You know the Doofus. He’s one of the more repellent recurring characters in our cultural narrative, the balding, pudgy, slightly homely, solidly middle class guy with arrested development, limited mental faculties, and a heart of gold. His foil is the good-looking, intelligent, mildly acerbic wife whose slender purpose to the plot is to patiently mother him through all the hilarious scrapes he gets into as a result of his juvenile worldview and pea-brain.
Since his earliest incarnation as prevaricating moron/wife-beater Ralph Cramden in “The Honeymooners,” the Doofus has been honed to a gleamingly neutered edge in TV sitcoms, but he is also used extensively in commercial marketing. He’s the guy who can’t figure out how to clean the toilet, or microwave dinner for the kids, or adjust the KFC bucket so that the Original Recipe is within his reach, without his wife’s stoic yet smug intervention.
That men complain extensively about this unflattering characterization of their species supports my contention that patriarchy is bad for people of all chromosomal configurations, but I’ll leave it to the Endangered Manhood blogs to dissect the anti-dude issues raised by the Doofus. A lone spinster aunt can only do so much.
The misogyny is what concerns us here, and the Doofus is an exemplary tool in in the patriarchal shed. He can’t exist without the wise mother-figure wife, who demonstrates that domestic drudgery is a skill set completely beyond the scope of the puny male mind. You’ll never see a Doofus paired with a dishy sexbot–she is the exclusive property of handsome, powerful men. Corollary: the intelligent woman is such an aberration that she is lucky to have found herself a retarded tub of lard who will let her wash his socks.
Here is a current example of doofusism: an article at CNN.com — I never watch it on TV because it’s always people yelling at each other — commenting on market research showing that women prefer different cars than men do. The author, Peter Valdes-Dapena, adopts the voice of the Doofus, the better to put a humorous spin on the boys vs. girls theme in an article clearly meant for an unimaginative, Hemi-craving male audience. His homily begins:
“If a typical male mind — take mine, since I’m evidently not doing much with it — were expanded to the size of the United States of America, that portion of the mind dedicated to responding to the word ‘enough’ would be the size of a bumper pool table in a New Jersey bar.”
The predictable gist of the car-and-gender study is that men want fast, expensive sports-cars like the Porsche 911, whereas women want cheap, sensible sedans like the Kia Rio. Valdes-Dapena interprets this intelligence to mean that women are unfathomable.
“When it comes to cars,” he writes, “it’s easy to figure out what men are after. It’s women who are complicated.”
Sure, if by “complicated” he means “unpaid maids and childcare workers who earn 25% less than men.” Perhaps because of his tiny man-brain, he is oblivious to the fact that women, as a class, are fiscally unable to consider anything flashier than a Kia Rio. His rudimentary reasoning skills also prevent him from comprehending that women are the ones driving the kids around, and that they can’t fit 2 car seats into a 911.
What a stupid, bogus argument. There can be little doubt that as soon as women get a handful of cash, they, too, start tooling around in fast cars. My own unscientific study, conducted from my own supposedly macho roadster on the streets of Austin, is that the number of bleached blonde heads poking out from the rollbars of Porsches and Corvettes and Beemers is roughly equivalent to the number of greasy heads with hair plugs.
“Women,” quoth Mr. Valdes-Dapena, pleased with his thesis. “Always making stuff complicated.” I bet Mrs. Valdes-Dapena just shakes her head in happy consternation when old Pete whispers that sweet nothing into her ear.