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All wife and no play

I would like to direct your attention to this most excellent rant by madlori about the trope that women are fun killers. I tried to pick a pull quote, but I would have just ended up copying and pasting the whole thing. So go read it. Highly recommended.

The rant was brought on by some of yesterday's Super Bowl ads, which apparently were egregious examples of the trope. I haven't seen these ads, but I can picture them. Why? Because in my 36 years of life, I have seen approximately a million ads just like them: ads (and sitcoms, and movies) based on the concept that women have no purpose except to suck the joy out of men's lives. (And for women, read "wives", because of course, for a man, getting married is the end; it's nothing but drudgery from that day onward.) It all comes back to the idea that women are something men put up with to get sex. There's also the flip-side: women put up with sex, and men generally, for financial stability and for someone else to mow the lawn and take out the garbage. It couldn't be that marriage is ever a partnership of equals, two people who compromise and negotiate and want one another to be happy, oh no. That never happens!

Fortunately, it happens in my house, most of the time. I know I'm lucky that way. I wish society would teach us to hold out for it, rather than perpetuate destructive stereotypes. And this is why media representations matter. As madlori points out:

And it's everywhere. To the point that sometimes I think some actual women act like this because they've been led to expect it, like it's their role in society. As a woman, it saddens me that my gender is saddled with this perception that we're to be tolerated and endured, instead of enjoyed and appreciated.

Yes. This, exactly. I think that's what leads men to assume that women aren't interested in "guy" things (like videogames, and baseball, and comic books, and science fiction, and...), and it's what leads some women to assume that they aren't interested in them, either. It limits us all, and to what purpose?


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 9th, 2010 08:32 am (UTC)
I was actually just talking about this with Love Interest a couple of days ago. There seems to be a slight age difference in this -- at least from what he and I have noticed as a trend among our peers -- that women above the age of around 35 are more likely to be caught in the "some actual women act like this because they've been led to expect it" whereas women younger than that are more likely to be in the category of people who would write this kind of blog post. Yet men of the older age category (where Love Interest falls) are still in the perpetual backlash against the "nagging" and the type who those Super Bowl commercials are directed to. And so, the cycle reproduces itself.

I was thinking that this goes along with the idea that "we women have to train our men". Train, really? Isn't that just a cover term for "manipulate and control"?
Feb. 9th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
I think there is something to the generational idea, although I wouldn't draw a clear line at any particular age. (The rant-writer is, like me, in her mid-30s.) I do think that younger women are more likely to be able to break free of the message and demand a more equal partnership, but like with all issues of marginalized groups demanding more, the majority (in this case men) has been slow to catch up.

I was thinking that this goes along with the idea that "we women have to train our men". Train, really? Isn't that just a cover term for "manipulate and control"?

Partially, yeah. I see it used more often a cover term for "civilize" -- there is this idea that, left to their own devices, men would sit around and watch sports/play games and drink beer all day, and the only reason they don't is to conform to the expectations of women. Which, when you think about who created and controls the structures of corporate America, is actually kind of ridiculous.
Feb. 9th, 2010 04:49 pm (UTC)
I've often wondered if women are suck and only worth putting up with for the sex, then why is gay such a bad thing?

'Cause, seriously, if women suck the fun out of things and all men want to do is drink beer, watch sports, and have sex... it seems like the natural conclusion that being gay would be the answer to their prayers.

Mandatory disclaimer: this is not to insinuate anything bad about either being female or being gay. It is a genuine befuddlement.
Feb. 9th, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC)
It's a paradox, for sure. Because the very same guys who moan that women suck and they'd much rather hang with their buddies are also the first to shudder at the notion that they might be gay.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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