slung against freaking Margaret Atwood and others in the name of feminism this week, you kind of have to laugh about it if you don’t want to start crying (and I’m sure if I was more like McArdle and had more patience for Roiphe, Flanagan, et al, it’d be even more urgent to laugh).

              What’s next, calling feminists one stridently disagrees with fat?? It’s utterly ridiculous.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to pillsy says:

              women should punish other women for being too eager to have sex with men. That’s what she’s advocating a return to with her endorsement of a cartel.

              She didn’t say “should”. It was one of a potentially long list of behavioral norms which women, as a group, could embrace to achieve change men’s sexual behavior. (Whether or not folks agree with her about that seems to rely on whether they believe #metoo is a worthwhile project or exercise since the underlying mechanisms are the same.)

              She said a lot of interesting stuff in that article. It’s interesting that people are fixated on that one throwaway line which is being interpreted as defining McArdle’s views on the sexual revolution and contemporary feminism. She’s not saying women need to become prudes again. She’s saying women’s collective power has great efficacy to enact change. Personally, I’ll stick with criticizing her for advocating brow-beating and shame as useful social tools. That’s just silly.Report

              • j r in reply to Stillwater says:

                She’s not saying women need to become prudes again. She’s saying women’s collective power has great efficacy to enact change. Personally, I’ll stick with criticizing her for advocating brow-beating and shame as useful social tools. That’s just silly.

                This is pretty much my reading as well. There is a lot of good and useful in that article and one poor choice to advocate for browbeating instead of keeping the focus on positive ways to improve women’s individual and collective efficacy. It’s worth pointing out, but it’s hardly slut-shaming or a call for reactionary norms, unless of course that’s what you want it to be.

                Pay attention to this type of thing, because you see it a lot. You see a person or a group of people who say that they want to find a solution to X problem, but then show a negative, almost guttural, reaction to any suggested solution that either doesn’t align with their pre-existing ideological preferences or that comes from someone they view as a member of the outgroup.Report

              • Megan J McArdle in reply to j r says:

                So there are a lot of ways we can conceive the word “browbeating”. We can think of it as women saying “You slut, how nice people don’t have sex until the third date”. Or we can think of it as vigorously saying “You shouldn’t have sex until the third date because if we act collectively, we can create some space for women who are being made really uncomfortable by the current dating culture, space they’re having difficulty creating for themselves”, and reminding friends who stray that they have an obligation not just to the sisterhood, but to themselves–that stranger (or near-stranger) sex is much more likely to be bad sex, and that women have entirely too much bad sex as it is. I can easily imagine girlfriends saying to each other “You had terrible sex on the first date? You’re better than that! Make him get to know you, and demonstrate that he actually has some interest in you as a person rather than a vehicle for quick and charmless sex”. My husband browbeats me into taking care of myself in various ways; I don’t think this is sexist, wrong, or unloving.

                I agree that the first is a bad approach; I agree (as I noted in the column) that the second would be incredible to pull off. I don’t have great solutions; what I have is the observation that the current system seems to be making a whole lot of women unhappy.

                I would also observe that feminists, as a general rule, have no trouble at all with browbeating other women in the name of sisterhood. Whenever I write something feminists find uncomfortable, whether it’s about rape statistics or #BelieveAllWomen or the fact that my own experience of quite lurid sexual harassment did not particularly traumatize me (to be clear, I was not suggesting that therefore other women weren’t/shouldn’t be traumatized, merely reporting what happened to me), I am inundated with women saying “Even if what you wrote is true, you had no right to say it, because it’s bad for other women”. If it’s all right for women to suggest that I shouldn’t write things that are true–something that is normally regarded as a positive, valuable, moral act by our society–then perhaps sisterhood could also go so far as to tell other women that they should participate in a collective effort to demand better sexual behavior from men. Women are better than men at collective action and cooperation. We could use that to improve a bad situation that is clearly producing a lot of emotional damage for women.

                Of course, we could also browbeat men. But I have some skepticism about whether this will work. #NotAllMen gets a bad rap, but we should think about the fact that a relatively small number of abusive men can make the abuse feel ubiquitous if they spend a lot of time on Tinder. “Teach men not to rape” seems to me to ignore the fact that there are always defectors from cultural norms–I think it would be fairly absurd to say that we have a “murder culture” outside of some criminal gangs, and yet every year, people commit murders. Selfishness is a human constant, not an aberration; if women reward men for behaving badly by allowing them to enjoy selfish sex, then at least some of them will continue to pursue selfish sex. And defection from social norms tends to go up in relatively anonymous environments–crime is higher in cities, for example, then in small towns–because social bonds are weaker and it gets harder to socially punish scofflaws.

                I mean, yes, you can internet shame famous people. But most people are not famous, or dating famous people. Most men are immune from the kind of broad public shaming that was aimed at Ansari, because no one would write it, and if they did, no one else would read it. So some men will behave badly–and if they’re going on a lot of dates, a lot of women will be exposed to their bad behavior.

