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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Another Feminist Spinster Stuck On Herself

A thoroughly nauseating, sexist op-ed in the New York Times by Dominique Browning, characterizing men as needy and dependent, and woman as strong and independent. She writes:
The world divides into two groups: one (men), who think you can fall at any moment, and when you’re down, you’re out, and you need help; the other (women), who pick themselves up and move on.
This, while writing about her inability to pick herself up and move on after, I presume, a failed marriage (oh, and a slip and fall). In fact, that is what the piece is really about--women who can't get over a bad marriage in order to find a good marriage, whiling away their time while too afraid to leave their comfortable "nest."

Anyway, she writes:
Most single women I know really love their lives.

Sometimes we suffer pangs of loneliness, sometimes we ache for the companionship of that mythic soul mate, but mostly we cherish our independence. We love doing whatever we want to do, when we want to do it.

Women alone eat breakfast at 11 if we feel like it, lunch at 3 and dinner never if that’s the way the day is winding down. Single women do not worry about cooking unless we want to. And we don’t want to unless we like to.

Single women love not having to get permission to spend our own money on a 10th pair of black boots or a painting or a wood stove.

We love not being judged, not being criticized, not being hemmed in. We love the give and take of making our own decisions. We love putting things down on a table knowing they will be there when we return. And eventually, we come to understand that there is no reason to curl up on “our” side of the bed while we sleep. We no longer have to take sides. We can sprawl across the expansive middle.

Single men could not care less about any of the above lifestyle features.

A marriage is a lot of work. Strike that. A man is a lot of work. Anyone who has been in a bad marriage knows that its defining characteristic is the unspeakable loneliness in which one feels shrouded, a sense of isolation amplified by not being alone.

Until I fell, I never understood exactly why men were so loath to remain alone. Surely it wasn’t just a sexist reliance on having a mate who did the shopping, cooking, nesting, scheduling and child-rearing? All around me were plenty of men who pitched in at least a little on all those things, men entirely capable of taking care of themselves.
It isn't even that her premise that women work more than men is wrong. (Men and women work the same amount of time during a given day). It is her condescending attitude that men are children that must be watched over while only women--and more particularly, single women--truly understand and appreciate what is good in life.

Anyway, she concludes:
To a woman, being home feels safe.

We love our nests. We tend them, and in exchange we expect them to keep us snug and warm and serene and safe. Which, generally, they do. Because nests are reliable.

As I said, my brain was joggled. Suddenly, everything I learned in the ’70s seemed refreshingly clear-eyed. A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

Now I understand why a man needs marriage like a fish needs water.
Funny, I was raised to understand that it is foolish to rely on stereotypes. I've met men and women that are hard workers, considerate, and appreciative of life in all its glory. I've also met men and women that are intellectually and/or physically lazy, selfish, and shallow. Drawing broad generalizations about both men and women based on her limited experience is intellectually lazy and shallow. Oh, and she sounds pretty selfish to boot.

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