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Dowd is from everywhere

  • Apr 21, 2012

I never like those "Men are from . . . . Women are from . . . . " formulations because they are usually trite and forced, and Dowd would agree.  She is from everywhere in this collection of essays on different fronts of the gender gap.

I'd say "gender wars" but she would blame George W. Bush for starting them, which she does, actually.  Most of the pieces, about dating, money, work, body image, and politics in the post-feminist era, are interesting, if lightweight.  But when it comes to politics, Dowd has a deep and serious animus against anything that walks or talks and is named George Bush.   At one point, her twisted logic takes her right to the doorstep of blaming him for the Islamic suppression of women--because Islamic fundamentalist male politicians have to defend their culture against Bush's aggressive democratic stance, so they take it out on their women, and it is all George W. Bush's fault!  Of course, Bush is also roundly condemned for the "coming" religious suppression of women at home in the United States.  That stance I have always found so pathetically anti-American as to be laughable, especially when contrasted to the vicious violence against women in non-Christian cultures.  Dowd seems blind rather than thankful for the freedoms America offers, even if only a very imperfect reflection of Jesus's admonition that all (races, genders, nations) are one under God.

At least Dowd is consistently wrong on that issue.  When she tries to deal with the very public sexual and gender politics around Clarence Thomas and then Bill Clinton, she gets twisted into very uncomfortable and inconsistent positions trying to throw race under the bus to defend gender (Anita Hill), then throw women (Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers, . . . ) under the bus to defend corrupt liberal Democrats.  As it turns out, the 2008 presidential elections were essentially about the American people turning that formula on its head:  voting for the African-American man, while throwing Hillary Clinton under the bus.

The book concludes (writing in 2005) with a tortured discussion of how Hillary Clinton might fare as a president, and how Dowd as a woman might feel about Hillary as president after her complicit role in abandoning feminism.  At least Dowd has the intellectual honesty to be conflicted.  I'm not a regular reader of Dowd's opinion essays, so I wonder what she thinks about President Obama, and about Hillary now?  

OK, with that out of the way, the rest of the book is sometimes fun, sometimes interesting, sometimes insightful.  It might not be very consequential, but at least Dowd doesn't take the easy path of instant generalization of the Men are from/Women are from variety. 

Enjoy it for the occasional thought-provoking bits. Oh, and the answer to the question of the title?  Not really, it seems!  And there, Dowd might just be right. 

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April 26, 2012
Nice review. I can't agree with you giving it a negative rating though because of the last two paragraphs of your review should bring the rating up to at least a 2.
April 21, 2012
The American people have been skeptical of generational presidencies. Presidents Ted and Franklin Roosevelt were 40 years apart. Senator Edward Kennedy could not get the Democratic Party nomination. President George Bush II was elected twice with the thinnest of margins. Mrs. Hillary Clinton was subject to the same constraining factors.
More Are Men Necessary?: When Sexes... reviews
review by . January 31, 2006
Is this the bashing of a gender? I picked up the book with curiosity piqued by a controversial title, "Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide" by Maureen Dowd, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning New York Times op-ed columnist, who has long been a favorite of mine because of her biting and inciteful (and insightful) commentary. The noir cover incites nearly as much as the title, with a redhead in a bright red clingy dress and red stilettos, surrounded by a busload of leering men. One might think this tome will …
About the reviewer
Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #36
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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About this book


She may be smart, incisive, witty, and keenly observant but with the release ofAre Men Necessary?--a series of pithy (some might say piqued) ruminations on the sexes--Maureen Dowd will never, ever be championed by guys. Not that she cares. Even those who seek to avoid her columns in the august pages ofThe New York Timesare certain to stumble over her invective in syndication. Dowd, it often seems, is everywhere. So those seeking even more via this book should be warned:Are Men Necessary?not only asks the eponymous question; it seeks to answer it with myriad examples (some convincing, some not) drawn from theToronto Starto Kenneth Starr, fromCosmopolitanto Condoleezza Rice. You can bet a lot of folks aren't going to relish the answer.

With hands on hips and eyes wide open, Dowd surveys gender relations in contemporary settings such as the workplace, the White House, the mall, and the media, comparing and contrasting as she goes. And while her secondary sources are endless--and, let's face it, the subject of gender inequality is not exactly new--Dowd manages to produce a fair share of bons mots. To wit, this pearl on the subject of plastic surgery and men: "I have yet to see a man come out of cosmetic surgery without looking transformed into some permanently astonished lesbian version of himself," Dowd quotes a source as saying. "It's terrifying. My friend's father had just his eyes done by the best, most highly sought-after cosmetic surgeon in New York City. And he doesn't ...

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ISBN-10: 0399153322
ISBN-13: 978-0399153327
Author: Maureen Dowd
Publisher: Putnam Adult

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