David Brooks: Maybe Sandra Bullock should’ve stayed in the kitchen

So David Brooks in the NYT, using an almost-current event (Sandra Bullock winning the Oscars, then getting humiliated by hubby Jesse James) takes another (not half-bad) try at an argument that feminists might characterize as “Maybe women would be happier if they focused less on their career and more on their man and family”:

Two things happened to Sandra Bullock this month. First, she won an Academy Award for best actress. Then came the news reports claiming that her husband is an adulterous jerk. So the philosophic question of the day is: Would you take that as a deal? Would you exchange a tremendous professional triumph for a severe personal blow?

Nonetheless, if you had to take more than three seconds to think about this question, you are absolutely crazy. Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being.

To be fair, Brooks doesn’t explicitly focus on wives and their role in gluing a family together, it just happens that Bullock is a woman…but it’s hard to not accuse Brooks of patriarchy when he makes this an either-or situation, as if the only two options for Sandra to choose between are “Win an Oscar” or “Have a faithful husband”…ignoring the fact that it was Jesse James who made a trade between being true to his Oscar-winning wife or bonking some tattooed-bimbo. And, completely ignoring Tiger Woods, who really did choose a world-famous career (and the attendant porn stars that come with it) over his family.

Even aside from that, Brooks’ try at the “money and power isn’t everything” philosophy opened up the conservative Brooks to a zinger, based on a more-currenter-event, from the comments:

B. Starks, Austin, TX: Mr. Brooks, great argument for ensuring health care for all and legalizing gay marriage. I imagine your conservative allies will not see it this way, but the facts noted in the column could be used to shore up both positions, and I hope they are indications you are in favor of both.

I'm a programmer journalist, currently teaching computational journalism at Stanford University. I'm trying to do my new blogging at blog.danwin.com.