The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘Broken People,’ Cats and Prozac

Posted on | November 7, 2014 | 100 Comments

Rebecca Jane Stokes (@Beeswrite) is a columnist for the feminist site @xojanedotcom and by “feminist site,” I mean digital estrogen.

If you want ball-busting radical man-hating, you’ll have to look elsewhere. XOJane is more about pathetic narcissism.

Glenn Reynolds’ remark about “broken people” — made in reference to the radical man-hater Kate Millett — came to mind as I was reading the XOJane biography of 29-year-old Ms. Stokes:

What I Do, Fun-wise: Cook, engage my cats in heady conversation, and perform subpar sexy dances to Hall and Oates

Cats. Of course, she’s got cats. Did I mention she’s 29? And an alumna of New School University (2014-15 tuition $41,836)? Also, you may not be surprised to learn, Ms. Stokes lives in Brooklyn.

See, this is the thing with young feminist writer types nowadays. They can’t go to Podunk State University. No, they must attend one of those private schools where annual tuition is at or near the median U.S. household income. This is the only way to become that glorious being, The Writer. And, probably because as girls dreaming of becoming The Writer, they watched a sitcom or movie about the lives of quirky bachelorettes in Brooklyn, they simply must live there after graduation.

Well, you may ask, what does The Writer write about?

Herself, of course! Do these elite colleges offer a major in Solipsism Studies nowadays? Because Ms. Stokes’s oeuvre is typical of the genremenstruation, her sex dreams, things that make her cry.

Digital estrogen, like I said. Ms. Stokes has a series of columns called “Crushed,” from which a few samples:

The First Time Someone Liked Me
Seventh grade was when I ruined any chance I may have had of getting laid during my teens. Seventh grade was when I should have been learning to read the silent cues essential to non-platonic relationship dynamics. Instead, the diligent and concentrated effort I aimed at loathing myself distracted me, putting me officially on the late-bloomer end of the welcome-to-sexy-times-adolescents spectrum. It was the first time in my life somebody liked me — and I had no idea. . . .
We rode the bus together, lived in the same neighborhood, liked the same dorky things. I would chatter his ear off on the bus each morning and the poor guy, he listened, even as he was desperate to finish whatever homework he hadn’t managed to get done the night before. He was gawky and sweet and infuriating and he totally liked me and I didn’t get it. Which is classic, because, clearly I was likewise into him, but I didn’t know how to express that. So I didn’t. Instead I publicly declared us mortal enemies. . . .

When I Hit The 8th Grade And
Became Totally Terrified of Men

In science I sat with the smartest kid in class. The boy in front of us was loud, attractive and had teeth like a game show host. He wore Tommy cologne. He sneered a lot and stared at you until you blushed. He whispered a secret to the smart boy next to me. “Apparently,” my irascible deskmate said with a smirk, “he wants to go out with you.”
This is where I was supposed to do something, say something that would open me up to ridicule. I refused to play. Instead I stared down at my desk and said something sarcastic.
Inside I was cringing and mortified and embarrassed. Was it true? It wasn’t true. It couldn’t possibly be true. It was there looking me in the face in an unblinking way stinking of cheap cologne, it was grabbing me by the wrist and pulling me, insisting. My heart went a little faster and I licked my lips raw. I hunched under the weight of big boobs and contemplated the two ample rolls of my fish-belly white stomach with grim certainty: Sex and love are one big joke played on ugly people. I guess it’s easier to doubt something than it is to believe it and be made a fool. . . .

The Year I Fell In Love With
Two Of My Teachers, And A Girl

11th grade. Junior year. Where was I? Well, I lost some weight by reading fiction while using all the machines at the local YMCA and practicing fierce self-hatred. I ran for class president and lost. I discovered the comics of Lynda Barry and Robert Crumb. I discovered the plays of Sam Friel and Harold Pinter.
I did not discover masturbation. I missed that boat. While everyone else was probably frantically flicking the kidney bean to pleasure town, I was wondering if maybe SOMEHOW I was the lost Princess Anastasia. Time travel, maybe?
This is also the year I fell in love with two different teachers and a girl. . . .

