Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gagging, guy friends, and girl chefs

-Interracial marriage makes reasonable people want to "gag," or so trolled Richard Cohen. As someone in an inter... -faith? -cultural? definitely -national, and by some largely-outdated definitions, -racial marriage, I do so apologize for any nausea I may have inflicted. (Also - shouldn't traditionalist conservatives like that de Blasio's wife is a former lesbian? Isn't that just a non-ideological version of "ex-gay"?)

-"Guy friends"! Not an expression I'd much heard since all-girls middle school, when having them made you the height of cool. It meant you knew so many boys that not all of them had to be crushes. That your real social life was outside of school. My friends were, alas, my classmates, so no guy friends.

Male friends are just a normal part of life, but guy friends... To me, the term always sounds like, this is a guy you want to be dating - or who wants to be dating you, and you kind of enjoy that, but not enough to date him - and precisely because the friendship is somehow charged, you have to go out of your way to insist that it's not. As in, Dude A is your friend, whereas Dude B is your guy friend. As in, it really matters that the friend is a guy. Which, sure, if you're 12, but as an adult?

-There are, when it comes to women-and-work, two separate discussions. One - the one we know so well - is the struggle of women trying to make it in predominately male professions, who face being steered away from entry, as well as an old boys club once they've arrived. The other, somewhat less straightforward one is, what happens when men are in a traditionally female profession? Or: what changes when the same activity is done by a man as vs. a woman? Example: cooking. As so many have already pointed out, we expect women to cook, so when a man does, it's this big event. Second example: the humanities. If a man devotes his time to studying poetry, that must be because he has very important things to say about Literature; if a woman does, it's because she went with a girl-major and what with math being hard, couldn't have cut it as an engineer.

The clichés we have of The Chef, The Humanities Professor, these are very macho figures. The former, tattooed and drug-addled with a dirty mouth; the latter, tweeded out (no frivolous shopping for the bookish) and endlessly appealing to impressionable young women. What does it all mean? Perhaps after I've chef'd and eaten dinner, I'll have the answer.

5 comments:

Sigivald said...

I think Althouse is right - by virtue of age affinity at least - that in Cohen's use "conventional" does not mean "reasonable".

"Conventional" can be an insult, in some mouths, remember.

I find her reading (that Cohen was using "conventional" as a pejorative against imagined conservative anti-miscegationists [evidently for some people it's always 1963?]) much more plausible than the idea that he was saying that Reasonable People Don't Like Interracial Marriages.

Petey said...

"I find (Althouse's) reading (that Cohen was using "conventional" as a pejorative against imagined conservative anti-miscegationists [evidently for some people it's always 1963?]) much more plausible than the idea that he was saying that Reasonable People Don't Like Interracial Marriages."

This would make lots of sense if one had no familiarity with previous Cohen writings...

caryatis said...

Re: guy friends, I've also read allegations that women "need" female friends. Doesn't it seem weird to think about the optimally beneficial gender of friend to have? I think of the friends you have as something that by and large you can't choose--it's a matter of the people you feel comfortable with crossed with the people who want to spend time with you.

Phoebe said...

Sigivald,

What Petey said. See also, all the articles about how practically no one, not even the elderly, disapproves of interracial marriage anymore. I could see conservatives or "conventional" sorts finding de Blasio's family too Park Slope-hippie-ish for their liking - and then we could have a discussion about whether that would count as coded racism - but Cohen specifically brings up their races, as if that's the issue.

Caryatis,

"it's a matter of the people you feel comfortable with crossed with the people who want to spend time with you"

Exactly. And that tends to relate to where you're in school/working/living. Depending whether there are more men or women around, that's probably which gender you'll be hanging out with the most.

Petey said...

"I could see conservatives or "conventional" sorts finding de Blasio's family too Park Slope-hippie-ish for their liking"

Of course. The family is plainly Marxist-Leninist.

No interference from America. Human rights in America. Que?!?