The XX Factor

Let’s Just Pretend Nothing Happened

This is indeed a memorable moment in feminist history, as Ross Douthat writes in his New York Times column today. But not only because a slew of female candidates, most of them conservatives, won their races. It’s also memorable because we have conservatives Douthat and Ramesh Ponnuru crediting the women’s movement for the string of victories, while actual feminists are acting like this is a fluke in which some freaks of nature who happen to be female squeaked through. The same is true for for my Atlantic story this month. Although it’s called the End of Men: How Women are Taking Control of Everything ,” it’s been almost universally described by female writers as “misogynistic.” That’s pretty curious, that an article about the rising power of women is automatically described as anti-woman. A psychologist would call this phenomenon “fear of success,” whereby someone refuses to process the next stage because it seems somehow threatening. In my story, I did not even portray all of these changes as positive: It is not good, for example, that a growing number of working-class women are single parents acting as breadwinner/nurturer/disciplinarian. But it is happening, just as the rise of a new hybrid of conservative feminists is happening. And whether you like it or not, it seems pointless to pretend otherwise.

Photograph of Ross Douthat courtesy of The New York Times Company.