Sluts will conquer the universe

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, May 17, 2010 14:33 EDT
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Roy makes fun of a bunch of wingnuts who took the bait offered by the New York Post. The article was one of those faux trend pieces claiming women in New York have discovered celibacy, and the official wingnut stance was, “Good idea; too bad it’s too late for you nasty sluts.” Naturally, not a one was smart enough to see the bait and switch in the article—to “prove” that women in New York had given up on casual sex, they offered examples of women who had given up on dating altogether, and were celebrating how productive they are when they don’t have to offer their attentions to a man. Other examples of the “new celibacy” were a woman who refused a proposition to have sex for money and a woman whose most recent break-up scarred her so badly she took a break from dating. The fact that women who don’t have male partners in their lives suddenly find they have a lot of time and energy to work on creative projects isn’t really a testament to traditional values, but a sad commentary on how the patriarchy still has enough of a grip that even supposedly liberated women find that being in relationships with men equals having to offer support often without getting as much in return. Not one of their examples fit the model that conservatives claim works for women, which is waiting until marriage so that you attract a good man, with “good” being defined as “having incredible hang-ups about sex to the point where he can’t handle that you may have enjoyed it prior to meeting him”. The reason one should want such a man is rarely explained, but the implication is that all men think this way.

No matter. Wingnuts don’t pay attention to specific details or arguments. They just respond to their buttons being pushed, and a big button is “Hatred Of Single Women Who Are Insufficiently Ashamed About Liking Dirty, Filthy Sex”. The more good stuff going on for the hate object, the better—if she’s fashionable or has a good job or seems to possess self-esteem, the it’s time to double down on the hatred and wish for some horrible punishment to befall. Since forced childbirth is out of the picture (at least for now), the preferred method is to wish really hard that these women will end up rejected and alone, and fall into believing that wishing makes it true. Roy has collected a shining set of examples of this harrumphing and imagining horrible punishments on the sexy single ladies. Cassy Fiano was perhaps my favorite, because all this hatred of liberated women and harrumphing is accompanied by a picture that can best be described as desperately grasping for the sexually charged attentions of her mostly male audience. She’s in a tank top, casting a come-hither look over her shoulder, and grasping the phallic symbol of choice for the wingnutteria, i.e. a handgun. In case you didn’t get the hint, she makes it literal for you, with the tagline of her blog being, “Smokin’ Hot Commentary”. In case you’re not completely sold, she has other helpful pictures of herself in low-cut shirts and a bikini. Perhaps what’s so aggravating about the sexy liberal ladies is that they so rarely feel like they have to hit you over the head with their sexuality in order to get sexual attention. In most cases, it’s not that they think they’re all that, though. It’s because they give men the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re smart enough to figure out if they think a lady’s cute all on their own. But I suppose you can be forgiven if you have to lowball your estimate of the intelligence of your average male wingnut.

Either way, all of this makes lines like these unintentionally hilarious:

Meanwhile, these New York women can’t figure out why their exes are buying diamonds for new girls while they’re still sleeping around. News flash: men don’t usually marry girls who sleep around. They marry the nice girls who they had to work for.

Apparently, she doesn’t trust this axiom when the goal is getting male readers to commit to reading your blog.

The whole post is the typical bout of wishing mightily that women pay for actually having sex, with very little in the way of evidence that being sexually active (by the way, she admits she didn’t wait for marriage, either, but that’s different, because of the purifying powers of hypocrisy) creates either of the horrible consequences she feels so sure of: loneliness and depression. But my favorite part has to be this:

The first example was going through a celibacy “cleanse”. It’s like a detox diet for her, I guess — you know those diets, where you eat nothing but organic food and drink water and take some kind of special medication and it supposedly cleanses all of the toxins and impurities out? I guess that’s what celibacy is for this girl, because she’s only holding off until she gets a record deal.

Not because she’s making fun of someone for speaking fluent flighty woo-meister-ese, but because of the way she dangles “record deal” out there with such evident disgust. Say what you will about Fiano’s lack of respect for evidence and argument—she sure knows her audience’s buttons and she will push them hard. They’re used to the term “waiting for marriage”, and to replace the word “marriage” with “record deal”? Stoking bitterness and anger at people in creative professions is wingnuttery 101, but if it’s a woman who has the temerity to suggest that she and her career have a value not dependent on catering to men? Inconceivable.

Of course, all this button-pushing is even funnier in the wake of the publication and publicity for Red Families v. Blue Families, a book that looks at the dry statistical evidence and concludes that the people that Fiano decries as cold, lonely, depressed, and devalued actually have more stable family lives than people that buy into the model where you put marriage before career and education, possibly because you got pregnant. Sir Charles did a bang-up job of describing this liberal yuppie post-industrial model, and yes, one of the centerpieces of it is that sex is for pleasure, and that it’s your moral and civil duty to take sexual responsibility by having fun but minimizing the negative consequences.

[I]n this culture sex is seen as a legitimate avenue of pleasure, personal expression, love, etc., but that it is demystified (to the extent sex can be demystified) and made a normal part of life, but just a part — one that doesn’t negate or interfere with other goals. There is no passive acceptance of “accidents” no feeling that forced marriage is an appropriate response to an unwanted pregnancy…..

There is some hell raising that goes on in this world, but it tends to be of the kind that is managed in such a way that it doesn’t detract from performance at either school or work. One may wake up hungover in a stranger’s bed on Sunday, but come Monday it’s back to business.

And when people ultimately do spawn in this world, they tend to become the most conservative creatures on earth — oh not politically at all — but in terms of life actually lived. Once the kid or kids arrive, life pretty much revolves around them and work…..

In short, this blue state model is one designed to permit people to achieve the highest possible educational attainment, establish careers, and then give maximum nurturing to eventual offspring. It is a model designed for a sexually egalitarian, post-industrial environment. And even though people like David Brooks, George Will, and Ross Douthat — aided and abetted by the hysterical “you’re going to die alone and with a withered womb being eaten by your cat set — keep trying to make the case for early marriage and children, it’s just not catching on for people in the real world.

We all know that conservatives will not only deny reality when it conflicts with their ideology, but they often take a perverse pride in denying reality. If anything, this reality—that a youth of sexual experimentation plus a desire to control who you marry instead of just drifting into it has better results than the “moral” model that prioritizes limiting the number of sex partners women have in a lifetime—just pisses off the wingnuts even more. And you saw that in the spitting out of the phrase “record contract”—Fiano knows her audience will just be even more pissed off that the post-industrial lifestyle is actually making it easier, not harder, for this woman to achieve her dreams. And in turn, when you’re allowed to establish and nurture your career before settling down—and allowed to continue nurturing that career into marriage—it’s better for the marriage, because there’s less likely to be toxic air of resentment in your home. Fiano’s intoning that women will regret delaying marriage until you’re ready “sleeping around” is not only not true, but in many cases, it’s the opposite of the truth.

And as for the idea that all men everywhere will reject a woman if they think she’s unduly interested in sex and has had a lot of lovers? Well, I think most of us have a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest otherwise, but I think some enterprising sociologist should look into the matter, if only to see Ross Douthat try to rationalize away results that find that sluts get boyfriends and husbands all the time, thank you very much.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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