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Nov 01 2005

Not Dowdy Today

Camerondiazshoe
Cameron Diaz, wearing the world’s biggest earrings, feels up a Blahnik in her new movie

I have been pelted with exhortations–by which I mean, four or five people have expressed a passing interest–to rip Maureen Dowd a new one for an excerpt in the NY Times Magazine from some book she’s got coming out. Apparently the book is a lament on how "the perfume of female power is a turnoff for men" and other 21st century dating dilemmas causing such consternation among that segment of female society who think they’re Carrie Bradshaw but wish they were Pamela Anderson.

But Jesus Christ, are you people crazy? Do you mistake me for a Dowdian scholar? The excerpt in question is seven pages long! If I didn’t finish Proust I’m sure as hell not sloggin’ through that thing!

Instead, I have just read a dumb article of a more suitable length, the premise of which is that "women’s stories don’t sell." As proof of her thesis, author Carrie Rickey gesticulates wildly at a film that, because I ritually ignore Hollywood, I have never heard of, but which I suspect, based on the fact that it stars the repellent Cameron Diaz, sucks chunks: a bildungsmovie about, I think, shoes, entitled In Her Shoes. Unlike similarly heartwarming dude-o-centric films such as About A Boy and The Full Monty, In Her Shoes has apparently performed like dog crap at the box office, for which pathetic loserness the author blames its Hugh Grant-less chickitude.

To which I say: Bridget Jones? Erin Brockovich? Thelma & Louise? Laverne & Shirley?

Oh wait, not Bridget Jones. I forgot it has Hugh Grant. But isn’t it possible that the appeal of that movie is its validation of widespread public surmise that Hugh Grant is a schmuck, combined with the satisfaction of seeing a waifish Hollywood actress put on a few pounds?

If I appear to be giving a free pass to the patriarchy here, fear not. I agree completely with the argument that men would rather have root canal than see movies about women or shoes. I disagree, however, with Rickey’s supposition that men are afraid that watching a "chick flick" will actually turn them into women. The real reason is that they are culturally prohibited from expressing an interest in women as human beings. Or, to put it mildly: they hate movies about women because they hate women.

As Maureen Dowd says, Bill Maher says men just want women to shut up!

47 comments

  1. Xavier_Harkonnen

    I think it’s because we perceive chick flicks as portraying women as being shallow human beings, and we only want to see a shallow character if he (occasionally she) is blowing shit up. I think that I have learned to distinguish between the shallow chick flicks and the good ones, though, since my mom has made me watch so many movies with her. Bewitched: dumb. Pride and Prejudice: good. Calendar Girls: okay.

  2. Xavier_Harkonnen

    Actually, Bewitched was ok too. Right now I can’t think of any chick flicks that outright sucked. In fact, I even like the soppy “Sweet November” and its Mormon ripoff “Charlie.”

  3. Hattie

    I wish Bill Maher would shut up.

  4. badteeth

    The only reason Thelma and Louise was any good was Harvey Keitel and whoever played Geena Davis’s husband. That guy was my hero.

  5. badteeth

    The only reason Thelma and Louise was any good was Harvey Keitel and whoever played Geena Davis’s husband. That guy was my hero.

  6. ugh

    Begin Operation “Ignore The Thing That’s Posted Above”

  7. Buffalo Gal

    I couldn’t get past the first page. MoDo claims not to be a feminist, and to have read “How to Catch a Man” without results. So why does she blame feminism for her manlessness?

    For the record, I followed the catch-and-release protocol.

  8. Rene

    I read the Maureen Dowd excerpt in its entirety, and I wasn’t offended. It seemed to me more of a cynical lament about the state of gender politics than a prescriptive statement — you know, here we are, some 40 years after Friedan, and everything still fucking sucks. Want proof? All you have to do is pick up a Cosmopolitan magazine. I do take issue with her premise that men are turned off by intelligent, educated women. Sure, some, perhaps most, men are, but those are the kind of men that most intelligent, educated women wouldn’t want to be with anyway.

    Salient quotation: “There it is, right in the DNA: women get penalized by insecure men for being too independent.” Who wants an insecure man, anyway? Surely not Dowd herself, who obviously ignores the realpolitik advice from the how-to-catch-a-husband crowd that would-be husband-catchers are sarcastic at their own peril.

    The single women I know are single because they, like Dowd, probably, don’t want to settle for any old schlub who comes along. Feminism has afforded us the luxury of being picky.

