Katie Roiphe puts Maureen Dowd…um, in her place.
In fact, Dowd’s most compelling example of this rarefied, lonely demographic of woman too successful for love is herself. As Dowd would have it, men simply find her intelligence, her status, her wit too daunting. (A friend called her up to complain that her Pulitzer Prize would make it impossible for her to get a date.) But is it possible that there is something else at play? In a recent New York profile, the writer reports: “she is an utter and unreconstructed fox. Something that nearly every person I spoke to about her mentioned, unprompted, is that men can’t resist her.” The piece further describes the wide variety of men Dowd has been involved with, ranging from movie stars, to important editors, to creators of television dramas. And they have apparently all been attracted to her, even though she is not in a service profession, or a maid, or a virgin in a gingham dress. One imagines that her intelligence, her sharpness, her sarcasm may even have interested these men. Could there possibly be another reason that the attractive, successful Dowd has not settled down? Something that is not in the zeitgeist, or the political climate, but some ineffable quality of her own psychology? It would seem wrong to raise this question about a woman writer, and in fact about any writer, but Dowd uses her experience with men as template for her theories so often, and marshals her failure to marry as evidence so frequently, that she herself raises the question in her reader’s mind.