Thursday, April 11, 2013


My So-Called Post-Feminist Life

Deborah Kogan has something epic to say:

Fast-forward to 1988: I am raped by an acquaintance the night before my graduation from college. The next morning, before donning cap and gown, I stumble into the University Health Services building to report the crime. I'm advised not to press charges. "They'll smear you," I'm told by the female psychologist assigned to my case. I don't want to be smeared. I've got a life to live. Twenty-five years later, while watching CNN lament the effects of the Steubenville rape on two promising lives—the rapists', not the victim's—I'll hold two competing thoughts: nothing has changed; I wish I'd been braver. I decide to Google my rapist's name, something I've never done in the quarter-century since the crime. His promise, I note, has been duly fulfilled. He's successful. He's married—to a woman who recently spoke on a "Lean In" panel with Sheryl Sandberg.

Because life's like that.

The whole thing is wow: "The author's 2002 book about her career as a war photographer was titled "Shutterbabe"—against her wishes." Don't miss a word of it. Or a word of this other article, which is mostly about men (and a few women) who are really, really great and righteous.

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The cover that the publisher designs has a naked cartoon torso against a pink background with a camera covering the genitalia. I tell them it's usually my eye behind the camera, not my vagina. I fight—hard—to change the cover. Thankfully, I win this one, agreeing to shoot the cover photo myself, gratis. When my publicist tries to pitch the book to NPR's Terry Gross, a producer tells him that Terry likes the "Shutter" part of the title but not the "babe" part.

I am so, so angry. Thanks Nicole. (and the commenter who posted the link - in the book thread yesterday, I think?)


It was @carrie80 who posted it in the book-y thread at 7:30 this morning! THANKS CARRIE80 and Nicole for promoting beyond the butt of yesterday's thread!




It just gets worse, every single sentence, and I am so mad. (She seems awesome, I'm going to go reserve all her books at the library.)

For the record, if anyone wants to pull a "Brad Paisley/Accidental Racist" comment and ask people to stop looking for things to get mad about:




That was... devastating.

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Oh man. That was killer.

"Post-feminist," my least favourite phrase in the world.


@likethestore I'm really starting to hate Post-anything. The prefix post just seems to indicate that whatever is about to be defined is vague, and probably pretentious.

Reginal T. Squirge

I'm not pessimistic. Just post-optimism.


" This is what sexism does best: it makes you feel crazy for desiring parity and hopeless about ever achieving it."


@OhMyGoshYouGuys Sort of like the whole world is conspiring to gaslight you and now I'll be at my desk despairing.


@OhMyGoshYouGuys That line really struck me. How often do we feel angry and indignant about an injustice only to have people act embarrassed about our outrage?


@OhMyGoshYouGuys seriously, which woman hasn't felt this way before?


that was hard to read. :( and now i want to go check out the winners of that prize.


Oh, Deborah Kogan, come sit with me.
"The Times's obituary for Yvonne Brill, renowned rocket scientist, winner of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, leads with, "She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. 'The world's best mom,' her son Matthew said.""
This kind of thing makes me so angry. No matter how much a woman achieves in her professional life, no matter how important her ambitions, goals and outcomes are, it all comes down to what she was like as a mom. Are you kidding me? You are, right? I mean, you must be because this it's the year 2013 and still it all comes down to beef stroganoff.
Now I'm just waiting for "Accidental Sexist" to come out.


@Helvetica Oh god I remember reading that thing about Yvonne Brill last week on...some site (probably somewhere embarrassing like Jezebel or xoJane) and my entire family couldn't understand why I was so angry. My mom was all, "But motherhood is important too! It meant she was a well-rounded woman!" UGH MOM, COME ON

P.J. Morse

@Helvetica "Accidental Sexist" will no doubt happen. I bet Toby Keith and some songwriter are huddled up in a studio somewhere working on the lyrics.


@Helvetica You know the Bechdel test? These kind of shit obituaries have inspired a similar test, called the Finkbeiner Test. If you read a profile of a woman in science, does it mention the following?
The fact that she’s a woman
Her husband’s job
Her child care arrangements
How she nurtures her underlings
How she was taken aback by the competitiveness in her field
How she’s such a role model for other women
How she’s the “first woman to…”

Every single fucking time.


