Most of the ‘Bag’s contents deal with University of Southern California law professor/feminist commentator/onetime Supreme Court short-lister Susan Estrich’s mega-meltdown over my Los Angeles Times opinion piece “Feminist Fatale,” in which I blamed the dearth of female public intellectuals on credentialed women’s propensity to turn themselves into feminist ideologues rather than tackle larger questions of politics, culture, and the arts. When last heard from, Estrich had gone so far as to claim that Times editorial and opinion editor Michael Kinsley’s Parkinson’s disease had messed up his mind. (See also my posts here, here, and here.) So here goes:
From reader D.D.:
“Susan Estrich, it seems to me, is going apoplectic because more conservative women’s points of views are appearing in the LAT op-ed pages. Like Nancy Hopkins, who apparently almost fainted at the supposed outrageousness of Summers’ intellectual inquiry re women and science, Estrich and all the liberals are p—ed that we are seeing more attempts at opening up intellectual inquiry re so many central questions in our society today: ‘gender,’ terrorism, defense of democracies, etc. They are furious to see any weakening of their hold on what is considered acceptable inquiry.”
“Incredible to read Estrich’s comments. They are so feminist-trite–‘it’s so hard’ is a constant theme.
“I occasionally write book reviews for the conservative Oregon Magazine. One was about an intrepid British woman pilot, Mrs. Victor Bruce. The editor included at the end of the review some comments I made to him in e-mail…’The heroines of history, and the real heroines today, are not victims, they are doers. When they speak to us, in diaries and journals, in books and magazine articles, on television, it is not in the language of impotent complaint and hurt feelings. Achieving their goals requires no special treatment and they ask for none. They go after those goals and dreams flat out, utterly determined….We used to celebrate these people, root for them and take pride in their accomplishments. Today, we seldom hear of them in the media. The ones who get attention now are those who tell us it’s just too hard, life is unfair. They try to make the rest of us feel ashamed for being so self-centered that we take those night classes, or work that extra job, plug away single-mindedly, day-by-day, at making our own dreams come true. I’ve told the story of Mary Bruce because her life epitomizes the human spirit. She had a dream. And then another, and another. She achieved those dreams because she kept making the decision to pay the cost, and to never give up.’
“When I read Estrich’s comments…I thought about all the women of this nation who don’t whine ‘it’s too hard.’ It’s fantastic that IWF is finally giving them voice.”
“From Estrich: ‘The new men, led by my law school classmate Michael Kinsley, make no apologies for not returning e-mails, not following up on suggestions, canceling dinners with community leaders and never rescheduling, and not even bothering to live in the community.” But Robert Scheer–darling of the Loony-Tunes Left, lives in San Francisco but writes for the Los Angeles Times. Is it okay for him to live up north?”
“I agree with your assessment of Susan Estrich (she’s surely lost her mind), but strongly object to your implication that she’s on ‘every Democrat’s short list’ for the Supreme Court. I’m a Democrat, and if any Democratic politician ever proposed putting her on the bench, I’d seriously consider a party change.”
Ah, I know it’s hard to believe, F.N., but back in the ’80s and ’90s, Estrich was touted as up-and-coming high court material, and many were surprised when Bill Clinton picked Ruth Bader Ginsberg instead. Those days are gone, but remember that back in the Eighties Ted Kennedy was actually considered by many Dems to be a viable candidate for the presidency.
Reader R.Z. comments on IWF regular Cathy Seipp’s wonderful take on the Larry Summers brouhaha (a shorter version appeared in the L.A. Times and a longer version on the IWF’s home page. Cathy argues that maybe a lot of women aren’t in science because they just don’t wanna be in science. So here’s R.Z.:
“As the stepparent of a female MIT math major and a former classmate of Susan Estrich and Michael Kinsley, I offer the following:
“1. Anecdotally, I suspect girls who excel at math and science also excel at other things as well; and I’ve seen some oblique references in the media, including a National Review article several weeks ago, making that point. Boys who excel at math and science are less likely to excel in the liberal arts. Our daughter, for example, had almost perfect scores on all of her SATs, and was the deputy head chorister at the National Cathedral, as well as a model on Fox-TV.
“2. Anecdotally, this difference may lead to divergent career paths in late adolescence and early adulthood. Lab science is brutally demanding work. One summer at it convinced our daughter that it was not for her. Or, as my real estate-developer wife put it, ‘most women are too smart to work 80 hours a week for $60,000 per year.’ And the classwork can be boring. Would you want to do endless problem set after problem set or listen to Harvey Mansfield and Donald Kagan? Talented girls have more options.”
Finally, L.M. offers her comments on The Other Charlotte’s two fine takes on Judith Warner’s new book Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety (excerpted into a Newsweek cover story), in which Warner proposes expensive government programs to help high-achieving, upper-middle-class women like herself work through their mental problems over motherhood vs. career. (See TOC’s Newsweek: The Curse of Motherhood, Feb. 18, and The Status-Driven Mother, Feb. 20.)
“The author noted that raising children, and doing it well, plus working, was exhausting. Or that being stuck at home all day when you’re used to a working at a busy office could be boring….What was really annoying…was the suggestion that the government–that is, taxpayer dollars–are needed to lighten the load. Why should childless people pay healthy, college-educated parents to see that someone is watching their kids? Has it not occured to the author to move into cheaper digs, or use flashcards instead of a tutor? Or to have the kids pitch in around the house, thereby preventing them from becoming little princesses?”
My sentiments exactly. And why on earth should middle-income parents have to dig into their pockets to make upper-income parents feel better about themselves?