College, And How I Learned There Are
Different Ways Of Being Loved

As an 18-year-old in college I fell in love roughly eight hundred times. When I joined a sorority (this is a long and hilarious story that I will save for another day) my nerdy sexless crushes were so well-known that my nickname was “Crush.” . . .
I will forever doubt that I am loved, that I deserve to be. I try to believe it but it doesn’t always fit me well. It’s like your skin when you get out of the shower and wait too long to put on lotion: It gets tight and strange. It itches. . . .

When I Was Nineteen And Deluded Myself
Into A Relationship That Didn’t Exist

. . . Every girl is crazy at least once. I was crazy when I was a junior. The guy was Adam. . . .
How do you explain to a 20 year-old boy that your delusions have almost nothing to do with him? There’s no explanation other than the ones the men in curled baseball hats sipping drinks utter like a sacred universally understood bro oath: “That girl is fucking crazy.”
And maybe she is a little. . . .

To say the very least. Where do they come from, these painfully sensitive writer girls with interior dialogues full of shame and fear?

“Feminine instinct without its proper object or purpose,” my gut tells me, speaking like an old-fashioned psychologist, or perhaps an anthropologist of the evolutionary “brain science” type. In an earlier age — say, 1800 or 1700 — the young Ms. Stokes would have lived on a farm, and at 15 or 16 would have married the 18- or 19-year-old son of a neighboring farmer and, by the time the actual 21st-century Ms. Stokes was getting weird high school crushes, she would have been heavily pregnant with her first child. And then they all would have died of smallpox or a potato famine or some such misery.

Once Upon a Time, you see, people had things to worry about that were more serious than their feelings. If my ancestors had any interior dialogues, these have been lost to posterity because (a) there were no blogs back then, and (b) most of my ancestors prior to the 20th century were illiterate, or nearly so. In the National Archives is a document pertaining to my great-grandfather, Winston Wood Bolt, a young farm boy who fought as a private in the 13th Alabama Infantry Regiment. The document is a receipt for an amount paid to Private Bolt, signed by his regiment’s colonel, Birkett Davenport Fry.

Private Bolt’s signature? “X.”

My illiterate great-grandfather had more serious things to worry about than his feelings. Not long after he signed his X to that receipt, Private Bolt was captured at Gettysburg, when the Iron Brigade outflanked Archer’s Brigade east of Willoughby’s Run, and Private Bolt spent the next two years imprisoned at Fort Delaware, where the prisoners caught, cooked and ate rats to augment their rations.

Hard times make hard people, and sensitivity is a luxury not afforded to those whose lives are a matter of toil and hardship.

Psychological toughness — a determination not easily daunted by difficult circumstances — is what young people really need, but how shall they acquire this if we are afraid to wound their self-esteem?

Our ancestors were all survivors. We forget this, or rather we never learn it and, with no knowledge of the struggles of our forebears, we suffer from not having their example to inspire us. But enough of that digression. Let us return to Ms. Stokes’s oeuvre at XOJane, and another of her series, “Dispatches from the Prozac Rabbit Hole”:

In Which I Stare At My
Naked Body For A Long Time

. . . I think of something my therapist said to me last week. We were talking about how feelings aren’t law. About how they cannot be flipped from an ‘on’ to an ‘off’ position. I jokingly said, “I’m going one day at a time — one hour a time.”
She didn’t think it was funny. She thought it was a good plan. “Less than an hour. Get up and leave here and go to get coffee and see if you can do that. Then, if you can, see if you can turn on your computer. Then the next thing, and then the next thing. Piece by piece.” . . .
I have spent so much time hating my body for being a thing no one could desire — be it to look at, or to touch. How could anyone desire me when I refuse to even run a glancing hand down my own body myself? . . .

