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Sunday, February 20, 2005

Maureen, Again

Last night, I had one of those strange, strange dreams where I became so lost that I thought it was reality. It wasn't a nightmare, just a dream jumbled with huge brass buildings of a kind of medievalist style and peculiar animals and numbers as though I'd been dropkicked into the Universe of Algebra and there were people I haven't seen in forever or who maybe never even really existed.

So I awoke, not with a jolt, but in that deadened thrall-state that takes a while to shake off --- you know the kind --- the where am I? oh yea, I remember, I'm here state.

I moseyed around the house for a while, checking windows and peeking outside to make sure my lovely tin roof was still here because we've been having the strange windy rains which always precede spring, those winds with that sense of anticipation still tinged with a touch of winter but definitely spring. After muddling about a bit, I fixed myself a nice sliced pear and decided to read the news and maybe even scoop everyone else, because after all, the bunch of you are asleep at 3 a.m., aren't you? Or am I the only person in the world who never sees 2 a.m. anymore?

And I found Maureen Dowd's latest. Which began okay - you know, she hasn't done too badly the last day or so.

But quickly disintegrated.

[...] Players who are struggling start talking about how they need to go out and find something to break their slump. And often enough it comes out something like this: 'Oh my God, I'm 0-for-20. I'm going to get the ugliest girl I can find and have sex with her.' "


At the dawn of feminism, there was an assumption that women would not be as severely judged on their looks in ensuing years. Phooey. It's just the opposite. Looks matter more than ever, with more and more women spending fortunes turning themselves into generic, plastic versions of what they think men want, reaching for eerily similar plumped-up faces and body shapes.

Pretty soon, we'll be back to the era when flight attendants - or should I say stewardesses? - are canned if they gain a few pounds. The New York Post reported that the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City would start weighing all its waitresses, and "Borgata Babes" "who gain more than 7 percent will lose their jobs unless they lose the weight."

Consider this gender differentiation: A gorgeous, fit guy who sleeps with an overweight, unattractive woman is "throwing himself on a grenade" for the team. A gorgeous, fit girl who sleeps with an overweight, unattractive man is lucky to have found romance in "Sideways" and "Hitch."

In Neil LaBute's play "Fat Pig," Jeremy Piven's character drops an overweight woman he likes - even after she offers to staple her stomach for him - simply because he can't bear his friends' mockery. TV is full of "Beauty and the Beast" pairings, with fat, lazy husbands and foxy, impressive wives.

One thing is for sure, though. Guys who look at fat women as "slump busters" are fatheads.

Oh, Maureen, Maureen, Maureen --- did you mother teach you nothing?

I'll admit there was a time when I thought my mother knew nothing. But as clear as a bell, I remember driving over to a somewhere, one of those hangouts twenty-year-olds are always having to rush off to because their entire lives are dependent on having lunch with everyone they ever knew and doing so as quickly as possible.

A gay friend was in the car with me, and I complained about my perennial pot belly. And he grimaced and looked me straight on (no pun intended) and said men could care less about that.

Just like my mother, which snapped me back into reality and out of the cultural dream I'd been swimming around in.

Four-five years back, I taught a course filled with females who looked exactly alike. All were blonde with the same nose and all were approximately the same size and wearing the same kinds of clothing. It happens.

More important, however, why would men who would sleep with women to bust a slump be of any interest to you, Maureen? They're the fools, as are the women who sleep with them. And fools are a dime a dozen. So it's a part of the current culture of baseball --- so what? There are equally noxious practices among, say, journalists and NYT Op-Ed columnists and White House Press Corps(es) and suburban neighborhoods everywhere.

Not to mention, rural areas where who's sneaking into whose backdoor is the talk of the day over coffee at the local feedstore. I tell you, I really had no idea!

Besides, if feminism were only about looks no longer mattering, then it was a pretty stupid movement, wouldn't you say? Especially because beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder - truly.

Now if you want to talk about that classroom full of blonde look-alikes I taught in the context of commercialization and the market, yea, I could go for that. But those kinds of problems aren't restricted to women. And who really believes them except, once again, a fool?

You couldn't pay me to go anywhere near one of those tucked and pomaded and nose-jobbed mindless robotrons Hollywood's trying to pawn off on everyone.

How are they any different?

And certainly, it's true that there's still intense gender discrimination, but how does a fool busting a slump and the fool that believes him have anything to do with gender discrimination?

Maybe it's that you're in D.C. where everyone is pinched tight and lipoed thoroughly and dyed into the next century. Maybe it's that you assume this is life and the way it is.

No, it's not.

Come on, Maureen, there are fools everywhere. Sure, those baseball players and their managers and their marks are fools. But feminism never promised to protect us from foolishness, did it?


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