    Rene

  9. MsKate

    Sheeit, I don’t watch chick flicks either, at least not most of them. Why? Because they are boring boring boring. Like listening to a scratched vinyl copy of “Feeeeelinnnngs” over and over at the wrong speed. Yech.

    I find them boring because they generally are not about women at all … they are about what women are told they should be like. Yeah, I dug Norma Rae, Coal Miner’s Daughter, and Erin … but that’s because these were stories about the REAL lives of EXTRAORDINARY women. No pretty woman bullshit, no working girl garbage. Real. Women. Thelma and Louise was fictional, but it also rocked because the characters were realistic, if twisted into high mayhem fantasy gear.

    I don’t like women who are cockwhipped in my movies. Pathetic. So much better to see gals that don’t play by “The Rules”, and question the whole “gotta getta man to make the movie perfect – most important thang ya know!”

    Which is exactly the problem with the MoDo article, which I did read. Nowhere is it ever questioned that one does not need a man. Want a man? Desire a man? Yearn for a fellow egalitarian traveller? Sure. Need? Not. Something I read as a young teen always stuck with me. An elderly spinster was asked why she never married. Her reply? “It takes an awfully good husband to be better than no husband at all”.

    Hear Hear.

  10. alphabitch

    Twisty: I know I’ve said it before, but I would so totally make out with you, etc.

    Yeah, I thought whatsername was just a little cuter a few pounds heavier, but maybe it’s just that I read the book and found the character engaging enough. I never actually saw the movie, now that you mention it. I did see her picture though – before, during, after, and again during and after. What a crazy phenomenon that is: weight as a character attribute. An ex-fashion/advertising photographer pal of mine pointed out a spread in Vogue she did after the first movie and speculated that it was simply done to prove to those in the business that the weight gain was indeed deliberate and just a temporary professional sacrifice and she was over it and could safely be considered for new roles.

    Buffalo Gal: Catch and release! That’s hilarious! You can’t avoid a certain amount of inconvenience and harm, but you don’t have to kill them just because they took the bait, poor bastards. Sure it’s cruel & all, but if they’re any kind of smart, they’ll learn from the experience and maybe they won’t go for such a shallow come-on the next time.

  11. mcmc

    The single women I know are single because they…don’t want to settle for any old schlub who comes along. Feminism has afforded us the luxury of being picky.

    eh-zaackly. The other thing that occurs to me is that those men who don’t like intelligent women just don’t like people who find them boring and stupid. You can’t really blame the poor fuckers–oh, wait.

  12. Tony Patti

    I read the MoDo piece through, also. It focusses to a sickening degree on the supposed problem of landing men who sound like they would be nothing but huge egocentric braindead problems to live with, anyway.

    It’s interesting to me lately that most men are stupid, self-absorbed abusers and are addicted to every single pathetic vestige of male privilege they can imagine claiming. And that men who are marginally more aware of women and their problems are further hampered by taking any criticism of the men who are far worse than them as an attack on themselves. It’s not a situation that lends itself to improvement.

    And then we see crap like this, where intelligent women act as if it’s some kind of a problem with women that they can’t attract the worst kind of men one can imagine. The obvious and eternal question is never addressed: Why should any decent women want anything to do with men like that?

    The first answer to present itself is a sad one: These women believe that they could never find a suitable man with a basic awareness of sexual politics. The implication that all men just want to date submissive supermodels with little or no brains is infuriatingly defeatist.

    The problem is surely in the question of suitability. The only suitable men for a woman like that is a narcissistic asshole, so that’s what they end up dating. It’s a small world, the world of alpha males.

  13. Nancy

    MoDo’s article demonstrates why the NYTimes allows her to be its only female op-ed columnist – because she doesn’t threaten insecure males – and she worships the Patriarchy.

    I read the whole damn article. My conclusion: Dowd is a fucking ninny.

  14. jc.

    Most people, male and female, seem to be fucking stupid. If this is due to culture, brainwashing or genetics is not always clear. People seem to want to maintain systems and values that continue to keep them ignorant and destructive victim children. Honestly why would anybody with some sort of inteligence and atempting to achieve/maintain some sort of humanistic integrity and morality want to base their life accomplishment on having a long term relationship, let alone mating, with such people? Are these women needing confirmation in a relationship with, please god hear my prayers, any male, in actuality really inelligent, sucessful and powerful?
    Should we care about their tragedy?
    Is real adult life actualy only a continuation of junior high school with driving licenses?

