"I’m not the only woman who’s dumbfounded (as it were) by our sex, or rather, as we prefer to put it, by other members of our sex besides us. It’s a frequent topic of lunch, phone and water-cooler conversations; even some feminists can’t believe that there’s this thing called "The Oprah Winfrey Show" or that Celine Dion actually sells CDs. A female friend of mine plans to write a horror novel titled "Office of Women," in which nothing ever gets done and everyone spends the day talking about Botox.
We exaggerate, of course. And obviously men do dumb things, too, although my husband has perfectly good explanations for why he eats standing up at the stove (when I’m not around) or pulls down all the blinds so the house looks like a cave (also when I’m not around): It has to do with the aggressive male nature and an instinctive fear of danger from other aggressive men. When men do dumb things, though, they tend to be catastrophically dumb, such as blowing the paycheck on booze or much, much worse (think "postal"). Women’s foolishness is usually harmless. But it can be so . . . embarrassing." Charlotte Allen in the Washington Post
"an instinctive fear of danger from other aggressive men" Say What? So, the hubby cowers in the house with the blinds shut in fear of the big boys? I don’t know what to make of that.
I have no idea who the author is. I looked up the "Manhattan Institute" and on first inspection it looks Jacobinish.
A lot of the women whom I associate with are unlike the ones described here by Allen. That may just be a case of voluntary association of the "like." I think it is true that men are better (in general) at things like spatial relations and the eye-hand coordination that goes with it. But, so what? Men vary in this as well.
The rest of the observations contained in this article are so un PC that even I who write novels with decidedly un PC tone am surprised.
OK. Consider this to be a ball tossed in the air. pl
I read this column with a sort of mystified skepticism, thinking alternatively “This is a long, elaborate, satirical joke. Has to be…” and “Her editor must be off his/her meds.”
On reflection, I have to think the former. No one not featured on “My Big Redneck Wedding” is as stupid as the fictional woman of the column. She’s trolling for outage.
The book you may want to read is “Why Men Rule: A Theory of Male Dominance” by Steven Goldberg.
Okay! It is reality that women are becoming far more serious players in the US. Hillary’s campaign is an indication. And they play for keeps. Elizabeth I and Margaret Thatcher come to mind. So how does the girly girl fit in. Men are easily attracted by the visual and of course the evolutionary biologists and even Stephen Jay Gould (deceased unfortunately) continue to document reasons why. Treatment of women as possessions is fast eroding witness reluctance of Italian women, Japanese, Korean and others to marry into a world where they are no longer fully in control of their lives. Actually American women are growing up fast and probably time for American men to do the same. Bill Clinton is the last of a breed that sought political office so he could continue to focus on his sexual needs. Despite the Michael Douglas/Demi Moore movie (name thankfully forgotten) where he is harassed by her, doubtful that that is the usual or even substantial percentage of the cases involving that issue. A great book called “Why Jenny Can’t Lead” published in the 1980’s authors by two female corporate consultants indicate why I am convinced their’s is the correct thesis. By the way the book was written for them for men but the women I gave copies too never returned it and felt that it guided them to career advancement just by knowledge of its thesis. Women often assume that their industriousness, competence and abilities will be recognized for itself, while men, tracking back to the neolithic hunt where a broken leg or other significant injury meant possible abandonment, judge primarily on loyalty not competence. Male politicians are fully subject to this paradigm. Hillary can still win but only if she cuts all but the most limited domestic ties to Bill, or all ties to his advisors. Increasingly women are telling me he deliberately undercut her campaign. He was not a competent President and the continum of the two Bushs and the Clinton era will be documented by future historians as the period where the US blew its world leadership, prestaged by the Reagan era. I am sorry but Reagan did not win the Cold War, the Soviet Union lost it. Even now, historians realize how Hitler lost WWII after being close to a long period of evil world dominance in 1940-41. He lost it and it took the democracies and a totalitarian dictatorship to defeat him when neither could have done it on their own.
The Manhattan Institute is most certainly a conservative flagship. They may seek to obscure the issue with a ‘neoliberal’ feint. Check ’em out. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of stunningly detrimental advice.
As for the article, well, it’s Sunday and I always like to read the comics. But it’s certainly reassuring to see these 1950’s stereotypes enduring so sturdily. I think that all of this was said far better by “I Love Lucy’.
