Friday, November 04, 2005


War is everywhere: the Iraq War (over, and yet not over), the War on Terrorism, the War between the Sexes. Depressing, scary, frivolous. Which would you go with as a post topic? Well, like Maureen Dowd, I'm going to pick the frivolous one. In fact, I'm going meta-frivolous: I'm picking Maureen Dowd herself.

Ms. Dowd just published a book, Are Men Necessary? On Sunday she published a companion piece in the New York Times Magazine lamenting the unpleasant détente between the sexes as it appears today:
Many women now do not think of domestic life as a "comfortable concentration camp," as Betty Friedan wrote in "The Feminine Mystique," where they are losing their identities and turning into "anonymous biological robots in a docile mass." Now they want to be Mrs. Anonymous Biological Robot in a Docile Mass. They 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.
And, most damning, Ms. Dowd is not one them. A Mrs., I mean. She's figured out the reason too. It's because she's just too smart:
At a party ... 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. Will she be critical of absolutely everything, even his manhood?
Well, isn't it obvious? Not, to Slate columnist Katie Roiphe who yesterday published a smack-down entitled: Is Maureen Dowd Necessary?:
Could there possibly be another reason that the attractive, successful Dowd has not settled down? Something that is not in the zeitgeist, or the political climate, but some ineffable quality of her own psychology? It would seem wrong to raise this question about a woman writer, and in fact about any writer, but Dowd uses her experience with men as template for her theories so often, and marshals her failure to marry as evidence so frequently, that she herself raises the question in her reader's mind.
You don't say.

I also noticed that it doesn't seem too smart of Ms. Dowd to ignite a new war between the Missuses and the Mizzes with the automatic corallary to her thesis: married gals are either dumb or duplicitous. Or both.


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