Kangaroo court dreaming

By Corky Thatcher

Boy, did I ever have the weirdest dream the other night. It was a Monday, and I must have fallen asleep in front of the TV, just after 11 p.m. Let me try and explain it to you as best as I can remember…

The dream starts with me sitting in a courtroom. Attorneys are talking, debating, making arguments. It’s strange, but I’m the only male here. Suddenly, the nasty realisation hits me like a bucket of cold water: I’m the one on trial!

I look around and begin placing some of the people. The prosecuting attorney is none other than Daylle Deanna Schwartz, author of the just-published book All Men Are Jerks. I think I have an idea of what her beef is. She’s brought along the big guns, too. Behind her are a cast of stern-looking women: Cathy from the newspaper funnies, Valerie Solanas (militant ’60s feminist who shot Andy Warhol and founded the Society for Cutting Up Men), the grrl-rock group l7… things sure aren’t looking good for me. Who’s in my corner?

My eyes brighten as I turn around and scan the faces behind me. Janeane Garafolo waves hi. Journalist and neo-feminist Kate Fillion is there. All my high school English teachers give me a supportive nod. Behind them is Princess Diana. And who’s my defence attorney? Ally McBeal!

McBeal smiles faintly, but gestures in the judge’s direction.

“That’s Judge Andrea Dworkin,” she explains, “one of the angriest feminists around. She was once quoted as saying ‘all men need to come to terms with their inner rapist.’ We’ve got a tough case ahead of us, but I’ll do my best to prove that you’re not really a jerk.”

The dream got all wavy for a minute, then we were in the middle of the trial. Prosecutor Schwartz was ranting.

“As my book says, a woman should treat every man she meets as a jerk until he proves himself otherwise. We’re tired of being treated like crap by you men!” She pointed her finger at me. “When relationships don’t work out, men are usually to blame. We try hard to make our men happy, do our best to accommodate their wishes, make all kinds of sacrifices, but it’s never enough.”

Schwartz then called her witnesses. Sure enough, each one testified in detail about all kinds of bad relationship experiences they had been through, and of course it was the man’s fault each time. My attorney had a tough act to follow. Finally it was time for our side to speak.

“What about my client’s personal history?” McBeal began, waving a handful of folders in the air. “I have depositions here from former girlfriends of my client, all of whom stated that they had never been treated so well by a partner. He’s been kind, generous, good in bed, and most importantly, not a jerk!

“Moreover, the tide of change is turning regarding how new feminists view relationship dynamics. Harvard PhD and writer Katie Roiphe has stated that the systemic problem of male jerk-dom described by Ms. Schwartz ‘exists mainly in the minds of strident feminists.’

“Doctors Cowan and Kinder’s book Smart Women, Foolish Choices is over 10 years old, and even back then they were calling for women to take responsibility for their bad decisions in choosing partners.”

McBeal reached into her attaché case and pulled out a scrap of newsprint.

“And look at this exhibit! From The Calgary Herald, Sept. 28, page a3. A story about how trend-setting women’s magazine Cosmopolitan put out a call for America’s Most Desirable Bachelors, eventually selecting a young man who was soon after charged with date rape!”

She glowed in the moment. “Does this glaring example spell it out clearly enough? It only seems like there are so many jerks out there because this is the type of man that women are most often attracted to!”

As McBeal called our list of witnesses, the dream got wavy again. I wasn’t sure of anything in this bizarre caper, but it seemed like the verdict might actually come down in our favour. I snapped back into things as McBeal was making our closing argument.

“Finally, remember today’s researched testimony from journalist Kate Fillion, who has written most emphatically that ‘female moral superiority is a myth that keeps women strangers to themselves, judges of other women, and fearful and contemptuous toward men.’ I’m sorry, Ms. Schwartz, but not all men are jerks. It’s very prejudicial and unhealthy for women to think this way. My client should not be treated like a scapegoat, and deserves to carry on a normal life.”

Then things in the dream got really weird. Just before Judge Dworkin was about to speak, Alanis Morissette leaped from the spectator’s gallery and punched Cathy right in her cartoonish snout. A brawl ensued.

In the melee I was able to slip out the door unnoticed, avoiding the pandemonium. On the way out I saw Courtney Love strangling Marie Antoinette with a piece of piano wire. Kate Moss was getting her fragile two-percent-body-fat-covered bones kicked by my sister and l7’s drummer.

The last thing I remember seeing was a screaming Barbie being chased by Roseanne, who was cackling maniacally while swinging a massive KFC drumstick like a battleax.

I thought it was all over, but the dream shifted gears again and I fell into a small round room with no doors. Suddenly the roof opened up and Judge Dworkin flew in, except she wasn’t a judge any more, but a chubby demon with horns.

“You don’t get away that easy, mister!” Dworkin shrilled, raising a pitchfork in her right hand. “As long as we women have to suffer at the hands of jerks, then you will suffer too!” She chanted a nasty sounding curse.

“Educated women will misunderstand you. Kind and gentle women will fear you. Popular women will scorn you. Any women who do get close to you will thrive on your kindness, then leave because they won’t be able to deal with your bad luck. When dealing with the fairer sex, May you forever bear this hex!” Then she prodded the pitchfork into my belly. Hard.

Thank goodness this was the very instant when I woke up. I went to the kitchen for a glass of water, then scratched my head for a bit.

Ally McBeal was right. Whatever other ideas were going on in that courtroom, this business of women thinking all men are jerks isn’t doing anyone any good, that’s for damn sure. Lucky for me it was all a dream. Oh, and as for the effects of Judge Dworkin’s curse? Well, it didn’t change my life all that much.

Gareth Morgan can be reached at gdlmorga@ucalgary.ca

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