@cosmia Is it important to you mother to be a mom because it's important to her or because society told her it should be enough and she accepted it? My mother tells me all the time that she got married and had kids because "that's just what you did". Does she love her life? Yes, but only because early on she was led to believe that that WAS the dream.

P.J. Morse

@TheBourneApproximation Now I'm depressed, especially since I realize that many obits are written ahead of time, and this sort of thing could be avoided easily.

A male scientific luminary dies, and no one goes around talking about what a good dad he was, if he has kids. And his kids won't be hurt, but it's almost as if the writers of obits for female scientific luminaries are worried about her kids' feelings if they don't mention she was a mum first. I think her kids can handle it, really.


@P.J. Morse I like this obituary someone made for Albert Einstein in response:
Family Man who Invented Relativity and Made Great Chili Dies


@MandyMcAwesome Definitely a mix of both - it's not like she didn't want to be a mom or anything, but she does often say she wishes she actually went to university instead of immediately getting a secretarial job after high school so she could save up to buy a house and get married at 23 (because yep, "that's just what you did." Also my mom came from a pretty traditional immigrant Italian family and girls from immigrant Italian families in the 70s weren't raised to worry about the whole "career" thing)


@TheBourneApproximation This is the best thing, seriously.


@cosmia It's not like motherhood isn't important but really, nobody would lead a man's obituary with something like that. That's the real problem for me, this double-standard and that's what so many people can't understand.


@TheBourneApproximation This reminds me of Dorothy L Sayers' essay, "The Human-Not-Quite-Human", published in the 40s. It is infuriating that this is still an issue.

"Probably no man has ever troubled to imagine how strange his life would appear to himself if it were unrelentingly assessed in terms of his maleness .... If he gave an interview to a reporter, or performed any unusual exploit, he would find it recorded in such terms as these: "Professor Bract, although a distinguished botanist, is not in any way an unmanly man. He has, in fact, a wife and seven children. Tall and burly, the hands with which he handles his delicate specimens are gnarled and powerful as those of a Canadian lumberjack, and when I swilled beer with him in his laboratory, he bawled his conclusions at me in a strong, gruff voice that implemented the promise of his swaggering moustache.""

The Hyperbolic Julia Set

@TheBourneApproximation Yes! I was coming down here to mention the same thing!

barefoot cuntessa

@Helvetica My husband watches Some Morning News Show that was covering Anthony Wiener running for NYC Mayor and one of the ladies called Houma Abedin "the wife."

I spent the rest of the morning mutter "the wife" to myself.


@Verity That sounds like a fantastic essay- thank you for bringing it to our attention!


I can't be the only one who wants to figure out who this asshole is that raped her. I can't imagine the number of rapists who've gone on to be successful and live their lives like they aren't vile human beings.


@MaxBraverman And how odd to have to wonder, if you're straight and married, what might be in your husband's past.


@melis I was thinking about the women who sat at that "Lean In" panel and read this article and now are all wondering.


@MaxBraverman It wouldn't be that hard, I imagine, to check the women who have recently (say, within the last month) sat on panels with Sheryl Sandberg to see which ones have husbands that graduated Harvard in '88.

Not that I am encouraging anyone to dig into this particular research, especially since Kogan didn't name the rapist, and we don't know why she opted not to.


@PatatasBravas That's a good point. We don't know her intentions. But maybe she dropped enough breadcrumbs that we'd figure it out without her being sued? This woman obviously knows how the game is played.


@franceschances Yeah, I feel like that was the intention. Why say it otherwise?


@MaxBraverman If I just say "Sounds like a job for anonymous!" does that serve as enough of a bat signal? Or do I need to say "anonymous" three times to a mirror in the dark?


@PatatasBravas I made a half-hearted try, and I'm usually great at such Internet "research," but I didn't come up with anything. There was one woman who caught my eye, but she was 10 years older than I thought she would be to fit the bill, given that most men don't marry women 10 years older than they. I was also too uncomfortable thinking about the wife of the rapist and how she doesn't deserve to be involved in this, which may be what stopped the author from going there publicly.

Carrie Ann

@MaxBraverman , et al. I think I might have found him. I feel weird about this.


@franceschances Is there a ruthless/vengeful organization that protects victims while tracking, outing, and exposing rapists? There should be.