                So since “punishing bad actors” is off the table as a practical solution for these sorts of bad actors, I think women are going to have to change something about their own behavior in order to change the incentive structure for men who currently find what Ansari did rewarding. A norm among of “We don’t allow ourselves to be treated like that” is somewhat more likely to work than explaining to men that they ought to be nicer to the women they sleep with. If enough men find that an attempt to pursue the kind of sex they’ve seen in porn videos results in no sex–or in the case of men who are vulnerable to social shame, in an awkward and embarrassing conversation about their shortcomings as a lover–then they will figure out that they need to be nicer to their partners in order to get what they want, and avoid the embarrassment.

                Maybe this is not likely to work! Just more likely than “Guys, stop pursuing casual sex in such a vigorous, self centered way!” Because “stop doing something that is currently working for you” is a really, really hard sell to selfish humans. And there is no way that “society” is going to punish these men; the women who are there with them when the bad behavior occurs are going to have to take on the job, or it won’t get done.

                The latter feels better, because it lays the responsibility on the perpetrators. But neither the universe nor human nature is set up to provide that sort of neat moral complementarity; the person causing the problem is not always the one in the best position to fix the problem. If you get hit by a drunk driver and break both legs, the drunk driver is responsible, and he should fix it. But he can’t do your physical therapy for you.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Megan J McArdle says:

                @megan-j-mcardle Hey, I just wanted to say welcome, and thanks for coming in to explain your use of the word browbeating / expand on your thoughts. I always appreciate it when people do that.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to Megan J McArdle says:

                Megan! I don’t comment much anymore because everything just gets buried in the flood, but I’m still reading.

                Anyway, it’s not clear to me this is actually a problem that can, or needs to be, be solved by collective action. Saving sex for the nth date is a strategy any individual woman can successfully employ unilaterally, without cooperation from other women.

                My (offensively oversimplified) mental model of what’s happening here is that men have two standards for women and women have one standard for men. Specifically, the set of women a given man is willing to marry (or date exclusively for extended periods of time) is a proper subset of the set of women he’s willing to have sex with at least once. Women—at least, the women who have the problem you’re describing—generally have only one standard for both.

                A corollary of this is that if a man can get a woman into bed, it usually comes with an option for exclusive dating, but a woman has access to one set of men for marriage, and another set of men for sex only. Unfortunately, the latter class of men is generally more desirable than the former class. Being more desirable, they have more options; having more options, they’re pickier about whom they’ll commit to. So if a woman only dates the most desirable men who will go out with her, she’s specifically selecting for the men who only want her for easy sex.

                If a woman is consistently finding that men are loving and leaving, then yeah, we can rail about how awful those men are, but the fundamental problem is that she’s exclusively dating men who are desirable enough that they think they can easily find another woman of equal or greater attractiveness to have sex with. The obvious corrective is for her to stop doing that, and start dating men who don’t think they can easily do significantly better.

                I’m not talking about scraping the bottom of the barrel. The vast majority of men aren’t using Tinder or any other method to have sex with a different woman every week, or even every couple months. Not because of our superior morals, but because unless a man is ridiculously attractive (or famous) or has ridiculously low standards, casual sex is just *way* too much work to be an attractive alternative to a stable relationship. I’m just saying that if women want to get married, they should date men in their marriage league, not in their sex league.

                And how does she know if a man is in her marriage league? By waiting until the nth date. If he’s serious about her, he’ll stick around. If he’s not, he won’t, but he was never going to marry her anyway, because she’s in his sex league, not his marriage league.

                Granted, if all women did this, it would make the sorting process a bit easier (men wouldn’t even try to go after women they weren’t serious about), but I don’t see any reason this strategy can’t still be employed by any individual woman unilaterally. Yes, “Lower your standards” is unsatisfying advice, but it’s much easier than convincing every other woman to go on strike, and ultimately leads to more or less the same results. The most desirable 5% of men may be able to lead 25% of women on, but they can only marry 5%, so either way the other 20% are going to have to settle.Report

              • Maribou in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                This is an interesting comment, which I appreciated reading, but “love ’em and leave ’em” is, I think a different circumstance than the one being addressed by McCardle’s column and people complaining about “Ansari types” generally. Have you seen this essay?


                It’s very focused on one thing, not representative of sex in general, but that one thing, and not men not being interested in marriage, sounds more like why women I know don’t like “bad sex”.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Jesse says:

      Do we have a term for (slur redacted – Maribou) but for women? I find that I would enjoy using that in arguments, if we had it.Report

    • Maribou in reply to Jesse says:

