New York Times diva Maureen Dowd’s political views are so predictably liberal, so juvenile and often quite nasty, that it’s easy to forget that Ms. Dowd used to be a reporter who wrote beautifully.
You get a sense of what a fine writer she can be in her piece on the failures of feminism–and, no, I’m not saying this because she’s written something with which I agree. MoDo and I have extremely different ideas about why feminism failed.
In fact, I think that the early feminism of the sixties–we forget it was as radical then as now–was a disaster in the making. But you have to admire Ms. Dowd’s fine description of the era (you also have to admire her for being willing to go her own way back then, before being willing to fall in lockstep with the rest of the newsroom):
“When I entered college in 1969, women were bursting out of their 50’s chrysalis, shedding girdles, padded bras and conventions. The Jazz Age spirit flared in the Age of Aquarius. Women were once again imitating men and acting all independent: smoking, drinking, wanting to earn money and thinking they had the right to be sexual, this time protected by the pill. 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. In the universe of Eros, I longed for style and wit. I loved the Art Deco glamour of 30’s movies. I wanted to dance the Continental like Fred and Ginger in white hotel suites; drink martinis like Myrna Loy and William Powell; live the life of a screwball heroine like Katharine Hepburn, wearing a gold lamé gown cut on the bias, cavorting with Cary Grant, strolling along Fifth Avenue with my pet leopard.”
Nevertheless Dowd takes a dim view of women today who reject old-line feminism–or who simply make different choices from those she prefers:
“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.
“The Times recently ran a front-page article about young women attending Ivy League colleges, women who are being groomed to take their places in the professional and political elite, who are planning to reject careers in favor of playing traditional roles, staying home and raising children.”
It is too bad that Ms. Dowd, who used to be one of the most talented journalists in town, has become a Stepford Timesperson.