The Best Thing Ever Written by Maureen Dowd

 

I’m not usually a big Maureen Dowd fan. It’s not that I generally disagree with her–although I do generally disagree with her–it’s that most of the time she’s just not funny, and nothing’s more painful than jokes that fall flat. But this piece in Vanity Fair about Saudi Arabia is just superb. It’s not only the best piece I’ve ever read by Maureen Dowd, it’s the best piece I’ve ever read about Saudi Arabia. I’ve always wondered why she enjoys that cushy sinecure at The New York Times, seeing as I’ve always thought her talentless. I was wrong. She can be brilliant, as this article shows.

The Kingdom Centre mall has a ladies’ floor on top shielded by high, wavy frosted glass, so that men—with all the maturity of Catholic schoolboys in stairwells—can’t peer up from below. Signs on the ladies’ floor tell women, once inside, to take off their head coverings: that way, a Peeping Abdul can’t disguise himself in female garb and wander lustfully among them. On the ladies’ floor, you’re actually allowed to try on clothes. On floors where the sexes mingle, you often have to buy whatever you want in different sizes and take it all home to try on. The mere thought of a disrobed woman behind a dressing-room door is apparently too much for men to handle. There’s something profoundly poignant about seeing little girls running around the malls in normal clothes, playing with little boys in normal ways—you know what’s in store for them in just a few years. When I reached puberty, my mother gave me a book called On Becoming a Woman. When these girls reach puberty, they’ll have a black tarp thrown over their heads.

I know that poignant feeling well, by the way. I see girls destined for the same fate here all the time.

There are 8 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Dowd does snarky disdain very, very well and when you happen to agree with her target there is no more satisfying read. I’d like to see her take up this issue in the Times where her impact on the news cycle would be far greater.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Member
    @AaronMiller

    I wonder how she discusses these experiences with her liberal friends. Does it affect her thoughts on American policy and diplomacy at all?

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Inactive
    @CasBalicki

    ” . . . with all the maturity of Catholic schoolboys in stairwells. . .”

    Never made it past the above gratuitous slam. Why did she not have written “…with the maturity of Jewish schoolboys in stairwells”? Is there something different about Catholic schoolboys? Are Catholic schoolboys more or less curious about girls and women than, say, Lutheran schoolboys? My guess is this woman has been a bigot for so long she no longer knows when she’s being offensive. Maureen Dowd is a creep!

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Member
    @ScottR

    …..That must be why, at 55 or so, she still dresses like a naughty, punk-rocky Catholic schoolgirl.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Member
    @ScottR

    Ya, she’s a creep, but just this once I’ll defend her: I’m pretty sure the Catholic reference was simply because those particular schoolboys–more so than most–have the opportunity to check out schoolgirls in skirts in stairwells. Pretty innocuous, I think.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Member
    @

    I got the skirt reference right away. Pretty sure the Mennonite school boys don’t have the same opportunities. But that’s probably more about me than Maureen Dowd.

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Inactive
    @CasBalicki

    Claire, you’re right to call me on my impulsive and possibly rash response, but I have much less time for aggravation these days than I used to have. As you well know, there are legions of writers in the world, perhaps many more than are needed, so I try not to waste time on jerks. As for Dowd being Catholic, I surmised that from her Irish name; still you did confirm that she is not a lapsed Catholic. That said, here is a Catholic broad, who makes her living cracking wise, reporting on the most sexually repressed society in on earth and the best she can do is giggle and titter her way into a Catholic schoolboy metaphor, if metaphor is what it is. As a former Catholic schoolboy I can aver that I never hung around stairwells. Oddly enough, I very much enjoyed talking to the girls, later to become the women, whom I befriended.

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Editor
    @Claire
    Cas Balicki: ” . . . with all the maturity of Catholic schoolboys in stairwells. . .”

    Never made it past the above gratuitous slam. Why did she not have written “…with the maturity of Jewish schoolboys in stairwells”?

    Cas, Dowd’s actually a Catholic herself, and later in the piece writes this:

    Actually, it would be two women: joining me was my intrepid colleague and trip photographer, Ashley Parker. I was a little squeamish about boarding a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight with a cross on my forehead. (It was Ash Wednesday.)

    So read on.

    • #8
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.