Have you been wondering what would be the perfect metaphor for being single in your forties? Well now, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Lori Gottlieb and her godsend of a new book (Marry Him: a case for settling for Mr. Good Enough) have answered it: it’s like irresponsibly drinking before driving, and then causing serious bodily harm to yourself or someone else in a horrific accident. No seriously:
It’s kind of like the graphic anti-drunk driving public service announcements that show people crashing into poles and getting killed. If they just told you, “Don’t drink and drive,” you might think, “Yeah, I know, but I can have a couple martinis, right?” It’s not until you see people ending up brain-dead, lying in a coma in the hospital and surrounded by beeping monitors, that the message has an impact.
In the same way, if you don’t see how easily people can end up alone by making the dating mistakes I did, you won’t be dissuaded from making the same mistakes yourself.
And well, if you’ll allow me to mix outrageous metaphors, Gottlieb is dying to get married. This much is apparent in her 2008 highly-criticized Atlantic Monthly article, which details her dissatisfaction of being a single mom and her regrets of turning down past suitors who were “perfectly acceptable but uninspiring” (and she wonders why the men aren’t a’knockin anymore). In other words, women today are like Ms. Pacman, always too busy going after those tasty fruits to realize how many interested dudes you’re running away from (why couldn’t she have used THAT metaphor?!).
(Also, Earth-to-Gottlieb, the Atlantic Monthly used a retro, out-of-date, incredibly corny pulp comic image because your ideas are retro, out-of date, and incredibly corny.)
Gottlieb is serious about settling (emphasis mine): “It took not settling to make me realize that settling is the better option, and even though settling is a rampant phenomenon, talking about it in a positive light makes people profoundly uncomfortable.” (Gottlieb then looked around and added, “Settling.”) Apparently her reiterations don’t improve in book form: Bitch editor Andi Zeisler called the book “reading the same three sentences over and over.” I guess when your argument is paper thin there’s nothing left to do but stack it deep.
And even though Gottlieb used cautionary tales from Friends and Sex and the City in her article, for her book she decided to instead dunk the anecdote bucket into the rich well of…her own experiences (and those of a few cherry-picked friends). Who else would I trust with a critique of feminism?
We aren’t fish who can do without a bicycle; we’re women who want a traditional family. Every woman I know – no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure – feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself unmarried.
So not only is it feminism’s fault that women (ALL. WOMEN. EVERYWHERE.) end up unhappy and without husband, with nothing to show but a bunch of voter registration cards, college degrees, and property deeds, the other take-home message isn’t that successful relationships (and yes, even those recognized by the government) rely on compromises; but that it’s your fault for being too picky to settle down.
And even though, as one chapter title claims, feminism has fucked up Gottlieb’s life, as Rachel Fudge put it in her upcoming review in Bitch, blame should probably not be placed on women’s lib, but the cult of Carrie Bradshaw. Fudge writes, “No human alive possibly stand up to the degree of microscopic scrutiny that Sex and the City-style girlfriend gossip encourages.” Unfortunately, Gottlieb’s messages themselves ring as falsely as the vapid television shows, which—second Earth-to-Gottlieb, women don’t think are based in reality—and reinforce the messages she thinks are poisoning the minds of unmarried women. And with that I have to say, I’m sorry, Lori, it’s not me, it’s you.