  15. The Fat Lady Sings

    Bill Maher hates women. Really. This is different from misogyny – because he does make exceptions for those women he doesn’t sexualize. But on the whole – he hates ‘em. I have listened to him talk about women now for about 10 years, and there is always a touch of loathing in his voice. It creeps into everything he says, and the way he approaches them in an interview. Oh, he’s funny – I actually like the man’s comedy; you just have to understand where he’s coming from first.

    And about feminism and dating? My best friend, an intelligent, articulate, beautiful, professional woman still changes herself to suit the man; and considers herself less if she doesn’t have a boyfriend – even one with multiple problems, or who treats her badly. I have given up exhorting her to believe in herself, and not settle for whoever happens to come along. So – as long as women are willing to re-set themselves in order to ‘get a man’ true feminism will always be something kept in a drawer; and I think that sucks.

  16. TimT

    I agree completely with the argument that men would rather have root canal than see movies about women or shoes.

    Did I ever mention what popular bedroom activity the word ‘root’ was synonym for in the Australian vernacular …?

  17. Josef K

    What’s so bad about Cameron Diaz? She:

    *eats greasy crap all the time
    *wore a fright wig in Being John Malkovitch *broke her nose several times and insisted the doctor leave it wonky “to put people off having plastic surgery to look like me”
    *admits to enjoying a good poop.

    Yes, I know actresses always cultivate this fake “down to earth” persona, and pretend they think of themselves as ugly, but I still kind of like Cameron Diaz.

  18. Josef K

    Excuse the lousy list formatting above. I’ve got a head cold.

  19. badteeth

    –”It’s interesting to me lately that most men are stupid, self-absorbed abusers and are addicted to every single pathetic vestige of male privilege they can imagine claiming. And that men who are marginally more aware of women and their problems are further hampered by taking any criticism of the men who are far worse than them as an attack on themselves. It’s not a situation that lends itself to improvement.”

    There you have it. Basically men and women aren’t interested in each others problems.
    You can whine till your face turns blue, we’re just not interested. Why not? Because we know you’re all man-haters anyway.

  20. Beth

    Is it just me or does being called a “man-hater” just not sting as much as it is intended to?

  21. darkymac

    Mais non mes petites. Leave alone the other womans, at least in their real lives.
    They may indeed be propping The Patriarchy up with the collective massiveness of their buttressing bodies of work, however they themselves do not deserve the “fucking ninny” epithet and the opposite “I still kind of like Cameron Diaz” stroke.

    These women are mere palimpsests. Rewritten and scratched over daily in the endless churn to prop big men in offices up. It is permitted to call an actress “the repellent Cameron Diaz” in the context of criticising her acting, as the Twisty master has illustrated, but leave the persons out of the persona line of fire.

    Rip into the editors and the directors instead. Please? In particular, I vomit on the NYT subber who coded into the Dowdy article that Special K ad.

  22. Knotted Knickers

    While Twisty declined to give the Maureen Dowd article the smackdown, Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett took the challenge for Womens’ eNews. They don’t have TwistyFaster’s wit, verve, and way with words, but they completely filet the article and Dowd’s alleged research.

    Sorry to keep coming in here with links. It’s only because I adore you so. You’ll ban me – or tell me first – if I get too obnoxious, right, Twisty?

  23. ms kate

    Once upon a camping trip and more than a few beers, I wondered aloud in a group of 20 something women why women primp themselves up to go out and meet guys, then wonder or complain at the utterly superficial fish they catch? If you want somebody interested in more than your appearance, then don’t spend hours on your appearance and put it forth as your greatest accomplishment!

    One women, a friend of a friend, lit up the campsite when the damn lightbulb in her head went on. Years later she thanked me for the insight, as she is happily partnered to a guy she met on a birdwatching trip. A trip she took because it was something she wanted to do on a Saturday morning with no makeup and a stupid hat and boots.

  24. amelia

    i think the dowd piece is worth some ripping-into. aside from the total lack of reasoned analysis, the times saw fit to hawk the fucking thing on the front page of the website USING A PICTURE OF DOWD IN LACE TIGHTS AND RED PUMPS. i can’t help but be amazed that dowd’s sort of writing — “we’ve got an unsolvable problem! let’s play dress-up!” — passes for feminism these days.

  25. Maryscott OConnor

    Regarding Bill Maher…

    I’ve said it before elsewhere and I’ll say it again: I base my assessment of him as a misogynist on a personal encounter, followed by about three hours of observation. Who knows, maybe he ws drunk — PROBABLY he was drunk. Regardless, he was a classic MCP back in 1996 during the Republican Convention in Chicago, nothing I’ve seen since gives me any reason to believe he’s improved… and that’s all I have to say about it.

