Friday, September 25, 2009

So here goes nothing, on the nonsense written in "blue is the new black"

So Mustafa from the BeirutSpring posted, on his twitter account (@beirutspring), the link to the following article: Blue is the New Black, written by Maureen Dowd for the New York Times.

Now I will put aside my previous experiences with the NYT's destructive sensationalism when dealing with...um...everything.

This Op-Ed isn't so bad. It deals with the issue of women being sad in spite of the feminist revolution and all that shit. And I am not saying that women have reached the gender climax or anything. But I have some grave reservations on the article, so let's see what I liked and what I did not like in this article:

  1. The article starts with "Women are getting unhappier" Maureen says to her friend, "How can you tell" the friend deadpans. And then the article goes on, quite a uselessly dramatic start for an Op-Ed if you ask me, but I am not a journalist so I wouldn't know. What I do know is that, the author does not answer that question, she hints to an answer and to references later on but somehow by not answering right after the question she just belittles the importance of the answer. It sounds like an exaggeration, but if you think of it, statements like "Women are getting unhappier [tatatam]" are huge ones, they need to be explained more and supported with clear evidence. What women? From what nationality, race, class and sexual/gender identity etc.? How do you know they are unhappier? How do you quantify happiness? Is your scale of happiness inclusive enough to make such a universal statement?

  2. Anyway moving on:


    Why are we sadder? I persisted.
    “Because you care,” he replied with a mock sneer. “You have feelings.”
    I'm sorry Maureen, but seriously? SERIOUSLY?! We are sad because we have feelings? Because we care? No, maybe because we are socially coerced into constantly feeling guilty... more on this point at a later stage.


  3. So it's time for the great revelation of Maureen's source that proves that women are undeniably unhappier? No, it's time for vague allusions to some...things:


    In the early ’70s, breaking out of the domestic cocoon, leaving their mothers’ circumscribed lives behind, young women felt exhilarated and bold.
    Have "women" broken out of the domestic cocoon? Did they leave their circumscribed lives behind? Or was it a small group of relatively privileged women who have voiced their opinion, were called bitches, whores, home wreckers and man-haters, and later on they were called feminazies, bitches, whores and man-haters. In fact those "young exhilarated and bold women" are hated so much that other women would just say all the things that feminists only after they add "I am not a feminist or anything but..." because they cannot afford being called feminists. I have been called a discriminating man-hater just because I was wearing a shirt that said "Feminist". It is not an easy life and it doesn't help us be happier. It's a long term commitment that promises only the acknowledgment of the female suffering and subjugation as "genuine" and gives back at least some credit to the suffering of our mother and a name to the harassment we endure on the street.



  4. Which brings us to this piece of wisdom:


    But the more women have achieved, the more they seem aggrieved. Did the feminist revolution end up benefiting men more than women?
    I wonder why? Let's see, out of all the women in the world, how many have not endured gender based violence? How many have not been sexually harassed or raped? How many are getting equal pay for equal work? How many get the chance to advance in their career without being guilt-tripped into believing they have failed the real things in life (like love, kids and family)? How many are exempt of hearing sexist remarks/jokes on an almost daily basis? How many have full citizenship rights?
    The feminist revolution? It is still in the making, there is a certain limit that needs to be tipped before we get to feel the real benefits, I always like to compare it to chemical reaction, to make the reaction happen you need a lot of energy at first, or else the reaction will not start.
    One of the main problems that gender equality faces is that most women don't want to become political, they don't want to fight, and that is understandable. But it also means that the mainstream current of ridiculing, belittling and destroying women in power remains unchallenged. In the states for example, even after all the work that has been done, there is no woman president! In Lebanon, the parliament has a disgraceful number of female MPs (4!!). The system is made to fit men and most of the time made to cripple women before catering to men's needs. So women are not allowed to succeed. They can work hard, but they have to work harder to be equal, they will sooner or later have to choose between career and family, they often need a car to get a job... does that sound fair? Does that sound equal? The feminist revolution is still struggling to get basic rights! Looking at that fact is aggrieving don't you think?



  5. Ok I went on long enough on that point:


    According to the General Social Survey, which has tracked Americans’ mood since 1972, and five other major studies around the world, women are getting gloomier and men are getting happier.

    Before the ’70s, there was a gender gap in America in which women felt greater well-being. Now there’s a gender gap in which men feel better about their lives.
    That's it? General Social Survey and five other major studies? Care to quote and elaborate? Not that I don't trust your judgment of things (lol) but what was the methodology? the approach? the target group? And just for the record, non-american women exist and they do count when you want to say things like "Women are unhappier". Ekh!





  6. As Arianna Huffington points out in a blog post headlined “The Sad, Shocking Truth About How Women Are Feeling”: “It doesn’t matter what their marital status is, how much money they make, whether or not they have children, their ethnic background, or the country they live in. Women around the world are in a funk.”
    Save this for future reference, and btw I like Arianna's post better, at least it links to references, you can read her post here: The Sad, Shocking Truth About How Women Are Feeling



  7. Now let's see, what other references do we have?


    Marcus Buckingham, a former Gallup researcher who has a new book out called “Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently,” says that men and women passed each other midpoint on the graph of life.
    “Though women begin their lives more fulfilled than men, as they age, they gradually become less happy,” Buckingham writes in his new blog on The Huffington Post, pointing out that this darker view covers feelings about marriage, money and material goods. “Men, in contrast, get happier as they get older.”
    So now we're quoting a guy who self-identifies as: "Leading expert in personal strenghts and bestselling author"? And oh let's not forget that so far they are all grounding their philosophical understanding of the universal woman happiness on one freaking study! Stab me now, I beg you!





  8. Buckingham and other experts dispute the idea that the variance in happiness is caused by women carrying a bigger burden of work at home, the “second shift.” They say that while women still do more cooking, cleaning and child-caring, the trend lines are moving toward more parity, which should make them less stressed.
    When women stepped into male- dominated realms, they put more demands — and stress — on themselves. If they once judged themselves on looks, kids, hubbies, gardens and dinner parties, now they judge themselves on looks, kids, hubbies, gardens, dinner parties — and grad school, work, office deadlines and meshing a two-career marriage.
    *Muffles a laugh upon reading "Buckingham and other experts"* but no to be fair, this is the part that I find useful, they did give this part a little thought, though Maureen kept chewing on this point for the next 9 paragraphs or so...'



  9. And finally the last point:

    Men can age in an attractive way while women are expected to replicate — and Restylane — their 20s into their 60s.

    And she goes on about this for a couple of paragraphs or so, which is probably the best point in the article. Women do not have the privilege of growing old with dignity, women are their looks, and a woman's looks are bound to her youth, the older she gets the less she is appealing and more value she loses. Very few women break out of this coccoon and the ones that do are not usually admitted into the "normal" society. Which means that few women would want to take that path.
In the end, again I don't mind the article, it highlights some really important points. But when you deal with a complicated and difficult issue then you might want to take some time and research your work. I may not have time to do that because blogging is not my full-time job, but I am guessing that someone writing the Op-Eds for the New York Times is expecte to be a bit more thorough about what s/he writes...

No comments: