I just finished reading Marueen Dowd's most recent book (and yes, I realize I'm reading it a year late, but in my defense, my final year of college I was attempting to keep afloat with classes and therefore had to take a break from popular culture). I sort of knew from the outset that it was going to be disappointing. She whines about why women are awesome and alone. She makes sweeping generalizations about gender. None of this is surprising, given her Times columns. It's sad that a woman who has the potential to be so powerful and influential -- printed alongside other public thinkers each week in the paper of record -- falls short. She sort of comes off as a silly woman.
Granted, she has legitimate grievances. One of the more memorable anecdotes is toward the end is her tale of searching for a job after the New York Star went under. She met with a married magazine editor (presumably at Time) who asked her to stay the night with him at his hotel after making a job offer. Although this is appalling, it's shocking how, er, unshocked I was to read about this. My own experience with middle-aged editors is that they constantly view their female co-workers (or, in this case, potential female co-workers) as, above all, female. The solution to this is complicated. Women are right to be outraged at such behavior, but the one thing Dowd is right about is that simple litigation will not solve the problem. What's more, there are women out there that are willing to take advantage of such sexual encounters. Unless women uniformly reject such advances, this will always be a problem. In the meantime, there are plenty of other work-related issues that can be dealt with on a uniform level: salary equality, parity in management positions, advocating for family flexibility, etc.
What's more, I'm fairly certain that Dowd has the wrong take on Muslim women. The answer is far more complicated than women ripping off their robes and standing up to misogynist Arab men. This is a topic I'd like to do a lot more research on, but any time religion becomes entangled with personal rights, it takes a lot to untangle the two.
I also have beef with the idea that Bush has a "feminist foreign policy." That may be part of the public argument, but if Bush were really concerned with feminist rights, he wouldn't be pouring money into abstinence-only aid in Africa.
I could go on and on with the points with which I disagree, but I fear I've written too much already on a book that largely wasn't worth reading.
I hope in my subsequent pop feminism readings, I'll find something more substantive. Suggestions?