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Friday, December 29, 2017

Annals of Casual Misogyny

At the airport bar in LAX, a middle-aged guy talking on cellular at the opposite end from me, but loud enough so I could hear, kept saying that "Jesse" had "too much estrogen in his life." That same phrase, and variations of it, ("an overdose of estrogen") over and over again, maybe a dozen times. The conversation drifted a bit, but at the end came back to the estrogen. I gathered that he was a kid living with his mother and maybe another female relative or two. The cell phone guy was suggesting that he come to visit the kid Jesse, and, I guess, supply some other kind of sex hormones in his life? It was obviously a turn of phrase that he was very proud of, and to make himself understood he had to hammer it home. I have no idea who is was talking to. I don't think estrogen is contagious, nor that you can absorb it by living around women, and the metonymy: women = estrogen is rather lame, especially when repeated 15 damn times.


Thomas said...

Memo from Jean-Paul Sartre: "But what are the particular occasions that create this uneasiness in us? The Myth of Sisyphus gives us an example. 'A man is talking on the telephone. We cannot hear him behind the glass partition, but we can see his senseless mimicry. We wonder why he is alive?' This answers the question almost too well, for the example reveals a certain bias in the author. The gesturing of a man who is telephoning and whom we cannot hear is really only relatively absurd, because it is part of an incomplete circuit. Listen in on an extension, however, and the circuit is completed; human activity recovers its meaning. Therefore, one would have, in all honesty, to admit that there are only relative absurdities and only in relation to 'absolute rationalities.'"

The argument can of course be extended indefinitely: hearing one side of the conservation is little better than hearing isolated words or just seeing him behind glass. After all, we can do be better than "listen in on an extension". We can know Jesse, his mother, the person talking, the person he's talking to. Suppose his mother was a heroin addict and he said "too much heroin in his life". He wouldn't be imagining contagion but the associated behavior. Not even "too much booze" would necessarily carry the association that the kid's actually drinking. (Granted I remember a guy once complained about a there being too much hash in his son's life because the ex-wife smoked too many joints. Here he was actually worried about second-hand smoke.)

Anonymous said...

Ha! I've got a friend raised by his mother and an infinite number of sisters. The estrogen did him good. He can cook, decorate a house, and wrap presents in an artistic manner. It's very convenient not to have to do these things for him. It doesn't seem to affect the machismo, which makes it funny, another advantage.