I knew a guy who loved sports movies. Loved ’em. Watched every single one up to and including the “Kickboxer” series. He loved the moment when the hero, victorious on the baseball field or the basketball court or the hockey rink, would look up into the crowd and find his ladylove, who was just cheering her little heart out for him. Because that’s where women belonged in those movies. Up in the stands, an audience for their partner’s accomplishments.
That’s usually when the movie fell apart for me. I wanted to be the second baseman, not the girlfriend. I wanted to be the left wing who knocks in a killer assist to the center right before the buzzer.
Let the hero have his moment, but let me be part of the victory, not an accessory for it.
People talk a lot about equality for women in the workplace and in society. I agree with everybody who says equal pay for equal work should be just that. I agree with most people who talk to me about the importance of the ERA. And I wait in vain for somebody to step up and publicly bitch-slap every single sitcom writer on the face of the planet.
Are there more pressing issues in the field of women’s rights right now than the absolute abomination that is “According to Jim?” Hell yes. But in a climate where women’s groups regularly take various media outlets to task for portraying all women as thin goddesses of beauty, I would like just once to hear somebody take ABC to task for portraying all women as nagging housewives who married morons and then blame the morons for that fact.
No wonder my single friends talk about marriage as if it’s death. Death would be preferable to a life of complaining about the fact that your may-unn wants to go play poker with his friends and dammit, you want him to stay home and edge the new curtains you bought!
It astounds me that The West Wing, a show that portrays women as strong characters, flawed and funny and klutzy and gorgeous and unafraid, is called sexist because its male characters occasionally make sexist jokes and are immediately slapped down for it by their much-smarter colleagues. Meanwhile, over on every major network’s “comedy” lineup, a hilarious gag about how Jim didn’t buy Cheryl jewelry, and now she’s mad!
You know how those women are, any little problem they might have can be solved right away with a present, because it’s never about legitimate feelings or arguments or differences, it’s about bribes.
I blame the jewelry industry for this, too, so don’t worry, TV people. You’re not alone.
And men, where are you with me on this? Do you truly enjoy being portrayed, by and large, as socially retarded oafs who need to be told what to do by some screaming harpy? Do you like being told, night after night on just about every channel, that not only can you not think for yourself, but that when you do, the person who promised to love, honor and cherish you thinks anything you might care about (which judging from the televison is the television, a Barcalounger and some beer) is trivial?
Maybe it provides for some cheap commiseration with your friends, but damn, does it make you sound like a big honkin’ doofus. I’ve got zero patience for my female friends who complain about their stupid husbands, and the same goes for my male friends who bitch about their wives. A, don’t involve me in your marriage at all. B, you married him or her, so don’t come to me now and complain.
What really makes me crazy is that women aid, abet and generally buy into this whole crock. Did anybody besides me watch the bullshit film version of “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood?” Anybody besides me sit through interminable cable viewings of the craptastic “Steel Manolias?” (Insomnia sucks.) Okay, then you know what I’m talking about:
The pervasive idea that if you do not have four female friends to whom you are closer than to your own husband (who’s a big ignorant goofus who doesn’t know anything), you are inadequate as a true woman.
I mean, Jaysus. My friend with the sports movies? Best friend ever. Can talk about work, which is where I spend 70 percent of my life. I love my female friends, but they just don’t fill my every need. We hardly ever talk about work, and still less about why we love our jobs and what’s important to us about them. My guy friends could care less if I didn’t put on makeup and I don’t have to watch my language and they’ll watch football with me and talk about how many days until pitchers and catchers report to camp and they’ll tease me and remind me of my dearly-missed brother and cousins. They’ll drink beer with me, not fruity things in martini glasses that I feel inadequate about because I don’t know the names of them.
But more than that, what makes my skin crawl about these girl-bonding movies is that I really like my husband. Watching “Steel Magnolias” made me feel I was somehow deficient in not treating the man I married as basically a pet for sex. Like I was fraternizing with the enemy for actually liking the dude and wanting to stay up half the night talking with him.
I admit, we have those sitcom moments where I get my way about the furniture because I just do. I nag him to take the garbage out and he teases me about exactly how many pairs of black shoes a girl really needs. But I want to feel we have these moments because they’re moments in our lives, and not have somebody say to him, when it’s clear I’m annoyed about something, “Ooooh, you’re in trouble with the boss!”
I’m not his boss. I’m barely my boss.
This is why honest portrayals of good male-female relationships always move me. I like the fiesty Andi Wyatt, Maryland congresswoman on The West Wing. I loved Veronica Guerin as played by Cate Blanchett, and her husband who was concerned for her but never overbearingly obnoxious about it. Dana Whitaker in Sports Night telling her boyfriend, “This is my job. It isn’t my hobby,” when he asks her to leave her producing desk early, had me standing up and cheering.
More of that, please, and less of the fights over whose socks got left on the bathroom floor, and who will be withholding sex to teach that slob a lesson.