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Who are you calling mommy?

By Kimberley Jane Wilson
web posted January 24, 2005

Normally I would never read anything by New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd for the same reason I rarely read Doonesbury or Dave Barry's stuff. It just doesn't strike me as being funny but after seeing a flurry of commentary on Dowd's op-ed "Men Just Want Mommy" I decided to read the thing.

What a profound disappointment. Dowd, a single woman herself accuses men, or at least New York men of being afraid of successful women. She reasons that this is why men end up marrying lower class, less intelligent, subservient women. Who are these unworthy women? According to Maureen Dowd they are "secretaries, nannies, caterers, flight attendants, researchers, and fact-checkers."

Having spent most of my adult life in the research field I began to bristle when I read that line.

Most of the people I've done research for over the years have been men and none treated me like a mommy figure or like a slave. The attitude of the smarter ones was pretty clear. They needed to know something and didn't have the skill or inclination to get the information themselves so they cheerfully paid me a salary to find it for them. If there is something low class in that I don't see it. I also don't recall doing a geisha act around the men I worked for. None functioned as my own personal "Sun God" and there was no time for "orbiting, serving and salaaming," in any office I've ever worked in.

While reading "Men Just Want Mommy" I came to the conclusion that Maureen Dowd's problem is not so much about foolish men as it is plain old fashioned snobbery. Judging from this op-ed I can only guess that she just doesn't like working class women.

Later in the op-ed piece Dowd uses movies as examples of what's wrong with today's guy. Her main target was last year's "Spanglish," Adam Sandler's effort to show he can do stuff besides comedy. Dowd is miffed because Sandler's character, a chef with a severely neurotic and spoiled wife falls for his Mexican maid. Horrors! Imagine a chef falling in love with a woman who, in the movie is depicted as being not only good looking but kind hearted, brave, patient and in the end, noble. Like the wicked step sisters in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Cinderella" a sour Ms. Dowd wonders why a man would want a woman like that.

Dowd's next target is "Love Actually" a not half bad little English film where Hugh Grant was miscast as a British prime minister who falls in love with his personal assistant. Another man in the movie is smitten with his secretary and yet another character is interested in his Portuguese maid. None of the female love interests are portrayed as being evil so the only thing "wrong" with the love affairs is that the women actually work for a living.

Oddly enough Dowd gushes over those old Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn movies because they are snappy romances between tough and witty equals.

There's just one problem. Those movies were fantasies.

In real life Tracy and Hepburn's love life was a bit different. By all accounts Spencer Tracy loved Katherine Hepburn but made it clear that he would never divorce his long suffering  wife. The best Hepburn could hope for was to be a long time girl friend. When faced with either the decision of taking this or leaving it, she took it. Hepburn remained at his side, unmarried and publicly unacknowledged for 27 years. So much for the movies.

When Maureen Dowd asks "was the feminist movement some sort of cruel hoax?," I almost stopped reading. The feminist movement never promised that its darlings would have happy love lives. Actually, it promised women a future where they wouldn't need or want a man for much more than sex. Dowd's idea of feminism seems to have little to do with the uplift of womankind and everything to do with keeping the waitress, the maid, the nanny and the elementary school cafeteria lady firmly in their places: Out of sight and away from any marriagebable man that Dowd might be interested in.

At the end of "Men Just Want Mommy" Dowd quotes unmarried actress, Carrie Fisher, who is and always will be the immortal Princess Leia to me. Leia, I mean, Carrie says that she no longer dates "powerful men" because they all want women who are in "service professions." No offense to Carrie or even to Ms. Dowd but perhaps it's time they both realized that Prince Charming belongs in the same category as Santa Claus, the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot. Even if Prince Charming did exist, he'd run away from a potential princess with the attitude Carrie and Maureen Dowd of carrying around.

There are small minded, control freak type men who genuinely want an unequal, downtrodden  woman because that's all they can handle but don't tar all men with that brush and don't slam all working women as being slow thinking menials either.

(c) 2005 Kimberley Jane Wilson

Other related articles: (open in a new window)

  • Dowd's your mommy by Bernard Chapin (January 24, 2005)
    Bernard Chapin couldn't let go unanswered a recent column by Maureen Dowd arguing that that men do not want to marry their equals


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