06 March 2008

Women Scream, Swoon, then Become Prickly

A recent Washington Post article by Charlotte Allen took a light-hearted poke at womanly quirks and eccentricities.
What is it about us women? Why do we always fall for the hysterical, the superficial and the gooily sentimental? Take a look at the New York Times bestseller list. At the top of the paperback nonfiction chart and pitched to an exclusively female readership is Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love." Here's the book's autobiographical plot: Gilbert gets bored with her perfectly okay husband, so she has an affair behind his back. Then, when that doesn't pan out, she goes to Italy and gains 23 pounds forking pasta so she has to buy a whole new wardrobe, goes to India to meditate (that's the snooze part), and finally, at an Indonesian beach, finds fulfillment by -- get this -- picking up a Latin lover!__We Scream, We Swoon ...
Reaction from women readers was swift and hostile. In gracious fashion, Ms. Allen took the time to answer some of her female accusers.
Memphis, Tenn.: Ms. Allen, I am confused about The Post editors' "it was satire, stupid" defense of your article. Could you explain why (or how) you thought the reader could have (or should have) picked up on the satirical tone? I recognize that this question may provoke a response not unlike the Supreme Court's "I know it when I see it" approach to obscenity, but I have read a lot of satire, and I just don't see it in your article. Perhaps you could give me a quick and dirty review of my eighth-grade English class?

Charlotte Allen: I'm not sure whether I'd characterize the piece as satire, but I'd certainly characterize it as humor: my poking fun at the dumb things my sex does.

West Lafayette, Ind.: You said, in reference to women in typically male-dominated fields, that "the number of women in these fields will always lag behind the number of men, for good reason." Do you honestly believe there is any good reason that women are excluded from these fields? As a woman, don't you have any kind of desire at all to see women succeed in the same areas as men?

Charlotte Allen: I don't think women are excluded. They used to be, but no more. And I believe passionately that no woman should be excluded from choosing any career she desires--but I don't believe in quotas, double standards, etc.

Woodbridge, Va.: Congratulations on a hilarious article. Do you think the hysterical response to it provides further proof that feminists have no sense of humor?

Charlotte Allen: Is the pope German? ___WaPo
And so on. Very entertaining.

I suppose I should have expect the prickliness and absence of good humour shown by most women responding to the article, just from watching Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Hopkins, Drew Faust, etc. But honestly, can half the human race be this hyper-sensitive to the least criticism? How can they ever find the time to get anything productive done, when they are so busy addressing imagined or implied criticisms?

Imagine North American women being placed in an Islamic country such as Saudi Arabia or Iran, to live the rest of their lives. Is it even possible for them to imagine such an hostile environment for women? But there is no need for that.

North American women are on a roll. They are successful beyond the fondest dreams of women 100 years ago. One woman stands at the brink of the most powerful political position on Earth. Except for a few fields where the top rank of men are clearly better suited for elite performance--math, physics, engineering and CS specialties requiring higher math, fighter pilots, etc--women are virtually taking over the professions, by the numbers.

Some people think that is good, some think it is bad. Actually, it is neither. What is important is that society put its best people in critical positions, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or religion. And we desperately need people who can laugh at themselves sincerely, at least a little.


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Blogger Audacious Epigone said...

Don't forget that they control ~2/3 of American wealth (on account of living longer). Oh, and don't forget that they live longer!

Thursday, 06 March, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Yes, AE: I'll be dead when they're still living off my hard work. Somehow I suspect they'll find it in themselves to laugh about that!

Thursday, 06 March, 2008  
Blogger Dennis Mangan said...

For another view of what women want see here: http://roissy.wordpress.com/2008/03/04/state-of-mind/
(Warning: vulgarity.)

Thursday, 06 March, 2008  
Blogger Bruce Hall said...

Lubos Motl has a few words about a particular woman at Harvard.


Thursday, 06 March, 2008  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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