Sometimes I Hate My Own Gender. Allow Me To Vent My Spleen.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Letter to My Body, or, How To Flood The Internet With Tortured Missives to Our Thighs

In the past year or two, bloggers have posted long, emotional, excruciatingly long letters to their saggy buttocks. I refer, of course, to the ubiquitous "Letter to my Body" that has spread like a raging case of genital warts throughout the white, liberal, affluent, and most importantly, FEMALE sector of the blogosphere. Blame Blogher and NOW for this pestilence of self-indulgent, self-pitying navel-gazing.

A typical Letter inventories the scribe's "relationship" with her carcass. Most often, as a teenager, that carcass was strong and supple, yet the scribe had no particular appreciation of this. The Wench chalks this up to being Young and Stupid. However, most Letters elevate the failure to appreciate one's body to the level of tragedy, Hamlet to the fifth power.

The Letters go on to catalogue the aging of the scribe's carcass in stomach-churning detail. Dimpled cellulite. Intertubes of rubbery fat that spill over the waistband. Arms that flap. Post-pregnancy sacks of crinkled skin. The reader cannot help but recoil at this fleshy Hall of Horrors. The reader also cannot help but ditch the donut and hop on the Stairmaster, toute suite.

But this misses the all-consuming, dreadful point of the Letter to my Body: To love one's carcass. It's not enough to resign yourself to the grim fact that saddlebags and wrinkles are an inevitable part of aging. No. One has embrace the porky thighs, cherish the crow's feet, luuuuurve the breast that droops two inches lower than the other.

The Wench has read many of these Letters. The writers insist the very act of addressing their bodies gave them great peace. The Wench considered the possibility that she was missing something. So she sat down and tried to compose a letter to her body, as well:

Dear Body:

What the hell happened to you? You disgust me.

P.S. You should really shave more often.

The Wench reiterates: How do women expect men to treat them with seriousness when they act with such silliness? Really, now. Do men write tearful poems to their flaccid penises, then post them on the Internet for millions to see? Do men waste bandwidth trying to conjure up hot-and-heavy love for their balding skulls?

'Course not. For all his flaws, the average male clings to his dignity.

The Wench asked her husband what he would write to his body about. The Wench confesses, she secretly hoped her husband would berate his body for all that nose hair. But her husband responded: "I don't need to write to my body. We're very close."

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fat Girls Finish First

NY Post reporter Maureen Callahan reports a correlation between Oprah's weight and her ratings -- namely, the more Oprah, the more viewers.

The Wench seems to recall another popular female talk show host whose popularity only increased with her waistline, as well as her nauseatingly proclivity for discussing her flabbiness with viewers:

The Wench submits that the baffling popularity of Oprah Winfrey and Rosie O'Donnell among women is really not so baffling at all. Their success owes much to a tragic, insidious flaw in the female psyche: The preference for self-indulgence over self-mastery, victimhood over tough-minded heroism.

A thin Oprah is utterly without appeal to many women. A thin Oprah says: "No excuses. No wallowing with Eckhart Tolle/Elizabeth Gilbert/Dr. Phil. Suck it up and do what you have to do." A thin Oprah has none of the soft, fleshy comfort of failure. Female self-discipline, after all, is so not "relatable" or "humanizing". Some women take it as a rebuke.

The Wench asks her female readers: How many times have you noticed a subtle "cooling off" or even outright snideness on the part of your fellow females, following some stroke of good fortune or hard-earned success on your part? And how many times have you noticed a sudden affection or even outpouring of goodwill on the part of the same females, after you fall flat on your face or suffer some crippling event?

The Wench surmises that Oprah knows exactly what she's doing when she laments her scale-tipping physique. And The Wench has to admire her business acumen. Hand the good woman another bag of chips.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Estrogen Office, or, Employer Beware

The Wench is back, after a lengthy hiatus. Fear not: Daily drudgery may have prevented The Wench from blogging, but she remains as embittered towards her sex as ever.

This post is prompted by a recent catfight that The Wench's husband was forced to quell in his office. You see, being self-employed, The Wench's husband found it necessary to hire several qualified individuals to help him -- all of whom, incidentally, are female.

The Wench's husband assumed that his employees would simply show up each morning, do the job required of them, and go home. This is how The Wench's husband works, and he considers it a reasonable approach.

Foolish, foolish husband.

His Vulcanite rationality rendered him clueless to the perils posed by an abundance of estrogen in the workplace. He was unaware that female employees generally demand more hand-holding and encouragement than their male counterparts. He was completely oblivious that comments he routinely makes to male employees are considered by female employees to be curt, hurtful and rude.

