Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gendering Remotes

What is it about men that makes them, in a room full of other people, grab the remote and switch the channel continually?

It feels like such a territorial move, done totally unaware (I'll give them credit for not trying to be rude on purpose) that other people even exist.

When I was in high school, in a biology class, seated at two person desks, alphabetically, making some point about gender, the teacher pointed out that the boy sharing the desk with me had his stuff over about 75% of the desk. And yet, the boy did the same thing every single day, even after it had been pointed out to him (by the teacher).

The way men handle remotes reminds me of that.

What really bothers me is that I'm too anxious about being labeled a shrew or something to tell the man who's doing it to just settle on a channel and put down the effing remote. Or I could just walk over and take it from his hand. That would shock everyone.

(Yes, it's possible that there are women just as guilty, but I've watched TV with both men and women, and never had a woman change channels like that without consulting other people in the room about choices. And I've had a lot of men do it.)

Okay, now I've vented.


  1. As a man - not a representative of men - let me say that grabbing the remote and channel-surfing in a room of other people is a truly dickish move. The Wife chimes in with "socially unacceptable." It ranks just below changing the host's playlist at a party. It's rude and unthoughtful.

    That said, I read your post to my wife and neither she nor I are comfortable relegating this behavior solely to the realm of men. ("What is it about men that makes them...") She adds, "It's a behavior of the inconsiderate. Perhaps men do it more, but I've witnessed some women in waiting rooms pull the same shenanigans."

    Just our two cents.

    Still, you'd be totally within your rights to tell anyone (male or female) to settle on a channel and put down the remote. Seriously.

  2. i'll go with socially unacceptable, even if my main experience with the phenomenon has been the guys in my family. (i don't think they actually do this kind of thing with other people.)

    perhaps the people you are speaking of are out of practice with a shared TV? i don't think there's anything wrong with asking to settle on a channel since more than one person is watching. just make the request politely, and say thank you. you can't be the only one who is driven to distraction.

  3. One of my friends who's trans (FTM) posted a YouTube video essay from another FTM trans, sort of on this topic. He (the guy making the video essay) says that he has found, now that he's learning how to pass (his verb) for male, that the way to do this most successfully is to be (to use J. Harker's verb above) dickish.

    Interesting verb, btw.

    In other words, he acts in ways (and this is how he describes it in the video essays -- I can't find the link, or I'd link it) that as a woman he would have found rude and socially unacceptable: he doesn't pay attention when people talk, he eats when people are talking to him, he does a bad job at work, he doesn't look at people talking to him, he *acts* *like* someone with male privilege.

    I've noticed, since I watched his essay, all the ways my perfectly decent Nigel and his perfectly decent friends do the same thing. Yes. They do.

    For instance: I was at my writing group recently. Liberal progressive guys. I like them all. The guys did, I would say, 85% of the talking? And when women talked, they did (mostly) listen, but they (often) interrupted us.

    I could go on. But this is long enough already.

  4. I hear you folks. I'm not saying this is typical of all men, but that when I've experienced it, a man has been holding the remote.

    And it probably irritates me more than most because as someone who lives alone, I'm totally used to hogging the remote myself. But I wouldn't feel comfortable doing that in a group.

  5. it is totally not about you being "irritable" because you live alone. it's about the rudeness and lack of consideration for others.