Thursday, February 21, 2008

So, here’s the new column. This post won’t make much sense until you read both the article that inspired the column and then the column itself, so go do that and then come back.

Done? Yeah. Is that unbelievable or what? I read it ten days ago and I was so incensed by it that I spent several days ranting about it to anyone who would listen. It's been killing me not to say anything about it sooner.

I’m going to exercise a lot of self-discipline here and not talk about my impressions of the author as a person. I can’t say I think I’d like her, based on what she said in this piece. But I am aware that there’s no way you can really know what a person is like based on just an article. People who just read a few pieces I’ve written don’t really know me, they only know the carefully-crafted slice I present to them. Plus I’m guessing she wouldn’t instantly take to me, either. I doubt it’ll be an issue in either of our lives.

And I try not to be nasty about other writer’s talent, or their lack thereof, because I know how it feels to have people knock my writing. But – this particular piece is not well-written. It’s like a first draft, way too long and repetitive. Frankly, it reads like a blog post – something where she just sat down at the keyboard, rambled about some feelings she was having, and hit Send. That’s okay for blogging, but for a magazine like The Atlantic? Um, no. Did she not have an editor for this piece?

I'm not saying you can't find anyone who'd agree with her. But for someone who admits she's making a sure-to-be-unpopular statement, her points are not well-argued. There’s just so much wrong with the reasoning and rationales of this nationally-published article that I’m just… blown away. I could pull quote after quote from the piece that display the author’s poor judgment and lack of personal insight, but I think it unfortunately speaks for itself.

The worst idea was publishing this piece to begin with. I cannot state too strongly my opinion that Ms. Gottlieb will be lucky if any man is ever willing to even go to dinner with her ever again, so thoroughly has she sown the ground with salt here. Trust me on this – the male of the species does not respond well to seeing themselves roasted in print. The hurt feelings of my dear and favored boys is the reason I have mainly stopped doing the Silly Phone Calls posts. Even though they knew that they were not the actual people I was teasing, there was an ever-increasing chorus of “Hey, I though you liked me!”

I do, I said. It’s not you I’m making fun of. You don’t say those witless things to me. It’s that dumb guy over there.

Didn’t help. And that’s guys having a BDSM relationship. Ms. Gottlieb wants some guy to marry her and help support her child after she refers to them collectively as "damaged goods"? Never. Gonna. Happen.

But whatever. If the author wishes to handicap herself in a race she’s already declared almost impossible to win, well, that’s not my dog. What really pisses me off is the lack of responsibility here. There's a difference between saying, "Here's my personal experience," and "Young women, listen to me and heed my words! Here's what you should do!" If you’re going to publish a call to action like this, you better be pretty damn sure what you’re advising people to do is right for everyone, all the time. Somewhere, a woman is going to read this, and based at least in part on the advice of Ms. Gottlieb, she’s going to marry a guy she’s not in love with. And that’s going to be a bad choice on her part. Now the fault will mostly be hers, because that’s how grown-up life works, but Ms. Gottlieb will actually have some fraction of blame for that in my eyes.

It’s like breath-control play. It is my strong opinion that cutting off someone’s oxygen is a bad idea. Do I know people who have done breath-control play and not died? (Yet.) Yes, I do. Does that stop me from telling people they should refrain from this kink? Nope, because if I said “Oh, breath-control play can be okay sometimes,” and someone read that, and did it, and died – I’d feel I had some moral responsibility for their death. If I can keep anyone from having a tragic accident, I’d be really happy.

So I will say it again: don’t marry someone you’re not in love with. It will cut off the air to some vital part of your soul, and it will wither and die.


Note: I’ve had some interesting conversations about this piece with friends, so if you have opinions on this piece (or my thoughts on it) that you’d like me to publish, send them to me in an email in the next 48 hours or so. I’ll compile them in a follow-up blog piece.

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