Feminist Attacks On Katie Roiphe Are Indefensible

Coinciding with Catherine Deneuve’s timely critique of #metoo, author Katie Roiphe became the focus of a social media tantrum when it was rumoured that she had an upcoming article in Harper’s concerning the Shitty Media Men list — an anonymously compiled document of alleged sexual predators working in media, intended to warn industry women of potential attackers. Feminists learned via social media that a pending article from Harper’s was going to reveal the identity of the person responsible for creating the list, and they were outraged when they determined that the author of the rumoured article was Katie Roiphe.

Katie Roiphe is a writer who felt the wrath of feminists in the 1990s upon publication of her book The Morning After, which critiqued the “date rape crisis” on university campuses. Though decades have passed, feminists have apparently grown no more tolerant of having their own ideas critiqued, even from another feminist; hearing of Roiphe’s name on Twitter, feminists on the social media platform responded with a viciousness that has to be seen to be believed. Many participating in the online frenzy are professional writers, such as Jessica Pressler, who tweeted about Roiphe following the latest of President Donald Trump’s oafish remarks:

Editor Stella Bugbee had the following insights to share:

After Andrew Sullivan wrote an article in New York Magazine that was critical of the online mob, Andi Zeisler of Bitch Media announced:

Most tweets follow the template of maliciousness masked with snarky “humour,” and their authors justify it all with their supposedly virtuous intention to protect adult women from sexual misfortune. But the onslaught of attacks on Roiphe demonstrate that if any woman dares to question the ideology behind the #metoo movement, they can expect to torn apart by religious fanatics for their blasphemy. All of this occurs after feminists complained about “trolling” and “abuse” on social media platforms, and significantly influenced the current trend towards sanitising speech on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Feminists see no conflict between campaigning to protect women from violence and then subjecting a lone woman to character assassination merely because she dares to think for herself.

The circus of rage and spite is all the more bizarre considering that in a New York Times article, Roiphe and Harper’s denied that she would be revealing the name of the creator of the list in her article. The Times also notes that writer Nicole Cliffe offered to pay writers to pull scheduled articles in the upcoming issue of Harper’s; this and other efforts to discourage Harper’s from revealing the identity of the creator of the Shitty Media Men list were proposed as a way to protect the individual from online harassment and “doxxing” — a term once used for spreading a person’s private information online, but now applied to any instance where an activist’s questionable, anonymous online behaviour is threatened with being unmasked. Few seem concerned that journalists and writers might be so easily bought in order to ensure that a publication conforms to outside political agendas.

Meanness on social media is not the only troubling behaviour from supposed professionals in media. In one instance of astounding arrogance, New York Times writer Amanda Hess tweeted:

Who, exactly, authorised Amanda Hess or any journalist to “privately adjudicate” sexual crimes on behalf of the public? This is a perfect example of why there is growing mistrust towards the media from the general public, who rightly discern that publications like The New York Times have become infested with self-serving, ideological elites with no commitment to objective reporting.

If feminists can behave so childishly based on internet rumours, why are we supposed to trust them to “privately adjudicate” claims of sexual harassment and assault? These women want to “hold men accountable” while not wanting to accept any real accountability themselves — such as attaching their own names when making accusations of sexual misconduct. Feminists who presume to “privately adjudicate” sex crime fail to acknowledge that criminals must be held accountable not just to an accuser or a group of vigilantes, but to society as a whole. Those entrusted with the power to administer punishment are expected to be dispassionate and to use reason and intellect in their judgment; yet feminism is repeatedly showing that it operates in service of rampant emotionalism.

On social media, many complained that “the 90s are back” due to Roiphe’s involvement in the article for Harper’s, yet these feminists never acknowledge the fact that they are complicit with the return of the culture wars, given that they are recycling the same ideas from 25 years ago. The idea of women drafting lists of allegedly guilty sexual offenders, and anonymously sharing them in public, is an old tactic; while it has been moved from graffiti on women’s bathroom stalls to spreadsheets on the internet, it remains as cowardly and ineffectual as it was decades ago.

What the incident with Roiphe shows is that, as is the case with every other segment of the social justice contingent, feminists cannot tolerate anyone who challenges their own cherished premises. Even worse, younger generations are mindlessly repeating the same errors of their predecessors, and for this, the young must take full responsibility. Katie Roiphe is a writer who dared to question the religious dogma on American campuses, and more young women should follow her example instead of joining the cult of contemporary feminism.

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