Men and women are most certainly different. And thank god for that. But much of what is discussed are societal roles that have been adopted, and which can never fit true individuals fully.
I think that most of our chief exponents of aggressively macho culture (I’m looking at you, Rush) would whimper and wet themselves in the corner if they came face to face with Spartan women. But perhaps that’s how they like it.
When I pulled down the blinds in my house so it was like a cave it was for three main reasons:
1) I was doing things like eating standing up in front of the stove and didn’t want neighbors looking in.
2) I don’t like it when it’s too bright inside, especially if I have to do some writing on the computer.
3) If I’m in a mode where I’m working on the computer and eating directly from the container of whatever I’m eating, I’m probably going to be dooing it in wearing ratty bathrobe and a t-shirt. Again, this is not the kind of thing people need to see.
Blithering on about ‘primal needs’ and evolutionary psychology is probably just a cover for “I live like a savage when I’m alone and don’t want people to know about it”.
I have a hard time believing Bill deliberately undercut Hillary’s campaign. They sank at least five million of their own money in, Bill has been aggressively supporting Hillary on the campaign trail, hell I think it’s fair to say there wouldn’t be a Hillary campaign right now if it weren’t for him. To say that he’s somehow deliberately undercutting her while doing all this stretches credibility to the breaking point.
Hillary just seems like she’s been out spent, out talked, out thought and plain old out organized by the Obama campaign.
“… eats standing up at the stove (when I’m not around) or pulls down all the blinds so the house looks like a cave (also when I’m not around): It has to do with the aggressive male nature and an instinctive fear of danger from other aggressive men. ”
I give this an 8.5 on the Brooks-Kurtz vacuity scale.
I think anyone married to someone who would publish such a thing is entitled not only to eat standing up at the stove, but to eat out of pans with spoons (ditto ice cream cartons), AND to drink out of milk/juice cartons.
WRT the aggression/fear of aggression, cringing-behind-closed-curtain interpretation of the poor sod’s cave mode:
It not unusual to become vista averse and go into denning mode when under pressure – or conflicted. I do it. Could always tell when one friend was writing: he would shut the blinds to his panoramic skyline view, and the office became an obstacle course of clutter (barriers to entry) till whatever it was was completed.
Also, I’ve noticed, many people dislike north light rooms. When they can’t avoid them, they shut out the light. They aren’t aware they do it, much less why.
un-PC is the new PC. I think Allen, lacking anything intelligent to say, is trying to stir the pot. Joel Stein in toeday’s LA Times wrote a moronic column about women. Culturally, we’ve been getting a bad case of the stupids. It’s kind of like flu season; I hope it passes.
Charlotte Allen writes like Maureen Dowd and thinks like Phyllis Schlafly in the subject article. No offense to Maureen or Phyllis. If Maureen had been the author it would be easy to read it as satire. However, Phyllis is in there enough to read it literally.
I went through a number of her articles in the WSJ, NRO, Weekly Standard, and NYT. Charlotte is a serious writer with conservative political and religious opinions (she is the author of “The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus”). Sometimes a duck is a duck.
After suffering through the linked article, I have concluded that Ms. Allen’s story is the winning entry in a contest sponsored by the Manhattan Institute to determine who could pack the most logical fallacies into an article the length of a typical op-ed column.
the ‘manhattan institute’ has been a place where cheney has delivered some of his major iraq war policy speeches.
Men and Women are built differently for different roles. Its hardwired into our brains. Men are there to protect the herd. Women are there to have and raise kids. Go to any village in places like New Guinea and you will see it in action.
Frankly, women doing mens jobs and vice versa is simply an elaborate and very expensive form of perversion.
And, if any stress of war or civil unrest is placed on society, the whole concept of PC and women doing men’s jobs, will vanish in microseconds.
The worst senior manager I have ever seen was a woman.
In my experience, sadly personal, these outbursts are a reflection of and about the commentator rather than having any real bearing on the putative subject, though the thought process behind the statements surely illuminates the gender difference right there.
Along with the demonstrated female penchant for finding perfectly reasonable activities dumb, dismissing perfectly reasonable explanations as meaningless, then deeming their fantasies to be a man’s psyche – this last manifesting my point above.
