So a 12-year-old wrote a "funny book" about understanding women. It merely states: "You can't. The end." This is not funny. It's sexist. It's a narrative that plays out in the daily lives of women, perpetuating vacuous stereotypes and achievement gaps.

Something like this hits the internet and most people laugh. LOL. Funny. I love laughing. Laughing is awesome.

But this isn't funny. This is sexist.

But if I say this on the internet in response to the "funny" kid's "book," I will receive one response above all others: "Calm down. Stop being so dramatic. Lighten up."

But I won't.

As long as we continue laughing at sexist depictions of women, sexist mentalities will continue to evolve and develop in our cultural psyche, passed on to new generations as "funny" and manifesting in tangible ways in the lives of women.

And here's why: As long as we continue laughing at sexist depictions of women, sexist mentalities will continue to evolve and develop in our cultural psyche, passed on to new generations as "funny" and manifesting in tangible ways in the lives of women.

As long as this junk evokes humor rather than disdain, we will continue to internalize these narratives. But it's got nothing to do with "hurt feelings" or some other vague sensitivity. The problem is that these narratives are enacted in very real, material ways.

Allow me to illustrate. The reason the "women can't be understood" narrative is misogynistic and profoundly detrimental to equality between the sexes is that it's rooted in the idea that women are irrational, emotionally unstable beings. Hence, they "can't be understood."

While I wish it meant, "Women are just so brilliant they're too complex to be understood," you and I both know that's not what we're dealing with here.

Women's intellects are just so vast you can't understand them.

Yeah. Nice, but not this story.

This story says that females just get so lost in their emotional natures they lose touch with reality. Our poor intellects are compromised by that crazy woman gene that makes us all a bunch of moody, overly-sensitive, mercurial humans who should probably just be ignored. I mean, isn't that what you do with irrational people? Ignore them until they calm down, dismiss them as "nuts" and move on with your life?

Yeah, but that's not really the problem either. Let's think about the real-life implications of the concept that women are irrational beings. Let's think about the workplace, particularly positions of power. Does an irrational, emotional person belong there?

No.

How about politics? Does emotional instability work there?

No.

Science? Engineering? Medicine? Technology?

No.

Wow. That's interesting. Those are the exact arenas in which women are vastly underrepresented: Science, engineering, technology, politics and high finance. Amazing. I'm sure it's purely coincidental.

Actually, now that I think about it, emotional instability and irrationality pretty much disqualify you from any professional job, position of power or political appointment. (Or any professional career at all, for that matter.)

Maybe it's because we're all just a bunch of overly-sensitive, emotional nut jobs who should probably just stay in those "sensitive" positions more closely aligned with our genetic makeup (nurturing, gentle natures). Namely, ones without power, and of course, those that don't require too much sound reasoning and intellect. You never know when our emotions may "get in the way" of our thinking, leaving us powerless in the face of our "feelings."

We're all such "feelers," you know. Just big ol' balls of raw nerves. I'm actually weeping as I write this. You know, because I'm just so sad.

Gender inequality

It's probably best to leave the big jobs to the men, the ones with the reliable intellects and reasonable natures. That way, we can be duly governed as needed. When we get out of line (emotionally), somebody will be there to take control. Because irrational, insane people need help. They need somebody to shepherd them back into reality. They need somebody to think and reason for them.

Yeah, maybe I've gone into the hyperbolic. Maybe. But it's really not that much of a stretch, is it? If women are irrational beings who "can't be understood," how the hell are they going to function in worlds that require sound reasoning and intellectual reliability?

And you know, things are funny because they resonate. They're supposed to be "real."

But how often do we actually ask ourselves, "Is this real?" Are all women really unstable, overly emotional humans? Do all women place feelings over intellect to the point that they're simply "not understandable?" And is this something unique to women?

Emotion often gets in the way of reason at some point, whether you're male or female. All humans are irrational, overly sensitive and unreliable at some point.

It sure sounds like a human trait to me. Emotion often gets in the way of reason at some point, whether you're male or female. All humans are irrational, overly sensitive and unreliable at some point. Sometimes I'm the one having a temper tantrum. Sometimes it's my husband.

And yes, I may have hormones that fluctuate, resulting in shifts in my moods, but that doesn't negate the presence of extreme mood swings in my husband, does it? Sometimes he's the one angry or upset for no apparent reason, and I'm the one looking at him going, "What the heck is wrong with you? I thought we were having a nice evening."

But why don't I see memes talking about men being "impossible to understand?" Why is that stereotype reserved for females?

Maybe because it's not a trait that's valued in our society. We are people of reason, of action, of intellect. That emotional crap will get you nowhere. So maybe the patriarchal structure of American society has deflected the "emotional" side of human existence to its construction of the female gender, to justify women's exclusion from positions of power.

According to the numbers, it's sure been working well.

Of course, I have a little trouble with numbers. My female brain can't quite handle all that logic. I think I'll go cry in a corner until somebody saves me, preferably on a white horse.

Our daughters

OK, all joking aside, these messages are not funny, and as parents we should be thinking about how they will play out in the lives of our daughters. If you're like me, I'm sure you're doing your best to develop balanced emotional/intellectual natures in your kids — male and female.

What does it mean that our daughters will be assumed to be irrational, less intellectual and more emotional than our sons? What does it mean for their futures? What does it mean for society?

And what, if anything, are we doing to change it?

More on gender

Keeping our girls in math and sciences
Your little girl is not a princess
What's wrong with being a girl?

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