Quick snapshot: It happens every time!


Our Town's latest insight: What do we mean when we say it? When we say that we in Our Town aren't always especially sharp?

Concerning your understandable question, we offer a quick snapshot.

The Atlantic Culture Desk (clears throat) recently listed its 15 Best Books of 2020. Here's one of the capsule reviews:

Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women, by Kate Manne

Because of (gestures frantically at everything), this year I’ve been craving books that explore the world’s invisible scaffolding: the assumptions and incentives and habits of mind that shape the way people treat one another. Entitled, from the Cornell philosopher Kate Manne, does that and more. A sequel of sorts to her 2017 blockbuster Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, this book expands on the argument Manne made in the earlier work: that misogyny is best understood not as a personal failing but as a cultural system that keeps women in their place. With wincing clarity, Manne explains how a society that organizes itself around the wants and whims of men will radiate that bias into every area of life (pop culture, reproductive rights, a presidential campaign that began with a relatively diverse field of candidates and ended as a contest between two white, straight, male septuagenarians). Her observations offer that rare brand of insight: the kind so ingenious that it quickly begins to seem obvious.

—Megan Garber

We haven't read the book in question. We have no opinion regarding its merits. 

In truth, we were struck by the review, not by the book itself. Here's the snapshot in question:

According to the review, a society that organizes itself around the wants and whims of men will radiate that bias into every area of life. As an example, we're offered this observation: 

The 2020 presidential field ended as a contest between two white men.

Plainly, that last observation is true. It's also true that this was the first presidential contest between two white men since 2004! 

The contests in 2008, 2012 and 2016 could have ended up that way. But, in fact, they didn't. How can we explain that?

We don't know if this strange example comes from Manne's book itself, or if it was supplied by Garber. But here in Our Town, this is the way we tend to reason when we want to push Storyline in the regions of gender and race.

The others can see us behaving this way. We seem to have a harder time seeing ourselves in Our Town.

With respect to Professor Manne: With respect to Professor Manne, the last time she came center stage was when she was saying that we all should believe Tara Reade's accusation against Candidate Biden. Several professors told us that, even though they had no apparent way to know if Reade's claims were true.

Question: When's the last time you saw Reade's name mentioned here in Our Town? What ever happened to all the certainty that was once being voiced about that?

The others can see us doing these things. Are we sometimes just a tiny bit like Donald J. Trump in Our Town?


  1. "Are we sometimes just a tiny bit like Donald J. Trump in Our Town?"

    Alas, you're not, dear Bob. Donald J. Trump is a real person, and you, we're sorry to say, are just a bunch of talking-points-parroting robots.

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  2. "Plainly, that last observation is true. It's also true that this was the first presidential contest between two white men since 2004! "

    Somerby wishes to cherrypick a time period that contradicts the author's contention that presidential contests are between white men. So, he selects the ONLY time in our country's history where that has not been true, 2008-2016. It is more fair to consider the entire history of the American presidency, in which there has been only 1 non-white president out of 45, and no female presidents and only 1 party nominee who was female. Those are damning statistics and it is outrageous of Somerby to contest this point.

    Does Somerby truly think that this point about the lack of female presidents is contested by Obama's selection over Hillary in 2008? What is he smoking? Actually, this is a great illustration of how bigots encounter the world. He reads an innocuous review of a feminist book and has to say: "But, but, but...what about Obama?" As if Obama were somehow the token president meant to satisfy the demands for representation by all left-out and oppressed people in our nation.

    And then Somerby repeats something Manne didn't say, in order to disparage her book, which he admits to not reading. Manne and most other feminists and fair-minded women want the accusations against prominent figures to be taken seriously and investigated. That is what the word "believe" means. It doesn't mean that unverified accusations should condemn anyone, just on a woman's say so. But most men perhaps don't understand that this is far from what routinely happens when women accuse men of something. Their complaints are most often dismissed, ignored, argued away with no follow up. That is certainly what happened when that Nashville bomber's girlfriend told the authorities that he was building bombs in his RV. No one believed her in the sense that investigation was perfunctory and Nashville was bombed on Christmas because no one listens to such complaints. Manne and most women understand this. Somerby apparently either doesn't know what Manne is talking about, or he has an interest in misrepresenting her opinion, or both.

    Reade has not been mentioned because she was investigated and found to be not credible. This is very different than just ignoring Reade under the assumption that she could not possibly be right because Joe Biden is such a wonderful guy (that is the assumption granted to most men by male privilege).

    And no, Manne is not anything like Trump, although I think Somerby may be a brother from another mother to our President.

    1. OR the author sought to cherry pick a single presidential contest that confirms her contention.

  3. I have read Down Girl and thought it was great. Somerby should try it.

    1. Somerby took a young woman out to lunch and she gently mocked him for thinking it was a date, he has been on a tirade against woman ever since.

  4. “When's the last time you saw Reade's name mentioned here in Our Town? What ever happened to all the certainty that was once being voiced about that?”

    Back in May, Somerby claimed there was a “progressive stampede” to accuse Biden of sexual assault. (http://dailyhowler.blogspot.com/2020/05/accusation-meets-incompetence-is-tara.html)

    It really was only Manne and a couple of other liberal writers who initially found Reade credible or at least worthy of hearing. In fact, after more reporting about Reade, Manne publicly issued a retraction, via Twitter:


    So, contrary to Somerby’s narrative, Reade was given a hearing and found wanting, and she disappeared.

    Seems as though that’s the way things ought to work.

  5. The question never asked is that why do a lot of women support an admitted you know what grabber? The Kellyanne Conways and Kaleigh McEnanys of this world are never asked why they don't support equality for women. In other words, sometimes the biggest obstacle to equality for women are other women.



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