Caitlin Flanagan Trips Over a Shark

by Little Miss Attila on April 23, 2011

Prof. Althouse is taken aback; Prof. Reynolds is just disgusted.

I read Flanagan’s attack on the Greek system in the nation’s universities last night when Glenn linked it. It was truly amazing; I went to UCLA, and for part of that time I lived in an off-campus apartment just around the corner from fraternity row. I bore the Greeks no ill will, but it wouldn’t have occurred to me to go to one of their parties any more than it probably would have occurred to a frat guy to invite me to one.

We were in different social scenes, just as in high school I didn’t go to parties wherein people were listening to Led Zeppelin, as much as I can enjoy it now. (Well . . . not “Stairway to Heaven.” That was burned by too much airplay.)

Had I been invited to a party and decided against going, I wouldn’t have also withdrawn from college.

You’re an English major, Caitlin; go back to your room and read a freakin’ book.

In the past, Ms. Flanagan has peppered her subjective pieces with some real insights. This one was just flimsy, bigoted, and awful.

(And Stacy’s got some thoughts as well, but they amount to the usual celebration of male monsterhood. I recognize that Stacy has to walk a fine line, however, as an advocate for sex-segregated Puritan libertinism . . .)

{ 2 trackbacks }

Women Are Mean to Me : The Other McCain – women
April 23, 2011 at 7:12 pm
Does the Wall Street Journal deliberately run these articles … [Darleen Click]
April 24, 2011 at 8:46 am

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Texan99 April 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Stories like this drive me crazy. What is the moral supposed to be, that young women are too fragile to be allowed outdoors without a chaperon? That if you let them in your institution in the first place, you’ll have to remake it so that it’s a place of special security? Those were exactly the arguments that used to keep women out.

I’d cheerful cancel the charter of any frat found to have conspired in a violent crime. Until then, young women who can’t face frat rows because the architecture overwhelms their delicate imaginations should try attending a university without fraternities. My own alma mater had neither fraternities nor sororities, just residential colleges to which we were assigned randomly. Somehow, rape was never an issue. I lived in close quarters with men in co-ed housing. No one I knew ever had an experience evenly remotely close to being preyed upon sexually by a student.

It’s kind of the same way I react to most stories of sexual harassment. I understand the concept of violent rape, but I cannot in any way comprehend being intimidated sexually by a man who is not free to use physical force or a weapon — lengths to which the ordinary businessman in an office setting is not typically prepared to go.


Doc Merlin April 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm

You went to Rice?
I was at Baker, class of 2005. Which college were you at?


Texan99 April 24, 2011 at 8:05 am

Hanszen, class of ’78. Have things changed, do you think, from the point of view of male predators in the residential colleges?


Doc Merlin April 26, 2011 at 10:29 am

Rape really didn’t seem an issue. Guys who wanted girls found willing girls, girls who wanted guys found willing guys. People who didn’t want to be bothered were left alone.
There was some of people getting drunk together then making bad choices which is legally rape, but other than that, no.
The atmosphere if anything protected people, because everyone kind of knew what was going on and everyone lived together…. so it would be difficult for a predator to get away with their behavior.


bob April 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm

I went to UVA in the 1970’s and the experience was akin to yours at UCLA. The Greeks existed but in the mid 70’s they were sort of a relic. The vast majority of males and females lived in the Freshman dorms or off in the countryside, listening to Little Feat, the Who, and Bruce Springsteen when he came and played in an auditorium for one dollar. As a student it was academic heaven.

Interesting that Mr. McCain cites “Animal House”. I suspect the resurgence of Greek popularity at UVa that Miss Flanagan found so threatening was a direct offshoot of this raucous comedy.


richard mcenroe April 23, 2011 at 5:45 pm

I used to be an advocate of sex-segregated puritanical libertinism, but ever since I discovered computers my carpal tunnel won’t let me anymore.


kishnevi April 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm

“At once august and moldering, they seemed sinister, to stand for male power at its most malevolent and institutionally condoned. ”

A little overwrought today, aren’t we?

