Rambling Laura Sessions Stepp Wrap-Up

So, the LSS I-95 Corridor Bonanza was last night. The NYC wrap-up comes courtesy of my new favorite (non-sports related) blog, Jezebel. Seriously, Jezebel is fantastic and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Last night my lady friend, Terri, and I took the Orange Line to Arlington Central Library. The gist of this event was a bunch of 20 and 30-somethings would stop by the library, check out all these charities that had set up little displays, and then listen to LSS talk about the importance of mentoring.

In other words, it would have been grossly inappropriate to ask questions about gray rape ("grape") and it was grossly inappropriate to go after her stupid book unless she mentioned it in her speech.

Well, of course she mentioned it in her speech. Of. Course. She. Did. Her speech about mentoring was like a 30-minute infomercial for Unhooked.

One of the things she said stood out though. She argued that true feminism was about choice. That the feminists of "her time" were interested in choosing to abort and/or choosing to have kids. Choosing to work outside the home or choosing to be a homemaker. Equal doesn't mean the same. And, man, I 100% agreed. Choosing to be a homemaker is just as feminist a thing to do as choosing to work 40+ hours a week while getting the equal pay women deserve. As long as the choice is there.

But that's not the book LSS wrote. She wasn't writing about how women should not be choosing to get laid. (And let's be honest, a lot of people like getting laid.) She was writing about women being the sexual gatekeepers instead of choosing to pursue. She was writing about women baking cookies to impress men. She was writing nonsense like "women should avoid bars, that's a man's place." LSS had left an opening and we were there to expose it.

After some friendly questions, Terri went up to the plate. She brought up the baked goods line and then added something LSS told the New York Times:

The quaint joy of being wooed is not among the most griped-about elements of “Unhooked.” That distinction belongs to this paragraph: “Tying one on can be fun occasionally. Just don’t let it take over your social life. Organize weekend getaways and other events to bring people together. Bake cookies, brownies, muffins. Ask your girlfriends for assistance. Guys will do anything for homemade baked goods.”

Ms. Sessions Stepp said she anticipated fallout from those lines, but was simply pointing out there are other things to do for fun.

“I said to my editor, ‘Should I use that line?’ ” Ms. Sessions Stepp said. “He said, ‘Well, it’s going to get some people mad, but you know what? That’s good. We like controversy.’ So I said, ‘Well, O.K., just so they don’t ignore my book.’ ”

So, that retarded line was kept in to generate controversy and sell some books. LSS is like some cross of Ann Coulter and Dana Carvey's Church Lady.

So Terri asked her how someone could mentor a young girl into conforming into typical gender roles and still call herself a feminist. LSS responded with something that directly contradicts the New York Times article by saying that she could have used any other example of an activity as long as the point was made that women don't belong in bars.

It was at this point that she lost the room.

I quickly raised my hand and asked how she could say "feminism is about choice" out of one side of her mouth while saying "ladies don't belong in stereotypically male environments" out the other. Her response that people, gentlemen and ladies, are only at bars to get blitzed and hook-up with some dude or lady was not well-received.

The next question was from someone asking what the problem with bars is. Isn't the dude you meet at a bar the same dude you meet at Gold's Gym or the library? Why does going to a bar make someone undateable?

And then the master of ceremonies cut the Q+A short. Victory!

But not before telling the crowd that some of the charity representatives were going to Carpool, a fucking bar!, after the event was over. After he made that comment everyone laughed and the MC blushed. He realized his error.

Terri and I left the event with people thanking us for our hostility.

My first confrontation with LSS was, alas, only a draw. (Warning: post made before declaring all-out war on LSS.) This second confrontation could only be interpreted as pure, unadulterated victory. We fucking got her. It's a nice feeling.

(This morning I realized a far better question, considering the venue, would have been if she mentored a 15-year-old girl in her book who was getting statutory raped left and right [including by an in-uniform Metro bus driver, ugh] to report these rapes to the police. That's what any mentor would do, right? I'm genuinely curious to see if she did the same.)


  1. Sounds like a verbal gang-fucking. Good for you.

  2. "LSS is like some cross of Ann Coulter and Dana Carvey's Church Lady."


  3. Wait a minute this happend in my neighborhood. In my local library. And I knew about the gray rape issue.

    How did I miss this event????

  4. I posted the invitation last Thursday!

    The only solution is to check this blog on a daily basis. Maybe even twice a day if you're bored.

  5. Heh. Clearly I need to read your blog more often then. :-)

  6. I was one of the people who thanked you afterwards. And I'll say it again: thank you. She's certainly free to excuse everything her generation did as a "political statement" and claim that we young'uns are destroying love, but I'm glad people are standing up to her and saying, "Um, no."

  7. "gray rape = grape"


  8. omg, I was IN THE LIBRARY when this was going on, returning a book! I heard one of the announcements on the speaker about it, but decided i was too tired to go and walked home intstead! oh oh how i wish that I had sucked it up and gone in!!

  9. Bee,

    Terri invented the word and she spells it "graype." I find "grape" to be way funnier, but credit goes to her.

  10. i just wanted to know how she could make such ridiculous conclusions based on six girls. SIX GIRLS. or women, depending on how old they are and if you're read her latest smutty article...

  11. I wish you'd come to Carpool -- the debate was over who came across as bigger douches, shrill Laura Sessions Stepp or the people who'd decided to hijack the Mentoring Fair with their anti-Laura Sessions Stepp-ism. Originally it was going to go to Stepp, but your vendetta-ish questioning made her come across as more sympathetic. Verdict -- a douche draw.

  12. Hijack? Really? Any group that asks LSS to speak on its behalf or at one its functions is getting what it deserves.

    Although I hope people signed up for Doorways and Big Brothers, Big Sisters and all the other nice charities.

  13. Miles --

    A few things.

    1. On your blog, you call her a "Pulitzer prize-winning journalist." If you are who I think you are, you also called her that in front of the crowd of people. She's not. She won the Pulitzer in the early 80s for helping to edit someone elses' series.

    2. You invited someone who sells books -- and gets attention -- on the basis of crazytalk and sexism to speak at your mentoring fair in addition to SELLING AND SIGNING THE BOOK we were asking about.

    If she had come there and talked about mentoring -- rather than reading from her book, talking about her book, paraphrasing her book, and then later trying to get people to buy her book so she could sign her book, I would have felt much less comfortable commenting on her terrible, terrible book.

    3. Two on-topic questions during the end of a Q&A session is a "hijack" of an entire event? Really?

    Did you go find the blog of the crazy lady in the crowd who talked about how her child's iPod and the Internet are ruining society? That was pretty off-topic, and I didn't consider that to a hijacking -- just kind of sad and funny.

  14. sexual gatekeeper?... like as in sought after by the sexual keymaster? *sings* there's something Graaaaaay in the neighborhood... who you gonna call?

  15. Rusty, I'm glad to see I can get my LSS hating on somewhere that work hasn't blocked - they just took away Jezebel! Waah...

    And yet Late Night Shots can still be accessed from my work computer at the CofC...well, at least I still have the fake account you gave me months ago. But the fun wore off.