Reginal T. Squirge

Yeah, somebody thought of that once and called it "the police" but look how that turned out.


sobs until the earth itself takes on the form of stone-heavy justice and rises up


@Reginal T. Squirge Whoa. Yes.


@Reginal T. Squirge I'm so used to thinking of cops as the oppressive defenders of the rich & powerful that I didn't think for a second that they could truly help victims on a regular basis.

The Hyperbolic Julia Set

@Reginal T. Squirge Queue "Behind the wall" from Tracy Chapman. Or don't because I don't want to be caught crying at my desk ...

Jolly Farton

Do we all want to ask @Carrie Ann who it is, but are refraining because of tact, respect for privacy, need to avoid possibly linking up an innocent person's name to a heinous crime and/or to not incite an internet mob riot, etc?

No? Just my nosy ass? Al-righty then. [shows self out]

Carrie Ann

@lilly pilgrim Your latter reasons are why I'm not saying anything, but I would DM you the name just to get it off my chest. I frankly wish I hadn't gone looking for it, because I'm sure that's not what she wanted, and finding this has only made me feel sadder for her and more helpless. I wish things had changed on college campuses in the 25 years since, but they really haven't.


Shutterbabe is a really, really tough read. She got slammed for it too. I don't know. I guess while I agree with so much of what she has to say (in the book), my personality is practically her exact opposite, so I fail to understand many of her choices. This is not a reflection of her being male or female. Just is.

Anyway, she's pretty much a lightning rod in the photography world. And elsewhere.


@tunnyciegos I have no doubt she's experienced sexism in her professional life, and I'm sure it's been difficult. But I'm not about to go buy all her books in solidarity, because I have the feeling that I just wouldn't like her personally. It's similar to how I felt when Margaret Thatcher died a few days ago. I will fight sexism tooth and nail where I can, but I also reserve the right to dislike some women even as I try to defend them from sexism. Feminism doesn't mean you like and uncritically defend all women--it means you treat them equally, which can result in disliking some of them too.

I'm getting into photography more lately and would love to know if you have recommendations for other female photographers whose works or books I should check out. Thanks!


@tunnyciegos I'm glad to hear from someone who's read Kogan's work, because I read the article and the comments at The Nation, and they're really thought-provoking in various ways. I was not familiar with her work, either her photography or her writing, but from everything else I did read, my opinion is, at the moment, approximately SuperGogo's.

which is not to say I don't believe and support her testimony in her current essay, because I do, completely.


I don't really understand any of these comments. Why does whether you would like her personally have anything to do with the validity of her experience?

Does failing to understand many of her choices means that you're judging her for writing this or for writing Shutterbabe or anything else? If so, I think that's the problem that Kogan is actually talking about - that when women speak out against sexism, no matter how reasonable or private they are about it - they get attacked, or people feel that they can write in comment threads that that woman's unlikeability undermines what she's saying.


@Pheen No, that's not it at all. Your question is not the point; I'm not judging her likability in respect to the validity of her experience. In fact, my second paragraph says that fairly plainly. There is no hostility from me at all. I'm analyzing what the personality she expresses might be like in real life, because imagining what she's like in real life helps form a picture of how she means what she says.

What I didn't say, but was thinking, was that she sounds like a difficult person, and brava to that, because a woman shouldn't have to be unobjectionable to have her space to be what she is, and to be respected.


Uuuuuugh ughughugh. The news coming out lately (this, and poor Rehtaeh Parsons) make me want to scream/tear my hair out. Fuck you, rapists and you too, rape culture.


@Lyesmith This shit is all over the news lately and ughhhh. Have you heard about Anonymous' (probably not strictly legal but still) hunt to find the names of Rehtaeh Parsons' rapists? They've apparently found 3/4 and are threatening to release the names to the public if legal action isn't brought against these boys immediately.


@cosmia I haven't heard because these stories are so fucking awful I can barely read them, but yeah, I'm totally okay with that - and the names of the assholes who hounded her on Facebook, too.


@cosmia If you had told me 5-6 years ago that I would think Anonymous was a treasure and that we should all aspire to keep Anonymous going, I would not have believed you. And yet here we are.


@Scandyhoovian Right? The one good thing to come out of 4chan.


@Scandyhoovian I mean, I'm terrible at computers, but I want to learn hacking so I can join Anonymous. Bonus: activism can be accomplished while sitting at home, pantsless and eating pita chips.