      1) @jesse What’s she’s spitballing for is not at all slutshaming. I don’t want precisely what she thinks would be a good idea, and I think it would serve women poorly – and I’d be ok with bullying as a description though I don’t agree with it – but slut-shaming is a real thing that isn’t that. Calling women who aren’t slut shamers slut shamers is a really jerk move, sexist, and demonstrates exactly the kind of thing that women are sick of to the point where (some of) them are focusing on things other than trying to get men to change. Pull a move like that on one of our commenters, Jesse, and I’ll be reacting as a moderator and not an indignant fellow commenter. Since McArdle is not a participant here (as far as I know) and you’ve also been called on it by multiple fellow commenters, you’re just getting me, grumpy me, and not boss-of-commenters me.
      2) If one more person conflates Margaret Atwood’s brilliance and Caitlin Flanagan’s really … not-brilliance, as McArdle does, I might need to write a rant.
      3) If one more modern mostly-writes-for-the-web person decides to write at length about how they are bad feminists while pretending that Roxane Gay DIDN’T just write a whole book like two years ago entitled Bad Feminist, which I am 100 percent certain they are aware of, and, indeed, while effectively pretending that only white people exist and have opinions contrary to the mainstream of feminism, linking to a heaping handful of said white people and not anyone else, I might need to … not write a rant but go be embarrassed for other white people in a corner for a while or something. (Margaret Atwood gets a pass for having the conversation without paying attention to Gay, as she is really old, really brilliant, really gracious, and was getting tarred with “bad feminist” loudly before I was even born. The rest of them are being stupid and would write better essays if they read more widely. Atwood would also write better essays if she read more widely, but that’s like saying Rafael would have drawn better if something or the other… like, okay, but who cares?)
      4) McArdle’s essay is interesting, and I’m glad it got linked to – although it’s no doubt obvious to anyone who pays attention to my comments here that I think on many points she is also wrong. It’s very interesting to me how much it has in common with Laurie Penny’s essay on longreads, We’re Not Done Here. (Which I unsurprisingly much preferred.) When I see McArdle and Penny heading in similar if not exactly the same directions in terms of pragmatic *vector*, even while disagreeing on almost all the specifics, it makes me think there really *is* something going on, and – given that I want the same vector – it gives me hope.Report

      • veronica d in reply to Maribou says:

        @maribou — Caitlin Flanagan is just awful. I wish she would take a retreat to a distant mountain with no internet and contemplate her life.

        Yes! on Laurie Penny.

        I got to hang out with her a couple times when she was out her for her Harvard Fellowship thingy. She’s really cool.Report

        • Maribou in reply to veronica d says:

          @veronica-d I sometimes find myself at odds with her but more often just feel super grateful she is in the world writing things. Before this, I was most recently happy with her for having written an appealing blurb on CN Lester’s book which got me not only to read it but to persist past the first few essays into what I feel is the meat of the book. (Not that there was anything wrong with the first few essays *really*, they were just not as interesting to maribous.)

          Basically about once every month or two I’m like “YAY LAURIE PENNY.”Report

      • j r in reply to Maribou says:

        I don’t have any strong opinions on McArdle’s piece, but I have two thoughts. The first is that her suggestion doesn’t even have to be enacted on a collective level to be an improvement on the status quo. It’s not an iron rule or anything, but generally people treat you the way that you ask or, if necessary, demand to be treated. I cannot even process this as a debate between good feminists and bad feminists. It’s really becoming a debate between people who believe in individual efficacy and cause and effect and people who don’t. And we can get all foamy and yell at each other on the internet all we like and it still won’t change this simple fact: all else being equal, people who believe in cause and effect will always have better real world outcomes than those who don’t, no matter what the larger social context is.

        My second thought is that the use of the term browbeat detracts from the overall tone of the post. Full stop. But to the extent that it’s a failure, it a failure exactly in the mode that already typifies these conversations. People are already browbeating each other for either not being woke enough or being too PC or whatever the meme of the week is.Report

        • Maribou in reply to j r says:

          @j-r I’m not in disagreement with you or agreement with you about what the sides are, so much as I am in disagreement with the entire belief that people are on two distinct “sides” in this debate at this time at all. Us humans are so quick to go to a false binary and I think this is more like an infinite set of opinions that are not really boil-downable to fewer than 20 or 30 different clumps. Though, as I said, I do think that McArdle and Penny are aiming along the same vector, and that vector is not only what you describe, but what you describe is definitely part of it. As I said in a comment to Lee, part of the complexity for women in these particular situations is that being treated the way you ask is *sometimes* the outcome of asking, and sometimes being treated far more poorly than you were trying to avoid is the outcome of asking. My experiential “cause and effect” on demanding to be treated a certain way, for the first half of my life, is that it would quite possibly put my life in danger or at least lead to a great deal of additional misery, and that I had very little control over that. I had to *sneak* my way out of that situation, when demanding might literally have killed me. And it was only once I was several hundred miles away that I had the leverage to start demanding anything.

          It took a lot of overcoming to teach myself that most people aren’t like that and that I could tell the difference pretty well based on my own well-honed instincts. Still learning, tbh, though “*most* men who seem kind aren’t all that scary and can be safely stood up to about most things” happened relatively early in the learning process thanks to Jaybird being a complete mensch who is very willing to learn, and having some really solid male friends. (Also to not every man I ran up against as a child being anything like the awful one who taught me that cause and effect was terrifying, not empowering. He just had the most access.) Still, we’re talking decades of every self-protective action being taken in a vacuum of fear. Glad I took them, some of them nearly got me killed but they were/are all part of escaping from that framework, in the end.

