Or, cripes, I have to write about Maureen Dowd’s monunmentally stupid and insulting op-ed piece at last or I shall explode.
Many have written on this ridiculously offensive piece of tripe and have done so more coherently than I will do (try Smart Bitches and Jenny Crusie’s Argh Ink) BTW, the girl cooties term is one I quite unashamedly lifted from Candy at Smart Bitches because it’s clever and makes me laugh.
You see, I’m a feminist. I’m not afraid to claim the word, I like the word. It’s a word that espouses the ideals that got me into law school, it’s a word that got me the right to vote, the right to own property in my own name and a word that endeavors to help me earn the same dollar a man with my same qualifications earns. Feminism allows me to make the choice to stay home with my children (although my husband’s job with a fabulous employer is what makes that financially possible) and what allows other women to make different choices. YOu see, it’s that C word (no, not THAT one) that for me, is the heart of the issue of feminism.
And when women, smart women with a lot of power like Dowd, stand up on their NYT pulpit and beat other women who make other choices over the head with the girl cooties card, with a sneer about romance and chick lit and the dreaded “pink” accusation – it’s decidely the opposite of feminism. It’s bully pulpit behavior and it’s boring.
Here’s a little ditty from the opening of the piece (which you can find in blogland in its entirety but you have to be a Times subscriber to see it at the NYT page). She’s in her local bookstore and, gentle readers, becomes alarmed by all the pink. Sigh.
No, I realized with growing alarm, chick lit was no longer a niche. It had staged a coup of the literature shelves. Hot babes had shimmied into the grizzled old boys’ club, the land of Conrad, Faulkner and Maugham. The store was possessed with the devil spawn of “The Devil Wears Prada.” The blood-red high heel ending in a devil’s pitchfork on the cover of the Lauren Weisberger best seller might as well be driving a stake through the heart of the classics
Oh no! Girls got into the He Man Women Haters club of literature. They’re getting their girlyness all over the place and ruining it by telling stories about women who, gasp, work, and have babies and oh, no, fall in love! Oh my god, quick, someone stab a girl, fuck and run, smoke a cigar and drink some scotch before we all get vaginas! Quick, hide your boobies before they figure out you’re a girl too, Maureen! Run!
She uses bodice rippers in her column, she makes a crack about the Red Badge of Courage – as if one cannot possibly read a romance AND read anything else. Because after all, ‘thinking is so hard!” and yes, her biggest crime is using this quote from “her friend” at the New Republic, Leon Wieseltier: America’s reading women could do a lot worse than to put down â€˜Will Francine Get Her Guy?’ and pick up â€˜The Red Badge of Courage.’
Hey Maureen Dowd and Leon Wieseltier, I’ve read it. I’ve read Kafka, Steibeck, Orwell (love his essays), Salinger – the whole crew. My readers aren’t stupid. I’m not stupid. Your fellow women aren’t stupid and incapable of complex ideas simply because they like to read romance or chick lit and it’s insulting that you’d have the audacity to claim anything of the sort. In addition, it’s simply illogical on your part to assume that since a woman reads a Harlequin romance she doesn’t also read other things.
It’s bad enough that I have to deal with smug men every day who look down on what I write and read, I really don’t expect to have women who’ve achieved a lot of power and position and who openly call themselves feminists to suddenly start attacking women who like to read things other than what you do, Ms. Dowd. I have to tell you I dealt with less smug, pretentious bullshit woman hating from the assholes I went to law school with than I just read in your column.