I heard someone joke recently that women are manipulative, insinuating that we begin weaving deceptive webs for the men in our lives from day one. Cutting sarcasm presented as humor frequently reveals an underlying attitude or prejudice. That’s not funny. At all.
Did the person really mean to suggest that women “serve or intend to control or influence others in an artful and often unfair or selfish way” (Webster’s definition)? Surely not.
The kindest response I can give to the person (who is running for office) is to say that it was not the smartest way to ask an audience for votes. This person is smart and well-regarded. There was no reason to insult half of the audience (and reveal his opinion).
One of my favorite classes in college was logic because it allows us to parse arguments to identify faulty reasoning. What the person said in his speech was a textbook example of fallacious reasoning: because some women are, all are. A generalization deduced from the specific.
I’m surprised to hear so much of this kind of trash talk these days. I’m surprised that we tolerate it. In short, manipulative behavior doesn’t confine itself to a single gender. Period. Are there manipulative women? Sure. Are there manipulative men. Indubitably. Does that make all of us manipulative?
Some of the best leaders I know are women who are forthright and transparent in word and deed. They comport themselves with integrity and compassion. They value truth and transparency. As laudable as that is, does that mean all women are similarly possessed by these? Alas, no. That too would be a generalization.
I’m not trying to make a feminist mountain out of an unintentional molehill here, but this type of put-down couched as sarcastic humor is not only not funny, it’s not smart. It divides us. And don’t we have enough of that these days?