Joke Deconstruction: Mars and Venus

Thanks to Lauren for letting me guest post here. My plan is to rip apart a joke, which I’ll indicate first, thus starting a (possibly) long tradition of ruining everyone’s fun.

The Story:
Man and woman are intimate in bed. Man feels that things are “heating up” but woman then doesn’t want to have intercourse.

Woman tells him he’s not in touch enough with her emotional needs for her to fill his physical ones. (1)

He then creates a scenario with a surprise ending, constructed to parallel his earlier frustration, and we imagine (?) giving him pleasure in the revenge. The details involve taking her shopping, lavishing her with clothing and accessories, far beyond her expectations, and responding to the eventuality of checking out and actually buying the stuff with “I don’t feel like it” and the sneeringly analogous “You’re not in touch enough with my financial needs… for me to fulfill your shopping needs…”

There are so many things wrong with this, it’s hard to begin. Part of my frustration is that the analogy’s failings are subtle, and threaten at first to stand up to critical deconstruction. But subtle wrongs make for the most painful struggles. They’re the easiest for people to miss and accept, and thus the hardest fights to expose and rectify.

Before diving into the analogy, I want to look at a comment tossed off near the start (without emphasis) that I found to be significant.

After the woman’s comment about obstacles to intimacy in (1), the man tells the listener, “Realizing that nothing was going to happen that night, I went to sleep.”

The devaluing of his partner here is extreme. Not necessarily uncommon, but extreme.

Working with the assumption that neither partner is using the other for impersonal gratification, physical intimacy is a two way exchange, creating a warmth that is basic to emotional health. I am not suggesting that the drive to complete the “final act” of intercourse and orgasm isn’t a genuinely felt desire, but what that experience provides doesn’t remotely compare with the crucial needs served when we receive love, warmth, and real connection.

That the woman didn’t want to be penetrated (which could depend on many factors including fear of pregnancy or a sense of boundary violation in a world where women are still devalued and denied many forms of integrity) can and should be understood in terms other than “not putting out”. Viewing her as a tease frames the entire intimate encounter as existing solely for the man’s enjoyment.

Not that the man counts for nothing at all. If this frustration is unbearable to him, he’s free to talk to her about it, maybe ask her to let him know in advance if she’s just feeling cuddly but doesn’t want to go “all the way”. It may be that she doesn’t always know how things will go ahead of time, but giving her a chance to express that at least lets him know she’s not taking his experience lightly or messing with him for sport.

The man in the story, however, seems to work with the assumption that his needs are the only factor involved. “No sex” translates into “Nothing is going to happen”: forget the intimacy they’d shared to that point. Further, when the woman expresses the implied pain in not being emotionally understood enough to feel comfortable with opening up to him physically, he doesn’t even consider trying to build a connection with her by working toward trust and communication. He simply abandons her to the aftermath of the conflict, preferring unconsciousness to the company of his partner: to the work, which should be a labor of love, of building the intimacy they’re so clearly missing.

On to the analogy.

The idea seems to be that he would build up to the moment of a big purchase and bring her crashing down at the last second, in an effort to duplicate his experience in bed.

My first complaint about the analogy is that her pain was conceived in revenge, while his was the result of a natural process getting sidetracked by understandable reluctance involving an extremely personal choice.

This is assuming that the woman is interacting in earnest, and isn’t just toying with him. Granted there are likely women out there who do that sort of thing. But I am a woman, and I am the one responding to this joke. I happen not to play these sorts of games and so am speaking from that perspective, addressing what this kind of humor does to a person who brings her true self to the world, including her lover.

Next, he compares shopping with petting (please excuse the dated term: I’m avoiding “foreplay” because of its suggestion of intent), purchase with penetration and orgasm, and emotions with finances.

Unless he’s up for standing around in a (gag) department store all day just to see her model cute outfits, the shopping/petting analogy is just a lie.

“I don’t feel like it” is a stretch to imagine at checkout. Maybe “I was just shopping for fun” could fly. Clearly he was aware of his own intent from the start and his withholding this information from her is recreational torment for the purpose of delivering that sarcastic mimic of her earlier attempt at connection.

His attempt to compare his finances to her emotions comes closest to legitimacy. Certainly he shouldn’t have to ruin himself financially for her shopping pleasure any more than she should have to ruin herself emotionally for his sexual pleasure.

But this last connection is a little more sinister, maybe that being part of what gives the joke its twisted punch.

Doesn’t the attitude still linger in our culture that a man’s purchases entitle him to a woman’s body? Is there a suggestion here that her being “deprived” of fashion trappings is the consequence of depriving him of some action? Are we to feel that she deserves this punch of disappointment, humiliation, and deprivation? (Granted, it’s the deprivation of a luxury item, but then so was his, assuming him to have at least one good hand.)