          I agree that we as a culture seem to have lost some part of that shared understanding we had hard-fought to win (I see the turning point as 9/11 actually, that’s when people seem to have turned on each other the hardest, rather than “the end of the 90s” – but then again maybe “the end of the 90s” happened in September 2001). We’ve also eroded (not lost entirely, but eroded) the understanding that sometimes you have to fight for yourself anyway, even though you probably won’t win. Almost *because* you probably won’t. (Been reading Gandhi’s grandson’s book, The Gift of Anger, just the last couple of days. It’s good although he doesn’t completely understand how social media works – but, see my comments on Margaret Atwood, I’m willing to give him a pass on that.) But not everybody has lost those understandings. I see *my* students, youngest of young millenials that they are, and they are very much cause and effect people. They don’t always talk about it that way, but that’s how they act and how they make choices about what to actually *do*. And they coach each other to get better at it, make better choices, around issues like sex, where it’s arguably still pretty darn scary out there for young women. You might even say they occasionally browbeat each other into making better choices.

          So I didn’t really have much trouble with the use of the term browbeat given that people, as you say and as I’ve seen in my student employees, browbeat each other all the time. I read the term as affectionate rather than threatening. I can see why someone else might read it differently. I wish we could all give each other a little more credit than that.Report

          • j r in reply to Maribou says:


            I touched on some of those things on the other comment, but I want to make it clear that I recognize that personal efficacy is not the be all and end all of these things. I’m suggesting that it’s merely an improvement in most cases, but sometimes merely an improvement is the difference between drastically different outcomes. This is especially the case when we’re talking about repeat, random interactions where all it takes is one bad incident to change the course of someone’s life. In other words, most of us never fall prey to that kind of singular focus from a committed predator, but many of us experience lots of smaller higher-risk interactions. Knowing what to do in those situations is a pretty good skill to have.

            We don’t have quite these same issues in other conversations. Everyone understands that you can, as a driver, take every and all proper precaution on the road and still get into an accident or be the victim of some other reckless driver. But we still suggest that people buckle up and follow the rules of the road.

            I understand why the conversation around sexual assault is different. But I don’t think that we do anyone any favors by making the risk mitigation conversations taboo. Or rather, and this is the point that I was getting at, the risk mitigation conversations are happening; they’re just not so much happening online, because people are conscious of the blow-back. So, you have one group of people who get the risk mitigation conversation, hopefully along with conversations about ethical behavior and larger social forces, and another group of people who only get the ideological/political conversation quoted directly from the book of #woke. Over the long term, the people in the former category are going to be in much better shape.Report

            • Maribou in reply to j r says:

              @j-r It’s true that risk mitigation is very important. What I was trying to say is that the reason the conversation around sex is different is that the risk assessment is (quite) different, at least from the feminine side of the equation. ** Driving defensely is far less likely to *anger* bad drivers than speaking up for oneself in a sexual situation is to anger a person who is bigger and stronger (or has more social power, or is higher on the org chart, or whatever) than you. I do think you understand this but I don’t always think you reckon with it in your approach to these things. Maybe that’s because you take it enough for granted that you don’t think it needs to be spelled out, and I should quit assuming you don’t.

              I also think that what Penny is doing is addressing risk mitigation in a collective way as well, but more carefully and kindly than McArdle, and I think she’s going to avoid a lot of the blowback and maybe get the conversation going in spaces where it was formerly taboo to discuss risk mitigation (on or off-line). That said I think McArdle is going to get the “well what CAN be done that isn’t the equivalent of a cartel?” conversation going in spaces where people would otherwise be likely to fall back on the 3-date rule and spurn/socially exclude anyone who doesn’t comply. Browbeating is very different from shunning. (Er, not saying you disagree with this para or that it’s an argument against anything you said, just kind of got on a roll there.)


              **Believe it or not, as someone who acts socially as a male at times, I have also experienced the “if the person I’m interacting with says it’s my fault, it will need to be treated as my radical responsibility, and I should also be proactive” side of things. (It’s been a long time. But I’ve been in precarious positions that way with both men and women of unknown usual sexual preferences, strangers. People don’t always react well to finding out the guy they were doing the seduction dance with has girl parts… The stakes aren’t usually as high, but they can be.)Report

              • j r in reply to Maribou says:


                Two short points:

                – I don’t have an approach. I’m a man. Rather, my approach to risk mitigation, as I mentioned on the other thread, consists of figuring out how I can make sure I’m not doing things that I shouldn’t be doing and protecting myself in the event that someone comes away feeling differently about an interaction. I’m not advocating a one-size fits all approach to mitigating risk and increasing individual efficacy. It’s a process that begins with making an honest assessment of who you are and what your situation is and going from there, which is why it’s particularly important not to be susceptible to all of this fake internet bad-assery. In polite society, I can play a fairly tough guy. Put me in a maximum security prison and I’m prey. How I move in different situations is going to be different. This is why I believe that individual pragmatic advice will always trump boilerplate social justice speak.

