Jewish World Review June 23, 2006 / 27 Sivan, 5766
My Girl Friend's Back: Makeup humor. It's the best kind
By Gene Weingarten
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | As is well known to the regular, loyal reader of this column (Rodney Lardbotham of Gaithersburg), I used to engage in frequent debates about gender differences with feminist scholar Gina Barreca. These debates ended suddenly, about a year ago. What people do not know is why they ended: Gina and I had a fight.
Gina: It was not a "fight." That is such a male term.
Gene: It was most certainly a fight. Gina and I became
extremely angry with each other over something she did that I strongly disapproved of.
Gina: I was not "angry." I was never "angry."
Gene: Stop interrupting.
Gina: I will stop interrupting when you begin to characterize things accurately. You were "angry" with me. I was "disappointed" in you.
Gene: "Disappointed in you" is icy womanspeak for white-hot fury. The point is, for over a year, Gina and I did not work together, but we recently met in Denver for a long-scheduled joint appearance. At dinner, I asked her if she wanted to discuss what had happened and why, and she said no. The earth trembled. Angels wept. I am pretty sure this was the first time in recorded history that a woman given the opportunity by a man did not want to discuss their relationship. This bore further inquiry. And so here we are. Gina, explain yourself.
Gina: I didn't want to discuss the situation because I didn't want to offer you yet another platform to destroy whatever pathetic remnants of self-esteem I had managed to patch together in the last year.
Gene: So, you admit you were wrong!
Gina: Oh, for heaven's sake.
Gina: You clearly have no understanding of feminist theory, or you would not have embarrassed yourself with that ignorant question. If you had ever read the works of Gilligan, you would realize that, in addition to infantile senses of humor, males also have an infantile sense of right and wrong. They are born that way, and never mature.
Gene: Did he write that before or after he was on the island?
Gina: See my first point, above. As far as a male sense of ethics, it is all black and white; good and bad; you're wrong, I'm right; bite me. Women understand that judgments about morality and ethics should be more nuanced and situational and defy toggle-switch logic, and also must be governed by a sense of proportion. Carol Gilligan actually confirms this.
Behavioral research has shown that when boys are on a playground playing some game and a dispute arises, they will argue about who is right until the bell rings to end recess. Then, after school, they'll continue the debate; fisticuffs may or may not ensue. Whereas, if girls are playing and there is a dispute, they change games, because they understand that preserving friendship and harmony is more important than arbitrary, artificial and ultimately meaningless constructs about ethics or fairness. That's why girls play together so much better than boys.
Gene: Okay, then if what you did to incur my anger is situationally defensible, you will have no objection to my describing it right here in lavish detail.
Gina: I'm thinking strategically here.
Gene: Women are good at that! Take your time.
Gina: All right. If my pain will bring you pleasure, if that is the nature of your appetites the sort of thing you need to achieve satisfaction I will submit.
Gina: Do it.
Gene: Very, very good.
Gina: Thank you. Listen, I understand that you were angry, and because I adore you, I am self-laceratingly sorry you were angry. Your response was to instantly banish me from your life with no appeal, whereas my response was to want to set myself on fire. Self-immolation seemed the only reasonable choice.
Irrationally strong internalization of guilt remains an enormous character flaw in the otherwise highly evolved modern feminist. I would hope that the next generation of feminists would respond by wanting to set you on fire. But we are not there yet. We may never get there.
Gene: You adore me?
Gina: That is another flaw in the modern feminist.
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Gene Weingarten writes the Below the Beltway humor column for The Washington Post. To comment, please click here.
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