Are Today’s Literary Men Undersexed?

Kara, have you read Katie Roiphe’s essay on the cover of today’s New York Times Book Review, “The Naked and the Conflicted“? In it, she glorifies the lust-celebrating writing of the Old Lions like Mailer and Roth. By comparison, Gen-X male writers are simpering girly-men, she suggests.

Neal says the whole essay is one long personal ad about how Katie Roiphe likes S/M, hates feminism, but I think it perfectly summarizes the backlash against Third Wave Feminism, which translates to: it’s no fun.

I have written some pieces myself about how political correctness or various other cultural trends, like twee referentialism, are a real buzzkill. One was “Cult Worship: Too Cool for Sex: My unrequited love for a McSweeney’s writer,” in which I use a former crush’s aloofness as a sign of the death of sexuality in the entire neo-sincere literary scene. The other was “Hitting Slump: Today’s baseball players are sexually repressed; groupies mourn,” about how the would-be groupies at spring training seemed to be way more enthused about wild sexcapades than the players were.

But Katie Roiphe (who thanks to 1994’s The Morning After was big in the ’90s as something between a provocateur and a bogeyman, right?) seems intent on hanging every bad shift in male-female relation on horrible ol’ feminism, as if there’s no upside to the supposedly “bad” things.

There may me less rapetastic novels, but there is Mary Gaitskill. There are less hot mustachioed ’70s-style coke-snorting baseball players, but guys now are way more likely to help take care of the kids. If you get beat up by your boyfriend, it’s a lot easier to get help. Also, sorry, but ’90s-style feminism was and is fun. I mean, we’re having hot times in this more enlightened world, right?


1 Comment

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One response to “Are Today’s Literary Men Undersexed?

  1. Hi. Never forget that The Morning After, despite all the acres of hype, sold only about 10,000 copies.

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