                – What follows from the first point is that blowback will almost always be an internet phenomenon. And if you don’t really care what people say about you, or about your point of view, on the internet, you’re going to be in a much better position to set yourself up for success.Report

              • Maribou in reply to j r says:

                @j-r I meant your approach to the conversation about women’s need for risk mitigation, not your approach to mitigating said risks. Conveniently you clarified both at the same time :).Report

      • pillsy in reply to Maribou says:

        I don’t see how her suggestion that women browbeat other women into not having sex prior to the third date is anything but advocacy of slut shaming.

        Of course, it’s McArdle, so she dresses up horribly reactionary (or just plain horrible) ideas in euphemism and vaguely economist-y language. That appears to literally be her job.Report

        • Maribou in reply to pillsy says:

          @pillsy If you don’t see it, squint harder. Big hint “browbeat” and “shame” are not the same verb, the connotations and the expectation are completely different. Indeed, within her framework (see the snarky footnote) is the *expectation* that women will have to come to some consensus about what we should do that will no doubt involve quite a lot of mutual browbeating in multiple directions. It’s also written to be provocative rather than to prescribe, fairly obviously. Like, the Lysistrata parallel could not be more obvious. (And I say this as someone who frequently can’t stand McArdle’s writings and doesn’t agree with this piece.)

          You can have plenty of issues with the post without jumping to the assumption that she’s slutshaming or advocating for it. As she describes it, she’s advocating that women browbeat each other into standing up for themselves in sexual matters. I think she’s wrong that that would lead to never having sex before the 3rd date but I also think she has larger points that are not accurately summed up by throwing the label “slut shamer” at her.

          And, since it didn’t get through the first time, I’ll say it again more bluntly: frankly, I’m kind of sick of men attacking women on feminist terms in this conversation. It’s one thing if they’re at least standing up for some individual person who they feel has been wronged, as Sam did in his post earlier this week …. but we’re trying to figure some stuff *out* here, and I would like to see men *helping* with that conversation – participating in it in civil terms like, for example but not alone, @j-r has been, and not leaping to attack women on the matter. Jesse didn’t come in and say, “Jeez, I don’t see how this article isn’t slut shaming, what the heck, what do you guys think?” He hate linked it. Hate-linking isn’t conducive to civil conversation (although if it’s to something truly *funny* it can be kind of fun).

          We’re already at the phase of this argument where all over the internet, the focus is threatening to shift to a bunch of white people belling like hounds after specific individual women they don’t agree with, and specific non-white men, who are always the most vulnerable to such attacks, as if these people are the most upsetting parts of the issue. This is *markedly* different from people who have experienced unpleasant things analysing those things, as well as from people reflecting on their own behavior and how it might need to change, or even on society and how it might need to (or shouldn’t need to!) change. And it sucks.

          I’d like us (society, not commenters-us in particular) to get past that phase, that threat, as quickly as possible, and on to the part where we actually find a workable consensus – or rather, a workable shift in a direction of eventually getting a consensus / much needed change someday. Part of the reason I like the Penny article so much.Report

          • pillsy in reply to Maribou says:

            I didn’t jump to the assumption that she’s advocating for slut-shaming, I concluded that she was after I read the piece myself.

            I could (and indeed do) have some other objections, but I also have that objection.

            And I would also say that while the Lysistrata parallel is fairly obvious, it’s not as obvious as the explicit allusion to Victorian mores, and McArdle doesn’t do all that much to soften the suggestion just by saying that “loose women” (her term) wouldn’t be run out of town. They’d just be verbally bullied (i.e. “browbeaten”) by other women.

            If I didn’t think the connotations of “browbeat” were sufficiently harsh on their own, she’s suggesting it as a form of punishment to be visited on women not only for being insufficiently resistant to male pressure [1] but also for being insufficiently reluctant to have sex for any reason [2], and I think, quite sincerely, that @jesse had the right of it.

            If this observation isn’t conducive to civil conversation, than neither is McArdle’s piece.

            [1] Which seems like a damned strange way to advance individual agency and empowerment in any circumstance.

            [2] This is what she’s doing with the third date “ironclad rule”, and the footnote about time scales does nothing to change that.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to pillsy says:

              So your argument is that despite being presented with alternate views of McCardle arguments and conclusions which are much more charitable to her as a thinking person and more in-line with what she actually she wrote you’re sticking with your own view as definitive. That McCardle is a radical misogynist.

              Seems unlikely to be accurate but we do live in a post-modern world.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Stillwater says:

                The alternative views that are much more charitable to her also go much further afield from her text, and what you describe as “radical misogyny” like the typical social conservative take on modern sexual mores.

