The Sexist

Gene Weingarten Defends “I Love Women”

In Washington Post humor columnist Gene Weingarten's monthly online chat today, a reader confronted Weingarten over one of his signature phrases: "I love women." [Weingarten seriously "loves women": See exhibits A, B, C, D, and E].

I recently scolded Chris Brown for employing the phrase on the Wendy Williams Show, citing four criteria (a) "I Love Women" essentializes an entire gender; (b) it really means "I love having sex with women"; (c) it is generally employed as a thin cover for a blatant sexist phase; or, worse: (d) it is assumed to be a get-0ut-of-jail-free card for past misogynistic behavior.

But Weingarten insists that he's not using "I love women" in the Chris Brown sense of the phrase:


Washington, D.C.: As a regular user of the phrase "I love women" right here in this very chat, what say you about this?

Gene Weingarten: This is interesting, and a comeuppance for me. Except when I say "I love women" I do not mean "I love to have sex with women." I mean something less crude, but no less objectionable, I suppose. I am saying that I find a combination of certain traits—compassion, empathy, the ability to wield sexual power with sophistication and adroitness and mercy, the sometimes comical pursuit of decency and cleanliness, a distaste for the vulgar and common, an instinctive kindness, and instinctive appreciation of tastefulness and decorum, a charming embarrassment over coarse bodily functions, and several other attributes—to be adorable and enviable and worthy and beyond the understanding of many men. In this sense, I am, in fact, both generalizing (all women are not alike) and diminutizing (I find these things, God help me, "cute"). I am guilty of this and apologize.

Gene Weingarten: Here's how much I respect women: If I were a gynecologist, I would administer ma'am-ograms.

So, Weingarten isn't using "I love women" in a (b) "sex!" or (d) "excuse for hitting his girlfriend" way, but he is using "I love women" in an (a) "generalizing" and (c) "deminutizing" way. Basically, he's batting .500 on "I love women." But hey, at least he's honest about it.

Comments

  1. #1

    "a combination of certain traits—compassion, empathy, the ability to wield sexual power with sophistication and adroitness and mercy, the sometimes comical pursuit of decency and cleanliness, a distaste for the vulgar and common, an instinctive kindness, and instinctive appreciation of tastefulness and decorum, a charming embarrassment over coarse bodily functions"

    i think the smarminess and condescension might make this more icky than "i love having sex with women."

  2. #2

    Lame.

  3. #3

    Why doesn't he just cut to the chase and say, "I have patronizing affection for the stereotypically feminine?"

  4. #4

    Aww! He thinks it's cute to spread patronizing dated stereotypes . . . Isn't that just precious . . .

    If you'll excuse me, I'll just be over here comically pursuing decency.

  5. #5

    To be honest, I don't think there's anything wrong with simply saying, "I love having sex with women." It sort of implies that women are interchangeable, which is problematic, but really isn't semantically different from the phrase, "I love sex and I am a hetereosexual male."

    I find that phrases like, "ma'amogram" and "an instinctive kindness, and instinctive appreciation of tastefulness and decorum, a charming embarrassment over coarse bodily functions" to be kind of creepy. He likes women...because they blush when they fart?

  6. #6

    "Compassion, empathy, the ability to wield sexual power with sophistication and adroitness and mercy, the sometimes comical pursuit of decency and cleanliness, a distaste for the vulgar and common, an instinctive kindness, and instinctive appreciation of tastefulness and decorum, a charming embarrassment over coarse bodily functions, and several other attributes—to be adorable and enviable and worthy and beyond the understanding of many men."

    I agree that this is bleah. Number one, it's not accurate. I'm a woman, I love the vulgar and common, and I only pursue cleanliness in a way that's barely adequate, by no means comically zealous. If women are "instinctively kind," then men are too, we're all one freakin' species and we have the same instincts. (And being a man isn't an excuse for lacking a sense of decency, taste or decorum.) Secondly, I don't want the people in my life to regard my traits as "enviable" and "beyond understanding." I want them to think I'm cool, understand me, and sympathize with me when I have a problem.

    It's lame to define "women" by a batch of traits that not all women possess, because then women who aren't dainty and charmingly embarrassed get looked on as gross, weird, and less than real women.

  7. Comrade Al Gonzales
    #7

    Weingarten is a typical bourgeois American pig. Valerie Solanas would whack his little weenie.

    What's pathetic is that he thinks he's being funny. A gynecologist giving a "ma'am-ogram" ? That's not funny, even for the 12-year-old humor that Weingarten peddles. The "dainty, charmingly embarrassed chick" & the rest of that spiel just shows how sexist Weingarten is, as Emily points out above. All of the traits Weingarten cites are found equally in men and women.

    What a waste of newsprint - Weingarten has a lot of bad karma to face.

  8. #8

    Give a guy some credit. Weingarten admits he is lame.

    "I am, in fact, both generalizing (all women are not alike) and diminutizing (I find these things, God help me, “cute”). I am guilty of this and apologize"

    Do you also hate on love letters and the romantic poets?

  9. #9

    @Laine: I agree, at least he's not pretending to be something he's not, unlike Chris Brown, the creep...

  10. #10

    Nom Chompsky said:

    “To be honest, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with simply saying, “’I love having sex with women.’”

    Hey, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that either. But no one mentioned in this post has “simply said” that. They have said, “I Love Women” when they mean that they love having sex with women. It’s a subtle difference, and it implies that they think of “women” in general as “women’s bodies.” That’s what I take issue with.

  11. Comrade Al Gonzales
    #11

    Let me phrase the distinction a little less subtly - these guys are saying they love pussy, not that they love women.

    Big difference. They say they love women, but if you substitute "pussy" for "women" their comments make more sense. They love "pussy" - not "women".

    I've got news for you un-evolved Neanderthals: women do not = pussy.

  12. #12

    I love women like Amanda Hess, too. Kick-ass, no-nonsense women like Amand, and my lawyer-prosecutor wife and veterinarian daughter, and like Gina Barrecca, who spent 300 pages of a book we wrote together kicking my ass, with my encouragement and my cooperation, to make many feminist arguments in which we both believed.

    I'd argue that there should be some room in all your young, strong hearts for an old fart expressing self-consciously over-the-top affection -- stripped of leering, absent any hostility, filled with honest, doofy admiration -- for positive traits he notices in many, many women and almost no men. There ARE observable differences in the genders, you know, and so many of them seem to break in the ladies' favor. I do not think you should be so quick to take this as an affront.

    Meanwhile, I'd like to share a story apropos of the argument in this thread about whether women "are" their body parts. Back in the 1990s I was editing a story by Laura Blumenfeld about the then-trendy topic of the female condom. When we were done with it, the story had to be approved by a top editor at the paper, because it was about sex, and The Post was very, very nervous about sex. He liked the story, but asked us to take out the word "vagina," which he found distasteful. (Er, he found the WORD distasteful.)

    Laura and I argued strenuously that you cannot write a story about the female condom without indicating how it is used, and that it is absolutely impossible to explain this without using the v word. And that there is nothing wrong with the v word.

    The editor got all huffy and declared that he would rewrite it himself, which he did. And so there appeared the following line in The Washington Post; it is still in the archives: "The female condom lines the inside of a woman."

    Voila! In trying to be tasteful and sensitive, this editor put into the Washington Post a line SPECIFICALLY equating a woman with her ladypart.

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