say your piece
ISSUE NO.
155 30 OCTOBER 2003
 
theArts
A Man in a Man's World:
'The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?" Is a Man's Guide to Manly Excuses
By Rachael Sawyer
 
Robert Dubac's clever writing doesn't quite match his ability to insult women and make broad generalizations in his one-man show.

f you were holding your breath for a live theater version of “The Man Show,” you may now exhale. No, not like that, Jesus, don’t sigh like a girl…

Robert Dubac’s “The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?” is a 90-minute one-man show about what’s really going on inside the male psyche, and it’s playing at the Jeanné Wagner Theatre, where you have to wear pants. Comedy Central’s “The Man Show” is half an hour and you can watch it in your boxers. You decide.

“The Male Intellect” stages the male brain. Our only character, Bobby (played by the author), acts as a tour guide, explaining that stage right represents the right side of the brain, the rational side, where the male thoughts occur. This half of the stage is haphazardly filled with beer and an ugly couch—and a filing cabinet filled with more beer.

Rational readers no doubt will have anticipated that stage left must therefore represent the emotional, female side of the brain, as depicted by some billowy curtains upon which a hot-pink light is projected. This blinding pinkness pulsates to the rhythm of a disembodied voice, sounding as if it were the voice-over emanating from some intergalactic Oxygen Network documentary, whenever Bobby’s “feminine side” decides to tell him something.

Bobby addresses the audience from the depths of his distress and confusion: The woman of his dreams left after he told her he needed space. She said she would call after two weeks. As he sits by the phone waiting, he reflects on this baffling state of affairs.

Through his depiction of “The Chauvinists,” a parade of stereotypes such as The Colonel and Fast Eddie, Bobby insists that these men taught him from childhood how to be an asshole. He then embarks on a heroic journey toward sensitivity, guided by the blinding pink voice-over.

In the rich tradition of The Rules and Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, Dubac builds upon what he insists are “genetically encoded” differences between males and females to argue that working for true equality between the sexes is hopeless because penises make men too stupid to change.

According to this school of self-help literature, it’s not that men are oppressing women, it’s just that even if they were listening to women, they couldn’t grasp what it is that women want.

After all, if men can’t match their belt and shoes, how can we expect them to understand the fantastically complex workings of female desire?

It’s a simple and well-worn formula: Flatter the women in the audience enough to begin with and they may laugh at sexist jokes later on. Not laughing proves you’re a fat, ugly, lesbian, prude anyway.

The warm, tingly good news of “The Male Intellect” is that a little manipulation can get him to belch less, stop calling you a bitch and remember your brother’s name. Not to mention put up with your irrationality and inability to manipulate numbers or quit vehemently resenting your cat. Ah, romance…

What is preached here is that women ultimately need security from their relationships. What actually emerges is a portrait of male insecurity, transferred into a conviction that all women are constantly looking out for the “bigger, better deal,” hoping to trade up.

The best lines in the script, such as “I’m glad I’m not a woman, ’cause then I’d be a slut,” scratch the surface of the real issues at hand, then quickly dissolve into platitudes as the show marches on in its insistence that men and women are entirely different creatures.

“The Male Intellect” is, like most products of the “men’s movement,” extremely self-indulgent. The one-man show formula is somewhat of a handicap—it all-too-easily lends itself to artistically lazy ego trips on the part of the author.

The worst thing about this show by far is that Dubac undoubtedly believes he’s doing women a valuable service. A close second is that, as the preview of his new material after the show proved, he is a talented writer.

I’d be lying if I gave you the impression I didn’t laugh at “The Male Intellect” at all. Its descriptions of the lies men tell in relationships are just plain funny. Most of its material applies to both sexes and would be more humorous if presented that way.

But assertions such as that there isn’t a man alive who wouldn’t bleed once a month if it kept him from going bald fail to elicit my sympathy. This “men have their problems too” response to gender relations only prompts me to make bitchy statements like, “Oooh, I feel soooo sad to think of all those men who have to ask their secretaries to clear their afternoon so they can get Rogaine prescribed under health plans that won’t cover birth control!”

I know it seems like I really have it out for this show, and yes, I am a fat, ugly, lesbian prude, but actually I would recommend that women who for some reason are with total assholes take them to “The Male Intellect.”

It may be a good starting point for conversations about gender. It’s not automatically going to get you to feminism, but it does create a safe, nonthreatening environment in which he won’t get defensive and shut down on you. Maybe he’ll be more willing to go to a play which will actually challenge gender stereotypes and confront gender inequities next time. Or you could just dump him.

“The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?” plays through Nov. 9 at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. University of Utah students and staff can get a two-for-one discount by bringing their IDs to the box office for every performance through Wednesday, except Saturday. Call 355-ARTS or visit www.ArtTix.org to buy tickets or for more information.
rachael@red-mag.com

 
     
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