Neely Steinberg has a new article up at Blast Magazine, “a lifestyle and tech magazine focused on us spoiled, rotten Generation Y kids born between 1978 and sometime in the early 90s.” Neely is a Boston-based journalist who had me on her radio show shortly after I started blogging. I’d long been an admirer of her pieces about love and relationships in the Boston Globe, and it was a pleasure to meet her in person. (It was also sort of wild to sit in a studio with big headphones on and a huge, um, rather phallic mike in front of my face.)
In Analyzing Park Slope and Skirtgate Neely examines the feminist outcry against police in Park Slope, Brooklyn, who advised women not to “show a lot of skin” during the recent period when a serial rapist was at large. (He had targeted women 20-35, all of whom wore very short-hemmed clothing.) Naturally, this produced an enormous outcry of the SlutWalk variety, mobilizing feminists to protest the audacity of the police in addressing clothing as a possible factor (duh) in the perpetration of the attacks.
Neely asked me to comment on several questions, which I happily did, but I didn’t know that Amanda Marcotte would also be replying to the same questions. What fun! I want you to head over there and read it, so I’m just going to give you Marcotte’s replies here. Get the full story at Blast, including Neely’s take, it’s definitely worth a read. Then come back and let’s dish.
BLAST: What was your reaction to the Park Slope incident in which cops warned women about wearing short skirts?
MARCOTTE: First, I want to draw your attention to the fact that the NYPD responded to feminist complaints.
It was unacceptable of the NYPD officers to exploit the existence of a rapist as a cover story for an obvious power trip on women. Authoritarians all over the world love how rape gives them an excuse to indulge the misogynistic desire to tell women what to wear and how to act, but the police work for us, and because of this, they should treat women with respect. We women, after all, pay their salaries with our taxes.
BLAST: What do you think of today’s feminist movement? Have the goals of feminism changed over the years?
MARCOTTE: It’s a shame that feminism is as necessary as it ever was. You’d think that we would have beat that sexism beast by now. All kidding aside, I do think feminist goals change in response to both our setbacks and victories. Right now, feminists are refighting the contraception war, which we thought we’d put to bed decades ago. On the positive side, we’ve made good ground against domestic violence and rape, and so we can concentrate more on fighting less invasive forms of violence against women, such as street harassment.
BLAST: Do you believe women have achieved equality with men in 2011?
MARCOTTE: No, and that’s not a matter of “belief”, but an objective, measurable fact.
BLAST: What are your thoughts on casual sex and today’s ever-growing hookup culture?
MARCOTTE: The more that moralists object to women having casual sex, the more they encourage rapists to target women who do so, knowing they’re more likely to get away with targeting “slutty” women. The number one biggest thing that would work to stop rapists is to stop holding women to a double standard, where they’re somehow bad if they have sex for pleasure. It would mean juries would stop worrying about if she’s a slut, and return to worrying if he’s a rapist.
I’m also skeptical that there’s an “ever-growing” hook-up culture. People were screwing around when I was in college. I think a lot of people have a lot of sex partners in their youth, grow up some, get married, and then “forget” what they did when younger so they can start tsking at young people acting like they did. The problem here is grown adults leering at and judging young people for being young.
BLAST: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing men and women in today’s dating/relationship world?
MARCOTTE: Sexism. The more we act like gender roles instead of people, the harder it is for us to truly relate to each other in a meaningful way.
As I said in the article:
What’s going on among feminists here is that the political is getting in the way of the personal. When we stifle prudent advice to women about keeping themselves safe from assault because it doesn’t fit the agenda of sex-positive feminism, we risk the health and safety of women in a very real and measurable way.
Ultimately, I’d love to be on a stage with Amanda Marcotte, hashing it out in front of hundreds of college students. Then we’ll see what’s up. For now, though, the Blast piece is very satisfying.