Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pardon the Interruption: House 8:13 - Man of the House

Overall: 5.3

Can we please quit it with the man hating? KTHX.

Plot Synopsis: has a recap here.

The Skinny:

To be fair, I do appreciate that the writers embrace gender essentialism. The concepts of "male" and "female" are in fact based on biological realities -- and said realities go much deeper than the fact that "boys have penises and girls have vaginas." Men and women are influenced by different hormonal cocktails and different brain structures, and research has revealed time and time again that our temperaments and skill sets are consequently dissimilar (at least when you look at the averages).

What disappoints me about this episode, however, is this: No one defends genuine masculinity. Masculinity, in fact, is treated as either a biological impairment (see also: the Patient of the Week refusing his testosterone shot because "I'm a better man without it") or a retreat for the terminally immature (see also: House grunting about his monster trucks) -- and neither of those perspectives is fair. We women who don't have to deal with emasculated, dishonorable Hollywood males understand that masculinity can and has benefited the human species. We wouldn't have Alaskan crab, electricity, or towering skyscrapers were it not for all those big, burly, virile men who signed up for all the risks involved in fishing the Bering Sea, tunneling through the earth in search of fuel, or standing on a scaffold hundreds of feet above the street. And the freedom we enjoy as Americans? Again, for the most part, we've depended on testosterone-crazed males to defend us. Women are breaking into these occupations, true, but let's be honest: Without manly men, would we really be able to fill these necessary - and dirty - jobs? Raise your hands, ladies, if you honestly think getting covered in coal dust or sprayed by freezing Arctic waters is appealing -- and then look around and recognize how rare you are.

Masculinity does have its drawbacks, yes, but so does femininity. Men may be overly competitive at times, but let's not ignore the feminine tendency to embrace emotional manipulation and relational aggression. Mean Girls is a hugely popular movie for a reason: It reminds us women of the rampant backstabbing, rumor-mongering, and cattiness we all had to endure in adolescence and allows us to laugh at those schoolyard dramas from a comfortable distance. And our oft-vaunted capacity for empathy? That too can be pathological when it's taken to extremes (see also: co-dependency and animal hoarding).

In reality, the proper response to our many gender-related foibles is not to make men more like women (or women more like men); it's to teach our children - boys and girls - to channel their natural impulses into healthy pursuits. We need to bring back sublimation -- and a respect for gender complementarity. Only then will we see a relative peace between the sexes.

Writing: 6.0

'Tis an average script.

Acting: 7.0

The performances were decent, but there were no stand-out moments.

Message: 3.0

Men don't deserve the beating they receive here. See above.

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