- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2001

Watch out, ladies, there is a new "phenomenon" in our midst. And, if were not careful, itll sucker a generation quicker than we can say dont burn that bra. This new hoax pits woman against woman.
Maureen Dowd, the New York Times columnist whose words men either fawn or yawn over, puts her spin on this issue in her April 18 column, "Of Divas and Ditzes." Miss Dowd uses the immortal Scarlett OHara and Hollywood newcomer Bridget Jones as her central characters in a chapter on womens eternal quest for completeness — which is another way of saying a woman is complete if she A) already has a man or B) is tearing her Clairol-colored locks out looking for a man. Some misses cant hide their true identity.
"Tracing the arc of the great heroines of fiction, from Scarlett to Gidget to Bridget, it is hard to know if women are making progress." That was Miss Dowds opening. Certainly nothing illuminating, to borrow a few of her words, but nonetheless enlightening.
Is that the message we want to send our future maidens? That we are stuck between the desperation of capitalist Scarlett OHara and the neuroses of an unmarried twit?
Assuming Miss Dowds assessments of Bridget Jones, she of the hit film "Bridget Joness Diary" are on mark, future maidens are doomed to becoming either voluptuous drama queens or skinny ditzes who can fill in all their blanks later with either collagen or silicone.
Having seen neither the film nor read the 1998 book on which it is based, I wonder nonetheless which men prefer. I also wonder whether the 30-somethings themselves ask which they prefer: A) a smart, resourceful woman who thinks self, family and self — and in that order; or B) a "lovable but pathetic" in-search-of.
In a recent Christian Science Monitor, Kim Campbell wrote, in "Beyond Bridget," that "Single women have a request for Hollywood: stop depicting us as desperate and lonely. Or as oversexed urbanites. Or as stalkers. And would it be possible for the girl to not get the guy in the end and still be happy? The growth in the ranks of single women in recent decades … has created a new cultural phenomenon. Today, some 40 percent of all adult women are single. In Tinseltown and on bookstore shelves, the media are beginning to present more nuanced portrayals of these women — from the self-sufficiency of CBSs 'Thats Life to the candidness of 'Bridget Joness Diary… . Despite the popularity of 'Ally McBeal and 'Sex in the City, single women say they feel they are often a transparent part of society, considered neither complete nor financially viable."
No word yet regarding sex and the single man — perhaps because the guys dont seem to be terribly irritated about loose women.
Kim Campbell, though, did have an explanation about this phenomenon. "Part of the problem is that society is still figuring out what to do with the women who arent following the traditional married-with-children pattern."
Does this mean that 40 percent who are single are as clueless as those who arent?
Does that mean I should worry about my daughters becoming "cocktail-swilling, ice-cream-scarfing, man-obsessed, lonely, self-regarding, endlessly yammering creatures who have defined women in their 30s," as Maureen Dowd writes? Or follow Kim Campbells thinking and be more concerned about how society views them rather than how they view themselves?
I dont care if my daughters pig out on ice cream or on fat back and collard greens; while I do, on the other hand, care about their happiness, health, financial independence, spiritual well-being and humanitarianism — values somehow lost in this phenomenal debate about singlehood.
Indeed, Hollywoods imitation of life doesnt always paint women in flattering lights. All we need to do is consider who is usually behind the cameras.
Still, ladies have come a long way since corsettes and chastity belts. For example, it took us a while but we finally figured out A) that nothing, absolutely nothing, can erase cellulite, B) that every imaginable law of gravity applies to the face, and C) those same laws dont necessarily apply to the bosom.
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