This must've sounded edgy to Tina Brown: Get Katie Roiphe (the Katie Roiphe) to write about 50 Shades of Grey for a Newsweek cover story and watch the media pull out their hair and keel over. Unfortunately, everyone's too busy laughing to be outraged.
"Why surrender is a feminist dream," this week's cover attempts to explain. Even that phrasing seems a bit like heavy-handed troll bait, something both Roiphe and Newsweek know all about. And maybe the cover, with the blindfolded woman and the juxtaposing bold-faced words of "Feminist" and "Surrender" just isn't shocking the way it was in 1996 when Brown did it in The New Yorker. (Yes, The New Yorker!)
Get past the cover art and you get to Katie Roiphe attempting to take her signature contrarian route and explain that, despite what the media and news outlets have told you, 50 Shades of Grey, the literary sensation of the moment, isn't actually being read by the mommy generation.
Roiphe writes, "according to the publisher’s data, gleaned from Facebook, Google searches, and fan sites, more than half the women reading the book are in their 20s and 30s, and far more urban and blue state than the rampant caricature of them suggests." Though, if you're pitting data against generalization and "rampant caricatures," wouldn't any sort of data (even if it does seem like anecdotal data at best) always win out? She adds:
It is intriguing that huge numbers of women are eagerly consuming myriad and disparate fantasies of submission at a moment when women are ascendant in the workplace, when they make up almost 60 percent of college students, when they are close to surpassing men as breadwinners, with four in 10 working women now outearning their husbands, when the majority of women under 30 are having and supporting children on their own, a moment when—in hard economic terms—women are less dependent or subjugated than before.
And for the next three (Internet) pages, Roiphe, citing HBO's Girls and 2002's Secretary, explains to us the very "shocking" revelation (if you believe the Newsweek cover) that despite feminism, women—especially those who work—have lots of sexual fantasies, one of which is being dominated or spanked. So how did the Internet (and the Twitterverse) take this very serious revelation?
Gawker's Max Read:
Looks like FEMINIST HERO GLORIA STEINEM will have to find A NEW LINE OF WORK now that KATIE ROIPHE has blown BIG FEMINISM wide open!— max read (@max_read) April 16, 2012
The Village Voice 's Maura Johnston:
okay everyone, i'm going to take the Roiphe Plunge. if i am not back by 9:30 send help, or at least someone to clean up my exploded brain— maura johnston (@maura) April 16, 2012
Bloomberg's Elizabeth Lopatto:
Hey Gen-Xers, let's cut a deal. I'll explain dubstep to you if you explain Katie Roiphe to me.— Elizabeth Lopatto (@mslopatto) April 16, 2012
And one more for final measure:
Basically, the fact that anyone treats Roiphe as more than a huge, gross joke is somewhat odd to me.— Keyana (@keyanastevens) April 16, 2012
If you'd like to read what the Internet is laughing at, head on over to Newsweek.