“The Manhattan Institute is most certainly a conservative flagship. They may seek to obscure the issue with a ‘neoliberal’ feint. Check ’em out. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of stunningly detrimental advice.”
Yes they are, you might want to read this from Rightweb:
“Left-center critiques of the power of right-wing think tanks typically focus on such Washington, DC institutions as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. Often overlooked, perhaps because of its location far outside the Beltway, is the Manhattan Institute.
But neither the George W. Bush administration nor top Republican figures make the same mistake. …”
Full URI here: The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
and this from Sourcewatch:
“The Institute describes its policy agenda over its 25-year history as having spanned “taxes, welfare, crime, the legal system, urban life, race, education, and many other topics. We have won new respect for market-oriented policies and helped make reform a reality.”
In its publication Buying a Movement, People for the American Way describes the Manhattan Institute’s agenda as “The Institute ‘…advocates privitization of sanitation services and infrastructure maintenance, deregulation in the area of environmental and consumer protection, school vouchers and cuts in governmental spending on social welfare programs; it is a preferred source of information'” for New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. ”
Full URI here: The Manhattan Institute
Hope this helps.
“Male politicians are fully subject to this paradigm.
Instinctive fear of danger from other aggressive men.”
I think she inadvertently nailed the terrorist/neocon mentality, always frightened, striking out first to appear more manly, ie to overcompensate. The best defense is a good offense.
Cowardly overcompensation, wasn’t that the corporate mantra in the 80’s, isn’t this how Cheney and Bush, operate?
I’m not sure as to how to address this article. So, if I may – I would like to recall an incident with a former neighbor and friend, Tammy. (Who is gay.)
Tammy and I shared many conversations – she was Canadian and like myself, had a love of dogs, cats and ice hockey.
And Tammy was a bona fide Toronto Maple Leafs fan, and so unlike me – she did not share my passion for the Detroit Red Wings. Perhaps our only area of disagreement. Although she knew all our players, their stats and respected them individually, her heart belonged to the Leafs.
I just wanted to give you a little background on our friendship.
A cat had climbed up a tall pine tree and had been up there for almost two days, caterwauling at night. For some reason, perhaps an oldmovie ortv show – I called the fire dept. and told them about it and they said they couldn’t help. The fireman said from his experience, the cat would come down when it was hungry enough. It had kept me up the night before so I was determined to solve the problem. It was about 25-30 feet up and I used an 18 foot ladder, climbed the remainder on some solid branches and made it to the cat. I grabbed it and it freaked – it turned into a little leopard and attempted to disenbowel me with its claws. It literally tore a suede jacket to shreds. At this point I thought, well I’ll take the fireman’s advice and let it be, despite the annoying caterwauling at night. (And a genuine concern for the creature.)
Unbeknownst to me, Tammy had witnessed this and when I came down, she asked if was OK if she could give it a go. She gave me a quick look, which seemed to be one of concern, (I took it that she didn’t want to “offend” my masculinity.)
I said, sure, go ahead and offered to be her spotter and I held the ladder. (Spotting was completely pointless at that height.)
She made it up there quickly, like a pro – and grabbed the cat by it’s scruff, (It was calmer with her) brought it down and off it went. The incident bonded us even more. I thanked her and I was impressed by her skills. I believe it reassured her that I – didn’t mind being “beat by a girl.”
Thank you for allowing me to ramble Pat and perhaps someday I may tell you why I see similarities with you and Scotty Bowman, the greatest NHL coach of all time.
Col. Lang said: “…a case of voluntary association of the “like.”
I agree with you, Colonel. This article has to be describing Charlotte Allen’s circle, the people she knows.
It’s unfortunate the emotional reactions and the motivations she muses about mimic the most awkward, adolescent and unnatural versions people absorb watching too-much-bad-TV.
To her, and to those she describes in her article, these faux “feelings” and the expected/accepted/approved responses to them are the Real Deal(!).
I hope, someday, someone will write an account of the decline and fall of The Washington Post. Perhaps Ms. Allen’s drivel is supposed to so enrage women that they flock to the polls for the rest of the primary season to vote for Sen. Clinton. Other than that, I’m clueless as to what Fred Hiatt is thinking.
