17th 2012
The fantasy life of Whig historians, or, Srsly, Tina?

Posted under: American history, Gender, unhappy endings, wankers, women's history

The Whig of Illusory Progress is back!

Click here and try not to barf all over your desk.  ZOMFG.  You’ll have to click–I’m not going to post that trash on this blog, and that’s really saying something for someone who recently posted a photograph of Pat Buchanan.  You’ll notice, however, that “Father Pat Coughlin” of the Know-Nothing Party wasn’t posed topless and blindfolded, and yet a cover about feminism and working women features just that imagery.  You’d think with symbolism like that that Father Pat’s ideas were mainstream and uncontroversial, whereas feminism and working women are deviant.

This ugliness reminds me of a conversation with a senior scholar I had a few years ago, a woman who probaby took her Ph.D. in the 1960s and so has been an eyewitness to change in our profession over the past 50 years.  I was relating  stories of women I know (including me) whose progress to tenure and promotion was screwed up/f^(ked with/thwarted unjustly, etc., and she looked at me with surprise:  “I just thought that things were getting better!”

I guess that’s what we all hoped.  Thanks, Tina Brown!  Your leadership at Newsweek is making all the difference.


18 Responses to “The fantasy life of Whig historians, or, Srsly, Tina?”

  1. Shelley on 17 Apr 2012 at 8:48 am #

    Who could have dreamed that the Republicans would be attacking contraception? Or calling Democrats “Communists”?


  2. LadyProf on 17 Apr 2012 at 9:24 am #

    If you can live with a gratuitous swipe at Daphne Merkin, you might enjoy Virginia Heffernan’s takedown of Tina Brown at http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/katie-roiphe-newsweek-cover-story-reveals-tina-brown-170037516.html

  3. Historiann on 17 Apr 2012 at 9:30 am #

    LadyProf: thanks! That was brilliant. Especially the punchline: “Best way to stop the S&M cycle of feminine sophistry and showboating? Just don’t read the article. It illuminates nothing; it humiliates its writer. And given this article’s clichés and dopey mind-control tricks, we’re still no closer to getting another Joan Didion.”

    It’s a creepy portrait of Tina Brown’s manipulations. I had respected her as an editor who published women writers. Clearly, I must rethink my admiration of Brown.


  4. Perpetua on 17 Apr 2012 at 10:07 am #

    Put me in the “just don’t read the article” camp. I can’t do it. The cover tells me everything I need to know.

    Getting better! Ha! That’s a good one. And I have to confess, I blame the postfeminists for all this garbage.

  5. Comradde PhysioProffe on 17 Apr 2012 at 10:30 am #

    Unbelievable. (Well, sadly, all too believeable.)

  6. quixote on 17 Apr 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    Another “Don’t Read, Won’t Read, Can’t Read” here.

    Despite some foul garbage during my own tenure process, it was really only in 2008, during the Dem primaries and the (to me) unexpected Dem sliming of Clinton that I realized just how far backwards we’ve fallen. Maybe I shouldn’t have been shocked, but I was. In some ways, I still am.

  7. koshembos on 17 Apr 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    One of the most important lesson I learned many decades ago was: if a cohesive group complains about discrimination, they are typically right. As a man in the sciences, I didn’t see gender discrimination; tenure had to do with the quality as perceived. (I don’t agree with my school’s measure of quality.)

    The woman is clearly naked and wording is nasty. I used to believe in a better future, but now I realize that our society is regressing from almost democracy into feudalism. I hope it doesn’t apply to discrimination as well.

  8. ej on 17 Apr 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    That is just so offensive. I’m speechless. Really. Clearly women are not their target audience.

    Though as a medievalist, I would object to the characterization of this as “feudal”. Women in the middle ages were actually treated better than this in many ways. At the very least, society clearly articulated the belief that women were secondary to men, instead of professing equality from one side of their mouths while they spat “inferior” from the other!

  9. Susan on 17 Apr 2012 at 5:17 pm #

    I haven’t ever found a reason to read Katie Roiphe. What a novel tells us about working women is….wait… NOTHING.

  10. Janice on 17 Apr 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    Oh, don’t get me started on this book and the media coverage it inspires. Isn’t it bad enough when you have journalists in a frenzy over a bad piece of Twilight fanfiction without deciding that the book represents a major theme in how our society is evolving?

    And let’s not get into how this all inevitably comes around to an imaginary social problem where the diagnosis is that women are doing it wrong. For whatever values of “it” the author wishes to evoke.

