Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Tilt

While writing "The Egg Made Me Do It" I tried to clarify why the topic angered me so very much. The reason is nebulous and has to do with something that Rose Macaulay pointed out in Mystery at Geneva (1923):

All sorts of articles and letters appear in the papers about women. Profound questions are raised concerning them. Should they smoke? Should they work? Vote? Marry? Exist? Are not their skirts too short, or their sleeves? Have they a sense of humor, of honor, of direction? Are spinsters superfluous? But how seldom similar inquiries are propounded about men.

That's it, pretty much. Women are studied as this humongous pile of womanhood and every single woman is ultimately deemed to be just another spoonful from that pile, with no real individual variation. This is true even when the study curtly admits that 'individual results might vary,' but...

We rarely use this approach with men. To see what I mean, do a reversal on the three horrible crime stories I read yesterday and think how they would have been reported had all the suspected murderers been women. Surely there would have been talk of hormones (testosterone?) and their influence? Discussions about the advisability of feminism? Concerns over a horrible gender-linked crime wave?