Steve Martin has long been one of my favorite comedian/actor/writer/musicians. He once observed it was a good thing he wasn’t female because he’d stay home all day, playing with his breasts. When humor has to be explained, it tends to lose its effectiveness, but this is a wryly ironic observation about not only the nature of men, but the power women have over them. It provides insight not only into the different ways men and women see such things, but for what we take for granted.
But that’s sexist! It’s insulting! I know a great many extraordinary women and have had the opportunity to speak about such things. Men certainly pay attention to breasts; it was Martin that also said, “breasts make men stupid.” However, women pay a great deal of attention to them as well, and often in terms that might make men blush. They name them, call them “the girls,” or similar terms, agonize over their size, shape, and how they look in bras and clothing.
Mrs. Manor is far more likely than I to notice another woman’s breasts or other physical characteristics, and she is certainly not alone.
Martin, like many men, obviously appreciates feminine beauty. It’s a significant part of what makes us men, and what propagates the species. Unfortunately, during the Age of Obama, being male because a near-capital offense, and while we may well be witnessing the political correctness pendulum beginning to swing away from such lunacy, we must work, every day, to utterly crush–figuratively speaking–any hint of political correctness, as Martin recently discovered. From Fox News:
“Steve Martin received backlash for a tribute he paid to Carrie Fisher on Twitter.
Media outlets and fans immediately turned on the comedian saying Martin’s tweet had a sexist undertone.”
“A sexist undertone.” What woman doesn’t like to be thought of as beautiful? What woman doesn’t like to be appreciated for her intellect? Where is the sexist undertone? There is no crude locker room banter, which is also stereotypically male, though lower level , immature male, yet if one is honest, women’s banter is often as low, and often, more biting and cruel. Here Martin observed that as a young man, he found Carrie Fisher beautiful, and as he grew older, he appreciated her for her intellect and accomplishments. He grew beyond mere physical attraction, and in so doing, provides an example for us all. As the story noted, many disagree:
Hollywood sells attraction–sex, if you will. Brilliant, but generally unattractive women are seldom cast in movies. Actresses and actors are cast with this in mind: audiences must find them likeable–bankable–immediately. This is done visually. Millions know and care about Carrie Fisher’s death because she was, first, attractive, and then, in order, a good actress, a good writer and screenwriter, and an interesting person. Had she not been attractive, had she not been willing to lose weight and work out to look good in a skimpy bikini, only her immediate family and friends would be mourning her passing.
This is not sexist. This is not misogynistic. This is the reality of the human species.
If we’re honest, we admit that it is physical cues that comprise initial attraction, whether that attraction is a momentary glance at a person we may never see again, or the beginning of a relationship. We are hard-wired for attraction, and volumes have been written on its realities, yet some choose to see sexism and ill will in our very nature–particularly the nature of men–and in our conscious choices. People can, of course, express attraction in crude and inappropriate ways, yet that is not at all what Martin did. Nor is it what Cinnabon, the national cinnamon bun chain, did:
Notice that the portrait of Fisher as Princess Leia was done in cinnamon, Leia’s “bun” a cinnamon bun. Some found this offensive. Some are perpetually offended, even on behalf of fictional characters.
The tweet was clever, charming, and a kind and affectionate way to remember the character Carrie Fisher created and embodied. How many words have been written about Leia’s buns? If anything, the folks at Cinnabon exalted Fisher above their product.
But they’re commercializing her death! No, they’re not. Who seriously thinks those seeing that tweet will be compelled to immediately run out and eat Cinnabuns? No doubt, the folks at Cinnabon were fans of Fisher. Who else would even make the connection between a costuming convention of a character appearing in a movie released in 1977, and the death of the actress that played her nearly 40 years earlier.
Steven Martin and Cinnabon need make no apology for their sincere and fond remembrances of Carrie Fisher. A woman of considerable, and often sharp-edged wit, it’s unlikely she would have been offended by either tribute, and far more likely she would have been offended by the spirit of angry censorship it implies.
Nor will I apologize for being male, and for thinking Carrie Fisher beautiful in body and mind. Like Martin, I had a mild crush on Fisher in 1977, and as I followed her many troubles and successes in the years that followed, came to appreciate her humanity and determination as I matured and fought my own battles with human nature.
Perhaps we’d all be better off if we allow each of us–male and female–to remember and appreciate Carrie Fisher in our own, unique ways. Isn’t that diversity? Isn’t that tolerance? And isn’t anything less none of anyone else’s damned business?
Understanding that is a necessary part of being a man–and a woman.