Iowa City is something of a home base for leftists in Iowa. We know what the rest of the state is like, considering they brought us Chuck Grassley, Steve King, Terry Branstad, and Joni Ernst. And yes, some wingbat awfulness does happen in our little enclave sometimes (it's fun to mock the street preachers, for instance). But it can still come as a surprise when some truly retrograde fuckery happens.

Enter Joseph Dobrian, who styles himself "Award Winning Author, Joseph Dobrian" (the award, incidentally, was second place in the 2006 American Society of Business Publication Editors "Best How-To Article" in a magazine with circulation under 80,000 in the Northeast region, so he's technically more of an award-runner-up rather than an award winner).

Mr. Dobrian, our New York readers might dimly recall, apparently ran for mayor of New York in 2009 on the Libertarian ticket, garnering 0.1% of the vote and for borough president of Manhattan in 2005, earning 1.17% of the vote then. So you know whatever he has to say is going to be a hoot.

That's why, following the lead of Ed over at Gin and Tacos, I'm going to approach this using the FireJoeMorgan format pioneered by now defunct baseball website, and provide you with something of a palate cleanser as you read the idiocy that is Joseph Dobrian's recent opinion piece in the Iowa City Press-Citizen, "Feminism doesn't empower women. It infantilizes them."

So, let the rending begin.

I saw a revolting image on Facebook the other day:

I'm sure you did, Joe.

a nude woman on whose face and torso several men had evidently just ejaculated. The caption said, "Feminism. Because being a housewife wasn't degrading enough."


I see why it's revolting now. It's implying that feminism is degrading, like bukkake. Although, is it degrading because bukkake is degrading? Can a sex act be inherently degrading? I don't think all feminists are in agreement on bukkake. It's great to have you offended on behalf of feminists, Joe. Solidarity. I look forward to finding out what wave you belong to so my questions will be answered.

Also, just saying, I doubt you actually saw this on facebook.

That accusation โ€” that feminism encourages such conduct โ€” might sound counterintuitive, but there's something to it.


Oh. Nevermind. You're not revolted by the implication of the image, but by the existence of feminism.

Granted, no woman who self-identifies as "feminist" would say that this behavior is what feminism is about. But the vulgarity currently associated with feminism โ€” the deliberate, aggressive flaunting of tastelessness โ€” certainly conduces to such memes.

Feminism is associated with vulgarity, so it's brought it upon itself. Good victim blame, yo.

I refer to "SlutWalks," where women parade in revealing, sexualized costumes to protest "rape culture";


Those scare quotes around rape culture are about to get you in trouble, dude. That's the only vulgarity I see here. Also, your punctuation should either be inside or outside your quotes, not strewn about willy-nilly.

Gwyneth Paltrow proudly revealing that she steam-cleans her "lady parts";

Goopy Gwyn has indeed advocated this, but while it may be odd and medically inadvisable, it hardly constitutes a vulgarity.

Gloria Steinem flaunting her "I Had An Abortion" T-shirt;

Again, waiting for one of these vulgarities to show up.

the Internet video produced by, a T-shirt company, titled "F-Bombs for Feminism."


Oh, here's a vulgarity. Phew. I thought he was just talking out of his ass for a minute.

That video features girls as young as 6 in princess costumes cursing and giving the finger to the camera. One shrieks, "I'm not some pretty f***ing helpless princess in distress! I'm pretty f***ing powerful." Another asserts, "My aspirations in life should not be worrying about the shape of my ass."

Yeah, how vulgar. The misogyny the girls allude to, that is. If Joe understood the video in the slightest, he would understand that he's playing directly into its gambit of drawing attention to how our society gets more upset about profanity and children than we do about misogyny.

(By contrast, last November, scientists landed a robot on a comet about 25 million miles from Earth. But the news, according to many feminists, was that one of the participating physicists was wearing a shirt silkscreened with images of sexy-looking women during the worldwide telecast of this accomplishment.)


Is there anything I can say about this that you haven't already thought?

Contradicting these "empowering" acts of lewdness are feminists' suggestions that women have no agency; that women can't act but are merely acted upon; that women can't be expected to make prudent decisions.

It'd be helpful, Joe, if you understood what you are talking about. It's not that women lack agency, but that their agency is curtailed and limited in various ways. That society expects women to be acted upon and not actors. If society frowns upon one gender doing something that another does all the time, it is not contradictory to expose the double standard and do it anyway. That guys like you then complain only proves the double standard to exist.

We see this in allegations of "rape culture" (the idea that rape has been normalized and made pervasive by societal attitudes).


I look forward to your informed, tactful, and expert analysis of how this is not the case.

We see this in the assertion that it's not consensual sex if a woman gets drunk at a party and does something she regrets later.

And it's not drunk driving if a man gets drunk at a party and does something with a car that kills someone later. Repeat after me, if you're drunk your ability to consent is compromised.

That kind of sex, we're told, is rape.

Yes. No consent means rape.

