Maureen Dowd looks at Elena Kagan and ponders the spinster's life. Dowd would prefer Kagan as a Sex and the City babe, or a lesbian; anything but an old maid. Because it's just not fair:
Men, generally more favored by nature as they age, can be single at all ages. But often, for women, once you’re 40 or 50, or simply beyond childbearing age, you’re no longer single. You’re unmarried — meaning it isn’t your choice to be alone. There are post-50 exceptions. Consider celebrity examples: Samantha in “Sex and the City,” Dana Delany, Susan Sarandon and Madonna are seen as sexily single.
But if you have a bit of a weight problem, a bad haircut, a schlumpy wardrobe, the assumption is that you’re undesirable, unwanted — and unmarried. [. . .]
Kagan has told a friend in the West Wing that she is not gay, just lonely.
Er, well, it's still a fact of life, as it ever has been, that some less attractive women do have trouble finding mates. That's why "attractive" is synonymous with "beautiful" instead of "schlumpy." Elena Kagan is no cougar. But why should she be?
Dowd assumes that Kagan would be a swingin' single if only societal norms were different, or something:
Why is there this underlying assumption that Kagan has missed the boat? Why couldn’t she be eager to come to Washington to check out the Obama-era geek-chic bachelors, maybe get set up on a date by Michelle Obama, maybe host some single ladies fiestas with Sonia Sotomayor, maybe even sign up for JDate with a new and improved job status?As Dowd must know, the competition for those geeks is pretty stiff. Women over fifty, and over 150 pounds, need not apply.
Maybe Kagan will indulge in the dating scene Dowd describes. That would be up to her. But it doesn't occur to Dowd that some women would prefer the solitude of spinsterhood to that. It seems Dowd can accept older single women only if they're on the prowl; in her world, the old maid isn't respectable if she's comfortable with her celibacy. Isn't this a bit anti-feminist? Where's the respect for the truly independent woman? I know this will sound crazy to Cosmo-femmes, but even virgins can live meaningful lives.
But Dowd is missing the most plausible explanation for Kagan's loneliness, though it's right in front of her:
In the initial accounts about Kagan, she seemed to have an appealing swagger, posing as a judge for her yearbook, bragging about what a “famously excellent teacher” she was, bantering with the Supreme Court justices as solicitor general, smoking cigars, drinking beer and playing poker. And she had an endearingly ditzy streak: One friend told how she would get so consumed with work, she sometimes parked her car and left it running all night.
Aha. Could it be that some ambitious career women are too self-centered for marriage? And that loneliness is a common consequence of that driven life? Maybe the careerist Kagan made a conscious decision to put work ahead of family. I thought feminists understood that.Most recent posts here.