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This Just In: Women Are Dim

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Sunday's Washington Post didn't see anything wrong with running an Op Ed piece by Charlotte Allen, "We Scream, We Swoon. How Dumb Can We Get?”

Allen argues that all women are dumb because some scream at a Barack Obama rally; some watch Grey's Anatomy; some get into car accidents; and some, evidently, accept tripe as Op Ed pieces for the Washington Post. (Actually, I don't know if the editor who accepted this piece was a man or a woman, but, following Allen's own guidelines, we can assume it was a woman.)

Allen concludes her strange, misogynistic screed by saying, "So I don't understand why more women don't relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess (as well as the ones fewer of us possess) and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel: tenderness toward children and men and the weak and the ability to make a house a home. (Even I, who inherited my interior-decorating skills from my Bronx Irish paternal grandmother, whose idea of upgrading the living-room sofa was to throw a blanket over it, can make a house a home.) Then we could shriek and swoon and gossip and read chick lit to our hearts' content and not mind the fact that way down deep, we are . . . kind of dim."

Imagine an African American, a Muslim, or a Jew writing a similar diatribe about their own demographic group: All African Americans are shiftless. All Muslims are terrorists. All Jews are greedy. Would such garbage make it into the editorial pages of the Washington Post?

As I noted in my February 20 Blogcritics article, "Makeup Your Mind: Reflections on Cosmetics And Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue," women are sometimes their own worst advocates. They sometimes buy into the admonishments of the cosmetic industry; they sometimes accept the "ditzy female" stereotype with affection; and they sometimes write Op Ed columns noting their own limitations as a gender.

Maybe Allen's article was meant to be tongue in cheek. Is she spoofing arguments based on gender? Does she really mean exactly the opposite of her final sentence: "Women are…kind of dim." Where is any indication of humorous intent?

If this had been Erma Bombeck, Molly Ivens, or even, God forbid, Maureen Dowd, we may have granted some ironic intent. Who is Charlotte Allen? Does she write humor columns? Without context there will be many who take Allen at face value and assume her own dim column is proof of her contention. Maybe Allen just doesn't have a sense of humor and we shouldn't judge all women by her shortcomings. Maybe, when God created woman from one of man's ribs, the joke was on us.

To quote a famous dim man, "Stupid is as stupid does."

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