Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Of “bad boys” and insipid women

This morning I had breakfast in Midwest City, Oklahoma, home of Tinker Air Force Base. It seems that many military retirees live there. Sitting in the booth next to mine was a one-armed man who might well have been a Vietnam vet. After some time he was joined by a young couple and an infant child. The husband was a brawny guy with a buzzcut. He had a cowboy hat in one hand, the infant carrier in the other, and cowboy boots on his feet. His T-shirt, which looked brand new, was tucked ever-so-neatly into his bluejeans. On the back was an image of a bottle of beer emptying over the silhouette of a shapely woman. Here’s the text that went with it:

Why beer is better than women...
  • A beer is always wet.
  • Beer always looks the same in the morning.
  • Beer is always happy to ride in the trunk.
  • Beer always goes down easy.
  • A beer doesn't change its mind after you've gotten the top off.
  • When you change beers, you don't have to pay alimony.
  • You can enjoy beer all month long.
  • You can share a beer with friends.
Things turned utterly surreal when I heard the server ask, “How old is she?” Yes, she.

Grandpa did not seem thrilled to have the company. Eventually Daddy went out to his immaculate, humongous, white pickup truck and moved Baby Girl’s bag to Grandpa’s car. Then he left alone to do whatever manly stuff he was going to do in that T-shirt.

Perhaps I am making too much of this. For all I know, a buddy gave him the T as a tasteless gag when he was getting married, and he was off to visit the buddy… at 8 a.m. on a Wednesday.

Long ago, I’d have expressed disgust at the “bad boy” making a big display of his indomitability. I would have regarded both the mother and daughter as victims. But there’s nothing secret anymore about attraction to bad boys — I’ve seen first-hand that it runs high among feminist intellectuals, whom you would expect to be least susceptible — and I have to say that women are responsible for dealing with it. After all, we are talking here about guys who do not deceive women. The mother allowed the sexually exciting male she has snagged and foolishly expects to change to degrade and humiliate not only her, but her daughter and women in general.


  1. I don't get exactly what you're trying to say here. To me, you're just reporting observations of a stereotypical trashy family that happens to have some money. I'm used to people like this, having lived and worked in the Oklahoma City area all my life. To me, people like this don't have any conscious thought about their lives, nor do they want it. And I don't view the women as being victims - they made a choice to live the way they do.

  2. Donna, there was a tirade in what I originally wrote, but I deleted it before posting. Before continuing, let me say that I spoke against gender discrimination at my undergrad institution, and was expelled (and was later readmitted). I used to describe myself as feminist, but now I'm egalitarian.

    This is still going to come off as a tirade, but I don't have time to compose carefully.

    I believe that the attitudes of men, in general, have changed enormously since the 1960's. Most men do not oppose equality for women, though they certainly are not going out of their way to address inequities. What keeps women down is cultural inertia. And only women are going to break that inertia. The greatest enemies that women have today are complacent and/or mindless women like the one I saw in the restaurant.

    Women are making something like 74 cents on the dollar that men make for comparable work. I would suppose that most employers who see this statistic acknowledge the injustice. But it's not as though they will return to the office and say, "OK, we're giving a 35% pay raise to the secretarial and clerical staff." The way workers historically have gotten paid what they're worth is by forming unions. Women, like other Americans, are going to have to get over the notion that there's something un-American about unions. (The median income of the American family, in real dollars, has decreased considerably since the early 1970's, so getting paid what you're worth is not really a gender issue.)

    Women are not a minority. More of them turn out to vote than do men. So what are they calling on elected representatives to do for them? When is the last time we heard about anything other than abortion as a women's issue? One in four women reports that she was sexually abused as a child. I have forgotten the incidence of rape in the U.S., but it is quite high in comparison to that of various other countries. Where is the war against male violence against women and children? Why are women so unenlightened that it never occurs to them that they might demand such a thing?

    You're probably more confused now. The restaurant scene really did trigger thoughts like the ones I've dumped on you here. The interaction of the mother and the bad boy symbolizes for me the general unwillingness of women to stand up and demand what they deserve. Women would be politically formidable, if they prioritized their issues and pulled together.