James Taranto Reads The Manosphere

One of my favorite regular readings is the Wall Street Journal Online’s “Best of the Web Today,” a daily links-based sardonic commentary on American politics and policy and the media’s coverage of both.

It’s written by Journal editorical page editor James Taranto. If I recall correctly Taranto once interned at Reason magazine, and as you might expect from his background and employer, his stance is a gentleman’s version of a Wall Street Republican – right-libertarian on business and economic policy issues, non-interventionist on social issues, and a pragmatic observer of the political machinery without getting too invested in the crossover with his own political viewpoints.

One interesting development over the years has been that Taranto has been dropping little pieces of Manosphere-type wisdom into his columns. For over a decade he has been responding to ridiculous trend articles by citing Sailer’s Law of Female Journalism:

This is another example of Sailer’s Law of Female Journalism: The most heartfelt articles by female journalists tend to be demands that social values be overturned in order that, Come the Revolution, the journalist herself will be considered hotter-looking.

I want to say he has also cited Spengler’s Law:

In every corner of the world and in every epoch of history, the men and women of every culture deserve each other.

Taranto’s column was probably my first exposure to both ideas. He has also started mainstreaming the idea of status anxiety (hypergamy) as a female mating factor, citing it as an explanation in articles where the contradictory nature of the modern educated woman’s desire for equality with a superior man is the elephant in the room. No doubt knee-deep in Manhattan’s surfeit of aging career women on the hunt for The Man Who Will Marry, I’m sure he’s well-versed in the language and rhetoric of urban mating.

Then last week, Best of the Web Today engaged in a full-on mocking of a familiar Manosphere voodoo doll, that of neurotic choice-single-mom and Atlantic writer Lori Gottlieb. It was Gottlieb’s 2009 article about “settling for Mr Good Enough” that appears to have been the opening salvo in the Atlantic’s descent into solipsistic misandry as an editorial value. Her most recent New Yorl Times op-ed piece complains about the higher rates and tighter restrictions of her new post-ObamaCare insurance policy, which provides great delight to Taranto:

This passage also caught our attention:

Like Bridget Jones’s “smug marrieds,” the “smug insureds”–friends who were covered through their own or spouses’ employers or who were grandfathered into their plans–asked why I didn’t “just” switch all of our long-term doctors, suck it up and pay an extra $200 a month for a restrictive network on the exchange, or marry the guy I’m dating. How romantic: “I didn’t marry you just to save money, honey. I married you for your provider network.”

We were taken with the irony of Gottlieb’s liberal friends, surely committed feminists to a man, advising her to seek escape from ObamaCare’s shackles in the bonds of matrimony. We tweeted to that effect–whereupon fellow Twitter denizen David Pinsen made a connection we’d missed.

It seems the same Lori Gottlieb was the author of a long article that appeared in The Atlantic‘s March 2008 issue titled “Marry Him!” and subtitled “The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough.” In 2010 she expanded it into a book, with the same title, sans exclamation point. (Its publication prompted an amusing blog post from someone using the moniker “The Last Psychiatrist.”)

So the woman who encouraged women to settle now won’t even marry Mr. Good Enough With Benefits. Are we to believe another perverse consequence of ObamaCare is that it’s inducing single women to become even pickier?

Taranto’s digestible, data-driven style is in fact an excellent advertisement for our community. The thing is that the Manosphere is not just a bunch of horny dudes spouting off about stuff that pisses them off. A lot of what we’re talking about has strong bases and tie-ins with social science and behavioral psychology. Taranto has obviously been exposed to both (he has openly written about his love for behavioral psych research as an antidone to wishful-thinking academic economics) and is folding them into his work. Game itself, for that matter, is the ultimate empirical study – its tenets are built on one criterion only: what behaviors have been repeatedly shown to work?

If the Manosphere’s ideas ever do go “mainstream,” it will be because folks like Taranto find ways to slip our offbeat and radical ideas into otherwise mainstream-respectable outlets. We’ve already seen that unfiltered Manosphere tenets are not suitable for a large audience, and most Manosphere writers are unpalatable to the public media and easily mocked by the Cathedral. If that doesn’t work out, they will simply bait and misquote us to build their preconceived conclusions into their stories.

Frankly I’m not concerned about mainstreaming either its characters or its ideas; we’re never going to win the battle for “serious” recognition as a thought group, and I draw little ego gratification from the idea of my writing being accepted by the body politic, and since I’m not selling anything broadening my exposure at the expense of writing what I want about what I want has little upside for me.

So if people want to know about the penetration of our ideas into society, a good barometer is that it’s right there in a well-read web column of a major national newspaper.


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3 responses to “James Taranto Reads The Manosphere

  1. tyrone

    If Taranto happens to read this, which he apparently might, he should read baumeisters works on sexual economics. It has huge potential further his popularization of issues like hypergamy.

    Off topic, just wanted to drop of this link. I hope the sphere moves more in the direction of this sort of game teachings:


    A lot healthier and more authentic and easier for people to digest.

  2. Titanium

    I stumbled upon Taranto’s column a while back and thought it I was on the wrong website. “How could the MSM be publishing this?” I thought. Today he has an opinion piece up about a campus sexual assault case and he references a “war on men.”

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