Miss Maszkerádi

@D.@twitter You don't really "join" Anonymous as far as I understand. There is no official membership. Basically if you want to be "in" Anonymous, you are part of Anonymous.


@cosmia It's such a diffuse thing that I highly doubt this hacktivist group originated in 4chan. Anonymous, like OWS and the Black Bloc, flies no flag


Oh for the love of god. The comments continue exactly what she is railing against. AND the author of the slut-shaming Salon review comes in there to say "psh, I wasn't slut-shaming her," as if saying "she screwed half the foreign press corps" isn't exactly slut-shaming. God, how do we have good comments here at the Pin? There are no good comments ANYWHERE ELSE.



@Scandyhoovian The Hairpin and Boing Boing are the only places online where I can read the comments without cringing.


@Scandyhoovian I sometimes forget and casually skim over the comments at other websites. And then I want to burn my eyes with fire because whyyyyyyyyy.


@Scandyhoovian Slate had an article on the Accidental Racist song, and the comments there were almost entirely horrendous. One of the few non-racist commenters to weigh in is, I'm pretty sure, a pinner. The best commenters definitely come here.


@Scandyhoovian Man, hell if I know. I got so so so mad, and thought about linking her piece on Facebook. But then I realized that half the people I know would argue with/belittle/minimize her points, and I just don't have it in my today/this week/that often to constantly get into knock-down-drag-outs. I think I'm probably letting down the cause. I guess I should get rid of my friends and get better ones, but these are the people I grew up with and am related to and at some point you make the decision to do what you have to do to get through the day and it kills you a little bit more.

It makes me think of Melissa McEwan's piece about the "terrible bargain." I think about that pretty much every day.


@bowtiesarecool I run into that same feeling all the time. Sometimes I'll go, "I don't feel like fighting with people all the time." And then I just end up deciding to let it slide rather than start fights with my friends and relatives, even if I think they need to wake up and stop being the way they're being.

It makes me think of Lindy West's Feminist fatigue post on Jezebel a while back, as well.


@Scandyhoovian Would you mind sharing the name of the Salon author, so that I can boycott the rest of their work?


@Scandyhoovian The part describing the reviewer whom she emailed about gender politics (not calling a writer a "stay at home mom") who not only dismissed her concerns but then went and made fun of her in public actually may have been the part that pushed me over the edge here, anger-wise. Particularly how Salon then went and wrote a column naming and shaming her.

Seriously, one of my major takeaways from this piece was GO FUCK YOURSELF SALON. YOU SUCK.


@PatatasBravas Janet Reitman

Brad Paisley

Wow, I just took a look and those comments are really appalling. I should have heeded your warning!


@Brad Paisley Oh, evil melis, please stay as Brad Paisley forever!

@ironhoneybee Thanks! Salon and Reitman, done and done.


@Scandyhoovian Just for the record, I think that there's a difference between slut-shaming (judging someone based on their number of partners) and calling out someone for gaining professional access by non-professional means. To me, sleeping your way to the top is the same as nepotism or bribery--you're using something within your means to gain an unfair advantage. I'm not defending Janet and I think her review was awful both in tone and message. I'm just saying that I think calling someone out on trading sexual favors for access is legit and not the same as slut-shaming.


@Scandyhoovian SOMETIMES I forget that this is the case, and try and read the comments. One of the best things about the 'Pin is that the comments can be just as insightful as the post. Inevitably, I start to feel rage, rage building behind my eyeballs and have to stop myself and think, "WAIT. I don't care what these people think, AND I DON'T HAVE TO." And then I close my browser window and entertain misanthropic fantasies.


Janet Reitman is getting her ass handed to her, in detail, in the comments now.


@PatatasBravas no that's not me dude!!


This was great and made my stomach churn. I've been thinking semi-seriously about journalism as a career and this actually makes me want to pursue that more, not less.


Well, this was just tremendous(ly outraging.) And fantastically written. I just read The Red Book (and, uh, really didn't like it), but now I'm definitely compelled to check out some of her other work.


why did I read those comments what is the matter with me this isn't new this isn't a surprise


@melis ikr I was literally warned by you and the rest of The Hairpin to not read the comments and I did anyway and two comments in I was seething


@melis Damn it. They were decent when I read this yesterday, and it was all women saying "This is true, and this is amazing and infuriating." I guess things went to shit once word of the article got out.


