January 15, 2005

Can't stop talking about Maureen Dowd's column.

Having gotten a lot of email from my brief nod to Maureen Dowd's recent column about men choosing not to marry women who will not serve them, I was interested in the letters to the editor published in today's NYT. The first letter agrees with Dowd:
My girlfriends and I - all twentysomethings soon to graduate from college - couldn't stop talking about Maureen Dowd's column. But I was bothered by a number of things she mentioned - not because she was wrong but because she was so right.

The next two letters come from women who feel slurred: a mother and a female assistant to a powerful man want to be recognized as strong, powerful women too.

The last two letters are from men who represent the sort of men Dowd discounted: a powerful man who wants to find his equal in a powerful woman and a man happily married to a powerful woman.

The email I received, by the way, was in this last category. I'm a supporter of egalitarian marriages and don't deny their existence, so I'm not surprised that there are many people out there who can claim to want or even to have such marriages. I'm willing to believe that a controlled, objective study might even find that some of these claims are absolutely true, not just in the minds of those who make the claims, but in the actual division of energies within the relationship.

But Dowd never made an assertion about what all or even most men want. The core of her column consists of two questions and a statement about what "a lot of" men want:
So was the feminist movement some sort of cruel hoax? The more women achieve, the less desirable they are? Women want to be in a relationship with guys they can seriously talk to - unfortunately, a lot of those guys want to be in relationships with women they don't have to talk to.

Instead of just reflexively denying the problem, why not think deeply about equality?

I saw email and blog posts ridiculing Dowd, calling her a "53-year-old spinster," comparing her quite beautiful NYT photograph to the face of the witch in "The Wizard of Oz," and asserting that the powerful women she wrote about really can't get men because they are such nasty bitches.

Equality of the sexes is one of the truly excellent principles in this world, and there are great and complex forces militating against it. Please don't just sit back and say "I'm happily married" or "Men will have no problem with successful, powerful women as long as they are caring and loving." Look around! Think! It's not that easy!

1 comment:

RaRa said...

In response to “ Cant stop talking about Maureen Dowd’s Column” by Ann Althouse.

Ok. Now if you write an article on this you will have to quote me. That is the Power way.

The problem is the challenge. Here in the issue.
To a typical Man, a powerful woman, a peer, feels a lot like a man.

So lets look at men:

Men are all about competition naturally, by design. In the man's hidden closet of truths lies the fact that either he is an alpha male, or he is part of the clan of an alpha male, or he is a follower, looser.

How does a naturally competing animal psychologically reconcile with a mate that naturally competes with him, for attention, for intellectual points, for the right to be right, for which way to make love, for decisions, whether mundane or critical.

In the Men's world he knows how, he is either the fucking winner, the winner's friend and lackey, or the resentful push around looser. Men find psychological relief by being good at what they do thus finding a sort of expiatory validating outlet.
It is not where or who they are, it is what they do and how. But below the skin, they still know which role they play.

AT his "cave”, the selected Alpha male may see the strong woman as his secret peer, a chance not to have to be the monster that stomps on all always.
But due to his psychology, he cannot for long reconcile being UNDER such a person. Thus a successful Alpha peer relationship is possible, but often involves a little bit of massaging by the woman to remind the man that he is "all that".
The truly successful relationship here requires both to do so. And the male to have the bandwidth to understand this. In a truly Alpha relationship, either of the couples understands they are there at each other's leisure, and that either can step away at a moment’s notice, and that is not a threat, but rather a challenge. And fighting does occur.
And lots of space is needed.


This is a state of affairs that most so-called alphas cannot take that well. By nature all males expect the females to be subservient and keep the cave with the little ones, thus a female who can leave is not in evolutionary terms desirable. As a mother. In theory.

But it turns out that such a female is in fact the MOST desirable mother for she creates inherently strong clans who overcome the naturally existing fear or subservience impulses, and always strive to be alpha or at the least Alpha mates and friends.

Thus the truly SMART alpha Male is able to reconcile with a smart powerful alpha female in a balance that requires awareness because of its inherently unstable nature, but provides strength and rewards unmatched.

Now to the beta males and powerful females:

They will either ride the coat tails of the Alpha female (admirers forever romantically attached) or simply resent her and move on.

You draw your own parallels with the Lego pieces I already provided before. The winner’s lackey will do well with such a woman, yet perennially fear loosing her and cater to her every whim.

The looser will step away quickly all to aware of his unalterable shortcomings and his resentment of the position.

Thus a female peer has a couple of possibilities for success in a long-term relationship (if that is even desired!)

A- a strong, smart, self-aware alpha of the highest kind. This type she needs to empower psychologically from time to time, none the less, remind him that he is "all that". If he is smart he will know how to do this back.

B- a resilient, admiring, un-resentful beta of the support kind. This kind she needs to be made feel essential and wanted often, that he is her alpha, when it comes to her heart.

All other males need not apply.
And what they will miss, well they have already missed it so why bother them by showing them the other side of the river?

Raul de Arriz

By the way what is Maureen Dowd’s email?