Tuesday, May 26

Dear Lord

Ross Douthat, "Liberated and Unhappy". May 25

FIRST, housekeeping: Reader TM was kind enough to suggest I replace Allstate with State Farm. Two things: it was State Farm which dropped my Poor Wife twenty-five years ago after she had two accidents. The first occurred when she was rear-ended while stopped at a red light. The second when some dead drunk slammed into her car, another car, a light pole, and an enormous oak on the neighbor's property, and then ran off. I, foolhardy peri-youth, ran the man down and dragged him the mile-and-a-half back to face the music, which earned me two trips to court where I was never called.

Friday I received a call from a very nice woman in the Resolutions dept. at Allstate, which pissed me off no end since I was hoping for a surly white guy I could tee off on. She listened, said she thought she understood what had happened but begged the holiday weekend before she got back to read the files, and promised to call me tomorrow. The floating turds of that unflushed john of a collection agency they sicked on us have not been heard from again. There's no way I'm dropping Allstate while I still need the Customer in Good Standing Buttfucked by Your Incompetent Goon Squad status, because they may not know it yet, but they're paying for the requisite credit checks to make sure those assholes didn't get within hailing distance of our Credit, and if they did they're crawling to get the opportunity to correct every last misplaced jot. Then they're gone, after being reported to the BBB, the Indiana AG, the state insurance board, the Fire Marshal, and any warez revenge freeks I can drum up.

Second, that NatRev cover pic was too small, so it took me until this morning to notice that Mitch's combover is gone. No wonder he looked like Todd Luiso. And whoever's got the rights to The Fifteen Minute Hamlet bring it out on DVD already, or you're next.

Finally, I'd like to suggest that, should the Times re-up Douthat for some unfathomable reason, he get someone else to pose for his picture next time.

It is yet too soon to tell if Ross has settled into his Times rhythm or whether we'll see some sort of sporadic Wither Republicanism? dropped like a chintzy amount of artificial chocolate chips into the viscous weekly batter of Jesus and I Think Alike, but at this point those first two columns are beginning to look like a pathetic sop to that imaginary subset of Times readers who take their "conservatism" with a twist of weasel, an opening joke or two before he dove headlong into the straight religious material.

Lousy Feminists! They've made Baby Jesus and Baby Momma cry! (And no, really; Ross will eventually uncork a "serial baby daddies". The wonder is that it took him five weeks.) And did you know there's a new study out which proves it? It's by two economists! And if you like, Ross'll provide the link to where you can buy a copy for just five bucks.

New Study by Economists! is the opinionated cabbie for the html age.
This is “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness,” the subject of a provocative paper from the economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers. The paper is fascinating not only because of what it shows, but because the authors deliberately avoid floating an easy explanation for their data.

Tell me how it is that every time these guys quote some New Study or other they inevitably manage to betray the fact that they have not the slightest idea how to approach a professional paper? The authors deliberately avoid floating easy answers! Could be we've spotted a new academic trend here. Or it could be that, unlike the Vapor Cabbie, studies tend not to agree with one's tiniest presuppositions in ways that are easily dispelled.
But all the achievements of the feminist era may have delivered women to greater unhappiness. In the 1960s, when Betty Friedan diagnosed her fellow wives and daughters as the victims of “the problem with no name,” American women reported themselves happier, on average, than did men. Today, that gender gap has reversed. Male happiness has inched up, and female happiness has dropped. In postfeminist America, men are happier than women.

Shit, dude. There's 280 channels on th' teevee now, and twelve of 'em are ESPN; porn's a mouse click away; and the Coors Light can tells you when it's cold. Is Manhattan the farthest West you've ever been?

Why--and to whom--is this supposed to be a fucking paradox? Thanks to a generation of Republican economics the vast majority of households in this country need two incomes to stay afloat; meanwhile, the Distaff half of that equation still finds itself married to inconsiderate slobs, raising 2.4 bratty, consumer-goods-and-junk-food addicted children, doing most of the household work, and dealing with some shitheel boss who now imagines himself to be some sort of Entrepreneurial Hero. How's that the fault of Feminism?
Feminists and traditionalists should be able to agree, for instance, that the structures of American society don’t make enough allowances for the particular challenges of motherhood.

Yes, whatever our political beliefs, we can all agree that Pope John Paul II said it best when...
We can squabble forever about the choices that mothers ought to make, but the difficult work-parenthood juggle is here to stay. (Just ask Sarah and Todd Palin.)

Ask 'em what? If they know seventeen words for snow? Where they got their clothes? The Palins have fourteen children (Snap, Trigger, Bumpkin, Aspen, Neiman, Marcus, Slope, Polysci, Port, Starboard, Placenta, Nivea, Carmex, and Oopsie) by choice. They've got a six-figure income before Mom bilks the taxpayers. Are we supposed to ask them about the "difficulties" involved because they're proven experts on Failing to Impart Your Public Moralisms to Your Own Children? Is that an accomplishment? Or am I supposed to be feeling sorry for them because they've struggled so?

