A Nov. 5 Style profile of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd should have noted that in addition to three brothers she has a sister, Peggy.
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Sex & the Single Stiletto
The reason: men. "When the criticism comes from women, it's more emasculating and makes them feel more effeminate," conjuring up images of "harpies and nagging wives and mothers."
There are other dangers as well. In 1981, when the folding of the Washington Star left Dowd unemployed, a Time magazine editor interviewed her over a hotel dinner -- and then asked her to spend the night. She said she had to meet her boyfriend.
"I literally screamed in the middle of the street," she says. "I was desperate for a job. I didn't know after that if I would still have the job Monday morning."
Why, then, did she make up with the brute? "If you left a job or didn't take a job every time someone made a pass at you," she says, "your rsum would be so checkered with short-term jobs you could never get a job anywhere."
Dowd also drew unwanted attention from Bob Packwood, the lecherous senator who kept calling to say he loved her picture in Esquire's "Women We Love" issue and insisting she come by for a glass of wine.
Her love life seems, well, snakebitten. There was the top New York producer who, she says, told her that he'd wanted to ask her out between marriages but that her job as a columnist made her "too intimidating."
When Dowd ran into Steve Martin at a party, she told him of her theory that big-shot men prefer to marry support staff. He had just written "Shopgirl," a novel-turned-movie about a rich guy's courtship of a Saks Fifth Avenue glove saleswoman.
"Yes, it works out perfectly," Martin joked.
Of course, when you're a 53-year-old single woman and you write a book bemoaning the state of male affairs, people tend to notice -- just as they noticed when Dowd had a brief fling years ago with Michael Douglas.
The gossip was so breathless that a writer for London's Observer speculated that her relationship with the Clinton pal was prompting Dowd to go easy on the man then facing impeachment. After one of Dowd's columns about Bush ("The Boy Emperor picked up the morning paper and, stunned, dropped his Juicy Juice box with the little straw attached. 'Oh, man,' he wailed, 'North Korea's got nukes. . . . Get me Condi! . . . And a peanut butter and jelly sandwich' "), Rush Limbaugh accused her of being "mean, despicable, childish and immature." Then Limbaugh added: "It's obvious Maureen Dowd hasn't gotten over her breakup with Michael Douglas, who she thinks is a real American president. . . . He blew it by running off with Catherine Zeta-Jones, leaving Maureen Dowd in the lurch."
Typical, says Dowd. Limbaugh, she says, "is not going to talk about Tom Friedman's personal life." (Of course, that might change if the Times foreign affairs columnist were pursuing Zeta-Jones.) But Dowd has a knack for drawing attention: Tongues also wagged when she was dating "West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin.
Does Dowd try to have it both ways? Serving up sneak peeks of her romantic life but crying foul when it's invoked by others? Cataloguing the myriad flaws of men without examining her own neuroses? Or is there, as she says, a double standard for hotshot women?