BAKER STREET

by Eric J Baker

I’m probably one of those annoying white dudes who believes women and men are equals. You’re thinking, “Bro, you only say that shit so you can get with chicks.” To that I say: Why not? It works.

Raquel Welch, 1981, by Helmut Newton

Seriously, I do believe women and men are equals, which aggravates a lot of cavemen and prompts some of them to hurl accusations like, “You’re just empowering the feminists, man.” So imagine my chagrin when, in the season opener of Survivor: One World three weeks ago, the cast members were divided into men’s and women’s teams and the women turned out to be the least competent bunch of halfwits who ever put on bandanas and stopped bathing for 39 days.

I used to say that if NASA astronauts traveled to an alien planet and wanted our extraterrestrial hosts to truly understand American culture, they should show them The Simpsons. But I’ve changed my mind. Love it or hate it, Survivor is brilliant at capturing us in a microcosmic setting. The show is a multilayered metaphor for navigating the corporate world, understanding societal conflict wrought by ageism and sexism, managing dysfunctional families, and seeing what happens when people wear the same bikini for a month when eating nothing but rice (it’s not pretty). Survivor is also a metaphor for how gross humans look when covered with 1,163 insect-bite sores, minus the metaphor.

Survivor captures the essence of PFC: A shirtless hunk and a petite Asian chick

I wanted the women on One World to perform well so I could say, “See, women can do whatever men can do, right ladies? Now, who wants to go to bed with me?” But no.

These “Salani” tribeswomen got down to the business of forming alliances before they bothered to set up shelter or make fire or find out who was worth having in an alliance. Meanwhile, in a predictable orgy of homoeroticism, the men stripped off their shirts, artificially lowered the pitch of their voices, and started building a camp out of heavy things. About five seconds into the first immunity challenge of episode one, Kourtney, an artsy tattoo chick/social outcast, broke her wrist jumping into a net (for Christ’s sake, Kourtney. It’s a freaking net. You just have to drop into it) and the women, in essence, defaulted. By the end of the episode, the rest of the girls were at each other’s throats.

In episode two, the women lost a balance-beam competition – a balance-beam competition! –to a bunch of muscle-bound jocks, a midget, and a comically prissy gay guy. The production designers practically handed them a guaranteed victory and the women still got creamed. Worse than that, they kept begging the men to give them fire and make a shelter for them and groveled at every opportunity. The men, led by a grating douche named Matt, flexed their pecs and said, “Uh, no.”

That night, the women voted off the one who looked worst in a swimsuit. Since I’m so enlightened, I became outraged that they got rid of her and not Kat, the useless, dumb blonde who looks much, much, much better in a bikini. Much better. Mmmmm. Kat.

Kat, not helping.

Where was I?

This hapless band of women was so wretched at all aspects of game play that Survivor host Jeff Probst lost his composure and declared they were the worst tribe in Survivor history. They were letting down the entirety of womankind. Hara Kiri was the only dignified option.

By the grace of God, or the fact that the boys are dumb as bricks (albeit organized, muscular bricks), the girls managed to pull out a minor win this week in a reward challenge memory game. The much needed spark lasted less than a minute, as the reward was a canoe and fishing gear. The women were like, “Oh.” Cut to them standing on the beach, looking at the canoe for five seconds, and then walking down to the men’s camp to beg for fire for the hundredth time.

At last came the immunity challenge, which required the contestants to navigate an obstacle course, blindfolded, to collect bags of puzzle pieces while a sighted tribe member called out directions. The men were like, “Take three medium paces. Turn 90 degrees to the left. Take five long paces. Reach up to six feet and three inches off the ground. Pull the cord.”

Kat is equally useful without the blindfold.

The women were like, “Keep going. Go. Faster. Watch out! Turn! Not that way. Turn the other way. No, the other other way.” The poor, blindfolded ladies were led face-first into poles, directed into the woods, and sent toppling over fences in what can only be described as a pathetic slapstick ballet. The men got all five bags of puzzle pieces back to their station while the women were still meandering like drunken bacteria on a giant microscope slide.

The men started building their puzzle. A 3D puzzle. As you probably know, men are typically better than women are at spatial reasoning, which was just proven handily on the obstacle course. About five minutes later, the women finally drifted in with their final puzzle bag, while the men were coasting toward an easy win. The girls handed the jumble of pieces to Sabrina.

Sabrina, heretofore having shown no indication of competiveness or determination in the game (though she’s pretty good with the one-liners), is either an idiot savant or called on divine intervention, because she jammed that goddamned puzzle together in about 10 seconds, triumphantly snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. “Yes!” I cheered. The sisters don’t quit! Girl power! RRRRROARRRRR!!!

Then I remembered I’m a guy and canned that shit pronto.

Because I feel like it. By the way, I wonder what Tuttle thinks of these fine fashions.

I must come off as a pseudo-enlightened phony sometimes, talking about equality while decorating many of my PFC posts with pictures of sparsely attired sex kittens. But almost as annoying as sexist, arrogant blockheads like the aforementioned Survivor contestant Matt – about whom the tribe spoke at the end of the latest episode, thankfully – are the neo-Phil Donahues who act like one can’t be supportive of women and also find them sexually attractive. Somehow, to be turned on by a woman is to degrade her.

I believe women are social equals. Men should not be leading or controlling the discussion about their reproductive rights and practices. If a woman wants to keep her own name and identity upon marriage, she should not be pressured by anyone to compromise. Women can accomplish whatever men can accomplish, though they may go about doing so in a different way, because being equals is not the same thing as being equal.

At the same time, men are visually oriented creatures. We are stimulated by what we see, and to pretend otherwise is artifice. The fact is that we spend a lot of time thinking about getting all up ladies’ stuff. I can respect a woman and also find her sexy, can’t I? And, as long as I don’t make her uncomfortable with inappropriate or unwelcome behavior, I hope this hypothetical woman would consider my all-encompassing admiration to be a compliment.

Really, I don’t know why you bitches can’t get all that into your tiny brains. Jeez.