Monday, December 12, 2005

Maureen Dowd: You Can Only Be a Feminist if You Are My Age

I do not have a link for this, but I must mention it nonetheless. Maureen Dowd, who I truly respect, appeared on CBS Sunday Morning yesterday to discuss her new book. She also commented on her life as a feminist. Loosely quoting, she said: 'When I was younger, I used to be a different than most feminists because I liked feminine things like high heels and lipstick. But now, in a day when young women care more about text-messaging their boyfriends than about who is up for the Supreme Court, I find myself going to the other end of the spectrum.' Again, I am loosely quoting because the transcript is not readily available. But it is pretty darn close.

As a woman who probably fits in Ms. Dowd's definition of a 'young woman,' I take great offense to her assertions. If anything, young women today are MORE informed, independent, and intelligent than they were in Ms. Dowd's younger days:

Some statistics to prove my assertion:

In 2000, 22% of female high school students took calculus, up from 10% in 1990. 45% of female students reported taking physics.

In 1999, females were just as likely to have completed every math course their male peers might have taken.

Women represented 55% of students who took Advanced Placement exams in 1999.

The rates of women who plan to attend college and/or enroll in college have increased, and now surpass men.

Women have outnumbered men on college campuses since 1979, and on graduate school campuses since 1984.

More American women than men have received bachelor's degrees every year since 1982. Undergraduate levels rose from 41% to 56% between 1969 and 2000.

Young women are informed about their world as well. 90% of my female 20-something friends could name both of Bush's Supreme Court nominees, at least three of his Cabinet Members, at least two policy measures pending before Congress, and at least four Iraqi cities. Could Ms. Dowd's friends do the same in their 20's?

Just because women today wear lipstick and shave their legs, it does not make them less informed than Maureen Dowd was at 25.

Ms. Dowd also implies that having a romantic relationship (i.e. text-messaging one's boyfriend) and watching the news (i.e. paying attention to Supreme Court nominees) are mutually exclusive. As though any woman with a boyfriend and a cell phone would never be able to concentrate on boring old news.

I mean, like, look at this cute emoticon! There's, like, news and stuff on the internet? I thought it was only for, like, shopping and instant messenger and stuff.


I have a friend who has a boyfriend, a band, a job, a full semester of classes, and a number of projects around the house, and she is normally the one who informs me about Mitch Daniel's latest moves. She reads Ms. Dowd's column religiously. I have another friend who has a boyfriend in a different city who she travels weekly to see, and she still finds time to keep up with sports and politics AND start up her own business. She reads Ms. Dowd's column religiously. I myself have a boyfriend, a job, a full semester of classes, and a puppy, and I even manage to write about Supreme Court nominees. I read Ms. Dowd's column religiously. [To be fair, I also have a friend who does not know of Sam Alito or Maureen Dowd...but in college she could not name the Vice President of the United States...some people just don't care about politics.]

I have always respected Ms. Dowd and her opinions. But I would strongly suggest that before she further disrespects young women on national tv, that she actually get to know one or two. She might be pleasantly surprised.


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