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    Monday, October 31, 2005

    Moron Dowd

    Oooh, clever title, right? Kinda seems like the nickname she might come up for herself if she weren't herself, doesn't it? Let me preface this post by saying that I know everyone's going to be talking about how Maureen Dowd's a moron now, but I've been saying it for years. Years.

    Anyway, it's too late to say much, so I am going to yield the field to some of the bloggers who got to this article while it was still fresh.

    If you don't want to wade through 7 pages of Dowd's dreck, No Oil For Pacifists offers a pretty thorough summary:

    MoDo meets wimps ("He confessed that he had wanted to ask me out on a date when he was between marriages but nixed the idea because my job as a Times columnist made me too intimidating. Men, he explained, prefer women who seem malleable and awed.")

    Modo reads romance novels ("Women . . . dream of being rescued - to flirt, to shop, to stay home and be taken care of. They shop for "Stepford Fashions" - matching shoes and ladylike bags and the 50's-style satin, lace and chiffon party dresses featured in InStyle layouts - and spend their days at the gym trying for Wisteria Lane waistlines.")

    MoDo bemoans fate ("Women moving up still strive to marry up. Men moving up still tend to marry down. The two sexes' going in opposite directions has led to an epidemic of professional women missing out on husbands and kids.")

    MoDo relives history--as farce ("I was always so proud of achieving more - succeeding in a high-powered career that would have been closed to my great-aunts. How odd, then, to find out now that being a maid would have enhanced my chances with men.")

    MoDo wants O'Connor's seat ("I figured . . . that America would always be full of passionate and full-throated debate about the big stuff - social issues, sexual equality, civil rights. Little did I realize that the feminist revolution would have the unexpected consequence of intensifying the confusion between the sexes, leaving women in a tangle of dependence and independence as they entered the 21st century.")

    MoDo blames Social Darwinism ("Men think that women with important jobs are more likely to cheat on them. There it is, right in the DNA: women get penalized by insecure men for being too independent.")

    Okay. So now you don't have to read it. You're welcome.

    Roger Simon:

    Dowd is baring her soul in a sense, trying to make heads or tales of the fact that some attractive, intelligent, powerful women like her find themselves alone in their fifties. Men, as she tells it, are threatened by them and would prefer to marry the likes of the Latina maid in "Spanglish." Dowd seems to have missed the key detail that the maid's daughter was headed off to an Ivy League education, but no matter. The movie wasn't Brooks' best anyway. Meanwhile, to augment Dowd's view, she trucks out some statistics to show that feminism is dead and that we're all sliding back to the land of Ozzie & Harriet. Evidence of this is that a few more women these days are staying with their maiden names after marriage. Ms. is out and Mrs. is making a comeback.

    Well, maybe. But whatever the case, Dowd seems to have missed the most astonishing statistic to be revealed lately. Fifty-seven percent of the college population is now female. Men are going to have to get used to intelligent women or turn celibate. An incipient social revolution may be in the cards that will dwarf the bra burning of the sixties.


    Sisyphus Shrugged kills me:

    also sprach Maureen Dowd

    I knew things were changing because a succession of my single girlfriends had called, sounding sheepish, to ask if they could borrow my out-of-print copy of "How to Catch and Hold a Man."

    because nothing is more indicative of the currents of modern culture than that the girlfriends of someone who uses her real estate on the New York Times Op Ed page to whine about not having a man should want to plumb the sources of her success with men.

    Me, I would say "Don't tell a few million people when the people in your life do something tacky" would be a good start at becoming someone who someone would want to share a life with, but I don't have a Pulitzer Prize.


    Maureen Dowd asks: "So was the feminist movement some sort of cruel hoax?"

    Me, I’m asking the same thing about the New York Times’ reputation for quality journalism. Apparently feminists have been letting Dowd down her entire life. For example, Dowd says a bunch of stuff I've put in italics below, to which I respond in plain old feminist-style type:

    “I didn't fit in with the brazen new world of hard-charging feminists. I was more of a fun-loving (if chaste) type who would decades later come to life in Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw. I hated the grubby, unisex jeans and no-makeup look and drugs that zoned you out, and I couldn't understand the appeal of dances that didn't involve touching your partner.”

    Those horrid "hard-charging" feminists were grubby, ugly, druggy people who danced without touching their partners, so of course Dowd didn't want to hang out with them. But she still expected to benefit from any progess they made.

    “In those faraway, long-ago days of feminism, there was talk about equal pay for equal work. Now there's talk about "girl money."”

    In the unlikely event that feminists are talking about "girl money" they probably are refering to gender equity in wages, or the concept of comparable worth. Men who vocally impute insubstantial earnings, or "girl money," to individual women without knowing their true circumstances are clods, not feminists. They are, however, evidencing accurate knowledge of a social phenomenon. If "girl money" talk is drowning out discussions about pay equity and comparable worth, maybe Dowd could look for clues about why this might be happening in the very pages of the New York Times.

