The Tightening Grip of the Politicized Life

rcplogoNovember 25, 2015–Thanksgiving is right around the corner, friends, and you know what that means: a fresh new batch of think pieces on how to be the most unbearable person at your family’s holiday gathering.

On Monday, led the charge, publishing a multi-part guide on “How to Survive Your Family’s Thanksgiving Arguments.” On the plus side, the piece is unintentionally hilarious. On the minus side, the whole thing should probably be marked off with bright yellow “Warning: Do Not Cross Unless You Are Completely Insufferable” hazard tape. Also, in a more just world, the links to the various sections of the piece—“Syria/ISIS,” “Donald Trump,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Benghazi,” and so on—would automatically trigger those cheap-looking, high-wailing sirens that faithfully guard the bad guy’s lair in pretty much every B movie ever made.

Read the rest here…


The Rape Culture Lie

CommentaryFebruary 28, 2015–In September Barack Obama launched the “It’s on Us” campaign, designed to fight what he called the “nightmare” of campus sexual assault. “An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years,” Obama announced, pausing for emphasis. “One in five.” America, the president went on to argue, suffers from a “quiet tolerance of sexual assault,” all too often blaming victims, making excuses, or looking the other way. To combat sexual violence, he said, we need a “fundamental shift in our culture.”

With these words, the president of the United States went all in on the idea that America’s academic institutions have been taken over by a “rape culture” —a culture that normalizes, trivializes, and quietly condones male sexual assault against women, blaming female victims while subtly celebrating male predators.

Once rather obscure and confined to sociology and women’s studies departments, the term “rape culture” has slowly invaded the national consciousness. According to Google search analytics, the topic generated almost no traffic in 2005 or before. After 2011, its popularity slowly began to rise—as we’ll later see, this is no accident—and then, beginning in 2013, it spiked, the graph forming a hockey stick that would make global-warming doomsayer Michael Mann proud.

Read the rest at Commentary magazine here. 


Fear, Loathing, and the Great American Yoga Pants Panic

The Federalist copyFebruary 16–I’m going to come right out and say it: I am a person who wears yoga pants. I wear them on hikes. I wear them to Starbucks. I wear them to the grocery store. I even wore them to my last meeting with the Illuminati, which was conveniently held at the secretive, exclusive, and redwood-lined Bohemian Grove.

Ha, ha, just kidding! Women aren’t allowed at the Bohemian Grove! This is unfortunate, because its woodsy, back-to-nature atmosphere would be perfect for yoga pants. It’s sad, really, but I always manage to assure myself that if I were a man, I would be at the top of their invite list. But, then again, if I were a man, I wouldn’t have the pleasure of being bashed for the simple act of wearing a pair of comfortable and practical pants.

Yoga pants, you see, are under fire.

Read the rest here…


Some People Don’t Want to “Coexist”

rcplogoFebruary 12, 2015–Last week, a French graffiti artist named “Combo” was beaten on the streets of Paris, left with a black eye, a dislocated shoulder, and massive bruising. His offense?  Painting a giant “Coexist” mural in a largely Muslim neighborhood, integrating the letters with a Muslim crescent, a Star of David, and a Christian cross.

You’ve likely seen similar bumper stickers, which, in America, usually also integrate a peace sign, male and female symbols, pagan images, and a yin-yang symbol. They seem to thrive in certain specialized habitats, most commonly the backs of Priuses, Subarus, or rusty Plymouths sporting approximately 5,000 other fascinating half-peeled-off, multi-layered stickers. “Coexist” stickers share an admirable and hopeful sentiment — similar, perhaps, to the “Visualize World Peace” stickers that dominated the 1980s.  Unfortunately, they are also, as Combo’s experience might indicate, a bit naïve.

The course of human history, in fact, has made it quite clear that some people, no matter how “enlightened” the era, simply do not want to coexist.

Read the rest here.


Sex Tips for Crazies: Wading Into the Wild World of Cosmo

The Federalist copyFebruary 9, 2015–True confession: Until last week, I had never read Cosmopolitan magazine. I actually kind of like fashion magazines, as a genre: The more spacey-eyed, pouting women in $900 shoes slumping against helicopters parked on yachts the better, I always say! That said, I tend to shrink from those fuschia-flecked, scantily clad drugstore nightmare sheets that screech at me to “HAVE BREAK THE BED SEX!!” when I’m just trying to mind my own business and buy some freaking dental floss.

The genius of Cosmo, of course—and, I suspect, the reason it’s the most popular magazine for young women in America—is that it will breezily suggest 131 creative ways to WEAR NOTHING BUT THAT FREAKING DENTAL FLOSS whilst you DRIVE YOUR MAN BATTY IN THE BOUDOIR. So with Sex Week arriving at the Federalist, I decided to enter uncharted territory. I would not only read Cosmo, but I would try its sex tips!

If this sounds fun to you, it’s probably because you’ve never read Cosmo, either.

Read the rest here.


The Rise of Weak-Kneed Feminism

rcplogoFebruary 5, 2015–Want to score an invite to the State of the Union address? One way to do so, it turns out, is to turn a rape accusation into a contemporary art project.

Imagine the following scenario: You’re a college student, and you believe you have been raped by a former friend. You don’t want to formally press charges with the police—that, you say, would be “too draining”—so you turn to your university administrators instead. When that approach goes awry, and school officials find your former friend “not responsible,” you, being a media-savvy sort, decide to turn your accusation into “performance art.” This involves schlepping a giant, 50-pound mattress around campus, gaining widespread praise in the press, and publicly dragging your former friend’s name through the mud.

