Sunday, January 11, 2015

Rex Harrison – "A Hymn to Him" (1964)

Why can't a woman learn to use her head?
Why do they do everything their mothers do?
Why don't they grow up like their father instead?

I should really stick to the Washington Post's sports pages, restaurant reviews, and bridge column.  Reading the weekly "Outlook" section – which features opinion pieces by assorted loons, cranks, and bloviators – often gets me in trouble.

The damage that results from me reading "Outlook" would be minimal but for the fact that I publish a wildly popular blog.  It's like giving a teen-aged boy a case of beer and your car keys.  The case of beer alone or the car keys alone aren't that bad – but when you put the two together, you've got trouble, right here in 2 or 3 lines city (and that starts with "T," which rhymes with "P" . . . well, you know the rest).

Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins
Speaking of classic musical comedies, consider My Fair Lady, and our featured song, which was sung by the inimitable Rex Harrison in both the Broadway production and the movie version.  (Sir Rex won both a Tony and an Oscar for his portrayal of Professor Henry Higgins.)

The following lines from "A Hymn to Him" came immediately to mind when I was reading the "How to find a feminist boyfriend" piece that was featured on the cover of the most recent Post "Outlook" section.

(I beg your pardon if that title looks funny, but the Post largely eschews capital letters in headlines these days.)

Why is thinking something women never do?
Why is logic never even tried?
Straightening up their hair is all they ever do.
Why don't they straighten up the mess that's inside?

Why did I even read "How to find a feminist boyfriend"?  God only knows – but I did.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more confused, muddle-headed piece of writing in the entire Sunday Post (except for the "Business" section column on raising the minimum wage that appeared the same day).  Click here if you'd like to read the whole thing for yourself.

(There were some snappy comments on the article.  One wag said that he (or she) saw many cats in the author's future, but not too many men.  Another suggested an alternate title for the piece: "How to Remain Single Until You're Maureen Dowd's Age.")

I'm not going to walk you through the entire article, although it's tempting.  So I'll bite my tongue rather than commenting on this line: "But how do you spot a male feminist if he's not at an abortion rights rally wearing a 'This Is What a Feminist Looks Like' T-shirt?"  

And I'll let this mystifying little bit of nonsense go: "Is he sexist if he cancels an Uber ride because a female driver is on her way to pick the two of you up?  (Definitely.)"  (Why in the world would even the most sexist male do that?  Is the author suggesting that sexist males think women shouldn't be allowed to drive, or that a female cab driver is more likely to get lost on the way to your destination?  Beats me.)

I don't disagree with the author's definition of a "feminist dater":

Feminist daters – male or female, gay or straight – aren't constrained by gender roles.  Anyone can do the asking-out, the feelings-confessing, or the initiating of any kind.

So far, so good.  But then Little Miss Pseudofeminist steps in it:

As for who picks up the check on a first date, let's obliterate the gender pay gap first, then put that one back up for debate.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that there were such a thing as a "gender pay gap."  Does that mean men should pay the tab on a first date?

Just because the average man makes more money than the average woman doesn't answer the question.  After all, there are going to be many, many dates where the female party makes more do-re-mi than the male.  (30 percent of the time?  40 percent?  More?)

Is the author suggesting that a male should always pay on the first date even if he makes half as much money as the female does as penance for the (alleged) "gender pay gap"?

Let's shift from the Washington Post to the Huffington Post:

New research presented at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting [in 2013] found that 84 percent of men and 58 percent of women say men pay for most entertainment expenses -- even after they have been dating for some time.  

(The actual number must be somewhere between those two figures, of course -- I'm guessing it's around 83 percent.)

And while 57 percent of women say they offer to help pay, 39 percent admitted that they hoped men would reject their offers, while 44 percent were bothered when men expected them to chip in.  Nearly two-thirds of men believe women should contribute to dating expenses.

(Shame on you, ladies -- I hope you have the decency to blush a little as you are reading this.)

"One of the reasons we are interested in looking at who pays for dates is because it is one arena where women may be resisting gender changes more than men," study researcher David Frederick, an assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University in California, told The Huffington Post. "As social roles start to change, people often embrace the changes that make their lives easier, but resist the changes that make their lives more difficult."

Frederick later restated that last point:

[M]any women resist changes to gendered practices such as chivalry, and paying for dates, because paying for dates places a burden on them.

Can you spell H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y?

Of course, that hypocrisy has a price:

One potential problem with embracing chivalry is that men who engage in more benevolent forms of sexism, like paying for a check, may also engage in more hostile forms, seeing women as subservient and acting negatively toward women who step outside of typical gender roles.
And finally, a finding that might surprise you:

On the whole, respondents' answers did not differ dramatically with age, although there were exceptions.  Younger men were more likely to agree that if they paid the bill, women should engage in sexual activity.  
(There's one more advantage of dating us enlightened old guys, ladies – we're more feminist than those young MCPs!)

Before you get all huffy about the male respondents to the research survey agreeing with the statement that they deserve sex because they paid for dinner, here's one final feel-good quote from the Huffington Post story:

"The good news is that the overwhelming majority of men disagreed with this statement," said Frederick.
(I'm guessing the overwhelming majority of men also would disagree with this statement: "Most women tell the truth about their bodies on online dating sites.")

A recent issue of Vogue magazine also examined the "Who pays for the first date?" question.  I hope that most of you women out there are not so hypocritical that you fall back on this kind of reasoning:

If you split the bill, does that mean a second outing is out of the question?  “I have no problem paying for my part of the bill on a first date if it’s implied, but I will say it’s a big turnoff,” shares one editor.  “A lot goes into getting ready for a date, so the least they could do is pay for dinner,” added another.  In the end, when you add up the blowout, the manicure, the wax, the new dress, and the lipstick, you might as well have paid for a five-course meal.

The brown-eyed-ness of Vogue editors apparently knows no bounds:

More than half of the [Vogue] staff agreed, you should always reach inside your bag once the check arrives – even if you don’t intend to pay.  “You do the fiddling, the shuffling, and give them enough time to reach for their own wallets to take care of the bill,” says one editor, “or else what’s the option?  Just sitting there and staring at them, waiting?  No, that’s too awkward.” 

To be fair, some of the Vogue staffers who were quoted in this story were stand-up gals:

Even if you don’t pay for dinner on the first date, there are always ways to bring something to the table.  “If we have to wait a little bit to be seated, I’ll treat the guy to a drink at the bar,” says one of our market editors.  Another staffer suggests inviting your date to an ice cream or some sort of dessert after leaving the restaurant as a nice gesture.  The point is, just because you’re not paying for dinner, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay for anything.

(Are you kidding me?  Do you really think that if the guy picks up the tab for your T-bone, baked potato with all the fixings, and a nice bottle of rosé, you can get off the hook by buying him an ice cream cone?  Vogue editors must have been standing behind the door when the consciences were passed out.)

The answer to the "Who pays?" dilemma can be found in good ol' Emily Post:

[F]or a first date at least, the person who asks should pay unless both parties agree in advance to share expenses.

The author of "How to find a feminist boyfriend" believes that "dating like a feminist . . . often involves making the first move."  I wonder if she'll be feminist enough to pay for dinner when she makes the first move.

To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, "Ich bin eine Feministin."  Or if you prefer Louis XIV, "La féministe, c'est moi."

But if any of you doubt whether I am truly a feminist, you should know that I have two daughters.  It is my belief that no one is a truer feminist than a father of daughters.  

Here's "A Hymn to Him":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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