Katha Pollitt: Hitchens and his writing on Women

Katha Pollitt in The Nation:

So far, most of the eulogies of Christopher have come from men, and there’s a reason for that. He moved in a masculine world, and for someone who prided himself on his wide-ranging interests, he had virtually no interest in women’s writing or women’s lives or perspectives. I never got the impression from anything he wrote about women that he had bothered to do the most basic kinds of reading and thinking, let alone interviewing or reporting—the sort of workup he would do before writing about, say, G.K. Chesterton, or Scientology or Kurdistan. It all came off the top of his head, or the depths of his id.

via Echidne, who has a few thoughts of her own to add.

By the by, I’ve noticed just how much this particular death has become a rhetorical football (although the drowned asylum seekers and the deaths of Kim Jong Il (eta: and Václav Havel) have also been similarly transformed): there’s a great deal of writing about all these people without much consideration for them as actual people with personal lives that mattered to themselves and others. I’m not sure it’s entirely avoidable when discussing high profile public figures with public histories such as Hitchens or Kim or Havel, but I wish more people were avoiding it when talking about the tragedy of the refugees.

Addendum: Glenn Greenwald’s article in Salon, criticising the hagiography of Hitchens simply for his way with words and militant defence of atheism, notes that Hitchens himself never flinched at harshly criticising people after they died (famously Mother Teresa, Princess Diana and Jerry Falwell), thus the hagiographers are expressly acting contrary to the way that their hero behaved.

Categories: arts & entertainment, ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, skepticism

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