Yesterday I blogged about the wack Valentine’s Day e-mail that feminista activist and University of Southern California law professor Susan Estrich zapped to her gal-pals over a Sunday opinion piece I wrote for the Los Angeles Times arguing that ideological feminism was responsible for the dearth of female public intellectuals. (You can also read my essay, “Feminist Fatale,” on the IWF’s home page.)
Estrich took issue with the fact that the Times had dared to run an article written by someone whom she, Estrich, had “never heard of” (that would be me). Then, in a bizarre burst of non sequitur, she accused the Times, and especially its opinion-page editor, Michael Kinsley, of refusing to run articles written by women (Wha-? Didn’t he just run my article?), and she called upon “powerful women” like herself to start a letter-writing campaign and advertiser boycott against the Times designed to force the paper to establish gender-based quotas for women columnists. Estrich was especially galled that Michael had never answered the e-mails she had sent him on this topic.
Today Michael Kinsley tells his side of the Estrich story in an interview with the Washington Examiner, whose reporters, like everyone else in the country, got a forwarded copy of Estrich’s e-mail within hours. Here’s Michael’s version of the Estrich flap:
“The only discussion I have had with Susan since starting this job was a very pleasant dinner a few weeks ago. There were some accurate things in her e-mail, some inaccuracies, and some fantasies. I’m not getting into details.
“She is right that we should have more women writing for our op-ed page, and she is right that I am bad about answering e-mail, although she is wrong to think that this bad habit is gender-specific. What seems to have popped her cork, however, is an article by a woman that we did run. I’m sorry that she has ‘never heard of’ Charlotte Allen, but I think it may be possible to be a woman even if Susan Estrich has never heard of you. Even a member of the Independent Women’s Forum can nevertheless be a woman, perhaps.
“If Susan wants to boycott media institutions that don’t adequately reflect her progressive feminist values, maybe she should start by resigning from Fox News, where she is a commentator. Interestingly, her bio on the Fox News site credits her as a contributing editor of the Los Angeles Times.”
And IWF columnist Cathy Seipp, who also had a piece in that same Sunday opinion section (a longer version is on our home page) but who also apparently doesn’t count as a woman to the likes of Susan Estrich, writes about the flap in today’s National Review Online. (Don’t fail to click onto Cathy’s piece: She quotes even more delicious extracts from Estrich’s batty e-mail. And Cathy has posted the full text of said e-mail on her own blog, Cathy’s World.) Here’s an excerpt from Cathy’s take:
“The Susan Estrich e-mail bomb highlights a big problem with the women’s movement now: Its spokeswomen just don’t sound very smart, and haven’t for a long time. A few years ago Boston University journalism professor Caryl Rivers, railing against the notion of liberal bias in the media, complained in a Boston Globe opinion piece that [National Organization for Women] and [Feminist Majority Foundation] leaders don’t appear on talk shows or in newspaper opinion sections as often as those from the relatively tiny IWF. Rivers made a good point, even if it wasn’t exactly the one she was trying to make. Mainstream media are generally sympathetic to the NOW and FMF platforms, so if feminist leaders aren’t appearing on op-ed pages very much, the likely reason is they’re failing to come up with fresh or convincing arguments.
“Frankly I’d miss these girls if they disappeared, though, because they are such entertaining characters. Not everyone agrees, at least not at first. An irritable friend of mine, watching the news at my house one evening, yelled to turn the TV down whenever Susan Estrich came on ‘ her voice does make Carol Channing sound like a lyric soprano. But after a while he began to soften.
“‘It’s interesting and kind of a shame,’ he said thoughtfully, watching Estrich (volume lowered) on Fox News, ‘that for all the many opportunities open to a woman of such accomplishment and background — editor of the Harvard Law Journal, TV pundit, etc. — that one is forever closed to her: phone-sex operator.'”
Update: My favorite libertarian Catholic, Kathy Shaidle, posts a tip for Estrich:
“Memo to Susan: here’s a new ‘rule of thumb’ for ya — know that little ‘Forward’ button at the top of your email window? Other people have them, too!! Think about it mentally.”
Further Update: Here’s more advice to Estrich from The Anchoress:
“Susan, do you want to know why you and your Sisters-in-Sanctimony-and-Sizzling-Ire are not being invited on the air more frequently? Because you only know how to sing one note, and you sing it in the key of SHRILL. I am speaking strictly as a viewer here: I have completely stopped watching the ‘talking heads’ because people like you, and Ellen Ratner and Eleanor Clift cannot speak to an issue without your eyes and neck veins bulging out and your voices rising and rising like tuneless trumpets and trombones being played by elephants….
“Seems to me the best way for you to advance women into positions of prominence, if that’s what they want…is to get the women to take hold of themselves, and their teeming emotions, and you know…present oneself in a professional manner, voicing a reasonable position in tones that don’t make anyone wince.”