 This is the case of Emma Sulkowicz, a fourth-year visual arts student at Columbia University. Her senior thesis, “Mattress Performance: Carry That Weight,” started in September 2014, two years after the alleged rape occurred. It will continue, Sulkowicz insists, until her accused “rapist” leaves the university campus. “Carry That Weight” was praised by New York magazine for its “messianic rage” and “pure radical vulnerability.” It also caught the eye of New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who invited Ms. Sulkowicz to join her at the president’s annual State of the Union applause fest—a speech that also, incidentally, put Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg straight to sleep. The traveling mattress, alas, did not get a seat in that particular row.

This week, journalist Cathy Young presented the other side of the story, giving Paul Nungesser, the accused rapist—a student from Germany whose name has long been public—a chance to speak out.

Read the rest here.


The Scott Walker Racial Rorschach Test

The Federalist copyJanuary 30, 2015 — Is it “racially polarizing” to publicly applaud people who achieve the American Dream? If you’re a liberal critic of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recent Iowa Freedom Summit speech, the answer might be yes.

On Wednesday, Slate writer Jamelle Bouie published “Divide and Conquer,” a guide to “Scott Walker’s divisive message for winning the White House.” If any candidate could “run a rigid campaign of polarization—aimed at winning as many white voters as possible,” Bouie writes, “it’s Walker. His language is already there. In his Iowa speech, he touted voter-identification laws and portrayed disadvantage as a pure product of personal failure.”

Read the rest at The Federalist here. 


State of the Union: Weary of Washington

rcplogoJanuary 26, 2015–Every time I go to Washington, D.C., I leave town a little more libertarian. Unfortunately, our nation’s capital seems to have the opposite impact on its long-time residents.

Don’t get me wrong: D.C. is really nice. It’s a gorgeous city. But every time I go there, I can’t help but think that it’s really nice because you, I, and your cousin Rick are paying for it. That new hotel with the shower replicating Balinese rainfall is harder to love, really, when you realize it’s probably just your trickled-down tax dollars. That swanky bar with the Prohibition theme may be fun—and ironic!—but it also might leave you with the sneaking suspicion that in some way, shape, or form, through the long, twisting curve of the economic chain, you just bought everyone in the room a very expensive drink made of top-shelf alcohol, artisanal pomegranate seeds, and edible gold glitter. Cheers!

Here’s where it gets even creepier: Odds are, pretty much everyone at that same fancy bar is connected, usually financially, to the growing government borg. I once spent a half hour at the bar of the Park Hyatt Washington, a modern minimalist luxury hotel that advertises itself as offering “a warm, alluring ambiance that pays tribute to Americana.” Whatever, guys. Waiting for a friend, I ended up chatting with a young woman who worked for the Department of the Undersecretary of Interagency Special Projects of Something or Other. After approximately 24 minutes, I felt like the downsizing consultants in the movie “Office Space.” I honestly could not figure out what she did.


The Monsterization of Men

rcplogoJanuary 8, 2015–“What happens,” asks the web’s latest viral video, “when you put a boy in front of a girl and ask him to slap her?”

If you’re like me, and you tend to think that little boys are generally not miniature clones of Ike Turner or, say, Hannibal Lecter, the answer to that question should seem fairly obvious. But to the Italian creators of “Slap Her”—and to the more than 40 million global viewers the video has earned in just four days—it’s apparently not obvious at all.

The video features several adorable, dewy-eyed Italian boys, aged 7 to 11. After a few introductory questions from an off-camera interviewer—and following the dramatic musical flourish of, yes, a harp—each boy is introduced to a girl named Martina, a willowy reed of a preteen with a delicate face, red pouty lips, sparkly braces, and blonde flowing hair.

Martina, apparently, is a magical creature, and each boy, in a perfectly charming way, is somewhat enthralled.  “You’re a very pretty girl,” says one. “I’d like to be your boyfriend,” says the boldest. (Illustrating the somewhat cruel joke that adolescence and God like to play on young males in their preteen years, Martina towers approximately three and a half feet above the height of all the boys combined.)

The interviewer asks the boys what they like about Martina. This being Italy, he also asks them to “caress” her, which involves a series of rather awkward pets on the arm or the cheek.  He asks the boys to entertain Martina with a funny face. Finally, the interviewer makes his ultimate request: “Slap her!” he barks. “Hard!”

The video’s music, the kind of bubbly piano warble one might associate with a toddling band of baby chicks, stops cold. The world grows deathly quiet. Here, you see, is a tightly concocted moment of tension. Will brutish testosterone finally raise its ugly head? Will the natural evil of masculinity prevail over the fair Martina, who, like most women, apparently alights upon various destinations via the twinklings of a magical harp?

Read the rest at RealClearPolitics here. 


Feminism’s War on “Gendered” Toys

The Federalist copyDecember 17, 2014–“Tis the season for anxious parenting,” writer Elissa Strauss announced last Friday in The Week. The cause of this parental stress may not be obvious at first glance. Rather, it is quiet, insidious, and, apparently, it lurks worldwide.

It is—get ready, innocent holiday shoppers—an army of sexist, “gendered” toys, ready to oppress children around the globe. Sadly, these toys, much like, say, Victoria’s Secret models, face a rather odd conundrum: They are both victimizers and victims at the same time. These inherently sexist toys, you see, are also forced to live in a virtual apartheid of equally sexist, restricting, and gender-segregated toy store shelf arrangements. It is, as modern feminists like to say, a bit of a double bind.

Remember the children’s book “Corduroy,” where the underprivileged bear with the broken overalls lives on the same shelf as the fancy doll and the gigantic lion and the unintentionally spooky clown that looks like it’s about to murder them all? Well, friends, in our age of inequality, this diversity is apparently no more.

Read the rest at The Federalist here.