By Emily Smith
Assistant Opinion Editor
This article is part of The Griffin Goes Back, which is a series dedicated to considering Opinion (once called “Viewpoint”) articles from years past and interpreting the same subject now. Ultimately, the goal of this series is to consider the many ways in which either our campus or our culture has changed in the last several decades. We’re sure it’ll contain some interesting anachronisms. The original article titled, “‘Normal’ is all men are” is from September 20, 1996 by Adam E. Kisailus.
In the Fall semester of 1996, former Canisius College student Adam E. Kisailus wrote a riveting article for this paper about sexism towards men in recent media. He specifically cited the show Men Behaving Badly to back up his points that people at that time were out to get men and demonize all of their bad habits. The sitcom, airing on NBC for one and a half seasons before ending tragically because of low ratings, followed two male roommates, Kevin and Jamie, as they navigated love, life, and their insatiable need to be constantly sloppy and vulgar. I honestly have no idea why the show ended so quickly; it’s a real tragedy. While to me, this buffoonery sounds relatively harmless, to Adam, it was an insult to his gender.
However, what Adam doesn’t realize is that the language he is using perpetuates the exact male stereotype that he is fighting so hard to get rid of.
Let’s start with the pervading sexism, shall we? He states, “…the laundromat is a great place to meet a girl: in fact, that is how a housemate of mine over the summer met his girlfriend and a source of free meals. The writer of this show would probably consider this usury, but in fact, it is survival. Without women, men would starve or die of salt poisoning from Ramen noodles.”
Oh man, where to even start with this? Adam eloquently refers to his housemate’s girlfriend as a “source of free meals,” but argues that it’s okay that he’s using her because it’s actually a primal instinct for his own survival. With this language, I don’t think anyone would be that mad if they did starve or die of salt poisoning.
He continues, “Men, of course, are more susceptible to halter tops, belly rings, and those nice satin shirts, simply because they are human and sexuall [sic] programmed to be attracted to such things.”
The transition from sexism to compulsory heterosexuality is so graceful, the reader barely even knows it’s there. Adam uses the argument of men as being “sexually programmed” to being attracted to such things as a way to justify approaching a cute girl in a club (or a laundromat) and objectifying her through a pickup line or a clumsy advance. Of course, what Adam fails to realize is that, surprise, some girls are pretty into those halter tops too, but you certainly don’t see us objectifying women left and right. Perhaps that’s because, unlike Adam, we possess the knowledge that women are more than just belly rings and free meals, but in fact, real, living, human beings.
Our dear Viewpoint Columnist wraps his argument up by saying, “‘Men Behaving Badly’ is obviously written from the viewpoint of a woman… It is a shame to think that after so many successful advances in equality, differences have to be insinuated based on innocent mannerisms of men…”
And how right Adam is. After centuries of sexual liberation, higher pay, respect, power, implied dignity, educational rights, and political control, how dare NBC release a sitcom making fun of men for their sexism, homophobic, “stereotypically barbaric activities”? By the way, this gem of a show was created by a man named Matthew Carlson.
Thankfully, as the years have passed and men and women alike have become more educated about gender inequality, less and less people think the way that Adam does. Unfortunately, there are a few that still do. As we move forward into a new presidency, it’s important to understand that our dear friend Adam E. Kisailus and President Trump probably share some of the same ideas. Of course, Adam’s article is from 21 years ago, while Trump is releasing sexist statements every day.
I want to wish Adam well and hope that his beliefs about women have changed with the times. I do not, however, want to wish our president the same glad tidings. 21 years is a lot of years to change your opinions, but apparently no amount of time is enough to sway our child of a president to see women in a different light than Adam did, circa 1996. Adam, wherever you are, I hope you’re praying for us.