There's a Way To Discuss Hook-Up Culture and This Wasn't It
Good news! Hook-up culture is back in the news! Don't worry, this time it's not to justify military rape, but rest assured, it's still just as sexist.
As part of a series I'm calling "I Watched It So You Don't Have To," I've made a round-up of the worst conversation on the topic this week. It appeared on Morning Joe Monday morning. Guests on the panel included Kate Taylor, the author of a controversial New York Times article on hook-up culture, Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief at Cosmopolitan, and Tina Brown. Oh, and a random old white man who seemed to have accidentally stumbled on the set.
The segment opened up with the usual clip of Girls, which I believe is mandatory for all female white panels which claim to speak on behalf of all women. Maybe it's in the hopes that no one notices the panelists were all middle-aged, upper middle-class and white?
Mika Brzezinski started off with the predictable "as a mother of two daughters" to explain why reading an article about women having sex made her "feel kind of sad and empty." That's funny, because watching older ladies shaming younger ones for having active sex lives is what makes me feel sad and empty.
1:50 Mika tells the "rough" tale of an "slim, pretty junior from the University of Pennsylvania" who happened to be alone at 11 p.m. on a weeknight after work. Uh-oh. I know where this is going. She didn't have boyfriend (gasp!) and tragically texted her regular hook-up. "They watched a little TV, had sex, and then WENT TO SLEEP," Mika reads in a somber tone.
Educated women having consensual sex on a weeknight? Who do they think they are? Ally McBeal?
2:30 The truth finally comes out. Women are apparently "too busy" to have boyfriends. Why aren't they dropping everything to look for a man already? What are they so busy with anyways? Their goals and ambitions?
3:38 Kate Taylor explains that hook-up culture is caused by the evil messages we send women such as "you're brilliant" "you can do anything" or "you can be president." Women are being told that they need to be independent to succeed, as opposed to men who are told ... wait, that IS what men are being told!
4:42 Finally! The Cosmo editor makes some interesting points about the "ambition gap" between men and women, the persistence of the double-standard and the fact that women who have sex are still labelled as "sluts."
5:05 Instead of asking a follow-up question to explore these fascinating topics, Mika gets uncomfortable and says "There are more young women than we know of that want to get married." Thanks for getting us back on track Mika!
8:09 Now we can finally talk about how women who have sex without being in a relationship do not have "self-respect" and "have given up entirely."
5:34 Let's talk about how dirty and busy women are these days too. "Why would anyone want to sleep with this girl if she can't even clean her own sheets?" the Cosmo editor said. No, I am not making this up, and yes, this is a direct quote. Check the transcript.
6:44 This is when the panel suddenly realizes that they've been offensive to women all this time. Why not insult men too while they're at it? "The fact of the matter is, sex with young men is usually a fumbling disastrous experience. Boys are lousy at sex," Tina Brown exclaims.
7:10 Tina Brown then goes on to suggest college women get a "warm sexy friendship" if they aren't ready to get married. Ok, now I'm just confused.
7:18 Mika cuts in and says "When you live like THAT (referring to a life without a boyfriend), I don't know what you have left within yourself [...] "It's sort of like the attitude that young women have is to give the middle-finger to some of the most fundamentally important things in life and throw it away so that they can [pauses for dramatic air quotes] 'act like men.'"
8:04 This is when we learn that women who have sex without a boyfriend have "given up entirely to living a life that is negative to all feeling."
8:43 Women who want to forgo their career development to follow their boyfriends are marginalized by a society that dares tell women that they should make decisions for themselves.
8:50 Old white guy finally chimes and asks the obvious: "Where are the parents?" Let's fix em' daddy issues!
9:03 More about women's dirty sheets.
9:22 Porn is to blame. Apparently free WIFI too.
10:28 The panel ends with "Talk to your daughters everybody... and sons... (laughs)."
Oops. We forgot to talk about that part! Maybe if we had, this entire panel would have been at least a tiny bit less insufferable.
Next time Morning Joe wants to talk about hook-up culture, maybe they could consider having a diversity of panelists. (You know, people who aren't over the age of 40.) They could also invite a few men to the table rather than making a mockery of them. Oh, and please leave out women's dirty sheets. Seriously.
Annoyed? Angry? Outraged? Let me know on Twitter: @feministabulous