Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Men Aren't Stupid
Now before someone brings up the point that I myself am the one who scribbled an entry entitled “Men Are Stupid”, let me be the first to say that, in certain contexts, off-colour humour can be quite funny. I do enjoy the odd Jewish joke – I’m not talking about the Wise Men of Chelm here – and it doesn’t even have to be told by another Jew. But the context must be right.
The wrong context was last week when Médecin-sans-frontières and I were at a bar chatting with a bartender with whom we are acquainted. The bartender’s description of demanding customer was that he was “a typical J.A.P.” and the only thing he could back it up with was the statement that he wasn’t referring to me (a point that doesn’t seem to obvious to me), indicating that he might truly believe that such a description is an accurate one. The context was also wrong because he doesn’t know me very well and should therefore save his delicate humour for his friends.
But I was referring to men. I have another example. When I was still in university, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth and God hadn’t yet invented grass or flowers, I took a seminar course led by a female prof with eight or nine female co-conspirators. Male jokes were told with glee and when I would speak on matters related to the actual course, I was often dismissed as I “thought that” just because I was a man. It was a linguistics course, which is mostly math, believe it or not, and therefore has no business in the Mars-Venus divide. At first I took it good-naturedly. But as the semester continued I began to feel increasingly uncomfortable. When I finally stood up for myself, I was told that now I “knew how it felt”.
Well, I grew up the butt of practically every joke at school until I reached high school where, for some reason I never understood but was very happy for, I suddenly became cool and popular. Unlike most people, I quite enjoyed high school, but maybe it’s because I was relieved. So I think I already had a fair idea of what it’s like to be dismissed in inane grounds. The statement that it was OK to treat me any way because of my gender was along the lines of saying to a woman, “Gosh! You gals are so cute when you try to use your little brains!” If it was indeed simply humour, which I’m not convinced it was, the context was inappropriate due to the fact that it was a seminar class and that this “humour” did not take into account any of the myriad of factors and past experiences that show us all to be human beings, not penises or vaginas with legs.
Now, back to “Men Are Stupid”. Since it was clear that I am a man and that I obviously don’t believe that men are stupid any more than I believe that women are wispy, simple beings, I suppose there was no need to rush to the defence of men or our brainpower although it would have been fun if someone had. So I guess, like most of what I write, there was no need for this entry. Now go back to work!
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