Sunday, December 07, 2008

#11 Bad Idea: A Regret

In 1993 I took a course in feminist theory of literature. Unsurprisingly, I was one of three men enrolled in the class. The third guy never spoke, sat in the back and disappeared after about four weeks. The other guy was a gnomish fellow with a downy red beard and a smooth sculpted wave of hair that looked inescapably like a preacher's wig. He was a fundamentalist Christian, and I can only assume that he had taken the course in order to follow Christ's example of hanging out with tax collectors and prostitutes.

Because I was the only other man in the class, he viewed me as an ally and a secret sharer. He took to sitting next to me, making small talk and occasionally floating a timidly misogynistic joke to test the reception. I chose not to respond to the jokes, which I thought would shut him up, but instead he took it as silent encouragement. I should have known that jerks need friends so badly that you basically have to kick them in the teeth to keep them away from you. And the truth was that, beneath the conservative surface, a confused loneliness and a mass of unconscious, unexamined desires turned like a restless sleeper.

Anyway, one day the class was talking about the Lacanian notion of the phallus, and what Lacan was actually talking about (it's not easy to have a clear discussion when you keep throwing the word phallus around) when the red-haired guy leaned over and whispered, just loudly enough for his voice to carry, "If women ran the Pentagon, would the missiles be shaped differently"? The question was so grotesquely asinine, and so far removed from the actual discussion, that I had no adequate response. So I barked out "Shush!", like an angry governess. A couple of heads turned in our direction. The red-haired guy drew back in his seat, utterly confused, and I realized that I had been too kind to him, to the point where he viewed me as being complicit.

The bad idea, in this instance, was not to stand up and drag him by the ear out of the classroom, kick him in the head and maybe whip him with scourges or something. That would have been the right tactic.

13 comments:

Sparkliesunshine said...

I'm sure none of the women in the class would have complained if you did.

Schmutzie said...

I hate it when people assume complicity due to such superficial things as genitalia, marital status, race, etc. I wish you'd at least yanked on his stupid beard.

Disgraced Media Baron said...

Did he make it through the entire semester? Any ideas as to how he did in the class?

palinode said...

sparkliesunshine - I imagine you're right.

schmutzie - I probably should have been a lot harsher with him and just told him to get the hell away from me. Ah well.

dmbaron - He stuck it out to the semester's end, but I have no idea how well he did. If he'd done badly, he probably would have been complaining bitterly about the feminist agenda or some such.

Bruce said...

Well, first of all, I don't know if dragging him out of the classroom would have been feminist thing to do....that would probaby have been along the lines of public ridicule infront of the class, but you are not a woman, so you get a pass on that one.

But it makes me wonder, if the missles would be a different shape if they ran the Pentegon.

palinode said...

bruce - There would be no missiles. Instead they would be giant weird vagina-things that skipped along the ground and knocked buildings over in their paths.

palinode said...

Bruce - And they would shout 'OUTTAMYWAY!' in a Bette Midler voice. Those would be some really creepy, absurd weapons.

Anonymous said...

I would say that following the Lacanian concept of mirroring our body image into design the phallic missiles of the feminine would be a single breast with a distinctly coloured detonating nipple. They would emerge from the binarily arranged oculi of womb silos and silently fly across the evening skies to reek mammoric destruction on foreign matriarchies.

palinode said...

And when they land they make a huge rubbery 'bwawwwmh' sound.

Disgraced Media Baron said...

I'm mentally reconstructing the ending to "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" with all of these missile ideas in mind, and I'm having difficulty moving beyond the idea of purple, veiny mutants battling rifle-carrying apes at the base of a steam-ejecting, giant golden vagina.

palinode said...

dmbaron - Maybe it's difficult for you to imagine, but for me that's just a day at the office.

Disgraced Media Baron said...

Or, perhaps more appropriately, A Day at the Orifice.

Which reminds me of the most-banned Marx Brothers film ever...

Chris said...

These femissiles when exploded emit a pleasant chicken soup odor and cause tidiness where disorder formerly existed.