I also went to college in the (later) 70s, just after Animal House; I ended up as a member of Gamma Delta Iota, although about half of my friends ended up in real frats. This was at a true Southern school, complete with a chapter of Kappa Alphas going to their spring formal in Confederate uniforms. (Is there a KA at UVa? And if so, what did she think of them?! )
There was not anything very august or moldering about Frat Row, but I’m sure that if she had dared to enter those malevolent, sinister and moldering doorways she would have run out terrified an instant later. Not because of the frat members, you see. But because of the frat members general level of housekeeping, which was somewhere between nada and nothing. If anyone was raped, molested, or even merely annoyed beyond the usual parameters of college age behavior, the rumor never got to me. Of course, at this school the true scandal would probably have been drinking Pepsi on campus.


dicentra April 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm

It’s puritan to advocate for single-sex dorms?

Well, then, I’m a puritan. I don’t understand the point of co-ed dorms except as a way of hewing to the enlightened thinking advocated by “Three’s Company,” wherein we discovered that people like me are nasty, joyless prudes who hate sex or something.


Little Miss Attila April 23, 2011 at 9:12 pm

It is a bit much to agitate against co-ed institutions of higher learning. I felt that that was a bridge too far.


DonM April 23, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I briefly went to an all male institution of higher learning in New York. We used to refer to the local pizza parlor as the gay pizza parlor, because there were never any women there.

We did o.k. despite no competition from women. When I went on to real college, I noticed most women weren’t much competition there either. I hope things have changed now.


GCB April 23, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Oops. I didn’t realize that when I joined my fraternity, it meant I wanted to gang-rape women. I was just interested in drinking and watching ESPN, while blowing off school. Didn’t know I also signed up to oppress women with group sex. I guess I’m not actually gay.

Incidentally, many sororities (if not all) have rules against parties at the young ladies’ chapter houses. If those rules were relaxed, the social playing field might shift away from these scary places called fraternity houses – the places that are just so dadgum scary that women come and hang out every weekend.


Dennis April 24, 2011 at 4:51 am

Don’t you know that, according to feminists, you did that by simply being born male.
I used to be against coed dorms, but I am beginning to think that a place where one can see people as their brothers, sisters and friends might be a good idea. Of course things are going to happen, but that is going to do so anyway.
Both sexes are going to be increasingly living and working with each other and they need to see each other as more than just their sex. Now wouldn’t that surprise that I am a Conservative and the father of two lovely women and a passel of granddaughters and a son and grandson.
We need to see each other for the good that is in each of us even as we respect the differences which really provide a synergy that makes facing the challenges of life easier.


Micha Elyi April 24, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Coed dorms are where the females hog all the bathrooms, including the ones labeled “men’s.”


Dennis April 25, 2011 at 6:12 am

That is the way with all things female. Walk into any store and one will see that 75 percent of the store’s inventory is women centered. If men get 15 to 20 percent we are doing quite well. At least some of the clothing makers have finally figured out that men like colors other the blue, black, grey and white.
Enjoy it for it is never as bad as it seems.


Katie April 23, 2011 at 8:49 pm

In her piece, Flanagan writes, “Over a quarter of sexual-assault victims who were incapacitated reported that the assailant was a fraternity member.” Which is to say that a bit under 75% of sexual assault victims who were incapacitated did NOT report that the assailant was a fraternity member. Maybe we should make men all join frats, since, by Flanagans own numbers, non-frat guys are more dangerous? Right?


Steve S April 24, 2011 at 8:35 am

I had trouble with that stat, too. I see three cases:

1) Approximately a quarter of the male student body are frat members. That means that this is on a par with the assaults committed by non-frat members, and therefore is unremarkable by itself;

2) More than a quarter of the male student body are frat members. That means she should praise their forbearance and their more gentlemanly behavior, in that they are less violent than the student body at-large;

3) Less than a quarter of the male student body are frat members. In which case, why is she anywhere near them? Is there truly nothing going on in over three quarters of the male student body and wholly outside of frat row that is of any interest or attraction to her?