Most tragically, he was under the delusion that female employees approach any issues with one another directly and pragmatically. He had no inkling of the back-biting and passive-agressiveness that females use to establish dominance over one another . . . of all the slighted feelings that eventually fester to an ugly head and explode.

The Wench's husband was finally made aware of his ignorance when confronted by two sobbing female employees . . . and The Wench can affirm from personal experience that her husband is quite uncomfortable with tears.

The Wench's advice to the self-employed: Avoid the estrogen-heavy office, if possible. Consider the cumulative effect of female hormones raging in tandem. Counteract the indirection, the hushed snarking and sniping, with a dose of testosterone. Hire a male.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

When Genitalia Take The Stage

The Wench was delighted at the recent henfest over Jane Fonda's casual dropping of the C-Bomb on The Today Show. Ms. Fonda's potty-mouth was cringe-worthy, although not half so cringe-worthy as Meredith Viera's lock-jawed, steely smile as she registered the gaffe.

The Wench professes confusion over the whole fiasco, however. In her humble opinion, the word "vagina" is equally, if not more offensive than the c-word; at the very least, "vagina" never fails to make The Wench shudder, as does "labial folds".

While "cunt" has the guttural punch of a good anglo-saxonism, "vagina" conjures full-color medical textbook illustrations of the whole banana, as it were. Combine "vagina" with "monologues", and The Wench cannot help but envision a disembodied female hooch, standing on a nightclub stage before a microphone, taking long drags on a cigarette (don't ask The Wench to explain the mechanics). Then the hooch growls into the microphone, sounding exactly like Tony Clifton (don't ask The Wench why the voice is male): "You hear the one about the rabbi, the priest and the mariachi band?"

What amazes The Wench is that neither Ms. Ensler, Ms. Fonda or any other actress associated with The Vagina Monologues seem to appreciate the utter ridiculousness of genitalia, male or female. Put the issue of desire aside. The Good Lord made our private bits goofy-looking for a reason: so that we would never, ever take them so seriously that we would construct an entire dramatic happening around them.

You doubt The Wench? Then try treating other sexual anatomy with the same artistic earnestness. How about The Vulva Confessions? Memoirs of a Scrotum? The Life of (a) Johnson?

Silly, no?

Why is it that the women who demand to be taken seriously are all too often the women begging to be mocked?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Marriage: The Sub-Text

Disclaimer: The Wench is positive that Daniel Jones and Cathi Hanauer are a lovely couple. They are both accomplished writers and editors, and no doubt loving and involved parents. They are just cute as a button, to boot.

Nevertheless, The Wench thinks that the Hanauer-Jones unit really should have given that article they co-wrote for this month's Real Simple another look. A good, long, hard one. Because unintentionally, the article reads like a passive-agressive laundry list of buried resentments and long-held grievances. It absolutely seethes with subtext.

You doubt The Wench?

Take a look for yourself. The Wench gives you excerpts from the piece, with the accompanying subtext:

Hanauer: "So there we were: house, novel, kids. . . I envisioned you donning an apron and serving a delicious stew to us all, then writing the holiday cards to the kids' teachers and babysitters while I worked brilliantly in the next room. OK, I'm exaggerating. But still."

Still. Would it have killed you to get the kids to bed by yourself every once in awhile, motherfucker? You really are the Bastard on the Couch.

Hanauer: "I had always been concerned with fairness, and I felt, as so many women with jobs and small children do, that more of the burden fell on me, even though you were working hard, too -- rigging up our computers, unsticking the windows."

So you know how to stick a plug in a socket and open a window! Nice work, genius. Bet you really broke a sweat on that one.

Hanauer: "And I sometimes got angry, which made you feel defensive and nagged."

Suck it up, big guy. That's how I roll.

Hanauer: "At our low point, we tried marital therapy, but that mostly provided comic relief. I'd yap nonstop about myself and the kids while you stared at the floor hoping she wouldn't "call on" you. She'd say, "Well, Cathi, I think that's something you'll want to bring up in individual therapy". Which I wasn't in, because who had the money, the time?"

But now I do, don't I sweetheart? Lots more money, for lots and lots of therapy. And you're going with me, too. You're going to sit there and listen to me describe in minute detail your shortcomings and failings and what a general dickhead you are: and you're gonna like it, bitch.

Jones: ". . . which is how our conversations have been ever since, your words outnumbering mine five to one. Not that I've minded. My mother claims I didn't talk until I was three. My older brother spoke for me. It seems I traded him for you."

Please, God, put a muzzle on her, already. She's like a yapping, high-strung Pekingnese in need of sedation. Christ, I haven't got a word in edgewise for the past twenty years. Why the hell do you think I lost all my hair????