    Word. It's amusing that Dowd is set on making it seem that "feminists" weren't talking about what was important. This coming from a woman whose greatest contribution to political journalism was the virtuoustic coinage of bizarre childish nicknames for members of our nation's cabinet.

    Steven Gomez rocks my world:

    Traditional marriage, the archaic perception of marriage and children as a perfunctory goal, rather than as a personal life decision, has cut off the non-traditional movement known as feminism at the knees.

    Okay, women, time to learn something new. Women historically learned to see marriage and kids as a goal in life. However, back in the day women had few options at best for life. You weren't allowed to work in high-level positions. You were expected to stay home, bat your eyes and look pretty enough for some guy to marry you so that you could do his cooking and cleaning (and with certain guys, take their beatings) for the rest of your life. Hell, until 1919 you weren't allowed to vote. Women were taught to pursue marriage because there was no other life for them.

    That's hot. Maybe . . . marrying a Harvard-educated sleaze and popping out something to fill the new Bugaboo isn't the be-all, end-all?

    Eensy Weensy:

    Privileged pedicure addicts may be tired of feminism, but middle-to-workingclass Americans and women all over the world are not. They're the ones fighting sexual harassment in the military, on the force, and at FedEx; they're dealing with the vanishing of safe abortion and accessible birth control; they're fighting for their very lives in Afghanistan, Guatemala, South Africa. "Power" feminists, like everybody, need to get their heads out of their own asses. Plenty of action exists below the fifth floor of various buildings in midtown Manhattan.

    -- As my brilliant Eric notes, any retrenchment into old-fashioned hetero-boring nuclear family values (which, by the way, is overstated -- see this single mama survey ) is more likely due to fear than to a widespread admission that women belong in the kitchen and the lingerie aisle. As civil rights and the social contract simultaneously decay, as the privileged perch higher on the edge of a glass bubble and everyone else struggles in an increasingly isolated and unsupported condition, we cling to what's closest and most familiar. It can seem easier to "bag a husband" than to imagine fixing health care or Social Security. To which I add, is it a coincidence that Dowd's retrenchment to 1950s fantasies of faux-security appears in the same Mag issue whose cover piece is all about how capitalist America is content to let its retirees rot in poverty?


    Bumblebee Sweet Potato:

    I'm frustrated that so many of these articles about the 'death of feminism' seem to focus so heavily on women of privilege, without mentioning the advantages that feminists have won for our working-class sisters. It's not all about the ideals of beauty and the what men are looking for in a wife. It's about the fact that generally, the idea that women are the property of the men in their lives is no longer widely accepted.

    So, you mean, feminism wasn't just supposed to make it easier to snare the rich executives?


    The Big Lie that Nick and Jessica tried to keep up episode after episode was that theirs was a traditional, male-dominated marriage. In a sad attempt to perpetuate this idea to themselves, they fetishized the fact that Jessica was a virgin on their wedding night, as if the fact that he had more sexual experience than her could really make up for the fact that she has more talent, fame, and most importantly, money than he has. Week after week, it was interesting watching how they would dance around the fact that he was always bossing her as if she wasn't the reason he was living in such high style. I thought it was hysterical how much self-delusion was going on.

    You could see a bunch of the typical struggles that come up between married couples, especially those who adhere to highly gendered views of themselves, but everything was filtered through this bizarre realization that Nick couldn't do what most men can and use their financial dominance as a weapon in these battles. Nick wanted to have more say in how the house was decorated so it wasn't too girly--too bad Jessica owned the house when they got married. He would yell at her for spending a lot of money on clothes and she was actually pretty admirable in her self-restraint in not telling him to piss off and that she would spend her own money how she damn well pleased. He was clearly uncomfortable with Jessica's endless stream of friends and relatives in and out of the house but he didn't have the "man is king of his castle" card to pull and kick them all out and had to instead lay around pouting and acting emasculated. Too bad for him, I thought, that she only had one virginity to give. I do believe they live in California, so the end result of this entire fiasco that's coming to a close as their divorce is being endlessly tracked in the tabloids is that Jessica is going to probably be paying him alimony. So much for the traditional marriage being something you can just will back into existence with a wish and a lot of blather about Christian values.

    I'm also amused that Britney Spears married a gold digger.