Wonder what she’ll do when she discovers that bad things – even evil things – exist in the big wide world at large?


jeannebodine April 23, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Thanks for speaking to my experience too. I hope the writer isn’t as awful as she seems in this piece. I just got a subscription to the papyrus/reed pen version of the WSJ (pricey!) mainly to benefit my husband and I almost lost my coffee over this,


Leonie Alemann April 23, 2011 at 9:07 pm

I was a commuter student; I walked to school from kindergarten through my bachelor’s degree. I was too insecure and immature to even consider living in dorms. I didn’t move out till I was 24. But even I, as an undergraduate, would have belted any Greek foolish enough to think he could mess with me. I also knew better than to lose custody of a drink, and this was back in the New Stone Age, before rohypnol or the abominable phrase ‘date rape’ had been invented. Predators in my day dropped LSD into your drink. I always figured that was why longneck beer bottles had been invented: they were easier to carry and your body heat would not warm up your beer.

I suspect my confidence in this matter was rooted in being the daughter of a Marine – turned – local – deputy sheriff. It was my job to handle this sort of interaction, because I was perfectly confident that if I was ever raped the perpetrator would never see a jail cell: my father had a double-barreled shotgun and several boxes of double-ought buckshot.

But I simply cannot imagine any woman old enough to attend college who is so lacking in self-confidence as to allow the architecture of a frat house to intimidate her so much she had to run home. If she can’t handle this, how is she going to handle an employer who talks straight at her and expects her to do her job just like every other employee, male or female?


ponce April 23, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Poor wingnuts, you’ve really lost Sugar Daddy Rupert Murdoch for good.

First he put a fork in Glenn Beck.

Last night he runs a bunch of ads supporting the locovore movement.

And now he prints this attack on the last bastion of the Republican demi-gods, where the chubby offspring of privilege go to acy out the fantasies of those most sad and confused creatures, the working class Republican.


bskb April 23, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Put the bong down. Dude, just because it is an article about college, you don’t have to partake.

It would be much easier to argue that colleges are bastions of liberalism and yet they claim a rate of 1 in 5 women being raped. Ah yes college, where every man is a liberal and a feminist until the woman says no. Then it’s time for a roofie-colada. Tell me, where can you find that among conservative institutions?


ELCoolJay April 23, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Ponce, if you are a locovore I hope you have a root cellar where you can store potatoes, sauerkraut and fruit preserves all winter. And smoke a whole lots of “cured” meats. (ever ask yourself what diseases those meats were “cured” of? )

As for those “sad and confused” creatures: I suppose you are comparing them to the clear-sighted and happy folks known as welfare recipients and rent-seeking minorities. Gosh, isn’t just terrible that those working class stiffs don’t recognize the joys of living off the wealth earned by others?

You’re a “ponce” all right.


ponce April 23, 2011 at 10:03 pm

In truth, I’m rather indifferent as to where my food comes from.

I am curioys why the locovore movement gets the wingnuts’ panties in such a bunch, though.

I suppose it’s the usual stuck in the 60s dirty hippies hating thing.


Dennis April 24, 2011 at 4:58 am

One has to recognize when a troll is seeking attention even if that is negative attention. Its all about them because they are nothing outside the persona presented on the internet.


john April 23, 2011 at 9:46 pm

“(Well . . . not “Stairway to Heaven.” That was burned by too much airplay.):”

…and it’s time somebody freakin’ said so. Right on, Li’l Miss!


serr8d April 24, 2011 at 10:35 am

I’m sure you’re speaking of “Stairway to Freebird” ?


Vercingetorix April 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm

“Male monsterhood?” WTH is that? Not all men want to marry the first girl they date. Many men want to have fun, sleep around, enjoy their guy friends.

What’s monstrous about men wanting to sleep with women? Clue me in here. I’m lost. I thought sex was a good thing.


Little Miss Attila April 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm

I was referring to his stills and clips from Animal House, which did not paint males in the most flattering light.

I was most assuredly not referring to premarital sex, which for the most part I rather enjoyed, back in my own wild days.


ponce April 23, 2011 at 10:11 pm

“I thought sex was a good thing.”

What girl wouldn’t jump at the chance to engage in 30 seconds of immobilized intercourse with a future Galtian Overlord?

Just because you can’t move doesn’t mean you can’t dream!


