Man Without Qualities

Wednesday, July 09, 2003


Maureen Dowd seems determined to expand on her past elliptical achievements! As did Vidkun Quisling, the leader of the Norwegian national socialist Nasjonal Samling Party, Ms. Dowd has contributed her name to the English language with the term Dowdify: To substantially distort the meaning of a statement by omitting a portion of it and attributing the altered statement to the original author or speaker.

Today's column is a much more ambitious effort on Big Mo's part! Today, Big Mo is substantially distorting the meaning of current research in a whole field of biology by omitting a portion of it and attributing the altered results to the field. All that to make some nasty, unfunny point that she never bothers to actually reveal.

Should misrepresenting research by omitting entire fragments be "hyperdowdifying" it? Or perhaps the term "dowdify" should be kept intact, and its meaning taken as expanded.

As is so often the case with Big Mo, the point of today's column is unclear - heck, it's even unclear if the column has a "topic." But she does continue what OpinionJopurnal terms her custom of writing breezy, trivial columns on matters of world-historical importance. Specifically, Big Mo is for some reason in a dither over research suggesting that the Y chromosome may have become smaller over the last so-many-thousands-of-years, weirdly concluding: Perhaps that's why men are adapting, becoming more passive and turning into "metrosexuals," the new term for straight men who are feminized, with a taste for facials, grooming products and home design. Yes, it's hard to believe, but the editors at the Times have allowed this column to be a survey of eccentrically selected biology literature - Big Mo herself describes today's subject as creepy-crawly girl-eats-boy love stories.

Could today's column be a biology lesson which is also a response to some bad date or social break-up she has just experienced? Big Mo seems to focus (can Big Mo "focus?") on genetics and animal analogues, so her bile flows generally towards what she truly sees as the "opposite sex," regardless of whether she has dated them, or could - regardless even of their sexual orientation. And, goodness, she unaccountably omits her trademarked terms such as "testosterone drenched" and "testosterone poisoning." There's not even a reference to Donald Rumsfeld!

Whatever her motivation may be, she clearly writes only about research concerning reduction and shrinkage of the Y chromosome and its significance, but other current research finds the reverse, as Maggie Fox just reported for Reuters:

The closest look yet at the Y chromosome -- which makes men different from women at the most basic level -- shows it is not as puny as scientists believed, researchers reported ... The tiny chromosome in fact carries more genes than mainstream wisdom had dictated. Most seem to be devoted to sperm production, the U.S. researchers reported.

While Big Mo's topic and motivation are unclear, she definitely includes a good deal of anger at men in today's effort. A male columnist attempting a misogynistic enantiomorph of this (and many another) Big Mo effort would find himself on the unemployment line with Michael Savage. Does Big Mo ever write about her positive relationships with men - as, say, Times food critic Amanda Hesser does with substantial charm (in-Times and out) about her "Mr. Latte?"

Of course, there is a big difference between the role of Big Mo's columns and that of Amanda Hesser: Big Mo rarely has something substantial to communicate in her columns, where Ms. Hesser always does in hers - be it about eggs, butter, olive oil or some other winning comestible. Indeed, Big Mo seems hardly a columnist now at all - her style now being more suited to reporting how she spent the night hurling eggs from a car than folding them into a delectable soufflé, a style the result of shedding credibility, depth and insight furiously over the course of her tenure as a Times columnist. And can Big Mo's worsening penchant for bad, juvenile puns (here, unbelievably, "Y" with "why" and "X' with "ex-") do her employer and the Pulitzer committee proud?

As Big Mo herself might now phrase her comparison with Ms. Hesser: Better to be an eggs-columnist than an ex-columnist.

Comments: Post a Comment