Sunday, January 13, 2008

Today's Ha-Ha-Ha Moment

Brought to you by this cartoon from the Washington Post:

Click on the picture to really savor it.

Humor is tough to analyze, but Oliphant appears to think that the idea of a woman as a president is funny, and that no female leader has ever been viewed as a competent one by any country at any period of history (coughElizabethIcoughCatherinetheGreatcoughZenobiacoughandsoonhork). And that PMS is something a woman who just turned sixty might suffer from, which suggests that Oliphant should have someone take him aside to be gently explained all about menopause.

But of course none of that's the point of the joke. The joke is about the impossibly funny idea of a woman in power. Just imagine it! A vagina on that chair! It leaks! It has a fluffy and over-emotional brain, teetering somewhere above the vagina and the breasts, and the whole structure is guffaw-funny and meant to be fucked and to be kept minding small babies (why would a hare-brained and overly emotional person be allowed that important role?) and of course it should make sandwiches. Otherwise the U.S. will be the laughing-stock of all penis-centered countries on this earth. Now that is funny.

The Reclusive Leftist (the place where I got the cartoon from) has an even less calm and objective reaction to it:

Women have no idea how much men hate them, said Germaine Greer. You have to raise your head above the parapet to find out, or let some other woman raise her head. And then you see. Then you really see.

I remember reading that quote a long time ago, and also another quote by someone else, I think, who argued that men have no idea how much women fear them and that women have no idea how much men despise them.

I have always been a logical nitpicker (not all men or women are like that, what percentage is? why? how do we know this?), a pessimist about facts and an optimist in hope, so I have so far refused to agree with those statements. And I still do, but my refusal is on probation, given the current political discussion in the United States and what it reveals.

And one thing it certainly reveals is the sheer obliviousness of so many male writers, pundits and thinkers to gender. Gender is something that only women seem to have, and mostly women themselves are kind of invisible blots that one may pretty safely ignore. Or perhaps laugh at. They are not part of the audience for Oliphant's cartoons, for example. They are not part of the audience for Chris Matthew's Hardballs. That they are voters comes up only when they seem to vote "wrong" in some sense, such as in the argument that women vote for their gender when in fact it looks like men vote for their gender.

That these guys don't get the fact that they are not just laughing at Hillary Clinton but at all the women voters out there is stupendously, stunningly, shockingly apparent. That, or they are misogynists. You choose.
Added later: The e-mail address of the ombudsman at Washington Post is: