Up With Your Blood Pressure!

The minute I started reading Charlotte Allens’ screed against women, the first thought bubbled up from the glaze of “Is this a joke?” was: “When is she going to mention romance novels?”

Ah! There it is. No virulent diatribe against the relative silliness of women would be complete without railing against those of us who betray the power of our brain cells by reading “those books,” i.e. romance. I have to admit, I am so spoiled by the time I spend at this site and others about romance that I forget at times how much romance novels are sneered at and slapped down, often by other women. And it is far more often women who give me shit about my reading material than men.

Megan and Moe flay this article into itty bitty pieces bit by bit at Jezebel, and I nearly snorted beverage up my nostrils at their response.

Personally, I’ve learned quite a few things from Allen’s rather large trainwreck of an article – and after that much ranting I hope she’s feeling much better. Noteably: should I ever wish to go out on a limb with an outrageous opinion, name dropping every fifth word does little to strengthen an argument.

Also, mocking people with Morgellon’s disease is… well, shitful, and especially extra double cheese comical considering that the Washington Post just published an article about a month ago profiling the disorder, interviewing male and female sufferers. As someone who suffered hives for 2 years without diagnosis (but a shitload of steroids in the interim) I say, may Allen never suffer from a frustrating, idiopathic illness that is marked by itching.

But most of all, as Candy so eloquently said a while back, why must people continually harsh on the moral fiber of those whose taste we question?

After talking with Hubby about Allen’s article, I said, “You know what burns my toast? She craps all over what she considers the bad taste of other women, and make sweeping judgments about the relative intellect and quality of women who do things she doesn’t like, when there are plenty of doofy things men do that are, in the long run, equally harmless and not at all indicative of their quality as a gender.”

For every woman that watches and enjoys “Grey’s Anatomy,” there are plenty of men who do some really daffy things, and I’m not lining up for the opportunity to call them “dim.”

Hubby said, “Like continuing to play contact sports after their bodies are too old for it?”

Yes! That. Professional and otherwise.

Like, managing the minutiae of a nonexistent sports team? I’ve got no room to mock that one; my fantasy baseball draft is in a few weeks.

Men’s taste in television? Aside from the number of dudes I know who watch Grey’s Anatomy, there’s plenty to examine. From the sample of the various men who hijack the clicker in my house, from Hubby to his father to our houseguests for aforementioned baseball draft, men’s taste in television can be varied, bizarre, and often features gratuitous breasts.

Or, as Jane just pointed out, their taste in tv is just plain inexplicable: see “The existence and popularity of Jackass.”

And what about the compulsion to watch the end of a game just because it’s on tv, sometimes even a game that was actually played sixteen years prior? Thank you Classic Sports for that oddity. (Note: please don’t show game 7 of the 1992 NLCS, people at Classic Sports. It makes Hubby beyond upset.)

Additionally, as Jane pointed out to me as we discussed the article, men seem to believe that yelling at the TV actually impacts how the game turns out. What is with that?

Some guy stereotypes are rooted in tiny fragments of truth: how many of us know a man, as Jane said, who steadfastly refuses “to ask for directions because being lost is smarter than knowing where to go?” *raises hand* My father in law owns, like, six different GPS units because he hates asking actual humans for directions.

How about owning two distinct levels of clothing: work and not work?

But in all seriousness, what boggled my mind most of all was Allen’s directive that we women should “relax [and] enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel.”

Things, I might add, that men are ridiculed as dim and weak for attempting to do alongside women: “tenderness toward children… and the weak and the ability to make a house a home.”

How many times do you see positive fatherhood in popular culture? Stereotypically, men are bumbling fathers, distant fathers, cold fathers, or nonexistent fathers. Yet the real men I see everyday in my home and in the homes of my friends and acquaintances are possessing of those same qualities Allen identifies as “innate” to women.

I’ll take the men I know, silly and rooting for mythical sports teams, and the Grey’s watching women that drive Allen so far down the lane of Batshit any day over any more articles like this one.

Man am I ever glad Allen is not part of the village that’s supposed to help me raise my children.


The Link-O-Lator

Comments are Closed

  1. DBN says:

    Snorting at the idea of her being a part of your village.  Only if she is playing the part of the village idiot.

  2. Trac says:

    I…I just…


    Hyphens and colons have never more adequately expressed my feelings.

  3. Marta Acosta says:

    Oh, they just ran this to get a reaction.  Newspapers are desperate for readers these days.

