Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Maureen Dowd: good today, mean tomorrow

If there is another American writer as maddening as Maureen Dowd, your blogstress has yet to find her. While your cybertrix is hip to her own inner sexist, she winces when Dowd reveals her own, as she so often does when writing of Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton.

Your Webwench has, by turns, both defended and derided Dowd, who holds court twice a week on the op-ed page of the New York Times. Today Dowd offers quite a good essay on her piece of NYT real estate about why Hillary Clinton's candidacy offers a less-than-perfect feminist test case for a female presidential contender (because of Bill, of course).

But Dowd being Dowd, she can't help lay a few mines in her narrative landscape, as she does when she repeats, acknowledging its offensiveness, a heinous joke from a Penn Jillette routine:

In a webcast, prestidigitator Penn Jillette talks about a joke he has begun telling in his show. He thinks the thunderous reaction it gets from audiences shows that Hillary no longer has a shot.

The joke goes: “Obama is just creaming Hillary. You know, all these primaries, you know. And Hillary says it’s not fair, because they’re being held in February, and February is Black History Month. And unfortunately for Hillary, there’s no White Bitch Month.”
Of course, March is Women's History Month, which in Jillette's book probably amounts to the same thing as White Bitch Month. So, perhaps Texas (March 4 primary) really does belong to Clinton.

Another zinger is a reference to Barack Obama as being perceived as a "glib golden boy." Note to an Irish-Am sister: not good for a white girl to resort to boy-talk when speaking of an African-American man.

An irony in Dowd's essay, "A Flawed Feminist Test," is the apparent lack of irony with which she states this:
Many women I talk to, even those who aren’t particularly fond of Hillary, feel empathy for her, knowing that any woman in a world dominated by men has to walk a tightrope between femininity and masculinity, strength and vulnerability.

They see double standards they hate...
Yet Dowd herself has shown a notable lack of empathy toward Hillary Clinton, writing in a column titled, "Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back to the White House?"
At her victory party, Hillary was like the heroine of a Lifetime movie, a woman in peril who manages to triumph. Saying that her heart was full, she sounded the feminist anthem: "I found my own voice."

So here's what makes me really nuts: So many men despise Dowd, not just for her power and brains, but for those things in combination with her beauty, which just unnerves so many of them. And so, I find myself defending her against irrational attacks by envious men. And then she goes and says something sexist herself, and quite unhelpful to the feminist cause. It happens every time. Too often, rather than exercising her intellectual might in a manner becoming to her, she resorts, for cheap power, to her inner mean girl.

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