I’ve enjoyed his scathing, ferocious approach to political reporting, but I just learned today that he takes the same ferocious, scathing approach to women. He and Mark Ames were columnists writing for an expat paper in Moscow years ago, and they apparently had a grand time being outrageous. When I first read a few quotes, I thought for a moment that they had to be faked — that these were ginned-up accounts written up by political enemies, of which they have more than a few.
But no. These were their own words. They wrote them up in a book-length account of their adventures in Russia. They were bragging about these attitudes.
It’s not ironic–Ames and Taibbi explicitly scorn the bourgeois safety net of irony–and it’s not just a rhetorical stance. “You’re always trying to force Masha and Sveta under the table to give you blow jobs,” complains their first business manager, an American woman, in chapter six, “The White God Factor.” “It’s not funny. They don’t think it’s funny.” “But…it is funny,” replies Taibbi. They take particular glee in trashing several former female staff members in print, taking multiple potshots at the aforementioned business manager’s “gorilla ass.” They’re equally nasty to her replacement, who quit in disgust after they went on a four-month “brain-sucking speed binge.”
It’s OK if you want to stop there. It gets worse. Much worse.
“You’re always trying to force Masha and Sveta under the table to give you blow jobs. It’s not funny. They don’t think it’s funny,” Kara complained. “But… it is funny,” Matt said. We have been pretty rough on our girls. We’d ask our Russian staff to flash their asses or breasts for us. We’d tell them that if they wanted to keep their jobs, they’d have to perform unprotected anal sex with us. Nearly every day, we asked our female staff if they approved of anal sex. That was a fixation of ours. “Can I fuck you in the ass? Huh? I mean, without a rubber? Is that okay?” It was all part of the fun.”
How about some pedophilia.
And Ames’s treatment of Russian teenage girls is documented with frightening glee. In the book he recounts one evening with an expat investment banker pal and what he thought were three 16-year-old girls:
“When I went back into the TV room, Andy pulled me aside with a worried grin on his face. ‘Dude do you realize…do you know how old that Natasha is?’ he said.
“‘No! No, she’s fif-teen. Fif-teen.’ Right then my pervometer needle hit the red. I had to have her, even if she was homely.”
Need some flaming misogyny?
After they do it, she tells him she has a three-month-old baby.
“It was hard to imagine that Natasha had squatted out a baby,” Ames writes. “Her cunt was as tight as a cat’s ass….I’d slept with mothers before–they’re a lot wider. Sex with them is like probing a straw in a mildew-lined German beer mug.”
Later he learns that she’s lying–she has no baby, but rather is four months pregnant. After she has an abortion, he writes about her in the Exile, suggesting that she be sterilized and awarded “one of those cheap trophy cups with the inscription ‘World’s Greatest Mom.'”
Ames and Taibbi rationalize their flaming sexism with the argument that part of the whole expatriate experience is to have one’s moral compass come loose. American men have internalized a sexual script that prescribes equality and respect, but “out in Russia,” Ames writes, “you gain a little perspective, which can be dangerous. Deep down, even the most emasculated, wire-rimmed glasses, cigar-smoking and martini-drinking American guy fantasizes about living in a world full of…well, I’ll let you guess: a) self-reliant, androgynous women who are also your friends, b) young, beautiful sluts.”
Let’s top it off with some rape.
He spoke about his sex life in Moscow. “Russian women, especially on the first date, expect you to rape them,” said Mr. Ames. “They’ll go back home with you and say, ‘No, no, no,’ and if you’re an American, you’ve been trained to respect the ‘No,’ because you’re afraid of sexual harassment or date rape, and so you fail over and over. But it took me a while to learn you really have to force Russian girls, and that’s what they want, it’s like a mock rape. And then you come back here and you’re really freaked out–because you don’t know if that actually exists deep in all women’s psyches, that that’s what they all want. All relations between guys and girls is basically violent, I think. It’s all war.”
These guys are dead to me. I regret buying a few of Taibbi’s books, but I won’t make that mistake ever again. I don’t understand how they even have jobs in media anymore.