First there was that infamous Lori Gottlieb settling article from The Atlantic about how biting the bullet and saying yes to Mr. Not-entirely-Right was a girl's better option than holding out.
Then there were the million and one oh-no-you-didn't responses from the how-dare-you- suggest-that-forced-love-is-better-than-true-love set - aanndd one from me that sort of went, "how 'bout we take a walk around the block and come back with an article that doesn't include the word settling, huh?"
And now - though I can't imagine how she filled 336 pages with "don't be so picky or you'll end up really lonely" - is the obvious book extension: Marry Him: The Case of Settling for Mr. Good Enough.
Aannddd, the first of what will be another million how-daaaare-you responses from Julia Baird via Newsweek (thanks for the tip Kendall!).
So at this point, I'm involved. Here we go again slash still:
Gottlieb says settle. Read the article (or just my post), and you'll find out why.
Baird says, don't mind if I don't you originally-shallow-but-now-annoyingly-lacking-in-the- standards-department-on account-of-you're-lonely-and-don't-want-to-raise-your-kid-alone feminist blamer! (See because Gottlieb says she used to be picky but if she had to do it all again she'd marry Sheldon the nerd because now she's laboring through single motherhood. Somewhere in there she mentions that feminism is to blame...)
Dear Julia Baird, if you ever read this. I know that's not exactly what you said, but I'm essentially on your side here, so please just go with it...
Baird says that Gottlieb was obviously immature and narrow-minded in her younger years - that any woman knows true love isn't about undying and sex-filled passion but rather a connection between two people who want to forge a life together.
Baird says, "it's a leap of illogic to suggest that the answer is for women to settle for humdrum marriages with men you tolerate so you can have a father for you children. How insulting for men."
And then she fired back at Gottlieb's suggestion that "femanism has completed f--ked up my love life" calling it unfair and unfounded. Baird says it best: "The problem, as Gottlieb sees it, is that women were told they could have it all, which meant not compromising in any aspect of life, including dating (which is odd because people who can't compromise aren't feminists, they are just generally unpleasant people. Then women got so fussy that they empowered themselves out of a mate.'"
It's true that the case for settling is offensive to men. It's true that you can't blanket-ly blame feminism for being picky in your 20s. It's true that you can be compromising and also a strong woman.
But to me, this new defense against settling and most of the old articles that popped up around Gottlieb's original piece are picking at all the details and missing the bottom line. In fairness that's because Gottlieb wrote 336 words on everything from what women are too picky about to why women are too picky to how women can stop being so picky to why it's really hard to raise a kid on your own, so she didn't exactly stick to the crux of her argument either.
Everything she wrote is interesting information. Some of it is painfully true. Some of it is a crock of shit. My issue is, none of it is the most key and most interesting part of this whole argument.
The book is called "The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough" it's not "How Picky is Too Picky" or "20 Ways that Feminism Will Screw You."
The bottom line of Gottlieb's entire argument is that you will be lonelier without a man in your life than you will be frustrated, unhappy, passionless, you-name-it with a mediocre man in it. In one, simple phrase something, anything is better than nothing.
I want to talk about that.
You can't prove how picky is too picky - it's subjective and circumstantial and extremely person-to-person. And you can't pick apart the Feminine Mystique for proof that if you follow it, you'll end up miserable and alone. There are a million reasons you can end up alone - or, to put it less gravely - that you can not find the level of love and companionship you originally hoped for in your life. And there are just as many reasons you can fall out of love or into love with someone else or lose a love tragically. So let's just put all the background stuff aside.
I want to know if you'll really be more miserable without a man that with one you've settled for. I want Lori Gottlieb to travel the country interviewing hundreds of women who didn't settle and hundreds of women who did. I want their take on whether it's better to have a companion that you're luke-warm for than a mythical figure you never meet. Prove to me that settling is smarter, don't tell me that feminism made me want more than any woman should have.
This case for settling says, "mark my word, you will be miserable - absolutely any woman will tell you so," but I bet there are a few women out there pitching the "I settled, and it wasn't worth it" book. I want to hear from them.
I get Gottlieb's point - come out of the clouds and realize that no man or woman is perfect. See people for who they'll grow old to be and how they'll help make your life what you envisioned. Make it about the entire person, not just the stats you swoon over with your friends. I know that. But I haven't even found that guy. How low are we supposed to go here?
Like I said in my first review of this whole mess - there's a big leap between "open your mind" and "just pick someone already." And frankly I'm going to need more than Lori Gottlieb's opinion on the matter and assessment of modern feminism to sway me to the settling side. So, who's going to write the next book?