Funny, It Must Be a Guy Thing

December 14, 2009
Posted by Jay Livingston

Here’s a question (not taken from a publisher’s test-bank) from the final exam I gave today:
2. One observer of culture commented, “I'll tell you what I like about Chinese people. They're hanging in there with the chopsticks. You know they've seen the fork; they're staying with the sticks. I don't know how they missed it— going out all day on the farm with a shovel. Come on: shovel — spoon. You're not plowing 50 acres with a couple of pool cues.”

To say that using chopsticks instead of a fork and spoon is like plowing land with pool cues — this idea is an example of
a. particularism
b. ethnocentrism
c. the sociological imagination
d. group polarization
I offered a bonus point to anyone who could identify the culture critic who was the source of the quote. (Answer here.)

I didn’t realize it when I was composing the exam, but I was guilty of sexism. None of the females in the class even took a guess. Most of the guys did, and sixty percent of them got it right. I might as well have asked which NFL teams Brett Favre has played for (or hasn’t played for).

I do know at least one female Montclair sociology graduate who would have nailed the bonus point. But in general, comedy, especially stand-up, seems to be a guy thing, and I’m not sure why.

Maybe I should have used a quote from Gray’s Grey’s Anatomy.


Anonymous said...

First, I had a recent experience at a Korean restaurant where I was served a bowl of salad. Usually, they put forks out for those clients who don't appear Asian (in addition to the chopsticks). They didn't and I ate my salad with chopsticks.

I have to admit that it makes more sense than eating salad with a fork because you are not having to fight with food to stay on the fork. (Especially things like croutons, onion, and olives) Additionally, using chopsticks shifts more of the portioning from during the meal (cutting up pieces with a knife and using a fork to stabilize, for example) to during the preparation.

After a fashion, chopsticks are either a result of or a factor in the thoroughness of preparation for meals.

I wonder if this is a common factor (levels of forethought and preparation for tasks) in cultures using chopsticks versus those cultures who do not?

Newsocprof said...

I'm laughing... But more importantly, the women would know that it is Grey's Anatomy (with an 'e', assuming you are referring to the television show).

As I told you earlier, I am now prepping undergrad methods and love the last post in the GSS stress question. Expect a lot of blog hits from out west as I refer my students to your blog next quarter!

trrish said...

Of course that is Jerry Seinfeld :-)

I can't believe comedy is a guy thing. Maybe there is another factor at play. Intelligence? Depression? Family history? Testosterone level? Guess I'm gonna have to 'trrish up' and read more about it :-)

Jay Livingston said...

Trrish, don't you mean you're going to have to trrish up and write more about it?