And I can’t help but wonder why the joke included her interest in an item she didn’t seem to have use for. The simple answer seems to be “to paint her as crass, as lacking in character, as a user”. But I then wonder further, “to paint whom? Just the woman in the joke? All women? A typical woman? Any woman who’s ever refused a man who happens to be enjoying the joke?

Jokes are a product of and a contribution to our culture, transmitting attitudes as they reach their listeners, which makes me lean toward the broader interpretations. And the contribution this joke makes to our culture is pretty revolting. It makes light of a woman’s need for connection, attempts slight of hand to deliver what’s presented as just due, paints her as a viper and leaves her abandoned twice in the telling.

Told, I’m heartbroken to report, by a woman.

Note: since writing this, I’ve spoken with that woman, and am at least encouraged to hear that she didn’t write the joke and didn’t even relate to it fully. Still, I think jokes are much more important than they seem, and needed to address this one. I’m often uncomfortable with the license joke-tellers sometimes take in suggesting or assuming a derogatory notion, and then hiding behind the vague medium when called on it. Thus my new hobby of public joke deconstruction.

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43 comments for “Joke Deconstruction: Mars and Venus

  1. May 9, 2005 at 10:59 am

    It’s not just the jokes. I go crazy at this message, and others, all over the place. Hell, lets just look at the assumption in this joke and in every girl toy ever made, that girls inherently love shopping! I don’t. I know others who don’t. Even if I did why is every woman shopper painted as a Carrie Bradshaw?

    GAAAHHHH!!!! I’m ready for a cabin in the woods and no people at all these days.

  2. May 9, 2005 at 12:13 pm

    The other shitty-ass thing about that joke is that it strongly suggests why the guy isn’t getting laid in the first place. Rolling over and going to sleep in the midst of hurt feelings, okay, it’s not great for the relationship but it’s understandable–barely. But deliberate revenge and “teaching someone a lesson” is obviously the act of someone who feels entitled and clearly sees sex as the opposite of intimacy and caring.

    And yeah, I realize it’s “just a joke.”

  3. May 9, 2005 at 1:03 pm

    Gosh, ladies, why don’t you just lighten up?

    Sorry. I had to say it.

  4. May 9, 2005 at 1:21 pm

    Come on. Jokes like this aren’t meant to be a deep social commentary. You either find them amusing or you don’t. We know all women aren’t lousy drivers, all blondes aren’t air heads, Poles aren’t necessarily stupid and not all of us fat men are jolly.

  5. michelle
    May 9, 2005 at 2:08 pm

    Hm. Some very unoriginal material in this joke. Man mocks woman’s emotions/woman is shallow and easily manipulated with shiny objects. To the male character, emotions play no part in being physical vulnerable with another human being. And to further illustrate his unfamiliarity with actual women, he thinks the purchase of material goods is, to them, equivalent to sex. All the better to “teach her a lesson”. There’s a message at the end that, because she’s a mysterious, unfathomable woman, she will take revenge back by “refusing” him sex. Unlike a man who, apparently, would take this manipulative abuse???

  6. May 9, 2005 at 2:12 pm

    Overall I think good points were made by the initial poster; I certainly want to state that in advance of being a little silly.

    Per Lauren’s comment:

    Q: How many feminist women does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    A: It’s “womyn,” and it’s not funny.

    (This was told by Chrissie Hynde at Lilith Fair back in 2000 or so. I’ve included the call and response that preceded the joke.)

    Hey girls!
    (Hi! Woo hoo! Chris-sie! etc.)
    Want to hear a joke?
    (Yeah! Woo!!!)
    What do you tell a woman with two black eyes?
    You can’t — she’s been told twice already!

  7. Thomas
    May 9, 2005 at 2:18 pm

    Buffalo, what we “know” is that if a joke is funny, we’re implicitly acknowledging that it contains a kind of truth, usually the kind we can’t say without joking. Jokes are social commentary in camouflage. Jokes about Poles are only funny if you’re racist against Poles — not so that you admit it, of course, but just enough to think the joke is funny. My wife is Polish. Tell a Polish joke in my house and you can get the fuck out.

    Even your response tells me a story about you:

    We know all women aren’t lousy drivers, all blondes aren’t air heads, Poles aren’t necessarily stupid and not all of us fat men are jolly.

    By beginning “all women aren’t”, you don’t deny, and implicily accept, that the stereotypes below are often true. Of course, they’re bullshit.

    Women are much safer drivers than men, on the aggregate or on a per-mile basis, especially in the 16-25 age group. And it’s those guys, “lane shopping” on I-95, who are most likely to put me into the divider on any given day.

