So the New York Times has announced anti-Trump right-winger David French will become a new columnist this year because of his “factual and intellectual clarity, moral seriousness, and a spirit of generosity toward others and humility toward oneself.” While French has been consistently anti-Trump, Roy Edroso points out that he also equates Trump to Clinton (both equally scandalous! Both equally impeached!) because French wouldn’t want to suggest Republicans are worse than Democrats).
I’ve never been a fan of the “intellectual diversity” argument for hiring right-wingers but French is also a thoroughgoing misogynist/gender essentialist. According to French, “Today’s young males don’t have common touchstones for what it’s like to grow up to be a man” because they can’t rough-house in schools any more, they don’t work tough, manual labor jobs and they play video games (as lazy a target for lazy pundits as excess TV watching was when I was young) — my god, grip-strength in men is declining! He’s strongly forced-birth, equating the pro-choice movement to Satanism, and supporting various religious organizations that complained if they refused in writing to cover birth control for employees, ACA regulations would provide employees with coverage anyway so that was just like the organization was doing it directly!
He’s also up for playing the Conservatives Are Being Thought Policed card by declaring “even expressing the idea that marriage is properly defined as the union of a man and woman was seen as too outrageous to utter.” And yet, somehow, conservatives haven’t stopped uttering it, not for one second. Saying the anti-gay minority’s view of same-sex marriage is outrageous or bigoted or whatever is a perfectly reasonable stance, certainly as reasonable as the view that gay marriage isn’t real marriage.
And then there’s consent. French is one of the many right-wingers who assume if consent matters, there are no other sexual standards: why not just ask a woman for a blow-job in the middle of a business meeting? If she consents, no problem, right? Samantha Field says this is typical purity-culture thinking: we’re all insatiably decadent, fallen sluts so if we don’t set absolute standards — no sex until marriage, say — we’ll be consenting to orgies at the drop of a hat.
Of course saving sex for marriage didn’t stop rape, harassment, or assault. If anything, “did they consent?” is a stronger, clearer standard than “did she resist hard enough?” which is monstrously subjective. The Southern Baptist Church is adamant about saving sex for marriage but it didn’t save women churchgoers from assault and harassment by members of the hierarchy.
As for French’s argument that consent makes it okay to hit on a woman anywhere, any time, no it does not (nor a woman on a man, nor man on man, etc.). Women are not means to an end, they are ends (nobody of any gender is just a means to an end). Treating a coworker or someone you meet at a business conference as if they’re only there as a potential means to an orgasm is not acceptable.
It’s not like the NYT doesn’t already have a conservative religious misogynist in Ross Douthat, who like French explains sexual predators such as Harvey Weinstein result from the sexual revolution. Because rape and the Hollywood casting couch were never a thing before the 1960s (yes, they were). And Douthat cheerfully lies about how the Dobbs victory will usher in a brave new world of more generous welfare for expectant mothers. Douthat also thinks shotgun marriages were better for women than legal abortion.
Then there’s Brett “bedbug” Stephens, who claimed in 2018 “falsely accusing a person of sexual assault is nearly as despicable as sexual assault itself” (no I’m not linking to his rape apologist op-ed)so it’s good that Trump backed Brett Kavanaugh despite Christine Blasey Ford reporting his attempted assault. If you’re accused of murder people may find reasons you’re not a bad person; there are no excuses that can save your reputation or your career if you’re accused of rape. Unless of course, you claim she was dressed too sexy. She was drunk. She’s a slut. Consent is irrelevant. Rape’s just natural. Boys will be boys. He only raped one woman. A whole bunch more that I cover in Undead Sexist Cliches (available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers.)
From my perspective, it’s hard to see what French can do for misogyny or religion that these guys can’t.
Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.