Katie Roiphe and Her Neverending Polemic


The Morning After

by Katie Roiphe

Little, Brown, $19.95

Dear Crimson Arts,

As you know, I bought a new Macintosh 180 notebook last week with some extra money from the Evening With Champions fund, and boy did it pay off! You tried to convince me that an internal fax and modem was unnecessary, but last night I tapped into Katie Roiphe's E-mail account. Figuring out passwords isn't really as tough as I thought: Katie's was `mediahound.' Most of the stuff was pretty boring (it's a good thing Katie decided not to try and publish her poetry--that shit is awful) but I found one old memo which seems to be from a friend offering advice about how best to market her book. I thought you might find it interesting...




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I just received the galleys for The Morning After and I can assure you, you are going to be a big star. It's terrific that all this publicity coincides with your NYT magazine article: you're going to be known as the first of your generation to speak out against the intolerance of the women's movement.

There are, however, some points I'd like to raise. Now mind you, none of this is criticism per se; I'm just trying to anticipate some of the questions you might get on Donahue, etc. First: I forget exactly what justification you used for turning this into a book. As we discussed, there isn't any coherent thesis apart from a general sense of disgust, so why did you change the subtitle from "Rantings of a `90s Feminist" to "Sex, Fear, and Feminism on Campus"? The second title seems to imply that you have one coherent idea that you flesh out, and I think your little gem should be called what it is: a collection of brilliant and pithy aphorisms. Why limit yourself? You know, in these situations, I always try to appelle un chat un chat.

Also, I do need to admit that I am a little concerned about your increased use of stereotypes. We talked about this during our last tete-a-tete, and after just reading your Harvard thesis on Elizabeth Bishop, I need to say that you certainly avoided ludicrous caricatures there, so I know you can do it (I know, I know, I can hear you saying now, "But Elizabeth Bishop will never sell!!" and of course, Katie darling, you are right as usual. But still, exaggerating to such a degree can be so gauche.)

For example, in your chapter describing fellow students, you write that "Sarah wore baggy clothes in shades of brown and burnt orange. Looking at her, you couldn't see any curves or angles, just fabric. Her blond hair was short, and she wore an earring in the shape of a woman symbol." I worry that you make this description so exaggerated as to render it ineffective. (Although I do love your discovery of what it was Sarah had to hide, and why she felt the need to shroud herself in feminism: "I learned that what Sarah hadn't talked about all those years was her parents' Fifth Avenue apartment, the house in Southampton, the horseback-riding lessons she loved as a child. She hadn't talked about the check her parents sent her every month." Besides being so witty, it shows that you are not afraid of your privileged background or your mother's connections in the publishing world.)

Maybe you could make this chapter a little shorter; your description of that bitch Sarah certainly is funny, but I worry that your other student portraits might come off as nothing but a vehicle for you to get revenge for various college slights. Vendettas certainly are fun, but you need to exercise some restraint. After all, you are the one who is going to be a big star, and all of your former classmates at Harvard are going to be jealous of you, so there is no need for you to air so much dirty laundry.

Besides this, I think everything pretty much works. You succeed quite well in painting feminism in black and white neofascistic terms, and, since most of the country does not go to Princeton or Harvard, you should have no trouble gaining an audience for your claim that the feminazis at these pretentious Ivies clamor for the public castration of any man who winks at a woman. In general, I always encourage your approach, especially for first-time authors: take a solid, if unoriginal idea and make it as outlandish as possible. Of course feminism can become a mockery of itself, but who would have thought of turning this idea into a book! And sex will always sell: after all, and no one likes the fact that feminists are trying to do away with good, old-fashioned fucking. "Feminists are on the front line of sexual regulation"...indeed! And I know you don't want your sex regulated.

As you know, Katie, I think you are quite a jewel, and this book certainly proves that. Few authors I know can be so subversively ironic: your critique of feminism as a cult of professional victimhood is hilarious when juxtaposed with your constant complaints of being victimized by feminists everywhere! And your claim that date-rape hysteria infantalizes women and turns them into powerless waifs is so funny in light of you mocking and belittling those little women so relentlessly.

Katie, baby, you're heading for the big-time. There's no turning back now. And to think that at one time, you actually questioned whether it was better to be smart or successful. xoxo   Heather

P.S. I love the jacket photo! So chic! You're going to be the most desired author since Madonna. And don't listen to those stodgy old bastards who try and criticize your liberal use of facts--facts do not sell, sensationalism does. Don't forget me once you hit the big time.


I just checked with our lawyers, and I don't think we should have any problem with this. Read the book, if you get a chance--the parts about sex, the old Tommy's, and Adams House are great! I am, of course, angry that Katie failed to mention me, but, as, they say, c'est la vie!   Seth