My Failed Relationship Is Proof
I’m More Broken Than I Realized

. . . For the first time in my life, I couldn’t sit down and write. I managed a few assignments early in the day, but then the guy I’ve been dating let me know that he wanted to take a break . . . and my usually facile flow on the keyboard became just as jammed up as everything else in my life. . . .
How do people, normal people, meet someone, make a connection with them, and not melt away into their own self-loathing when that connection is tested or severed? I feel like I don’t know how. I feel like an idiot.
It’s harder to cry now that I am on antidepressants. . . .

On Learning To Live With My Sadness
. . . My throat swells and throbs. I remember the train ride home last night and how I squeezed my face so tightly to stop the tears but they came anyway.
“I am falling to pieces,” I said inside as I cried. “I am breaking into a million pieces and no one on this train will even look me in the eye.” . . .

It’s Not About Me, Even a Little
When I visited New York somewhere around the age of ten or twelve, I could not fathom the sheer volume of stories I saw spilling out around me everywhere. It’s funny how it’s only now, exhausted by my own self-examination and with the bolstering of serotonin that my pills provide, that I can see this again. . . .
Right now I’m sitting on the F train. It’s around noon. It’s Thursday. I work from home and once a week I journey into Manhattan to see my analyst. . . .

Well, of course, she’s got an analyst in Manhattan. Every writer in Brooklyn must have an analyst in Manhattan. And also, cats.

There are times I feel rather moody myself, although offering to sell the Hope Diamond for $25 kind of cheered me up a bit. The DSCC pulling out of Louisiana also gave me a nice little emotional boost. Being happy is really just an ability to accept survival as success.

The “broken people” are out there everywhere, inviting us to their pity parties. But I think about my ancestors, and I also think about Muhammad Ali, the best boxer in history. Of all his many great moments, his greatest was a fight he lost. In 1973, Ali fought Ken Norton, a Marine Corps veteran who broke Ali’s jaw — yet Ali did not quit. He went the full 12 rounds and lost a split decision to Norton, but the fact that he finished the fight with a broken jaw is a testament to Ali’s toughness. Howard Cosell once observed that, for all the praise Ali got for his speed and strength, few recognized what was perhaps Ali’s greatest trait as a boxer: His ability to take a punch.

Being able to take a punch, shake off the pain and keep punching back — that’s mental toughness. That’s what makes a champion.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Art the comments:

Her tour at the New School was for post-baccalaureate schooling. Her first tour at higher education was at Sewanee. There, as at the New School, the degree she received was impractical (in theatre). It would appear from the dates on her degrees that she’s 31, not 29.

Thanks for the additional research, Art.



100 Responses to “‘Broken People,’ Cats and Prozac”

  1. Bob Belvedere
    November 8th, 2014 @ 3:23 am

    There is so much that in unmonitored by we conservatives. I think what you’re doing is a great service.

    The Leftist virus has invaded all of our Souls to some extent and we will not cure ourselves unless we understand how it works.

  2. Bob Belvedere
    November 8th, 2014 @ 3:31 am

    This gal is a poster child for the way we educate the young in this country.

  3. K-Bob
    November 8th, 2014 @ 4:03 am
  4. Daniel O'Brien
    November 8th, 2014 @ 9:35 am

    True, Dianna. Her topics are of zero interest to me, being a 60 year old, retired white dude.

  5. Isa
    November 8th, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

    one of my high school teachers used that one, too.

  6. the Revision Division
    November 8th, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

    […] ROBERT STACY MCCAIN: ‘Broken People,’ Cats and Prozac. […]

  7. Messenger
    November 8th, 2014 @ 2:31 pm

    I disagree. He’s giving voice to something that so many people are truly unnerved by in American society(and last Tuesday’s election results confirm this)but they have no way to articulate it, or even understand it. This blog is a public service announcement to be aware of the creeping insidiousness that is the leftist agenda. Then go read Thomas Sowell.