    And you don’t actually believe that hair color or national origin correlate to intelligence, right? Nor body composition to joviality? Right?

    So what you’re telling us is that the cartoon world of stereotypes is more fun.

  8. Thomas
    May 9, 2005 at 2:21 pm

    Chris, WOW. Chrissie needs to lay off the sauce.

  9. jam
    May 9, 2005 at 2:43 pm

    it ain’t the sauce, sadly…

    despite the undisputed fact that she does, in fact, ROCK (not to mention my unrequited, yet longstanding & pure, love of Ms. Hynde) i do have to acknowledge that she has over & over stated that she wants nothing to do with feminism… she’s an odd one.

  10. May 9, 2005 at 3:00 pm


    I think your take on this is exactly right. It is not only mean-spirited but, more important, posits this twisted dynamic as capturing the essential core of the male-female relationship.

  11. LoMicro
    May 9, 2005 at 4:26 pm

    Honestly, look at what some of you have just written.

    “Jokes about poles are only funny if you’re racist against poles” ?

    Speaking of laying off the sauce…

    As one who’s Irish, do I believe all Irish jokes are based in true racism? No! These jokes are just social remnants of prejudice. The fact is that the people telling these jokes have no idea where the origins of the punchline are.

    Also, in most versions of the joke, the telling is slightly different, portraying the woman as having led the man on, denying him release to prove a point. This linked version seems to be cleaned up.

    And again, Jesus Fucking Christ, lighten up. It’s easy to see the signs of our little patriarchy everywhere, from the penis-based parody of the Vagina Monologues to the discrimination and violence against women.

    That, however, doesn’t mean that every single instance of a woman being the butt of a joke is a travesty. There are jokes that target men as well, care to deconstruct any of them? Find the anti-male bias in some of those side-splitters? I think not.

    Jokes that make fun of men aren’t due to ‘man-hating’ feminist womyn, and jokes that make fun of women aren’t due to patriarchal mysoginist pigs. There is such a thing as a joke for a joke’s sake, relating circumstances specific to the individuals involved, that doesn’t need to be taken as a social commentary.


  12. May 9, 2005 at 5:10 pm

    What someone laughs at tells more about a person than anything else in the universe.

    When somebody tells I’m just joking, what they really mean is I’m just joking, dickhead.

    Somebody who tells you you need to have more of a sense of humor is really telling you you have none.

  13. May 9, 2005 at 5:39 pm

    Q: How many feminist women does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    A: It’s “womyn,” and it’s not funny.


  14. May 9, 2005 at 5:55 pm

    By the way, my comment was totally in jest and this post was written by Pig of Epigraph. Just wanting to keep the credits in order.

  15. May 9, 2005 at 6:11 pm

    No, Thomas. I think what I’m saying is that you are trying way too hard to be a sensitive, new age guy. A joke is a joke is a joke. Some are funny, some are not.

    If you rid the world of jokes that sterotype any group you pretty much do away with jokes. Does a joke about a priest, a rabbi and a preacher mean you are anti cleric?

    No one with an iota of intelligence buys into the stereotypes.

  16. Pig
    May 9, 2005 at 7:13 pm

    There are jokes that target men as well, care to deconstruct any of them? … I think not.

    Oh wow, thanks for answering your question for me. That was really nice of you to spare me the trouble- oh, wait- you got the answer wrong? Huh. I wouldn’t have imagined that after such a sensitive closing (“chill”). I’d have expected a level of intelligence matching your stellar level of sensitivity, allowing you to predict my thoughts and responses a little better.

    No, LoMicro, my answer is yes. And do you understand why? My feminism, like that of most other feminists I’ve met, is inclusive. We don’t just want a better life for women, we want a better life for men too. As parts of ourselves are ignored or invalidated or shut down, corresponding parts of men are too. It doesn’t serve anyone. We’ll heal as an entire cultural organism if we heal at all. So sure, I’ll be happy to deconstruct a joke that targets men. We’re in Lauren’s comments, so it’ll have to be brief, but I think I can swing that.

    How about the one (told to me by a man, btw) that goes

    You know that women’s book “Our Bodies Ourselves”? Did you know that men have their own publication now? Yeah, it’s called “My Dick, My Dick.”

    Again, keeping it short, seems the idea is that the only part of a man’s body he even acknowledges is his penis, and then that he even equates his “self” with his penis. Thinks with it, identifies with it, etc. So what’s wrong with that? Lots. If it’s not true, it’s a damned objectifying and insulting thing to peg a person for. And if it is, that may be even worse. Do men live in a world where penis size can make or break their self esteem, where societal pressure makes it imperative that sex is their main priority or their only thought? Or that they have to *act* that way? Our actions affect our thoughts, and they set an example for others, perpetuating the problem.

