Over the years I have heard many women mock men for their silliness and immaturity, and it seems to be something I hear with more frequency and greater volume. A prime example of this is the way grown men revert to a more primal state when it comes to sports. To be fair, many men are patently ridiculous in their enthusiasm for sports and border being juvenile (or sometimes they just run across the border, leaving any pretense of adulthood far behind). To be sure, men can be silly creatures. And one could substitute other things for sports--it might be the way they argue about politics, or go hunting or like big toys.
However, I follow on Twitter a number of YA authors, agents, and publishers--the vast majority of these very accomplished people are women. And something that they do with great regularity is discuss who is cuter, hotter, or more desirable--Mr. Darcy or Peeta? I am not making this up. This was a recent contest someone ran and the women who participated had very strong and serious opinions--about fictional characters. This happens all the time as various blogs have "Vote for the hottest YA hero" contests.
This leads me to think of the spectacle when full-grown women wait to go see Twilight movies at midnight, giggling and blushing and talking about who is hotter--Jacob or Edward.
In fact, during the confirmation hearings for the most recent Supreme Court Justice, a sitting U. S. Senator (Amy Klobuchar) asked the nominee (Elana Kagan) in breathless, simpering tones if she was "Team Jacob or Team Edward." Soon-to-be-Justice Kagan had the sense to deflect the question, but it was a patently ridiculous moment.
A clever comic can make an audience laugh by portraying a man as being clueless and insensitive because he's rigidly focused on solving problems and not empathizing. The same comic could make a woman seem ridiculous because she wants to communicate and emote instead of solving the problem.
I recently heard a woman complaining about her insensitive husband who gave her an honest opinion when she asked him a question. Everyone knows, she said with noticeable contempt, that she didn't want her husband to give his honest opinion about things like that. Well yes, that's a pretty common dynamic, and one most husbands should know. So, it's easy to portray him as either stupid or mean. But we could also note that in this age, when we are told how strong women are, perhaps that would include the intestinal fortitude to hear mildly unpleasant truths. Perhaps there is something equally ridiculous about asking questions with a limited set of pre-approved answers--and then being mad if someone isn't reading from the same script.
I could go on. The point is this: men are silly. They have a lot of quirks. Women are also silly. They also have a lot of quirks. Happily, we are silly in different ways. We are also strong in different ways. In fact, in areas where men are silly, women are often not. In the areas where women tend to be silly, men often are not. This is why we go well together. Our complementary natures can help balance and refine each other. To pretend otherwise is to be willfully blind. To take shots at the other, while arrogating the mantel of normal superiority to ourselves is to be fundamentally dishonest.
Shakespeare's Puck was the one who said, "Lord, what fools these mortals be." We could all profit by taking notice of the gender-inclusive noun he used there. As always, the Bard nailed it. Mortals. Not men. Not women. Mortals.
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