Nov. 6, 2014

          Human civilization has been a patriarchal society from the dawn of man all the way up to World War II, at which point it changed and the women took over and now it’s a matriarchal society. How did that occur and what were the results?
          I’ll get to that explanation in minute. First I’d like to reminisce about my long-time erstwhile girlfriend. At Camp in 1973, when I was fifteen and she was fourteen (and cute enough to die for), as we were all lined up for Friday night services, she grabbed my arm, hauled me away, took me to a far side of the camp where we skinny-dipped, meaning we both kept on our underpants, although she was topless, and we kissed while waist-deep in the warm water at sunset in plain view of everyone at camp listening to the camp’s owner intone the 23rd Psalm, “Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . .” When we were done kissing she hauled me back to services and never spoke to me for the remainder of the summer. Ten years later, at my 25th birthday party at my parents’ house, I was sitting in the backyard, lit by tiki-torches, gabbing with my buddies, Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi and Scott Spiegel, when who should come walking up out of the darkness (in a tight mini-skirt, no less) but my former girlfriend crashing my party. She had decided that it was time we got back together, which we promptly did. She was in law school, I was just about to direct and write my first feature film, and she desperately wanted to get married and have kids, but alas, I did not, so we broke up. Then, twenty years later, after I’d lived in L.A. for twenty years and had moved back to Michigan, she just showed up at my door one day and our friendship blossomed. She was in the throes of a dying marriage, I was still single and always had weed, so she started coming over every single day after work to get stoned and bitch about her philandering husband. When he finally split back to Australia where he was from, leaving behind not only his wife, but three young kids, to whom he never sent any child-support, my former, now present, girlfriend grabbed my arm and pulled me into bed, where we remained, on and off, for the next six years until she dumped my sorry ass and found someone taller, smarter, every-bit-as-funny, and with a substantial job.
What’s the point of this story? She made all of the decisions, I made none, and I simply did what she told me (except for breaking up with her when we were 24-25). Why? Because I was afraid she might leave me and take the pussy with her. As Richard Pryor said, “You can take all the money, you can even take the Mercedes-Benz, but for God’s sake leave the pussy.” Or, as a friend of mine once said, “I’ve got most of the money, but she has 100% of the pussy.”
          Then, perhaps five years ago, while I was in the midst of the final break-up with the afore mentioned gal, a guy whom I had known from childhood, also from Camp, who had been a terrible bully, but had managed to cast off his childish ways and become a nice adult, called out of the clear blue. He explained that his son was going to USC for filmmaking and he wanted me to meet him and explain the upcoming travails he was heading for. I was more than happy to oblige, and the three of us had a lovely dinner at the nearby Moose Preserve restaurant and bar. His son couldn’t have been sweeter or brighter (or more handsome, I might add, and were I off that persuasion I would have been all over him like white on rice), and honestly and truly loved movies—my kind of guy. Apparently, since that had gone so well, the former bully, now nice guy and good father, invited me back to the Moose Preserve to meet his gentile second wife. We all had a before-dinner drink and chatted amiably. Then this gal began pounding martinis like they might lose the recipe, and before you know it, while me and her husband our still on our first drinks, she had managed to slam four martinis, then decided, in her infinite wisdom, to give me dating advice. Now the husband knew my on-again off-again girlfriend, but his wife did not. She drunkenly slurred, “You’ve gotta treat her bad, then she’ll come back.” I replied that that would never work with her, she brooked absolutely no shit from me, and would simply walk out and never return. “No, no, no, you’ve really gotta give her shit. Treat her like bitch. Let her know who’s the man.” Her husband, who appeared extremely uncomfortable, but felt honor-bound to take his inebriated wife’s side, and informed me with an utter lack of sincerity, “You should listen to her, she knows a lot about relationships.” I said, “You know my girlfriend, so you know I could never treat her badly, she wouldn’t tolerate it for a second.” He smiled weakly because he knew my girlfriend, but his cockeyed wife wasn’t done and continued lecturing me in ever-increasing alcoholic agitation (she was clearly not a drinker and had no idea how to handle her booze), until finally I snapped and said, “Knock it off. You may be right in many cases, but in this case you’re wrong, and your husband knows it. You don’t know my girlfriend so your opinion is invalid,” at which point she burst into tears, screamed, “I hate you!” and ran into the bathroom.
          Her husband smiled sheepishly, explaining, “She’s never like this. She hardly drinks.”
          “I have this effect on people,” I replied, “but I don’t take it personally.”
          His wife returned, no longer crying, but red-faced and daintily sniffing into a tissue, picked up her pocketbook and exited stage right.
          Her husband, still smiling ever-so-sheepishly, said, “I’ve got to go” and reached for his wallet.
          “I’ve got it,” said I, and with that he was gone from my life, with his wife and, sadly, his son, too.

