I read with ashen resignation that Maureen Dowd, the professional spinster of the New York Times, will soon birth a book, no doubt parthenogenetically, called Are Men Necessary? The problem apparently is that men have not found Maureen necessary. Hell hath…. Clearly there is something wrong with men.
I weary of the self-absorbed clucking of aging poultry.
Why is Maureen hermetically single? For starters, she is not just now your classic hot ticket. She’s not just over the hill, but into the mountains, to Grandmother’s house we go. She probably gets more daily maintenance than a 747, but she still looks as though a vocational school held an injection-molding contest and everyone lost. That leaves her with only her personality as bait. The prognosis is grim.
Was that ungentlemanly? She makes a career of being disagreeable about men. What’s sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose, say I.
Reading her unending plaints, one concludes that she is deeply in love — with herself, and too loyal ever to cheat with a man. Behind her writing you always hear the little voice, “I’m so wonderful, so elite…why doesn’t somebody marry me?” (Well, Maureen, I can give you a few ideas. You’re a pain in the ass….) “I’m so smart, I’m so powerful, I’m so, sooo elite, so talented, so…special.” As, in their way, are ingrown toenails. “I’m successful, shriek. Men hate me because I’m smart. They feel threatened because I’m so wonderful.”
Actually, Maureen, you are no more threatening, or appealing, than somebody else’s gym socks. I suspect that men don’t like you because you aren’t likeable.
Now, precisely why are you so wonderful? Clearly you aren’t stupid. You are a competent if sophomoric writer. Dummies can’t do that. But I’ll tell you what, Sweet Potato: I don’t think I know anyone who would want to go out with you. As best I can tell, should you have an original thought, it would need counseling, for depression and loneliness.
Smart women are an attraction of Washington, at least the parts off the cocktail circuit. They made fifteen years in that wretched city bearable for me. I knew women with serious brains, golden-girl biochemists at NIH, a gal who ran a federal positron-emission tomography lab, weirded-out computer techs, startlingly good writers and chicks who had popped scores you wouldn’t believe on tests at NSA that aren’t supposed to exist. They’d eat you for lunch, Maureen.
Now, I know that people at the New York Times have ample self-esteem, and indeed come coated with it to a depth of inches. How about we have a little understanding here. In journalism as in politics, advancement has little to do with merit. Have you checked the contents of the White House lately? Dan Rather and Connie Chung are pinnacles of anything at all? I’ve been around this game as long as you have and I know how the scam works. Getting to the upper ranks of journalism is a matter of luck, sexual sharing, brown-nosing, and staying carefully within the bounds of the regnant politics of the newsroom.
You are journalistic glitter, Maureen — Reporter Barbie, a literary Streisand. While working for the Times is perhaps nothing to be ashamed of, I’d keep quiet about it.
Maureen’s agonizing does however provide exegesis of the American female mind at a curious moment. Again and again their question seems to be, what form of pretense is needed to achieve marriage? Must I feign sex-kittenhood? Be a calculated suck-up who always laughs at his jokes? Hide my brains? The underlying idea is that they must commit some fraud to attract a man. This of course implies that they aren’t attractive without committing fraud.
I’ll give them that.
Those of us who have wives from Mexico, Thailand, the Philippines, Chile, or China view Maureen as being a very strange creature indeed, perhaps expelled from a geothermal vent. (“Hi! I’m Fred. What’s your phylum?”) Like Maureen, so many gringas don’t seem to know who they are, what they are, what they want to be, or how to get there. I think of a tinkertoy construction made by an insane two-year-old: a lot of protruding parts that don’t fit together.
By contrast foreign women are psychologically coherent. They are sexy because they are women and like being sexy, not as a Vaudeville act or marketing tool. Resentment is not their primary emotion. They love their children and regard raising them as a pleasure, not an imposition of which they are ashamed.
If you read Maureen and her littermates, you realize that they are those most uncomfortable of women, heterosexual man-haters. For example, Maureen, from her new book:
“Men, apparently, learn early to protect their eggshell egos from high-achieving women. The girls said they hid the fact that they went to Harvard from guys they met because it was the kiss of death.”
Who would marry that? Yet it is classic Maureen, snotty, catty, hostile. As for her own Kevlar ego, there’s this, from her interview with Howard Kurtz:
“Even after a decade of writing a New York Times column, she admits to being ‘very thin-skinned’ about criticism. ‘I’m just not temperamentally suited to it,’ Dowd says. ‘The first couple of years I spent curled up on the floor and crying.’”
The drumbeat of animosity is never missing from her hetero-anguished feminism. Men are vain, frightened, immature, unreliable, treacherous, fascinated by gewgaws, obsessed with sex, and unfaithful. Several questions arise. If men are so bad, why does Maureen want one? What kind of men has she been running around with? Those closely resembling herself, it sounds as if. Most to the point, why would any man want anything to do with such a woman?
This confusion and hostility has made the American woman into an internationally acclaimed shrew. Yes, there are degrees, and perhaps more exceptions than examples, but talk to white men from Washington to Hong Kong and you see the same shudder.
These gals are wound too tight. Recently I was aboard a highway bus in an American enclave in Mexico. A gringa wanted to get off where there was no stop. The driver didn’t understand her. In Mexico they speak Spanish, a point which apparently had eluded her. She began yelling at him abusively. (Verbatim quote: “You’re the worst! You suck! You’re the worst!”)
They do this. People notice. A friend somehow found himself talking with a gringa who had one of those puffy little white dogs you could buff a truck with. He said, “Cute little thing. I’ve got a real dog.” This mild witticism set her into yelling.