Hi! Welcome to the Weekly Dingus, my Friday newsletter, where I round up my internet reads, share a drink, and yell about a dingus. Is that dingus a politician? A boat in a canal? My dog? Or maybe it’s just pants. You can read about past weekly dinguses in the archives.
On June 24, the National Review published what we are going to call an “article” by Eric Kaufmann. Kaufmann is a professor at Birkbeck College, University of London, who took his time to write over 3,500 words to bemoan the fact that women simply do not want to sleep with Trump supporters. This is political discrimination and Kaufmann won’t stand for it. He writes, “This emerging form of ideological social closure is spawning a looming crisis that will supercharge populism and polarization.”
[Note: I will not be linking to these articles because I am simply not interested in sending any clicks their way. But they exist and you can find them. Or you can simply close down the internet, pour yourself a drink, and listen to Taylor Swift.]
That’s right, ladies. If you don’t boink a Republican, it means cancel culture has gone too far. Oh, you don’t want to sleep with someone who supported an actual, literal insurrection on our nation’s capital? HOW ILLIBERAL OF YOU! You must be ideologically authoritarian.
First off, it needs to be said, no one is obligated to have sex with anyone. Also, there was the whole unfettered pandemic that cost over 600,000 people their lives. All facts that don’t exactly make a person want to go down to bone town.
It reminds me of this 2016 classic, where the dinguses at The Federalist wrote, “Voting for Trump Shouldn’t Cost You Your Marriage.” Where the writer, who purports to be a real human, noted, “A vote for Trump doesn’t negate a human being’s worth and years of marital devotion.” To which, I would like to add, how much marital devotion was a person who voted for Trump actually capable of?
And I have a little earned authority on this topic because I did divorce my Republican husband after he voted for Donald Trump. At the time, my friend Elon Green called it my Lyzistrata. And I don’t regret it. Because as it turns out, not being complicit in a life of oppression is a good thing.
Anyway, Kaufmann’s article is just a 3,000-word screed that reads like one petulant whine. “Why won’t people sleep with me?” Which is really telling on himself because, Eric, women aren’t that picky, because the bar is so low. So maybe it’s not your politics, maybe you just suck in bed? Or maybe girls don’t want to go out on dates and listen to a man rant about the political hegemony of his pants. I mean, Eric, if it helps, I’ve refused to boink men because they wouldn’t stop explaining Seinfeld plots to me. We didn’t even get to the “who is your favorite murdering politician?” part of the date before I walked out.
Maybe Trump has nothing to do with your problems in bed. Maybe, just maybe, you suck.
Jessica Valenti also had some words about this in her newsletter.
It’s telling, for example, that Kaufmann’s argument is near-identical to the ideology of online misogynists who are furious that women have a choice about who to sleep with at all. Just as he frames women’s dating preferences as a civil rights issue, incels claim women “withholding” sex is a human rights violation. The only difference is the academic sheen and where they’re publishing.
And I’ll leave on this note Christopher Ingraham, in his newsletter, wrote about the relationship between contracting COVID-19 and impotence.
And with that, the conversation is now over.
What I Am Reading:
Hello. So, I am reading books! Lots of them. I referenced quite a few of them in my Wednesday newsletter. Also, like everyone, I loved this profile of Lil Nas X by Jazmine Hughes. And this story about Britney Spears and her conservatorship nightmare.
I’ve been reading Kim Kardashian’s instagram like a text. The woman is having a hot divorcée summer. And I am here for it.
SUCCESSION SEASON THREE! IT’S HERE!! We made it! We waited so long and we made it.
I loved this wonderful interview with Leah Johnson in Jeanna Kadlec’s newsletter.
UNC finally offered Nikole Hannah-Jones (a native of Waterloo, actually, although you wouldn’t know it since Iowa literally passed a law trying to make it illegal to teach her 1619 Project, but I digress…) her tenure, and she said, “No thank you” and is starting a journalist program at Howard University. Her statement in response to the whole fight over her tenure is a brilliant essay in and of itself and one worth reading by every person, outlet, institution, and company that feels it can just use people of color as their pawns. Read all of it, but here is a great bit.
