Friday, January 14, 2005

We Can Change the World - By Whining

I forget who said it, but the quote is something along the lines of: women who feel entitled to all of the things men have should consider the male option of trying to be the strong, silent type.Not TheNewYorkTimes>Opinion> Maureen Dowd
My best friend in college was a hot, smart Korean-American classmate; same age, most of the same interests. The years went by - for me, dateless - for her a revolving door of older boyfriends who would come for a year and be dumped. We shared a peanut butter and jelly student's existence, romantically self-conscious about our poverty, but having a ball reading the same books and listening to the same music. She'd share her excitement with me on Thursdays, anticipating a three-day weekend at the boyfriend's vacation house, or at a five-star hotel in Chicago. The next Monday, she'd share her disappointment with me -"I really don't have anything in common with him. We get high and then watch cartoons and we have nothing to say to each other." You know the ending. After the last Price-Waterhouse boyfriend breakup, I asked and got my answer - "I couldn't. I know you too well." I know; Life's tough. Take it on the chin and move on.
Move on to thirteen years ago and,moving west on the way to Taiwan, I get a job shelving books at the University of Washington Law Library. Problem is, my eardrum is severely retracted and I'm suffering from dizziness and a constant, piercing headache. Full-time library workers are covered by health insurance, but the library Director, a feminist baby-boomer, is laying off full-time workers and replacing them with people like me who have two part-time jobs (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) and ,well, part-timers -heh heh- don't get health care. Eventually I got funding for the operation I needed, through the office of Rep. Jim McDermott (and when I get as rich as Michael Jackson, Congressman McDermott's staffers all get free rides for life on the twirlybird). When I wrote to the Director for assistance, however, what I got the next day in the hallway was an icy stare that would stop a clock. We got called in about this time for a consciousness raising session on sexual harassment; the minimum wage male staffers being warned in no uncertain terms by the female lawyers who ran the place not to even consider sexually harassing them. Popping another pill for the pain, I remember thinking, "this is why poor people vote for Ronald Reagan."
This is what power is. It is the right to say, and have broadcast:"I am a victim; you are not a victim. I may speak; you may not speak." Power means being able to define which issues are important and which are marginal. So Maureen Dowd went to a party and met some other rich, famous, middle-aged female friends, and they are having a hard time getting dates. It's not fair. Hmmm. Maybe. Who cares? Dare3 I suggest that the fact that the dating woes of this demographic merits a column in the New York Times is evidence of just how privileged these people are, not the opposite? I feel pretty certain that none of these women ever doubted for a second that the process by which they became rich was ever anything less than a perfect meritocracy.
So now I'm 45 and living in Taiwan. And I'm sure it's no secret that a reasonably well-preserved American man has his chances here. My girlfriend of the last two years is ten years younger than me, my previous two girlfriends were 26 and 28 respectively. All stunners, and smart, too! I make more than I made in America and I'm not complaining -though it's probably about one twentieth of what Maureen Dowd or Carrie Fisher makes. I'm covered under Taiwan's comprehensive health plan, but I still can't afford American health insurance. Hope I don't get cancer. But the sex is great, and the feeling that I'm attractive here - a bit of a catch, actually - is quite enjoyable. A little more enjoyable, actually, knowing that it's so deeply resented by people like Maureen Dowd.