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Fresh from her success with the best-selling Bushworld, Maureen Dowd turns her sparkling prose and wise wit to a topic even more incendiary than presidential politics: sexual politics.
Four decades after the sexual revolution, nothing has worked out the way it was supposed to. The sexes are circling each other as uneasily and comically as ever, from the bedroom to the boardroom to the Situation Room, and now the New York Times columnist who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1999 for saucy and incisive commentary about the dangerous liaisons of Bill, Monica, Hillary and Ken Starr digs into the Y and X files, exploring the mysteries and muddles of sexual combat in America.
In a new book filled with chapters that surprise and amuse, Dowd explains why getting ready for a date went from glossing and gargling to Paxiling and Googling; why men are in an evolutionary and romantic shame spiral; why women have reeled backward in many ways; why men may be biologically unsuited to hold higher office, given their diva fits and catfights, teary confessions and fashion obsessions; why women are fixated on their looks more than ever, freezing their faces and emotions in an orgy of plasticity that makes the Stepford Wives look authentic; why male politicians and male institutions get tripped up in so much monkey business; why many alpha women, from Martha to Hillary, can have a successful second act only after becoming humiliated victims; and why the new definition of Having It All is less about empowerment and equality than about flirting and getting rescued, downshifting from "You go, girl!" to "You go lie down, girl."
In addition, Dowd, who has reported on historic moments on the sexual battlefield, from Geraldine Ferraro's vice-presidential run to the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings to Hillary Rodham Clinton's reign as copresident, explores not only how many of these shining feminist triumphs backfired on women but also how Hillary, a feminist icon busy plotting her campaign to be the first woman president, delivered the final blow to female solidarity herself.
Women's liberation has been less a steady trajectory than a confusing zigzag. Feminism lasted for a nanosecond and generated a gender tangle that has bewitched, bothered and bewildered men and women for forty years. Now comes a woman to cut through the tangle and tickle Adam's rib. The battle of the sexes will never be the same.
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She may be smart, incisive, witty, and keenly observant but with the release of Are Men Necessary?--a series of pithy (some might say piqued) ruminations on the sexes--Maureen Dowd will never, ever be championed by guys. Not that she cares. Even those who seek to avoid her columns in the august pages of The New York Times are certain to stumble over her invective in syndication. Dowd, it often seems, is everywhere. So those seeking even more via this book should be warned: Are Men Necessary? not only asks the eponymous question; it seeks to answer it with myriad examples (some convincing, some not) drawn from the Toronto Star to Kenneth Starr, from Cosmopolitan to Condoleezza Rice. You can bet a lot of folks aren't going to relish the answer.
With hands on hips and eyes wide open, Dowd surveys gender relations in contemporary settings such as the workplace, the White House, the mall, and the media, comparing and contrasting as she goes. And while her secondary sources are endless--and, let's face it, the subject of gender inequality is not exactly new--Dowd manages to produce a fair share of bons mots. To wit, this pearl on the subject of plastic surgery and men: "I have yet to see a man come out of cosmetic surgery without looking transformed into some permanently astonished lesbian version of himself," Dowd quotes a source as saying. "It's terrifying. My friend's father had just his eyes done by the best, most highly sought-after cosmetic surgeon in New York City. And he doesn't look refreshed or well rested. He looks like he's being stabbed to death by invisible people." Dowd's generously dispersed anecdotes, though seldom as funny, are equally readable. In the end, though, one wishes Are Men Necessary? went beyond simply grocery listing examples of sexual disparity to offer concrete suggestions for change. Then again, maybe that's too great a task even for a woman like Dowd. --Kim HughesAbout the Author:
Maureen Dowd has written for Time, GQ, Harper's Bazaar, Mademoiselle, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Ladies' Home Journal, Sports Illustrated, The New Republic and Redbook, among many other publications. She became a New York Times Op-Ed columnist in 1995, having written about the White House and its occupants since the Reagan era. Previously, she wrote the "On Washington" column for The New York Times Magazine.
Dowd joined The New York Times as a metropolitan reporter in 1983. She began her career in 1974 as an editorial assistant for The Washington Star. When the Star closed in 1981, she went to Time magazine. Dowd is a native of Washington, D.C.
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