Newspapers generally regard reader demographics to be proprietary information, but today I am going to share some with you: The readership of my column heavily skews female. It seems counterintuitive, not just because I am male but also because I, personally, often skew icky and even sexist.
I contend it is because I often make it clear that I think women are better than men — equal in intellect, superior in morality and temperament. My editor, Tom the Butcher contends I am wrong on the facts — women, he says, are just as flawed in their own ways as men are. He dared me to watch a few episodes of The Real Housewives of New York City and then meet with him to defend my thesis. I have done so.
Me: You were right. I take it all back. Women are loathsome, parasitic, half-human creatures. They are more petty than a zoo containing baby llamas and preschoolers with nippled milk bottles.
Tom: Okay, that last thing's a terrible analogy.
Me: I have lost the ability to be clever or ironic; women have sapped me of it, because they are utterly unaware of their own vileness. Rather than marry a woman, I would marry a sumo wrestler. Or a goat.
Gina: No, you wouldn't. You like women, and respect them. You're just a little upset right now.
Tom: Gina Barreca? What are you doing here?
Gina: Gene needs help. I'm here for him.
Tom: Gene is doing fine without you! Go away!
Gina: I have watched the same episodes he did. The show is a lie. The women of The Real Housewives of New York City are not, in fact, "real." They are Botoxed and implanted and re-carved with scalpels. They are also not women, nor housewives, nor from New York City. They seem to spend most of their time on beaches in the Hamptons, but they're not from there, either. They are from a made-up world, a modern, evil commedia dell'arte featuring surreal, stock characters: the whiner, the worrier, the b----, the shrew and the man-eater.
Tom: I contend the harridans in the show are exhibiting negative female traits — exaggerated to dysfunction, of course — but still recognizable. Just as pro wrestling exaggerates negative male traits.
Gina: Which of these universally female negative traits, then — even in dainty, adorable microcosm — do you see in your wife?
Gene: Women can maybe be a teensy bit manipulative, perhaps.
Gina: We can. A teensy bit.
Gene: I love you, Gina.
Gina: You love all women.
© 2014 Washington Post Writers Group