I Really Am a Woman!

Have you seen the most recent King of Queens ad? Doug is apparently worried that he might be (gasp!) a woman!

If you haven’t seen the show, here’s a link to the SonyPictures website for it: http://www.sonypictures.com/tv/shows/kingofqueens/index.php.

Are you back? Okay. So in this ad, you see Carrie and Doug getting it on. They’re kissing, leaning back onto their bed – not a big deal, they’re a committed, monogamous couple, not a big deal. They’re fully clothed, not quite reclining – you get the picture. What’s the problem? Carrie is on top. Like I said, at this point, they are just kissing, right?

So a few seconds into this scene (remember, it’s a commercial), Doug flings out his arm, knocking Carrie across the bed – lucky for him she doesn’t fall on the floor or hit the wall or anything – and says, “Will you let me do something?” She breathlessly asks, “What do you mean?” and he explains that she’s “dominating everything – first ping-pong, now sex…” (During this statement the video flashed to the two of them playing ping-pong, implying that she won the ping-pong game.) He continues with growing horror, “I really am a woman!”

Okay, it’s a sit-com, and so I tried to give it a bit of room to exploit gender consciousness for comedic value. Maybe people can laugh at men worrying about their gendered identity in our homophobic culture, I don’t know. But I couldn’t get past the idea that this big burly guy (really, go look at the pictures) could throw his wife across the bed (I’m talking several feet here) because, heaven forfend, she was being aggressive sexually, and that, that, was funny.

And then to follow up with a laugh at the idea that a guy might be worried he might be feminine – I really am a woman – and that’s funny because obviously he doesn’t want to be a woman and isn’t one…is the underlying message that it’s less than ideal to be a woman, or only that it’s less than ideal for a man to have feminine characteristics? Never mind the (obviously true) message that winning and being aggressive in sex are always masculine characteristics and losing games and being on the bottom sexually are always women’s characteristics.

And I won’t even mention the absurdity of complaining about a woman you’ve just thrown several feet (whether you hurt her or not) dominating sexually. What if she was feeling dominated? Did anybody but me watching that wonder about the parallel to actual, unwelcome dominance in rape situations?

Okay, so am I taking a sit-com too seriously? Is it okay to push these boundaries to make people think? Is laughing at the idea of a guy being worried about being dominated the first step to recognizing these cultural messages? Or is it distasteful and ultimately maintaining the stereotypes?

Comments

  1. sbg says

    What always gets me is the implication that to have any stereotypical female traits is to be weak. Uh, no.

    I also don’t know many guys who don’t love a aggressiveness (sometimes a little, sometimes a lot) from their partners in bed.

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    I don’t think you’re overreacting. There’s a chance the sitcom is making fun of the idea that you’re not a man if you let someone else take the wheel sometimes – which I’m in favor of making fun of. ;)

    BUT… and this is important… it does bring up the issue of entitlement to dominance, which men have and women don’t. Men are told they have the right – even the expectation – to take charge, whether they have the talent, intelligence or drive to support that position of leadership. Women are told to submit – it’s okay to be strong (enough to take hubby’s crap without turning homicidal), just don’t take over. It’s not ladylike.

    Manhood – the taking of adult responsibility and power – is a great achievement for men, but there’s no parallel achievement for women. We’re not encouraged to “grow up and be a woman”, because the patriarchy wants to keep women childlike – submissive. Except, you know, for the part where it hands us the most take-charge, be responsible job a human being can have: parenthood.

    It’s these ridiculous contradictions the sitcom is reinforcing even while (I hope) it makes fun of other silly assumptions.

  3. Mecha says

    I don’t think you’re overreacting to recognize a possible problem, and what Beta said sparked realization of a part of my major problem with it, which is the entitlement whine. ‘It’s not fair that you’re being in charge, you should let me,’ said from men to women. It’s reminiscent of some of the ways men complain about not being involved in/in charge of womens’s spaces.

    The irony is even more striking considering the physical way in which he reasserted temporary dominance. Realistic, but it does indeed sorta point out how false his belief is (and how frail masculine images are.) It’ll be curious to see what the episode’s message actually ends up being.

    (Although I personally think that a ping-pong game setting off the beginnings of your worrying about your masculinity is a bit… unstable? Dare I say, the kind of odd breakdown one would stereotypically associate with a the ‘woman who gets upset over every little thing’? Subtle message about women, men, or both?)

    -Mecha

  4. SunlessNick says

    The idea of Doug shoving Carrie across the bed squicks me on a different level than the absurdity of his issues – it’s treating force as a legitimate response to a man feeling inadequate before a woman.

  5. SunlessNick says

    No, I’m wrong. Not especially as we’re meant to find it funny. Especially because as much as we’re meant to be laughing at him, we’re also meant to be sympathising with his “plight.”

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