It is hard to cry for Lori Gottlieb. She is a gifted writer with impressive credits. She is the author of four books, dozens of articles in national publications and ten anthologies. She is also a commentator for National Public Radio. Her level of experience in journalism ought to keep her from confusing facts with opinion. But that is precisely what she does in much of her confessional book, MARRY HIM: THE SEARCH FOR MR.GOOD ENOUGH .
Her essential message seems to be, “be realistic, play nice, go for the middle ground.” That is probably sensible advice for humans of either gender “and those who have yet to make up their minds.” Too bad that the message gets lost in a welter of generalisations, extrapolation, obfuscation, inaccuracies and ambivalence.
Gottlieb’s lengthy account of her attempts to find a husband first appeared as an article for Atlantic.Reportedly,generated more mail than any other article to appear in that magazine in a decade. Not surprisingly, it evolved into a very marketable book. Basically, Gottlieb attributed being single to her overblown romantic expectations. Well and good. She blamed feminism for her mistakes. Not cricket. She claimed that she was not the only one whose love life was wrecked by feminism–millions of women shared her experience. Debatable. She put in a plug for arranged marriages. Highly debatable. She implied that marriage is forever. Vastly unrealistic, judging from current divorce stats.
Her take on feminism is the most unpalatable dish in this dating smargorsbord. . Feminism, by many other accounts, is about equal opportunity and equal pay for women. Bra burning and man hating are incidental to it, however often they get mentioned in the media. Pity that Gottlieb chose to dredge up these old cliches. The irony of it is the probability that feminism made it possible forher to compete successfully with male writers. It is disappointing that she ignores that. It is also disappointing that she seems to approves of equality when it suits her. For example, she cries foul when a matchmaker accepts a smaller fee from a man– the same fee she would not accept from Gottlieb because it was not “worth her time.”In the pre-feminist world Gottlieb would like to resuscitate, incidents of this nature were the rule.
Still, she is entitled to her opinion. The trouble is that the women she interviewed in order to buttress her arguments are hardly representative of the general population. They are, by and large, part of an elite group of highly educated successful urban professionals. The divorced mother who clerks at a Wal-Mart somewhere in the Appalachians is conspicuously absent. So are other low-income high school dropouts in rural areas of the United States. Possibly their views differ significantly from those of a well paid urban dentists, fashion designers and architects. Yet Gottlieb would have her readers believe what is meaningful for a few women is meaningful for women in general. She apparently imagines that all that keeps American women from fessing up to their desire to chuck their jobs and go tend hubby is that they were brainwashed by feminists. The bad thing, according to her, is wanting “to have it all” as some unreferenced tenet of feminism supposedly dictates; the good thing is to lower one’s expectations.
‘The dream, like that of our mothers and their mothers from time immemorial, was to fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after.”
As far as I know, women in time immemorial did not leave a record of their dreams–they were too busy catering to hubby. Her claim that women passed on the idea of romantic love, dor-le-dor,for thousands of years does not hold water.
“Before the twelfth century, in Europe, love between men and women was not regarded as heroic; it was instead considered a sign of weakness, the preoccupation of a person without character, ” says William Reddy. He ought to know. He teaches history and cultural anthropology at Duke University.
The notion that marriage guarantees a happily solvent life is one of the objectionable fallacies in MARRY ME. It negates the present divorce rate and its negative economic impact on women and children. Just how risky it is for a woman for a woman to trade a good salary for the joys caring for hubby and kids is something Gottlieb glosses over. She argues that feminism is to blame for the status quo while implying that it all comes down to viable eggs. If, as her research indicates, men prefer to marry potentially fertile women under age thirty-five, how does feminism fit into the picture? This is just one example of fuzzy logic in MARRY ME.
Should you shell out 25 five dollars for this book?That depends. If you are a successful urban professional looking for for a way to validate your angst, go for it.