In her Trainwreck review N.Y. Times critic Manohla Dargis says Amy Schumer is her “kind of superhero because she stops haters dead,” haters defined in this context as chauvinists who mouth “hateful slurs” by saying this or that woman isn’t “thin enough or pretty enough.”
I suffered slings and arrows along these lines a few months ago but that train has left the station. I fell in love with Schumer after seeing Trainwreck because I was persuaded that the movie version of “Amy” is who Schumer really is deep down, and that realization touched me like very few comedies have in my entire life. I’ll never say a word against her again. But without disputing that it’s uncool to throw cruel comments around or that Schumer’s 12 Angry Men riff was an on-target parody of male sexist attitudes, let’s take two steps back and examine Dargis’s brief.
By saying that it’s hateful for men to judge women for their looks, Dargis is addressing only half of the activity that happens worldwide on a daily basis. As men have regarded visual female allure as a major deal for many, many centuries, I doubt if this trait is going to disappear any time soon. The sin, if I correctly understand Dargis and the haters who were after my blood last February, is discussing these judgments in a public forum. Why? Because it hurts. And because such judgments are never conveyed privately when a guy isn’t interested in pursuing a relationship with a woman — he just makes up an excuse of some kind, not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Back in the mid ’80s a producer friend told me that a plain, pleasant, somewhat heavyish woman I’d met at a party liked me and wanted me to call. I told my friend I didn’t find her very appealing. “You bastard,” she said.
Unspoken, of course, is the fact that women routinely judge and dismiss guys all the time. In private for the most part, yes, but it hurts all the same. Worse, you almost never find out what the issues are — not gentle enough, not handsome enough, not rich enough, not mellow or spiritual enough, too immature, too hormonal. You have to intuit that stuff for that most part. The bottom line is that women call the shots. You make a play, you “audition” and they accept you or blow you off after a quick chat in a bar or after two or three dates or whatever. Which, of course, guys also do to women all the time. Not for the faint of heart.
Does it feel good when this happens? No. Is it fair? Yes — rejection is a natural part of the game. Guys learn in nursery school that they have to take their lumps, lick their wounds and move on. Later on they learn to refine their game as they go along, or like Bill Murray does in Groundhog Day.
The difference is that when women get publicly dissed by guys for this or that physical shortcoming on Twitter or in a column article or on the cover of a supermarket tabloid, it’s hateful and deplorable and needs to be eradicated from the human conversation. But when women “criticize” guys by ignoring or dropping them or rolling their eyes, they’re merely fulfilling a natural genetic urge by choosing the wheat and rejecting the chaff and in so doing advancing the progress of the human species.