It's Feminism's Fault!: PJ O'Rourke Edition


"I blame feminism and Facebook for the death of the American automobile." So said NPR's PJ O'Rourke on NPR's Morning Edition earlier today. According to O'Rourke, feminists are to blame for the auto industry's decline because at some point in the 70s we stopped putting out in the backseats of cars and starting going to work instead. WTF, PJ?

Now, before you get your unisex underwear in a twist, I realize that PJ O'Rourke is a humorist (I do listen to Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! after all). His next sentence was "I'm a Republican, so I blame everything on feminism — or commies." So yeah, he's kidding -- somewhat. But he's still getting laughs at feminism's expense, and I personally don't think that he is 100% joking here. Let's discuss it further, shall we?

O'Rourke's main point seems to be this:

Anyway, feminism and Facebook killed the car. The whole point of cars — why boys had to have them — was girls. A boy took a girl for a ride in a car. Then they parked somewhere with a view — of submarine races, for instance. Or they ran out of gas. Or something, and ... gender identity! Leading to patriarchal social constructs, and — with luck — some smooching.

So I guess now that we can communicate online (Facebook) and we are less rigid when it comes to gender identity (feminism) there is no reason for boys to buy cars in order to impress girls anymore. But what about needing cars to drive around? What about women buying cars? What about those sexy Kate Walsh Cadillac commercials?

He continues:

Feminism didn't end the smooching ["yeah smooching!" -Kelsey]. But it did end a lot of marriages. Dad came home from the phallocentric office or factory, and Mom threw a Bella Abzug at him. Feminism also ended job discrimination against women. A woman could get hired as an able-bodied seaman, a man about town — even a strongman in the circus.

Call me crazy, but I don't think that ending job discrimination against women (an area where we've still got a ways to go if you ask me) is a bad thing. And I don't necessarily think O'Rourke thinks it's a bad thing, either. But does he make a valid point? Has feminism ruined backseat sex?

His main point, ultimately, is that young people (boys especially, obviously) don't care that much about cars anymore. In that, I think he might be right. After all, my headlight fell off on the way home from California last weekend and I couldn't have cared less. But is it really feminism's fault? Is it Facebook's? Or have we simply, as a culture, gotten over the initial excitement of the American automobile? What do you think?

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by Kelsey Wallace
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11 Comments Have Been Posted

RE: It's Feminism's Fault!: PJ O'Rourke Edition

Is PJ O'Rourke auditioning to become a shock jock? There is no logic to equating feminism with communism. (Maybe the isms got him confused.) People still drive cars. The problem is the American automobile industry is putting out an inferior product to foreign competitors. Aren't conservatives always singing the praises of trade and competition?

Does Rolling Stone still publish O'Rourke because they think he's hip? I haven't read that rag in ages.

I was a tad offended by this

I was a tad offended by this piece when I heard it this morning, but when I jumped on and looked at the comments, and most of them were "He doesn't hate feminists, it's SATIRE, people, get over it," I tried to let it go.

But now that you mention it here.... Why did he even need to bring feminism into this debate at all? He could have been just as witty (or not witty, because I didn't even think this was all that funny) with the technology piece. Or just kids getting to have sex at home, a 30-second monologue about which could easily avoid any discussion of feminism.

Anyway, a nostalgic look back at the days before feminism, satirical or not, just rubs me the wrong way.

You touched on this,

You touched on this, but...the math doesn't add up.

Seems to me that feminism meant twice as many people who need cars to go to their jobs. I would bet, though I'm not feeling like looking up statistics, that the percentage of people who own/buy cars went up considerably after the 60s/70s when more suburban (as more urban women already had jobs and probably used a lot more public transit) women got their own jobs and bought their own cars to take them there.

Duh, right?

Not to mention ...

In too many sidewalkless communities a fuel-powered vehicle is the only way to get around. It's even tough to get around by bicycle in some areas. Too few want to fund bike pathways and make streets safer for them and pedestrians. Those that do walk and ride bicycles often get whistled at, yelled at and/or middle-fingered by the fuel-powered vehicle-obsessed passerbys - especially the plus-sized and people who look as good as models and actors. Not cool.

Yeah, what she said.

Americans are no less car-obsessed now than they've been for decades, and we have higher carbon emissions and an obesity epidemic to show for it. For the sake of the planet, I wish feminism *had* killed car culture. Maybe we can work on that once we finish ending job discrimination . . .


...O'Rourke himself made an argument that suburban sprawl killed the car when he was on the Daily Show. His argument was that suburban sprawl has made the car a utilitarian necessity, rather than something fun and adventurous. I suppose it's to his credit that he knew the feminism-killed-car-argument would not have gone over well on the Daily Show. He also made the argument that teens don't need cars to have sex because they can now do that in their parents water beds with a vibrator. I shit you not.

....and he admitted that

....and he admitted that muscle cars actually didn't get him laid. So, WTF? Can we say someone doesn't know what girls want if it smacked him in the face?

Also, did anyone else find his flat-screen-tv-having-sex-in-your-parents-bed really freaking disturbing?

I know he's being satirical,

I know he's being satirical, but the pervading thought I'm left with is that people would and do believe this. His description of young men hunting women from their cars leaves with an image of those boys shooting a deer with their rifle out the window. Anyway, just because he's joking doesn't convince me that others don't believe what he says on a grander scale. Very unimpressed! (But I like him on WWDTM too.)

The backseat evolved

**Has feminism ruined backseat sex?**

No. Backseat sex has simply evolved. No longer the domain of teenagers, it is now the domain of parents hiding from their kids and/or trying to put some "spice" back into their sex life.

Or so I'm told.

I am a lady and I have a car

I am a lady and I have a car that I use to seduce men in the back seat! what what

Anyways I think that the American automobile industry is to blame for the death of the American automobile. They kind of suck, that is why a Toyota has been outselling American car companies for years

His opening lines make it

His opening lines make it seem like he is speaking about the fact that feminism is always blamed for the disintergration of this or that--- home and family values says the right and desexualizing men and fun with sex etc is said from the left. Mr O'rourke ends up doing just that...... -
-What the hell does "threw a Bella Abzug at him " mean exactly?
He is a pretty good writer, not a huge fan.

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