Wednesday, April 19, 2006

How unnecessary

Feminists make me nervous. Not because I'm some horrible woman-hating chauvanist; more because I'm worried that deep down inside of me one is trying to get out. But I'm certainly a masochist; I adore Sylvia Plath, I was glued to Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch, and right now I'm progressing through Maureen Dowd's Are Men Necessary? (answer: no) at a rate of knots.

And as anybody who's read her New York Times columns would already have guessed, it's good. Real good.

It starts slow(ish), mainly because Dowd finds it difficult to snap out of that acerbicly rapid-fire wit of hers and get with the point too often (the frustration is akin to Jim Schembri's occasional brilliance), but soon enough she is on track. The jokes flow on, of course, but they're focused.

The book is good because despite all temptations Dowd resists the opportunity to talk down: there are those asides, those digs at "us crazy men" and the incomprehensible world in which even the smart ones seem to dwell, but the comments are always insightful and the surface-sheen is really only there for show; there's plenty of substance underneath.

One troubling thing: the New York Times grammar controversy continues. On page 104 Dowd refers to "alpha [as in alpha males and alpha females and "alpha moms"] SUV's". Sports Utility Vehicles. SUVs. But she says "SUV's". God dammit.

I don't understand where the laws of grammar went out the window (but it's somewhere in the middle of New York City apparently), but it makes me angry. Next angry email stop: Maureen Dowd's inbox. I never did get a response from the Times though.


kat said...

Obvious bad grammar bugs me too. However, we never really learnt it at school so there's often situations when I'm not sure what I should be doing, esp when it comes to semi-colons.

I've got Eats, Shoots & Leaves sitting on the shelf half finished - really should get onto that. I've also been meaning to check out that Dowd book... read a few good reviews :)

CBomb said...

I really thought MoDo's book was shiteful.

pandaobscura said...

C: Why is that? Of course, it's no De Beauvoir or Greer, but I never expected that it would be. Actually, I gave it more credit because I really just thought it would be one long column, but there was at least a vague sense of analysis and critique in (some of) it.

It depends; it really was just feminism-lite, and I can see how that could rub anybody the wrong way, but I like to think that at least a half-way reproach of the continued patriarchy is better than none at all.

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