Comments: Week of December 22, 2008

1. Alex Morris’s Gender Bender (December 15), about the rise in alcohol consumption among women and its link to gender equality, touched off some fiery debate. “There is a worthwhile discussion to be had about young women’s sometimes confused struggle for equality in their day-to-day lives—and how, by default, that can result in their acting the part of stereotypical men, in ways that don’t seem particularly healthy for either sex,” conceded Tracy Clark-Flory on Salon’s Broadsheet blog, who then went on to sharply critique Morris’ story: “Sure, you can look at the fact that they sometimes drink so that they can get over their fear that it is culturally unacceptable for women to pursue casual sex, and conclude that feminism is to blame for encouraging their struggle toward gender equality. I much prefer to conclude that it isn’t feminism, but the lack of gender equality young women are coming up against, that is to blame.” The Feministing blog put an even harder edge on the same argument: “Despite the picture that Morris paints of young feminists boozing it up (’cause it’s empowering and stuff!), we’re actually out there working our asses off.” Blogger Kerry Howley faulted the magazine for “treat[ing] the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) as some kind of objective brain trust, filled with people thinking new and Important Thoughts on the relative merits of those substances called “drugs.” But CASA is a prohibitionist organization.” And Jezebel took issue with, among other things, Morris’s example of a young woman who works in finance and feels pressure to drink as much as her male peers: “Wouldn’t a male teetotaler feel much of the same pressure to be included if he worked in the same industry? Somehow, I doubt that medical students and residents, male or female, feel any of the same social pressures to booze it up, since their work colleagues are not indulging in the same way.”

2. Nobody, not even angered feminists, can compete with the ill will directed at short-sellers, that rare breed of investor who profits when stocks go down, and so there were plenty of harsh words exchanged on about trader James Chanos, the subject of Gabriel Sherman’s profile (The Catastrophe Capitalist,” December 15). “When and if the tide goes out he will have been found to be a very naked manipulator of stocks that would have gone down anyway,” spewed one commenter on “He’s a lot like Richard Nixon in that respect.” Nixon? We have no idea what he means by that either, but you can tell that guy is angry. So is this one: “Short-sellers can’t be admired: Their business model is based on the ruin of others and the annihilation of all the worth created through entrepreneurship.” Or put another way: “That kind of evil karma is kept on the books somewhere.” A more supportive view of short-selling was occasionally voiced: “Someone want to explain to me why shorting is bad? If you believe in the efficient allocation of capital, withdrawing capital from bad companies and giving it to good ones should enhance our economy.”

3. If our recent 40th-anniversary issue (October 6) whetted your appetite for reading more about the city’s history as recorded in the pages of this magazine, you’re in luck—the first 30 years of the magazine is now viewable online, as part of Google’s new magazine-archive project. You can actually read the full contents of the magazine as they were published, with all photographs and advertisements, the whole deal (well, actually not the whole deal—there are a few gaps because we sadly haven’t yet located physical copies of all the issues). Among the articles we might recommend, should you feel like exploring, are Tom Wolfe’s seminal The Birth of ‘The New Journalism,’” which was published in 1972, and a somewhat lesser-known piece by Barbara L. Goldsmith that appeared in the fourth issue of the magazine, in 1968, and, as Wolfe recounted in the magazine’s tribute to its founding editor, Clay Felker (A City Built of Clay,” July 14), nearly stopped the nascent magazine dead in its tracks. That’s because the story featured a topless picture of the subject, an Andy Warhol–affiliated model named Viva. Many advertisers were scandalized, and Felker had to scramble to save his job and eventually lure them back, which we are happy to report he successfully did. The Google magazine archive can be found at

4. Of the 31 pages of great stuff that our critics and writers raved about in our year-end culture issue (A Mad Mad Mad Mad 2008,” December 15), wouldn’t you know that it was a tiny item on the single page that we devoted to the worst of the year (“A Few Sour Grapes”) that became a lightning rod. We speak, of course, of Beyoncé: “I believe that Beyoncé is pretty and that is all.” “What?!? Beyoncé is an amazing dancer and performer.” “Her voice gives me goose bumps—the bad kind. She dances like she is having a spastic fit.” “Stop hating!”

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Comments: Week of December 22, 2008