Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"oral sex was not invented in 1998"

Sometimes, it takes a historian. Tim Burke at Easily Distracted (aka Grampa Burke tells the Rest of the World What to Do, Dammit) has the patience to read Flanagan, and the post-Flanagan mail in "The Atlantic" and write a a rebuttal. This is, for me, the dramatic turning point:

"Reading Flanagan on this and other subjects is like watching someone superbly speed-assemble about three-quarters of a complicated puzzle and then getting stuck trying to hammer a piece that doesn’t fit into place. She gets the concept of a moral panic, she gets the skepticism, she gets the need for good sociological data, she even gets that what adults in the grip of a moral panic say girls feel isn’t necessarily what girls feel. Yet somehow by alchemical magic at the end of the article pornography, rap music, feminism, Flanagan’s inept mother who invariably appears at some point in everything she writes, the nasty urges and sexual confidence of dirty boys, and sex advice in mainstream media, all are responsible for causing an epidemic that Flanagan previously viewed skeptically."

And, by ODD COINCIDENCE, the very first comment on Burke's post mentions ye olde daycare moral panic. Which, given Flanagan's whole emphasis on the role of the biological mother and the trauma induced by a surrogate mother, in the Mary Poppins essay and elsewhere, seems to me no coincidence at all.

Remember the Mary Poppins thing? And then the CJR give credit where credit is due thing?

Burke's best point, however, may be his crit of the now-homogeneous-in-memory history of the late 20th century as brought to you by the popular press. Or maybe it's his claim, "oral sex was not invented in 1998," as above.

Categories: ,

9 Comments:

Blogger mzn said...

I saw the book today in a bookstore, the brand new Caitlin Flanagan opus. This brought on the familiar feeling of wanting very badly to buy and read a book I know I would want to throw across the room at least twice a page. I dread/can't wait for the raft of reviews that must be soon forthcoming.

So when was oral sex invented?

8:10 PM  
Blogger zp said...

I think emdashes saw some reviews of it already, but I was in a rush with the links.

And I might go to a bookstore and throw the book across the store, now that you mention it. That would be satisfying and then maybe I could get on with my life.

10:12 AM  
Blogger sepoy said...

Joan Walsh says she's had it! too.

2:48 PM  
Blogger sepoy said...

also, Alec Wilkinson's portrait of Pete Seeger made a wonderful bednight reading.

3:40 PM  
Blogger zp said...

I must. move. on.

Walsh does a nice job, but I hate all the dingy metaphors clogging up the argument . . . I think that's why I don't read Salon (and other things like) more regularly.

As for the invention of oral sex . . . I found a guy who might know. And he's writing for guess which general interest periodical?

3:40 PM  
Blogger EL said...

Might be interested in checking this out too:

http://www.observer.com/printpage.asp?iid=12640&ic=Books

3:52 PM  
Blogger zp said...

Maybe someday I will start a blog called I love The New York Observer. Except I would have liked to have written it years ago, before there were blogs.

Nice work, Jacobs.

And she's so concise too.

4:03 PM  
Blogger EL said...

I know. If only you had all the time in the world, you could do an I Hate or an I Love version of every NY publication.

New York magazine, Gotham Gazette, Village Voice, New York Press, etc, etc, etc.

I'd read them all. :)

Anyway, yeah, I've been reading around about the Flanagan and I found the jacobs piece to be the best-written thing I've seen so far on it.

6:35 PM  
Blogger mzn said...

Not on topic, but anyhow...

Did you really hate the muzak article? That's the only thing I've read in the magazine in the past few weeks that I keep thinking about. I love shopping music but I prefer the really uncool stuff you hear in supermarkets and department stores. "If you leave me now, you'll take away the biggest part of me" type stuff.

10:21 AM  

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