Wednesday, April 26, 2006

that pesky woman problem

I was just writing an email to the Idler featuring a somewhat over-the-top feminist rant (not directed at him, just sort of over his shoulder), and Gmail's ad banner kindly pointed out this article (as well as an ad for typing jobs) as something I might be interested in. Thanks, Gmail, you're a really good listener.

The article is about a survey done by the Discovery Home and Health TV website, which apparently determined that 60% of women find housework empowering. Take a look and tell me if this is not the stupidest, most blatantly patriarchy-reinforcing spooge you've ever read. Actually, let's just take a quick look right now at the opening paragraph:
There was a time when the modern woman insisted her partner did 50 per cent of the housework — or iron his own shirts at least. But the postmodern female has more than made peace with doing the domestic chores, and has embraced housework as "mentally therapeutic", according to a survey.
So glad we got through that "modern" time when us women were so tragically deluding ourselves about the benefits of housework. You know, I can't even remember that crazy time when "modern women" everywhere managed to successfully insist that housework be divided fairly! I must have blocked it out from the horror! But that's OK, because apparently, now we are in the bizarro postmodern times, and at least 59% of us have seen the light: cleaning is beneficial to a woman's mental health, because it helps us to feel in control of our lives. And it should not be at all worrisome that the only way 59% of women are able to feel like we control our own fucking lives is through the soothing activity of rearranging knicknacks.

I also love how they compare the time women spend on cleaning to the time we spend on personal grooming, as if those were the two most important activities a woman engages in. No comparison to, say, time spent watching TV, or eating dinner, or driving to and from work.

And, of course:
One-third of all women claimed "cleaning gives them more satisfaction than sex".
So why should a man bother trying to please his woman in bed at all when, clearly, the kindest thing is just to get his rocks off, hand the little lady a dust rag, and push her out of bed so she can get on to what she really enjoys?

* * *

I thought I was done for a minute, but oh boy, am I not. Once my rage pump was primed good and proper, I went to look at the Discovery Home & Health website, in search of information about the survey. No dice, but I did find sections of the site on "Men's Health" and "Women's Health." You will note that the Men's Health page addresses the following topics: contraception, depression, infertility, prostate problems, stop smoking, stroke, and testicular cancer. You will likewise note that the Women's Health page addresses: breast cancer, breast discomfort, cervical cancer, contraception, cystitis, heavy periods, IBS, menopause, osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, painful periods, and PMS.

A couple of things I'd like to point out here:
  • Ten of twelve items on the women's page are related directly or indirectly to the female reproductive system; three out of seven on the men's page are related to the male reproductive system. That's 83% compared to 43%.
  • Ten out of twelve topics on the women's page are issues that exclusively affect women (and one of the remaining two so disproportionately affects women that it might as well be a woman's disease). Only two out of seven on the men's page are issues that exclusively affect men. 83% (or 92%, if you prefer) vs. 29%.
  • There's only one duplication between the men's page and the women's page (contraception).
So why does Discovery Health think that the most important health issues women have to deal with are related to reproductive function? Why are depression, infertility, smoking, and stroke important issues to be addressed for men but not for women? Stroke is the third largest cause of death in America, and strokes are significantly more common for women than they are for men — even more common for women who smoke. Nearly twice as many women as men develop depression-related disorders. And wouldn't you think infertility would affect both genders at least equally? Well, I'll tell you why these are important topics to be addressed from the male but not the female point of view: it's because women are sex objects and baby-making machines, and that's all. The important parts of our bodies, the parts we should really be taking care of, are our tits and our pussies. It doesn't matter if a woman is depressed; just make another baby in her or tell her to clean the kitchen and it'll be all better — or if not, who really cares? And it certainly doesn't matter if a woman gets a stroke, because by the time that happens, she'll probably be past her sexually attractive, baby-making years and will therefore be completely irrelevant.

Oh, and a man's infertility is super important because in order to prove beyond any doubt that he is a man, he must be able to impregnate a woman. A woman's infertility is unimportant, because there are so many of us out there who won't perversely reject his seed — so a man looking to prove his masculinity can just move on to the next one. We are pretty much interchangeable anyway.

Okay, so I've gone off the rails a little bit here, or at least my rhetoric has. But if you think it's petty of me to get so upset and read so much into something as trivial as a website that I'm not going to read anyway, please remember that this website is owned by a fairly large, well-respected TV network, and that real women are going to try to get real health information from this site. And instead they'll get the message that the health issues that affect women are exclusively reproductive and do not include any of the health issues that also affect real, non-female people. Would you have noticed anything odd about these two pages if I hadn't pointed it out to you? Neither would I, a year ago. That's why this kind of thing is dangerous — it's not even out of the ordinary.

I'm going to go now, because I've given myself a splitting migraine. Yet another health problem which disproportionately affects women, often severely restricting normal life activities, but which Discovery Health feels shouldn't be as important to me as whether or not my breasts are comfortable. Which they are at the moment, thanks for asking!


At 3:31 PM PDT, Blogger piehat said...

I guess I should note that I think the men who read this blog are relatively enlightened members (ha!) of their weird little species, and none of my ire at the patriarchal establishment is directed towards them. Sorry if it came out that way.

At 5:19 PM PDT, Blogger idler king said...

You know I read your blog, right? For the record, I think women have the same potential to be human that men do. Same.

I will make no more jokes (today).

At 8:30 PM PDT, Anonymous boyfriend said...

I am the manliest sort of man, and I am satisfied by cleaning.

At 8:44 PM PDT, Blogger piehat said...

Aw, look! Boyfriend made a comment! Okay, that was a false lie, I made it for him. But he said he was thinking about making it.

Yes, I know you read this, Idler. You're basically a good sort. I've always assumed you thought that my kind was just as close to humanity as your kind. Nice to hear it, though.

For the record, I'm now kind of embarassed about this post.

At 11:06 PM PDT, Blogger idler king said...

Don't be. I'm embarrassed I can't be more openly supportive without being embarrassed . . . and so on. Sure like boobs, though.

At 12:22 AM PDT, Blogger piehat said...

Fuck yeah, everybody loves those. Ain't no shame in that.


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