Friday, June 23, 2006

I get emails

This choice item showed up last week in my Inbox:
This is the whiney and unfairly remunerated Daphne Merkin reporting in, having stumbled on your blog late this night instead of sleeping or finishing reading D.H. Lawrence's THE RAINBOW. Aside from insulting me, you sound like a generally unreflective and overly self-regarding person. >From glancing quickly at your bio, I gather your own "feminist" credentials are less than wonderful, since you seem to have abandoned one early putative interest (illustrating) for another ( playacting) on the basis of meeting a "beautiful young man." Your blog makes me fshudder on behalf of bloggerdom, seething as it is with envy and bravado and received wisdom. I hope your plays are better than this.
Now I still haven't confirmed that this is the actual Daphne Merkin, but if it isn't her, somebody sure can do a great parody, from the revelation of a mundane-yet-pretentious detail of her life: "...finishing reading D.H. Lawrence's THE RAINBOW..."; to the utter cluelessness on the subject of feminism: "I gather your own "feminist" credentials are less than wonderful..." to the pitch-perfect whine and operatic grievance that suffuses her every written thought.

For those of you who don't know, Daphne Merkin is a writer who has been published in the New Yorker and the NYTimes - she seems to have a regular slot in the Times' Sunday Magazine.

I certainly hope it WAS Daphne Merkin though. The thought that I might have given her a moment's discomfort, and slowed down her project of reading the entire Great Authors Home Library Collection almost makes up for many and sundry moments of utter frustration and itchy trigger finger I experienced before I wised up and began ignoring anything connected to her byline.

And in fact, the item that "Daphne Merkin" responded to was written after I began to disregard her work. I wrote an item way back in February (ancient history in blogland), in response to an item on Pandagon, where Amanda happened to catch the Merkin show at the NYTimes. When I received the email it took me a few moments to remember what in tarnation she was on about.

I'm guessing that Merkin recently learned how to Google her own name which is how she came to find my remarks about her. But when I Googled her name myself I discovered my item on page 13 of the hits for "Daphne Merkin." The Pandagon article was on page 10. And Amanda and I are certainly not the only people on the Internet to say something critical or unflattering about Daphne Merkin. I see that Granny Gets a Vibrator at the top of page 10 of the Merkin hit parade says:
So in today’s NYT Magazine, whiny defeatist anti-feminist Daphne Merkin informs us that there’s nothing hot about women over 45.

“It would seem fairly self-evident,” she declares based on the flimsiest anecdotal evidence she could muster, “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.”

And even earlier, on page 3 of the Merkin Google hits, is a Susie Bright article at the Huffington Post in which Bright says:
Meet Daphne Merkin, The Lady Who Talks Dirty But Hates Sex.

Daphne's latest think-piece, Our Vaginas Ourselves, appeared two weeks ago Sunday's Times magazine. (I wanted to respond more quickly, but was distracted by L'Affaire Leroy).

It starts out with a promising lede: "These are cruel times for vaginas." Go, Daphne, Go!

She began to talk about those awful operations that some Beverly Hills plastic surgeons promote, to refigure your labia and sew your hymen back together. I can't type the description without wincing!

But why is this surgery a new trend? Why does feminine self-loathing seem to be going over the edge?
You are not going to believe Daphne's answer.

According to Merkin, this nightmare has came to pass because feminists in the '70s looked at their vulvas, schooled themselves in gynecology, and demanded to have a say in reproductive rights!

GONG, please!

"Truth be told, I always considered myself lucky to have escaped coming of age at the height of the consciousness-raising era, when anatomical self-examination took on the aspect of a collective ritual. Those were the days when women felt obliged to convene in sisterly circles with mirrors and flashlights the better to study their bodies, themselves. Never having been one to enjoy group activities of any sort, the thought of becoming more closely acquainted with my private parts in a public setting seems potentially traumatizing rather than liberating or, God knows, celebratory."

Indeed, it has always seemed to me that one of the singular advantages of being a woman lies precisely in the "dark continent" quality of our genital cartography...

What a piece of work. The only reason Daphne even knows what a speculum is, or has the legal right to abortion, or maybe even a clue what is involved in clitoral consciousness-raising, is because of revolution initiated by the very women she disdains. I'd call her a cunt, but frankly, she hasn't earned it.

What is she talking about, women "OBLIGED" to perform genital examinations in PUBLIC EXHIBITIONS? Is she high?

The Bright article goes on to quote the great Betty Dodson - whom Merkin could certainly learn a thing or two from - taking Merkin to task.

So lots of people think that Daphne Merkin is a hopeless, regressive feminist-bashing whine-meister besides me. Is that what Merkin meant when she accused my blog of seething with "received wisdom?"

Did Merkin Google her own name and then go down the list, shooting off defensive, whiney screeds to anybody who ever complained about her? Are famous (famous-ish at least) well-paid editorialists that incredibly petty? And what about poor neglected David Herbert?

I will have more to say about Merkin's idiotic comment about the spark that ignited my playwriting career presently.