Roger L. Simon

Dowd's Apologia Pro Vita Sola

I never thought I’d feel sorry for Maureen Dowd, but her article in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine – What’s a Modern Girl to Do? – made me feel some sympathy for the woman whose bourgeois political snarking (cum fast and loose use of ellipses) on the Times’ oped page is usually about as appealing as sea slugs without Szechwan sauce.

But this time Dowd is baring her soul in a sense, trying to make heads or tales of the fact that some attractive, intelligent, powerful women like her find themselves alone in their fifties. Men, as she tells it, are threatened by them and would prefer to marry the likes of the Latina maid in “Spanglish.” Dowd seems to have missed the key detail that the maid’s daughter was headed off to an Ivy League education, but no matter. The movie wasn’t Brooks’ best anyway. Meanwhile, to augment Dowd’s view, she trucks out some statistics to show that feminism is dead and that we’re all sliding back to the land of Ozzie & Harriet. Evidence of this is that a few more women these days are staying with their maiden names after marriage. Ms. is out and Mrs. is making a comeback.

Well, maybe. But whatever the case, Dowd seems to have missed the most astonishing statistic to be revealed lately. Fifty-seven percent of the college population is now female. Men are going to have to get used to intelligent women or turn celibate. An incipient social revolution may be in the cards that will dwarf the bra burning of the sixties.

I realize personal stories may have little relevance in the grand scheme of things, but from my own experience I’m highly suspicious of the assertion that most men are looking for dumb, unsuccessful women as mates, whatever statistics might say (I’d want to have a serious look at the questions that were asked). In my case it’s quite the reverse and I doubt that I’m that weird (well, a little weird). Almost all of us have made a few mistakes in our lives, but serious adults – male and female – finally come to the conclusion that if you marry someone, you’re going to have to live with him or her for a long time. You’re going to have to talk to them before and after sex, negotiate and share thousands of things. In my case I always preferred intelligent women. And they’re a hundred times sexier, especially after the first twenty minutes or so and maybe even before that.

I don’t want to make any comment about Dowd because I have not met her. But being intelligent and powerful may not be the whole story for why she is alone.