The article has a heady title: "The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido." But the tweet the NYT chose to announce the piece gets more to the heart of the matter: "Opinion: If you let boys be boys, they will murder their fathers and sleep with their mothers."
This is pretty much the thesis statement of a rambling 1,500 word column that reads like some modestly popular Tumblr post evolved into a Huffington Post article that was caught by an editor and buried deep in the website. In the NYT, however, the article by Canadian writer Stephen Marche (a man, it bears mentioning) is a featured column, prominently placed on the front page of the Times' opinion section.
When people make broad generalizations like "the male libido is brutal" all I hear is "my libido is brutal." This piece says more about the author than men.— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) November 26, 2017
The article roams widely in its general condemnation of men, but its main point seems to be that the recent sexual assault scandals that have plagued the entertainment world are evidence of what men "hate to think about most: the nature of men in general." "Nature" is a word used six times in the article, with the general sense being that the nature of the male libido is "ugly and dangerous" and in need of change.
Marche's article unblinkingly cites sources such as radical feminist writer Andrea Dworkin (best known for arguing that all heterosexual sex is a "pure, sterile, formal expression of men's contempt for women") and, we shit you not, fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood and Bluebeard. Hard on the heels of Dworkin is what seems to be an admiring reference to "the great Catholic theologian Origen," who apparently "castrated himself" in order to preclude any possibility of sexual violence. Or something.
The New York Times folks. 😂😂😂Weird how boys were boys (yes actual boys) for tens of thousands of years and this was never really an issue. (Oedipus aside for all those who will criticize anything) https://t.co/mvWqHjRARH— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 26, 2017
No article on male libido would be complete with a pass through some pop-psychology, and Marche doesn't disappoint (or maybe he does, for any readers remotely familiar with psychoanalysis). Marche throws in references to Sigmund Freud's theory of the Oedipus Complex, the notion that young children develop unconscious desire for their opposite-sex parent and rivalry with their same-sex parent. These statements are made with no awareness that Freud's theories as-written (why bother to know any analyst after Freud? He's the cool one!) are at best controversial and, more importantly, apply to all genders. One can only imagine how an article titled "The Unexamined Brutality of the Female Libido" would go over.
Women are generally absent from his musings; evidently, Marche couldn't find better sources on the female libido than the legends of vampires and werewolves.
This is the New York Times. Disgusting. pic.twitter.com/QGFZVFdVyC— Nick Short 🇺🇸 (@PoliticalShort) November 26, 2017
The article also includes some healthy self-aggrandizement: a casual mention that Marche has been interviewed 70 times "by reporters from all over the world" on gender relations, discussion of his upcoming podcast on "modern fatherhood." Marche's article condemning the thoughts and feelings of three billion humans somehow manages to find time to say a few good things about one of those billions: Stephen Marche.
Marche doesn't deserve all the scorn, however — some should be spared for the people who have enabled him to disseminate his hateful, poisonous rhetoric. The New York Times, arguably the most decorated and famous newspaper in the world, has taken to publishing some miserable excuses for journalism lately: A Saturday article spent 2,500 words normalizing the views of an Ohio-based neo-Nazi and Hitler apologist, discussing at length his love of Seinfeld and science fiction like Pacific Rim. Scum, they're just like us, see?
Why did the Times run a piece that caused such controversy and criticism? For that very reason, of course. The contention was great enough that the NYT ran two follow-up articles on the piece: one addressing the glut of feedback, a second elaborating on the views of writer Richard Fausset.
image 1: nyt profile of neo-nazi— sean. 🎅🏽 (@SeanMcElwee) November 25, 2017
image 2: nyt profile of unarmed man executed by police pic.twitter.com/8RWOTtmuTo
They milked three articles, thousands of social media shares, and a minute of internet relevancy out of the odious views of a far-right white nationalist with no influence in politics or culture.
And like the neo-Nazi article, Marche's screed got people talking. It currently sits at number five on the "Most Read" section of the opinion page. It's received 1,370 retweets at the time of this writing — sure, most of the comments are mocking, but all attention is good attention, right?
Since 1901, the New York Times' slogan has been "All the News That's Fit to Print." We leave it to you to decide whether they are living up to that epithet or not.