Is Maureen Dowd Obsolete?

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“Without men, civilization would last until the oil needed changing”–Federicius Aurelius Superomnem, 345 B.C.

Oh god, oh god. Death, taxes, migraine, sinus drainage, beriberi, and Maureen Dowd, the resentment columnist at the New York Times. On the web I find her at some feminist bitch-in, called Are Men Obsolete? She has this to say to men:

“So now that women don’t need men to reproduce and refinance, the question is, will we keep you around? And the answer is, ‘You know we need you in the way we need ice cream….you’ll be more ornamental.”

I was delighted to think that I might be ornamental, no one having suggested the concept until now.  I could have used it in high school. Maureen herself is beyond being ornamental, having that injection-molded look that follows the seventh face-lift, probably accomplished by the surgical use of a construction crane.

But I will say this to her:

Listen, Corn Flower. Let’s think over this business of obsolete men. Reflect. You live in New York, in which every building was designed and built by men.  You perhaps use the subway, designed, built, and maintained by men. You travel in a car, invented, designed, and built by men—a vehicle that you don’t understand (what is a cam lobe?) and couldn’t maintain (have you ever changed a tire? Could you even find the tires?), and you do this on roads designed, built, and maintained by men. You fly in aircraft designed, built, and maintained by men, which you do not understand (what, Moon Pie, is a high-bypass turbofan?).

In short, as you run from convention to convention, peeing on hydrants, you depend utterly on men to keep you fed (via tractors designed by men, guided by GPS invented, designed, and launched by men, on farms run by men), and comfy (air conditioning invented…but need I repeat myself?).

I do not want to be unjust. It is not in my nature. While men may be obsolete (unless you want to eat) I cannot say, Apple Cheeks, that feminists are obsolete. They are not. Obsoleteness implies having passed through a period of usefulness.

I do get tired of your hissing and fizzing about the noble sex to which I belong. Mercy, I cry. It is not my fault that Michael Douglas didn’t marry you. He didn’t marry me either, but I don’t hate men because of it. (In fact I am grateful to him, and doubtless he to me).

Don’t misunderstand me. I have nothing against ill-bred viragos—feminism has its place, though I’m not sure where. But let me be clear, Buttercup. I don’t want to seem rude—nothing could be more alien to my character—but I do think that you and your littermates might essay a civility exceeding that of menopausing catamounts. In fact, Sweet Potato, if it were not for my innate courtesy I might say that being at once useless and insupportable is stretching things.

A jot—an iota, a tittle, a scintilla—of gratitude might be in order. Should you look around you, you will note that everything that keeps you and the sisterhood from squatting in caves and picking lice from each other’s hair was provided for you by—the horror—men.

Is it not so, Rose Bud? Can you name one thing, with a moving part, that was invented by a feminist?

It seems to me that you gals are like African bushmen, but without their dignity. A bushman looks at a television (Invented by Men: IBM) in astonishment, and says, “Wah! Bad juju! Spirits inside!” He knows he doesn’t understand it and does not presume. His degree of understanding, I suspect, is exactly yours.

But I suppose the shrewery are so busy honking and blowing about socially-constructed this and gender-roles that and patriarchal the-other-thing that you don’t understand that there is anything to understand. Is it not so? When you sit at your computer spewing bile like a legged gall-bladder, are you aware of 2500 years of mathematics, chemistry, solid-state physics, engineering, information theory—all invented by men, the bastards—that go into the blinking screen?  Your vituperative ingratitude, Sugar Britches, is undignified.

But perhaps, you might say, I am being ungentlemanly—though I would hardly know how.  Perhaps, as we said in Alabama, you ain’t got the sense God give a crabapple.

Maybe, Petunia, you and your frothing friends could profitably come to terms with realty. Women make perfectly good dentists, surgeons, reporters, lawyers, musicians, editors, and all sorts of things. They can do some things better than men can (Dentistry: smaller hands, better fine-muscle control). In Latin countries they do these things civilly (consult your dictionary). And I applaud anyone making headway in this world on his, her, or its merits.

Yet as a matter of observable fact (a category apparently having no place in feminism), we men—patriarchal, capitalistic, macho, immature, savage, testosterone- poisoned, et cetera—seem to come up with everything important that comes up. (I won’t touch that one with a pole.) (Wait, I meant….) For example: The transistor, William Shockley and his group.  Microsoft, Bill Gates. Intel, Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce. Apple, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Dell Computer, Michael Dell. Public-key encryption, James Ellis, Clifford Cookis, and Malcom Williamson at GCHQ in England and later Rivest, Shamir, and Adelman of RSA Security. The World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, a Brit at CERN. Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Yahoo, Jerry Yang and David Filo. Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. The list could go on for another yard or so.

It will stay that way, Lotus Blossom, for the same reason that women will never be offensive linemen in the NFL. They can’t. If they could, they would have. If you disagree, I suggest you apply to the Redskins. They need any talent they can get.

Now, if I were left alone, I would say none of this, having no desire to make women feel bad. But you and yours will not leave me alone, Maureen.  I am perfectly happy in a world of female doctors and techs and what have you. When women act like what used to be called “ladies,” I act like what used to be called “a gentleman.” It used to be that if at the airport I saw a woman struggling with too much suitcase, I would say, “May I give you a hand?,” and put the suitcase where it needed to be. The woman would say, “Thanks,” to which I would respond, “Happy to help.” And that would be that. It should have nothing to do with machismo, and much to do with a suitcase. Now, I’m not sure I would do it.

OK, I’m bluffing. I would do it. But, Sweet Pea, I hope you have mastered parthenogenesis. It is your only hope.

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