The Other McCain

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

Shrew Culture Update

Posted on | August 9, 2014 | 26 Comments

This week, First Lady Michelle Obama said something weird:

“We can’t waste the spotlight. Time is short. Change is needed. And women are smarter than men,” Obama said during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit to a laughing audience, according to White House press pool reports.
She continued, “And the men can’t complain because they are outnumbered today.”
Obama and former first lady Laura Bush spoke on Wednesday at the summit’s “spousal program.” The daylong event took place at the Kennedy Center, where the first ladies addressed spouses of African leaders visiting the capital this week for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

What was this about? What prompted the First Lady’s remark? Why did the audience laugh? Why was this funny? Nobody has been able to explain. However, feminist Jessica Valenti felt a need to interpret the “joke” (and reaction to it) as a critique of sexism:

Michelle Obama told a joke about men
they didn’t find funny. That’s hilarious

When I saw that Michelle Obama joked at the US-Africa Leaders Summit this week that “women are smarter than men”, I prepared myself for backlash. And — what do you know? — Politico wrote that the First Lady had “engaged in a battle of the sexes”, anti-feminist author and Fox News contributor Suzanne Venker called it a “sexist and elitist display”, and the headline at Business Standard read “Michelle Obama claims women are smarter than men”. As if it were a serious assertion rather than a joking aside!
This isn’t the very first time Michelle Obama has taken flak for, well, just about anything. Her tenure in the White House has been marked by nasty racist and sexist attacks (in fact, they started before President Obama took officeon her bodyher feminism — even her love of Beyoncé.
But when the First Lady made the quip — at an event with former first lady Laura Bush, while addressing the spouses of African leaders — it wasn’t a humorless dig at men. It was a light-hearted moment of girl-power on the outskirts of a conference for heads of state that is incredibly male-dominated.
Actually, I wish she’d said it with the intention of mocking men — with all that political, economic and social power they’ve cornered by marginalizing women, I think they can take a light ribbing. (I’d prefer a total overthrow of the patriarchy, but I’ve always had champagne tastes.)
Besides, laughter is the best medicine, especially when it’s a guffaw redirected right in the face of sexists.

So, according to Jessica Valenti, this was a “joking aside,” “a light-hearted moment of girl-power,” “a quip,” “a guffaw redirected right in the face of sexists.” Except it wasn’t. What the First Lady said was not a “quip.” This was not clever wordplay, a pithy aphorism worthy of Dorothy Parker. No, it was a non sequitur. And it was neither directed nor redirected in the face of sexists.

Rather than defend this nonsensical “joke,” however, Jessica Valenti goes on the offense, claiming that the reaction to Mrs. Obama’s opaque attempt at humor proves . . . well, something about how stupid men are: “Hahaha, men don’t get the joke!”

What Jessica Valenti is displaying here is an example of what Professor Glenn Reynolds has called “shrew culture,”  i.e., feminism as a perverse and sadistic desire to humiliate males. There is a sort of gender narcissism at work — a self-flattery in which feminists praise themselves merely for being women — as well as an exaggerated version of the typical insecure person’s attempt to build themselves up by tearing down others: “I’m awesome because I’m a woman and, hey, all men are stupid sexists. Praise me!”

Somehow, to the Jessica Valentis of the world, this is actually supposed to be funny. And if you don’t laugh at such “quips,” that just proves what a stupid sexist you are. Q.E.D. But the humor-impaired Valenti, having failed to make an argument or to say anything funny herself, continues onward to a conclusion of ideological rigidity:

In all fairness, joking about men’s (supposed) inferiority doesn’t change the systemic power system through which they benefit. But so long as it irritates the misogynists in our midst – and gives women some much-needed moments of levity – I’ll keep encouraging women to laugh at ridiculous men who just want them to stop already. Signaling that women will do whatever they damn please regardless of what men think is a winning strategy.

Notice how she repeats dogmatic assertions. Men have monopolized “political, economic and social power . . . by marginalizing women” through a “systemic power system.” (Do you think Valenti could explain what a non-systemic power system looks like?) The repetition of ideological dogma is not funny. People are not laughing with you, Jessica Valenti. They’re laughing at you.



26 Responses to “Shrew Culture Update”

  1. Shrew Culture Update | That Mr. G Guy's Blog
    August 9th, 2014 @ 10:35 pm

    […] Shrew Culture Update. […]

  2. CrustyB
    August 9th, 2014 @ 11:01 pm

    I don’t think trannies can be sexist, can they?

  3. CrustyB
    August 9th, 2014 @ 11:01 pm

    I don’t think trannies can be sexist, can they?

  4. Finrod Felagund
    August 9th, 2014 @ 11:07 pm

    Q: How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
    A: (indignantly) “That’s not funny!”

  5. Bob Belvedere
    August 9th, 2014 @ 11:11 pm

    Rhett Belvedere: No, I don’t think I will laugh at you, although you need laughing at, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be laughed at and often, and by someone who knows how.

  6. b g
    August 10th, 2014 @ 12:01 am

    No, Michelle should be spanked, and ruthlessly. Pigs are pigs, boars or sows, chauvinists are all the same.

