Monday, January 02, 2006

Are Men Necessary? by Maureen Dowd

I think Maureen Dowd is pretty darn brilliant. She's so very, very smart and funny and really knows what is going on in the world.

Sometimes the universe places in your hands exactly what you need. I bought this book using a gift card someone gave me for my 30th birthday. Talk about being knocked on my ass. That's a rough birthday. This book though did quite a bit in helping me get back on my feet. I didn't get around to reading this book until the Christmas holidays. It was exactly what I needed as I faced my annual holiday depression.

I've hit this age where all of my friend are now tending to their children and husbands and I don't really have anyone to go out with and go places and such. I don't have any interest in the husband and children thing. None at all. I don't say that as a defense mechanism, but simply as fact. I've never understood the allure of it all. I like not being dependent on others. I like making decisions that affect only me. Sometimes though, I don't like being alone. Doesn't mean I want a man, sometimes just a friend who has time to sit and talk would be nice. That rambling there, it is sort of related to some of the ideas expressed in this book. Not to mention that reading this book felt like having a nice conversation with a like-minded girl-friend.

Much of this book is a reflection of Dowd's disappointment over what seems to be the death of feminism. What the hell happened? Now all these women are doing anything and everything possible to acquire a man, to be a wife and a mommy and that seems to be all that matters. Those of us not interested in those things, we're left standing on the side feeling very awkward and confused. What's wrong with us? Why don't we want that stuff?

One of my many dreams, when I was young and naive and had never set foot outside of a small town and still believed dreams were attainable, was to be a columnist. I thought at the time that I actually had things to say that people would want to read. But now that the real world has beat me down, I've become aware of the fact that there are people signifcantly more talented than me saying the things I would like to say, but in much more readable ways.

So when I'm reading Dowd's work, I'm thinking, "exactly, that's just how I feel." Of course, there is no way I could write those thoughts and ideas in such a way. But it is nice to be able to read them.

That's actually another subject on which Dowd touches. Men tend to go after whatever they want, without regard to whether they will fail or succeed. Almost as if they assume they will always suceed and if they don't, they just keep trying. A woman (in general, of course this doesn't apply to everyone) on the other hand, she waits, and waits and waits until she knows she will suceed. In essence she doesn't take chances and probably misses out on a lot of opportunities. I saw myself in this. I don't try things unless I know I'll succeed. Being that I can't see into the future, and very few things provide guaranteed results... We won't even talk about all my missed opportunities.

Overall, though, I felt the underlying message of the book was that men are not essential to a woman's life. Women are quite capable of managing on their own. We don't need men to take care of us, and we don't need men to dictate the ways in which we take care of ourselves and our surroundings. They seem to cause a lot of trouble. In the end, what made me feel a whole lot better about reading this is that I realized, or rather, I had my beliefs re-confirmed that it is very much okay to be single and essentially alone. This whole "finding a man thing" is way overhyped. Simply a product of marketing. There are many other things in life to which I can direct my focus that do not involve men or "hooking up" with men.

I think all women, single ones especially, and probably a few men, would benefit from reading this book.

Read during the week of Christmas, finished on Jan. 1, 2006.