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Friday, May 02, 2008

"The bride should wear the veil after she has become a wife."

Today's episode of Little Miss Know-it-All: MY COLUMN IS THERAPY! YES IT IS! YES IT IS!

I should have known better than to think Sarah Hampson had improved. In the last few weeks, I've read her column in the Paper of Record without wanting to scream. For some reason, I figured that her editor had clamped down on the self-indulgent ex-bashing. Clearly, I was wrong.

As you'll recall, Ms. Hampson is on a crusade to convince the world that her own personal situation is the hottest ticket around. Divorced women, you see, are the only ones who are able to have any personal growth. Whereas married women are stupid, frumpy and unable to cope in the real world, divorced women are smart, sexy and confident. Especially if they've got a couple of kids and a nasty ex-husband. Separation agreements are hot! Got that? Come over here and let me show you my application for joint custody!

Ms. Hampson's column has typically been a mix of anonymous sources, family therapists and thinly veiled snipes at her ex-husband. Because I have familiarised myself with her body of work, I am now able to recognise where she's going with any particular topic. Her column is generally about herself, even when she pretends it's not, and it usually mentions that men are terrible.

And so I was infuriated when I saw that this week's column begins with a mention of Rosemarie Fritzl, the Austrian woman who discovered a few days ago that her daughter has been in the cellar for the last two decades. Ms. Hampson knows how Ms. Fritzl must be feeling. You see, she's been married, too.

Married women, she informs us, just want to think that everything is fine. They only see how horrible their husbands are when they have been liberated through divorce.

Ms. Hampson, you are totally right: You DO have something in common with Ms. Fritzl! Her husband is suspected of forcible confinement, rape, kidnapping and psychological torture, but your ex-husband lied to you! Your ability to sympathise with other people is truly limitless.

Women, you see, are in denial about the cause of our problems. Fortunately, Ms. Hampson can be our role model in our collective quest for self-enlightenment. She has already discovered that men are the cause of all of her problems. And she accomplished this while looking GORGEOUS.

This is profoundly disappointing, because I think a column about life after divorce would be interesting. I'd like to read about someone who is struggling to balance her relief that it's all over with her sadness that things didn't work out, but feels guilty about that struggle. She might write about her shock at discovering that her kids try to play their parents off each other, and admit that she really LIKES shared custody, because she gets a few days to herself every week. Or maybe she thinks the logistics of sharing custody are so difficult that she might as well live in the same house with her ex; besides, they're sort of getting along again.

But of course, this is too much to ask of Ms. Hampson and the Paper of Record.