Monday, August 22, 2016

Fabulous Failure

Well someone had to say it, and it came about that a person of the female persuasion came into the Tavern for a short drink with a cherry and a parasol plonked in it and said it. Women do not like other women.  Silence fell. In fact (is it a fact yet, I wonder) women are more misogynist than men. 

And she dropped that just after someone had been leafing through some 'agony aunt' column somewhere and found a slightly off-putting cry of angst on the same subject.

Coming in on customers' conversations, as I do, can take one aback a bit. Just moments before as I was filling orders there was this chap sitting at a table sounding off. A qualified shrink, no less.  I was just delivering a tray of ale so I didn't catch it all, but what I did hear was young Seth Meyers saying....
As I overheard a group of women this past week in line at a store verbally tear apart a couple of women within their social circle who happened to be absent, I was taken aback by the vitriol. As I reflected on how women talk about other women, I thought about what I've heard so many women say over the years: "Girls are so much crueler to each other than men." Based on fifteen years of clinical work with women who represent virtually every possible demographic variable (Come on, I trained in New York City), I can assuredly report that the women I've worked with report more critical views of other women than the men do with their own male peers.

Most women will tell you that they have survived at least one mean girl in their past: a girl who dismissed, put down, or even socially tormented them. ....
I had to serve other customers so didn't stay past the nodding heads (some female).  No argument, just agreement, so far, thought I.

I did get to thinking though. Barmen do a lot of that. It was Tanya Gold who had much to say about a couple of quite popular women and dropped that idea about woman hating women, but even before she had sat down and asked for her fancy dring we had a another lady whining about it too. That cry of angst I spoke of. 

Cary Tennis, her name. (Hah! And there was I thinking of Cary Grant and Cary being a man's name. But 'Tennis'?). I had to scratch m'head a bit as, well, I like women, even those who take a man's name. Women are always taking men's stuff though, so that's not new.  
Am I a female misogynist?
Being a woman, and a feminist, I really ought to like women better than I do.
I’m a young liberal female with a strange problem for that species: I think I may be a misogynist. It’s not just that I don’t like women — sometimes I seem to hate them.
I do have some dear female friends who are usually really different from my highly academic, simply dressed, too-philosophical self. They tend to have in common a piercing wit, a deep well of kindness, and an ability to identify with the misfit. And I try not to judge women on the way they initially present. But even when I get beyond the superficial things with a female, I very rarely find anyone whom I want to get to know further.
I don’t feel that it’s at all defensible to privilege a certain gender, and while I wish I could have a circle of female bosom buddies, I just can’t see it happening. In truth I can’t get over the ways in which women seem, despite the great leaps we’ve made socially, sexually and in the workplace, 
to be blind to our own behavior. 
Why aren’t there more women who recognize and want to discuss deep psychological truths instead of nail polish colors or the latest celebrity gossip?
But I guess the more disturbing question I find myself asking is why, when in reality there must be as few deeply thinking, socially conscious men around, I seem to find so many more of them than their equivalent in the female gender? So far my answer to that question is to acknowledge that I have suffered some damage from my mother’s (emotionally distant, often quite hurtful, unrepentantly judgmental) ways, and that I’ve internalized, perhaps, an aversion to females on principle. Couple that with my dad’s desertion of the family when I was 10, and it might explain my tendency to seek male approval.

Perhaps, although I am mostly straight, the fact that I can find women sexually attractive means that I have a little of the lover’s worshipful, but often confused and sometimes angry, attitude in me. And I recognize that there are only so many people of either gender who have all the qualities that I find wonderful (open-minded, witty, caring) and that I should just keep seeking them in whatever gender they occur.