    Except this:

    I blame the patriarchy.

  26. deja pseu

    You know, it’s grand fun to bash “chick flicks”, but honestly I’d rather watch a good movie about relationships than a supposedly “good” one where nothing much happens except that a bunch of crap gets blown up and people chase each other around in cars. I haven’t seen “In Her Shoes” yet, but I did read the book and it’s not about shopping and shoes. It’s about three very different women in a family who learn to navigate their lives and their relationships with each other. Dorris Lessing it’s not, but I found it to be an engaging and enjoyable story.

  27. Chris Clarke

    My problem with Chick Flicks is my problem with Flicks in general: Sturgeon’s law applies. (“98 percent of everything is crap.”) This weekend I realized that there was actually more than one movie in current release that I wanted to see: a feeling I haven’t had for some years.

    But the good ones I like, and oddly have witnessed no depletion of my vital male essence as a result of watching them, or even of tearing up at appropriate moments therein. Thelma and Louise, Coma Agua Para Chocolate, Frida (despite the horrible casting), all rocked.

    That said, I have the excellent good fortune of living with a woman who would happily watch a documentary on 13th-century Anasazi cannibalism (including recipes) or flesh-eating invertebrates but would not be caught dead entering a theater showing the likes of Beaches or The French Leftenant’s Woman.

  28. George Knightly

    Huge fan of your Twisty-ness. Not so much of the Dowd. I do think it amusing that Jane Austin, at age 17, wrote in Northanger Abbey pretty much the same thing – something to the effect that a portion of men certainly demand complete imbecility in women, but that for most, mere ignorance is sufficiently attractive. Isn’t it odd that she never married?

  29. Sara

    The Anasazi practiced cannibalism? Wow! I never knew that. What was the name of that documentary, and where did you see it?

    (Oh, and what MsKate said. Good stuff, as usual.)

  30. Sam

    Just wanted to pop Titanic up on the list of enormously popular chick flicks. It’s the most chick flickiest blockbuster since Gone With the Wind.

  31. tisha

    Hm. Read the Dowd article and I understood where she was coming from. The Equality Game can only work when both sides are playing, and it’s obvious that men AREN’T; they’re still using the old rule book. This leaves heterosexual feminists confused about how to proceed finding a decent MALE life partner. I get it.

    Face it: It’s a mating game and our limbic systems (those cavemen/women parts of our brains) are still in charge. The underlying purpose, of course, is survival of the species, not our romantic “fullfillment.” Nature doesn’t care if we’re happy; It only cares that we breed. Consequently, resenting ourselves as nubile (youth, good skin, red lips, shiny long hair, acceptable waist-to-hip-ratio, sweet-disposition, etc.) is what will find us mates, NOT our brains or razor-sharp wits.

    Don’t like the game? Don’t play! Get a dog. No, better, get a cat. In fact, get two. I have two. The only way not to be pissed off by this game is to transcend it.

  32. darkymac

    Isn’t it odd that she never married?

    That you should assume so, Mr Knightl(e)y:
    La, I always considered the turkey pilfering to have been the most un-chancey of events.
    I fancy that Mr Woodhouse chose his son rather than did Mrs Knightley ever agree to marry you – however few lace veils and very little white satin she endured.

  33. Chris Clarke

    The Anasazi practiced cannibalism?

    At the risk of hijacking yet another thread, and yes, I do have my own blog where I can do this: There is strong (but disputed) evidence of cannibalism at several Anasazi cultural sites. As far as I know, nothing indicates it was the Anasazi themselves who did the eating. It may well have been a facet of an occupation by imperial cultures from further south, for example the Aztecs. Which might explain some of why the Anasazi started living in hard-to-reach canyons up cliff walls, if true.

    The movie was one of those Nat Geo cable specials.

  34. kathe

    MCMC — Yeah, they probably are poor fuckers, too . . .

  35. Dot

    Twisty: you are awesome to be so able to keep on target. Keep it up.

    Never saw Thelma & Louise because I couldn’t stand the premise that women who guys fucked over had no choice but to off themselves in the end.

    It’s lonely being intelligent and wise and articulate. Just is. But I will not EVER be otherwise.

  36. Christopher

    My preliminary theory is that women like Dowd spend so much time looking for men because they like to fuck, but social conditioning prevents them from actively pursuing a series of one-night stands.