@melis There's the So-and-so Rule, which states "the comments on any article about feminism justify feminism" and that seems to apply here. Ugh. (Bonus points and a clafouti to anyone who remembers who came up with this rule?)


@cherrispryte Helen Lewis!

(Make mine a flaugnarde.)


"Returning to work after my second maternity leave (which left my family broke, as it was unpaid), despite my specialty in international news I am assigned three stories in rapid succession: "Putting Your Kids to Bed"; "Fussy Babies"; "Picky Eaters."

For some reason this line, out of the whole thing, is making me the most mad. UGHHH WHAT WHYYY.

On a lighter note, it also reminded me of Christina Applegate in Anchorman. "Mr. Harkin, sir, the cat story is baloney. IT IS BALONEY."


Did anyone else ready the Telegraph article because WHAT. Among other things, oh yeah, I have a wife and four daughters, it's cool, I like women. !!!!! ARHGHGHGHGHGH.

"And also, the past is gone. Get over it."


@enic Oh God, now I want to hate read this. What article?


@packedsuitcase http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3556178/The-Orange-Prize-is-a-sexist-con-trick.html


@enic Grrrrr! There's nothing better than a man telling women to "get over" sexism.


@themegnapkin Maybe Brad Paisley telling us all to "get over" racism. But that's it.


Ughh that bloke writes a really annoying column in the Guardian about "life in a house full of women".


@timesnewroman Oh, I hate that. My father used to make the "funny" point that he was the only man in the house (with my, my mom, and my sister). Nothing like being "othered" passively in your own home. It's like that "don't hit me, but ____ [insert sexist comment]" presumption of victimhood that they like to do.


@timesnewroman I hate that column. Thanks for living down to my expectations, Tim Lott!

Munich Pixie Dream Girl

Flames. Flames on the side of my face.
I can't even look at the comments, otherwise I'm going to have a rage stroke.


I can't fucking deal with this. I just can't. I am so livid right now. There wasn't a paragraph in that article that didn't enrage me, and I about stopped in my tracks at, "'Would you call a male author a stay-at-home dad?' I ask, among other rhetorical questions." Because she's trying so hard to be reasonable, which is what women are told to be (nobody likes an angry woman, you're just too emotional, fuck you, rage is an emotion men feel, too), and what the flying fuck.

Sorry, my ability to write a full sentence is impeded when I am choking on my fury.


One of the critics of Shutterbabe, Daniel Mendelsohn, responds in the comments

Jolie Kerr

@ContainsHotLiquid So did Janet Reitman and she got SKEWERED by the other commenters! So great!

Jolie Kerr

Well that was thoroughly galling.

Hmm though ... a thing to mention: She needs to fire her agent. The malarky with the book titles? It should be written into her contract that she gets final approval of the titles. I'm a first-time author and even I have that. FIRE YOUR AGENT, DEBORAH.


@Jolie Kerr I was wondering if that lack of control was standard when she starting writing! I have no publishing experience so I don't know.

But it sucks, sucks, sucks that she was treated that way.

Jolie Kerr

@PatatasBravas Oh it totally sucks! And the publishing companies are vile in that way, but that's also part of the reason that authors have agents, to fight the publishing companies on this sort of thing!! Oooooh I'd like to kick that agent in the shins.


@Jolie Kerr Good to know, and it also makes me really mad at her agent.


@Jolie Kerr I am so glad you mentioned that!!! That particularly galled me, even though the whole thing was continually aneurysm-inducing. GAH.


@Jolie Kerr Okay, I didn't want to belittle any of the other points she was making, but I did wonder whether that was standard and why, for the love of god, after four books have you not gotten this written into your contract?

Little Owl

@Jolie Kerr Totally agree: fire the agent. The rest is rank prejudice, but that business with the title was just stupid.

Jolie Kerr

Would anyone care to guess the gender of her agent? Bet you can't! (I looked it up, so aghast was I at this whole business of the book titles!)

Beatrix Kiddo

I'm going to go out and buy all her books in solidarity, because I cannot fathom how unbelievably frustrating this entire situation must be for her.


