Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation

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I discovered the pithy and entertaining writing of Laura Kipnis via Dissent Magazine’s review of this book which was so excellent I’m unable to add anything else to the mix. Beyond what’s in the Dissent review, I enjoyed the inclusion of her “debate” with Harvey Mansfield (author of the “deeply offensive and deeply anxious book,” Manliness); she shows of her wit and smarts, pinning him as he backtracks on the question of happy marriages and his slippage to include all women as feminists. There’s also a great essay, Men Who Hate Hillary, “You could recognize them by the flecks of foam in the corners of their mouths when the subject of her candidacy arose.” Overall an intensely readable collection of essays by yet another non-strident feminist (YANSF).

I find it hard to get that worked up about dumb expressions of unreconstructed sexism. For one thing, in my experience it’s the subtle forms that are most insidious (these are not practiced exclusively by men). Also, I’m just lazy: I don’t like having to rise to the bait like some sort of earnest marionette. It’s too exhausting. I prefer to just spread a thick layer of irony over the situation and hope my opponents smother in it.

On Andrea Dworkin’s Intercourse, her “one-woman Nuremberg trial on injustices of heterosexual sex”:

Note the passive construction – “is taken to be” – a hallmark of the Dworkin style. Elsewhere: “The normal fuck by a normal man is taken to be an act of invasion and ownership undertaken in a mode of predation.” Taken… by whom? The passive voice combined with the punch-you-in-the-face argument, the vacillation between victimization and militancy: this is Dworkin distilled to her essence.