Sigh. One day after the Washington Post published the op-ed by Charlotte Allen titled "We Scream, We Swoon. How Dumb Can We Get?", the paper has responded to the massive public outcry against the piece by stating — what else? — that the piece was meant to be "tongue-in-cheek" satire. John Pomfret, the editor of the paper's Outlook section, stated this morning that "If [the piece] insulted people, that wasn't the intent."
Ah, yes. The classic you-just-can't-take-a-joke defense, complete with ass-covering disingenousness. This, on top of the Post's previous cleanup tactic — changing the teaser of the story from "Women Aren't Very Bright" to "Why Do Women Act So Dumb?" — is, simply put, an outrageous attempt on the paper's part to try and justify what was clearly always meant to be a real, live, nonsatirical bit of misogynist tripe that, as a bonus, would yield massive web traffic. As one Politico commenter pointed out, the WaPo hiring Charlotte Allen — an Independent Women's Forum mouthpiece who has defended former Harvard president Lawrence Summers's claims that the girls just aren't cut out for science and written on how transgendered folks endanger the privacy rights of others — would be "like asking David Duke to write a tongue-in-cheek article about the inferiority of African-Americans."
We don't really need to rehash all that's wrong with the article, starting with Allen's reliance on the tiredest of stereotypes — women like shoes! And soaps! And they're bad drivers! The issue here is not that she wrote the piece — serving up steaming piles of woman-hate is pretty much the raison d'etre of the IWF, after all. The issue is that the Post, a paper so concerned with its flagging female readership that its ombudsperson recently reported on the formation of a task force to remedy the situation, is willing to use such thoughtless, offensive baiting techniques in the interest of grasping at web hits. Unless this is exactly what the task force determined would get women reading. Either way, don't let it stand: Write a letter to the editor (email@example.com), and tell all your pals to do the same — and be sure to call bullshit on Pomfret's lazy explanation. There's no "if" here: The piece was insulting, and it's not because women can't take a joke. It's because we're sick of seeing the worst examples of feminist-baiting misogyny proudly disseminated by the papers of record.