Too Dumb for WordsMarch 09, 2008
So, by now, I’m sure you’ve all seen “We Scream, We Swoon. How Dumb Can We Get?” by Charlotte Allen, which appeared in last Sunday’s Washington Post. The blogosphere has been on fire with response and reaction to the gross generalizations and faulty science that Allen uses to justify her thesis that women are “kind of dim.” Most of them have said it much better (or more forcefully) than I could: examples here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, hilariously here—and even here!
The Post ran some comments it received on the essay and plans to devote a portion of this week’s Outlook to response. They also ran one rebuttal written by their legal administrator and another D.C.-area woman writer and another written by Katha Pollitt. Allen herself participated in an infuriating online chat to discuss her essay, but her answers remained as flippant and illogical as those set forth in the opinion piece. Don’t give her any credit. She freely admits that, while she meant the article to be funny, she wasn’t kidding; she really does think women are dumb. (She also has a curious definition of the term “history.”)
We at AAUW discussed whether we should bother to dignify Allen’s blathering with a response. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that our hometown newspaper—which also happens to be one of the most prominent, respected papers in the country—would publish something so illogical, mean-spirited, and insulting to its readers. John Pomfret, the editor of the Post’s Outlook section says the essay was “tongue-in-cheek” and supposed to be thought-provoking. Which is one explanation—except the article isn’t funny, and since when is calling someone stupid a way to stimulate intelligent debate?
If, as Pomfret claims, Allen pitched it to him as Obama-mania vs. Beatle-mania, how did this article, which uses the Beatles only to segue into more random and outdated pop culture references and malicious generalizations, end up on the front page of the Sunday opinion section? It’s disgraceful, and Pomfret should be ashamed that he let his desire to sell newspapers and ad space outweigh his editorial judgment.