Imagine a teacher telling the following joke: “What do you call a man with half a brain?” Imagine the women in the classroom starting to smile. Some are whispering things to their female neighbors and chuckling.
The teacher waits for the murmur to die down, and answers: “Gifted.”
Now there is an audible snicker in the room consisting only of female voices. Some guys are smiling a smile that says, “I knew something like that was coming.” Some girls are nodding their heads and looking gleefully at the guys.
Then the teacher starts another joke. “Why is a handgun better than a woman?” he asks.
The room gets silent. The teacher cautiously scans the faces of his students. “Because you can buy a silencer for a handgun,” he answers.
No one is laughing. In fact, when sounds do arise, they are grunts and clucks from the girls expressing disdain and disbelief. Some of the more outspoken females say something like, “Uh uh, oh no,” while the men vigorously attempt to hide their grins.
Why is the male/female relationship so rife with tension? Why must women always feel targeted, and men always feel as if there is a verbal line they need to be very careful not to cross?
There is a freedom in the world of women to not only make jokes about men, but also exclude them from activities–to have “girl” time and to poke fun at the mannerisms, nature and faults of men. A man would never dare to venture into these territories regarding women, at least in the presence of one.
I do believe that women are not nearly on an equal level with men in American society or in the world today. However, I think that some of the ways we women fight become the very ropes that hold us down.
Should we raise all the defenses we possess to counter a simple jest about our character, or at a comment stereotyping our gender? Who thinks highly of a person who loses their cool so easily? If political leaders griped, became angry and vigorously protested every time they were mocked, they would be considered unfit for leading.
I find that many times women will cover up what is actually true, simply to gain the upper hand. For example, most men are physically stronger than women. That is a fact. If you put the strongest woman in the world on a wrestling mat with the strongest man, it goes without saying who would win.
In the same way, when it is said that women are overall more emotional than men–that is, allowing their emotion to show openly–the statement would not be untrue (especially in this culture).
We females turn up our noses at these comments, but contesting our true selves to gain ground is never going to help us. Besides, God Himself created these obvious differences in us! Denying the differences in men and women gets us nowhere in the struggle for equal rights, equal living and, most of all, equal respect.
Women, we need to be stronger than this. We can hold our own–especially when we are poked fun at and teased. We can never stop the crude jokes of men. Getting loud-mouthed and “in-your-face” is no way to show that what they are saying is trivial. We only exemplify the truth in their comments when we get so offended.
Let us fight with maturity, and not throw tantrums like children. There are many things in our culture that we as women need to fight for, but I believe that our demeanor is currently one of the most important vessels that will lead us to equality.