I'm a woman in science/tech, and a woman who plays videogames, so the subject of sexism and patriarchy and how "women can't win" is usually one not far from my mind. There's something different about this article, though. This makes me feel more desperate rage than I have in a long time.

It actually reminds me of 2008, when Hilary Clinton was running and people were being sexist assholes, and there was an essay on Jezebel which completely captured all the rage I was feeling. This is just a single woman describing her story, but the effect is similar. It's a perfect encapsulation of why feminism is still completely fucking necessary.


@TheBourneApproximation Did you see the Onion article on her potential 2016 run?


@SarahDances I had not, but that is amazing! (Not to mention what I secretly think Hillary's inner monologue sounds like, hehe.) Thanks!

The Hyperbolic Julia Set

@TheBourneApproximation Oh hello let's be friends! Me freakin too. Are you following Anita Sarkeesian's video game series?

ALSO on the sexism in science and tech things that piss me off (everything). Don't you love when a man says something to you along the lines of "And now that there are women programmers" or "We used to just do that before there were women in labs" WE'VE BEEN HERE THE WHOLE TIME! Yes please notify Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper that NOW when are in computing. Sorry...that just happened to me ...recently...


@The Hyperbolic Julia Set Yay friends! The erasure of women from science, math, and computing history really pisses me off. Women programmed the ENIAC. Hell, there's been a long line of female programmers since Ada Lovelace. Roberta Williams made the Sierra adventure games I loved as a kid. Lise Meitner, Jocelyn Bell and Rosalind Franklin were instrumental in the discovery of fission, pulsars, and the structure of DNA. All three got passed over for the Nobel Prize in favor of men. We're part of the culture! We always have been!

I have been following Tropes vs Women in Videogames! I'm so happy she finally got to make those, and I'm curious to see where it's going to go. Damn it, when is the next one coming out, anyway? *Impatient*


This was horrible to read, and riveting. Those fucking book covers. Oh my god. I am going to read the authors on her list, like, now.


As outraged as I am, I am also really proud of the writer. She is saying fuck you world. I am living my life on my terms. I dont need your permission to be myself.

Isn't that really what we wanted from the feminist movement? To be as free as our male counterparts in the work force and society?

Judith Slutler

@MandyMcAwesome Yeah. She shouldn't have to be dealing with any of this, but she's a fucking champ.


File under "things I did not want to know about, ever, but am glad that I do know about them, becuase they are a constant reminder of how horrible society is." SHUTTERBABE?

Scary Wollstonecraft

Oh my gosh this is really part of the Janet Reitman review.

"It’s true that being a woman in the boys club means rarely having the luxury of leaving your gender behind. This doesn’t mean inwardly freaking out, as Kogan does, when your box of tampons is inadvertently squashed by an AK-47-toting guerrilla as you barrel across the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. It means ignoring, or brushing off, the random, and unwelcome, erection rubbing against your back while you’re trying to work... dealing calmly with the disrespect women often receive from men..."

Judith Slutler

@Scary Wollstonecraft Oh god oh god oh god oh god. What is this fucking bullshit. I can't even.


@Scary Wollstonecraft swear to God I didn't see this before I posted the same thing below!


@Scary Wollstonecraft

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Scary Wollstonecraft Oh what the fuck.


@Scary Wollstonecraft WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST READ.


eta: okay some people don't because there is no right way to respond to this kind of shit, but freaking out inwardly/outwardly is totally an okay/appropriate response to that. Like. Jeeze.

Scary Wollstonecraft

@damselfish I feel that being stuck without tampons at the wrong time of the month is damned sufficient reason to inwardly freak out!! "Unwanted erections" are, um, a lot worse, to say the least. That review is Team Rape Culture.

Scary Wollstonecraft

@ColdFinger Oh and this quotation is really so awful that it deserves two threads that simultaneously discuss its awfulness.


@Scary Wollstonecraft Here, here! (Feel like I'll keep going back to this whole thing for a wile... A lot of complicated sh*t to think about if you work internationally and *do* have to deal with harassment/worse in order to get your work done, sometimes for the benefit of the very harrasser. But of course that is all the more reason to need to feel comfortable among your colleagues and peers, be they hardened journalist dudes or assignment editors, or other female reporters.)