“For too long, powerful people have expected the people they have mistreated and marginalized to sacrifice themselves to make things whole. The burden of working for racial justice is laid on the very people bearing the brunt of the injustice, and not the powerful people who maintain it. I say to you: I refuse.”
She just Bartleby the Scrivenered right on out of their mess.
And it just proves that institutions would rather make bad business decisions and embarrass themselves than change. So, stop working within the system. Abolish systems. Make your own.
In case you missed it, “Cat Person” was a short story published in The New Yorker in December of 2017 during the height of the #MeToo conversation. Well, on Thursday, Slate published an essay by the woman who inspired the story. Well, inspired sort of. And then, of course, the internet had to discourse about it for an entire day. I cannot imagine what it feels like to see yourself reflected in writing in a way you don’t like, in a story that went viral. And I know that the author of the short story and the person who wrote the essay are real people. But, the two stories side-by-side, bring up an interesting conversation about life and writing and art.
I think about this a lot in my own writing. I write non-fiction, so I take my material from my own life. As a result, I often struggle with the line between what is my story to tell and what isn’t. What do I say? And what do I keep private? I think the answer is a very unhelpful “it depends.”
I remember a writer once telling me, “If it happened to you, it’s your story.”
I also remember an ex boyfriend once telling me, “You are mercenary and an exploiter.”
So here we are. It’s a space I’m always occupying — a conversation I am always having with myself. My friend Sarah Weinman, who wrote a book about Sally Horner, the young girl who inspired Nabokov’s Lolita, grappled with this question in 2018, writing:
Novelists should be free to write whatever they want, to let their imaginations roam as close to or as removed from reality as they see fit. Artists, in theory, should not be limited to their personal experience, culture, identity, and worldview. But they must also accept that the degree of difficulty in imagining beyond their own borders is steep and the failure rate is high. What differentiates Dana Schutz, the white artist who was largely derided for her 2016 painting of Emmett Till’s open casket, from the French-Moroccan author Leila Slimani, who drew inspiration for her much-lauded recent novel, The Perfect Nanny, from the 2012 murder of two New York children by their babysitter? Or from Nabokov, a male author who depicted repeated rapes of a young girl—based, we now know, at least partially on a real girl’s personal horror? Some may argue that the difference lies in the artist’s identity and others that it is simply a question of execution: the artistic aims and product have to validate what might otherwise fall flat as mere appropriation.
Also, there is this point.
Anyway, what I loved about all of this was a chance to think deeply about art and life and the intersections between the two.
This week, I also wrote about money.
What I Am Drinking:
I didn’t drink very much this week. Mostly inertia, then I was at my brother’s house for the July holiday, which is, according to my four-year-old nephew, Captain America’s birthday. But, two weeks ago, I was walking Dolly (my malamute) in the park when I stopped to talk to a woman pushing a baby in a stroller. The woman was so taken with my large wolf pup that I knew she must be good people. So, I invited her over and made her boozy watermelon slushies, which I made by cutting up and freezing watermelon chunks, then blending them with some limeade and adding Titos. Garnish with mint! It was the correct decision. She brought a Trader Joe’s peach tart, and I hope we will do it again soon.
Meeting friends as an adult is so hard, and I remember all too well what it’s like to be new to town and have no friends, and then whenever you think you have a friend, they just want to sell you leggings or Mary Kay or Rodan and Fields. And what the hell, you are so lonely you figure that $50 is worth a shot just so you don’t have to sit at home watching Star Trek, again. Anyway, I do not participate in pyramid schemes. Just the scheme of booze. So, here is to new friends and frozen watermelon.
Men Yell at Me is a newsletter about the places where our bodies and politics collide and yes, the occasional yelling man. Learn more about it and me (Lyz) here. You can sign up to receive the free weekly email, which includes interviews, essays, and original reporting. The Friday email is a weekly round-up of dinguses, drinks, and links. On Monday I have a subscribers-only open thread where we discuss politics and our bodies and more.