Lady-writer Molly Ivins stamped her little foot in the Washington Post a while back and urged us to “ban the damn things.” “Ban them all,” she said, meaning guns, and she must have made her advanced composition teacher so proud by using colloquial words like “hooey” and passionate phrases like “just plain insane,” delivering blinding insights like “a gun is literally the power to kill,” and constructing stunning constitutional arguments like “14-year-old boys are not part of a well-regulated militia” so all guns should be banned. Fourteen-year-old girls, I guess, don’t play with guns; they play with dolls, or, in some ominous cases, word processors.

So Molly trips along, throwing her pseudo-pithy tantrum against the Second Amendment rights of millions of Americans, and she apparently expects to be taken seriously. Some people do, of course, take her seriously. Fans of lady-writers (usually embittered, leftist, urban divorcees) like to put the cuter columns on refrigerator doors so they can revisit their favorite passages with frequency. Most of us just shake our heads in amusement and move on to serious writers, pausing only—in Molly’s case—to send yet another check to the NRA.

Lady-writers tend to write about the same things. Ellen Goodman, one of the founding mothers of the lady-writer genre, did another one of her gun control things a few weeks after Molly. They must have the equivalent of their second cup of coffee over the back fence, after the real journalists have gone to work, and divvy up responsibilities as to whose turn it is to whine on this subject and shriek on that.

“Lady-writer,” by the way, is my little label for someone—usually an affirmative-action case—whose gender can be determined even without a by-line or internal clues, other than a fluffiness of thought and a penchant for throwing little self-absorbed, liberal snits. They are the emotional descendants of the “committee of sappy women” Mark Twain wrote about over a century ago, always ready to “drip a tear from their permanently impaired and leaky waterworks.” Even earlier they added to the melancholy of Edgar Allan Poe.

So, Molly doesn’t like guns. They make loud noises and they scare her. They should all be banned. Isn’t she bold? While those tiresome non-lady writers struggle with things like logic and reality—and history and law—she bypasses all that stuff. Ban them all. Just do it. Okay, on to the next column. What’s up for today? Sexism or daycare? Haven’t done the glass ceiling thing in a while. Florida going to fry any murderers we can cry over?

Now, lest I be accused of sexism, not all women are lady-writers. Mary McGrory, for instance, who is a predictable and tendentious leftist harridan, is not a lady-writer, nor are several women on the right (Mona Gharen and Phyllis Schlafly come to mind). GeorgieAnne Geyer certainly isn’t.

Actually, even some men can be categorized as lady-writers. Abe Rosenthal of the New York Times, for instance, comes across as an old Russian woman at a funeral, wailing and screeching. One can envision him wearing a babushka at his word processor as he taps out yet another testimonial to his moral superiority over just everyone—in particular Pat Buchanan, or anyone else who quibbles with leading-edge Likud thinking. Even George Will feels compelled on occasion to extract a lace hankie from his foppish attire and sniffle into it a column or two designed to establish his sensitivity. The agenda here is to distance himself, in the eyes of the liberal opinion establishment, from grimy, bayonet-wielding, right-wing infantrymen like Buchanan, Sam Francis, and Joe Sobran. William Buckley, in his dotage, dons lady-writer pantaloons every now and then, no doubt to sweeten and lengthen his under-construction New York Times obit.

Want to be a lady-writer? Step one: take some advanced comp classes at Wellesley. Step two: get out the liberal play book on gay rights, government funding of everything except the military, and especially whmy, wacky feminism. Step three: make everything introspective, emotional, and personal. Use your family as props, e.g., “I was thinking about gay rights for an upcoming column, and as I tucked my four-year-old baby-woman in the other night, she turned to me and said, ‘Mommy, just because a man wears a dress, why don’t people like him like they like mommies? Mommies wear dresses, too.'” Awww . . . magnet that mother on the refrigerator door. Jimmy Carter tried that type of thing with Amy on nuclear bombs and it bombed, but it works for lady-writers.

Anna Quindlen, the perky little liberal airbag who deploys a couple of times a week from the dashboard of the Times, says things like her toughest challenge is to “raise feminist sons,” who will no doubt turn out like the poufters some of her sillier columns have been written on. The screechy, petulant piece she threw together when Magic Johnson flunked his lab test is probably on every refrigerator door in Greenwich Village. “I don’t want to hear any more about the impropriety of clean-needle exchanges or the immorality of AIDS education in the schools,” she raged.

“I don’t want to hear any more about how condoms shouldn’t be advertised on television and in the newspapers.” She doesn’t want to hear it, so we mustn’t say it to her ever again, Quindlen and Molly Ivins are from the same foot-stomping branch of the gyno-journalism school. Magic Johnson, according to Anna, “always looks to me like a guy you should hug.” (His fellow NBA players quickly passed on that one.) Besides, Magic’s disingenuous little speech inspired Anna’s “eight-year-old” (one of the future feminist sons) to “ask her about safe sex.” This stuff goes on the op-ed page of America’s “paper of record.”

It’s not a bad living, being a lady-writer. You dip your pen in estrogen, write some really air-headed, emotional things, innocent of logic, throw in a couple of fatuous Linda Ellerbee-style non sequiturs, and step back and say, “Wow, am I irreverent, or what?” Hey, it works. Some people take Ellen Goodman seriously, and Anna Quindlen, to the shock and amusement of real journalists, actually walked off with an Affirmative Action Pulitzer.

I would suggest, however, that we put this kind of stuff in the women’s section, the way we used to, next to “Hints from Heloise” columns, crash diets, and Midol ads, and let the girls go at it on issues like Tailhook and tributes to ventilated abortionists and why men are afraid of a really serious woman like Hillary. Molly Ivins seems to have just what it takes to cover these and other lady-writer issues with just the right frosting of pop-liberal pithiness. She’s going to be just peachy.