Roiphe says the #MeToo movement has a weird energy. I guess massive social change is supposed to be chill?
Roiphe says the #MeToo movement has a "weird energy." I guess massive social change is supposed to be chill? MB

Katie Roiphe, longtime sexual assault minimizer, first-time Twitter user, was interviewed at Slate this week, and despite the valiant efforts of interviewer Isaac Chotiner, who deserves a fucking raise, it's not good. You might recall that Roiphe was dragged online after it was rumored that she was working on a project for Harper's that involved outing the creator of the crowd-sourced Shitty Media Men list.

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ANYWAY. Let's get to the interview. Here are the best worst parts.

When I was about 23, I was a graduate student in literature, and I wrote a piece comparing the date-rape pamphlets given out on college campuses to Victorian guides to conduct given to young ladies. I was just kind of analyzing the language—I was a graduate student in literature—and sort of talking about how I thought both were infantilizing to women, and against the goals of feminism.

What's that, Katie Roiphe? Did YOU say you were...

A graduate student?

IN LITERATURE?!

In terms of #MeToo, like everyone else, I was very exhilarated by this moment and the kind of hopefulness of bringing powerful men who abuse their power to account. But I was also a little bit uneasy at the weird energy in the movement, and that’s something that I talk a little bit about in my piece in Harper’s. I noticed that the things people were saying to me secretly, or the things they were saying to me in private, were very different than what they were willing to say out loud publicly. It was that atmosphere, that kind of feeling, that I began to write this piece from, and it’s kind of a defense of ambivalence or ambiguity or nuance. I see this piece as a kind of need to think more deeply about the feminism we are embracing right now.

"Weird energy"? LOVING the precision here.

And I think some of it is that people are worried about Twitter, but I also talk to a lot of people who are afraid for their jobs. And to be totally honest with you, Isaac, if I didn’t have tenure at NYU, I don’t know if I would have written this piece. I am lucky to have a certain amount of job security people don’t have. And there are definitely people calling NYU trying to get me fired every day.

Wait a minute, Katie Roiphe. Where did you say you work? NYU? Incroyable!

I also hear men being worried about something that happened five years ago. And if they tell you this story it’s like the most boring story in the world. But they are worried that this really low-level, awkward moment is going to turn into something that gets them fired. People are worried about this stuff.

WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE MEN

What I said to the New York Times was at that point that people were going bananas on Twitter, I did not know for certain that Moira Donegan was the creator of the Shitty Men in Media List, which I did not at that time know. People thought I was sitting around thinking a lot about Moira Donegan, and how I could ruin her life, and that was the general fantasy. The fact that she created the list was so unimportant to my piece, and really not anything I was at all focused on. Because it just didn’t matter to me. What I was really interested in Moira Donegan was about her Twitter, and about the tenor of her Twitter, and sort of bloodlust and out-of-control rage. I quote a line where she talks about breaking a glass, this penis-shaped shot glass, don’t even ask, and she said “It felt good to destroy something a white man loved.” Something like that—I am paraphrasing.

True, a woman being angry about something online in a way you don't personally think is tasteful is defo cause for concern. HYSTERIA!

One of the things on the Media Men list is “leering.” I just try to imagine—I have a lot of graduate students and they go to work at places like this—trying to warn one of my students that I have to warn you about this guy. He is going to “leer at you.” I just think to myself how condescending that sounds, and I would never want to say that to an adult because it would seem like she is incapable of managing the world.

Um. Okay. But have you BEEN leered at? It's not enjoyable. I actually would want to know if I was going to be working with a leerer, but that's just this Twitter feminist's opinion! Another opinion is I feel bad for these students.

What I tried to do in my piece was connect the dots between Twitter feminists, somebody like Dayna Tortorici, who is the editor of n+1, somebody you quoted when you mentioned the new totalitarian state, who is writing for the New Republic, these people are writing in New York magazine for the Cut. There is a line to be drawn between the thinking of all of these people and they are setting the terms of the conversation, and they are policing—and this is a kind of Orwellian “thought police”—they are policing what people can and cannot say. I don’t think these people are so powerless, that they are sort of fringe figures.

Wait, I thought we were marginal Twitter feminists? We're actually the Orwellian thought police? 'K.


[To Chotiner] You are making it seem like they are people who are just on Twitter.

You literally called them "Twitter feminists."

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That desire to have me not speak, which I felt very strongly and viscerally, and it really was like having a mob outside your house with torches. It felt like that.

You were on CBS. You're being interviewed by Slate. No one is keeping you from speaking, and doing so publicly.

HEN EE WAY, that's where I'm gonna go ahead and stop, because that interview is a bizarre word salad in which Roiphe claims she didn't plan to out the creator of the Shitty Media Men list, but also that she kind of did, maybe? I don't know. I think I've spent enough brain-power thinking about Roiphe's weird opinions to last a lifetime. But I guess that's because I'm just another member of the Twitter feminist thought police, tearing down tenured NYU professors who once studied literature with nothing but my personal disinterest in their dated, reactionary work.