Katie Pavlich’s new book, Assault and Flattery (Threshold 2014), flips the script on the creaky old War on Women narrative of the left. Her book would be a welcome addition in campus gender studies programs, where it would do the most good in rebutting the industrial-size narrative about the oppressed role of women and how Democrats bring deliverance.
Naturally, nobody in any gender studies program will be adding Assault and Flattery to the lists of required reading for “Gender, Sexual Violence and Empire” or the “Harlots, Dandies and Bluestockings” classes this fall at Harvard. (Yes, weep aloud, as they really exist.) That’s too bad, because Pavlich’s book lays waste to the false narrative that the modern feminist movement, working hand in hand with the Democrat Party, does any good for women. Quite the opposite is true.
Pavlich provides example after example where the Obama administration has mistreated female federal employees, most obviously, choosing to pay them far less than male counterparts.
Not many books start with a warning. Assault and Flattery does:
Due to the vulgarity of many Democratic Leaders as well as the so-called women’s rights groups that defend them, this book contains language suitable for mature audiences only, or at least those with strong stomachs.
Pavlich doesn’t disappoint, taking on David Letterman’s jokes about statutory rape and Bill Maher’s demeaning characterizations of women — narratives surely absent from gender studies gripe sessions on campus. Pavlich particularly roughs up a left-wing Hollywood culture that will take a back seat to no one in treating women like objects.
But a chapter entitled “Barack Obama: the Most Anti-Woman President Ever” makes the book worth the read. She details the inside story of women enduring employment in the Obama administration. Not only are they paid less, they are treated badly. “I felt like a piece of meat,” Obama’s former communications director said in describing the atmosphere inside the White House. The book goes on to describe the harassment of women employees by Obama political appointees.
This narrative usually remains bottled up and ignored. Gender studies programs, ABC’s White House reporter Ann Compton and any outlet on the left ignore these inconvenient and messy narratives.
Pavlich traces out the modern left’s narrative about women — starting with the “rise of Femi-Marxism” now alive and well on a campus near you, to the final destination: votes for Democrats on election day. Pavlich details how the National Organization for Women even denied her press credentials to attend the NOW conference in Chicago. After NOW press flunkie Sarah Coppersmith (@SarahCopper) rebuffed Katie, Katie joined NOW to attend the conference as a NOW member.
And what as sight it was.
Empty seats. Empty exhibit halls. Lots of bumper stickers for sale. “Just say no to sex with pro-lifers” was one. “Don’t like abortion, don’t have one,” was another.
“The whole place had the feel of yesteryear,” Pavlich wrote. But Pavlich describes that the lone forward-looking component of the event was the political push for Hillary to run for president. No Palin stickers were anywhere, because after all, NOW really isn’t about women. NOW is about something else, and the bumper stickers told the whole story.
Politics, sex, abortion. Modern feminism captured in three short words.
Here’s a challenge to gender studies agitators on campus like Michael Bronski, Evelyn Glenn, Marilyn Frye and Katie Oliviero: have Pavlich address students in your degree program. Have Pavlich come to campus to talk about Assault and Flattery and how women are suffering because of the ideological constraints imposed upon them by the left, by your scholarship. I suspect no professor will have the guts to invite Pavlich, but we can dream.
You won’t get much out of the left-wing media about Pavlich’s script flip either. Dave Weigel over at Slate, for example, is hot to judge Katie Pavlich’s new book on appearances only. Scripts flipped indeed.