    Brutal Women is amazing; the best blogging on this piece so far, and my sentiments exactly:

    Yea, feminism sure has failed you, Maureen. I mean, look at all the quality men she missed out on dating:

    "At a party for the Broadway opening of "Sweet Smell of Success," a top New York producer gave me a lecture on the price of female success that was anything but sweet. He confessed that he had wanted to ask me out on a date when he was between marriages but nixed the idea because my job as a Times columnist made me too intimidating. Men, he explained, prefer women who seem malleable and awed. He predicted that I would never find a mate because if there's one thing men fear, it's a woman who uses her critical faculties."

    This isn't the first time that Maureen has lamented the fact that everywhere she looks in her NY City superset, men are marrying their maids, secretaries, and personal assistants.

    At no point does she question whether or not she or any other women with "critical faculties" would want to date these men anyway.

    In fact, this entire column feels like it's been written by a sixteen year old sitting at the front of the math class chewing her nails because "boys only notice the blond chicks."

    I recognize the tone because I, too, once worried and gnawed over the fact that I was invisible to all the tall beautiful blond boys in grade school. Once I did start dating in high school I tried to dress and act more fem in order to keep said man, since he, Cosmo, and my girlfriends seemed to think this was the only way to "keep" a guy, and keeping a guy was akin to finding the holy grail.

    Then I grew the fuck up.

    "Decades after the feminist movement promised equality with men, it was becoming increasingly apparent that many women would have to brush up on the venerable tricks of the trade: an absurdly charming little laugh, a pert toss of the head, an air of saucy triumph, dewy eyes and a full knowledge of music, drawing, elegant note writing and geography. It would once more be considered captivating to lie on a chaise longue, pass a lacy handkerchief across the eyelids and complain of a case of springtime giddiness."

    Who are these women? Why can't they find honest, meaningful relationships? Maybe because they're play-acting, pretending to be somebody they're not, and turning off both men and other women. So not only are they not getting laid, they don't have any friends either.

    Grow the fuck up.

    Another thing is the constant bemoaning of the "ideal" for women's bodies. I'm not saying that there aren't problems; there are. But to act as though there is only one acceptable image of feminine beauty now, whereas, in the past, diversity proliferated is absolutely crazy. You know all those "retro" pictures of 1950s women? They're pretty recognizable, no? They all look the same. That's why we think they're fun and kitschy. Now, we may not have as much diversity as we'd like, but the very fact that the article can name-check Jessica Simpson and Eva Longoria as if they are the same means that we have a lot more diversity now. Eva Longoria is a 30-something Latina. Jessica Simpson is twenty-years-old blond, blue-eyed, what we used to call "All-American Girl". Women in their forties and fifties make it on the "Hot-Chick" lists of "lad mags" these days and Black, Latina, and Asian gals (not mention Jewish women and other "beauty outcasts" of the bygone era), while still underrepresented, find their way into the pages of everything from Vogue to Playboy. Women below A-cup breasts are on the cover of Stuff as are women with E-cups. Yes, they're all skinny. But those glamorous old movies weren't populated by fatties either.

    I wonder how Dowd would feel about dating someone who was not as successful as she is. I can't picture her dating a guy who was working as a nurse, for example, or an assistant to an executive even. Maureen Dowd, to me, is making the "nice guy" argument.

    "The Nice Guy Argument" is the whining you hear from any guy who isn't a hottie-alpha-male about how "women only want jerks" (you'll hear the gay guys making the same argument about men, they're not off the hook). Who are these women who only want jerks? The women who are not attracted to the guys making the argument. And this is about a sense of entitlement: I want her, she should want me. Dowd suffers the same. All the rich New York men she craves are getting with their younger, "dumber" (because job=brain, education=intelligence) assistants rather than Dowd. But Dowd wants them; they should want her. When you can manage to be one of the most successful columnists in the country, despite not applying any effort or intelligence to your column, when you can be rich and famous and dress like that and hang out with the rich and famous, but you can't date the guys you want to date, that last bit seems like such a serious injustice! Which goes to show that class privilege is as insidious and internalized as sexism.

    Then, the women in their twenties and thirties are really stomping out your sexual embers with their non-stop Maximing and stripping. If only we were the Birkenstock-wearers of the 70s who made it so easy for red-heeled-Dowd to catch the big fish. That would make it a lot easier for her to get men to buy her drinks at the bar, which is apparently what life's about, and she could sneer at us and trade witty Hepburn-Tracy banter with the sexy rich boys about how sad all this feminism was.

    I think all that Dowd says about dating is true, in a way. If you simply want to "catch a man", you're probably better off getting implants and giggling vacantly. Because the men who are out there looking to be "caught" in such a way are going to respond to that. If you're treating men like animals to be trapped, you can expect to be treated like a sub-human yourself. If you want to find a partner and have a relationship rather than a life of "egalitarian" wit, those implants are going to get you nowhere.

    If you actually buy Dowd's piece, the logical conclusion is : Heterosexuality is gross.

    But, friends, it can be avoided.


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