  8. Art Deco
    November 8th, 2014 @ 4:53 pm

    What have you got against cats?

  9. Art Deco
    November 8th, 2014 @ 5:07 pm

    She’s never going to have the sensibility of a farmer’s daughter, much less a 19th century farmer’s daughter. Not much point in complaining about that. It’s gone.

    Her tour at the New School was for post-baccalaureate schooling. Her first tour at higher education was at Sewanee. There, as at the New School, the degree she received was impractical (in theatre). It would appear from the dates on her degrees that she’s 31, not 29.

    Only a modest minority of the young attend schools like Sewanee (perhaps 5% of the enrollment in baccalaureate granting institutions is to be found in private colleges with a certain cachet) and most youngsters (60% or more) get vocational baccalaureates. I think an even higher proportion of “Master’s” degrees are in vocational subjects.

    She’s likely had bad vocational guidance (though she may not have listened to the guidance she did get) which included a willingness of various parties (familial and corporate) to finance her schooling absent much indication that they’re getting the skills that pay the bills. That would not, however, correct for a deficit of practical judgment and self-confidence, with regard to which she may have been incorrigible by the time she reached her early 20s.

  10. Fail Burton
    November 8th, 2014 @ 8:10 pm

    One thing she hasn’t learned is to grow her hair long.

  11. Michael Gebert
    November 9th, 2014 @ 12:22 am

    Man, reading this stuff is when I start to think we should reinstate the draft– for the Peace Corps. You’re incapable of dealing with buying coffee at Starbucks? Here’s 50 orphans who need clean water, get to it.

  12. Toads
    November 9th, 2014 @ 12:53 am

    Look at the resource misallocation.

    ‘Feminism’ is a disastrous priority to organize the economy of a nation around.

    Too bad men do so much for society, and request so little in return.

  13. Toads
    November 9th, 2014 @ 12:54 am

    Nothing, except that in the case of a ‘feminist’, cats have become child substitutes.

    However, when the ‘feminist’ dies and the cat eats her face, her looks will improve.

  14. Notsothoreau
    November 9th, 2014 @ 1:21 am

    I had an ex co worker that used to talk about broken people. I’d never heard the term before. Got married at 19, and had a successful marriage for 37 years. No kids but plenty of cats. We bummed around, did physical labor and were happy most of the time. My mom died in an accident but I didn’t consider that I was broken over it. When my husband died in 2008, I did feel pretty broken. And I talked about it with my new friend, who’d lost his wife the day before my husband died. My friend and I have 6 years together and intend to grow old together.

    The writer is a fool for obsessing about her body. Some of the ugliest people out there manage to get laid. It’s her attitude that turns men off. And yes, she’d be happier with less education, a husband and a few kids. I love my cats, but they can’t help you out when you get old. There’s a whole country of normal well adjusted people out there. Time for her to get away from the neurotics.

  15. reaalistx
    November 9th, 2014 @ 1:41 am

    “What I want to know is, who’s supporting her, and paying her therapist’s bills? Has she monetized her blog?”

    Seems like a pretty obvious trust-funder.

    Two expensive private schools, graduating with impractical majors.

    “Working from home” (claims that she’s been writing for MTV for the last six months, but who knows what that means) – the rest of her resume is writing for obscure blogs, while living in one of the most expensive cities in the country.

    If you really want to develop a fine sense of self-hatred, have everything given to you.

  16. Edward Callahan
    November 9th, 2014 @ 4:07 am

    You’re not the target demographic Stacey, of course you don’t get it. Don’t feel bad, I’m not part of the audience either.

  17. Edward Callahan
    November 9th, 2014 @ 4:10 am

    Ali has Parkinsons disease now. brought on by all the blows taken on that super chin. Funny, in my day they called it punch-drunk.

  18. Some Guy
    November 9th, 2014 @ 4:49 am

    I can’t even describe how much I’d like to see Mark Twain, H. L. Mencken, Ayn Rand, Dorothy Parker or Will Rogers shred the modern crop of feminist whiners.

