Q: For years I have been hearing a lot of talk, jokes, etc., about changing gender roles, the idea being that women will finally, once and for all, be in charge. That’s fine. Sadly, though, this type of locker-room talk often crosses the line into overtly shitty treatment of another person. This is like the “Animal Farm” effect, in reference to the book where the cute fuzzy farm animals take over the farm, and everything is going totally fantastic, but then they are like “fuck it” and end up replicating all of the shitty atrocities that had been perpetrated against them. It is ridiculous to use some real or imagined historical beef to justify being an asshole. Further, in my experience, the objects of this borderline abusive behavior tend to be the type of intelligent, sensitive and/or arguably somewhat damaged fellas who (a) really, really don’t need that and (b) would actually be your most likely allies in the Age of Aquarius or whatever, not to mention the most likely to raise your kids, pick out your outfits, occasionally surprise you with tasteful improvements to the living space or whatever your preferred male-subjugation imagery might be. Just wondering what you thought. Tim
A: I see where you’re coming from and I understand what you’re trying to defend. However, it sounds as if you’re basing your defense on the assumption that the modern woman even is interested in a “subjugated” male. It also sounds like you might be one of these submissive fellas, which is fine. There are women who elect to wear the pants in the family, but I honestly don’t know too many of them. In fact, you named three things I would never want a man to do for me. Straight guys with an interest in women’s fashion don’t draw my attention unless I’m buying clothes from them. If I had a child, I’d be its primary caregiver, and I’d certainly rather come home to a mended fence and a set of new tires than stylish silk curtains and matching throw. I even have a secret test I like to use if I’m unsure of the assertiveness of a dude I’ve just started dating. Right around date 3, at an appropriate moment, I’ll extend my arm toward him with my purse in my hand and tell him I’ll be right back. His reflex is always one of two actions: an absent-minded gesture to reach for it or to dramatically recoil from it. The purse holder never gets another date.
Brave New Workshop’s recent two-woman show, “Babe Lincoln and the Vajazzled Badge of Courage,” ended with a sketch set in the future, when women are finally in control of the world. The anticipated quips were there — we cured cancer by teaching men to talk about their feelings — but ultimately, the girls reached the conclusion that no gender should be in charge because we’re all assholes in some way. If Napoleon (the pig, not the emperor) had never had the opportunity to ostracize Snowball, all the horrors on the farm would never have happened, but Snowball wasn’t perfect, either. Give any jerk a crown and scepter and everything will eventually go to hell in a handbasket.
In the animal kingdom, beta males have a specific role that is often mistaken for one less significant. While the beta male doesn’t get first pick of the females, he does get a shot at whatever’s left over. Those ladies aren’t the scraps, exactly; think of it as lateral dating. When that alpha gets killed in a jungle fight (or gets married), guess who steps into first place? The beta. If you can’t be the alpha, that’s where you should strive to be. Date comfortably within your league, and one day you’ll find that perfect mate in a pantsuit.