But even after this, I’m troubled by my decidedly un-feminist, rather callous dislike of women. I’m hoping you might have some insight that I, being entangled in the middle of all this, can’t see.
I could not bear to hear more ! Instead I turned to Tanya and asked her to explain. Boy did she go to town.  And on two women that have been made into a national treasure in some parts. 
Absolutely Fabulous was too spiteful to be funny. 
It invited us to laugh at female failure
Hmmmm. Women are not supposed to fail, or are we only to laugh at men being made fools of? 
Jennifer Saunders' sitcom about women who loathe themselves was always a sketch and never great situational comedy
Absolutely Fabulous, which is about to make its cinema debut, is a comedy about women being useless. I watched it obediently in the 1990s — mostly for the clothes — and realise now, with more jaded eyes, that I was invited to laugh only at female failure. Failure is not a bad subject for comedy — it is actually one of the best, as Edmund Blackadder and Alan Partridge and David Brent tell us — but Absolutely Fabulous is too unsophisticated to be funny, and comedy without wit is spite.
Or perhaps it was about woman being stupid for a change? Better call it 'unsophisticated' I wonder if Tanya knows what sophistication is. Hint, Tanya. A five letter word beginning with F and ending in E.
Absolutely Fabulous is based on a single sketch from Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders who were, then, the only female sketch double act on TV. (French appeared in only one episode of Ab Fab, and instead graduated to The Vicar of Dibley, a more genial — though equally self-deceptive — fantasy.) 
Hmmmm. To my mind, The Vicar of Dibly simply added to the downward trajectory of the the BBC's attitude to religion. Colonel Blimp meets The C of E ArchBish o' Canturbury.
The running gag, and it is as old as Plautus is: a mother is parented by her child, who is more mature than she is. This is the original failure of Eddy (Saunders); she cannot look after her own daughter Saffron (Julia Sawalha), who becomes a dour prig. This, then, is what a real mother should be: joyless, and always in the kitchen.
Eddy, who is based upon the Jewish fashion PR Lynne Franks, is a wonderful subject for tragedy; and a complex one for comedy. She is incapable of being happy, because she has no core. She is tossed in the wind, clutching at fads (bum bags, Buddhism).
Eddy is, like Franks was, rich and successful — Franks ran her own business when few women did — but you never see that on screen; you never see Eddy doing anything functional. You see only the chaos that she lives in; the fear she has of herself; the self-disgust that is the comic engine of Ab Fab. Eddy loathes her body — its bumps, its excrescences, its leaks — with a terror and commitment which, while no doubt familiar to female viewers who turn to the Daily Mail for similar torment, is pitiless. And this is why Ab Fab was always a sketch and never a great situational comedy — Eddy is the butt of the joke. Always. 
Unless it is Patsy.
Eddy, you see, is the functional one in Absolutely Fabulous; the enabler. The other one is Patsy (Joanna Lumley), a woman whose physical beauty initially disguises (and I imagine makes palatable for an audience, unless the producers thought it hilarious to feature a drunk who also looks like Joanna Lumley) what I can only think is the cruellest and most accurate portrait of alcoholism I have seen in popular culture. Patsy gets drunk. No — that is wrong. Patsy is always drunk. Patsy falls over. Patsy wets herself. Patsy sets herself on fire.
All this is done without nuance, without wit and without shame. Patsy Stone does not belong in comedy. Mock the people who mock her, maybe. That could be comedy. This is something else. This is the stocks.
Jennifer Saunders has said that Ab Fab is really a comedy about friendship, which I imagine sits ill with Lynne Franks, who was once, apparently, her friend. The truth, I suspect, is sadder and, again, as old as Plautus: the BBC comedy department wanted a story about women who loathe themselves, and Saunders obliged.
Come on Tanya. Why can't you just say they look nice. 

Need a drink? Or three? 



  1. I too often find myself in discussion with feminists who will insist that it is impossible for women to be misogyninst. Those same feminists - both male and female - have no problem saying that any problem that men have is because of 'The Patriarchy', referring to a long-debunked social theory that men control everything and have done forever (but women always have been powerful, forceful people (who have always been oppressed and unable to do anything about it)). While simultaneously declaring that men can hate men so much that it explains why in modern times they have a shorter life-span, suffer depression and suicide so much more, have almost no parental rights, etc., these feminists will argue against the equal position of women being hateful to women.

    Feminists denying equality, eh? If only that were a first.

    Vivienne Parry, in the UK's Daily Mail, says that women can most certainly be misogynists and uses her own story as part of an explanation.

    - See more at:

    1. It is akin to arguing with a brick wall, innit. Feminists are totally convinced of the ridiculous, and so easily. Most men like the very idea of 'women' despite the sterling attempts by many women these days to deflect, deter, demean and dismiss any chap that care to smile at them. Such chaps are learning that a waste of time accompanies head-wall repetitions.

      Drinks on the house all day for you, Doug,.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..