    The thing is, LoMicro, there’s a group of people already working to make things better, and (well shoot, look-) it’s the feminists. The attitudes and conditions we’re trying to free women of will make more space for men to acceptably be full, whole people too. So we’re already working on it, buddy. And even though it turns out we’re on your side, you’re still here, trolling a wonderful feminist blog. For shame. We won’t be taking your advice to “lighten up”, speaking for myself anyway, and really, you ought to thank us.

    And yes, as you say,

    It’s easy to see the signs of our little patriarchy everywhere

    Yes. However, I’ve chosen to focus on this joke because (1) in jokes people are too quick to dismiss the importance of jokes and deny the message they carry, and (2) this one struck me.

    There is such a thing as a joke for a joke’s sake … that doesn’t need to be taken as a social commentary.

    Sure. This isn’t one of them. Thanks, though, for mentioning that this version had been cleaned up. I can imagine what the original might have been like, although I can also see from here some issues I’d likely take with it.

    You know, we’re both guests here, in Lauren’s space. I wonder, might you find – somewhere in your mind – that you could make a better use of that privilege than crapping on her floor?

  17. May 9, 2005 at 7:51 pm

    But it does seem worth asking why we still think the stereotypes are worth perpetuating, even in jokes.

    Are they serving any useful function? Are they worth rethinking? _Why_ are they funny? Why are they not universally funny? etc.

  18. May 9, 2005 at 8:03 pm

    Folklorist Alan Dundes taught that jokes were a means of expressing violence without violence. He mainly studied office humor. Now the question for this group is can you think of a joke which does not include an element of hostility in it somewhere?

  19. Thomas
    May 9, 2005 at 8:25 pm

    Buffalo, what in your experience with me tells you that the word “sensitive” applies? If you want to call me names, “asshole” is probably more descriptive.

    Let me ask you this: are jokes about priests molesting little boys just jokes, or are they attacks on the clergy for molesting little boys?

  20. James
    May 9, 2005 at 9:13 pm

    It’s funny (pun intended) that the people who are always telling everyone “jeez, it’s just a joke! I don’t get upset at jokes about [group person belongs to]” tend to belong to groups that are no longer so overwhelmingly discriminated against. For example, it’s “jokes about Poles” from a Polish-American. People of Polish, Irish, and other non-Anglo origins were much more discriminated against in previous generations.

    You never hear (to grab an example off the top of my head) a black pagan lesbian say, “Nah, all those jokes about blacks, lesbos, and witches are actually kinda funny.”

  21. James
    May 9, 2005 at 9:26 pm

    And yes, I do realize that now a black pagan lesbian will now say exactly this, simply because I used this particular example. :)

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  23. May 10, 2005 at 3:30 am

    I was happy to read this post and comments, because his strongly reminds me of a very similar situation. I was, some weeks ago, emailed this joke by a guy at work:

    Words Women Use

    This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

    Five Minutes
    If she is getting dressed, this is half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given 5 more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.

    This is the calm before the storm. This means “something” and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with “nothing” usually end in “fine”.

    Go Ahead
    This is a dare, not permission, DON’T DO IT!

    Loud Sigh
    Although not actually a word, the loud sigh is often misunderstood by men. A “Loud Sigh” means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over”Nothing”.

    That’s Okay
    This is one of the most dangerous statements that woman can make to a man. “That’s Okay” means that she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.

    This is the least used of all words in the female vocabulary. If a woman is thanking you. Do not question it, just say you’re welcome and back out of the room slowly.

    The ensuing dialogue (condensed)

    Me: That is too sexist to be funny.

    GuyAtWork: What? No, it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. It makes fun of sterotypic conversation between the sexes! I do not think it is sexist.

    Me: The “stereotypic conversation” here is strictly one-way. The bottom line is that men mean what they say, women don’t, thus the need of a ‘manual’ for the men.
    Please consider who benefits from this stereotype being communicated – trustworthiness is generally considered as something positive. Historically, jokes have often been used to communicate negative stereotypes. Think of the “Jew jokes” and satires published in Nazi-Germany for instance.

    GuyAtWork: I absolutely cannot identify with that! The point is that I was not thinking: Now I am going to do repress and ridicule! I was just thinking: oh…fun :)

    At that point, I did not feel like pursuing it any further. Partly, because I want peace at work. Partly because I was angry enough that I felt my objectivity was in danger.

    I would assume that many of us have had conversations like this. True?

