I mostly don’t read Ross Douthat’s New York Times columns because I find his “I’m just a nice conservative guy trying to find some common ground in this mixed up world” thing to be pretty exhausting. He is a chronic mansplainer and a reliable apologist for discrimination (with a little intellectual flair). But the trio of opinion pieces he wrote this week in response to Elliot Rodger and current public conversations about masculinity and misogyny are probably worth talking about. Because Douthat really wants you to think that he gets it, but he very much does not.
In his first go-round on the issue, Douthat uses lots of careful language to concede that he understands why we might need to talk about misogyny right now. Because before Rodger murdered six people, he told the world that he wanted to put women in concentration camps and take his revenge against the “sluts” who rejected him. “In this particular tragedy, the killer’s motives really do seem to have a larger cultural significance,” he admits. Now, mind you, Douthat doesn’t want to talk too much about it, lest we allow emotional things like examinations of systemic violence against women clutter our thinking or get us mixed up in the “splendid little culture war over the significance of the Santa Barbara killer’s distinctive stew of lust, misogyny and rage.”
Plus, he really just wants to blame casual sex for the tragedy. Douthat goes on to argue that feminist attitudes about sex may be as much of a problem in our culture as Rodger’s sense of violent entitlement to women’s bodies, which is the actual point that he’s been waiting to make through all of his maybe misogyny is perhaps possibly real sometimes but not in the way most feminists say it is hand-wringing.I promise, I won't subject you to even second-hand exposure to Thomas Friedman or David Brooks, but the fact that Dowd, Friedman, Brooks, and Douthat are granted so much real estate to blather on in what is supposed to be the paper of record says nothing good about the the New York Times, or the state of elite political punditry in general.
Can I haz a new New York Times editorial page pretty pretty plz?