The Sexist

The Morning After: “I Agree With Alex Knepper” Edition

What are you smiling about?

Hi, Sexist readers. Welcome to a new daily item, in which I link to the sex-and-gender pieces of note from around the Internets. I'd love to link to what you're reading, as well; file your suggestions here!

* After writing a diatribe against rape victims that begins "I agree with Alex Knepper," romance novel reviewer Rachel Potter has resigned from her spot at All About Romance. Potter claimed that a "reading funk" inspired her resignation; romance fans suspect that it actually has more to do with her claims that slutty women cause rapes against chaste women by "teasing men into a frenzied rage," forcing these men to "vent that rage on a bystander."

* Amanda at the Undomestic Goddess has launched a great reguler feature on SAFER Campus called "Beyond the Campus," which rounds up the week's reporting on issues of sexual assault.

* Amanda Marcotte adds another layer to the discussion of feminine performance-as-labor. In order to conform to the cultural script, women aren't only required to perform femininity and make that performance appear effortless. They must also take no joy in it:

That fashion is pleasurable for many women is why it’s considered “frivolous”, due to the long-standing cultural belief that if a woman is feeling pleasure, something must have gone wrong.  So I look to the cultural pressure to look good to explain why women are stuck in this catch-22, where they’re supposed to shop and pull themselves together, but they’re shamed if they enjoy it. . . . That women insist on taking pleasure in clothes shopping while being shamed over it is admirable.  It’s not like the world’s greatest act of bravery to continue applying lipstick after a man snits at you that he prefers “natural” beauty, but it does take self-assurance.  (Or, if you want to move up a level of bitch, echo Dolly Parton in “Steel Magnolias”: “There is no such thing as natural beauty.") I admire the courage of women who say no to beauty standards, but I also admire the women who decide to take audacious pleasure in femininity.  Both are rejections of the restraints of femininity, one of the standards themselves, and one of the taboos against women showing their work or taking too much pleasure in it.

I wonder how this keys into the expectation that women smile for men—are we meant to appear to enjoy performing femininity, but internally take no pleasure in it?

* Alyssa Rosenberg on the emotional space between the music of Madonna and Lady Gaga:

I've always thought of Madonna as kind of the Belle Watling of pop, the woman who despite the fact that she's gotten around a bit, and in fact because of it, understands the euphoria of true love and sexual chemistry.  I hope to dance to "Cherish" at my wedding.  But while I find a lot of resonance in certain shards of Lady Gaga's lyrics, she's working in an emotional photo-negative of a lot of Madonna's best songs, exploring loneliness, aloneness, heartbreak.

* David Mitchell on the liberal use of the word "empowering":

Having stumbled upon the word "empowering", which can be deployed under so many circumstances—I use it about charging my phone—they've let it trick them into thinking that they've framed an argument.

Photo via Zawezome, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

  • Toysoldier

    I *think* that when Eo uses the word “antisocial”, what he really means is “sociopath” i.e. a person without the same moral restraints/empathy as most of the species.

    No, what Eo describes is accurate. It is easy to mistake antisocial people with sociopaths/psychopaths due to the similarity of some of their traits, but both are distinct disorders.

    But I think to label every rapist, ever, a sociopath (altho most probably are) means that rapists are mentally ill who need to be treated, rather than violent criminals who need to be incarcerated.

    Those who are mentally ill deserve to be treated. If treating them prevents future assaults, that is the best solution. Dismissing their mental illness because that does not fit into your political views is not only delusional, but also dangerous. It ignores the actual cause for such behavior and it politicizes the issue, which leads to ignoring certain victims and certain perpetrators because they are not the "correct" gender and leads to victim-blaming and excusing child rape, as bellacoker did in post #36.

    That said, I agree that people should not assume that all or most rapists are mentally ill, which does occur, especially with female perpetrators.

  • Toysoldier

    There is a moderation feature now?

  • Amanda Hess


    Some comments on this site go directly into a moderation queue. If it's the first time you're commenting from a particular IP address, or if the blog software thinks you might be spam (comments with a lot of links are sometimes mistaken for spam), your comment will be moderated. I'm usually pretty good about freeing those comments quickly, but there might be a delay of a few minutes.

  • LeftSidePositive


    What about the "undetected rapist" who otherwise lives a very successful, socially-connected life? What about Ben Roethlisburger? Is he mentally ill? What about all the people (including you!) who tell women "she shouldn't have done this, she shouldn't have done that, she should have done..." to make excuses for rapists? Is taking advantage of a consequence-free environment evidence of mental illness, or of the attitudes fostered by said consequence-free environment? What about Goldman Sachs executives--are they mentally ill? Is it "politicizing" the issue to look at how people operate with a lack of consequences?

    And, how the fuck did bellacoker excuse child rape in #36? She very clearly said it was wrong, but also pointed out how Eo's coping mechanisms were damaging and derogatory.

  • Saurs

    I think Toysoldier is referring to bellacoker writing that Eo was "taken advantage of" by a woman, rather than raped. The problem, of course, is that in his quest to find fault with something, Toysoldier failed to take into account the fact that Cap'n Eo used that same phrase to describe his own sexual assault in comment #14:

    "When I was an early to mid teen for whatever reason, adult women took an interest in me, I have been taken advantage of while drunk..."

    bellacoker wasn't minimizing or excusing anything, but simply allowing the victim to describe his own experiences in his own words, rather than denying him his point-of-view. If only Eo and Toysoldier and countless other rape apologists could do the same...

  • hexy

    K: I’m not saying they can’t be both, but not all rapists are sociopaths, just as not all murderers are schizophrenics.

    Very few murderers are schizophrenics. A lot of murder victims are, though.

    Toysoldier: No, what Eo describes is accurate. It is easy to mistake antisocial people with sociopaths/psychopaths due to the similarity of some of their traits, but both are distinct disorders.

    Incorrect. Sociopathy is no longer a recognised disorder at all. While the term is still in colloquial usage (and frequently hideous misdefined) it's not accurate to say it is a "distinct disorder" to ASPD.

    Incidentally, there's nothing in the diagnostic profile of ASPD OR the now defunct diagnostic profile of sociopathy that references sexual violence.