This is so the worst thing you're going to read all day.

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

Stephen Marche for Esquire: "The Contempt of Women." Actual subtitle: "The rise of men. And the whining of girls."

There's a lot wrong with this article, starting with the basic problem that Marche cannot (or will not) distinguish between contempt for men and contempt for expressions of patriarchy-compliant masculinity. That's not a semantic difference (unless you're an evo-psych gender essentialist, in which case you're just wrong). I am a tenured Professor of Contempt at Fuck U, and the first lesson in my 101 class is that contempt for people and contempt for their behavior are very different things.

The second lesson is that privileged people who don't want to be held accountable for their behavior like to accuse the marginalized people contemptuous of that behavior of being, instead, contemptuous of their personhood.

To deflect accountability, "men" becomes inextricable from "male privilege" (carefully aided by disappearing or dismissing all men who do not exhibit and/or share undiluted male privilege: gay/bi men, trans* men, feminist-allied men), and it is not the oppressive expressions and subjugating practices of male privilege for which women have understandable contempt, but men themselves.

Thus, we are terrible "misandrists," not critics of systemic oppression and the acts which facilitate it.

Of course, there are also some individual men whom some women hold in contempt, for legitimate reasons, but when your examples of "self-deprecating" male comics are Louis CK and Daniel Tosh, I don't guess legitimate contempt is a concept that exists in your paradigm.

(NB: Men who do rape humor are not "sharing in" women's alleged contempt for men. They are expressing profound contempt for women.)

I'm not going to spend a lot more time deconstructing the towering inferno of fuck that is this article (I'll leave that to you in comments), but I do want to note one other thing: The story about First Lady Michelle Obama "humiliating" President Barack Obama by saying, "He's a gifted man, but he's just a man," so often cited by male writers as evidence of what a bitch/ball-buster/bitch she is, is not about her contempt for him. (And you have to be a real asshole to image that any half of this couple has contempt for the other.) In fact, I don't think it's really about Barack Obama at all.

Every time we hear about how Barack Obama and Michelle Robinson met, we get the line about how she was his supervisor. She was ahead of him in her career. She, by all accounts, was the better student, more focused, more ambitious. And yet it's he who is the president. Maybe that comes down entirely to the fact that she didn't want it. But, after watching Hillary Clinton's campaign, can there be any doubt that, no matter how much she wanted it, it wouldn't have mattered?

Whether Michelle Obama wanted the presidency or not is really immaterial to her certain knowledge that she couldn't have had it, anyway. And when she says her husband is "a gifted man, but he's just a man," I don't only hear a wife humanizing her husband and keeping him humble in an affectionate way; I hear a woman who is herself extraordinarily gifted, but will always be considered "just a woman," fighting for equal space. As well she should.

That is not contempt for her husband. That is contempt for the opportunities she was not allowed to enjoy, the recognition she will never get.

image from Downton Abbey of Mary and Matthew dancing
Matthew: How about you? Is your life proving satisfactory? Apart from the great matter, of course.

Mary: Women like me don't have a life. We choose clothes and pick halls and work for charity and do the season. But, really, we're stuck in a waiting room until we marry.

Matthew: I've made you angry.

Mary: My life makes me angry. Not you.
Take note, Mr. Marche.

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