Originally not aired on ??/??/????
It’s International Women’s Day and you know what means? The celebration of women everywhere – yes. The call for equality and the acknowledgement that there’s still lots of work to be done – sure. But the main thing it means is the start of a brand-new special series of my unrecorded podcast “When Eric Met Females.”
This series is all about self-improvement. In my younger, more laddy days, I was very immature. I’d make crude jokes and say the word pussy a lot. Now I’ve grown up a bit and watched a few Ted Talks, there’s only one “P” I wanna smash, and that’s the Patriarchy.
Over the next week I’m going to man-up (or rather “woman-up”) and start using my platform to ask the big questions. Questions like “What is a woman?”, “Where do they come from?”, and “Why does my tummy go funny when I see one I like?”
Let’s start with the first: what is a woman?
There are many different answers to this question. Biologically, a woman is a female human with two XX chromosomes and pronounced mammary glands. Mammary glands that many people pronounce, “boobs.” Culturally and sociologically, however, a woman is something very different. Simone De Beauvoir wrote in The Second Sex that, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” From the number of MPs in Parliament to the number of people producing unrecorded podcasts, the world we live in is dominated by men. This penis-centric culture penetrates to our core and shapes who we become. Women’s actions are evaluated by how they affect men; they’re judged through the male gaze.
Well, one women that our deeply oppressive society has shaped beautifully into my gaze for this episode is the lovely Laura Wright. Shropshire born, fiercely independent and someone who can certainly hold their own in an arm-wrestle (I don’t wanna talk about it!), Laura has been in the comedy game for about a year now, but she has been a woman for much longer.
Not so much taking the comedy-scene by storm as by extremely-light drizzle, Laura has established herself as one-of-many-to-watch on the overpopulated open-mic circuit she’s trapped in. I thought I’d ask her what being on that sausage-heavy scene is like.
“It’s good,” she said. “Everyone’s actually really nice.”
“That’s so interesting,” I replied, sincerely. “Now, let’s get to the nitty gritty. Have you experienced much sexism in comedy?”
“Yeah, I have.”
I didn’t know what to say next. I get very nervous. I started babbling.
“Hey, you know that concept of women being judged by the male gaze? When I first heard that I thought it was that women are judged by “the male gays” and I thought “Why is it that women and gay men have such a sacred bond?””
“I’m not sure, Eric. I think that might be a stereotype.”
“That’s so interesting.”
Laura sighed and took a sip of her Chai Latte.
I seized up after that. I started worrying what Laura was thinking of me; whether I was making a fool of myself. I wanted to launch this podcast to do my bit for feminism and also capitalise on an increasingly marketable form of social justice to further my career. But at this point, I just felt like an awkward spotty boy who didn’t know how to talk to a girl. Perhaps this venture was a mistake, or more appropriately, a man-stake.
“I don’t think I have anything of substance to say Laura,” I said. “I’m sorry for wasting your time.”
Then something clicked. I realised that I was crumbling just because I wanted Laura to like and approve of me. I was trapped in her gaze, the female gaze. Or maybe female gay – I’m not sure of Laura’s sexual orientation. The point is that we’re all susceptible to being objects, to worrying how others see us. Maybe this could be a breakthrough point and I could understand a little bit more what it’s like to be a woman, and then I could be the white-male poster boy of feminism, breaking the divide between the genders and becoming more commercial than ever.
“Laura,” I said, looking up from my Chai. “I think I’ve figured it all out…”
She’d gone. Left without saying a word.
Probably on the blob isn’t she.