Last night I thought I’d do something uncharacteristically current-eventish, and watched McLaughlin on PBS. It was another one of those “are bloggers legitimate journalists/whatever will become of poor print media?” discussions. Counting McLaughlin, the panel was Y-chromosome heavy, with a ratio of four dudes to one woman. The woman, of course, was plucky DC wit Ana Marie Cox, formerly of Wonkette and currently of Time.com.
Since I am an avid reader of celebrity internet gossip only when all other avenues for insipid entertainment have been exhausted, I have not closely followed Cox’s career. It turns out that while I was farting around eating tacos, Cox was hard at work parlaying her pottymouthed bloggerdom into a meteoric rise to Professional Token Edgy Hot Chick on the pundit circuit. One of her weekly stops was the Don Imus show. When Imus got shitcanned for bigoted assholery last April, Cox hopped on the “I always knew that guy was a racist!” bandwagon. She wrote a column for Time.com wherein she revealed that the only reason she was allowed anywhere near the Imus boys’ clubhouse was so they’d all have something to “leer at.” But she sucked it up — not just the leering, but “the race-baiting” and “casual locker-room misogyny” — because she rilly rilly wanted to win her “media-elite merit badge.”
Of course, having once pursued a vocation as a suck-up doesn’t automatically preclude a token edgy hot chick’s subsequent contributions to elevated discourse. But I’ll never know if Ana Marie Cox has anything of philosophic value to say on television or not. If she does have, she omitted to say any of it on McLaughlin last night. Even if she’d wanted to — and whether she did or didn’t want to, I cannot say — three things would have obscured her efforts.
1. McLaughlin invited her to opine only infrequently, compared to his three other guests, the dudes. Unlike Cox, these dudes did not give the impression that they were now, or ever had been, sassy.
2. When the great man did give her leave to speak, Cox relied heavily on the word “like” — like, you know, a teenager — and talked rilly rilly fast. Rounding out her repertoire of giddy, submissive gestures, she kept her head tilted at a superhumanly acute angle, a move she seemed unable to resist combining with an inflatable-doll “O” mouth and batting her eyes at the camera. Adorable!
3. When McLaughlin brought up the Kathy Sierra episode and cited a statistic that women bloggers are targeted for hate speech and death threats at a rate 25 times that of dude bloggers, he turned to Cox — the Token Chick blogger/default authority on misogyny — and asked her why there’s so much misogyny on the internet. Her answer was comedy gold. She doesn’t think — seriously, she actually said this — she doesn’t think death threats, rape threats, sex-based derision, and DOS attacks are misogyny at all. Her theory is that the Internet is merely dominated by dudes in greater number, so some women might find the atmosphere a little less than welcoming.
This bending over and taking the status quo up the ass was not only a painfully transparent effort to distance herself from unfashionable feminist hags and bring her a step closer to her merit badge, it made the bloviating dudes look like radical feminist spinster aunts. And one of those dudes was Pat Buchanan. It was excruciating to watch.
Of course, this is a woman who wrote, in a NY Times review of Katha Pollit’s Virginity or Death: “Strident feminism can seem out of place — even tacky — in a world where women have come so demonstrably far.”