                Certainly, it’s less of an outré idea than solving the problem of school shootings by having little kids bum rush men armed with AR-15s.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to pillsy says:

                Right. Like I said.Report

            • Maribou in reply to pillsy says:


              Coming in *with the link, the bitter snark, and nothing else* is not conducive to civil conversation. That’s the “leaping to the attack” style I was talking about, although you spelling out exactly where your reading differs from my own as though that makes your interpretation unshakable is not especially helpful either.

              As for alluding to Victorian mores, and the reasons why a woman might choose to do that in this conversation, I will just quote that Penny piece I linked to:

              “Those fragile Victorian ladies, with their corsets and their smelling salts, they seem to come up in every banal and predictable condemnation of the MeToo movement — it’s worth asking who they were and what part they play in the long, weird story of human sensuality. Why were those women so apparently frightened of sex? They were frightened because not so long ago, sex was legitimately terrifying if you were a woman — as it still is for many women and girls around the world. Sex was dangerous. It could kill you, or ruin you, and the fact that you probably wanted it made it that much worse — when you crave something that could mean disaster, that doesn’t make the desire go away, it just makes it that much more horrifying.

              The fight against sexual violence and the fight against sexual repression are two sides of the same struggle: to divide one from the other is to collapse the whole enterprise.

              A lot of men don’t quite understand why women policed sexual morality in the first place: not because they did not have desires, but because they were made to pay such a heavy cost for men’s desires before they even thought about having their own. Because sex was dangerous. Within living memory sex was extremely goddamn treacherous for women — and in many places it still is.”Report

              • Maribou in reply to Maribou says:

                @pillsy I would also point out that *McArdle* is not on the record as having an aim of having civil conversations, to the best of my knowledge, and this website *is*. So even if I agreed she was being uncivil, it’s not a defense of being uncivil here to say that she’s being uncivil over there. I actually wouldn’t have cared if Jesse said she was uncivil, or advocating for bullying, or whatever.

                But calling *any* woman who is trying to talk about this issue a slut shamer – no matter what she is saying that isn’t pretty much *in exact words* “those sluts are dirty and should be shunned and excluded for the collective good” – is exactly the kind of problem j-r is pointing to with the taboo around discussing risk mitigation. For women, at least, particularly women under the age of 60, particularly women trying to address what they see as a serious need among women, that is a serious serious weighted insult, not just a neutral descriptor.

                From my perspective, as a woman with a somewhat similar social background to McArdle, it would have been *less* insulting if he started with something like “Motherf***ing McMegan is at it again, telling women to keep it in their pants,” but without the asterisks.

                I wouldn’t have *approved*, per se, but it would have been *less* insulting.

                I realize I’m just one person but that’s my perspective. It seems to be a very alien perspective for you, not so much for some others.

                I mean, I’ve *been* slut shamed. I’ve seen friends and not-friends slut shamed. It’s really really bad and miserable and vicious and targeted and abusive. This? Is NOT that. At all. It’s just an annoying, obnoxious person doing her annoying obnoxious best to contribute to a conversation that’s causing her a fair amount of personal stress.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Maribou says:

                I’m sorry, but I really don’t know what the heck I’m supposed to do with this:

                That’s the “leaping to the attack” style I was talking about, although you spelling out exactly where your reading differs from my own as though that makes your interpretation unshakable is not especially helpful either.

                How else am I supposed to defend my reading as being one that I’m making in good faith, based on the text?Report

              • Maribou in reply to pillsy says:


                Part of my point is that it’s not necessarily your job (to be clear, as a participant in the conversation, not being a moderator right now) to defend your reading. It’s your job, sometimes, to listen – as when, for example, a mostly-female-identifying person says, “I have this alternate reading and also this term is a lot worse than you apparently think it is” – you could more helpfully sit with that and maybe reconsider your approach. Maybe ask some questions in a fairly non-confrontational way.

                And not to claim that having read something before labeling it slut-shaming means you aren’t jumping to conclusions. Personally I’ve read McArdle’s article three times by now and Penny’s twice (it’s long) and skimmed a few parts of Penny’s over again. I’ll be thinking about them off and on for the next week, at least.

                When you frame it as “no, you’re WRONG to object to this term being used against a woman, there’s no other possible interpretation [you said, “anything *but* slut shaming”], and here are all the reasons why” … that’s the sexist part.

                You didn’t just defend your interpretation, you said, after I and others spelled out how we can see it a different way, that you can’t possibly see how anyone else could see it any other way. Then you spelled out all the reasons why you saw it your way, as if I hadn’t already read the article (several times) for myself, as if I wasn’t perfectly capable of following the arguments as to why it was an appropriate term, as if I hadn’t discarded them. You’re asking me to show my work (over and over) if I don’t agree with you, and … well… browbeating us with *your* interpretation – as if I haven’t been thinking about what is and isn’t slut shaming, in some depth, since I was freaking *eleven years old*. As if McArdle hasn’t. It’s condescending and sexist and suggests a broad ignorance about women’s experience.

                I’m *sure* that wasn’t your intention in labeling her a slut shamer, or rather, in rushing to Jesse’s defense when I told him it was annoying that he did… but I’m telling you that is the effect you are having on me.