  19. Samizdata quote of the day « Samizdata
    November 9th, 2014 @ 4:52 am

    […] – Stacey McCain […]

  20. Trudy W. Schuett
    November 9th, 2014 @ 5:20 am

    If you look at the history of feminism going back into the 1800s, what you find is a series of emotionally disturbed women ranging from neurotics to true psychotics. It’s often part of a feminist’s story how her family tried to have her committed. Modern feminist commentators blame that on the fact of the storied feminist’s activism, and say the threat of the asylum was how “the patriarchy” made women behave back then, but I’m not so sure.

  21. Daniel Freeman
    November 9th, 2014 @ 5:44 am

    She also hasn’t learned how to smile. There is something frightening about it, that tells me to stay far away, for my own good.

    ETA: That also holds for the photobomber, who just manages to look a bit witchy.

  22. 98ZJUSMC
    November 9th, 2014 @ 5:45 am

    The degree of miseducation I routinely see on the net is surprising.

    It’s ridiculous…
    ….and yes, urban centers are driving us, them, insane.

  23. 98ZJUSMC
    November 9th, 2014 @ 5:54 am

    to something that so many people are truly unnerved by in American society(and last Tuesday’s election results confirm this)but they have no way to articulate it, or even understand it.

    I think that’s absolutely true.

  24. George Pepper
    November 9th, 2014 @ 8:35 am

    Much of feminism is exhibitionism: Broadcasting loudly that one has the proper views and is part of the elite caste.

  25. Laka
    November 9th, 2014 @ 8:40 am

    Country music writers are told to write what they know, so we get lots of tedious songs about corn and pickup trucks. Writers must be taught to write what they feel, so we get lots of tedious blogs.

  26. Zohydro
    November 9th, 2014 @ 8:40 am

    I was rather skeptical of the significance of this feminist stuff at first…

    I’m paying close attention now!

  27. MrJest
    November 9th, 2014 @ 9:45 am

    I think you are bang-on. Especially your last sentence.

  28. Zohydro
    November 9th, 2014 @ 10:36 am

    Camille Paglia has been doing a great inside job for years now:

  29. mutnodjmet
    November 9th, 2014 @ 10:54 am

    This could have been me, except for Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the Grace of God, and a sense of self-respect. Prayers for Rebecca Jane Stokes; hopefully, she will read this column and its comments and gain some useful perspective.

  30. Bilwick
    November 9th, 2014 @ 3:08 pm

    Golly, I’m a libertarian individualist, born in Brooklyn (currently marooned in a Sun Belt cultural-wasteland “Edge City”), longing to be a writer and also return to the Motherland and once again be around people who regularly read books other than those by John Grisham. And I have cats! I guess I’m a “broken person” (in my experience, as Glenn Reynolds comments on this article, we’re ALL broken people); but what’s really depressing is finding myself living some kind of “liberal”-feminist stereotype.

  31. aprey
    November 9th, 2014 @ 7:32 pm

    I have thought the same as well: one had to live an extraordinary life before it was worth committing the story to paper. Now, with digital media and social media, words are a cheap commodity. The shallowest, most meaningless thoughts can be put out there, to be picked up by another like mind…forwarded, posted on FB, Twitter…they take on a life of their own and snowball into a phenomenon that would not have existed without digital media.

    Prior to this, if a woman had a bad feeling about something, she’d tell a couple of friends about on the phone that night, maybe over coffee the next day. And that was it. Done. Moving on. But the internet gives the most trivial things a life span longer than they would have without it.

  32. Daniel Freeman
    November 9th, 2014 @ 8:10 pm

    Just tell yourself that they’re trying to borrow your authenticity, like they co-opt everything else.

