A Flanagan world

When so few women* have bylines, what does it say about our culture that a reactionary (for the “scandalous, scandalizing, shocking, sexy, I’m gonna get killed,” perverse fun of it) like Caitlin Flanagan is the one anointed by two of the nation’s most prestigious intellectual publications to write about women’s issues? (Thanks to Xtian for the link.)

Forget my own politics. Never mind that what Flanagan calls her “big, multiple-book theory pieces” rely on broad generalization rather than analysis, or that, as with David Brooks’ facile Red State-Blue State duality, her professed empathy for and understanding of the plight of lower-income workers serve only to reinforce the disenfranchisement of the people whose causes she pretends to take up.**

Just think of Dorothy Parker — one of the first New Yorker writers, caricatured at right — for a second. Tell me that she wouldn’t have wanted to set fire to the magazine back in the 20’s if she’d had a preview of what would pass for intelligent commentary about women’s lives in the next century.

* Thank you, Slate, for Dahlia Lithwick.

** Flanagan’s “reasoning” seems to go something like this:

Poor nannies! Hypocritical liberals! Of course I’ll just toss options like stepped-up social security tax enforcement or national child care out the window without examing them.

Because the answer is blindingly obvious: women should be fair to everyone by opting not to be employed! Also, they should fuck their husbands more!

Now I think I’ll go take an amusing stroll through the aisles of Wal-Mart, where I can satisfy all of my literary needs, and share a tinkling laugh with the employees who have such ample benefits.

But first, I’ll try to darn my husband’s socks — I need an anecdote for that cocktail party later, after all — before giving up and ordering thirteen pairs of the best cashmere from that little boutique in Beverly Hills. Like all Wal-Mart shoppers, we buy American.


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