    And my verification word?  Reaction58.

  4. Krissie says:

    Well, I sorta have to agree with her on the “Eat, Pray, Love” phenomenon and Oprah. I don’t get it either.

    And “Grey’s Anatomy” made it through about 2 TiVO tapings and then it got the boot.

    What embarrasses me more, though, are the women who dress like Jerry Springer guests and act like Anna Nicole.

    I didn’t think the article was really that bad…and she did admit to men having their own silly foibles.

  5. Tina says:

    It’s articles like this that make me shake my head in wonder at the sheer audacity of someone who has obviously benefited from what equality for women has had to offer telling the rest of us we’re too damned immature, silly, and downright stupid to be able to determine our own lives.  I don’t know whether it’s some innate insecurity that makes them want to clear the playing field, some untold depths of self-hatred, or mercenary greed and self-interest that causes women such as this, Laura Schlessinger, & Ann Coulter to make the statements they do. Whatever the reason, I wish they’d stop because they keep getting their stupid all over the rest of us.

    ~Still giggling that, when I couldn’t think of her name, putting the words “hateful, right-wing, female author” brought Ann Coulter’s name up as the very first entry!

  6. azteclady says:

    My feeling is that these women think that of course *they would be excepted, ‘cause they’re so special. They *know* every other woman’s place, so that they themselves can sit at the big table.

    Over at Dear Author someone brought up the timing of this most recent screed vis a vis the primaries… and I’m sad to say I think it’s not coincidence.

  7. oakling says:

    OMG. I hate so much that newspapers don’t even check whether they are running totally contradictory articles. I know we can’t possibly take this nonsense seriously, but still. I suppose I should hate even more that newspapers would run this kind of claptrap, but I don’t think very highly of the people who run newspapers….

  8. Teddypig says:

    *cough* Well, ummmm us guys call each other names all the time.

    You don’t want to see me and my friends going at each other over beers at the bar. We are such bitches.

    I called Vincent twinkle toes the other day (He’s a retired from mens ballet at the Dance Theatre of Harlem). Nice legs still, but that big old ass of his is getting huge honey!

    I think the other guys are gonna make the nick name stick too.

    I am so bad.

  9. Kiku says:

    “I have coasted through life and academia on the basis of an excellent memory and superior verbal skills, two areas where, researchers agree, women consistently outpace men.”

    Why is having an excellent memory and superior verbal skills considered ‘coasting’? She’s even buying into the “math and science are boy subjects, and better than girl subjects” line of thinking.

    Also, the thing about women AND GAY MEN being worse drivers? If womens’ brains are smaller than mens’, why would gay men ‘suffer’ from similar ‘dimness’? Outdated patriarchal bullshit again, sounds like.

  10. What complete drivel.  I know that columnists have a fair amount of play, but still the Washington Post is going to get mega letters for this one (way too many powerful women in DC too overlook).

    As for being “dim” as a gender trait, I think not.  I lived with a houseful of women for a year in DC.  We were full-time volunteers for a year, and somewhat addicted to Beverly Hills, 90210.  Let me share with you the career trajectories for these women: 2 social workers (myself included), 2 lawyers, 1 physician’s assistant, and 2 pastors.  Gee, I guess we should have just stuck to making a house a home.

  11. SandyO says:

    I have to admit I skimmed the article (I have high blood pressure to begin with), but really?  What the fuck was her point?

  12. R. says:

    Sounds like Allen is another one praising the virtues of mindless conformity.

    ~ sigh ~

    And I had such high hopes for this century.

  13. GrowlyCub says:

    The question I’ve had since I saw the posting on this topic on DA was is this Charlotte Allen actually Charlotte Vale Allen?  Does anybody know?

  14. --E says:

    it’s the inherent self-contradiction that got to me. Charlotte ain’t “coasting” on her verbal skills. That whole screed boiled down to “Women other than me are dimwitted, touchy-feely bimbos. That is BAD. We should encourage women to be touchy-feely homemakers in the classic 1950s mold because that is what women are best suited to.”

    Say wha—? Is she trying to say “Women’s stupidy is frustrating but incurable, so let’s just go with it”?

    That dimwitted, scatterbrained bimbo needs to make up her mind how she feels about women.

    On another note, this line in Sarah’s post caught my eye:
    How about owning two distinct levels of clothing: work and not work?

