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Speaking of Atlantic Hacks

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For those who were fortunate enough not to hear the interview with Caitlin Flanagan I referenced yesterday, some of the choicest bits are recounted here. I remember thinking, as she was starting to promote her first book, that she couldn’t be as bad as she came across in her writing, that there had to be some reason that major national publications were competing for her services. Her Colbert appearance disabused me of that. As yesterday’s interview makes clear, she’s actually more mean-spirited, reactionary, and uninformed than you would expect (and that’s not easy.) There really is someone being paid handsomely by a prominent national magazine in 2012 explaining that the success of women should be evaluated based solely on their ability to maintain sexual “purity” as teenagers and on their ability to be servile spouses and child-rearers as adults. She really does seem to believe that there’s no sexual middle ground between remaining wholly ignorant about human sexuality and giving blowjobs to random strangers.   She really does seem to think that young women should regard a successful Harvard-educated journalist as a cautionary tale rather than a role model.   She’s like a character in a draft of an Alan Ball script but one that he rejected for being too heavy-handed and unfair to suburban mothers.

As to the question of why on earth the Atlantic continues to give her a platform, I think Amanda got it right a while back. As for the idea that she’s some sort of wonderful prose stylist, leaving aside the fact that I don’t think that’s much of a defense for writers of non-fiction essays I dispute the underlying premise.

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  • c u n d gulag

    There are plenty of well-paying niches in Wingnut Welfare for people who will sell their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and their soul.

    Why does “The Atlantic” see fit too ally themselves with those people and groups by hiring people like her?

    Leave her to howl at the moon at the Moonie Times, or Fred Hiatt’s WaPo Op-ed, or TNR.

    How do Fallows and Coates justify working there, when the people around them are so foul and ignorant, stupid, racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and xenophobic, and who can’t write a lick? And those are their GOOD traits!

  • Dear Caitlyn, if that is your real name.

    If my daughter ever even contemplated “servicing” a boy in high school, I’d have kicked her ass down the stairs wearing Germaine Greer’s boot.

    She is now an adult woman, and does not need a “boyfriend” to fuck her life up. She does a very good job of that on her own, and I’m proud as a parent to say that the boyfriends she has had have treated her with respect and are all still very good friends with her and she with them.

    And many with me.

    She is a strong, vibrant woman with intelligence and opinions that are (mostly) formed from experience and learning. Not sure I trust her taste in music, but whatever.

    And if you ever show up on my doorstep trying to tell me that she’s anything less than a woman, I will grab you by your lipidly-enhanced dimples, march you over to the local gymnasium and make you watch a horde of desperate thirty- and forty-somethings trying to remake themselves as temples of perfection to try to attract a mate.

    My daughter is not perfect.

    She’s fucking excellent.

    • witless chum

      Exactly. This fucking asshole thinks my wife, my mother and my sister are not as good as her because neither had Flanagan-approved adolescences?

      As the scholars and gentlemen of Korn screamed over an underrated melding of funk and metal that’s unfairly grouped with the Limp Bizkits of the world they inspired. “Not as good as you? Fuck it, I’m better than you.”

      One way I can tell that this sentiment is in fact the case, is that they don’t go on the radio pontificating about their own specialness and how everyone else should live their lives.

    • Hey! Some of us just like running. :P

      Kidding. That was an awesome comment, and yes, spend a lot of time at the gym and the sad ladies trying to prevent their rich husbands from cheating will get to you.

      • Well, obviously not you, Amanda :-) My understanding is you are ensconced in a happy partnership with a significant other so I’m sure you, like me, enjoy the gym for reasons beyond the meat market aspect

        (I say that as someone who could indulge, but chooses not to, because I’m bloodyminded about exercising)

  • Wait – this seems like a match made in heaven (or, perhaps not heaven, but….

  • One of many problems Flanagan has is her inability to understand that boys have emotions, too. Girls like to daydream. Girls struggle with the transition from childhood to adolescence. Girls find relationships difficult and emotionally jarring. But boys? Well, they just sorta do it automatically.

    I’m not sure whether this view is more insulting to men or women, but it’s pretty insulting to both.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Look all men just want sex and have no other interest in women. It’s just that simple. Case closed! Also, this is not actually demeaning to boys in any way.

      • Hogan

        Horny is an emotion.

  • Ed

    All these interviews and even threads like this on blogs are simply feeding the troll. Flanagan is a success because of her feminist/liberal baiting. It’s what she does. It’s what her Atlantic audience expects and what she’s paid for.

    The assumption that it’s healthy for every high school girl to have a boyfriend is odd. There’s a school of thought that it’s much better in the long run for kids to play the field and experiment (not necessarily sexually)rather than get too intense too soon.

    • R Johnston

      Sometimes you just have to mock the troll even if that creates the possibility that the troll, who is an idiot, will mistake your mocking for anger and thereby feel gratified.

  • In the Colbert interview, Flanagan basically described herself as I did then, gloating that men would travel far to find a wife like she describes, who is clearly herself.

    • Well, you know, be careful what you wish for, Cait….

  • JupiterPluvius

    She’s just Phyllis Schlafly 2.0. There will always be gigs in the patriarchy for women to shame other women, just like there will always be gigs in the kyriarchy for people of color to shame other people of color, gay people to shame other gay people, people with disabilities to shame other people with disabilities, etc.

  • IM

    Serena Joy.

  • Steve LaBonne

    I’m old enough to remember when the Atlantic was actually a decent magazine. Now I wouldn’t wipe my ass with it. I wish the good people it still employs- basically, just Coates and Fallows- would go somewhere else.

  • thebewilderness

    Thirty years or so ago Andrea Dworkin wrote a book called “Right Wing Women” that describes the phenomenon.
    You see the same sort in evangelical ministries and multilevel marketing scams.

    • Careful. If you type her name 3 times, you’ll summon hordes of MRAers.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Both Flanagan’s father and my father taught for years in the same department at Berkeley, though Flanagan is about four years older than I am (and to the best of my knowledge I’ve never met her).

    Don’t know why this has bothered me a bit since Flanagan became a public figure, but it has. Perhaps I like to think of my hometown as not producing quite such idiots…or at least not that sort of idiot.

  • whetstone

    Carmon, perhaps reeling from the experience, didn’t include what I thought was the most choice/psychotic bit: when Flanagan (who was the victim of an attempted date rape) said–close paraphrase–“it’s almost useless to talk about date rape now that kids don’t date anymore.”

    To her credit, Carmon responded something along the lines of “um, we don’t really use the phrase date rape anymore because it minimizes rape.” I think she said something about how you don’t have to be on a traditional boy-girl date to be the victim of acquaintance rape.

    That was the point where the interview really peeled my brain back from my skull.

  • Tybalt

    “As for the idea that she’s some sort of wonderful prose stylist, leaving aside the fact that I don’t think that’s much of a defense for writers of non-fiction essays…”

    No, I imagine you certainly wouldn’t.

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