James Taranto: The WSJ's “War On Men” Crusader

Wall Street Journal editorial board member James Taranto defended his recent column that dismissed the epidemic of sexual assault in the military as a “war on men.” Taranto has a long history of making sexist remarks.

Taranto Claims Military Sexual Assault Epidemic Evidence Of A “War On Men”

Taranto: Effort To Address Rising Sexual Assault In Military A Sign Of “Effort To Criminalize Male Sexuality.” In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Taranto wrote that an effort by Sen. Claire McCaskill to address the growing problem of sexual abuse in the military was evidence of “a war on men -- a political campaign against sexual assault in the military that shows signs of becoming an effort to criminalize male sexuality.” [The Wall Street Journal, 6/17/13]

Taranto: “War On Men” A Result Of “Female Sexual Freedom.” On the June 18 edition of the Opinion Journal Live, a Wall Street Journal webcast that features members of its editorial board, Taranto doubled down on his claims, explaining that a military sexual assault case under investigation is evidence of a “war on men” that began with “female sexual freedom”:

MARY KISSEL (Wall Street Journal editorial board member): What a perverse outcome here. So you have this really accomplished woman, in this lieutenant general who's up for promotion, and getting held up by another woman because of the war on men. James, when did this war on men begin? Can you pinpoint a starting point?

TARANTO: Well, it all goes back to the beginning of contemporary feminism in the early '60s. You know, women wanted to be equal to men, they wanted to be able to do all the sort of professional things including the military that men could do, and --

KISSEL: Was there anything wrong with that, though, James? I mean, that sounds --

TARANTO: Well, that's too long to go into now, the question of what's wrong with that, but in addition they wanted sexual freedom. Well what is female sexual freedom? It means, for this woman, that she had the freedom to get drunk, and to get in the backseat of the car with this guy. There was another woman who accused him, he was acquitted in this case, of sexual assault. This so-called assault happened in his bedroom, to which she voluntarily accompanied him, even the jury said that was consensual. [WSJ Live, Opinion Journal Live, 6/18/13, via Media Matters]

Taranto Defends Column, Claiming Response “Proves Us Right”

Taranto: “Viciousness” In Response To Column “Proves Us Right.” In a June 19 op-ed, Taranto addressed critics of his earlier remarks, claiming the “viciousness” in response to his column “proves us right” that a “war on men” exists:

All this viciousness was in the service of denying that there is, as we wrote in yesterday's article, a “war on men.” Well, imagine if a prominent feminist journalist wrote about the “war on women” and dozens of conservative male writers responded by subjecting her to similar verbal abuse. Would that not be prima facie evidence that she was on to something? If the answer is yes -- and we'd say it is -- then either the same is true in our case or the sexes aren't equal. (Select one or both of the above.)

We can take the abuse. In fact, in this instance we delight in it, not only because we see the humor but because it proves us right. [The Wall Street Journal, 6/19/13]

Taranto Has A Long History Of Sexism

Taranto: “Salon's Joan Walsh Is Spoiling For A Catfight With Our Colleagues.” In his May 21 column, Taranto described criticism from Salon editor at large Joan Walsh by writing that she “is spoiling for a catfight with our colleagues Kim Strassel and Peggy Noonan,” and going on to claim that an earlier Wall Street Journal column “has Walsh's back up.” Taranto concluded by writing “Toward the end of her 700-word outburst, Walsh writes: 'It's wrong to dignify Noonan with too much attention.' Me-OW!” [The Wall Street Journal5/21/13]

Taranto Promotes “Evolutionary Psychology” That “Contradicts The Feminist Dogma That The Sexes Are Created Equal.” In his January 14 column, Taranto wrote that the theory of evolution demonstrated that "[m]en incline toward promiscuity, women toward hypergamy." Taranto concluded that “evolutionary psychology contradicts the feminist dogma that the sexes are created equal”:

Why would the New York Times, which scoffs at creationism, publish such an intellectually slipshod attack on evolution? Because evolutionary psychology contradicts the feminist dogma that the sexes are created equal, that all differences between men and women (or at least those differences that represent male dominance or superiority) are pure products of cultural conditioning.