Christ, you should pardon the expression. It's one thing for you to think inside your little Bronze Age box; I don't care. It's irritating when you pretend you don't, but, again, if the Times wouldn't waste valuable space on this tenth-rate, utterly predictable, stuck-in-the-Sixties-backlash crap I'd never even mention it. But the feeble attempts of a not-yet-thirty child of privilege, Hahvahd-fucking-educated, to even produce a reasonable facsimile of an opposing argument when that's what he ostensibly is up to is just unforgivable.
They should also be able to agree that the steady advance of single motherhood threatens the interests and happiness of women. Here the public-policy options are limited; some kind of social stigma is a necessity. But a new-model stigma shouldn’t (and couldn’t) look like the old sexism. There’s no necessary reason why feminists and cultural conservatives can’t join forces — in the same way that they made common cause during the pornography wars of the 1980s — behind a social revolution that ostracizes serial baby-daddies and trophy-wife collectors as thoroughly as the “fallen women” of a more patriarchal age.

Forget Hahvahd and Hamden Hall; there was a time in your young life when you would have said--presumably, at least--that it was defined primarily by your Pentacostalism; today you would say the same thing, substituting Roman Catholicism. How in hell do you come through that and still imagine that the whole world basically agrees with you? It's beyond even faith-based Belief. It's the punditaster version of imagining foreigners will understand you if you speak English slowly enough and at twice normal volume.


R. Porrofatto said...

Thanks for your roll call of the Palin brood. I'd also like to know what it is Douthat thinks we should ask Todd Palin about the work-parenthood struggle. "Say, Todd, how do you manage to drill, baby, drill all those oil wells, win Alaska's premier snowmobile racing events, and still find the time to knock up the Governor so prodigiously? What's your secret?"

"Stigma, Ross. It keeps us going and on the straight and narrow. That's why we're not just ostracizing Levi, we're gonna crucify the little defiler. We got a friend in the AIP who's into gibbets 'n such. Handmade. Bitchin' to look at and still totally functional."

mark said...

hear, hear, doghouse...you should write for the frikkin Times, seriously

drenglish said...

These guys always give the game away, don't they? Reminds me of a line I recall from an old sitcom, possibly MASH: "You're disgusting when you try to be nice." Here's Douthat, being all concern-trolly about women's happiness, isn't it sad that (yet again!) we see how feminism has let the poor dears down, and then he goes and coughs up the big loogy: "the public policy options are limited; some kind of social stigma is a necessity."

Because what really floats Douthat's boat is the notion of a "social revolution" to improve the opportunities for ostracism. Stigmatize the whores (even the men)! Cruel to be kind is always the way for these guys, with the accent definitely on the "cruel." Somewhere along after the first couple weeks of the Abu Ghraib revelations I stopped imagining that any of the Christianists would be made uncomfortable by analogies between the torture of their God-man and the torture inflicted on Iraqi (in many cases) innocents; nevertheless it still surprises me that someone as supposedly dripping with theological insight as Ross Douthat can use the word "stigma," knowing its origins, quite so lustfully and quite so unselfconsciously.

TM said...

The only thing surprising about that final paragraph of Douthat's was its nakedness. What a dick.

As for the insurance, forewarned is forearmed: http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/west/2008/04/10/89008.htm


D. Sidhe said...

A fine piece of rant, which had me snickering at "twist of weasel" and scaring the cats away from even the birds outside the window when you got to "Vapor Cabbie".

Re the insurance, we've had Allstate covering everything for us since Geico dropped my partner after one accident, nearly twenty years ago (and have the nerve to have spent the last twenty years sending us junkmail and calling us to get us to rejoin), and the only problem we've ever had with them is they keep calling to get me to sign up to the auto club. They appear to have gotten the impression I drive from the time they covered me when I got hit by an uninsured motorist (the kickoff event of the Migraine Decade And Then Some). I was a pedestrian at the time, but they covered me anyway, which appears to be their policy but weirds them out so much they just assume I drive too. So we like them, and feel compelled to reward their non-fucking-annoying commercials with our continued patronage.

Also, I hate your word verification. Did I mention this? Is it specifically designed to keep us from commenting drunk, not that I am?

StringonaStick said...

Well, the "common cause" made by (some) feminists and cultural conservatives in the 1980's over porn really took care of that problem, didn't it?

This may sound crazy but I suspect that the current deficit in women's happiness has more to do with the economy starting to suck in the extreme since well over a year ago.

Sator Arepo said...

The strangest thing about this column was the overriding sense that ol' Ross has this bizarre, anachronistic idea of what "things are like, really," into which Feminism protruded temporarily to make a little noise about maybe some changes. This Intrusive Thing is clearly only a blip on the radar of Douthat's Symbolic Order, one that can be explained away with some studies or something, which will eventually either Go Away or sit down and Be Assimilated like a good kid.