In a column today about the discussion of why so few women writers run on op-ed pages, the New York Times' Maureen Dowd takes a whack at Susan Estrich—then agrees she has a point:
The kerfuffle over female columnists started when Susan Estrich launched a crazed and nasty smear campaign against Michael Kinsley, the L.A. Times editorial page editor, trying to force him to run her humdrum syndicated column.
Given the appalling way she's handled herself, Susan - an acquaintance for many years - is the last person Michael, a friend of mine, should hire. But he should recruit some more talented women to write for him. So should The Times, The Washington Post - which also has only one female columnist - and anyone else who has an obvious gender gap on their op-ed pages.
Patt Morrison's name comes up, in this context:
While a man writing a column taking on the powerful may be seen as authoritative, a woman doing the same thing may be seen as castrating. If a man writes a scathing piece about men in power, it's seen as his job; a woman can be cast as an emasculating man-hater. I'm often asked how I can be so "mean" - a question that Tom Friedman, who writes plenty of tough columns, doesn't get.
Even the metaphors used to describe my column play into the castration theme: my scalpel, my cutting barbs, razor-sharp hatchet, Clinton-skewering and Bush-whacking. "Does she," The L.A. Times's Patt Morrison wondered, "write on a computer or a Ronco Slicer and Dicer?"
Dowd also says she tried to give up her column after six months, but stayed with it after editor Howell Raines gave her the alternative: "He said I could go back to The Metro Section."