A not particularly brief, very personal, very <i>feminine</i> rant

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There was a debate on this subject a little while back that I didn't link because it centered on me, which seemed a little too much like whining, particularly I'm not sure I have anything to whine about. But one of the women offered an interesting analysis: women who blog about "female" subjects will be punished by being taken less seriously; Ezra can post recipes, but I can't.

I read that comment and thought, "What decade is this?" Are we still under the impression that we have to dress up like men, at least metaphorically, in order to be treated as equals? Seeing women call on other women to eschew feminine pursuits in order to improve our collective position makes me deeply, deeply sad. This is what we were supposed to be fighting--the ingrained notion that domestic pleasures are women's work, and that women's work is fundamentally frivolous.

I am to be sure, something of a girly girl, with thirty pairs of shoes in my closet and a really astonishing collection of hair styling appliances. But I don't think of cooking as some sort of spiritual extension of my womb. Cooking is fun, particularly if you like to eat well and don't have a ton of money with which to satisfy that desire. It doesn't get any less fun if you have an Adam's apple.

I bring this up now because last night someone I'd recently met asked me how much of a role I thought misogyny played in the liberal blogosphere's er . . . energetic . . . reaction to me. I'm not qualified to comment on that; obviously, when someone doesn't like you, the most psychologically comforting explanation is "sexism". Then this morning, someone emailed me Roy Edroso's screed. It was good for a smile--until I reread it and noted that he'd called me a "lipstick libertarian"? What the hell? I'm hard put to think of a way to pack more snide sexism and heteronormative stereotypes into two words. I do wear lipstick (well, usually gloss), and more than occasionally eyeliner and mascara and a little shadow. And what the hell does that have to do with my political ideas?

I do not know whether being a woman has ultimately helped or hurt my career, and I don't waste time worrying about it. But I get a little testy when Kerry Howley and I, among many others, see the comment threads on our media appearances degenerate into extended wardrobe critiques, or debates about whether and under what conditions one might "hit that". I'm irritated when interlocutors both left and right assume that my second X chromosome has conveyed upon me a sacred obligation to agree with their political ideas. I'm annoyed that a typically female narrative style, which touches on personal experience, is derided as fundamentally unserious--particularly when it is so derided by people who admire it in feminist bloggers. And I'm perilously close to despair at finding that so many of my correspondents not only believe that pointing out that I am 35 and unmarried is a devastating insult, but apparently expect me to share that opinion. Was I born in 1973, or am I living in it?

I will say that I'm particularly shocked to find that about 95% of this comes from the left, particularly the fraternity potty talk--my right wing commenters usually limit themselves to saying "you're pretty", which is the sort of thing no one, male or female, minds hearing. Why the hell is the phrase "lipstick libertarian" being written by a left-wing blogger, much less published in the Village Voice? Would my blogging really improve if I traded in my Prada boots for a pair of Doc Martins?

Update Yes, I know the many uses of the phrase "lipstick lesbian"; indeed, I count several as friends and loved ones. But the facts remain:

1) Lipstick lesbian is used to imply that wearing makeup somehow makes you less serious and authentic.

2) Would the phrase "lipstick libertarian" have ever been used about a man?

Am I humorless? Perhaps. But while I used to feel like my gender didn't really matter on my blog, lately it's come to feel like half the commentary I attract contains some mention of the fact that I'm a woman. Given that few people see a need to remark on the fact that male bloggers are male, I find it annoying.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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