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“It illuminates nothing; it humiliates its writer.”


Virginia Heffernan reads Katie Roiphe so you don’t have to:

Over a series of bad-faith and gibberish paragraphs, she sets up the reader as a hayseed who is turned on by lite porn because she’s never seen how they do it in Berlin or whatever; or—worse still—so unsuccessfully feminine and so outside of the charmed circle of female literary power that she’s satisfied by regular guys who don’t hit her. Thanks.

Giving another person false and heavily proscribed choices (would you rather be bruised or battered?) is a rhetorical trick used by polemicists all the time. It allows them to propose a third way—their own archcuriosity and cynicism, usually—and then force surrender. “Spanking Goes Mainstream” is quick-and-dirty propaganda, done on deadline at the behest of a harried and opportunistic editor. We’re not talking Goebbels here. When done this sloppily, this kind of rhetoric usually inspires defiance. Sure enough, Twitter is alive today with tweets like this one: “Women don’t want to be spanked. They just want to spank Katie Roiphe into hushed obscurity.”

Best way to stop the S&M cycle of feminine sophistry and showboating? Just don’t read the article. It illuminates nothing; it humiliates its writer.

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