Monday, November 14, 2005

Law Fairy's feminist rant of the month

I think it's been long enough since my last good whine that I can go ahead -- especially for such big news.

Apparently Article 3 Groupie (A3G) isn't the starry-eyed gossip gal of the judiciary she has long claimed to be. Rather, "she" is 30-year-old David Lat, an assistant U.S. attorney in New Jersey. HT: Evan Schaeffer.

I can't say I was ever an A3G "fan," but I did read the blog on occasion. I didn't like the tone at all -- the drooling adoration of the federal judiciary made me nauseous. In the interests of fairness and full disclosure, I'm big enough to admit it's partly a case of sour grapes (the goddamn feds didn't give me a single interview -- which, with my school, my grades, my resume and the range of applications I sent out, in addition to my rigid adherence to the advice of my school's clerkship guru, was utterly inexplicable, objectively speaking). But it also fits with my general anti-elitist ideology -- one that's gotten stronger as I've observed how ridiculous and arbitrary are many of the criteria on which elites base their decisions.

On top of my general distaste for federal drooling, there was something else about the blog that always bugged me. It was just so... damn... GIRLY. Not to be accused by anti-feminist types of being anti-feminine, I don't have a problem per se with blogs being girly, or even with being girly with respect to legal matters. Legally Blonde is one of my favorite movies. I think it's fantastic for women to be who they want and express themselves how they want in any occupation, including law. But Underneath Their Robes wasn't an intelligent legal blog in pink with sidelines about the author's pet chihuahua. It was a gossip rag masquerading as legal insight. I get that this makes it all the more intriguing for law students, who hunger after every detail of the coveted clerks' lives. But let's be clear about this: it was childish. Childish is all well and good, and childish and girly is fine too -- it's just not my cup of tea.

But now we come to find that the "woman" behind all this is in fact a man. Why did Mr. Lat feel he needed to hide behind a feminine mask? Perhaps he thought immature gossip was not the domain of proper men -- but as a woman, he could get away with it. Women, after all, have nothing better to do with their time (unless it's popping out the kiddies or fixing dinner, that is). I'm exaggerating, of course, and I don't want to be unfair to Mr. Lat. He may not have given the gender of his author much thought at all. It certainly makes sense to choose a female author for a blog like his; men don't "dish." As a woman, his blog would be more believable and more popular. But as a woman, his blog was all the more fake. Whether or not they mean to, men like Mr. Lat and the infamous Libertarian Girl reinforce stereotypes of women. The pink background, the giggly attitude, the anti-feminist positions on key women's issues: this is how these men want to see women. This is not how women see themselves. If I pretended to be black and organized my website in a certain charicatured manner and spoke out against affirmative action, and then it was revealed that I was caucasion, people would rush to cry "racist!" -- and rightly so. So where is the outrage over these men's actions? Why, instead, are they celebrated and interviewed by The New Yorker?

I really hope I'm not the only one asking these questions.


At November 14, 2005 at 6:28 PM, Blogger JCA said...

We're all men, actually. Of course we must be, because there are no girlz on teh Interweb!!11!

see also:

At November 14, 2005 at 6:33 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

OMG weve been found out!!1!!

At November 14, 2005 at 6:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto. As a Chicago grad-to-be with a very good average and no federal clerkship, I understand how easy it is to feel a little bitter once in a while. But then I step back and go, "what? why does this really matter?" and I feel much better. A3G only amplified my feelings on this point.

At November 14, 2005 at 6:49 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

anon -- I'm sorry. That's way sucky. I'm glad to hear you're managing a more mature attitude about it than I; much as I love the city and have many, many fond memories from law school, I kinda hate the school itself these days.

At November 14, 2005 at 7:55 PM, Blogger odderie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At November 14, 2005 at 7:55 PM, Blogger odderie said...

Starring OCS and the Hutch. Damn The Man!

At November 15, 2005 at 5:19 AM, Anonymous eve said...

I hadn't heard about that blog or that story, so I followed up on your links. I think you're right on about everything. Thanks for commenting on the situation and sharing the info!

At November 15, 2005 at 6:52 AM, Anonymous Half Sigma said...

Lighten up.

The giggly girly type of girl is a real stereotype, they exist, and people would rather read their blogs than blogs written by angry women who hate men.

At November 15, 2005 at 11:53 AM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

odderie -- DAMN him!!

eve -- thanks for the props! What's interesting to me is that men feel the need to steal OUR voice to be successful -- AND look how successful they are doing it. It's just sad, really.

half sigma (or should I say libertarian girl?) -- the fact that giggly girly girls exist isn't an excuse to perpetuate a negative stereotype. Come on, you know better than to rely on that tired old refrain. What people enjoy reading about depends on the person -- it might just be YOU who prefers to read blogs written by giggly girly girls than those written by angry women who hate men (though I'm having a hard time thinking of many blogs out there written by the latter).

I'll grant you this: people like blogs like yours and A3G's -- which is precisely the problem. We should be combatting these stereotypes, not reinforcing them. It's selfish to present a one-sided picture of an oppressed minority simply for one's own gain. My point was that we should actually think about why we find these blogs so "good" or "creative" or "funny" instead of just taking for granted that this is what women are actually like. There are plenty of smart, intelligent women out there who are feminine but not girly. Why don't you guys pretend to be one of those?

At November 15, 2005 at 6:49 PM, Blogger JCA said...

State court! Everyone should clerk in staaaaaate coooooooourrrrt!!

At November 15, 2005 at 7:12 PM, Blogger Gus said...

For the record, Miss Law Fairy, I've been reviewing video from last year's law school musical, and I must report that you made an excellent plastic--one of those to whose mold Mr. Lat formed himself. Clearly you have a bit of that girly-girliness in you.

Well, probably not--but I'll still make fun of you for it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go monger some gossip for the musical--and to do my nails.


At November 16, 2005 at 6:50 AM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

jca -- or clerk nowhere at all! Ha!

gus -- hush, Alterna-geek! Don't draw attention to me and my hot-pink nails! Helmholz might catch me reading celeb mags in the Oil and Gas final!

(as for your gossip-mongering: that's hot)

At November 17, 2005 at 12:07 PM, Anonymous Mansoor said...

"That's not your mother, it's a man, baby!"

You know, there's possibly another reason Mr. Lat went Madame Butterfly on his blog. You said it could be because men aren't supposed to "dish". It could also be that men are not supposed to show "drooling adoration".

Like, on TV and in movies (where I draw much of my evidence from), men are more like, "Yeah, she's hot," and then swaggers towards the woman and women are more like, "Ohmygod, he's so hot! Look, he's coming this way! Aieeee!".

Anyway, having come here from Martha Nussbaum's blog, I feel like I've spent way too much time in feminism land. I'm heading over to

At November 17, 2005 at 1:00 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

mansoor -- thanks for the visit!

I guess the drooling could be part of it too -- I guess I sort of see all that as wrapped in one big gushy mushy stereotypically girly package. I would argue that part of why men don't have to drool -- and why it's thus "unmanly" to drool -- is that for men, it's okay to step up and ask for what you want (e.g., hit on the hot girl) whereas women aren't allowed to be forthright about getting what they want. Thus, the energy they might otherwise spend on working to get what they want, finds an outlet instead in drooling adoration.

Crap! I made another feminist argument! Sorry, it's just so hard to stop myself because I'm SO RIGHT!!


At November 25, 2005 at 11:49 AM, Blogger SamuelAlito said...

I agree.

It's totally wrong for people to pretend to be someone other than themselves in a blog. Once I found out that Opinionistas and MimiNewYork were actually men, I really hit the roof.


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