The Validity of Parker’s Argument in “General Review of the Sex Situation”
In Dorothy Parker’s “General Review of the Sex Situation,” the poet assesses a concept about a man’s faith to a woman in a relationship. The poet does so by enhancing a male wrongdoing in three different metaphorical translations in order to strategically convince a reader to take on her point of view, perhaps to spit in the fire of gender issues and impose on the dominance of the males in relationships and society. To mask this exaggerated outcry for women, Parker cleverly synthesized a rhyme scheme for her poetry and briefly completes the poem to ensure that it appeals to a general audience of feminists. Parker’s argument for feminine injustice is also tested when readers reflect on the evidence that the poet has provided in the context. For this and numerous other reasons, audiences might also question Parker’s validity to criticize on this subject; could it be that the poet has never engaged in the antediluvian notion of true love? With all reasoning accounted for, a reader may want to think twice before commending Dorothy Parker’s effectiveness.
When Parker begins by charging men with “delight(ing) in novelty” instead of granting a woman “monogamy,” she basically attests to a feminine stereotype about the male gender and the inevitable wane in commitment to his partner. In fact, Parker chooses to express this idea for a total of three times. In the brevity of this poem, it is plain to see that the poet’s reasoning behind her stance lies within the first six of the poem’s total eight lines. This reasoning, essentially the notion of man’s inability to cherish a relationship with a woman in the long term, seems a bit too imposing when we undress the poet’s language and it’s mechanics. This idea is intended to be accounted for a second time when Parker writes: “Love is a woman’s moon and sun; / Man has other forms of fun.” Here, the poet makes a quick allusion to the sun and the moon, suggesting that “love” itself is like a necessary component to any day for women. No matter how alike love and the moon and sun are to each other, the poet chooses to affirm a man’s dwindling loyalty to a woman for a third time by writing: “Woman lives but in her lord; / Count to ten, and a man is bored.”
Parker writes these three events to justify that man is immoral to women, but readers should know just as well as Parker does that her evidence is all but one thought. The poet develops this idea into three separate ones that seem to parallel each other. And this makes Parker’s argument weaker, in the sense that the poet’s intent behind her reasoning was exaggerated by the multiplication of a sole thought. This, though, is at first not obvious to an audience. Dorothy Parker’s words and metaphorical accounts are also carefully selected to maintain an ideal rhythm to dazzle her readers and in the end, for them to agree with the poet’s attitude. A close reader should be able to translate all three arguments for male unjustness in Parker’s concise poetry. Parker uses a controlled rhythm and the convention of a simple rhyme scheme to address the argument in her “General Review of the Sex Situation.” These familiar ingredients make the poem seem like a children’s poem, which could be tactical in Parker’s thought conveyance about the male role, considering that most readers have an insight and familiarity with that particular genre of poetry. It seems like the construction of the poem itself is used to mask the true intents of Parker. The easiness and comic intent that Dorothy Parker exercises when incorporating these factors into rhyme schemes makes the poem’s ending result seem ironic that such matters would be discussed in such a jovial tone and in the brevity of her already chosen words. When interpreted, the poet’s intents become less credible, and a reader decides that Parker’s rationale is not strong enough to make a man always seem like a relationship’s criminal. Parker uses these methods to appeal her work to a general audience of feminists that are ready (like the poet is) to accuse man of multiple wrongs when in reality it is a sole peeve that she wants to transgress.
It is also important to consider Dorothy Parker’s stance and why she might have wanted to produce a work like this in the first place. With intents to partially shun men, readers can tell that Parker tries to evade actually having evidence to be correct in the poem at the end, by asking readers the question: “What earthly good can come of it?” This seems to shift an audience’s interest from her examples and directly to a question that Parker poses. It is this same lack of credibility in the context that may direct readers to ponder, moreover, the actual credibility that Parker has herself for writing this poem. Does Parker live alone? Is she married? Was Parker faithful herself? These are all certainly vital accounts that must be accepted and hindered when reading between the lines of “General Review of the Sex Situation.”
At the end, Parker asks the audience: “With this the gist and sum of it, / What earthly good can come of it?” This statement can be interpreted as a paradox considering that a relationship between male and female is inevitable when realizing that there is no remedy for her situation. We realize that Parker is just another woman with misfortune in her relationships or has seen too much harm done to women by a man. Is it correct to call Parker’s work acceptable when the evidence she provides is misused and expected to be bypassed for validity after a shallow question is asked? It is clear that with popular justifications about men, Dorothy Parker tries to win an audience over by “milking” the male gender “for all that it is worth.” Clearly, this is a clever intent by the poet, but still is not moving enough to encapsulate a notion for a reader to disapprove of the male stereotype, for women have them, too.