Back in 2010, a bouncer told Manhattan attorney Roy Den Hollander he could only enter the Chelsea nightclub Amnesia if he bought a $350 bottle of vodka. At that same moment, that very same bouncer let in an attractive young woman for free. It was a clear human rights violation, mostly having to do with Hollander’s gender but also possibly his age. As he puts it, Hollander is “middle-aged.” He would not say the exact number to the New York Daily News, leading to this delightful sequence of paragraphs:
“If I’m hitting on some young girl at the club—and I won’t be hitting on an older one because they don’t look as good—if she knows how old I am I’m not going to be able to exploit her infinite capacity to delude herself into thinking I’m younger,” he said.
A search of public records revealed he’s 66 years old.
He is also a jerk, which is maybe what happens when you’re scheduled to live to 132. Props to The Angel Ben Gabriel for the link.
Hollander’s lawsuit against Amnesia did not succeed. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Alexander Hunter ruled that Hollander was the victim of neither age nor gender discrimination, which is both perfectly sensible and hard to defend strictly. Why isn’t it age/gender discrimination at the club? If I opened a chess club where old men got in for free and young women had to pay, it would seem uncouth if not downright illegal. In theory, ladies night at the bar is the same thing.
Hollander has sued several of those, too, and he keeps losing. That is because the American judicial system is not yet completely insane. Or, as Hollander puts it:
I was ticked off, but I’ve come to the conclusion that whenever I go into court and I’m fighting feminist ideology or political correctness, I’m going to lose. Either I’m a stupid lawyer, or I’m stupid for thinking the court will enforce the rights of guys.
First of all, don’t make me choose. Second, Hollander seems to be using “feminist ideology or political correctness” in the same way many people would use “conventions of society.” Ladies night is not oppression of men because A) it is primarily attended by men, who B) make, on average, 25% more than the ladies. While aspects of ladies nights or velvet rope policy can be called sexist in isolation, they exist in a broader context of male privilege that makes the claim of misandry absurd.
That’s called a narrative. Hollander is also operating within a narrative, but it’s one that actively contradicts the accepted narrative of male-female power dynamics by calling it political correctness. “Political correctness” is the best thing that ever happened to guys like Hollander, e.g. Rush Limbaugh, Andrew Dice Clay. The narrative of political correctness insists that, while discrimination against women and nonwhite ethnic groups may have existed in the past, the very consciousness of that discrimination—and certainly any effort to counteract it—means that white men are the most discriminated-against group in America today.
You can tell by how poor white men are, and how they are so disproportionately represented in prison and yet rarely seen in Congress. My point is that a master narrative like political correctness or whatever pervasive misandry Hollander espouses warps the way you think, even to the point of contradicting plain sense.* And it’s not just for law honkeys who can’t accept natural aging. Check out the XX’s foaming indictment of an Associated Press story.
A story about a woman falling to her death on a first date is interesting, possibly in a way that reflects poorly on our public character but not, immediately, in a way that reveals pervasive gender bias. The excerpted AP report progresses pretty much according to Hoyle: it tells us who she was in terms of her age and occupation, describes the circumstances under which she died, and offers a witness account of what happened. LV Anderson interprets that report as follows:
According to the AP story’s subtext, the problem wasn’t that Rosoff’s balcony railing was shoddy and unsafe—it was that Rosoff defied gender norms by being unmarried at 35, by being sexually liberal, and by insisting on making her own decisions instead of deferring to men’s logic.
That sounds kind of crazy. “I don’t think it’s safe to lean on that railing” is, coming from a man, technically an instance of “men’s logic,” but it at least seems borne out by the subsequent collapse of the railing and accidental death. All the textual evidence that Anderson cites is in the original article, but it only seems animated by gender dynamics in the context of a narrative that sees everything as animated by gender dynamics. “Unmarried 35 year-old woman” is a charged description if you are a Hollander-style chauvinist or an Anderson-style feminist, but for the rest of us it’s just a person.
So narratives are powerful, you guys. I think of you all as “guys,” because I trust you and want you to like me.