Friday, June 01, 2007

Laura Sessions Stepp Rides Again

Along with the rest of the astute population of DC, we remain fundamentally puzzled and perplexed at the continued existence of Laura Sessions Stepp. Her take on contemporary sexual mores is so addled and so rife with cognitive dissonance that you practically need a Dramamine IV drip anytime you wade out into one of her verdant fields of fucktastic pollyanna. It's like she was delivered on our doorstep having skipped the past three decades of human life--so she's easily blown away by the most commonplace of human interactions. At the same time, her prudishness seems terribly misplaced, because she shows not even the slightest awareness of the real freaky and perverted shit boys and girls and boys and boys and girls and girls and their pets and parents and clamps and tasers and erector sets and creams and pills and probes are doing to each other right this very second.

Stepp is back today with a piece entitled, "What Does It Mean To Be Manly?" And don't worry, she hasn't the slightest clue. The piece is a disjointed, incoherent mess that won't make sense even if you read it aloud or study it with Talmudic conviction. We've done our best to summarize, and have some special appearances from Wife of DCeiver as a special guest interlocutor.

1: Something about Pirates of the Caribbean
Really? You're seriously using a movie based on a rollercoaster from the director of The Mexican as your jumping off point? Really?

2: "As the unconstrained Capt. Jack Sparrow in the newly released "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," he wears a wisp of white lace tied just above his left hand."
Wife of DCeiver: "Uhm...[pause]. He's a pirate."

3. "Swish or swagger? That's the choice that men -- particularly young men -- find themselves facing today."
Oh, no.

4: "Other, shall we say, swishier traits were expected of women, such as the ability to create and nurture connections, kindness and communication."
What? Has anyone ever referred to women as "swishy?" Has anyone ever referred to kindness as "swishy?" I understand, say, "feminine." But "swishy?" Doesn't "swishy" better describe, say...the Erasure discography?

5: "Of course, you could always find some crossover. But while catching up with or surpassing men at school and at their first jobs, young women have dumped much of the feminine to embrace the masculine traits that they think represent success."
First: what does this have to do with the "choice that men...find themselves facing today." And isn't it more accurate to say that successful women have simply embraced traits that lead to successful outcomes?

6: "This has left some young men wondering what it means these days to be a guy."
Of course, she makes this assertion without any evidence to back it up. Seems to me that if men were having this sort of widespread problem, she'd be able to quote at least one piss and moan naif willing to confirm it.

7: "A preppy guy in high school might pair a lime-green Polo Ralph Lauren shirt with light yellow J. Crew pants, a Lily Pulitzer belt and Rainbow flip-flops."
So fucking what, Laura? Every preppy shit-bot back in 80s dressed the exact same fucking way. Hell, they rocked pink Oxfords and floppy cotton cableknits. This isn't in any way novel or exciting, and it sure as shit doesn't speak to anybody's gender role awareness. It only speaks to the fact that given enough idle time and money, the average guy is prone to dressing like he's been gang-teabagged by crud fashion designers.

8: I realize, of course, that Laura probably doesn't know what a "teabagging" is.

9: And seriously, I want to be the one to take her to her first donkey show.

10: "While men used to greet each other with a handshake, now it's a hug."
Yeah, but it's the man version. Like from Dr. Katz: "I'm hugging you...but I'm hitting you!" Call me when members of the varsity lax team are staring into one another's limpid pools like the ingenues from a Bronte novel, and then we can talk.

11: "And male hip-hop, writes one pop critic, 'sounds more lighthearted and clean-cut than it has in years.'"
Whoever this "pop critic" was, Stepp did them a favor by not providing a name, because man is that assertion wrong!

12: R&B singer Akon, who clinched a Grammy nomination for singing about "smacking" a woman, practically croons in another tune "how much of a queen you are to me and why I love you, baby."
Uhm...this is the same Akon that practically raped an underaged girl from Trinidad and Tobago in a violent gang-dry humping? Yeah, Laura...let me tell you how the game is played. Akon puts out a couple sweet-minded, seemingly tempered tunes in order to soften the blow of his otherwise sex-crazed tunes, so that the people who sell his shit can gloss over his perversion and tell parents that he's an artist with real human feeling and depth.

13: "When it comes to mating rituals, young women have rewritten them, leaving some men pining for the clarity of the old days."
Oh for fucks sake. The biggest lie that was ever told was that somehow, women made sense back in the "old days."

14: "Today, as likely as not, there is no date. She will drive herself, meet up with him and either offer to pay for herself or insist on paying. She may bolt later, or they may land in bed the same night, but chances are he won't have a clue why either happened."
Oh, he'll have a clue. He'll have a clue. Sounds like Laura has talked to a lot of guys skilled in the art of self-delusion, or she isn't a very rigorous questioner.

15: Then she quotes, as if he were some sort of expert, "a sophomore at Union College in Schenectady." 1). No. I am not making that up. 2). No. Nothing else really needs to be said about it.

16: Then there's like seven grafs that are all one sentence long, none of which transfers any thought from the previous one, all of which lead to several variations of nowhere. Really, Washington Post, whatever happened to PARAGRAPHS? You know? Where an idea was advanced and demonstrated on the strength of a handful of strong sentences? Isn't the paragraph that basic foundation of grade-school writing?

