Over the years I have heard women mock men for silliness and immaturity and it seems to be something I hear with more frequency and greater volume. A prime example of male silliness is the way that grown men revert an almost primal state when it comes to sports. To be fair, many men are patently ridiculous in their enthusiasm for sports and border on being juvenile (or sometimes they run across the border leaving any pretense at adulthood far behind). To be sure, men can be silly creatures--and one can substitute other things for sports--arguing about politics, for example, hunting, or liking big toys.
However, I follow on Twitter a number of YA authors, agents, and publishers--the vast majority of these very accomplished people are women. And something they do with great frequency is discuss in very serious terms who is cuter, hotter, or more desirable--Mr. Darcy or Peeta, for example. I am not making this up. This was a recent blog contest and the women who participated had strong and serious opinions--about fictional characters. This happens all the time as various blogs have their own version of "Voter for the hottest YA hero" contests.
This leads me to think of the spectacle of full-grown women--wives and mothers--waiting in line to go see Twilight movies at midnight, giggling about who is hotter--Jacob or Edward.
In fact, during the confirmation hearings for the most recent Supreme Court Justice, a sitting United States Senator (Amy Klobuchar) asked the nominee (Elana Kagan) in breathless, simpering tones if she was Team Jacob or Team Edward. It was a joke and Soon-to-be-Justice Kagan had the sense to deflect the question, but it was a patently ridiculous moment.
I recently heard a woman complaining about her insensitive husband who gave her an honest opinion when she asked him a question. Everyone knows, she said with noticeable contempt, husbands weren't supposed to give honest opinions about things! Well yes, that is a common dynamic--one many, even most, husbands should know. So it's easy to portray him as either stupid or insensitive. But we could also note in this age, when we are told how strong women are, that perhaps that strength might include the intestinal fortitude to hear mildly unpleasant truths. Yes, there is something ridiculous in a husband not knowing that his wife may not want an honest answer. But is it any more ridiculous than the wife asking a question with a pre-approved set of answers?
A clever comic could make an audience laugh by portraying a man as being clueless and insensitive because he's focused on solving problems instead of empathizing. The same comic could make a woman seem ridiculous because she wants to emote rather than solving the problem.
I could go on and on. The point is this: men are silly. They have lots of quirks. Women are also silly. They have lots of quirks, too. Happily, we are silly in different ways, just as we are strong in different ways. In fact, in areas where men are silly, women are often strong. And in areas where women are silly, men are often strong. This is why we go well together. Our complementary natures help balance and refine each other. To pretend otherwise is to be willfully blind. To take shots at each other, while arrogating to ourselves the mantle of normalcy and superiority is to be fundamentally dishonest.
Shakespeare's Puck was the one who said, "Lord, what fools these mortals be." We could all profit by taking notice of the gender-inclusive noun he used. Not men. Not women. Mortals. A more positive way to express a similar thought might be in Paul's words: "Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man in the Lord." (1 Cor 11:11)
Braden Bell is a husband, father, teacher, director, and author. He blogs about all of this at bradenbell.com.