Matt Has A Sad

The progressive journalist Matt Taibbi recently published a lengthy apology/explanation in which he despaired that the public reappraisal of the work that established him (in particular, a book about Russia that he now says is satirical and includes accounts of pushing women under the table for blow jobs, of telling them to lighten up when they object to such high jinks) is coinciding with the publication of his book about the death of Eric Garner. It’s the kind of important book that he’s been working toward writing for 30 years, he laments. Reading this, I couldn’t help but think of all the women who’ve wanted to be writers for 30 years, who’ve yearned to make the world a better place by telling stories of injustice, but who haven’t had the opportunity in part because so much journalistic space is occupied by men like Taibbi: dudes who in some measure gained their professional footholds by objectifying women—and not just in big, bad Russia. Take the piece Taibbi wrote in 2009 about athletes’ wives. “The problem with the Smoking-Hot Skank as a permanent life choice,” he opined, “is that she eventually gets bored and starts calling up reporters to share her Important Political Opinions.” Taibbi may feel demoralized because the hilarious misogynistic stylings of his youth are now interfering with his grown-up career, but lots of women never even got their careers off the ground because the men in their fields saw them as Smoking-Hot Skanks whose claim to having a thought in their heads was no more than a punch line.

Rebecca Traister


8 Responses to “Matt Has A Sad”

  1. 1 janis November 13, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Thank you for the link to this well spoken opinion piece. It encompasses so much truth and insight.

    “The anxiety of this — how to speak to guys who seek feminist absolution but whom I suspect to be compromised — is real. Some of my friends have no patience for men’s sudden penchant for introspection, but I’m a sucker; I feel for them. When they reach out, my impulse is to comfort. But reason — and a determination not to placate, not now — drives me to be direct, colder than usual: Yes, this is a problem. In fact, it’s your problem. Seek to address it.”

    “I got so much from him intellectually and emotionally, but I wonder if part of it was because I was game,” says one woman, “and what’s the cost of that?”

    I think this is a very valid articulation of a common problem; one we all need to take responsibility for.

    “And yet, we are still the protectors on some level. Despite the talk of witch hunts, and the satisfaction of finally seeing a few men penalized in any way whatsoever for their wrongdoing, most women I know feel torn about both the vague prospect and the observed reality of these men losing their jobs. We think of their feelings and their families, fret that the disclosure of their misdeeds might cost them future employment, or even provoke them to harm themselves. But this is something else we’re now being compelled to notice: how we’re still conditioned to worry for the men, but somehow to not afford the same compassion for women — their families, their feelings, their future prospects — even in a reckoning that is supposed to be about them, about us.”

    “The truth is, the risk of exposure that makes us feel anxious about the well-being of our male friends and colleagues — the risk of being named and never recovering — is one of the only things that could ever force change.”

    That understanding might address the crux of the problem.

    “Many men will absorb the lessons of late 2017 to be not about the threat they’ve posed to women but about the threat that women pose to them. So there will be more — perhaps unconscious — hesitancy about hiring women, less eagerness to invite them to lunch, or send them on work trips with men; men will be warier of mentoring women.”

    That is simply sad, and hopefully not the conclusion. It is a similar dynamic to one that prevents men from seeking degrees in primary education, unfortunately. More than anything, trust has suffered.

    • 2 bluenred November 14, 2017 at 7:01 pm

      I thought it an excellent piece.

      It is too bad magazines like Rolling Stone don’t make room for some Traisters. Maybe by elbowing aside, every now and again, Taibbioid ruminations on Smoking-Hot Skanks. But then Rolling Stone hasn’t really published a woman writer of note since Ellen Willis. And she’s been dead a decade, and last wrote for RS in 1977.

  2. 3 Anonymous November 14, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    Thank you for another excellent piece, of which I have only partially digested. I’m stalled momentarily by the contradiction that is America, and possibly the majority of humanity.

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When I Worked

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