    I think that part of the problem is that “sexist” has become such a loaded word. This has happened to me countless times in one or another guise.

    Person: stereotypic idea/comment/joke
    Me: I feel that idea/joke is sexist (based on these grounds …)
    Person: What! I am so not sexist! I am a good person!
    (Me, trying to say: Though the idea/comment/etc is sexist, I did not say that _you_ were.)

    Personally, I think one may very well harbor sexist notions without being aware of it. I would not say that one sexist joke makes a person a sexist, either. But I would be happy if more people bothered to stop and think _why_ they think something is funny. So I am very much with Rana (and some of you others) on this point.

  24. May 10, 2005 at 6:08 am

    The problem is the joke is sexist against men more than it is about women. It is saying all we care about is sex.

    From a relationship PoV the man was probably right to go to sleep. There’s a saying to ‘never go to bed on an argument’. If a relationship has problems they should have been discussed before going to bed – by not doing so the woman failed in the relationship.
    By not having sex because she’s created problems in her mind, she is weakening the relationship. She is also, ironically, probably adding to her “needs not being met”. Just like with headaches, sex cures emotional needs too.

    Jokes can do two things with stereotypes, they can reinforce them or they can help dispel them.

    Thomas: Women are much safer drivers than men
    See this is also an insurance-industry myth.

    I can quite happily state that men (as a generalism) are better drivers than women. My ‘evidence’ would be biological and be based around space and distance perception.
    But I hate generalisms, the reason men pay more insurance is simple. A handful of men are involved in some very costly accidents – high speed, expensive cars, lots of damage. But there’s actually more accidents caused by and involving women than men – but these are generally low pay-out (or no payout as the damage caused doesnt involve insurance companies).

    The fact is you could be in a car with a very unsafe 40 year old middle-class college-educated white woman. Or you could be in with a 20 year old black man who was a school drop-out and be in very safe hands.

  25. Thomas
    May 10, 2005 at 6:40 am


    high speed, expensive cars, lots of damage.

    Wrong. Vehicle damage is virtually a non-factor in the cost of insurance because it is so far outstripped by the cost of the personal injuries. I’ve litigated personal injury cases, including ones arising from car accidents.

    Anyway, the young men who get in the bad accidents are not driving expensive cars. They can’t afford them yet. Seventy thousand dollar vanity cars sell in low volume, mostly to professional men with high incomes or your retirees who have built substantial wealth.

    You’re right that I would reject your “space and distance perception” theories, since you can’t connect this to empirical evidence of more accidents. You seem to recognize that this is just bullshit, because you yourself use the word “evidence” in scare-quotes.

    If a bad driver is one who is more likely to cause the death or serious bodily injury of any person while driving, then men are, on the aggregate, bad drivers. There will, of course, be exceptions, but for the purpose of attacking Buffalo’s defense of unfunny gender-stereotyped jokes, this correct but broad generalization more than suffices.

  26. May 10, 2005 at 2:49 pm

    Is there a joke w/out hostility? Yeah, there’s tons. Someone just sent me a picture of a cat doing something kind of stupid that made me laugh. I don’t see the hostility in that.

    Some jokes do make fun of others, but it’s how you mock, not that you mock, that determines if it’s funny. I tease good friends when they display certain stereotypical traits, but only if they know for a fact that I’m mocking the stereotype and not them.

  27. KMarissa
    May 10, 2005 at 3:17 pm

    “From a relationship PoV the man was probably right to go to sleep. There’s a saying to ‘never go to bed on an argument’. If a relationship has problems they should have been discussed before going to bed – by not doing so the woman failed in the relationship.”

    I always interpreted the advice, “never go to bed on an argument” to mean, if something’s wrong, don’t ignore it and go to sleep, deal with it now. To me, ignoring a problem and going to sleep is “going to bed on an argument,” not voicing issues while IN bed.

    “By not having sex because she’s created problems in her mind, she is weakening the relationship. She is also, ironically, probably adding to her “needs not being met”. Just like with headaches, sex cures emotional needs too.”

    Sex can cure emotional needs, but not if the person (of whatever sex) doesn’t want to have sex. This version of the joke doesn’t say why her emotional needs aren’t being met; sex very well might make things worse rather than better. Personally, I think that whatever the root of her “emotional needs not being met” is, gritting her teeth and putting up with sex that she really doesn’t want really will not solve anything.
    Particularly, in this joke, it looks like the man involved doesn’t care about the woman’s emotions, at least not when it comes to sex. If true, why would having MORE sex make this woman feel better?

  28. jam
    May 10, 2005 at 5:51 pm

    Mr. Monjo says: There’s a saying to ‘never go to bed on an argument’.

    y’know, there’s another saying: “Don’t believe everything you’re told”

    just cuz there’s a “saying” doesn’t make it true….

