Saturday, February 11, 2012

Media Moment, "A Tale of Desperation & Restraining Orders"

Helen Gurley Brown, an author and long-time editor of the women's magazine Cosmopoltian

An article, titled "A Tale of Desperation & Restraining Orders," appeared in the February 10th, 2012 edition of the New York Times, written by Ginia Bellafante for her Big City column at the paper.  Its subject is the current sex scandal involving the general manager of the New York Yankees, Brian Cashman, and a certain Ms. Neathway.   The sex scandal itself is not of any particular interest, considering that it is just the story of yet another public figure who has strayed from the marital bed only to have the affair become national news.  What makes this article different, and, what connects it specifically to our recent class discussions, is the way the author explicitly associates the desperation of Ms. Neathway to the unrealistic lifestyle emphasized in women's media such as Cosmopolitan.  Bellafante writes,

"This story, though, is ultimately less about the alleged philandering of a powerful married man and more about the desperation that can afflict a certain kind of woman who comes to New York with glamorous ambitions and fails spectacularly to meet them.... Ms. Neathway’s drama is conveniently unfolding on the 50th anniversary of the publication of “Sex and the Single Girl,” Helen Gurley Brown’s loopy summons to erotic liberation. Having inaugurated a giddy new culture of urban single life, the book assured women that, with the right steps, dazzling careers and wealthy men would all be theirs."

While Gurley Brown is surely a controversial and provocative figure, this statement and the insinuations it makes appears both bizarre and tenuous.  The woman involved in this scandal has a criminal record and 13 restraining orders against her - she is obviously an unstable character who has a number of ingrained psychological problems with harassment and relationship boundaries.  Although I am no fan of Gurley Brown, the magazine she led for decades, or her 'take' on what it means to be a successful woman in the modern age, I think that the parallel Bellafonte created between these subjects is unfair to both and somewhat arbitrary. 

My question to my classmates on this media is:
         Do you see some sort of viable cultural connection between the lifestyle glamorized by Helen Gurley Brown in her 1962 book, Sex and the Single Girl (which we read about for class, in "Inventing the Cosmo Girl," by Laurie Ouellette), or as editor of Cosmopolitan, and the behavior of Ms. Neathway or Mr. Cashman in this news story?

1 comment:

  1. I read this story also and I think Bellafante is stretching the connection with Brown's books and Neathway's behavior. Is it even said that Neathway has read Brown's books or articles? Don't get me wrong, Brown's idea of a successful woman is clearly ridiculous (and so are the women who follow her ides) but its also obvious that this Neathway woman is mentally unstable- she has 13 restraining orders against her!
    Either way, I feel like there is no connection to the two women and for Bellafante to try to make one is a stretch.