17: Seriously, her writing heading into the homestretch is just unintelligible:
--women don't want a pushover
--women don't want a meathead
--she turns to a guy who works for a PREGNANCY PREVENTION GROUP to assess whether men have lost their swagger.
--guys are troubled by virginity, but getting blown on a regular basis, so...upside?
--today's polo shirt wearing douches are largely athletes who bang sluts, a fact that hasn't largely changed since the advent of the first popped collar.
--women want degrees and salaries these days, and if that fact has prevented you from getting laid, then trust me, YOU ARE NOT DOING IT RIGHT!
--something about the Nintendo Wii.

18: "In trying to empower the girls," Sandborn says, "we implicitly sent a message that the guys were not as good."
Wife of DCeiver: "Yeah, that's total bullshit." Exactly. God, does Stepp talk to anyone who's not a dyed-in-the-wool whiner? Poor me! My life didn't turn out the way I wanted it because so many people sent me the wrong message! GOD! Shut the FUCK up!

19: "What we haven't come up with is what a positive image of a man would be."
Fucking-a. If you ever feel like you've figured it out, please keep it to yourself.

20: "Maybe Depp is teaching us that it's not swish or swagger; it's both."
Wife of DCeiver: "What the fuck? He's a pirate! A pirate!"

Look: I cannot, in a blog, possibly convey with mere words how brainstoppingly crazy and out of joint with all available reality this assertion is. I'm frankly not sure an opera conceived by Mozart, Antonin Artaud and Sam Raimi could convey it.

Take this picture from Busby Berkeley's 1933 film Footlight Parade, and imagine that there were 10,000 more dancers, and each one of them was exploding in white-hot flashes of blinding, otherworldly light while simultaneously giving birth to an entire universe of singing panda bears and sentient peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and then imagine God Himself shitting his pants full of caramel glockenspiels and slowly going batshit crazy at the sight of it all, as if he were having mercury forcefully injected into his medulla oblongata.

That's about as close as I can get you.


Bob said...

"exfoliating creams for men sell for $50 and more"

Well, I'm convinced!

Her writing is atrocious: "They bend the gender role freely, especially if their buds are doing the same."

Rusty said...

I clearly have to comment here since LSS hunting is a hobby of mine.

Re No. 8: You have betrayed your lack of knowledge regarding LSS's Unhooked. Page 28 describes in detail exactly what "teabagging" is. I don't even need the book in front of me to tell you, "Page 28." It has all the answers. I can lend you my signed copy.

(Also detailed on Page 28: "eating a roast beef sandwich." Srsly!)

No. 15: My lady friend actually contacted the Union college sophomore on Facebook to see exactly what this kid's deal is. His deal:

I emailed her about her book, within the last few months and she and I have been in touch with questions and such.

So she went from interviewing her students without disclosing it in her articles to interviewing her fans. Such shoddy journalism.

You and your wife hit the nail on the read regarding the rest of the article. Such bullshit. Pirates!

Anonymous said...

thank you, thank you, thank you, for this. i can't read her articles and clearly comment on them. i usually sound all"@#$%^&*", cartoon-style.


Anonymous said...

Re: #11: I also googled the quote from "a pop critic" and couldn't find it anywhere.

- disgruntled lady friend

Anonymous said...

I agree with absolutely everything about this post except for the assertion that the Pirates ride is a roller coster. Tis' a swishy water ride, says I.

yournamehere said...

Then you're googling wrong.
The critic in question is Kelefa Sanneh, and it's available here:

the Fiery Sword said...

Somewhere in the Halfwit Command Center where Washington Post staffing decisions are made, someone is being told that "bloggers are reacting to Laura Stepp's articles" and consequently deciding to give her a raise and a more-than-slightly creepy backrub.

Anonymous said...

Look, my president and I don't have to understand "the google" to be authorities on anything. We do (and/or make up) what we want.

- slightly undisgruntled ladyfriend

Matthew said...

I'm going to catch shit for this, but Pirates of the Caribbean is a boat ride, not a rollercoaster.

But your point remains!

RedBeet said...

Gorgeous! I have a long history of being screwed by LSS, and I'm glad to see someone taking her to task. Rock on.

She and the post have an interesting relationship. Consistent front page (shoddy) articles, but also a positively scathing review of Unhooked in Book World? *scratches head puzzled*

rock on.

Anonymous said...

In a nutshell: This "article" didn't make any sense. Continually, repeatedly, these things, whatever they are or try to be, play off dumb generalizations and stereotypes--which you do not do in journalism. Since when on earth is it "feminine" to wear cologne? HUH? Straight men have been wearing cologne for what--centuries, thousands of years? HUH? And since when is it "feminine" to wear light colors? I personally don't like light colors, but plenty of straight men wear them--that doesn't mean that they are feminine. And, finally, it is NOT necessarily "feminine" for guys to hug--if you've ever seen a real guy "hug," it's hardly feminine! It's just a greeting. And, LSS: men--straight men--have been kissing and hugging in some cultures for thousands of years. That does not mean it is "feminine." Gawd almight, please, make LSS stop this stuff!

MafiaCPA said...

Your final imagery sums this article up in about the most accurate description available to the limitations of the written word!

Matt said...

"Was ist mannlich?" Was the cover story for a German paper last summer. The billboards were excellent.