OMG, I Have Girl Cooties…

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 ‘Will Francine Get Her Guy?’ and pick up ‘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.

4 comments to “OMG, I Have Girl Cooties…”

  1. Christine
    February 14th, 2007 at 12:41 pm · Link

    You know it’s bad enough when men put down women but when other women put down their own sex whether it’s working versus stay at home moms or this type of shit it just offends me even more. As if any one of us is so one dimensional that we only read one type of literature, eat one type of food or listen to one type of music. What are romances taking up too much room in teh bookstore and the only way to conatin it is to embarass and disrepsect the people who read them. This type of rant is makes me wonder if old Mareeen is maybe reading her romances in the closet. The lady doth protest too much methinks.

  2. rhian
    February 14th, 2007 at 2:44 pm · Link

    It’s that dang box syndrome again! You just cannot stand up for feminine rights and equality and read erotic novels – doncha know that Lauren??!? I’m sure it’s written in stone around here somewhere. Freakin’ narrow-minded $%#%$%^!!…. walking off muttering angrily to self….

  3. Mary
    February 14th, 2007 at 3:52 pm · Link

    I have never understood why women are so detremental to our own sex. Why do we find it necessary to belittle ideas or perferences of others is beyond me. I feel sad that so many women feel they must hop on the “Man” bandwagon and write disparaging comments on those of us who love to read romance. I have read Shakespere, Tolstoy, Cubric, Hemingway, and many of the great literary talents of our age. I can honestly say that if an author has a unique voice I will read whatever they write and to be so “small” minded as to the genre that voice takes shows just how “little” this person is in her voice.

  4. Ciar Cullen
    February 15th, 2007 at 11:45 am · Link

    Don’t you wonder, Lauren, is these misguided literary snobs aren’t the same folks who are salivating over who fathered Anna Nicole’s baby? Literature is a very easy thing to be snobby over, to point to and say “look what I read.” Bleck. Anyone can read anything and it doesn’t point to intelligence or morality or imagination or contribution to society. Total crap. BTW, and this is a BIG BTW, many congrats on your wonderful CAPA wins!