Firing Back at Outlook

Sunday, March 9, 2008

These comments come from the more than 1,500 letters and e-mails received by The Washington Post in response to "We Scream, We Swoon. How Dumb Can We Get?" by Charlotte Allen, which appeared in last week's edition of Outlook.

Honestly, the only stupid things men do are drink directly from the milk carton and massacre people at post offices? You're The Washington Post, not Charlotte Allen's MySpace page. If Oprah's success proves women are stupid, then what should we make of World Wrestling Entertainment or the Three Stooges?

If this is the standard, then you could easily prove that men are dumber or even woollier. Has Allen never heard of drum circles? If we're having a pop-culture silly-a-thon, nobody does well. Why pick on girls? We can use her formula to prove that all Americans are stupid, or all human beings, or all carbon-based life forms for that matter. My dog is super adorable, but his driving sucks, and if he had an opposable thumb, he would totally buy a Celine Dion CD. I can just tell.



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The Washington Post should be embarrassed about its decision to publish the "Women vs. Women" feature that dominated the front page of the Outlook section last week. Under the pretext of analyzing women's voting patterns in the Democratic presidential primaries, the paper presented the case that women are stupid and emotional and can't be trusted to protect their own interests. All that was missing was a call to rescind our right to vote.

Charlotte Allen's article was a tour de force of misogyny and self-loathing. No doubt the editors at The Post thought they could get away with printing this anti-woman bigotry because the writer herself is female, but that fact does not make it any more acceptable.

Tellingly titled "We Scream, We Swoon. How Dumb Can We Get?" the piece pretends to be about the Clinton-Obama race, but it's not. It is about promoting gender stereotypes. Allen informs readers (and reassures raging sexists, I suppose) that women are "hysterical," "superficial," "worse drivers than men" and perhaps "only children of a larger growth."

The possibility that voters could elect the first female president this year has unearthed a stream of latent hostility toward successful, smart, ambitious women. Obviously, we still have a long way to go when major newspapers see fit to run screeds arguing that women should just "relax" and not let it bother their silly little heads that they are "kind of dim." The next time someone asks me if we still need a feminist movement, I will point to this article.


President, National Organization for Women

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