    Are you saying that men have two distinct levels of clothing, but most women don’t? Wha? When my new job starts next month, my two levels are going to be even more distinct. Suity clothing at work, jeans at home. Why wouldn’t everyone do that? (Assuming they have a job that requires suity.)

    I mean, my current job is casual. I wear jeans. But I have distinctly different “t-shirts I wear at work” (structured, a bit of lycra, solid colors) and “t-shirts I wear at home” (concert shirts, things with art).

    Maybe it’s a symptom of more men having jobs that require them to dress a particular way?

  15. SB Sarah says:

    I think it’s more that women have more than one job at a time. I have Work clothes, Home clothes, Weekend clothes, and a very, very large selection of “ok if the baby spits up on them” clothes. Actually, the middle two groups have all become part of that last one.

    So like Hubby, I have two groups. Only mine are Work and Spit Up On.

    I stand corrected. And spitty.

  16. Rebecca says:

    I started reading the article thinking that it would be a rebuttal of Linda Hirshman’s opinion or another take on women not voting as a bloc for Hillary—as had been expected.

    Instead I read with great a very ill-considered, badly written, misogynistic screed from Charlotte Allen, a women who graduated from Stanford and Harvard. A person from whom I expect more.

    There is no real thesis .

    She devotes 13 of the 16 paragraphs in her piece to denigrating women. She only spends the last damning women with faint praise when she tells us that, yeah,  there are some very smart women and she’ll give them their due – but they are not the norm.

    Shit who needs enemies when you have friends like her? She sounds like the 21st century Phyllis Schlafly (sp?).

    At least it was only opinion. I’ll have reservations before reading anything else of hers in the future.

    To write to the Post do this: Agree? Disagree? Think this article should never have been published? Send a response to outlook @ washpost.com and put “Smarter Than You Think” in the subject line. We’ll publish a selection online and in the newspaper on Sunday.

    To write to her care of her agents, send a letter to:
    Writers’ Representatives, LLC
    116 W. 14th St., 11th Fl.
    New York, NY 10011-7305
    phone/fax: 212-620-0023

    She wrote a book called The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus. It was published by the Free Press (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) in 1998. Anne Rise loved it.

  17. Gail Dayton says:

    The thing about men having more extremes of “Very Smart” and “Very Dumb”—that is true.

    Want to know why?

    Because The Intelligence Gene (whatever it is) is on the X chromosome. The GIRL Chromosome.

    So, since men only get ONE X chromosome, whatever intelligence he gets, that’s it. It can be off-the-charts high, or off-the-charts low, but that’s all he gets.

    A woman has Two X chromosomes, so if one is extremely high, the other has to be high as well, or it brings the intelligence level down some. However, if one is low, the other can bring it up. Hence the lack of extremes.

    But it also means that GIRLS carry the intelligence. How does that make us dumb?

    I learned this from my daughter, who is a statistics PhD candidate in a cross-discipline program with stats, education, and psychology at Carnegie-Mellon, and who also has an autistic son… So I figure she would know.

  18. Strategerie says:

    Poor Charlotte. So misunderstood. Did her invite to the neighborhood Bunco group get lost in the mail again?

    Perhaps Charlotte should be thankful that someone’s reading. I seem to remember seeing a stat that illiteracy is growing in the USA. I might also mention that many of the authors she scorns probably exponentially outearn her.


  19. Bev Stephans says:

    I have subscribed to The Washington Post for almost 50 years.  It is a pretty liberal paper but it does one thing well: That being, other points of view. You generally won’t see a liberal point of view in a conservative newspaper.

    As for Ms. Allen’s screed, in the comments I wrote, Hogwash!

  20. Manon says:

    I dunno, replace “women” with “Charlotte Allen” and I’d concede the point.


  21. Tina says:

    I swear no man watches “Grey’s Anatomy” unless his girlfriend forces him to. […]  No man feels blue and takes off work to spend the day in bed with a copy of “The Friday Night Knitting Club.”

    Wow, she’s never met Mr. Gynocrat.  Or his friends. (>_<)

  22. Jamie says:

    Allens is an idiot for a lot of reasons, but one is that she can’t even interpret statistics correctly.

    1.  How well you drive is in no way related to your intelligence or any sort of male-ness factor.  Instead, studies have shown that it’s largely a factor of how much you drive and exposing yourself to different driving conditions so that you can anticipate what is going to happen and react appropriately.  If women, on average, drive less than men, then it is logical that they will get into more accidents.  Of course, there may be some sort of correlation to men physiologically having better reflexes—but that’s physiology, not intelligence or some supposed superior-ness.  And everyone realizes that there are some advantages that both sexes have over one another physically.