  11. Z on 17 Apr 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    I did not know Katie Roiphe. What a bimbo. PhD Princeton, TT job at NYU, hmmmm….

  12. J. Otto Pohl on 18 Apr 2012 at 3:20 am #


    Please forgive my ignorance, but what is a postfeminist?

  13. Tony Grafton on 18 Apr 2012 at 3:41 am #

    As my grandmother used to sat, Feh!

  14. Perpetua on 18 Apr 2012 at 5:55 am #

    J. Otto Pohl: postfeminism is basically the idea that we are “beyond” sexism in the same way that we are “beyond” racism. We no longer need feminism because – mission! accomplished!


  15. Northern Barbarian on 18 Apr 2012 at 7:01 am #

    Thank you for the Heffernan link, Ladyprof! That helps. There’s a reason that I dumped my subscription to Newsweek shortly after Brown took over.

  16. J. Otto Pohl on 18 Apr 2012 at 10:48 am #


    Thank you for the definition. Since I live in a prefeminist country I don’t think I need to worry too much about postfeminism.

  17. Mary Catherine on 18 Apr 2012 at 7:49 pm #

    Eh, I like the wig (or, er, Whig) of illusory progress.

    Tina Brown is a player, of course. And you don’t get to be a star player in the major leagues without you’re playing the game, without you’re playing for keeps.

    Imagine Joan from Mad Men a generation or two later, where’s there now a narrow opening that would allow her to not only be indispensable (which she already *is* in her mid-1960s Mad Men company, of course, though she is not recognized and paid as such), but to also be recognized and rewarded for her must-have, go-to qualities of indispensability. The opening is still quite narrow, though; and her new firm, a generation or two later, doesn’t look much different than Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce in terms of its ownership, management, and, well, “leadership” (though they occasionally offer workshops on sexual harassment, now, and give generously to the ACLU). Would Joan believe half, or even one quarter, of what Roiphe was peddling with her “Desperate Housewives of Short Hills, New Jersey Finally, if Belatedly, Discover the Marquis de Sade” gimmick? Honey, please. Would Joan nevertheless choose to publish Roiphe’s gimmickry, because sex sells and feminist backlash sells even better, and a combination of the two is sheer newstand gold? Honey: Puhleeze.

    (The best response to Roiphe is no response at all, I believe [she thrives on the outrage, which she mistakenly interprets, all contrarian-like, as proof of the depth of her "insights"], but that’s more easily said than done, admittedly).

  18. Keri on 24 Apr 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    Roiphe has always been an misogynist anti-feminist- from back in the 80′s when she allied with misogynist men in blaming female rape victims to now with this just as unscientific garbage. She’s basically just a younger Shafley. Her mother was a minor star of second wave feminism, whose words have basically been forgotten over time. Guess Roiphe wants to make sure she doesn’t suffer the same fate as her mother- by being the now 40 something (she was born in 1968) female mouthpiece for the misogynist power structure in our culture. She’s the “poster girl” for everything that went wrong in so called “third wave feminism”. (I’m a 1966 baby- so yeah I’m very familiar with this corrupting of the gentle evolution of the early third wave my cultural generation [born 1962-1967]created, with intense respect and gratitude for our direct second wave predecessors. We were quite conscious we were building on the foundation the second wave created and it was because the gifts they gave us (Roe v Wade, Title IX, Fair Credit Act, etc…) we could build upon that- in spite of the anti feminist backlash that started in earnest in 1981. It was that backlash and the consciousness we must fight back against it, not just for our selves, but for the generations that were following us. Unfortunately, the next cultural generation had taken in too much of the backlash and were brainwashed with that virulent misogyny, which completely corrupted even how they expressed what they believed was feminism, but was actually misogyny- thus the pro sexual objectification of women rife in their articles and lifestyle, rigid gender role images (so much so that actively hate fictional female characters who somewhat embody the early third wave comfort in a less rigid concept of gender roles, and call male characters who also somewhat embody the early third wave less rigid gender role models(male characters who highly respect and are willing to follow a woman)- misogynist terms like p-whipped, or call it a “gender swap” rather than as the second wave writers intended, showing a less rigid picture of genders roles they dreamed of and the early third wave pushed to make reality (at least in their personal lives- look how far that influence extended too- even a religious conservative, but mildly feminist like Sarah Palin [born 1964] and her husband are comfortable living with those less repressive gender roles.) That’s what second wave feminism did. I’m so disgusted at the complete corruption of what were the ideals of the founding of the third wave, that I reject the third wave, and call myself a second wave feminist.

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