  29. May 11, 2005 at 7:00 am

    There’s another term for sayings… “old wives tales”. Old wives impart great wisdom. There’s also *some* truth in every stereotype.
    So if you please I will seek for the truth in every ‘saying’.

    Thomas: Stop kissing female butt. Insurance companies work on MEAN averages not on aggregates. These are skewed by a small extreme – basically there’s a small number of men who are total twats and make us men look bad. Remember men skew everything at both ends: intelligence [why most geniuses are men, why most inventors are men, why most entrepreneurs are men, why Mr Summers was correct about elite mathematicians, etc]; fitness; disease.
    But for something like insurance the male skew of super-safe driving has no impact on premiums, only the small number of idiots have an impact – and thats the impact of crashing cars, damage, deaths, broken limbs and high premiums.
    QED men end up paying higher premiums and it is MEAN not aggregate as the safe male drivers do not weight against the unsafe.

    Anyway luckily for us EUers, it may soon become illegal under EU law to offer better premiums based on age or sex. Then finally insurance companies may have to use better gauges such as test drives, vehicle tracking systems that record time of day driven, distances driven and speeds driven. [Norwich Union was planning on using GPRS or GPS]

    Additionally there’s two more main factors when comparing men vs women drivers.
    1) Time of day people drive
    2) Distance driven

    1- busier times of day = more chance of accident. Since more men work then we can state more men will drive to/from work in rush hours.

    2) This is two-fold. The distance from home driven and the total miles. Many women’s journeys are relatively short runs, so less likely to have an accident.
    Men drive more miles/annum than women? Probably. Let’s pretend women drive 10k miles/annum and men 12k – thats a 20pc difference, so 20pc more likely to have an accident so 20pc higher premiums. shows a lot of data for UK

    Thomas the point I make is you should not say women are safer/better drivers based on insurance.

    See also:

  30. jam
    May 11, 2005 at 8:21 am

    Mr. Monjo says: There’s another term for sayings… “old wives tales”. Old wives impart great wisdom.

    Monjo, you surprise me! not the obvious verbal dodge of course, but that you should choose “old wives” – i mean, what a sweet & tender image it provokes: naive lil’ Monjo sitting at the knee of some silverhaired grannie, sipping her Earl Grey & doing the knit one, pearl of wisdom two thang… you ol’ softy, you!

    so when exactly did Grannie Monjo tell you that your wife needs to justify to you on the spot why she doesn’t feel like having sex & isn’t allowed to go to sleep until she does? sounds like an interesting Grannie! maybe she was trying to tell you Grampa was a jerk?

    There’s also *some* truth in every stereotype.

    really? you mean like the British being self-righteous pompous bores? i don’t personally believe that one… but i’ve heard it said, so it must be true! damn you Hugh Grant!

    perhaps you could enlighten me about the *truth* in the following stereotypes, all of which i’ve heard expressed by older married women at one time or another:

    – blacks are lazy & dishonest.
    – latinos are hotblooded & violent.
    – women are irrational & weak-willed.

    have fun!

  31. Thomas
    May 11, 2005 at 9:28 am


    (1) your willingness to accept GPS surveillance over your driving is nothing to brag about. You are prostrate before the functional equivalent of Big Brother.

    (2) Home Office 2002 figures from England and Wales show that fully 88% of driving offenders were male. (I do not have similar figures for the rest of the U.K.) This is proof independent of accident rates or insurance that there are more unsafe male than female drivers.

    (3) Aggregate: “Constituting or amounting to a whole; total: aggregate sales in that market” []. Men cause more accidents, and more costly accidents, _both_ on the whole (as you implicilty concede by admitting that men drive farther and at busier times then women) _and_ on the mean.

    (Corollary to 3: on the aggregate, women are safer drivers than men. See 2, above.)

    (4) Accusing me of “kissing female butt” is, I presume, not a reference to my penchant for rim jobs, since you would have no information about that, but rather an accusation that I do not mean what I say, and instead tailor my views to suit others. Nothing in your experience with me ought to have led you to believe I tailor my views to please anybody. Just a short while ago, you were calling me a bigot because I am unwilling to be tolerant of view I dislike. (To be fair, you used the word bigot only after I accused you of being bigotted against the Welsh; something I’m not certain you actually denied.)

    As a feminist man, these assertions (that I’m currying favor with women) get thrown at me all the time. They lack merit. I have no incentive to curry favor with women who offer me nothing of particular value. I’m not seeking money, since I don’t disclose my area of legal practice, so I can hardly use the feminists on this blog as a source of referrals. I’m not seeking sex, either — I take my vows to my wife rather seriously, and anyway, most of the women who read this blog are rather too far away to make it a practical source of sex partners anyway. So, what would my motive be to “kiss female butt?”

