Hail the Male
Fathers, sons, and ghosts of feminism past.


Lopez: Did Our Bodies, Ourselves destroy the world?

Parker: If you’ve seen a copy, you wouldn’t have to ask.

Lopez: Why should women be mysterious?

Parker: Because mystery is a woman’s best friend — as are pink lightbulbs.


Lopez: Are you afraid you’re going to have to say “The Vagina Diatribes and the Sacred Clitorati” — one of your chapter titles — on the air?

Parker: Yes.

Lopez: What accounts for the cultural penetration (sorry!) of the Vagina Monologues? How did decent people not stop this nonsense from being everywhere from Broadway to the University of Notre Dame?

Parker: The monologues are like other people’s children — interesting for the first five minutes. But once you’ve shouted the c-word in public, it’s done. There’s nowhere else to go with it — unless you’re five. Then you can say it again and again and collapse in giggles the way little boys do when they say really bad words such as “poop.” Women gathering to reclaim the C-word, chanting it loudly, is one of the stranger developments in feminist history. Now that we’ve reclaimed it, can we give it back?

Decent people didn’t stop the nonsense because Eve Ensler is a marketing genius. She tied her creation to serious work for women who seriously need it, donating millions to combat domestic violence and liberating women in oppressive countries. Very smart and commendable. Once the VM were viewed as attached to women’s noble causes, who would dare complain except a misogynist thug?

Lopez: Why do we need to save men from porn and how can we?

Parker: Because we’re buzz-killers? Men don’t want to be saved from porn, I’m pretty sure. But then alcoholics don’t want to be saved from alcohol (I know I don’t), nor do drug addicts. You get the idea. But when something you do for fun and frolic causes you problems in your real life, then whateveritis is a problem. Porn is causing big problems in relationships. Men increasingly aren’t interested in real women, who are viewed as bad dates. Women are increasingly hurt and intimidated by expectations they can’t meet and often don’t want to. Casual users of “tamer” stuff may not see the need to stop the flow of good feelings, but there’s cause for concern. The trend in porn is toward increasingly violent expressions of human intercourse, so to speak. The association of sex with violence and the extreme objectification of women can’t be helpful to men’s humanity. I happen to be one of those women who think men are capable of rising above their basest instincts.

Lopez: You write that “The ultimate act of emasculation is, of course, the elimination of man’s central role as father.” Have we done that??

Parker: Absolutely. Fatherhood has been increasingly diminished the past few decades. We applaud single motherhood, celebrate sperm shopping as though searching out that perfect pair of Kate Spades and otherwise treat fathers as optional accessories. All of this has been helped by mass media messages that men are buffoons or pedophiles and by a family court system that often treats men as visitors to their children’s lives.

Lopez: How did “shame attached to unwed motherhood serve a useful purpose once upon a time”?

Parker: It kept our knees together. Importantly, it allowed girls to hang onto their innocence a little longer until they really were women. Boys, too. I mean, boys could remain innocent, not become women.