It’s true that being a woman in the boys club means rarely having the luxury of leaving your gender behind. This doesn’t mean inwardly freaking out, as Kogan does, when your box of tampons is inadvertently squashed by an AK-47-toting guerrilla as you barrel across the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. It means ignoring, or brushing off, the random, and unwelcome, erection rubbing against your back while you’re trying to work; trying to control your anger over the lack of access or freedom of movement women have throughout much of the Arab world; dealing calmly with the disrespect women often receive from men in professional situations in most of rural Africa, as well as parts of Asia, Latin America and just about everywhere else.

(It's from the Janet Reitman review, and I think I honestly don't get it. Is the message really, "just deal with it"? Having said that, I can imagine that Kogan is a pretty difficult person, and even one whose book may be problematic, or even bad. That being said, why attack her personally question her very legitimacy as a journalist, feminist, and, seemingly, human being?!)


@ColdFinger I don't know what it means, but I know what it personally means for ME:

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻


@TheBourneApproximation Indeed. I'm at work, so I didn't have a ton of time to get into the whole story - which is why I added that caveat at the end, - but I wish I hadn't. That's the kind of paragraph that gives you a jolt as you're skimming through a disarmingly well-worded essay and makes you go WTF??? SHE IS SAYING *WHAT*?


@ColdFinger Janet Reitman wants to be the only exceptional woman in the boys club? Janet Reitman thinks the only acceptable reaction to being sexually harassed is to calmly accept it? Janet Reitman wants to police the reactions and emotions of all other women journalists?

I don't know exactly what she means, either, but I don't like it at all.


@ColdFinger @ColdFinger Reitman's idea of being a woman in the boys' club is pretty noxious to me. "Dealing with" something shouldn't just mean accepting that it comes with the territory, and it shouldn't mean holding your tongue.

Molly Lambert's article on boys' clubs is an absolutely barnstorming take on the subject. This paragraph, titled, "What If I Love Being The Only Girl In The Boys Club?" could apply to Reitman...

"Megan Fox Syndrome, aka Wendy from Peter Pan. It is the delusion that you can become an official part of the boys' club if you are its strictest enforcer, its most useful prole. That if you follow the rules exactly you can become the Official Woman. If you refuse other women admission you are denying that other women are talented, which makes you just as bad as any boys' club for thinking there would only be one talented girl at a time.

You will never actually be part of the boys' club, because you are a woman. You are Ray Liotta in Goodfellas. You are not Italian, therefore you are never going to get made. And you don't want to be a part of the boys' club, because it is dedicated to preserving its own privilege at your expense. Why wouldn't you want to know and endorse the work of other women who share your interests? How insecure are you?"


@PatatasBravas @PatatasBravas I mean, who really says, JUST DEAL WITH THAT UNWELCOME ERECTION AGAINST YOUR BACK?!

I work at an international organization, and I certainly understand that, yes, sometimes you do have to deal with it, in practical terms. But advising others to man up (as it were) about the whole thing, rather than acknowledging one's disgust, and then play it doubly cool with one's male colleagues? Ugh. Something really happens to people's level of cynicism when they work in extreme circumstances, and it's a shame this lady's taking it out on one of her peers.

Vera Knoop


The Hons

I read Shutterbabe when I was a freshman in college. I read it over and over. I had a romance with it. I think I bought it at St. Marks Bookstore. I remember hiding the book from my parents because the title didn't measure up to what the book was about. I couldn't explain why it was so important to me because at that point I didn't know much about feminism, or the gender-wage gap, or how gender discrimination functions in work and in life. I just admired her bravery and her talent. Now that I have a deeper understanding and experience with anti-feminism in its many nasty guises, her work means that much more. What an awesome lady she is for continuing to speak about these things.

Roxy Throatpunch

@The Hons I am so glad - a day later - to see that someone else has actually read Shutterbabe. I also read it in college - I think I was a sophomore - after my dad gave me an ARC, and I also had a romance with. I think it's a fucking brilliant book, and I am so grateful that I had (and still have) the kind of dad who somehow knows just the right book to hand 20-year-old college kids who are Trying To Figure Out Life and Boys and All That Other Stuff.

Oh, squiggles

Impotent rage can make you lightheaded and headachy. That's a fun new thing to discover.

Also, this made me cry because...how do you fight something that is so ingrained in a culture that people deny it even exists?

