(Eric Shansby)

Newspapers generally regard reader demographics to be proprietary information, but today I am going to share some with you: The readership of my column heavily skews female. It seems counterintuitive, not just because I am male but also because I, personally, often skew icky and even sexist. My Twitter icon is a soft mound of poo. I have been known, in print, to unapologetically appreciate the female form. In short, I’m not just a man, I’m a guy. But for some reason, women read me in disproportionate numbers.

I contend it is because I often make it clear that I think women are better than men — equal in intellect, superior in morality and temperament. This annoys my editor, Tom the Butcher. Tom feels I am cynically trawling for hearts — that I am the equivalent of the college guy who wears a “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like” T-shirt so he can score with babes. More to the point, Tom also contends I am wrong on the facts — women, he says, are just as flawed in their own ways as men are. He dared me to watch a few episodes of “The Real Housewives of New York City” and then meet with him back here to defend my thesis. I have done so.

Tom: Well?

Me: You were right. I take it all back. Women are loathsome, parasitic, half-human creatures. They are succubi — ghastly, ghoulish, suffocating, vampiric denizens of an emotional demimonde in which friendships are hollow and affection is a commodity to be dispensed, withheld or traded for sport, vengeance or material gain. Women are aggressively unintelligent and uninteresting but somehow also wildly egocentric. They are spiteful and backstabbing and vituperative and promiscuously cruel. They are more petty than a zoo containing baby llamas and preschoolers with nippled milk bottles.

Tom: Okay, that last thing’s a terrible analogy.

Me: I have lost the ability to be clever or ironic; women have sapped me of it, because they are utterly unaware of their own vileness. Rather than marry a woman, I would marry a sumo wrestler. Or a goat.

Gina: No, you wouldn’t. You like women, and respect them. You’re just a little upset right now.

Tom: Gina Barreca? What are you doing here?

Gina: Gene needs help. I’m here for him.

Tom: Gene is doing fine without you! Go away!

Gina: I have watched the same episodes he did. The show is a lie. The women of “The Real Housewives of New York City” are not, in fact, “real.” They are Botoxed and implanted and re-carved with scalpels. They are also not women, nor housewives, nor from New York City. They seem to spend most of their time on beaches in the Hamptons, but they’re not from there, either. They are from a made-up world, a modern, evil commedia dell’arte featuring surreal, stock characters: the whiner, the worrier, the b----, the shrew and the man-eater. With her eight fingers, yellow skin and blue, beefeater hair, Marge Simpson is more of a real woman than anyone on this show.

Tom: I contend the harridans in the show are exhibiting negative female traits — exaggerated to dysfunction, of course — but still recognizable. Just as pro wrestling exaggerates negative male traits.

Gina: Really?

Tom: Yes.

Gina: Which of these universally female negative traits, then — even in dainty, adorable microcosm — do you see in your wife?


Gina: Think it through. I’ll give you some time. We want to get this right, now don’t we?


Gene: Women can maybe be a teensy bit manipulative, perhaps.

Gina: We can. A teensy bit.

Gene: I love you, Gina.

Gina: You love all women.

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