What so Dowdly we hailed

It’s been a long time since we had any Maureen Dowd-related material here, but fortunately for me and my need to fill this space, the blogger known as Half Sigma, who has been reviewing the life stories of New York Times scribes of late, kicked off a discussion with this observation:

Yet despite her success, I sense in her a lack of happiness with her life that doesn’t occur with the daughters of more elite parents. The daughters of the elite somehow manage to get married and have children despite pursuing their careers. In contrast, Maureen’s writings seem to reek of bitterness about being an old maid. So even though she appears to be successful, she compares herself to the children of the elite whom she works with and somehow she feels they have something she’s missing. But instead of blaming the elites or her prole parents for her unhappiness, she blames men.

In case you missed it, I offered some thoughts on Are Men Necessary? here.

Half Sigma’s commenter “blah” suggests:

She probably played the field too long in her youth and she was most likely holding out for a rich alpha male. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out. So she complains about men who are intimidated by her (i.e. make less than her) and she snickers about the extra-marital affairs of rich alpha males in her columns. While she hates conservatives, I would wager she probably hates rich alpha males even more. This is where I disagree with HS. MoDo isn’t unhappy because she’s a striver but rather because she made some really foolish decisions in her dating life when she was at her peak in attractiveness. This woman was so unrealistic in her outlook that she thought she could land someone like Don Draper before she was a household name. And of course, when she became a household name, she was too old.

The trouble with landing someone like Don Draper, of course, is the risk of landing Don Draper.

I could say something here like “She’s only fifty-nine,” but that might seem somewhat self-serving.


  1. fillyjonk »

    7 July 2011 · 8:22 am

    Wait, old maids are supposed to feel bitter about their state?

    Apparently I am doing it wrong.

    (In seriousness: I think anyone who expects a certain thing out of life and doesn’t get it, even if it’s for reasons beyond their control, is going to be bitter about it. At some point in my late 20s I realized that (a) my chance of finding a suitable mate were slim and (b) I really wasn’t as bothered by that as I thought I might be. The only time I feel bad about being single is when I have other women sitting around me telling me how much they PITY me because I’m not married.)

  2. Tatyana »

    7 July 2011 · 8:43 am

    [Disclaimer: I didn’t click on the link, didn’t read the discussion and know nothing of Half Sigma beyond what’s in this post]

    The excerpt you provide speaks more of Half Sigma than of Maureen Dawd and her supposed class-related and singlehood-related bitterness. It displays curious, if not novel, perception about a woman as a short-shelf-life-product. And boy, how he gloats over what he perceives as a woman’s humiliation! Almost as if he was being vindictive for some former insult from a girl…or maybe even somehting he perceived as insult – being ignored by a pretty flirt? or laughed at when he was at the peak of his hormones?
    As if it is 1951 outside the window, or even 1900s. But even in 1900s Amelia Barr found reasons for woman’s “bachelorhood” a bit more nuanced than what HalfSigma’s primitive reasoning.

  3. Brett »

    7 July 2011 · 9:34 am

    I don’t care for Ms. Dowd’s point of view or her writing, but both Half Sigma and the commenter are being unfair if not downright boorish. “Shucks, the little lady needs a feller” rings my alarm bells, and I’ve been told more than once I meet the job specs for “sexist oinker.”

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