    Perhaps you, like many men, are simply driven to distraction that I refuse to play “boys against girls.” If I’m a traitor to my sex, you’re welcome to try to hang me for it. Best of luck with that.

    (5) about Larry Summers, it is sincerely in your best interest that I impart to you the wisdom of the First Rule of Holes: When one finds one’s self in a hole, one should first stop digging.

  32. May 11, 2005 at 12:05 pm

    Hey Lauren —

    Didn’t realize you were jesting — tone is hard in this sort of medium — in any event hope I didn’t offend by seeming to use your comment to buttress my own jests.

    Great discussion, everyone.

    I think that “Better Homes and Gardens” discussion forums have linked to this thread, btw — I’m seeing some evidence of that from my own traffic. Kind of funny.

  33. May 11, 2005 at 3:36 pm

    It’s really hard if you make a joke that someone else thinks is sexist but you didn’t intend that way to defend yourself.

    I once made a commet to someone having computer problems that she should “sacrafice a virgin CD rom” to the computer gods. My definition of virgin meant: untouched, pure, like virgin olive oil, but it did also have to do with the old traditions of virgin sacrafice, obviously. Which, mind you, also meant males (i.e., the Summer King/Green Man). But I was apparently being sexist since most virgin sacrafices were female. So I was labelled bad.

    My defense of the joke, which included all the background of not at all meaning to be taken seriously was really hard. I am a devoted feminist– but apparently, I too am a product of my own culture and thought the virgin CD was a funny image– anthropomorphizing computers, CDs, and imagining computer gods. What was meant as a moment of sympathy– an understanding that there seems to be as rational a way to deal with computer problems as there was to deal with the randomness of Greek Gods– was seen as an attack on women.

    It was frustrating. But jokes are often based in old stereotypes, old cultural assumptions. I think what is most interesting is not lobbing accusations of sexist (or racist or classist) at each other especially if and when the intent wasn’t sexist or to exert power over another but to ask the question some have asked already:

    what is it that makes these jokes funny?

    I certainly didn’t mean to be sexist, but I can see the woman’s point (even though I think intent ought to figure into the equation). So I was, apparently, in some way, telling a sexist joke. Why did I think that was funny? Why do we think blonde jokes are funny? Or Irish ones? or whatever?

    When Chris Rock first came out as a big name, I didn’t really think he was funny. I thought he was overdoing the angry young black man bit. But then, after listening more to him, I got to see how his insightful humor could make people who had never had to think about race (white privledge anyone?) actually take notice of issues. And some of the things he says are blatantly and deliberately racist, sexist, etc. What makes it funny? What makes it not?

    I’m not sure there is an element of hostility in every joke, but I think there certainly is in a lot of them.

  34. LauraLee
    May 12, 2005 at 9:45 am

    LOL – “A joke is just a joke…” tra la la

    I belong to a group of women who are what I consider to be “true” feminists – who don’t believe male-bashing enhances/advances our position, nor do we go digging for unintended insults/putdowns. With few exceptions, we believe we are responsible for our own success/lack of same. Success is dependent on preparation, motivation, and making the most of each of the opportunities before us.

    We have very strong misgivings toward the militant feminists who engage in the stated activities.

    Those who blame others for their own misfortunes and/or their lack of success need to start looking within themselves for the problem rather than pinning the blame on an external source.

    As for the sensitive, new-age guys who support this nonsense – the word that comes to mind is barf. I was sooo hoping that the “real” men who became visible and received our admiration after 9/11 would encourage the “sensitive” types to discover their own masculinity and to act accordingly.

  35. May 12, 2005 at 11:01 am

    jam: Uh huh
    Grannie Monjo told me never to date a woman who would refuse me sex. So I don’t :) See she was wise.

    But I wont comment on your given stereotypes. I mean Yanks are fat, ugly and stooopid – I am maybe the justification of the British stereotype, maybe you are of the American?? :P

    Thomas: Depends what the GPS does. Depends what data it records, remember in the UK we have the DATA PROTECTION ACT so the data of where I drive and how fast ultimatly belongs to me and not the insurer. You Americans don’t have such safeguards. Therefore whilst my insurer can collect data it is up to me how they can use it.

    88%? sounds a lot. In America the offence that probably constitutes a lot of that stat is known as “DUI”. Irresponsible drivers perhaps, bad? Part of it is cultural, man/woman go out for a meal, is invariably the man who does the driving.

