NOW’s Media Hall of Shame

I have one little word: Ugh!

Newsweek Glamorizes Women’s Submission

The article attempts to support its premise with the not terribly precise estimate that “between 31 percent and 57 percent of women entertain fantasies where they are forced to have sex” (according to Psychology Today).

Picture for a moment a mainstream magazine arguing that men feel there is something “basically liberating about being overcome or overpowered.” Imagine a male author positing that men have an “incandescent fantasy of being dominated.” And try, just try, to envision that cover with a blindfolded male model.

Is it paranoid to suggest that Newsweek and Roiphe intentionally portray women as fearful of equality in order to grease the wheels for rolling back their rights? Is it too extreme to suggest that the cover image and the article work together to convey the message that women want to throw in the towel on being in charge of their sexuality and their lives in general? Would it be going too far to characterize articles like this as contributing to a cultural environment where it’s not so bad when men physically assault women, even rape them, because that’s what women really want?

Roiphe argues that feminists are “perplexed” by the persistence of dominance/submission fantasies, but when Gloria Steinem tries to explain it, Roiphe shrugs her off, writing that “maybe sex and aggression should not, and probably more to the point, cannot be untangled.” Sure sounds like a writer with an agenda that’s hostile to women’s empowerment and safety. Not to mention the fact that Roiphe never asks why men might want to dominate and hurt women, and what that might say about them.