                It’s not particularly upsetting – I am fairly used to men explaining things to me that I am already well-versed in as if I can’t read or don’t understand English – but it is disappointing. And it’s not helpful.

                I was going to leave it at “not helpful” but you’re telling me you don’t understand what you’re supposed to do with it. So perhaps unpacking it for you will help.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Maribou says:

                Part of my point is that it’s not necessarily your job (to be clear, as a participant in the conversation, not being a moderator right now) to defend your reading.

                Thank you for the clarification.

                I will think carefully about the rest of what you said before responding further (if at all). But I was confused because I thought you were speaking, more or less, as a moderator.Report

              • Maribou in reply to pillsy says:


                No, and I’m sorry that we got confused that way. That’s why I clarified up front in my original comment on the article that I was not doing that – but that I did expect people here not to talk to *each other* in the way Jesse was discussing McArdle. (Which no one was doing.) My intention in bringing up moderation was actually preventative.

                I should probably have clarified it a few more times. I forget about my own power on this board, and the ways in which it affects people’s readings of what I say, because it’s honestly (still) so weird to have any. (Also because on this particular topic, I’ve been in a relatively powerless position very many times, both in real life situations, and in discussing them.)Report

              • pillsy in reply to Maribou says:

                I’m *sure* that wasn’t your intention in labeling her a slut shamer, or rather, in rushing to Jesse’s defense when I told him it was annoying that he did… but I’m telling you that is the effect you are having on me.

                It wasn’t my intent, but after a deep breath and some reconsideration, I’m not surprised that was the effect.Report

      • Dark Matter in reply to Maribou says:

        What’s she’s spitballing for is not at all slutshaming.

        That’s dancing on a fine line. In practice, what she’s suggesting would instantly become exactly that. It’s like how any law we pass is ultimately enforced by men with guns.

        If we’re serious about creating some sexual “cartel” by changing society’s morality (good luck with all of that), you need to deal with people who disregard the rules. Her solution, “Browbeat” translates into badger, bully, harass, hector, intimidate, domineer, threaten, tyrannize ( It’s not as nasty as “shaming” entry in the thesaurus but we’d quickly get there.

        My read of this was she was throwing out the idea as a potential solution, but not really advocating for it (she pointed out she doesn’t have a dog in the race).

        The disappointing part of her article was it didn’t really address the root problem, which imho is the gender imbalance among educated (or whatever) men/women. After enough people pair off into stable relationships, at some point you have a bidding war over who is left. Sex-on-the-first-date is a side effect.Report

        • Maribou in reply to Dark Matter says:


          Except she’s not suggesting a law, no advocacy of guns whatsoever, plenty of context to imply she’s stirring the pot, tongue in cheek, and women *already* browbeat each other about this stuff (to good and ill). Also, slutshaming is a very specific thing that it is almost impossible to do *or* to endorse in an abstract discussion of risks and methods like this. If one has been full on slut-shamed, even for a brief period of time (mine lasted a couple of weeks), one is almost always quite reluctant to throw the accusation of doing so at others, or to support it, in more abstract contexts. (FWIW I have snarled at SJ Calvinists for this in plenty of other contexts. It’s a pet peeve.) Particularly since I don’t think she was serious in suggesting it as a solution, given the extremely arch tone of her essay. Particularly since if that’s where she wanted to go it would’ve been very easy to go there more effectively, insidiously, etc., while still denying the charge of literally going there. She’s quite capable of being far meaner than she was here.

          Slutshaming is one of those extremely explosive words that if you really think that’s what someone is doing, maybe don’t lob the ball into play with a hasty, snarky, dismissive one sentence summary that verges on hate-linking. That was the source of my irritation in the first place, well that when coupled with the way men of all political stripes (but so far only one skin tone, white, as far as I’ve seen and I’ve seen plenty of men of color writing on this) are piling on to gleefully poke at and dismiss women’s opinions even when the women in question are specifically only talking about what women might and/or should do.

          It’s annoying.

          It’s also extremely familiar.

          And it’s entirely possible to complain about her without indulging in hyperbole and condescension.

          I mean, I agree that there are a million things to complain about with this article, including her proposed solution. I don’t *want* women to browbeat each other in this way.

          But I’m really sick of guys trying to explain to me what slutshaming is and isn’t, and why I shouldn’t object to its casual use as an accusation to put women down.Report

    • Doctor Jay in reply to Jesse says:

      I take McArdle a bit more seriously than most of you, so I’ll address that piece here:

      The sex cartel is a real thing that has long existed in multiple cultures. We’ve sort of smashed it to pieces these days. She quotes Caitlin Flanagan as saying accounts of intimate encounters sound like they are from another planet. I want to remark that for me and my friends, just hearing accounts of intimate encounters would make it seem like I was on another planet. We do not talk about these things. From what I can tell talking to MrsJay, women do. I’m not claiming this is universal among men. I am simply representing for my cadre of men. We. Don’t. Do. That.