    2.  I would be interested to see the IQ studies.  One, we know that IQ tests do not measure all factors of intelligence—but is a fair indicator.  And there are more types of intelligence (like emotional) that the tests do not test for or adequately represent.  Two, memory is one of the biggest factors of intelligence (a new study just came out about this the other day), so if women have a superior memory then….?

    3.  The woman completely ignores a whole body of research that finds that a major reason men do better in math and science is because we raise our children to believe that that is a “male” area and that girls should focus on English and “female” subjects.  Women—on average—are highly discouraged from entering “male” fields.  Also, females are encouraged not to act intelligent – which is why women like Paris Hilton have a following.  In fact, the latest figures I have seen show that the only areas where men still out number women in higher education are law schools and technical schools (MIT, et al.).

    As a smart, highly educated woman who reads romances, I find Allens to be incredibly insulting.  Sure, Sappho and the other women that she mentions are outliers (and I bet there would be more women from the past that you could point to as brilliant if more women would have been educated like men) – but so are Einstein, Newton,  and the like.  Most of us – men and women – are incredibly average and don’t make any great discoveries or pen incredible literature.  I don’t read romances because I’m some weak, pathetic female.  I read them because I am an incredibly intelligent female that is in a demanding profession, and they are a nice break from all of the intellectually demanding things that I do.  No different from men reading Louis L’Amour or John Grisham (which I read too, by the by).

    Perhaps Allens puts down her whole sex to somehow explain her own short comings?

  23. shaina says:

    what’s wrong with liking Grey’s? i lurrrrve it. is it so bad to like watching pretty people have sex and drama and sex and drama? most women, i feel, are smart enough to realize IT’S NOT REAL. same with romance novels. i’m a very smart person, sez my GPA and my university and my teachers. fluffy stuff is my escape from reading the Odyssey and studying ancient Jewish texts. i also happen to be pretty darned good at math and science. and i know tons of other girls here and elsewhere who are in the same boat.
    and…um…there are women who simply arent mothering or good at making a home. so, it can’t be “innate”, then, can it?

  24. cofax says:

    Because The Intelligence Gene (whatever it is) is on the X chromosome. The GIRL Chromosome.

    I’m afraid you are misinformed.  There is no single gene for intelligence, because there’s no single accepted definition for what intelligence is, and how it may be measured.  What is tested in IQ tests is based on a number of different factors, and is very much culturally-determined, a fact that seems to have been lost on quite a number of people in recent years. 

    There may well be a gene on the X chromosome that is linked to intelligence: but it is far from the only factor involved. 

    In any event, the range of variation within a given sex with regards to intelligence (or any other measurable characteristic) is actually greater than the difference of the medians of the two sexes.  But apparently Ms. Allen missed learning that in any of her many years of coursework.  It is, apparently, beyond her capacity to add two-plus-two, much less remember such a complicated facet of basic human biology.

  25. Brandi says:

    There’s a quote tailor-made for creatures like Ms. Allen: “I’d call her a cunt, but she lacks the depth and the charm.”

  26. R. says:

    Oh, Brandi—

    I am *so* yoinking that one!!

  27. Silly me, I thought feminism was about recognizing that women were humans and not property.

    Now I find out it’s about putting down other women to make yourself look witty and urbane.

    I’ll just go slip on my apron and heels and cook my husband pot roast naked then.

  28. Kassiana says:

    What’s even funnier is being in a room full of rabid sports fans who are watching a game and, say, cheering on the Chicago Bulls…and deliberately choosing to root for their opponents, like, say, the Utah Jazz. I was told once when I was engaging in this lifethreatening activity, “Shut up! You’re making them (the Jazz) win!”

    Apparently, I have amazing psychic powers even I don’t know about. I should start making the bookies happy instead of working for a living. ::snort::

  29. she’s stupid and ignorant

  30. Rachel says:

    at Gail: That’s not at all how it works.  Besides, the whole point is that there ARE no inherent differences between men and women in terms of intellect.  I’m not talking things like spacial perception vs. memory, I’m saying that if you teach a guy and a girl with the same skill set how to do something, there’s no reason for one to learn “better” than the other.  Biologically we’re different, sure, but whether one person outperforms another is based on the individual, NOT on gender.

    …I’m a girl at a technical university and I’m not quite happy about being told I’m abnormal for it.  Go back to 1950, Ms. Allen.