To suggest that the woman bears any responsibility for her own behavior is "victim-blaming."


Well, if you're blaming the person raped for being raped, that is by definition victim-blaming. But let's take this a step further. Of course the woman is responsible for her own behavior. But it's not her behavior that raped her. It's the rapist's behavior that raped her (notice, Joe, that I'm trying to avoid being heterosexist in my assumptions about who rapes whom). But you're so much more interested in the rape victim being held responsible for her own actions that you kind of forget there's a rapist who needs to be held responsible, and who very often isn't.

It's the man's job to determine whether or not this weaker vessel knows what she's doing, and protect her from Worse Than Death.

No, it's (following your example) the man's job to not rape her. Very simply put, if you aren't sure the other party is of sound mind, you don't do it. Because that makes you a rapist. And don't get me started on that weaker vessel bullshit. Ah hell, it's a double whammy. She's weaker because she's a woman, and she's a vessel because you've been conditioned to think of women as objects and not subjects with agency (which kind of torpedoes that dumbass complaint above). Gotta love when bigots contradict themselves.

(It's an unpleasant truth, but truth nonetheless, that some women get blotto so they can have conscience-free sex.)


Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz (aka "Mattress Girl") habitually walks around campus carrying a mattress, by way of complaining that her alleged rapist hasn't been punished. She never reported this alleged rape to the police and didn't report it to the school for months. When the school, and later the district attorney, investigated, they agreed that no evidence of rape existed. Yet Sulkowicz is outraged because the school won't wreck a man's life entirely on her say-so.

It's almost as if there's shame attached to rape, schools encourage students not to take things to the police (it makes the schools look bad), and police have a bad track-record of actually caring about rape cases (how many untested rape kits are out there?).


It's said that women never falsely accuse men of rape

Not never, just rarely.

โ€” but that thing that never happens just keeps on not happening,

It's almost like those cases make the news precisely because they represent something different from the norm in terms of rape.

from the University of Virginia to Oberlin to Duke. It keeps not happening, so often that there's a near-epidemic of this never-happens thing never happening.


By Oberlin, Joe of course means Lena Dunham and the fact that she and her editors tried to hide the identity of her rapist and wound up accidentally using the real name of another person who was at Oberlin when she was. That's not a false accusation, Joe, that's just an editorial fuckup.

Any woman who accuses a man of rape must be shielded from any scrutiny of her background or motives. If her story collapses, many feminists insist, she shouldn't be punished for bearing false witness: That would deter other women from lodging similar accusations!

Standing up and accusing your rapist is really hard to do. If every rape victim is subjected to ridiculous levels of scrutiny that don't attempt to uncover anything about the rape under investigation but instead try to uncover whether she ever wears revealing clothes, has sex, or isn't perfect in every way, then yeah, that'll deter women from standing up and accusing their rapists.

In other words, feminists demand that we withhold punishment when a woman lies, just as we might indulge a child who hasn't yet reached the age of reason.


Not quite, Joe. Feminists demand that we try to actually consider that women might be telling the truth and to at least treat rape accusations seriously, just like we might consider an adult man's story fairly. The only one infantilizing women is you, not feminism.

Yet feminists demand respect and equality.

Considering you clearly don't view women as equals and don't respect them, I should say the reason is obvious.

I'll keep saying it and saying it:

What's the name of your book of essays? Seldom Right but Never in Doubt? It might be worth doubting yourself if you're so wrong so often. Chances are pretty good you're wrong this time, too.

Feminism does not empower women. It infantilizes them.

No, I've pretty conclusively shown that that's you. Unless you've changed your name to Feminism.

It turns potentially strong, capable women into petulant, pearl-clutching, entitled, potty-mouthed little girls.



Oh, and the Press-Citizen originally concluded the article with the following disclaimer, which they have since moved to the article's comments section:

We would like to clarify that Opinion page columns do not express the viewpoints of the Press-Citizen or its staff. We understand not everyone will agree with every column that is published. But we also believe that even those who might hold a very minority opinion deserve the opportunity to express their viewpoint. We encourage anyone who disagrees with any opinion published in print or online, or would like to weigh in on any topic, to submit a column or letter to the editor to

Emily Nelson, community content and engagement editor

(I had intended for this comment to be posted as a comment and not at the end of the column, where it previously was seen.)


I think the Press-Citizen should consider adopting a principled editorial stance wherein the newspaper is not to be used as a platform for any and all comers to spout misogyny, racism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, or other hateful ideologies which actually harm people. But that's just me.

I'm thankful to Dobrian and the Iowa City Press-Citizen for for reminding us all that no matter how uninformed you are, how callous and lacking in even the basics of empathy, and how much you lie to prove your point (seriously, facebook bukkake?), if you're a straight, white cisman your opinion matters and deserves to be enshrined in the public sphere. Thank you, Iowa City Press-Citizen and Mr. Dobrian, for reminding us all just how important the perspective of the privileged is when it comes to the struggles of the oppressed.