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Is this the most misconstrued male-written feminist essay ever?

I submit to you, the latest contribution to feminist-inflected introspection by Andy Hines. Over at Double XX, Hines writes:

I’m a stay-at-home dad to twin 4-year-old girls who are already smarter than me, and my wife is a brilliant doctor who kicks ass and saves lives every day. I grew up with big sisters and a mom whose authority was unbreachable. I celebrate every inroad that women make into business, technology, science, politics, comedy, you name it, and I get angry about “slut-shaming” or “stereotype threat” or whatever is the affront du jour. And yet, in the caveman recesses of my imagination, I objectify women in ways that make Hooters look like a breakout session at a NOW conference.

The breakdown: Hines experiences fleeting erotic images and fantasies when he encounters women in his daily life. The purpose of his essay is to explore the conflict between this (ostensibly spontaneous) behavior, and his felt commitment to feminism and to resisting the objectification of women by culture. He talks with some experts, he cites a Louie CK routine, and doesn’t make any philosophical breakthrough more profound than to acknowledge that a passing thought it less problematic than an objectifying action. It’s a piece of low ambition, but high (I’d argue) usefulness, insofar as many male readers will be able to easily identify with this internal tension between psychology and ethics. 

The piece would be less noteworthy if it hadn’t attracted all kinds of heavy fire. See the responses, ranging from scathing to incendiary, at Slate, NYMag, and/or Jezebel

Aside from being misplaced — and it is, it certainly is — all this vitriol is also counterproductive. In the interest of raising awareness, increasing participation, and promoting honest self-assessment, we should be encouraging the kind of introspective Hinds puts on display in his article. We need not laud the author for being in possession of objectifying thoughts nor for being gently self-flagellating about those thoughts, but we should applaud him for making his thought process about these issues public. 

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