Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Charlotte Allen: also no Florence King

Obligatory acknowledgment of the train wreck that is Charlotte Allen's Weekly Standard piece on the sexual revolution. I'm reminded of the time that George Will observed that he wished Teddy Roosevelt hadn't built the goddamn Panama Canal, as building it would have given Bill Kristol an admirable outlet for his prodigious energies. So, too, one wonders: what up, WS? Can't you come up with articles about dubious nation-building adventures to slap on the cover instead?

So among the gems: I learn that according to Kay Hymnowitz that, as I have reached the ripe old age of 28, my fertility has gone down and I am no longer luscious. Good thing I am getting married in September. I'm of course over the median age of 26, which is regrettable too, as Allen longs for the days when the median age of first marriage was 20.

Note to Roger Devlin: learning how to bake an apple pie is actually not very difficult. You can do a search on epicurious.com and figure out how in about thirty-five seconds, in fact. There are also videos and illustrations available on sites like cooksillustrated.com and YouTube, should you need additional help. It is quite easy to pursue a fancy degree and/or hold down a demanding job and still find a Saturday afternoon to make one once in a while. The modern world being what it is, it is even possible to pull cases from Lexis (!) or write a section of a memo while, say, the crust is blind baking.

I know I have posted on this before, but my problem with Charlotte Allen is that she is no Florence King. A review of Confessions Of a Failed Southern Lady once called King "America's funniest bisexual monarchist Republican," which she of course was. King never married, and she detailed in Confessions a series of youthful lesbian and straight love affairs that would doubtless leave Charlotte Allen flushing crimson. King carried out all of this while standing somewhere to the right of Ayn Rand on economic and regulatory policy.

King didn't have an easy life. She worked her way up through a series of big Southern newspapers while churning out reams of pulp romances to pay the bills. Finally, late in life, she landed a National Review column. Yet if anything stands out about her work, it's her stubborn refusal to feel sorry for herself. Charlotte Allen would have me on the floor, sobbing, because it's just sooooo hard to find someone who will marry me and roast red peppers in the oven and find things in Bluebook all at the same time. Florence King would shoot me a Look, tell me to "Bucky up, ducky," then toss off some mordantly clever literary reference.

I'd rather be friends with King, needless to say, and I'd also rather have someone like her leading my intellectual movement. One of my college classmates wrote a series of broadsides targeted at "crybaby conservatives," which I really appreciated. My beef with Allen is a variation on Beck's theme: at the risk of sounding crudely partisan and obnoxious, isn't whining best left to left-liberals?

Yes, life is hard! Mating is hard! But... there are fine books to be read, bread to be baked, dogs to be adopted and loved, children to be tutored, and plenty more hobbies to pursue. Self-reliance, strength, and being interesting are virtues that ought to be at the core of any right-of-center feminism. See generally also this, which describes the type of woman to which a libertarian or conservative feminist ought to aspire to be.


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