Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Surrendering the penis

Boy, was Freud ever right about that penis envy thing.  And it’s getting uglier by the day.  The next step, in the name of gender equality, is obvious.

Over the past four days, via my morning newspaper and various news websites, I have been exposed to the following:

1.  A long-winded column in which the author bitterly complains that two male celebrities momentarily preferred to talk to each other, rather than to her, at a dinner party (it couldn't possibly be that they had something to say to each other or that she was simply uninteresting; oh, no, it was the latest proof of Worldwide Male Sexism).

2.  A story about a man getting fired for having drawn a cartoon depicting, ahem, male genitalia; the poor schlub now worries, rightfully so, that he'll never work again.

3.  A story about a man who told an off color joke to a female coworker, whom he thought would enjoy it; she did, but then she repeated it to someone who didn’t see the humor, causing him, not her, to get fired.

4.  The 10,274th feminist rant I've had to read decrying the gender pay gap and assaulting men for having it so much better than women.

Sigmund Freud knew whereof he spoke.  And these latest stories and essays have forced me to a startling but logically inescapable conclusion:  men, it's time to give it up.  And by “it,” you know what I mean.  Our little friend.

Man, oh, man, how the world of men has changed.

Once upon a time, if a man were to throw out the word “he” in a generic sense—as in, “the average person is not happy with his job,” people knew right away that the speaker was referring to both men and women.  No one was offended.  And even if a few activists did take umbrage—well, to hell with them.  In a grammatical sense, the generic use of the male pronoun did not refer exclusively to the male gender, and no one thought it did.  Human language had worked this way for all 5,000 years of recorded history.  This was, of course, before the anti-male movement had gained enough strength to actually ban the word “man.”  Before that triumph of feminism, you could say words like “fireman” and “policeman” without offending anyone. 

And there was a day when it was possible for a man to tell a slightly off-color joke without blowing up his career.  Or he could compliment a coworker on her dress without fear of being fired.  In the bad old good old days, if a guy found a member of the opposite sex attractive, he could flirt with her, and even hit on her, without risking anything more damaging than (in a worst case scenario) a slap in the face.

Look for the civilization I just described only in story books, for it’s long since gone with the wind.  This, the year 24 AA (“After Anita”), is very different. 

The world today has zero tolerance for the foolishness of men.   On the job, conceivably you could set your office on fire and get away with it if you could show it was an accident, but don’t ever, ever, ever slip and make the mistake of uttering words that could be construed, by anyone at all, as off-color, male chauvinist, or sexually harassing.  If that female coworker is wearing a cute outfit, let it ride, even if she’s cut the neckline down to there hoping you’ll notice.  And if you want to ask a woman out—choose carefully.  Because if your overture fails, you could find yourself branded as a creep, a stalker or even a pervert, and you’ll never, ever, ever get to ask her more than once. 

If these rules had been in effect in the 1950’s, I wouldn’t be here.  My father broke every one of them at work, and he definitely stalked a coworker—my future mother—finally wearing her down through long effort over time.  Not only was he not embarrassed by such tactics, he bragged openly about them for years.  I’m guessing a lot of other of us baby boomers got here the same way. 

If you want a real lesson in the realities of gender fairness, walk into any casino in Vegas, where you’ll find hordes of blue-haired chain-smoking widows at the slots gambling away the riches that their dear departed husbands helped piled up for them just before they croaked off from job-induced stress.   But I digress.  Start any political conversation in America today and, if there’s a woman present, sooner or later it will turn to the gender pay gap. 

Guys, if you find yourself in such a conversation and you’re thinking about mounting a defense, don’t.  I’ve been there and done that.  For every story you can tell about how men make more money than women because certain highly-paid fields—the oil industry, for instance—tend to attract men, the ladies can come up with a counter example showing how even when working side by side with men in the exact same profession, women make less. 

Men, some of you might consider arguing that guys don’t get nearly so distracted with parenthood as women do, and that guys therefore have greater effectiveness and higher productivity on the job.  These views may tempt you to point out anecdotes such as the recent one in Tucson, where a female firefighter demanded that the city build her a special facility at the firehouse suitable for the private pumping of breast milk—and then when she didn’t get it, she sued.  You might even be inclined to utter snide comments about such female firefighters having to take a breast-milk break from fighting a six alarm fire, or to call time out while rescuing a trapped infant in order to go feed one.  Don’t even think about it.  You’ll just get an earful about how women have to birth the children and do 90% of the work in caring for them while at the same time holding down full-time employment and still getting paid less and promoted less often than the average man, who does not have those responsibilities and therefore works less overall. 

You’re also likely to hear how women have to work so much harder on the job than men to succeed.  As my wife is fond of telling me, if I had to do her job, I’d get a cramp and die.

I believe her.  So, long ago I gave up presenting arguments in defense of men, and I’ve been ready for some time to call it a stalemate. 

But now along comes comedian Sara Silverman.  I read that she is tired of what she calls the “vagina tax” and wants men to repay women for years of inequitable wages.  She figures men owe women $29,811,746,430,000.  While making these demands, Silverman is said to prance around the stage waving a prosthetic penis.  She posted a video claiming that she’s so worked up about the issue, she’s thinking about “becoming a dude.”

That’s it.  This final straw is forcing me to come to the conclusion I’ve long been resisting. 

Simply put, it’s this.  I suggest that we men now lead efforts to put together an international reconciliation task force, perhaps at the United Nations level, for the purpose of beginning immediate negotiations for the peaceful surrender of the penis.

Now, before you reject this notion out of hand, consider the benefits.  No more sexual discrimination.  No more gender-based HR complaints.  No more sexual harassment lawsuits.  No more excessive worry about political correctness.  No more Anita Hills and Clarence Thomases.  Politicians like Anthony Weiner would have nothing to take pictures of or tweet about.  In fact, the full implications are staggering.  There’d be no more fighting over gay rights, because we’d all have the same gender.  95% of all celebrity gossip reporting would simply dry up and blow away.  That latter development alone would be worth the price, don’t you think?

The down side, of course, would be that life would be so much more boring.  No more vive la différence and all that implies.  And then there's the regrettable fact that after just a few decades our species would disappear. But think how much more peaceful the planet would be afterwards.  The animals would be able to roam about unmolested.  The earth could begin to recover immediately from human-caused global warming.  The environmentalists, climatologists, and green politicians would love that.  To make the deal attractive, of course, we’d have to negotiate up front a clause in the surrender document requiring them to quit their kvetching the moment the armistice is signed.
And there’s one other thing to consider.  Remember how Lorena Bobbitt settled her dispute with her husband John?  I predicted at the time that (1) there would be more such incidents and (2) they would become so routine as to not make the news so frequently.  When was the last time you heard of such an incident?  Yet care to guess how many hits I just got on a Bing search for the topic?  Wait for it:  17,200,000.  Seventeen.  Million.  And two hundred thousand.
The lesson is clear.  If we are to settle this peacefully and head off an escalation of violent penis thefts, we have to do it now, while there’s still time.  It’s the right thing to do for the planet, and for all mankind.

Oops.  I did it again.  Make that personkind.


For more snarky humor of this type, check out my novel Messages, which applies the same treatment to the TV news industry.

©2014 by Forrest Carr.  All rights reserved.

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