October 02, 2012

Mimi Matte

Mimi Matte

How many feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

If you replied, “€œThat’s not funny!”€ you need to get with it.

The correct answer is “€œthe hot tub.”€

That’s according to The Atlantic‘s Sandra Tsing Loh in a widely discussed (and derided) piece in that magazine’s October issue.

Called “€œThe Weaker Sex,”€ it’s subtitled “€œHow the new gender economics has more and more professional-class women looking at their mates and thinking: How long until I vote you off the island?”€

Magazine writing hasn”€™t been a glamorous, well-compensated career since the end of the Harold Hayes era at Esquire. Nevertheless, I”€™m a female writer-for-hire and therefore one of the “€œweaker sex”€ myself. Forgive my pangs of professional jealousy, but when did the once prestigious Atlantic start hiring writers who use TV catchphrases dating back to the days when you could still get a chicken sandwich at Windows on the World?

“€œNothing you can do in your pajamas is real work.”€

Talese wept.

Tsing Loh goes to great lengths to inform us that, well, I”€™m not sure exactly, but it has something to do with a dinner party at which she and her mostly divorced female friends commiserate with the only one of their number still married, name of Annette.

Annette, we”€™re informed, “€œis a working warrioress, a high-level administrator who makes mid-six figures at a major foundation.”€

Having made exponentially less than that while working at a household-name nonprofit, I couldn”€™t help but speculate darkly on that particular foundation’s cost-revenue ratio.

Although I have to admit, that “€œmid-“€ was a cute touch on Tsing Loh’s part. I presume she and her friends are meant to represent a statistically significant slice of the population. Otherwise, this epochal new trend she’s stumbled upon would be no such thing.

Alas, unlike Tsing Loh, my girlfriends and I do not dine regularly on “€œwhite sangria”€ and “€œpesto hummus…from Whole Foods.”€ (In my lower-rent postal code, we call it “€œWhole Paycheck.”€) We also don”€™t sarcastically toast our ex-husbands (we don”€™t have any) and then”€”you think I”€™m kidding”€”retire to “€œthe hot tub, in candlelit darkness.”€

(Another revealing little touch on Tsing Loh’s part, although this time unintentional: That hot tub’s “€œthe,”€ as if every American just happens to have one gurgling away somewhere on the premises, in walking distance from “€œthe oven”€ and “€œthe fridge.”€)


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