She does hit on one truth (but she’s wrong in analyzing it) i.e., Sen. Clinton’s campaign woes (to date) are related to her valuing loyalty over competence. And it’s not the women around her who have not served her well, rather, it’s the men. The stewardship of her campaign led her to blow through $130 million dollars with no Plan B if she didn’t win enough delegates by Feb. 5. Big mistake. Now, even if she wins Texas and Ohio next week, she still comes up short on delegates.
The battle scars she acquired in the 90s are probably at the root of her prizing loyalty above all else. Unfortunately, this characteristic reminds us not of Margaret Thatcher, but instead, of George W. Bush.
I’m so very glad that I stopped reading the Washington Post many years ago.
Especially considering the historic place of the Washington Post in feminist and journalistic history as the business where Katherine Graham established modern benchmarks for the role of an independent press…
The current editors should be ashamed to walk in to the building for letting such a pusillanimous and socially atavistic column be published.
The publication of this column is just yet another example of how far the Washington Post editorial page has fallen.
The column is just plain embarrassing. It’s not insightful or funny or clever. It’s just stereotypes circa 1950, straight from “I Love Lucy,” as jon so aptly put it.
The column might have been worth talking about in conservative circles as late as 1964. But in 2008, its publication is nothing more than a waste of dead trees–only a little worse than average for the Post’s current track record in opinion journalism.
This is way beyond “PC” — “Gone with the Wind” has far more enlightened attitudes about women. And we have the nerve to critique other cultures about their “medieval” attitudes toward women?
An equally interesting question might be “Why do men streak and women don’t?” That discussion could be easily massaged to set tongues wagging were it to be offered in the Sunday Washington Post especially if they were to suggest that Drudge had hinted that one of the presidential candidates had been a notorious streaker before being weaned from Lydia Pinkham’s Original Formula by a religious conversion
According to my sources, WaPo has been struggling to keep and increase its younger female readership. I suspect that some consultant advised them to write about women in a way that would stir the pot.
How the pot got there, why it’s important to anyone, is only relevant if it increases circulation. I doubt that it will.
A more trenchant issue is whether this kind of journalism is more reflective of the general decline of the Washington Post as one of the country’s premier newspapers. I think that it does.
FDChief nailed it. Charlotte “Dim Bulb” Allen is a troll doing a really good impression of Ann Althouse, OR maybe she’s a Maureen Dowd wannabe.
And Col. Lang: “even I who write novels with decidedly un PC tone” …….
Well, for heaven’s sakes, you write HISTORICAL fiction (like things weren’t different in the 1860s?), and the short science fiction you wrote didn’t strike me as unPC at all…..
Sometimes (no, frequently) the WaPo does some astoundingly silly things–running Charlotte’s piece was certainly one of them.
Michael Calderone publishing today in the Politico http://www.politico.com/blogs/michaelcalderone/0308/Wash_Post_editor_says_controversial_piece_was_tongueincheek.html
reports that the WaPo editor of the article referenced in your post intended it to be a joke.
Big politics aside, a truly domestic issue
Pull down the blinds is what a man is likely to do. A woman is more likely to go thru the motions of perfection, even if she’s miserable.
The guy is not defending himselves against other men, probably more against the spouses worry what the neighbors (wife) would say.
It was a joke.
For admirers of the emperor’s trompe l’oeil codpiece?
It is quite easy to dismiss this writer who shall remain nameless for me. Of course, it’s intentional mischief-making by the Post. The Post is the obvious problem. The question to be asked of the Post is
“why run this now?” To drum up “outrage” support for Hillary.
There appears to be a group of conservative women who’s job it is to attack the same movement that has opened the workplace for women.
It’s purely political red meat for, shall we say, the less enlightened men who live by the words of Michael Savage and his ilk.
AH! It was a hoax, not a joke. It had a long fuse and this collective wedgie is the payoff.
It was cruel to exploit the unwitty and unwitting Ms. Allen, but she probably won’t notice. Bylines armor self esteem.
If anyone is still interested the WaPo published today an opinion piece that sums up nicely Charlotte Allen’s foolishness.
Dumb and Dumber: An Essay and Its Editors
The question is not why Charlotte Allen wrote her silly piece — it’s why The Post published it.
By Katha Pollitt
Friday, March 7, 2008; 6:30 AM