Junglemonkey and I are in Boston for a few days. She’s here for the AWP conference, and I’m here as her plus one. I love that she wanted me along. I would absolutely have missed her if I’d been at home all week while she attended the conference, never mind that she’s going to be busy nearly all the time and I’ve got lots of practicing to do since I’ve got several competitions coming up. What this really means is that I’ve already spent several hours walking around Boston on my own. As I walk through crowds, I wind up overhearing snatches of a zillion different conversations. It’s always interesting to me what the gists of conversations in a locale are. For instance, in Santa Cruz the conversations I overhear tend to be local politics or technological, tending to be design or marketing. (There are a lot of folks working in Internet-related jobs in Santa Cruz.) In San Francisco, there’s a lot of tech, mostly web development, and of course people are talking about their plans for what they’re going to be doing later on — which clubs or concerts or whatever. Here in Boston, it’s been financial snippets — lots of people talking about investments and business plans with time horizons in days or months — and men talking about women.
But here’s the weird thing, the thing that makes me write this. The conversations about women are all weird and kind of objectifying. Example: the guys behind me in line at Starbuck’s this morning. They sounded like stereotypical frat boys; very materialistic (luxury goods purchased or used, padding corporate expense accounts, partying) and objectifying women in a way I haven’t really encountered personally in many many years. The way these guys were talking about a particular woman — her breasts, her suitability as a status symbol — I was really surprised. I had to tell Junglemonkey about it just because I needed to talk about it to figure out if they were really as obnoxious as I thought. But then I walked around for a couple of hours and heard other snippets of other conversations and these guys were not different. Holy cow!
You know, I’m sort of accustomed to keeping my trap shut as women I know talk about male privilege, patriarchy, and sexism. Let’s face it: there’s not a hell of a lot that I can bring to that conversation. Even so, that doesn’t mean that I’m not paying attention. Guys in Boston seem, upon cursory inspection, to be far less considerate (because I have a hard time thinking that women in Boston are any less bitter about it). Dudes, step up your game and stop being dicks.
So, here’s a joke I know about feminism:
Q: How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: That’s not funny!
If you think that joke is really not funny and you’re mad about it, then that joke is about you. If you think that joke is not funny because feminism is about freedom and the joke presumes the teller and the listener have a perspective on feminism that doesn’t include that notion, then a) that joke is not about you and b) you can probably (95.2% likely) provide one or more personal acquaintances whom that joke is about. If you think that joke is funny then you’re a) a man and b) you live in Boston.