Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Relieved... I guess?

by Laura Smith-Gary

Good news, folks: Dating A Banker Anonymous -- at least, the "support group" DABA -- is not as bad as it originally portrayed itself to The New York Times. In fact, it seems like it was something of a hoax.

I simultaneously feel relieved and a little sheepish -- I definitely rose to the "no feminists here" bait, flying into a tizzy of self-righteousness and feeding the DABA women the attention they so desperately wanted. Obviously, the point of this operation was to create a stir (and probably a book deal), and I'm embarrassed to have played into their hands.

However, at the risk of sounding perpetually self-righteous, I'm not ready to let these women off the hook. First of all, I'm not entirely convinced that their "tongue-in-cheek" blog wasn't still reflective of their thoughts and feelings. While it does seem exaggerated, the blog seems satirical in the mildest sense, tongue-in-cheek in a "I'm cute and clever and can wink at my own shallowness!" kind of way, not a "Colbert Platinum" kind of way.

Second of all, it makes me queasy to think that the best way to rocket to instant fame, as a woman, is to play into the worst and most base stereotypes about women: shallow, mercenary, sexual only for material gain, vain, and thoughtless. (Or, of course, to have a litter of babies.) Why do we rush to bestow book deals on people who write drivel like this (possibility of long-lasting social experiment and/or satire excepted) and He's Just Not That Into You?

It's possible, of course, that these women are actually feminists attempting to draw attention to all our silly stereotypes about and simmering resentment toward rich white women. On the other hand, C.S. Lewis pointed out in The Screwtape Letters that our society will excuse and even applaud any number of sins and bad behaviors if the perpetrator portrays them as jokes and decries anyone objecting as lacking a sense of humor. If the DABA women are engaging in real satire, I wish them well. If they're merely trying to excuse appalling attitudes with a teasing tone, I wish they would grow up.


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