Crack a Dick Joke

Dear Carla Fran,

Hmm. I come to your question perplexed. And just a little afraid of the other half. I often reflect that, if I were a man, I would find women terrifying. I might have been the ultimate misogynist. Women can so often be judgmental, clique-obsessed, label-crazy, and content to be content with the merely frivolous. Even their relation to serious things–marriage, or babies, or work–can be compromised by a massive immaturity, or an insistence on the zaniness of the young.

That all this is not exclusively the purview of women should not be a surprise. But it disturbs me every time. One gets used to a particular kind of prejudice, and the problem with new forms is that one always has to consider that they might be legitimate and true.

I am friends of sorts with a few males, and we occasionally go out for drinks. Most of the conversation revolves around little-known movies, the poor performances of well-known actors in those B- (or C-) movies, and the slight surprise that each additional judgment (claiming exclusivity, discrimination and taste) stacks upon everyone else–including those who claim to like the movies being condemned in the latest judge-a-thon.

My crush, incidentally, ended just now, and as a direct consequence of all this. While the goodwill towards humans of the male persuasion mostly remains, it does so only because I recognize, in each round of judgment, that someone disagrees. I take shelter in that person’s wide-angle lens, and bask in their absolution. I hate myself for this.

All of which is to say that I don’t know. I don’t know how you escape the mantle of gender, or how you turn your voice into an actual one. I am not after all of this club–I’m a visiting member, as it were–and while they tolerate me, I’m definitely not a decision-maker in the group. I hear the dick jokes, I laugh obligingly some of the time; I have no desire to get in their way (I would resent it if a boy in a girl-group got weird over vagina puns). Still: verdicts get passed, and I watch, not as a voter but as an observer. I am at best a citizen-journalist.

The moment of redemption from the day that I can share with you is this: I had a male student refuse to do part of an assignment because he felt it was offensive to the study of poetry. I took great pleasure
in handing his ass–and his writing–to him on a silver platter via my written response to his assignment. He needs it badly, and the triumph is that on paper I feel brilliantly genderless. The power of writing, I think, is that it can do this. It lets you command ethos in ways that presence does not.

That said, no one knows better than I do the dangers of written communications. I wonder, though, if you could look for a way to make them see how they’re being unfair–or sexist. Either by adopting the same offensive tone, or by parodying them, or by somehow using humor to defuse the situation. This is the only tool I’ve found so far, and I hand it to you with all its lumpy imperfections and banana cream pies.

Fondly (and a bit disillusionedly),

Millicent

PS–Today I WORE Spanx, for the first time ever. Theme!

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