Prove Your Manhood With Veiled Rape Threats

So a contributing editor of New York, Vanessa Grigoriadis, wrote the cover story for the magazine this week, in which she asserted: "With Gawker, there is now little need for the usual gossip players like... The New York Post's 'Page Six,' emasculated by the Murdoch hierarchy after the Jared Paul Stern scandal."

Grigoriadis' choice of the word emasculated rubs me the wrong way up one side and down the other, for reasons I'm going to assume I've made evident in no fewer than a nonillion posts about defining strength, power, etc. in contradistinction to the feminine. (Also see Portly Dyke's recent post on its use.) Suffice it to say, I would judge criticism of her use of the term as fair and legitimate.

But then there's Page Six's response, which, in addition to making fun of Grigoriadis' appearance, notes that she "ignores that fact that half the Page Six staff is female," then adds, ominously, "The male half might take her someplace private and disprove her theory, but we don't like a woman with a mustache."

Take her someplace private and disprove her theory. Jezebel wonders: "Is that a sexual threat?" Leaving aside that there's no such thing as a "sexual threat"—if you're threatening someone with sex, it's a rape threat—I am hard-pressed to see how, precisely, the suggestion of a group of men taking a woman "someplace private" for a display of their virility could be construed as anything but threatening.

It isn't an invitation; they're not offering to meet her someplace private, but to take her.

Most tellingly, however, is the reliance on the familiar "rape as compliment" structure. They might take her someplace private to "disprove her theory," but she's too ugly. It's the written equivalent of the man who goes out of his way to physically intimidate a woman in public on her own, only to scoff, "Don't flatter yourself!" before wandering away.

Jezebel's readers are decidedly unhappy, and further not fooled by the thin veil draped over the threat:

That's clearly a "You know, if we could get that bitch in a corner we'd show her we do so have a dick, and we know how to use it!"

Yep - rape threat and then an insult. "We'd rape you, but you're too ugly to rape."

So yeah, thinly veiled rape threats and followed up by an insult on her looks? I'm so appalled I'm almost embarrassed for them.

And then one commenter astutely poses the question that really gets to the heart of the matter: Would this tactic even have been employed if Grigoriadis were a straight man?

Right. I can't recall ever having seen a public spat between two professional men end with one threatening to (at best) show the other his dick and (at worst) rape him. Or, better yet, saying he would do that, if only the other guy weren't so ugly.

It's just complete and utter lunacy the kind of shit to which women are routinely subjected, right out in public, like it's no big deal. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves that we allow the two halves of the population to be held to such egregiously different standards, that we allow a truly sickening level of abuse to be heaped on so many people for no other reason than because they're girls.

In a better world, we'd all just get on with condemning this shit and ideologically savaging the pigs who perpetrate it. But instead, we'll probably have to spend the next two days parsing whether this is really a rape threat with people who have never been and will never be habitually targeted with precisely this kind of menacing rhetoric, who, without a trace of irony, will provide the space for the plausible deniability built into veiled threats against women and dependent on there being privileged dodos who have never had to become fluent in such language telling those of us who have that we are wrong.

[Thanks to Shaker Kyriell for the heads up.]

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