  7. RS
    August 10th, 2014 @ 12:09 am

    Valenti really needs to think about what she writes. In her rush to insult men for “not getting the joke,” she fails to realize that by labeling MO’s assertion as a “joke” and imputing that intent upon Mrs. Obama, she is denying the underlying assertion, i.e. “women are smarter than men.” Stated differently, Mrs. Obama either believes the assertion to be true or she does not. If she believes it, the assertion is not a “joke.” If it is a “joke”, it means that Mrs. Obama does not believe the assertion to be true. The problem with the assertion and Ms. Valenti’s attempt to dismiss reaction to it, can be seen if you simply change “men” and “women” to any two different racial groups. Anyone doubt whether it would be considered a “joke” then?

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  9. ChandlersGhost
    August 10th, 2014 @ 1:17 am

    “And Catholics are smarter than Protestants,” ad infinitum.

  10. DeadMessenger
    August 10th, 2014 @ 1:28 am

    Perhaps it’s more productive to take note of a time when Mrs. Obama doesn’t say (or do) anything weird. Now that I think about it, this whole administration is like Superman Bizarro world.

  11. DeadMessenger
    August 10th, 2014 @ 1:31 am

    Probably. At first blush, it might seem hypocritical, but actually, when your entire existence is a non sequitor, you can do and say anything and it is completely within character.

  12. Phil_McG
    August 10th, 2014 @ 2:32 am

    To be fair to the First Lady, she probably believes she’s the smartest woman in the room. And why wouldn’t she? She went to Harvard and Princeton, then earned over $300K a year as a “community affairs” officer for a hospital while her husband had to struggle by on a meagre senator’s salary of $160K.

    When you’ve been showered with affirmative action privileges all your life, the natural human reaction is to believe you’ve earned them. Because the alternative is too hazardous to one’s ego to contemplate.

    To her specific point, that women are smarter than men. Isn’t this an article of faith of modern Western culture? Just turn on the TV and try to find an advertisement or a sitcom where the husband isn’t an emasculated doofus led around by his smarter, take-charge wife.

    And this, contrary to Ms. Valenti’s rote assertions of feminist victimhood, reflects a deeper truth. Women are a privileged class in modern Western societies. They are favoured by law and the education system. They control most spending decisions. They are celebrated by the media. They live longer.

    The status of Western women is so elevated that feminists have been forced to construct imaginary oppression to keep the ideological bandwagon rolling: #rapeculture, the gender pay gap, domestic violence, the “war on women”.

    Small wonder they’re so hostile to women who highlight actual oppression, such as the treatment of women under Islam.

  13. FOAF
    August 10th, 2014 @ 2:33 am

    “Women are smarter than men”
    Considering who she’s married to can you blame her?

  14. concern00
    August 10th, 2014 @ 4:57 am

    I’d like to be bold enough to say that I get it and men really do wield the majority of power in this world, but my wife would hit me.

  15. SDN
    August 10th, 2014 @ 7:34 am

    Neither can Wookies.

  16. maniakmedic
    August 10th, 2014 @ 8:45 am

    That was pretty much my thought. Heck, even just flip women and men in that statement and no amount of saying “it’s a joke” would save you from being drawn and quartered by the Butch Lesbian Brigade of the Feminist Army, during which you’d be subjected to the nonsensical rantings of feminists like Jessica Valenti about what a horrible person you are. I’d imagine that would be much like having Vogon poetry read to you.

    And speaking of Valenti, isn’t she the whackdoodle that tweeted asking about free/subsidized tampons? Whether that was a joke or not, any feminist (or leftist, really) should refrain from making such jokes in public; even if it’s a joke, the feminist/leftist penchant for getting all weewee’d up about ridiculous things pretty much guarantees they will be taken seriously and become even more of a parody of themselves (if that is possible).

  17. Quartermaster
    August 10th, 2014 @ 9:28 am

    As a Protestant, I know that you have the two reversed.

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  19. Quartermaster
    August 10th, 2014 @ 9:30 am

    Women have long ruled the world through their men.

  20. Misanthrope
    August 10th, 2014 @ 9:44 am

    I thought the interesting part was when Moose said being outnumbered means you can’t complain.
    A rather interesting view from someone whose identity is defined by victimhood.

  21. ConstantineX1
    August 10th, 2014 @ 10:11 am

    Given that her example is Barry, I can see why she thinks women are smarter than men. An affirmative action no-show Harvard degree is not a shining example of male intelligence.

  22. Dean Douthat
    August 10th, 2014 @ 10:34 am

    On average, women do have higher IQ’s than men. So, if it was a joke, MO doesn’t believe it to be true; she is wrong (again).

    OTOH, men’s IQ’s have a higher variance, that is, at the extremes there are far more men than women.

    Creativity, wealth creation and major advances of civilization take place at the high end extreme where men dominate. Thus men dominate in power and influence as well.

    Average folks do average work in mundane average jobs where they are easily replaceable. Society and civilization little note their comings and goings.

    So MO’s joke isn’t funny because it simply states a truth which is largely irrelevant while denying its truth. Doh!

  23. M. Thompson
    August 10th, 2014 @ 11:42 am

    Yeah, well, she can’t find her way around with out a talking guide.

    I swear, talking GPS systems were built for women who can’t read maps, and don’t understand how roads work!

  24. Art Deco
    August 10th, 2014 @ 8:39 pm

    On average, women do have higher IQ’s than men. S

    No, James Flynn (who has a definite program) has contended that women have pulled even or exceeded men in a selection of occidental countries in the last few years.

  25. Peregrine John
    August 11th, 2014 @ 10:52 am

    Allow me to make a joke about bitch-slaps that she won’t find funny…

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