I am as tired of hearing about Warren Beatty's conversion from legendary swordsman to doting family man as I am of Elizabeth Taylor's excessive celebrations of her every rite of passage. Warren, you were a lot more interesting when you were a mystery.
I think it's just swell that Beatty and Annette Bening celebrated nuptials, post-child. Every baby with loving, financially secure, legally interdependent parents is lucky indeed. But their knot-tying is interesting only in that imagining how the pre-nup might read makes for a good parlor game.
Still, there's no escaping the news. You cannot dismiss Warren Beatty's domestic arrangements in the same way that you cannot dismiss Hugh Hefner's.
Neither was just a bachelor; they were icons for a certain segment of American manhood, holdouts against the potential tedium of domesticity, warriors against the greatest insult of all: sexual slowdown.
Now they're just a couple of goofy daddies.
Eras have ended, and we're not about to let them pass without a fuss; monumental movement requires social analysis.
Thus, when it was announced Thursday that Beatty had ended 54 years of singledom, the phone rang for shrink-for-all-seasons Dr. Joyce Brothers. Inquiring minds wanted to know What It Meant. And when duty calls, Brothers is always at the ready with a quote.
"Miss Bening found the one way of pinning him down because he would have been a bachelor forever if it wasn't for this baby," the psychologist announced to one wire service reporter. "It was the only way to hook a wily trout. She has found the most irresistible bait--a little girl. The present of sex is something that goes away, but the present of a warm and loving baby, especially a little girl, is forever."
A wily trout? Sounds like the good doctor needs her head examined.
Reinforcing the idea that women trap men into marriage by dangling baby bait is dangerous, no matter how much lacy sentiment you dress it up in. In one fell swoop, it insults women (who are often wooed down the aisle by eager bridegrooms) and ignores and demeans the desires of men.
And the notion that a baby girl is somehow more tantalizing to a once-womanizing daddy than a baby boy is kind of creepy when you think about it.
Fortunately, the doctor was in when I called.
"Dr. Brothers, don't you think what you said about Warren Beatty getting married sounds a little bit. . . ."
"Sexist?" she asked brightly.
"Oh no, not at all," she said. "They left out the non-sexist part."
The "non-sexist part," she explained, is her belief that Bening not only wants her man but loves him too.
"Given that she loves him, wants to pin him down and marry him, her greatest probability of doing so is just what she did. She took a gamble that, at the very worst, she'd have a beautiful and loving child, (and) at the very best, she would have the man she loved," said Brothers, who is convinced the marriage would not have occurred but for the birth of the baby \o7 girl\f7 .
"Most of the women he is supposed to have had affairs with have been strong and independent," said Brothers. "A woman who is totally dependent on him is irresistible. And \o7 this\f7 is the baby!"
With the sexual history Warren Beatty brings to a relationship, I think any reasonable woman could be expected to entertain second thoughts about hitching her future to his libido.
Still, Brothers' assumption is not really that unusual. People still feel comfortable with the idea that women "trap" men into marriage, which should be as outdated as the concept that women should attend college to find husbands, to receive their "Mrs. degrees."
This is pernicious thinking, though, because it is part of a continuum. It is the benign end of a ideological spectrum that, at its worst, finds people who cannot conceive that Anita Hill was telling the truth (must have been a woman scorned); that William Kennedy Smith was not telling the truth (must have scorned a woman); that Mike Tyson telegraphed his intentions to rape victim Desiree Washington (who must have known what he wanted).
It is a grand assertion in this day and age that the bride's hand is at the groom's back, pushing all the way to the altar. In every wedding I've seen, she's the last one down the aisle.
He's already standing there, waiting.