You know, I was going to ease off of Katie Roiphe for awhile. I mean, I could have spent MONTHS further dissecting her epic article on sexual harassment (or what she likes to call “a fun day in the office”), but no, I would be a bigger person and let it go. Even though I have followers! And some nice messages from said adorable followers!

Luckily, Katie Roiphe is the gift that keeps giving. Remember she let Gawker know that her teasing her was totes “not cool”? Now she is hating on internet commenters

To be fair, the internet is full of cruel weirdos, especially those who prey on female writers. But this is well-worn territory, and nowhere does she recognize that she is not the first person who noticed this. She just comes off as a whiny, Andy Rooney wannabe. Which might be a good role for her to fill.

A Response to Katie Roiphe (Part 2)

Let me start off this post by saying: Katie, I feel your pain. The American workplace is devoid of creativity. The NY Times would rather publish idiotic opinion pieces than actually research issues that affect more than half of the population. NYU hires journalism professors who have made names for themselves by staring into the vortex of their own navels. God, it’s just laziness, right?

Wait, but that can’t be it. Because the answer to why America sucks right now has to be because The Feminists took over. Oh, and mean people.

Since the advent of Mad Men, Roiphe has seen particularly dissatisfied with modern life—which kind of misses the point of the show, at least the first season. She has been harkening back to an era of cocktails, strict gender codes, and friendly, every day sexual assault. Frankly, these pieces make me uncomfortable. Not just politically (because OBVIOUSLY), but I feel like I am reading something that she should be discussing with her therapist (so he can then tell the responsible man in her life).

While this kind of weird longing may be sympathetic to some, it is certainly not creative. It is the opposite of creative. People who dig into the past are only considered creative in the fashion industry (it’s a shallow pool, people, deal with it). Roiphe doesn’t seem to understand that the past shimmers with a cool glamor it never had when it was the present. Although my writing here has been extremely critical of her, she is not an idiot. She can be extremely insightful. But she is not here. She is reductive, close-minded, and cruel.

Call to Action: Tell Katie Roiphe Your Sexual Harassment Story

Sick of Katie Roiphe’s completely wrong conceptions of sexual harassment in the workplace? Let’s assume that it’s because she doesn’t know any better, and since she seldom seeks out other women to inform her understanding of an issue, let’s be proactive and share our stories with her. Email her at katie.roiphe@nyu.edu. Worried about anonymity? Sign “A Spotted Owl.”

Let us know if you get any response!

A Response to Katie Roiphe (Part 1)

At this point in history, no one goes to Katie Roiphe for thoughtful responses to issues dotting the world of feminism, politics, sex, and gender. Oh, except for The New York Times. And Slate. And New York University.

It is only because she is given such platforms to spew her barely-risen thoughts that I feel the need to respond. She is not just an individual writer; she is in a position to change hearts and minds. Although, as we will see, “hearts” and “minds” don’t come into her analysis that much. 

In her piece “In Favor of Dirty Jokes and Risqué Remarks” (I am not linking because I don’t want to give her more traffic), Roiphe shows us how political correctness has drained all the fun out of life, working life in particular. How boring that we are paying all this attention to sexual harassment again because of the allegations against Herman Cain. She does not mention that Cain is actually accused of assault as well as harassment—he is accused of groping a woman in his car when she was trying to get her job back. 

That’s the danger, isn’t it? That harassment, unchecked, doesn’t just stay in the realm of dirty jokes—or in Cain’s situation, invitations to his corporate suite—it can get physical. 

Not surprisingly, Roiphe isn’t going to mention such hysteria, as neither rape nor sexual harassment epidemics exist. That is, she hasn’t experienced either, so they can’t exist. Sure, her mother has detailed her experience with sexually exploitative workplaces (as well as the nuances and fuzziness of human interactions), but that’s way back then, right? Even though Katie herself pointed out that The Paris Review of the 50s wasn’t so different than that of the 90s.

Whether in the 1950s, the 1990s, or the 2010s, Roiphe is right about one thing: a single case of sexual harassment will not derail a woman. She will either speak up, laugh it off, or ignore it. But we aren’t worried about a single case. We are worried that it is acceptable to make workplaces hostile to women (and other groups) in a variety of different ways—dirty jokes, groping, “oh, I didn’t know you wanted the raise,” cutting maternity leave, that last 25 cents on the dollar, etc.

These are issues that actually are impacting the creativity of workers. Think of what we could do in the workplace if only we had equal pay for equal work, security, and safety!

Notes on the first post

So first off, are we parsing that a dirty joke in the office is a crime? Given that Cain is actually accused of sexual ASSAULT?

Of course we’re a Puritan country. We like to blame the victim—sound familiar, Katie?

Yes, the definition of sexual harassment is umbrella-like. But to suggest that women bring charges against men who make a single comment about their dress is ludicrous. “Hostile workplace” is a slippery term, but it is not just a matter of he said/she said.

Feminists and liberal pundits say, with some indignation, that they are not talking about dirty jokes or misguided compliments when they talk about sexual harassment, but, in fact, they are: sexual harassment, as they’ve defined it, encompasses a wide and colorful spectrum of behaviors.” Fuck you.

Ugh, she’s just so MEAN.

It is, of course, notoriously hard to control one’s unconscious, and one can behave quite hideously in one’s dreams, but that did not deter the determined scolds.”

Sexual harrassment is NOT about protecting delicate ladies. Have you listened to Anita Hill speak? Though hardly Mae West, she is not exactly a blushing virgin either.

And, in fact, the majority of women in the workplace are not tender creatures and are largely adept at dealing with all varieties of uncomfortable or hostile situations. Show me a smart, competent young professional woman who is utterly derailed by a verbal unwanted sexual advance or an inappropriate comment about her appearance, and I will show you a rare spotted owl.

Damn right, but not the fucking point. Hill’s career was not derailed—although plenty of conservative activists tried to do so. The point is, we shouldn’t have to deal with this shit.
"So should we be legislating against rogue flirtations, the floating out of invitations? Obviously there is a line, which if the allegations against Mr. Cain are true, he has crossed, but there are many behaviors loosely included under the creative, capacious rubric of sexual harassment that do not cross that line."AHHH! I HATE YOU!!!!
Is it preferable or more productive, is it fostering a more creative or vivid office culture, for everyone to vanish into Facebook and otherwise dabble online? Maybe it’s better to live and work with colorful or inappropriate comments, with irreverence, wildness, incorrectness, ease.” Um, have you ever been online? 
Is the anodyne drone typing away in her silent cubicle free from the risk of comment on her clothes, the terror of a joke, the unsettlement of an unwanted or even a wanted sexual advance, truly our ideal? Should we aspire to the drab, cautious, civilized, quiet, comfortable workplace all of this language presumes and theorizes? At this late date, perhaps we should be worrying about different forms of hostility in our workplace.” SO MUCH TO SAY. Anodyne drones are not free from risk of comment about anything, WHO EVER SUGGESTED OTHERWISE? Also, I have a pile of research that can tell us that worrying about hostility in the workplace is needed now more than ever (and that just isn’t about sexual harassment).