      And it’s not because I Want To But It’s Bad. No, it’s just weird and personal and why would you do that?

      And another way I want to represent for my cadre of men: I looked for two things in a sexual encounter:

      1. Desire for me on the part of my partner. That’s the big payoff. If someone wants to get sexual but doesn’t appear to be experiencing desire, it scares the everloving crap out of me. You know, like a sex worker. Just no.

      2. I don’t want to sleep with anyone I don’t want to wake up with. I’m probably going to form an attachment, and there’s probably going to be some time when we aren’t going to be having sex, and I feel like I need to be able to enjoy that time, too.

      So. I’m not the problem man that everyone is talking about. And yet, I’d like to know that I can mess up and not have my name in headlines along with the words “bad sex”.

      Once upon a time, I was at a bar with a group of friends and the woman sitting next to me reached over into my lap and grabbed my crotch. We were not in a sexual relationship at the time, and we didn’t start one. I sort of grabbed her hand and pulled it away a few inches and held it there for a while. I didn’t want to embarrass her. There was an ambiguous power relationship that had me more powerful, and she was probably just trying to make her feelings plain enough to give me permission.

      And before you talk about how much physically bigger and stronger I am, stop it. I’m not, I’m on the definitely small side for a man, and she was fairly large for a woman and something of an athlete. The issue here is that since birth, I was schooled in setting my own boundaries, and many women are not. This is one of the true joys I experience teaching martial arts to girls and women – the learn that not only is it ok for them to say “no”, but that they have resources they can draw on to make it stick. It is hard, and we need to be teaching this to all our children, not just the boys.

      We live in a time where “boning or nothing happened” as a younger friend puts it. Everyone owns this, not just men. (Said friend is a woman). There is considerable status associated with being highly sexual, even while there is also slut shaming. It’s no wonder that things are confusing.

      I don’t know that bringing back the sex cartel is workable, let alone a good idea. Even though I think slowing down is good for all parties. Honestly, Ansari struck me as inexperienced more than anything else. Maybe we should be talking about why it might be good to slow down a little. For everyone. I have no regrets.

      Once upon a time, I was at a bar with a group of friends and the woman sitting next to me reached over into my lap and grabbed my crotch. We were not in a sexual relationship at the time, and we didn’t start one. I sort of grabbed her hand and pulled it away a few inches and held it there for a while. I didn’t want to embarrass her. There was an ambiguous power relationship that had me more powerful, and she was probably just trying to make her feelings plain enough to give me permission.Report

      • Doctor Jay in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        Well dang, I forgot to delete the last paragraph after I moved it.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Doctor Jay says:

        What McCardle doesn’t seem to get is that her cartel idea was put into actual practice and failed for the same reasons that cartels usually fail.

        It only takes a tiny minority of members to breach the cartel.

        In the Victorian era, the vast majority of women did in fact refrain from casual sex. Except the small number of brothels were able to satisfy the demand such that men felt no need to change their behavior.

        Which is the bigger problem with McCardle’s piece is that she is intent on finding a “solution” that can be applied without the participation of half the human species.

        Whatever society is created in the future, both men and women will have to take part in creating as a consensus.

        Codes of human behavior have a lot of working parts; there are written laws, unwritten norms; Punishments for violations, and rewards for conformance.

        There are also processes for rehabilitation after a violation; Ways for the victims to be comforted, ways for the offender to confess, be forgiven, perform penance and find absolution.Report

  7. greginak says:

    Off topic but i’m ready for the short hand tic of calling pols “Gang of X” to die in a fire. I mean i’m a Gang of Four fan but the Gang of X thing is just as stupid as calling officials Czar’s. Do we need more nicknames that refer to dictators and such.

    PS this was triggered by a tweet that some senators are behind the Gang of Six immigration deal which isn’t’ relevant to my rant.Report

  8. Doctor Jay says:

    I’m sorry to place this here, since it’s a bit OT, but I’m uncertain as to how to proceed.

    My RSS feed for OT seems dead. The latest post on it dates from December 20, 2017. Is this just me? Any suggestions?Report

  9. Marchmaine says:

    [Vi3] – I just googled engorged and fatty livers… and, unless we mean to say images of diseased Cirrhotic livers, I’m afraid to say that the images will suggest (for me at least) a primo to accompany more alcohol.

    But then, I’ve experimented (unsuccessfully) with non-gavage methods of enlarging goose livers because, yum. So maybe I’m not the target audience.Report

  10. Burt Likko says:

    [Vi8] Will “blogging addition” or more generally “social media addiction” be a part of this? (Too lazy to RTFA.)Report

  11. Vi2 – Weight loss surgery is remarkably effective and a true life saver for a lot of people. It is not about weight loss per se inasmuch as it is about saving patients from the dangerous consequences of obesity, such as diabetes and obstructive sleep apnea. In addition to many other safety requirements, a psychiatric evaluation is required before patients undergo weight loss surgery precisely because of the reasons articulated in the video and subsequent commentary.Report