Via Jezabel, I found out that the Times of London has been running a feature series called “The Trouble With Women.” Titles in this series include “They Live in a Fantasy World,” “They Need to Stop Asking Pointless Questions,” “They Grow Up and Get Boring,” which includes chauvinist gems like this:
Women just don’t seem to retain that sense of childhood fun. Without the giddying effect of alcohol, or the energy generated by the first bloom of a new romance, they lack the spontaneity and freedom to enjoy unconditionally life’s simple pleasures. There are two reasons why this is so. One is that women’s brains are — obviously — wired differently from men’s. Primeval women existed to reproduce and protect the next generation. This maternal drive still remains, and the seriousness of this genetic responsibility manifests itself in sombre maturity. Women get stuck with being serious. On the other hand, primeval men were, as the cliché goes, the hunters, not the gatherers. They required a positive and outgoing approach; so they weren’t good parents, but they possessed an all-important sense of adventure. The evolutionary outcome is that men innately know how to have childlike fun. This type of behaviour is often not a good look, though, and that is something that matters to women. Perhaps it should also matter to men, but at least it doesn’t stop us appreciating fun.
And that’s just the beginning. “Stu,” who is only a year older than me, tries to comfort me about not wearing makeup by saying that men are more obsessed with the cheerleader from Heroes than with Lady Gaga: “Blokes actually like seeing their girlfriends unmade-up. It’s a privilege to be the only one who gets to see that side; it’s like exclusive access.” . . . Oh, okay. Like in a harem in some xenophobic Douglas Fairbanks movie?
This series is filled with men bemoaning how women haven’t been understanding them, how they hate small talk and lots of makeup, and see the big picture while we’re lost in the little details, how we should just leave them alone so they can watch 24. (My question is, can I watch 24 with you?) Also, some plonker said the wage gap and glass ceiling was caused by women whining and moaning about how they should get a raise or a better job. Seriously.
As the anonymous Johnathan the Journalist tells us in his “The Trouble With Women: They Always Cry”:
I realise I may be coming off a bit “typical man” here, but to that (female-conceived) charge, I say you’ve got us all wrong. It’s not that we don’t care — we care too much. First, for ourselves. We don’t want you to cry more, especially about something you were never really crying about in the first place. Second, we care for you. Women can use crying to change a two-sided argument into a one-person therapy session. I call it the Tear Shift. What was once a valid point on our part has dissipated. Being right or not doesn’t matter any more; that moment has long passed. What is left is a person that you care for, sobbing. As such, we internalise the mother of all vindications, and apologise. For everything. Ever.
Bittersweet is the taste of a non-problem alleviated through no actual closure. Bottom line, with tears, women win. And then everything’s all right again.
As Jessica Coen explained so well over at Jezabel:
I’d venture that tears are more like misdirected missiles. More often than not, my tears are tears of rage, and in that moment I can’t control that anger — or, worse, it’d be inappropriate for me to express the emotions, like when I want to strangle a boss or a boyfriend in a public place — and suddenly my face is red and my eyes are watering and the only thing I can do to ward off the waterworks is to shut down and mentally limit myself to thoughts about butterflies. But if those angry tears do indeed erupt, god help us all: I can quickly devolve into a snotting and slobbering mess, letting myself go until I’m so swollen and pink-faced that I look like a newborn panda. And if that makes you apologize, it’s just because you’re sorry I look so fucking ridiculous.
See, here’s the thing. I’m one of those easy criers. I cry at trailers to terrible movies I’ll never see. When I’m feel threatened, or scared, or helpless, I cry. I’m also very, very suggestible. When the alien popped out of John Hurt’s chest in Alien, I seriously became short of breath and developed chest pressure. Put these two facts together and the kids in my freshmen acting class suddenly understand why I ended up crying in every. single. exercise.
This fact still embarrasses me, even though my teacher at the time (who is the essence of the cool first gentleman of the theater) commended my emotional availability. As Ms. Coen again explains so well,
[G]entlemen, make no mistake: No self-respecting woman considers this a win. Having any man — or woman, really — see you in tears feels like a little defeat, because your wet face undermines any good points you’re trying to make. And the last thing you want is an audience while your own emotions are kicking your ass.
The complete collection of British chauvinism can be found here. I’m going to go look at pictures of David Tennant pretending to be Heathcliff on the moors to make me feel better.
He’s a feminist in my head. And since I’ll probably never meet him, he’s the perfect man.
(This post was for Hester. Only for you will I move to the UK.)