As Inkwell readers well know, Michael Kinsley was attacked and vilified in an email war by pampered feminist Susan Estrich. His sin: wasting valuable op-ed space in the L.A. Times on a brilliant piece on the dearth of female intellectuals by The Other Charlotte. Estrich was outraged. She felt that the space should have gone to one of her feminist cronies. 

In addition to being the powerful op-ed editor at the L.A. Times, Kinsley is one of the wittiest columnists writing today. He defended his decision to publish TOC instead of mediocre work by one of Estrich’s well-connected pals. But in Sunday’s Washington Post, Kinsley addresses the issue of female columnists in general — and some of the rubbish he dishes up cannot be allowed to pass without comment.

Kinsley begins by recounting a conversation he had with Maureen Dowd nine years ago when she was “anointed” a New York Times columnist: “I gave her some terrible advice,” Kinsley recalled. “I said, ‘You’ve got to write boy stuff. The future of NATO, campaign spending reform. Throw weights. Otherwise, they won’t take you seriously.’ The term ‘throw weights’ had been made famous by a Reagan-era official who said that women can’t understand them — whatever they are, or were.”

Kinsley continues:

“Dowd wisely ignored me and proceeded to reinvent the political column as a comedy of manners and a running commentary on the psychopathologies of power. It is the first real innovation in this tired literary form since Walter Lippmann. Eighty years ago, Lippmann developed the self-important style in which lunch with a VIP produces a judicious expression of concern by the columnist the next day about developments in danger of being overlooked. Most of today’s columns are still variations and corruptions of this formula. But Dowd is different, and she is the most influential columnist of our time.

“So the question is: Did it have to be a girl? Or could a boy have built an op-ed career out of feelings and motives and all that ick? The question is pressing because of the current controversy over the number of women’s bylines on newspaper opinion pages. (Only one in five or so at the Los Angeles Times and even fewer at the Other Times and The Washington Post.) As the guy in charge of opinion at the L.A. Times, I have endured some horrendous insults, such as being compared to the president of Harvard University.”

Leaving aside how silly it is for Kinsley to talk about girls and boys when writing about some of the most highly-paid and self-important people in America, he seems to imply that women and men as thinkers are intrinsically different. You can only do this if you suck up to the girls. Kinsley does. Although he’s being (girlishly?) coy, Kinsley is actually denigrating men who aren’t clever enough to build a career out of “feelings and motives and all that ick.” He’s also denigrating women — I support the notion that men and women are intrinsically different from each other. But to say that all we’re capable of is dealing with our feelings and other ‘ick’ is to fall into a stereotype that feminists first challenged but now — unintentionally — embrace. 

Remember how outraged feminist MIT biologist Nancy Hopkins got the vapors when Larry Summers said men and women might be different? Dowd’s icky brand of column-writing presents the same sort of caricature of women.

And, frankly, I could do without the ickification of the nation’s op-ed pages in the name of giving Estrich and her friends a chance to compete with fine female writers like TOC.  

(If you want icky, don’t miss MoDo’s column yesterday on women “X-Celling Over Men,” on a recent genetic study.)