  31. Good lord, where does one begin with the fallacious reasoning?  The whole, “I dislike your taste so you must be stupid?” argument?  Bringing up Hillary’s “bad campaign” as if somehow all her male campaign staff, not to mention a certain way too, male ex-president, have nothing to do with it?

    I dunno, but I think my favorite bit is pointing out that she starts a paragraph with the phrase “women are the dumber sex” and ends the SAME FRICKING PARAGRAPH with a sentence containing the qualification, “the two sexes seem to have the same IQ on average.”

    The woman can’t even cherry pick her own facts right.  But maybe she thought that, being a woman, writing an intelligent well-thought-out article would undercut her premise.

  32. Wry Hag says:

    Own those occluded brains, I tell you!  OWN THEM WITH BOTOX-INFLATED PRIDE!

    I will arise and go now, and go to be distracted by superficialities.  Dare I eat a peach…or crack open a Nora Roberts novel?

  33. thirstygirl says:

    italics begone!

    And I started laughing because I’d read

    this on The Onion only the day before…

  34. thirstygirl says:

    Let’s try this without the HTML wannabe shininess: http://www.theonion.com/content/opinion/you_know_whats_stupid

  35. Lisa says:

    I’m insulted. While she has a few points in there that would be interesting to follow up with (though i want a citation of all her sources), I found that her entire purpose was to simply insult women. The science was thrown in half-heartedly to try to gain credibility.

    As if IQ tests and standardized tests aren’t biased towards white males.

    I suppose my blood pressure could go up, but really she’s not worth the energy.

  36. megalith says:

    Frankly, the section of Allen’s diatribe that gave me the most pause was her list of historical women she most admires: Sappho, Hildegard of Bingen, Elizabeth I, George Eliot, and God help us all Margaret Thatcher. Wow. That’s some list. A classical lyric poet who may or may not have ever been married and had a child, a nun and leader of a religious order for women, a famously unwed queen often referred to as “the Virgin Queen”, a woman who wrote under a male pseudonym and who had a long-standing relationship with a married man, and the first female to serve as leader of the Conservative Party and as British Prime Minister—fondly and sometimes not so fondly known as the “Iron Lady”. Do any of these women strike you as either stupid or without personal weaknesses?

    Yes, Allen professes to admire these women, but she then quickly dismisses them as “brilliant outliers” who are apparently, in her view, completely uncharacteristic of the female sex. WTF? Are we to dismiss all brilliant historical figures, of either sex, as freakish mutants?

    In the end, Allen’s piece makes little sense to me except as thinly disguised political axe-grinding. And as silly as I find grown women shrieking at anything, much less a political candidate, I find Allen’s misogynistic political doubletalk a hundred times more hateful. After all, presumably the silly shrieking is both spontaneous and innocent.

  37. R. says:

    The only female idiocy Allen proved was her own—she can’t even construct a coherent paragraph.


  38. Faerylore says:

    Um yeah.  I can’t stand it when some women and girls seem to think that if they repeat all the sexist crap we all hear, then the Menz and Boyz will like them.

    And on intelligence… from what I’ve heard only about half of it (whatever it is defined to be) is genetic.  So just as much of it depends upon environmental factors as it does on genetics. 

    And how does she jive this deranged concept of her’s with the supposed ‘boys’ crisis’, you know that involves how apparently girls are academically outperforming boys…

    Heh my robot-stumping word is ‘evidence33’.  Now that is exciting.

  39. Leah says:

    Kind of an outside point, but it occurred to me that, what with all of the huge crowds at Obama rallies, the long waits, heat, stuffiness and probable lack of good refreshments,  as well as whatever health problems (diabetes, heart issues, etc.) it is no wonder that 5 people have fainted during his speeches.  I imagine there have been other medical incidents as well.  How silly to assume it’s due to some sort of “hysteria.”  Oh, and while George Eliot is certainly someone worthy of admiration, her personal life was not the most successful, either.  We’re all brilliant, we’re all goofy, we’re all in this together.  Chill out, Char….and I hope you don’t have daughters.

    spaminator—done32…yeah, girl scout cookies.  thin mints. tonight.  really regretting it.

  40. Jen says:

    Wow. Combine that with this column from the LA Times—http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-stein29feb29,0,3354996.column—and you might give yourself a heart attack. At least the Times piece seems like it was meant as satire. Badly written satire, but still.

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