Rayford Douthat

Rayford Douthat March 18, 2009

Brad DeLong takes a short break from making me wish he were working in Washington instead of Berkeley in order to highlight an astonishingly revealing and horrifying passage from Ross Douthat’s book, Tropic of Privilege.

Douthat, for those who don’t follow such things, is the young rising star of the conservative movement who was recently tapped to replace Bill Kristol  at The New York Times in the columnist’s seat to the right of David Brooks. Here, from the bottom of page 184 of Douthat’s book, is an example of the prose that the Times’ editors found so compelling:

One successful foray ended on the guest bed of a high school friend’s parents, with a girl who resembled a chunkier Reese Witherspoon drunkenly masticating my neck and cheeks. It had taken some time to reach this point — “Do most Harvard guys take so long to get what they want?” she had asked, pushing her tongue into my mouth. I wasn’t sure what to say, but then I wasn’t sure this was what I wanted. My throat was dry from too much vodka, and her breasts, spilling out of pink pajamas, threatened my ability to. I was supposed to be excited, but I was bored and somewhat disgusted with myself, with her, with the whole business … and then whatever residual enthusiasm I felt for the venture dissipated, with shocking speed, as she nibbled at my ear and whispered — “You know, I’m on the pill. …”

Brad discusses the contradictory and distasteful sexual politics underlying that passage, noting that Douthat has written this passage, despicably:
… with what look to be sufficient identifying details. You can write that paragraph in a way that is calculated to try to make her feel bad about herself should she ever read it; you can write that paragraph in a way that does not try to make her feel bad about herself should she ever read it; normal human sociability and empathy suggests that one should try to do the second; Ross Douthat chooses to do the first.

Amanda Marcotte is more blunt, calling this “patriarchal neuroses distilled” and an illustration of “how his supposed concern for fetal life is actually …  just a gloss to make misogyny and a hardcore virgin/whore complex look like something it’s not.”

I recommend reading the full posts from both Brad and Amanda. For my part, all I can think to add is this:

Good Lord — Ross Douthat is Rayford Steele.


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