The headline began with the use of the word “kids,” a slang word for children. Children dislike being reminded that they’re children, because it’s stereotypical, ageist and true. However, there isn’t much to scream about, given that ageism is a minor offense at the moment. Its day may come, like fat-ism or smell-ism. Whether or not there will be a stupid-ism remains to be seen. It’s not out of the question.
But the headline then went all parity, from kids to “girls.” Bingo! Crank up the outrage machine. What headline?
If I was to take issue with the headline, my problem would have been that it would appear to exclude “girls” from “smart kids.” It gives rise to an awkward juxtaposition, and that wasn’t its purpose. Elie Mystal saw the headline before it went live. He realized there were issues, but rather than edit (because, after all, he’s the editor-at-large), he decided to let his “columnist” get crushed under the bus.
I argued that we should pub Keith, unedited, and then have a “response,” instead of stealthily massaging an opinion people disagreed with. If we had done it differently, you people would have squealed like little bitches about “free speech” and “men’s rights” and “social justice warriors.”
The “Keith” referred to in Elie’s comment is Keith Lee, who writes a weekly post for Above The Law. Keith’s post is one of the few substantive posts ATL offers. Most are insipid dreck by unknown writers of little consequence or self-promoters mailing it in with as click-baitable a headline as they can muster. Most of its content aspires to shallowness, not that it seems to stop people from clicking.
I don’t begrudge Breaking Media, ATL’s parent company, the ability to earn revenues off clicks. I don’t begrudge David Lat’s and Elie’s ability to earn a living off clicks. But a business built on T & A, salaciousness and Herculean efforts to turn puny pedestrian legal stories into lurid tales of woe should be awfully careful when it tries to seize the moral high ground. Morality isn’t part of its business model.
Laying in wait was another ATL editor, Kathryn Rubino, who sprung her attack the next day:
If so, it didn’t have to be. Elie’s explanation doesn’t quite wash, since it’s the job of an editor to “massage” a post or headline if there’s an issue, and the excuse of “free speech” is nonsense, since no one would know that you did your job. But then, what would there be to evoke outrage?
Hi there. It’s me. Your neighborhood lovable ATL editor. We have to talk. See, there was some bullshit on our site yesterday. One of our columnists, Keith Lee, wrote some patently sexist shit, and I just can’t deal with it.
Perhaps Lee didn’t expect for his article to read as offensively as it does. But for my $.02, that only makes it worse. If “good” folks can reinscribe and fan the flames of this kind of demeaning and sexist rhetoric, without realizing it, it only demonstrates the pernicious nature of the power dynamics at play.
That’s right. It’s the “pernicious nature of the power dynamics at play” again. Another editor, Staci Zaretsky, does a thing she calls the “Pink Ghetto,” about the outrageous sexism that women lawyers endure. While the “pink ghetto” title reflects a misunderstanding of the phrase (it refers to jobs that are stereotypically held by females), and Straci’s daily indulgence in diminishing women in her “morning docket” column, the “shocking stories of sexual harassment” are not particularly shocking nor harassing. Damning with faint
praise outrage can’t be easy.
So too are Rubino’s screams of perniciousness.
That’s just a whole lotta “what the fuck” right there.
First of all, “girls”? No, there aren’t a bunch of 8-year-old female children entering law school. It is just a paternalistic and demeaning way to refer to women, all generally in the 22+ age range, who’ve decided to go the law school route. And there is not a single instance in the post (let alone in the title) where Lee refers to law school-bound men as “boys.” I know there are some readers out there who will snort and roll their eyes about this complaint, but women making career choices, like deciding to attend law school, should not be infantilized. God knows the student loan companies aren’t going to treat them like children, so maybe you should pump the brakes, too.
Interesting that someone at ATL thought the word “bullshit” too offensive to post without an asterisk, but “what the fuck” is perfectly fine. So Keith, using the word “girls” in his headline, infantilizes law school women “in the 22+ age range”? Does irony come in pink?
“Law Schools Turn Pink”?? Are you kidding me? Haven’t we evolved beyond the trite, binary BS? All girls like pink, and boys are in blue! Give me a break. Granted, this website has used the term for articles about the pervasive mistreatment women are subjected to in the legal profession, but there is something about reclaiming a term and inverting the meaning that is frankly not present in Lee’s article.
Sit down. I have something to tell you, and it’s going to make you sad. Infantilizing women, particularly ones who use teeny-bopper phraseology and multiple question marks in a non-ironic way, has become the currency of gender politics. Feminism today is built on a foundation of infantilizing women. Big girls concern themselves with equality. Little girls cry about the burn from seeing the word “girls.”
And don’t get me started on this line, or the stereotypical .gif that ends Lee’s post:
That’s right, girls just wanna have…law school?
If that is what you find outrageous, a reference to Cyndi Lauper’s anthem, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, then going to law school isn’t going to help you. If you don’t want to be treated like a child, don’t behave like one. And if this is what suffices to attack your own writer over the outrage you “just can’t deal with” at ATL, then you need to head straight for the puppy room. You’re not ready for the real world.