          All right, so what was the point of my story? Ah-ha! Who’s in charge? Men or women?
          Men were most definitely in charge from the dawn of humanity until World War II, then it all flip-flopped. Why? Because the men went off to war and the women finally got to leave their kitchens and take over the factory jobs. Suddenly, with no men around for four years telling them what to do, money in their overall pockets, a riveting gun in their hands, they innocuously took over. When the soldiers returned they were all basically informed by their wives and girlfriends, “I did without you for four years, and I can still do without you, schmuck, so go get an education on the G.I. Bill, get a decent job and support this family, or I will, and you now know I can, and will, if you don’t shape up. Oh, yeah, and until you do what I tell you, no good thing.”
          The men, who could of stood their ground and objected, instead acquiesced and said, “Yes, dear, anything you say,” and that was that.
          There’s a wonderful scene in James Jones’ novel Whistle where four wounded soldiers returning from WWII and the Pacific on a hospital ship are discussing a rumor they’ve heard that American women were now demanding that their men go down on them as they never had before. The soldiers are aghast, proclaiming, “I’ll never eat pussy, it’s right next to their assholes,” and they’re all in agreement—they simply won’t do it. The French, as everyone knew, were a funny race, who fought with their feet and fucked with their face, but not Americans. No way.
          Way. And now here we are, a gutless, emasculated, ball-busted, pussy-licking bunch of wimps who let women make all of the important decisions: where will we live, where will we go for dinner, what will I wear, who will read to the kids at night, who will mow the lawn? etc.
          When I was a kid, in the 1960s, my dad thought he was in charge, but he wasn’t; besides, he was never home. So my mom handled everything, except making the money. My dad’s only job upon returning from work drunk every night was to get pissed-off at everybody, then kick the shit out of me because, with two sisters, I was the only other male, so who else could he take it out on. Admittedly, I was a troublemaker, but so were my sisters. By the time my younger sister got to be about twelve, she took over. Now she decided where were going to eat—my mom stopped cooking when I was fourteen—she decided if we were going to a movie after dinner (I had a lot, but not all, the say-so in the movie selection), and most other family decisions, and we all just went with it. As has been said about wives speaking to and their husbands, “Either you decide, or I’ll decide, but someone’s going to make a decision,” and it’s generally them.
          Thus, I have remained single my whole life. Ain’t no broad tellin’ me what to do, unless of course my mother calls and tells me to do something, in which case I will more than likely do it.
          Chimpanzees are a patriarchal society, and they’re mean and ferocious and will eat their own young; Bonobos, on the other hand, a close cousin of chimps, but much cuter with big sad brown eyes, are a matriarchal society, and they’re tranquil and peaceful and the way you say hello in Bonobo is to fuck. It’s also the way to say: goodbye, how ya doin’? Waz up? You seen Larry? May I pick the mites out of your ear and eat them? Etc. When the women run the show the big issue is no longer war; it’s the children and what’s best for them.
          Have you noticed lately that there is a lot more attention paid to children than there used to be? If you’re my age, 56, you can easily, and happily, remember when nobody gave the slightest shit about kids. Between 3:00 PM when school ended and 6:00 PM when dinner was served, not to mention all weekend, we all did whatever the hell we wanted, entirely unsupervised, without helmets or kneepads, without tutoring (unless we were really fucking up, and, being a huge fuck-up myself, I never had a tutor), nor nearly any after-school anything except sports. We ran wild and nobody cared. It was still too early into the postwar transition from male to female dominance, so men were still under the illusion that they were in charge even though they weren’t.
          However, by the time my friends began having kids, the change was obvious. Unless you live in the ghetto, as many people do, but not most, there are now all kinds of horseshit that kids can not only do after school and on weekends, but there’s quite a bit of it that they’re actually forced to do with their parents, and parents just do it, both husbands and wives. They help their kids with homework and projects and have to mentor them in clubs on the weekend and supervise everything they do and must read to them at night and all kinds of other mishegoss that neither my parents, nor those of most of the other kids I knew, would ever do under any circumstance, ever; not in a million years.
          The difference in generational, male/female, old world/new world thinking was well-put by a Mr. Woody Allen in his motion picture, Stardust Memories, when Charlotte Rambling is going on and on about how everybody in her family has tried to kill themselves, and finally says, “Hasn’t your mother ever tried to kill herself?” Looking horrified, Woody Allen says, “No, my mother never tried to kill herself, she was too busy putting the chicken through the de-flavorizing machine.”

—Josh Becker