GQ’s Jeff Sharlet pimps out Blair Braverman for clickbait

OK, so GQ has released its contribution to the recent parade of hack journalism about the Men’s Human Rights Movement. This particular balloon float of pristine yellow was inflated with hot air from writer Jeff Sharlet. I am afraid it won’t stay afloat long, at least to anyone capable of critical thought. Floats don’t do well when they are full of holes.

Jeff’s antics are plentiful in this unnecessarily long and wandering piece, dedicated to shaming men who see something rotten with modern feminism and painting them as the tried and true sexual threats in waiting that feminists are always wailing about. It will be best to make a few good articles in response; mercifully shorter and a good bit more honest than Sharlet’s.

Right now I want to address Sharlet’s anti-climactic attempt at playing the master “gotcha” when he shows up at my hotel room with Blair Braverman. Blair’s the girl who narrowly escaped the clutches of the sinister Sage Gerard earlier in the day when he almost raped her at the conference in front of (or maybe with the help of!) the Honey Badgers. Alas, another piece, another day.

Blair Braverman. When she is not the sidekick of a yellow journalist, she is a marsupial.
Blair Braverman. When she is not the sidekick of a yellow journalist, she is a marsupial.

Sharlet shows up at my room late. He is sans the bottle of Maker’s 46 he has promised but he has Braverman in tow. Jeff, being the astute, journalisticky guy he is sets the tone by saying, “Elam is pleased by the entrance of another female.”

Oh really? Mr. Sharlet is in my head now? I suppose he is gifted or something. Clairvoyant maybe? Anyway, I say that just to make a point. Setting the scene of your story with the writer mindreading doesn’t work unless you are Stephen King. One pass through Sharlet’s article will confirm that is not the case. Jeff continues:

“He fixes her with a gaze that says, ‘I really want to listen to you.’”

Well, at least he hinted at some reason to suppose what was in my mind, but it hardly seems remarkable. I seldom ask questions when I am not interested in the answer. That comes with warm and gushy “I really want to listen to you,” kind of vibe. But I have to pass on the gaze thing. Too many rounds of “evil male gaze” propaganda of late.

Jeff, courtesy of his mind and eye reading, has set up his scene now. He is going for the coup d’état, the inappropriate rape conversation….with a woman!

I’m curious,” Elam says. “What did your friends think when you told them you were coming here?”

“To be honest?” Blair asks. Elam nods. She says, “I had friends who said I’d get raped.”

Blink. You can almost see the struggle in Elam’s bones: Play the nice guy? Or the perv? No question. “All right!” he booms, swinging his arms together. “Let’s get started!”

Jazz winces.

“Get the video camera!” Factory yells at his girlfriend, who giggles weakly.

I should be very clear here: At no point does it seem like Elam or Factory is actually going to rape Blair. We know they’re joking. Just a couple of middle-aged guys joking around about rape with a young woman they’ve never met before in a hotel room at one in the morning.”

Yes Jeff, there we were, a couple of middle-aged guys, joking about rape at one in the morning with the girl (much more on her later), who you brought to our hotel room — who had also just walked in with you after friends told her she was going to get raped. The same girl you had already sent after Sage Gerard earlier.

Pretty freaking funny if you ask me. Sharlet actually missed some of our best lines that night.

And I need to come back to something else you said, Jeff, if you don’t mind us speaking so intimately here in front of the world. This:

I should be very clear here: At no point does it seem like Elam or Factory is actually going to rape Blair. We know they’re joking.”

I am so thankful for your concern to be so clear with your readers, but I don’t really think they are that stupid.

Let’s see, a girl enters a room with a journalist. The room is occupied by two or three men, including the girl’s boyfriend, a clinical psychologist and another woman. The girl informs the group she has been told she will be raped if she comes there, and we all laugh it up.

If your readers at GQ need it so “clearly” pointed out that this is not a serious rape threat to pretty young Blair, then I would suggest submitting your work here. We don’t pay, but at least you won’t be writing for impressionable morons who would need that explained.

By the way, Blair is into dogs, but I want to make it perfectly clear that I don’t mean that in a sexual way.

Clearly Jeff examined what he had written at this point, and in a fit of hopelessness blathered away his account of the rest of the evening on a diatribe of “These guys actually think men have problems, hardy har har harr.”

It is good fodder, I suppose, when you don’t respect your audience enough to be honest with them. Concerns about false rape accusations are easy to paint as paranoid, even when it has happened to the men you are mischaracterizing. Easier still to attribute even more paranoia about the mainstream media, even when you are the mainstream media, and you have shown up there with a plant to help you create the story you want to write. And when you are busy cherry picking quotes, making fun of us for taking issue with cherry picking quotes.

There was a time when places like GQ and, duh, Rolling Stone, would take serious issue with a “journalist” manufacturing a story. But we all know those days are gone, don’t we Jeffy? It’s all about the clicks and the bucks.

It’s all Buzzfeed now, ain’t it?

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