It’s hard to escape a sense that feminists see the moment as one of sisterly revenge against men in general. Big-eyed Timmy didn’t call or even text you after that drunken hookup junior year? Well, you can’t do anything about that but you can delight in the fall of Lorin Stein, the Paris Review editor who apparently lost his job for no reason other than having had affairs with willing staffers and whose career now looks like the equivalent of a hapless business that got burned down because it happened to be located in a riot zone. Stein is, or was, a highly regarded figure in the literary world and his high status was surely attractive to many women. Dating consenting women, even professional subordinates, isn’t ordinarily misconduct, so feminists are falling back on calling it “an abuse of power,” as though workplace affairs weren’t as old as the workplace and as though women don’t use attractiveness to climb the status ladder. “Champagne anyone” was the Twitter reaction to Stein’s ouster posted by Moira Donegan, the creator of the “s****y media men” spreadsheet that crowd-sourced anonymous allegations of sexual misbehavior, seemingly for the purpose of destroying the careers of those on it. Stein, New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza, and several other men who subsequently lost their jobs were on the list.
Women feeling uneasy about all of this are feeling immense pressure to remain silent from peers, Roiphe points out, noting that she spoke to more than 20 professional women for her piece but none wanted her name to appear in it. Does it give feminists pause that women feel petrified to speak up? Is a movement that effectively silences even mild dissent by mostly like-minded people something to be proud of?