Single ladies, be warned: your singleness may sometimes be confused with craziness. That’s the message New York Times writer Ginia Bellafante sent this past weekend, in a piece entitled, “A Tale of Desperation and Restraining Orders.” In it, she chronicles the sordid tale of Louise Neathway, a woman accused of stalking and extorting money from her former lover, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman. What’s likely true: the married Cashman had an affair with Neathway — who is also known as Louise Meanwell — and following their tryst, Neathway demanded $15,000 for an undisclosed medical procedure. But while most might read Neathway’s story as a cautionary tale about the risks of entering into an affair with a married man, the Times’ Bellafante instead eeks out a warning to all the poor misbegotten men out there: Single women be crazy, y’all. So watch out.
The details of Meanwell’s behavior – the several restraining orders she’s had issued against her, the repeated affairs with attached men, the reportedly hundreds of unwanted texts and calls she made to Cashman – read like a list of symptoms of borderline personality disorder. But rather than suggest Neathway get some intensive therapy (which, Louise Neathway, if you’re reading this, get some therapy), Bellafante instead warns men of the dangers of crazy single women. It’s clear that Neathway is disturbed, but Ballafante warns that any woman is potentially capable of this kind of over-the-top behavior. She 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.”
Ahh, single women, she seems to say, we’re all just one bad breakup away from a Neathway-like plunge off the deep end. She pathologizes the single woman into a “Fatal Attraction”-esque corner, noting that women have woefully tricked themselves into believing that singledom is an acceptable alternative to being coupled up.
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 … Twenty-five ago, the film “Fatal Attraction” temporarily reversed the high. But eventually, “Sex and the City” came along to erase that movie’s bleak vision of the unmarried Manhattan woman, instead glorifying a lifestyle that the ’80s had worked so hard to disparage. The mythology of the happy ending has endured ever since, kept alive by the popping up of one baby store after another, uptown and down, each with its flax bassinet sheets meant to suggest that fate chicly assumes the best.
First off, “SATC” is hardly a bastion of Helen Reddy feminism. That aside, Bellafante seems to be saying that if Louise Neathway could just get her romantic life straight, she wouldn’t have found herself in such a floundering mess — locked up on Rikers Island on extortion charges, unable to make her $200,000 bail.”Ms. Neathway reminds us … how many desires can go unsatisfied and how many resentments can foment.”
But one has almost nothing to do with the other. Louise Neathway simply reminds us that there are people out there who need mental health professionals in their lives — single or not. [NY Times]