If strong emotions were super powers, I would have burst into flames ala The Human Torch about 1/3 of the way through that article. I would burn, burn, burn.

Queen Elisatits

@Absurd Bird Impotent rage at stuff like this and other injustices has figured way to heavily in my life these past couple of weeks. Where is a happy place?


Thank you Hairpin for putting this into the light, and thank you Hairpin commenters for articulating what I cannot because I just choke on it! You guys are awesome and give me hope.
I swear this website is like my blanket fort for hiding from the constant barrage of awful everywhere.


I was pretty active in student politics in college, and one of my pet projects involved gender parity. One of the fratty dudes I worked with once told me "either feminism worked, and women are equal now, or it's useless. You decide."


@RNL And of course, "you decide," because it's not like he's got any skin in the game (I mean, he does in the sense that the patriarchy hurts everybody, but he knows instinctively that his life won't really be any worse if he just walks off and leaves the ladies to their lady problems)


@RNL Right because everything is all this giant on-off switch. Like science, and human rights, and human effort and achievement of any kind.

"Either cancer research already worked or it's useless. You decide."


Feminism worked which is why I get to decide!

Jolly Farton



@lilly pilgrim There used to be a firecart around here somewhere ....


tips hat

Good morning, and I do mean good morning, my fine and fulsome ladies. And is it happening that we'd be needing the services of the Fire Barrow on this loveliest and most morn of ings? Fire of all shapes and varieties, fires to bewitch and destroy, fires that freeze and fires that harrow the soul, step right this way and you'll find the fire for you, if you don't mind my saying so, ladies.


@laurel This is the gif that showed up as the principal image in my Feedly - it could not be more apt.


The other article, on bikers protecting victims of child abuse and making them feel safe, is definitely a good chaser for the big glass of HATERADE that is the Kogan piece. Fuck the patriarchy, but fuck yeah Bikers Against Child Abuse.


@katekari I mean, there's the inherent need to toss all of the abusers into a pit full of venomous snakes. But the bikers are heroes.


I really want to go smash something with a baseball bat right now.


Someone gave me that book because I'm an avid photographer and it sat on my shelf for nearly 2 years before I opened it because if that awful title. It's a great relief to learn the truth behind it!

Yah girl, take Jolie's advice and fire your agent posthaste.

Lily Rowan

On the Bikers Against Child Abuse front, I put that up on the tumblr I administer (it was submitted by someone else), last summer, and recently saw a different tumblr post about the same article, and wondered if I should feel ripped off (the notes on that post should be MINE!), and then remembered that I had just copied the piece from the newspaper anyway, so.


@Lily Rowan OH MY GOD there's something in my eyes at work. This is the absolute best thing, which I needed after Kogan's story.


Whoa whoa whoa, that was intensely more sad that I was expecting. How infuriating. Makes me feel really lucky that since I graduated college in 2009 I've worked in arts non-profits dominated by super badass, inspiring, intelligent women. (When we hire a man, it's like wohoo! diversity!)


So I'm wending my way through the comments and I just hatched a suspicion: is Daniel Mendelsohn the unnamed reviewer whom she called at home? Because I thought I liked him and I'd hate to have to see him as a jerk. Auuggh.


@MadRedactrix Undeniably Daniel Mendelsohn. Hell.


@MadRedactrix "One mark of a mature and serious author is an ability to withstand the temptation to micro-manage every aspect of publication--reviews included. " Thanks for the tip, Dan! Nothing to see here, everyone, just another case of a woman thinking she is a 'mature and serious author'.


@mincandenza Yeah, maybe if Mendelsohn didn't full-on attack Kogan for embracing motherhood so easily (what exactly is his f***ing problem, here?) she wouldn't have seen fit to follow up with him. And then, in the comments section, he tries to make the world see that Kogan apologized to him 5 years ago. So glad she jumped in and said, "I apologized for calling you twice. That doesn't magically mean that my complaints about your sexism have dissolved."

Margot Harrington@twitter

HAIRPIN! I love you so. I don't know what I would do if it weren't for a productive comment thread like this. Now I don't have to sit silently FUMING at my desk for the rest of the day. I work in tech, am self-employed, and am vocal about feminism. Everyday I'm scared it's keeping me marginalized and more broke than I deserve to be. I'm so glad for support and solidarity here.


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