Men are such jackasses

I know I’m not breaking any new ground here in my assertion that while there are surely many men who are standout human beings, men, as social beings, are generally jackasses. Extensive study and wide-ranging research isn’t necessary; the evidence is there in front of us in plain view, often starkly so, as we go about our lives.

You’re on the highway in a moderate stream of traffic and suddenly two cars come hurtling up the road, swerving in and out of the traffic, at full throttle. No police chase is taking place; no emergency ambulance dash to save a life; this is simply a private race between two individuals on an open highway putting numbers of innocent people in grave danger. It happens frequently.  The next time it happens, take a look at who’s driving; it’s always men. Every time you see this insanity, it’s always two male jackasses behind the wheel; never women.  I’ve never been in one of those lunatic drives, but I’m willing to bet that any women in those vehicles would be pleading with the driver to slow down, all the while he pays no heed.  The jackass is at full bray.

Here’s another common occurrence. A car goes weaving up the road, crossing the centre line, brushing the parapet, speeding up and slowing down. You back off, conceding space, and you proceed on your way to find the car has run off the road ahead of you.  As you get close, the driver is outside, obviously drunk, leaning against the car, barely able to stand. The age and size and ethnicity of the driver may vary, but when it comes to gender it’s always a man.  In over 50 years of driving, in half a dozen countries, I cannot recall one instance of a drunk driver in such situations being a woman.  It’s always one of the boys being a jackass.

Beyond being dangerous, the idiocy is also communal in that the entire tribe seems to buy into it. All of us have heard men in social settings with this proud boast: “Boy, I was so drunk last night, I don’t even remember how I get home.”  We also know that the usual response to this is general laughter, sometimes even high fives among the gentlemen, leading to others in the group then relating their own versions of the mental lapse under alcohol, leading to another round of merriment. The behaviour, in fact, takes on the aura of an achievement of sorts; a demonstration of an ability that the group recognizes and applauds. The jackass, in other words, is not braying alone.

Consider our resort to sexual aides, such as the prevalent ‘Chinee brush,‘ in the Caribbean, and why there is no demand for a similar boost to virility among women.

Observe that the practice of ‘hanging on the corner’ is almost exclusively a male exhibition. If women congregate on the road, it’s usually only two of them, and you can bet they’re probably exchanging hilarious information about some man they’ve known in the Biblical sense. In other words, they are talking about some jackass.

It is striking that most of the volunteer social organizations in most countries are largely made up of women; notice that there is no male equivalent to Red Thread in Guyana.

Here’s another example: a man in a motor vehicle can never admit he’s lost.  I’ve seen this repeatedly in North America (I admit some guilt here) in its tangle of roadways and bypasses. On a jaunt to some new state or province, dealing with maps and points of the compass, one can become completely lost.  In those situations, with the wife proposing “stop and ask somebody,” the male behind the wheel will adamantly insist “I know where I’m going” and continue the circle-within-a-circle charade, twisting and turning.  With everyone else in the vehicle on edge (young children in particular are terrified of the very word ‘lost’) Mom is sitting there, blowing out her cheeks in frustration, while Dad keeps on insisting, “You all relax.  I know where I’m going.”  Only a man.

Look at how we dress.  At a formal function, the women are beautifully decked out in a variety of styles, and colours, and fabrics of dress – from the latest local creation by Noel or Ramsammy to the purchases from a recent trip outside.  The men are in one garb – dark tuxedos, black shoes, white shirt, and a clip-on bow tie; each one a copy of the other, like a row of soldiers. Apart from slight lapel variations, every suit is almost exactly the same.  Look at wedding photos: the women are there gloriously arrayed in every colour of the rainbow and every shape and form imaginable; the men are striking carbon copies in black and white, standing in the pictures like a row of penguins.

Consider our egos, or the lack of. The writer, Jim Harrison, points out: “The homeliest men who couldn’t rationally look at themselves nude in the mirror feel free to comment critically on how a woman looks. A man whose entire body is virtually a stretch mark, will proclaim his dislike for stretch marks, and a man whose backside wouldn’t fit in a barrel will announce that big women don’t ‘turn him on.’”

From time to time, women will come up with the occasional inanity, but when it comes to delivering stupid public comments, men, with the attendant bluster, are proven masters of nonsense.  Our West Indies cricket coach, Darren Sammy, after our recent bruising in the Second Test against England said, “If you discount the sessions where we played badly, we are actually competitive with teams like England.”  Now it can be argued that the captain has to face the media and must find something to say, but I know without checking that no female leader of any sports team in history has ever come up with such a patently idiotic statement like that – okay, it’s a desperate situation, but only a man would produce that slant. We are such jackasses.


Travelling in the good old days

On the way back from a recent trip to Canada, it occurred to me that although there are still airline problems in the Caribbean, it is nothing compared to the headaches that used to exist.

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A bow to Trinidad

Anyone who writes will attest that one direction leads to another.  In my So it go notebook, for instance, there is this one direction that deals with the origin of the word “soca” and the reminder is there for me because the explanation we frequently hear is that when Lord Shorty combined calypso and American “soul” music in this new rhythm with higher tempos and more emphasis on drum track in the recording, he named it soca from that “soul” American influence and from the calypso origin. 

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Lights dawning

Going back to the ‘30’s and the ‘40’s, an enduring message for young people growing up in Guyana was that the white culture was supreme. 

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We did not want to know

In an earlier comment about song-writing I made the point that while talent has to be there, the more critical quality is observation because that is almost always the ingredient that sets a song apart; the writer has turned a light on something in the society, or in an individual, that would have otherwise escaped the rest of us in the populace. 

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The heyday is gone but the sweetness lives

Calypso achieved popularity with the arrival of calypso tents in Port-of-Spain, particularly from the first commercial recordings in the 1930s, and from the spread of the tents after World War Two ended in 1945.

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