Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Let's go with "Strongly Disagree"

I wrote some weeks ago about selfishness and the lack of understanding of what makes most of the world's personal relationships go 'round, after reading the Atlantic's piece All the Single Ladies. Now there's an even fluffier (that's actually a good thing, since the Atlantic piece was as dense as bad fruitcake) bit of nonsense in the New York Times, by author Dominique Browning. In this paean to single womanhood - written, perhaps, as Ann Althouse has posited, to make the Times' large contingent of 50-something female readers feel good - Browning lies on her deck after a fall and thinks happy thoughts about being a single woman. Some gems from this insightful piece include:

"Because many women, once released from marriage, seem to feel that it would take an act of madness to move back into a setup that involves not only housekeeping in all its manifold time-sucking beauty but also husband-keeping." [my emphasis] Really? How about the attendant "wife-keeping" that goes on in a marriage? The "to have and to hold" promised in so many wedding vows? And is the time-suck known as "house-keeping" (never mind that I suspect there's a woman hired for this purpose in Browning's household, given that she is financially able to live alone in Manhattan) really that much harder when there are two people in the house instead of one? Even if you reduce a husband to no better than an annoying pet, as Browning does, certainly even they can be trained to take out the trash and load the dishwasher now and then.

"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." I have not only a husband but (gasp!) two male children in the house, and I, too, manage to eat pretty much whatever and whenever I want. I don't cook when I don't want to; Husband is more than happy to sample the delights of the Whole Foods hot bar for dinner, and the boys are always up for Chick-fil-a. Mealtimes don't seem like such a big problem to me, sister.

"We love the give and take of making our own decisions."
There is give and take in making one's own decisions? Who are you compromising with, exactly? Be real: there is no compromise when you live alone. I know this from listening to my own mother, who asks disbelievingly "what do you mean, you didn't your first choice on where you're going for vacation this year? how can this be?" And then I have to patiently explain to her that when you are married and you respect your spouse, you don't always get exactly what you want every single minute of the day. This confuses her, as it obviously confuses Ms. Browning.

"A marriage is a lot of work. Strike that. A man is a lot of work."
Let's ask Ms. Browning's ex if he thinks women are a lot of work, shall we? I bet we can all guess what he will say.

And so the Times and the Atlantic go ever more frequently for Vanity Fair's audience, and put these poorly written, confusing pieces of misandry where real thought used to be. I'm not surprised, nor am I very disappointed. Pandering to one's audience, no matter how low-brow, is a time-honored tradition in the media. And think of the money it saves those readers who actually care about the content of the magazine or newspaper, rather than just the aging name on the cover! Sounds like a win-win situation for me.

Perhaps now someone from the Times will cab over to Ms. Browning's place and pick her up off her deck. All those assistant editors have to be good for something...

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