  37. Nancy

    but social conditioning prevents them from actively pursuing a series of one-night stands.

    I think you are on to something here. I really think that Dowd is more in thrall to her early conditioning than she wants to admit, even to herself.

    And I don’t think it even has to be one night stands. If she made an effort, she could have herself a relationship with a hot young guy. But she’d have to be able to let go of traditional male-female roles and be the senior partner – but I really don’t think she has the imagination or the guts to break out of her early training. She’d rather blame her romantic problems on a feminist backlash and/or feminists.

    If only Cary Grant was still around. Boo hoo Smurfette!

    Hey, wasn’t Cary Grant bisexual?

  38. Nancy


    Never saw Thelma & Louise because I couldn’t stand the premise that women who guys fucked over had no choice but to off themselves in the end.

    But the part where they blow up the guy’s truck is soooo awesome. A fantasy come true for any women who’s been the victim of a street hassle – which means ALL women.

  39. Alice

    I didn’t recognize myself or any woman or man that I know in the Dowd article. The whole thing is about whiny urban twits who have too much money and not enough to worry about. If you don’t go on stupid-ass dates, you don’t have to fuss about who’s paying.

    People say the Times has a liberal bias, but what it has is an upper-class urban bias. The writers and editors mistake the little problems of some shallow East Coast downtown twits for the problems of the world. The concerns of the rest of us only make the paper as occasional human interest stories.

    Who cares if the privileged ladies of New York are using Botox? I say, jam needles into ‘em all day for all I care. Let’s talk about the problems of women who don’t have any choices, not the problems of women who have too many.

  40. Josef K

    Darkymac, I see your point, and it’s a good one. But what I was trying to say is that Cameron Diaz – palimpsest or no – is doing more than most Hollywood actresses to smash the beauty myth. Yes, she’s a puppet compared to the male directors/screenwriters/producers. But she still has more power than a lot of women, and she seems to be using it more responsibly than most of her profession.

    N.B. Hitching your wagon to the latest celebrity cause is not the same as using your power for the right reasons, obviously.

  41. Buffalo Gal

    Alphabitch – I was trying to be snarky. Why do you assume I lured someone with a shallow come-on? The truth of the matter is, I was crazy about him but he turned out to be crazy.

  42. Buffalo Gal

    Hit “post” too fast. What this has to do with the thread is – feminism has given us the means to make these choices. Which is why I question MoDo’s blaming feminism for problems between the sexes, when as we all know, the patriarchy is to blame.

  43. deja pseu

    Just wanted to pop Titanic up on the list of enormously popular chick flicks. It’s the most chick flickiest blockbuster since Gone With the Wind.

    I HATED “Titanic”. Likewise “Beaches”. I did, however, enjoy immensely “Enchanted April”, “Cold Comfort Farm”, “Truly, Madly, Deeply”, “Clueless”, the Diane Lane movie about the house in Tuscany, “Thelma & Louise”, among others that have been doomed by the “chick flick” label.

  44. Joolya

    “For the record, I followed the catch-and-release protocol. ”
    I recommend ear-tagging. Then you can track their movements using GPS!

  45. Chris Clarke

    I recommend ear-tagging. Then you can track their movements using GPS!

    That doesn’t work reliably for the Sensitive Artist Types.

  46. Betsy

    <>

    God, amen, and especially if the subject is in the South; then it’s not even a human interest story — more like a natural history feature.

    < < If you don't go on stupid-ass dates, you don't have to fuss about who's paying.>>

    Dating is itself one more idiotic patriarchal institution. It rests on the the supremacy of coupledom – the idea that the strongest human bond is the heterosexual one. I say other bonds are arguably as strong or stronger (such as mother-infant, sibling bonds, and friendship).

    But these other bonds are not reinforced and celebrated with societal institutions in the way that the heterosexual couple bond is. You can’t, for example, get your sister in on your health insurance policy at work.

    I blame the patriarchy for the breakdown of good old-fashioned social bonds and networks across genders and generations.

  47. Betsy

    Oops, what I meant to post was (first a quote from Alice):

    “People say the Times has a liberal bias, but what it has is an upper-class urban bias. The writers and editors mistake the little problems of some shallow East Coast downtown twits for the problems of the world. The concerns of the rest of us only make the paper as occasional human interest stories.”

    God, amen, and especially if the subject is in the South; then it’s not even a human interest story — more like a natural history feature.

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