Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Hatred Versus Haha: The Battle of the Sexes?

Does anyone still think it is amusing to poke fun at the opposite sex? I think it is okay sometimes. I know that is horrifying, especially if you are cocked-and-loaded about the issue already. But that doesn't mean anyone has the justification to go to extremes about it. Sadly, some do.

Last night, my guitar teacher, who is a woman, followed up my long-winded, educationally-based explanation of why I was failing to master a particular technique on the guitar, by saying: "No. I think it's just because you are a man." I laughed. In fact, she was right. My dude tendencies were getting in the way.

Now, one could argue that, because I am a man, I have no problem being teased, because we dudes have had all of the good stuff for centuries. And I do understand why women would be more easily offended by stereotypes than we males, particularly if these stereotypes are ones that have helped to keep women subordinate over the years.

King and Riggs. She won.
But, I recently heard a woman call a group of men, who were making jokes on a Facebook post, "misogynists." The post (put up by a woman, in fact) asked how the plot of Lord of the Flies would be different if it were a group of girls, instead of a group of boys, were stranded on the island. Several men chimed in with over-the-top stereotypes and a female friend of the post-maker was offended to the point of calling the commenting men "misogynists."

Misogyny is a hatred of women. Talk about over-the-top -- especially when the woman who created the post was clearly looking for some fun banter about stereotypes of women, versus the ones about men that already exist in the book...

I know some would have us believe otherwise, but, as things stand, the two sexes are different, both physically and behaviorally. Some argue that the differences are nothing more than conditioning; others say it is genetic. Either way, those differences exist, presently. Maybe (though I doubt it) we will manage to program the differences out over the centuries (a horrifying idea) but, as it stands, we are different. And I like it.

No, I don't want to insult women or categorize them as all behaving in the same way, but I think once we (the sexes) lose the ability to poke fun at one another, we will find ourselves in a truly dismal place.

It is troubling when one sees sarcastic (and perhaps even offensive) comments as "misogyny." Is poking-fun the same thing as hatred? This woman's reaction was clearly driven by some deep issues, and I don't think she indicates a verifiable direction in modern thinking, but I think we ought to be careful not to lose our sense of humor altogether.

A few days ago, I heard Billie Jean King interviewed and they were discussing her famous "Battle of the Sexes" match with Bobby Riggs, in the seventies. From The Tonight Show (Taken from a Fresh Air interview on NPR):

JOHNNY CARSON: Do you like women?

RIGGS: I like 'em real good in the bedroom, the kitchen, and I really... 

Carson interrupted and called Riggs a male chauvanist pig. Okay, now we are moving closer to mysoginy. But, you  know what, King said she remained friends with him until he died (also from the Fresh Air interview):

KING: Oh, I think he -- no, I think he was chauvinistic. I think he probably went over the top for the match. But - he was a very kind person, but I think he's very - I think he was chauvinistic, but a great - but a really nice chauvinist. And he and I remained friends up until the day he died from prostate cancer.

Maybe we need not to be quite as tolerant as King is, but...maybe somewhere in the middle would be good.

Until then, though, can we all just agree that, on the whole, overwhelming numbers of women like to shop for shoes and lots of guys like to watch football? Would that be okay? Or, no? You tell me.

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