Feminism is the new creationism. The left loves to scoff at people who believe that Genesis is literally true, but these days feminist beliefs are a lot more influential. [The Wall Street Journal, 1/14/13]

Taranto On Women Who Were Shielded During Aurora, CO Shootings: I Hope They “Were Worthy Of The Sacrifice.” Following reports that three men had died during the July 20, 2012, shooting in Aurora, CO, after shielding their girlfriends from the violence, Taranto tweeted “I hope the girls whose boyfriends died to save them were worthy of the sacrifice.” Taranto later called the tweet an “ill-considered tweet” in the Wall Street Journal. [The Huffington Post, 7/25/12

Taranto: “Feminism's Latest Triumph” Is That “Boys Are Afraid Of Girls.” In an April 13, 2012, column, headlined “Isn't It Romantic? Feminism's latest triumph: Boys are afraid of girls,” Taranto wrote that “there is good reason for males (men as well as boys) to be more fearful of sex than females. Contemporary reproductive technology and law place all the burden for unwanted pregnancy on them”:

At the same time, there is good reason for males (men as well as boys) to be more fearful of sex than females. Contemporary reproductive technology and law place all the burden for unwanted pregnancy on them. Between the pill and abortion, women have complete control over the reproductive process. They can avoid or end any unwanted pregnancy, and the man involved has no say in the matter. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the U.S. Supreme Court went so far as to hold that a married woman has the constitutional right to abort her husband's child without even telling him.

A woman's “reproductive rights” also include the right to carry a pregnancy to term. The crucial point here is that while the decision belongs entirely to her, in the event that a child is born the law assigns financial responsibility to the male involved. That is what the boy in her study means when he worries about being “screwed for the rest of my life.” Short of sterilization, the only way for a male to be sure of avoiding this fate is to abstain from sex. [The Wall Street Journal, 4/13/12]

Taranto: “Contemporary Feminism Is A Sweet Deal For Hedonistic Men” And “Based On A False Theory Of Equality.” In his March 12, 2012, column, Taranto wrote that “contemporary feminism is a totalitarian ideology” that is “based on a false theory of equality.” Taranto further wrote:

It is true, however, that contemporary feminism is a sweet deal for hedonistic men who have the social skills to persuade “young women of child-bearing age” to consent to “easy access sex.” When you look at it that way, you can understand why feminism's grandes dames are so keen to turn back the clock. [The Wall Street Journal3/12/12]

Taranto: Feminism “Has Helped To Create A Two-Tiered Culture” Where Women Are "'Chained To A Desk'." In his March 8, 2012, column, Taranto claimed that feminism has led to only affluent women being able to enjoy a “normal family life” in which they were “casting off the chains of professional work”:

Marriage and male responsibility for families were once the norm at all levels of American society. Feminism was supposed to liberate women from dependency on men. Instead it has helped to create a two-tiered culture in which the norm is for women to be “chained to a desk,” but those who hit the jackpot in the mating game can realistically aspire to escape that status. Nice going, ladies. Happy International Women's Day. [The Wall Street Journal3/8/12]

Taranto: Liberal Women Dislike Sarah Palin Because She's “A Threat To Their Sexual Identity.” On the January 27, 2011, edition of Fox News' Hannity, Taranto claimed that liberals' dislike for Sarah Palin “all comes down to sex. It originates with the liberal women and it's because they're -- she is a threat to their sexual identity.” [Fox News, Hannity, 1/28/11, via Media Matters

Taranto Called For A “Rebalancing Of The Burden Of Proof In Sexual-Harassment Cases.” In a November 3, 2011, column, Taranto downplayed allegations of sexual harassment against then-presidential candidate Herman Cain, suggesting that the women accusing Cain “took advantage of a legal regime that ... is highly indulgent of sexual-harassment allegations.” Taranto concluded by calling for “a rebalancing of the burden of proof in sexual-harassment cases”:

With virtually no facts available, a fair-minded person cannot possibly draw any conclusions from these stories. Maybe Cain behaved badly. Maybe the women were unhappy in their jobs and took advantage of a legal regime that -- especially in the wake of the furor over Anita Hill's unsubstantiated accusations of ribaldry against Clarence Thomas -- is highly indulgent of sexual-harassment allegations. Maybe the real story is something in between and involves elements of misunderstanding.


A consequentialist Cain skeptic might argue that it would be a good thing for the country if Cain's campaign fell apart even if by unjust means. We can't agree with that. If a rival campaign is behind this, it would be better if voter revulsion at such tactics sank that campaign -- and eventually prompted a rebalancing of the burden of proof in sexual-harassment cases. [The Wall Street Journal, 11/3/11]