Archive for January, 2009

09
Jan
09

“Subtexts? I’m a MAN!”

It’s term time soon, which means it’s time I started this hideous online monstrosity again. So here we go.

Today’s adventure is into a deep seeded stereotype of the male gender.

Let’s Begin

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife, but cannot possibly read subtext or view hidden meaning in conversation with the other gender.”

– Jane Austin

Society and People will have you believe that men have the wonderful ability to outright ignore any hidden meaning in a conversation with the female gender – leading to years of Sitcom writing based around foolish men or over-complicated women. Most people would agree. A shocking 100% of women I quizzed believed in this stereotype, as did 100% of MEN. Shocking, I know. But that’s what happens when your survey base is comprised of 2.

There is a saying that every stereotype contains a grain of truth, and in my eyes, this grain of truth is usually buried very well under several miles of concrete suppositions and foolish ideas, but this particular assumption seems to have more of solid base than most. I personally would agree with it. Every girl or guy who has ever expressed an interest in me and has hinted to me might as well have just written it down somewhere and posted it to someone else, I’m that clueless.

Hell, you could hit me with a giant hammer with an angry face on it, all the time screaming bloody murder and I wouldn’t detect hostility. But that’s not quite our stereotype, but it’s a nice exaggeration and serves to aggrandize my point. (How amazing is that word?)

Now why is this? What reasoning do we take for this inability for men to see what lies beneath? Do we merely fall back and say ‘Men are from Mars!’ or decry it as human nature? Just one of those quirks? Well, a wise man said to me recently that the second you drop human nature into an argument or conversation you’ve lost, and I couldn’t agree more. Plus when people use the whole ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ quote, they’re just referring to human nature without realizing it, via a very popular metaphor.

Now, I’m just a mere student. I am not even studying sociology or biology so I have roughly zero research into this other than personal experience, so don’t be expecting anything other than wild supposition and circular thinking. I know, it’s terrible. But hopefully it’s written arrogantly enough to sound insightful or at least entertaining.

It strikes me that we have three major trains of thought as to why this could possibly be the case. Let’s investigate. And as I mentioned earlier with my lack of research, by investigate I actually mean spin wild conjecture.

  • Point the First – Men don’t want to realize.

Conversation is scary. Conversation about deep things like feelings and so on is even more scary. And so, if you take a scary conversation and then add to it an even scarier conversation underneath all of that, you have possibly the most terrifying thing ever. Like a spider covered in bees. Or a spider that could fly with a number of bees attached via complicated web harness to supply the world with terrifying insect based close air support. But I digress.

I don’t mean to say that all men find conversation scary, this is just wild sweeping conjecture that has now confirmed itself as extremely generalizing as well.

But it’s plausible to suggest that men don’t really want extra meaning to conversation for whatever reason.

One of the most commonly used phrases around the Sitcom convention is that ‘Men don’t listen’. The entailing hilarity comes from when the guys have a conversation about how they could not have possibly known what ‘she’ meant. Haha. How we laugh. See points 2 and 3 for the sources of such comedy.

But now, women (ha!), prepare for a scary thought. (Fear seems to be coming up a lot today…) Men don’t listen? Or is this the longest running lie in gender relation history. Maybe (I refuse to confirm neither deny) men do listen but in our way we rely upon a wide spread stereotype of men, perpetuating it for our own ends so as to escape commitment, work – whatever.

Isn’t that scary.

  • Point the Second – Women are responsible.

As long as sitcoms have had lazy writers, there will be typical exaggeration of gender stereotypes, and the dancing partner in the grim waltz analogy of ‘men don’t listen’ is ‘women are crazy’ or some variant relating to conversation. And if we are examining one wild stereotype we should look at the other side of the coin. Analogy metaphor metaphor.

I’m far too reliant on them, but they’re just so fun.

ANYWAY. Subtext has it’s limits and it could be that women overstep these, hiding meanings so deep you could find a sentence without a metaphor before it. I nearly used another one and so used a sarcastic one.

Let’s move on, shall we? I’m just concocting unrelated images. WOMEN COULD BE TOO ‘GOOD’ AT HIDING MEANING. That wasn’t hard.

  • Point the Third – Men just don’t realize

As hideously reliant as it is on human nature arguments and dull and boring chemical imbalance-esk assumptions, it could be that men are pre-disposed to a simpler train of thought when it comes to conversation. Conversation is a tool to say what you mean and there is no time for underlying meaning or hidden agenda. If you meant something else, then you should have said that.

And we all know how terrible men are at hidden meaning. The average stereotyped male wears his heart on his sleeve and thinks that raising an eyebrow is coy.

It certainly seems to make sense, but it’s only for the briefest of times. Why?

The Media.

AND YOU THOUGHT THIS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT OTHER THAN OCCASIONALLY MISQUOTED LITERATURE.

The Second Chapter.

So for the time being, we will taken this stereotype, this social convention as gospel, shall we? Because otherwise I can’t get to the other half of my small note and that would be irksome.

Now, the media. I consume a huge number of texts. We all do. And I’m prepared to admit I spend far too long discussing them with people. And I’m prepared to admit that I like my over-pretentious ‘art’ media as well – if it has a hidden meaning all the better!

It’s a scathing look at society? Fantastic!

It’s a huge metaphor? Great!

Killer 7?! YES! (I should mention that I’ve spent several hours just reading other people’s interpretations of the game.)

So in any case, why can I read several meanings into a batman comic or even more reading several into the conversation of Humphrey Bogard in Casablanca but can’t possibly tell when someone is hinting at anything. And it’s not just me. 100% of aforementioned men agree with my position.

And now I realize I’ve been writing this for far too long and it’s far too long itself, so let’s summarize.

I speculate wildly that men are far more disconnected from reality when consuming a media text. We become engrossed in the media and this highly lucid state allows men to be open to the realms of alternative meanings. It could be that this lucid state is matched by women, I couldn’t possibly comment. Bit in this lucid state, a high level of interpretation is available.

Now try and figure out the subtext of this one! HA HA HA.

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