Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sex snobs

Last night we went to hear Elisabeth Gilbert talk at our local theatre. It was a full house, about 1,100 capacity. That's a lot of women gathered in one place! The pre-show buzz was in a higher octave than usual.

You could count the number of men. One was beside me. A woman about our age suddenly sat down next to M (hub) and started up a conversation:

'Well I must say it's nice to see this is not a woman's-only event'.

Hmmm... she was definitely hitting on him. 'My wife's a writer', M said, as quickly as civility allowed, before the conversation got too personal, 'so she's here in a professional capacity' (only partly), he added, with a dash of pride, I thought. The woman drew in her chin and suddenly remembered her daughter on the other side. There's definitely a shortage of men willing to listen to Elisabeth Gilbert.

And the truth of the matter is that I suggested we go see Gilbert in part because we go to so many live events by men, other than the writers' festival, which is slightly more female than male. But we've been to see Stephen Fry and Alan Davies, separately, as well as Lenny Henry, Eddie Izzard and Danny Boy, Billy Connelly, Eric Clapton and the Flight of the Concords. We've also seen Clive James live and a play about two gay Kiwi cooks, Hudson and Halls. We've heard Thomas Keneally talk and U2 sing. For all these performances the audiences were like real life: 50/50 male/female.

On the female performance front it's rather bleaker. Apart from Liz Gilbert we've seen French and Saunders - their last performance ever as French and Saunders, in fact - Melissa Etheridge and, briefly, Sandi Toksvig, the new QI host, at a writers' festival gig. We've also been to hear Julia Gillard (former Australian PM) talk, but we've attended various political talks by men, many actually, so we cant really count Julia.

So that's it for the women! Three to four live gigs.

In all of these performances by women, the audience was so female-dominated you felt there were no men there at all. It was even more so than at the ballet, which we have also seen, though mostly I have taken our daughter, and there are men in those performances anyway. But at Gilbert's talk, you could pick the men out in the audience like you pick out red heads - well, I don't, but some do. There were a maximum of 20 in the auditorium, I reckoned, based on the three in my wide vision, four including the one sat next to me. 20 out of 1,100 is less than 2%.

And she was great, Liz Gilbert. 'Funny!' M said, slightly surprised. She's a born story-teller so she told us a great story about her German book tour, with all the suspense, drama and humour of a classic good story. She's a natural and an original entertainer, both valuable and rare qualities, but somehow men generally don't care to know more about her or women like that. They don't read their books and they don't go to hear their talks.

Men are sex snobs, in short, and that rhymes (with talks), so it must be true.