Little Miss Attila April 23, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Okay. Off the thread, Ponce.


JorgXMcKie April 23, 2011 at 10:26 pm

You folks need a better grade of troll around here. This one sucks.


Ric Locke April 23, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Nah, Jorg, it’s just ponce. Sort of an institution around here. A little more coherent than usual tonight, actually.



Porkov April 23, 2011 at 11:38 pm

In the late sixties/early seventies I lived for a spell with my sister and brother-in-law next door to ???. I had been in the Navy with my brother-in-law and worked with him at AT&T when that’s all the phone company there was. We all took classes. In addition there were two male and one female residents. They were friends of my sister and brother-in-law before they moved in. It was a big house – there was room. The frat boys next door considered us a hippie commune and we did nothing to disabuse them of the notion.

The one female aside from my sister had prime real estate – a good-sized room with a window facing the fraternity house. She was fairly casual about her privacy until the day she was naked – getting dressed in her room with the shade up and the curtain open – and looked out the window to see almost the entire straight membership of the chapter hanging out their window in rapt admiration.

She was furious! Furious! So she stomped over there in high dudgeon and gave them what for. There were abject apologies. The peep shows ended for the frat boys.

I wonder if she is Flannagan.


Porkov April 24, 2011 at 1:36 am

??? = three letters of the Greek alphabet.


Micha Elyi April 24, 2011 at 11:26 pm

It’s not a peep show when she’s displaying herself in PanaVision.


Peter April 24, 2011 at 12:14 am

Funny, I went to college right after I got out of the Service, back in ’70. then the big risk for young women was getting mixed up with the antiwar druggie scene. I ended up in a fistfight with a feller that put the last of his stash of some kind of drug in some cutie’s wine glass, the girl looked at me funny when I poured it out because “it had a bug in it”.

Ah well, after that semester my commission and job came through and I moved to the country and strapped a county cruiser to my ass. Two decades later my own little girl knew to never turn loose of her drink. The world is full of shitheels, only some of them join frats. Funny, though, most shitheels end up on the left.


Dennis April 24, 2011 at 5:02 am

One only needs to look to Woodstock, which was rife with rape, to recognize the truth in your statement.


Little Miss Attila April 24, 2011 at 10:14 am

I’ve had the “keep your drink with you at all times” talk with both my niece and my church sponsee. It helps that they don’t drink alcohol, but anything can be spiked.

And of course, there’s the “stay out of strangers’ cars” talk, as well. I get pretty adamant about that one.


Kat April 24, 2011 at 1:23 am

That poor child! So alone! So unable to cope with the harsh realities of the dark, cruel world! They shouldn’t just shut down the frats, they should shut down the whole frickin’ paternalistic University system! Seriously, she needs to be spoonfed her education in the safety of a warm and loving cocoon, gently rocking in the boughs of Mother Gaia.
Thank the gods for my wonderful children, if *that* one had been mine I probably would have eaten her at birth.


Little Miss Attila April 24, 2011 at 8:07 am

Gaia? She’s not a lefty; she is supposedly right of center.


smitty April 24, 2011 at 2:54 am

Why do you hate Hairway to Steven?


Little Miss Attila April 24, 2011 at 8:08 am

I don’t hate it, but I can’t go out of my way to put it on because of the saturation airplay it got in the 1970s.


Little Miss Attila April 24, 2011 at 10:23 am

And I see what you’re doing, there . . .


Paul A'Barge April 24, 2011 at 7:08 am

What is the moral supposed to be, that young women are too fragile to be allowed outdoors without a chaperon?

This is precisely the moral.

And, not only should they not be allowed outdoors without a chaperon, they should be forced to wear a covering over their hair. And their bare legs should not be visible.


Miss Conduct April 24, 2011 at 9:52 am

Whoever commissions these chick-written op-eds at the Journal has a good sense for what will cause outrage and squawking, and drive traffic to the piece for weeks. Hats off to this person, who is helping the WSJ become more interesting than the NYT.

