Sunday, February 12, 2006

Why does Daphne Merkin get paid to write?

I've been noticing the mediocrity that is Daphne Merkin ever since I was first irked by her a few years ago in the New Yorker. She also writes for the New York Times magazine. Her trademark is a buzzing, incessant, helpless whine.

You could get a more original, thoughtful, 21st century-style piece of writing on the sex lives of 50-year-old women in a thousand places on the Internet. From people who are getting paid nothing to write.

Here's Merkin's latest piece of whinery in the Times Magazine:
Of course, I understand that negative myths do more harm than positive ones and, more crucially, sell far fewer books. And there may well be women like Rachel, the over-50 management consultant who met a champion at tantric sex on the Internet who taught her how to have multiple orgasms. All the same, it would seem fairly self-evident that as women enjoy longer and more active lives in a culture that venerates youth, especially in women, something's gotta give — and what gives, mostly, are men. Men of 45 aren't looking for women of 45; men of 55 aren't looking for them, either. Nor, apparently, do you have to be Jack Nicholson playing a version of himself — a rich, insanely charming Don Juan — to think that you deserve a spring chicken on your arm.

Let me offer a small bit of anecdotal evidence: the one time I took a look at the goings-on over at the Web site "J Date," I spotted an ad by a writer I recognized from his photo. This writer is a never-married, nice-looking man in the vicinity of 50. He has enjoyed a degree of professional success and is lucid in conversation. He is not, that is, either a tycoon or apparently delusional about his attributes. And here we come to what is either cause for concern or outrage or, more likely, a case of genetic intelligence lording it over social correctness: the woman he was seeking was to be in her late 20's — someone, I suppose, who might look up to him. Even more important, a woman this age would come with a guarantee that her eggs were fresh (not to mention her own).
Whiiiiiiiiiine!

"Men of 45 aren't looking for women of 45; men of 55 aren't looking for them, either."

Merkin buys into the myths of the Patriarchy so earnestly that to her, men are all-powerful. Men of 45 aren't looking for women of 45. Well, welcome to the 21st century, Merkin: plenty of 45-year-old women aren't looking for men of 45 either!

Of course what people want is not the same as what they get. But men always get what they want, in Merkin's mind. She mentions some 50ish guy who is advertising on J-date for a woman in her late 20s. She doesn't actually mention whether he gets a woman in her late 20s. As far as she's concerned, just by asking, the old man will receive the young chick.

The key to Merkin's wallowing in helplessness is, naturally, her fervent belief in the claims of evolutionary psychology. Old dude's wish for a younger woman is "a case of genetic intelligence lording it over social correctness."

You see, men desire young eggs. Women - well it doesn't matter what women desire in the world of evolutionary psychology. But when EP's do think about women's desires, it turns out that women desire older, more powerful men.

This idea is based on either just-so stories about how our cave ancestors lived, or the belief that 20th century social mores are a true reflection of our evolutionary natures. So the fact that through socio-political design men ensured that they kept most of the money for themselves, and women were forced to consider economics when choosing a mate means exactly nothing to evolutionary psychologists.

The idea that men want youth and beauty, and women want wealth and age in mates is transparently self-serving Patriarchy drivel. But poor dumb Merkin buys into it.

And Merkin really is dumb. Not only is she a sucker for the lies of the Patriarchy, she isn't even aware of her own Times colleague Maureen Dowd. When Dowd was accused of writing about her own romantic failings in her recent annoying work about the "failure" of feminism (as if Smurfette understands anything about feminism) she was quick to claim that in fact she has an active and satisfying love life. Well Dowd is over 50 too.

So maybe the problem isn't Merkin's age. Maybe the problem is Merkin's whining annoying sad-sack personality.

From now on I will avoid reading anything by Daphne Merkin. I want to hunt her down and throttle her every time I do. And as long as she's kissing up to the Patriarchy through the promotion of evolutionary psychology pseudo-science, the NYTimes will continue to publish her drivel. And PAY her for it!!!

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous4:00 AM

    Hi there! Fellow hater of evopsych here. It's just so..."just so" as you say. But how do they explain a preference of the part of women for older men with money? That makes no sense from a purely evolutionary standpoint, IMHO. Most of our ancient ancestors didn't live very long and money didn't exist until a scant few thousand years ago, not enough time for significant genetic mutation. It would seem to me that BOTH men and women should prefer youthful partners. Nubile women would need the young studlies to club the bears for her offspring. What the hell use would some doddering old geezer be to our intrepid cave girl?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Coming up with explanations for things has never been an obstacle to evolutionary psychology. They just look around, see how humans behave in social settings now (or when they were growing up, 20 - 40 years ago) and extrapolate from there about our biological natures.

    And they are completely unable, or even uninterested in explaining why there are plenty of women in the world, myself included, who do NOT prefer older men as sex partners. They don't even try to determine exactly what percentage of women don't live up to the evpsych definition of our alleged evolutionary natures.

    The problem with evpsych (for the rest of us, not the true believers) is that they offer NO evidence for their theories, just haughty disdain for anybody who questions their theories.

    Another problem with evpsych is that much of it is people making a buck off a knowledge vacuum. And people who don't understand science do get suckered by the utter confidence of the evpsych true believers.

    Thanks for writing to share your anti-evpsych comments. I love to hear from others with a healthy skepticism.

    ReplyDelete