Jones: "Yet this independence has sometimes been a double-edged sword, at odds with the caretaking and shared responsibility of marriage. You erected walls of self-sufficiency -- 'I can do it myself!' - then felt abandoned when I didn't come to your rescue.

Well, do you need my fucking help or not? Are you the big, strong independent woman or the needy, spoiled princess? Or are you just batshit crazy? Pick a side.

Jones: "We began our engagement by arguing over our wedding vows, which you wanted to amend with 'Ill try' (to stand by me in sickness and health, etc.)."

I should have seen it coming right then and there. And by the way: it's Jones-Hanauer, thanks.

Asperger's and Women: A Match Made In Hell

The Wench recently finished reading Look Me In The Eye by John Elder Robison, and hereby recommends it to anyone wanting a funny and poignant first-hand account of growing up with Asperger's, before there was an awareness of Asperger's.

Robison had tremendous difficulties forging relationships with others, and suffered much rejection and abuse as a young man. Things seemed to turn for him when he began working in the music industry (among other things, creating cutting-edge guitars for KISS) and in engineering.

Certainly, these fields are populated with a fair share of eccentrics and "misfits". But more importantly, in The Wench's view, these fields are populated with men.

The Wench firmly believes that on the whole, men are more willing to accommodate and tolerate differences in other men than women are willing to accommodate and tolerate differences in other women.

And if you're a female and you disagree, your junior high experience was obviously much nicer than The Wench's.

Case in point: The Wench's husband once worked with a very bright, very successful patent attorney with an engineering background. This man possessed an amazing rational mind -- as well as an array of strange facial gestures and other social tics. His voice was never modulated quite right. He failed to meet you in the eye. He sometimes burst out in laughter at inappropriate moments.

And yet: the male attorneys in the office frequently took him out for a beer. Perhaps they made a few jokes at his expense. But they rather thought his eccentricities were endearing.

Contrast this with a female teacher at the nursery school where The Wench sent her spawn. She was a financial whiz who formerly worked in the stock market. She also failed to meet you in the eye, and was rarely seen smiling. Her speech often seemed stilted and she was incapable of exchanging small talk. She would greet a simple "How are you?" with a non-sequitur, like "You need to fill out the permission slip for the field trip."

She worked solely with female teachers, and all of them made no attempt to hide their dislike and disdain for her. Likewise, the nursery school mothers professed to "hate" her -- especially her flat, affectless face. They gossiped that she was in clear need of medication: "massive amounts of Prozac."

(Interestingly, the three-year-olds which she assisted seemed to like her well enough, perhaps because they had not yet learned to judge others as mercilessly as adults.)

The Wench believes it's no accident that the patent attorney fared better than the teacher in terms of colleagues and peers. And gender had everything to do with it. Not one woman accepted the teacher as "eccentric" or a "bit of an oddball." Not one woman accommodated her behavior or tried to understand it. Some of these women had their stomachs tied up in knots with fear that their boys were autistic because they enjoyed machines. Yet amazingly, the possibility that this teacher -- who exhibited some classic Asperger's tendencies -- was on the autistic spectrum never once occured to them.

Sigh. For all our much-vaunted nurturing abilities, for all our much-lauded capacity to protect the weak and spread the love, women can be a vicious, vicious bunch.

Friday, January 11, 2008

All Talk, No Action

Old news, but The Wench frequently stumbles upon articles citing scientific research that reticence and repression are actually better for you than emoting. For example, Christina Hoff Sommers found that:

A small number of researchers are taking an empirical look at the general assumption that speaking out and declaring one’s feelings is better than holding them in. Jane Bybee, a Suffolk University psychologist, studied a group of high school students, classifying them as either "repressors," "sensitizers" (those keenly aware of their internal states), or "intermediates." She then had the students evaluate themselves and others using these distinctions. She also had the teachers evaluate the students. She found that the "repressors" were less anxious, more confident, and more successful academically and socially. Bybee’s conclusion is tentative: "In our day to day behavior it may be good not to be so emotional and needy. The moods of repressed people may be more balanced."

All of which leads The Wench to believe that her gender's insistence on "venting emotions" is not only misplaced, but ultimately counter-productive.

How many times, The Wench ponders, has she heard the same woman yammer on incessantly about the same issues with her spouse/children/coworkers, with no resolution in sight?

How many times, The Wench ponders, has she herself spent the better part of the day flapping her lips about this worry and that, to no avail?

The Wench believes that female "venting" does not, as the word suggests, expunge anxiety. Rather, venting feeds it. And unchecked, venting can become an uncontrollable nervous obsession.

The Wench further believes that female venting is a substitute for purposeful, useful -- and sometimes difficult -- action.

Here's to put up and shut up.