    Your aggregate proves nothing. Per miles driven I believe men cause less accidents and less damage. Which means men are safer and better drivers. The fact the total $$ value of damage by men is greater than by women is not important and men wouldnt be penalised for it if insurance for cars (as well as road tax/car tax as we have in UK) were funded through taxes on fuel.

    You Kiss female behind as you wish to extol women are better than men. I say they aren’t, but I would rather have sex with a woman than a man, and thats about as far as my bias goes. (Other than I fear being attacked my men more than by women, cos I know I can Kick female butt!)

    Bigot applies to not accepting ideas, rather than being racist/xenophobic. You keep confusing the two terms. I dislike the welsh people who should dislike me just for being English.

    I dont see myself in an hole. Larry Summers may have lacked tact but you can’t deny the biology of men favours male genius. It is a FRIGGEN FACT. Stop denying the truth that is pure reverse sexism.

    Kim: Your female friend needs to get a life and a sense of proportion. She’s clearly got too much time to think and blame the world for everything rather than go out and be a useful member of civilisation.

  36. May 13, 2005 at 5:00 am

    BTW a very interesting article about the right to sexuality from a spouse! Just so people realise it can be bidirectional.

  37. Thomas
    May 13, 2005 at 7:38 pm


    (1) the 88% statistic is for England and Wales. Therefore, your reference to DWI rates in the U.S. is a non sequitur.

    (2) your assertion that men cause less damage per mile driven is without support. Provide backup if you can.

    (3) Likewise, your assertion that males are biologically predisposed to genius is a “FRIGGEN FACT” is what we lawyers call an ipse dixit assertion — something you maintain is true merely because you say so, but for which there is no objective support.

    You put up some pretense of eschewing a view that either sex is inferior (and equated feminism with sexism on that basis), but you have pretty consistently taken positions that men are superior (more likely to be geniuses, better drivers mile per mile, etc.) You are the reason feminism is still necessary.

    Stop reading the Telegraph. It kills brain cells.

  38. May 13, 2005 at 7:52 pm

    Monjo, I’m nearly done with your anti-feminist tirades. If your goal is to reeducate us, we are not interested. Rethink your methods.

    I have been incredibly generous with you despite your abuse of my readers and your insistence on derailing threads. No more chances.

  39. May 14, 2005 at 12:42 am

    watch out, Lauren, monjo can kick female butt.

  40. May 14, 2005 at 1:57 am

    Awesome post Lauren. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only Hoosier feminist woman who looks critically at jokes and other segments of culture that subliminally promote gender stereotypes, that mostly make cheap-shots at women as collective whole.

  41. May 17, 2005 at 11:01 am

    1 – I know, I didnt say it was in America.
    2 – Can’t :P But I can safely say men drive more miles perfectly safely than women!
    Lies, damned lies and statistics.
    I maintain we’re roughly equal drivers but (see pt 3) there’s a small percentage of men who are so bad at driving they make us all look bad. Whereas the excellent man drivers cant make us look better as there’s no “non accident” insurance :P
    3 – Science does. Read the science parts on BBC, see New Scientist, I can’t be bothered to find everything as proof for stuff I may have learned five, ten years ago. Or even just 5, 10 weeks. Anyway a lot of it has to do with the instability of the XY vs XX genes. Men don’t have backup copies of many genes, so this means boys are more likely to be genetically flawed (an assertation you cant dispute) and also genetically blessed (something you do dispute, but why?).

    Lauren: Firstly I am as much in desire of true egalitarianism (as in Equality of Opportunity) as anyone here. Probably more. I don’t agree with communalist politics / ideologies, so on that score I would be anti-feminist.
    Secondly, abuse goes both ways. I merely respond to people labelling me and de-railing is unintended. But an unfortunate problem of any threaded conversation.

    Alley Rat: Yes I *can*. But I never have. Change the k to an l and then I I have :P

  42. jam
    May 17, 2005 at 1:54 pm

    Monjo declares: 3 – Science does. Read the science parts on BBC, see New Scientist, I can’t be bothered to find everything as proof for stuff I may have learned five, ten years ago. Or even just 5, 10 weeks.

    doncha just love folks who think it’s someone else’s responsibility to back up their half-assed claims? and then still expect you to believe it because – drumroll please – they say it is so!

    yeah, that’s science for ya…


    pssst! Monjo! another thing: arguing with our hostess is probably not the best way to retain your posting privileges. especially while arrogantly asserting you’re “probably more” interested in egalitarianism than she is – not to mention the whole “i’m going to derail threads anyways” thang… anyways, just a thought.

    somehow, i doubt you can help yourself, though.

    so, how’s that dating only women who won’t refuse you sex whenever you want it going?

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