The late and much-admired Cathy Seipp introduced me to Mrs. Flanagan’s work for the Atlantic. I have always enjoyed her work. She’s very good at what she does, which is cover … well, women’s issues: marriage, family, children. Mrs. Flanagan is a self-confessed liberal who claims to be conservative about family matters. She, herself, has made pretty conservative life choices. I am sorry to hear that she comes off as some kind of fainting Victorian with a dim view of the trustworthiness of young men. I haven’t yet read the article; I probably will, because this stuff is interesting to me.

Despite the strident claims by feminists to the contrary, rape is indeed a sexual crime. This is why the majority of female victims are young women. Noting this apparently now makes some men get the vapors as well. Someone, somewhere, has committed a thoughtcrime against men! Burn the witch!


Little Miss Attila April 24, 2011 at 10:26 am

It’s a crime that has aggressive and sexual components.

Flanagan is actually replacing Virginia Postrel, who has moved on from the WSJ to another project.


Virginia Postrel April 24, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Following WSJ style (as least circa 1984, when I worked in the now defunct Philadelphia bureau), Ms. Flanagan is *succeeding* Virginia Postrel.


serr8d April 24, 2011 at 10:44 am

I’m guessing Ms. Flanagan was no more welcome at the UVA sororities than she likely would’ve been at the fraternities. Something in her writing screams “JEALOUSY!” to me more than fear or dread.

Maybe she’d confused ‘Halloween’ with ‘Animal House’; her reaction seems more Laura Strode than Babs Jansen.


hstad April 24, 2011 at 11:59 am

Little Miss Attila April 24, 2011 at 8:07 am
” Gaia? She’s not a lefty; she is supposedly right of center.” – Evidence?

Born and raised in Berkeley, California, Flanagan holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Art History (now that’s a real education that adds value to our economy) from the University of Virginia. Flanagan was an English teacher and college counselor at the elite, private Harvard-Westlake school in North Hollywood, California before starting her writing career.

Ms Attila, ever read her “To Hell With All That”. In it, Flanagan, a woman with a millionaire husband, a Bel Air mansion, a full time nanny, a cook, a gardener and a maid, goes on to tell how hard it is raising kids as a millionaire housewife. Yes, this woman really is that unselfaware and “right of center” (you have got to be kidding me)!

Then there was her rant against school gardens last year. Apparently school should lift children up from getting their hands dirty. That is for the hired help.

The woman is just an idiot and needs real psychiatric counseling. She is one of those rare women who grew up wealthy and married a wealthy husband so that she has always been taken care of. She has no clue how real people live and behave, this WSJ article is just along the same line as her other published work – junk.


miriam April 24, 2011 at 6:06 pm

The really shocking thing to me is that the Wall Street Journal actually published this poorly written and juvenile piece of drivel. Have they no standards?


ponce April 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm

“Have they no standards?”

Well, not since Rupert Murdoch took it over.

It’s odd to see the fringe right suddenly start whining about the biased news diet they’ve been lapping up for years without complaint.


Darrell April 24, 2011 at 8:36 pm

How many jelly beans can you hold in your mouth, ponce?


ponce April 24, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Depends, Purel,

Is my mouth open or closed?


Darrell April 25, 2011 at 12:14 am

It’s got to make sense to be clever.
We may have discovered the Left’s problem.

Fill your mouth, please. That’s the only hope for choking.

TexEd April 25, 2011 at 7:11 am

Strange article. She goes to UVa (my house has a chapter there), walks by the fraternities and, within one week, quits, blaming the fraternities. What could have happened, if her story is true? In my experience in a top fraternity at a world class university, only one thing!
She was invited (she won?) to a “pig party.” A pig party is where you invite the ugliest girls you can find and then, award a prize to the most beastly. The girls, themselves are treated well, it is a fraternity party, after all, and most, never know what has happened. It is a risky activity because some members can’t invite their regular dates and must provide an explanation. The social relationships are interesting because there is a stigma to even being associated with one of the invited girls. No Kappa wants to know that one of her sorority sisters or pledges has been invited to a prime house’s pig party, much less won.
And, then, there is the risk of some/all of the invited girls finding out what is going on. Whether such parties take place today, I don’t know. But, this is what might have happened to Flanagan.


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