Forgive the momentary lapse into self-absorption, kids. For days now I've had this crazy feeling that the universe was conspiring to throw some heavily weird energy my way. Not that I'm a total devotee to astrology or anything, but having grown up in the woods and raised by a lapsed Jew and a lapsed Catholic, without any sort of formalized religion, I've cobbled together a personal cosmology of sorts. It sort of represents a patchwork of environmental and cultural forces. Half-hearted paganism meets the daughter of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. Anyway, the universe. Things just didn't feel right last week. I entered the end of the week with an ever-growing sense of dread and curiosity. Exactly what odd encounters would befall me this weekend? What were the yet known quantities in the equation (Kate+weekend) (alcohol) (x)=y ? By Sunday the answer was clear, albeit slightly hazy. The universe tossed me one devil of a predicament and rather than politely declining I fell for it hook line and sinker. Further evidence of the fact that if there's any situation on earth that I shouldn't buy into, I will embrace it with open arms and even throw a parade for it. I have no idea what the term for it is, but I am huge believer in life forces and the fact that some manifest in a stronger manner at certain times of the year. For me, Autumn always = total freak show. If anyone can tell me why this is, I'd really appreciate it.
next portion edited out. it seemed rediculous at the time and a week later, even worse. life is still a freak show, i can promise you that.
Speaking of laughable, this week's Sunday New York Times Magazine featured more of the journalistic stylings of Maureen Dowd
, complete with retro-glamour girl photo shoot. I know that as a female liberal, I'm supposed to like Dowd, but I can never help but think that 1.) her ramblings make little sense and 2.) Then when they do, they're articulations of really obvious sociological or political trends that really didn't need to be pointed out, let along opined over for seven pages. To be fair, the article begins well, celebrating all that I love about being a girl--madcap adventures, girly girl fashions, trading wise cracks with the men around you like an intellectual equal, nay superior, referencing Dorothy Parker. She speaks of her apathy towards late-sixties cookie cutter bra-less hempfest feminism, that equality was a matter of fact to her, not a movement truly in need of cultural reinforces like Ms. Magazine. For a brief moment in time, muses Dowd, feminism did manage to achieve a certain dynamic wherein opposing genders acted as if everything was indeed equal and fair. But now, as Dowd points out for those of us who haven't noticed, cultural tides seem to be sliding back just a bit, for as Dylan might paraphrase, "These times they are a changin'" and perhaps not for the best. Women are eschewing high-powered careers for the idyll comforts of Life On Wysteria Lane, asking men to pick up the dinner tab, committing the Rules to memory as if it were some kind of post-modern religion. Dowd concludes that these developments are evidence of the need for a reinvigorated approach to feminism, and I couldn't agree more.
But what lacks, or is at best subjugated in her essay is perhaps the most significant relic of the first-wave feminism, that elusive thing called choice. As women of the new millennium we've been raised to believe that we can do whatever we want to do--become doctors, race car drivers, rock stars, sluts, junkies, what-have-you. The world is our oyster and we're sucking it down with Jager chasers. As difficult as it can be for some to believe, a tenant of choice is the possibility that some will embrace choices that seem wrong or misguided to you. If a woman believes it's her life's role to nurture and educate the next generation, who can begrudge her desire to stay home and be the perfect mom? Seriously, the 80's ideal of the kick-ass chick who power walks to work in white Reeboks to spend 8.5 hours at work to power walk home again to make dinner and entertain her family is totally overwhelming and in all honesty, not completely fair. When did it become okay to assume that women wanted to do everything? I personally have come to believe that I reserve the right to excel where I please and slack off on what doesn't matter to me. Why do I have to do everything and why is my desire to follow an (unknown) but more narrow path such a tragedy?
A dear friend of mine circulated the article to a lot of her friends. It was interesting to discover just how many guys we know secretly subscribe to the belief that women exist to please and entertain them in this 50's house wife meets Sam Jones automaton. My friend's reaction to these revelations: Maureen Dowd ruined my life. A great statement, and perhaps a bit of an exaggeration but the perfect acknowledgement of the mass media's continued persistence to make us be all that they want us to be.