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29 Februar 2008 @ 23:20
That dweam within a dweam  

What follows is the body of a letter I have just written to the director of circulation and reader services at The Atlantic Monthly. Because really, if I wanted to read the witless contumely of sexist trolls, I could do so for free on the Web; I don't need to pay to have the stuff delivered to my door.

I have just seen Lori Gottlieb’s piece titled “Marry Him” in The Atlantic’s March 2008 issue, and so I am writing to ask you to please cancel my subscription at your earliest convenience.

I am asking you to do this not merely because I disagree with the burden of Gottlieb’s article, which seems to be that women should abandon romantic views of marriage in favour of more pragmatic ones, and that they should “settle” for whatever sort of husband they can get. In fact, I think the time is ripe for a thoughtful reconsideration of what marriage means, and of whether it is reasonable to expect that domestic partnership should always be based on romantic love. Such serious analysis is not, of course, what Gottlieb offers; instead, she gives us a few shallow overgeneralizations based on the experiences of herself, her immediate circle of friends, and the characters in her favourite sitcoms, and patronizingly concludes that what every woman wants is a husband and children.

If this were all, then I could dismiss “Marry Him” as a piece of reactionary fluff—idiotic, but not important enough to warrant cancelling a subscription to a magazine that normally carries more substantial fare. What I cannot tolerate is the malicious false dichotomy Gottlieb directs against her readers in the following passage:

Oh, I know—I’m guessing there are single 30-year-old women reading this right now who will be writing letters to the editor to say that the women I know aren’t widely representative, that I’ve been co-opted by the cult of the feminist backlash, and basically, that I have no idea what I’m talking about. And all I can say is, if you say you’re not worried [about getting married], either you’re in denial or you’re lying. In fact, take a good look in the mirror and try to convince yourself that you’re not worried, because you’ll see how silly your face looks when you’re being disingenuous.

In other words, Gottlieb tells us that on the matter of her readers’ feelings, she is a greater authority than they are, and she pre-emptively attacks anyone who might dare to take issue with her. This verbal bullying is despicable, and the ostensibly light-hearted tone of the piece cannot excuse it. (“Can’t you take a joke?” is the transparent apologia of bullies everywhere.) The Atlantic’s decision to publish “Marry Him” was a reprehensible lapse of editorial judgement, and I have no desire to subscribe to a magazine that insults its readers.

 
 
Nuværende humør: disappointeddisgusted
 
 
 
Q. Pheevrq_pheevr on 2. Marts, 2008 23:43 (UTC)

Ah! Well, that was perverse of them.

I wish it were possible to subscribe selectively to parts of publications—I'd like to be able to get the Saturday books section of the Grope & Flail, for example, without all the rest of it. And I could really do without the "Wheels" sections of my Saturday Star. And, of course, I'd like to be able to do the cryptic crossword I didn't know The Atlantic had, without supporting or being subjected to garbage like Gottlieb's.