The gender battlefield in 2013: The good, the bad, and the ugly

The three silliest feminist outrages of the year. There’s quite an embarrassment of riches to choose from. How about:

* Men taking up too much space on public transit by sitting with their legs too far apart. Seriously, feminists? After being enlightened about this so-called issue, I actually started watching for it on several trips on the New York subway. Alas, about three-quarters of the people I noticed taking up an inordinate amount of space were women (spreading out shopping bags or sitting half-turned with a backpack occupying the next seat). This is worse than silly: feminist tirades on the subject feature startlingly hateful language (with sneering references to male anatomy that would be considered vilely misogynist if directed by men at women) and the use of people’s photos taken without their consent (something that the same feminist websites have railed against when it’s men posting “creepshots” of sexy women).

* Beef stroganoff vs. rocket science. The feminist blogosphere exploded over a New York Times obituary that opened thus: “She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. … But Yvonne Brill, who died Wednesday at 88 in Princeton, N.J., was also a brilliant rocket scientist, who … invented a propulsion system to help keep communications satellites from slipping out of their orbits.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that writer Doug Martin was not promoting stereotypes of feminine virtues but humorously subverting them, contrasting Brill’s traditional homemaker image and her very non-housewifely achievements (as some feminist commentators did point out). It is just as obvious that Brill was being honored with a Times obit for the science, not the cooking. No matter: in response to the outcry, the obit was rewritten to cut the beef stroganoff. (Speaking of stereotypes, isn’t there one about feminists and humor?)

* “Blurred Lines.” Robin Thicke’s hit single has been denounced as a virtual anthem for rape because of the “I know you want it” lyric—even though the woman addressed in the song is repeatedly invited to make a move on the man and explore her “bad girl” side.