  33. Daniel Freeman
    November 9th, 2014 @ 8:13 pm

    I don’t know what you’re talking about. “Drunk on a Plane” was an eternal masterpiece that spoke to universal experiences. 😉

  34. Nataliya Kochergova
    November 9th, 2014 @ 8:31 pm

    I wonder if she’d toughen up if she had to face real adversity? Our senses tend to hallucinate when we are deprived of stimuli – perhaps we also feel “false” psychological discomfort when we are too comfortable? Our eyes get oversensitive to light when kept in the dark for too long – perhaps it’s the same with psychological toughness? I’m just speculating, but experience suggests to me that it’s partially true. Whiny people can get very tough, when life hits them with real problems.

  35. ubik
    November 9th, 2014 @ 10:56 pm

    So should we be happy we have such a cosseted life that someone so out of touch reveals their non self or be depressed that a life with so little material threat leads to vacuous narcissism?
    Like a Laputan woman from Gulliver’s travels, she is surrounded by men with their heads in the clouds. She needs a weekend with a good Balnibarbi bloke.

  36. ubik
    November 9th, 2014 @ 10:57 pm

    Even Homer nods. And gets punched hard in the face repeatedly.

  37. ubik
    November 9th, 2014 @ 10:57 pm

    Dick Clark was classy, and missed.

  38. ubik
    November 9th, 2014 @ 11:20 pm

    Ginger, Mary Ann, I’ll take one of each.

  39. ubik
    November 9th, 2014 @ 11:22 pm

    The soul was there at conception.
    Gingers have souls, just not much “soul”.

  40. Zoarwalker
    November 10th, 2014 @ 9:30 am

    Thank you SO much for this article. I will never let myself be a pussy ever again…

  41. Bill McNutt
    November 10th, 2014 @ 3:08 pm

    Or at least that’s what he WANTS you to think.

  42. Daniel Freeman
    November 10th, 2014 @ 4:51 pm

    You pronounced it wrong. It’s “quitcher bitchen.”

  43. Daniel Freeman
    November 10th, 2014 @ 5:01 pm

    A Peace Corps draft? I love it. Make women register for Selective Service while you’re at it.

  44. Daniel Freeman
    November 10th, 2014 @ 5:11 pm

    Thank you. I’m only halfway through, and I’ve already learned things. Plus, I like her style.

  45. Daniel Freeman
    November 10th, 2014 @ 5:21 pm

    That reminds me of “Angels & Insects,” which has been hailed as “possibly the most boring movie about incest ever.” There was a grandma who was constantly falling on fainting couches as if words could distress her, despite having given birth before.

  46. sorry but that's a sad case
    November 10th, 2014 @ 6:29 pm

    In all seriousness, I think that girl has undiagnosed Aspergers. Her problem isn’t liberalism, feminism — she’s a trainwreck because social situations are a complete puzzle as are her own emotions and the motivations of other people. Not that there is anything she can do about it, but I guess that’s why its not nice to point and laugh.

  47. Penelope
    November 11th, 2014 @ 4:52 pm

    I agree

    I remember noticing in middle school the shopping centers were the most depressing architectural objects on earth. Just visiting the grey, drab, parking lot encircled entity felt like entering a tomb.

    We humans have need of inspiration and freshness in our surroundings. Concrete jungles kill our soul and make us lifeless automatons.

  48. ehhhh
    November 14th, 2014 @ 9:30 am

    IOW–this worthless cuntry became a matriarchy and like all matriarchies was quickly defeated (actually conqurered is a better word), while so called good men sat around and did nothing but sniff the rotten be-fouled taints of weak, selfish monsters profiled above, turn the pages of their hymnals for them, and beg for more abuse rather then tell them to shut the hell up and stop being a useless parasite before departing from them forever.



    This is far from a “left” “right” polemic. We departed from that decades ago. Traditional conservatives are the biggest militant feminists on the planet. Actually, the biggest militant feminists are fathers with daughters–especially if the mother (and pretty much every other woman in his life) took away everything he had and walked out on him.

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