I'm on the phone with my good friend Gina Barreca, the annoying feminist scholar. She has asked that I put her on speakerphone for this column.
Gina: Have you seen the new survey by Measure of America?
Gina: It says that Washington, D.C., is the best city in the country for women.
Gene: I knew it! I knew it! For years, you have been calling me a lecher merely because I have noted, on occasion, that I find myself distracted by a cornucopia of seriously hot women in Washington, women of various ages and ethnicities and body types who seem disproportionately alluring to me. You've accused me of sexism, when, as it turns out, I was merely making an objective observation for which, finally, there is actual statistical proof.
Gina: The survey was not about looks.
Gene: In short, I think you owe me an apology. Wait ... what?
Gina: You made an invalid assumption. The survey was about women's well-being. It was a city-by-city comparison of how much money women make, and their access to education and health care. Washington offers women a better life. The survey did not assess their physical appearance at all.
Gina: At all.
Gene: You set me up.
Gina: Yes. But you hit on the bait like a starving barracuda. I don't actually want to talk about this particular survey, except to applaud it for avoiding traditionally sexist measures that supposedly define women's happiness, such as "availability of dating opportunities." I'd like instead to discuss the appalling tendency of men to see everything as being about them, even when it obviously isn't.
Gene: What do you mean?
Gina: A good city for women means a good city for women to live in, not a good city for women to be ogled in. These are unrelated concepts. A good farm for beef is not the same thing as a good farm for cows and bulls.
Gina: Cat got your tongue?
Gene: Actually, I'm thinking. I have concluded I was not being sexist.
Gina: Oh, really?
(The reader should note that if this column were a comic strip, Gina's last line would be depicted in a dialogue balloon that is dripping icicles.)
Gene: Yes, really. As I now realize, this study establishes that I am the opposite of sexist. This study found that Washington disproportionately attracts intelligent, ambitious and talented women. In the absence of any other explanation, I contend that these things are precisely the factors that make Washington women more attractive to me than other women. In short, I have literally redefined the nature of "hotness," rejecting the conventional and superficial measure of physical appearance in favor of a more complex calculus of attributes related to character, skills, personality and intellect. These are the characteristics I perceive and instinctively find hot when I look upon Washington women. I believe this establishes me as the apotheosis of the postmodern feminist male. I might as well have ovaries. You should teach me in your feminist lit classes.
Gene: "Gene Weingarten: A revolutionary paradigm of the ideal post-new-feminist male." Professor Barreca, 4 credits, spring term.
Gina: I suppose for the good of society, you stand ready to be called upon to spread all that neo-feminist DNA of yours.
Gene: You said it, not I.
© 2012, The Washington Post Writers Group