The Tellie Sage: Look Out Survivor Feminists

Like most civilized human beings, I grew up on the principle that “everybody is equal”. Discriminating against others on the basis of race, sexuality or gender is not just politically incorrect, but offensive and wrong. Through my tenure at high school in the whitewashed small town of Lindsay, ON, I was one of the most liberal and open-minded people you could meet. I protested bigotry of any form and I fought against my family’s chauvinistic views of gender roles in both the home and the workplace.

But enough of that. I’m now graduated from a “multicultural” university and I’ve learned a few things along the way. People aren’t really as equal as our higher-minded institutions and parentals lead us to believe. Genetics and upbringing are responsible for considerable differences in those of varying racial backgrounds and between the sexes. Don’t believe me? Take a judgmental look around you or consult the nearest neuro-pyschologist. But before you go on thinking this article will be about revealing the philosophical BS of PC ambitions toward idealistic equality, based on my enlightening university experience, remember this IS a TV column. Between being screwed out of scholarships because of reverse racist / gender-quota crap, I got addicted to the greatest study of human behavior and social dynamics. That’s right, Survivor is what taught me that men are, for the most part, superior to women.

Now I should also mention, as a bit of a disclaimer, that the real inspiration for this tirade was my infuriation at the vote-off of Stephenie last-week in Palau (ironically a rare exception to the gross generalizations I’m about to make). Yes, it was a long-time coming and yes, when you boil it down, any castaway would’ve been clueless not to have considered extinguishing Steph’s torch. My problem is the context of the vote-out, which I blame on the feeble-minded, naive femininity, of Janu’s dyke-in-training comrade, Caryn.

For those of you who don’t watch Survivor religiously, the masterful editing last week indicated that Stephenie was making stellar progress in reversing the seal of her fate by crafting a potential all-female alliance against the more threatening boys. Katie and ex-Gregg lackey Jennifer were biting the bait (give them credit, at least they realize they’re no match for the boys), the only wrench in the system was convincing the outcast civil rights attorney of the plan. But then Caryn was pulled aside by firefighter Tom, who knew something was fishy and told her he’d look out for her if she’d do the same for him. Next thing we know, Caryn is naively revealing to Tom the Females-crafted plan to target Tom as the number one threat in the event he loses immunity. Katie and Jennifer are forced to briskly deny any such consideration and stick with the original plan to send Stephenie packing.

If idiot-brained Caryn thought for even a second, she would realize that she places no higher than 4th in either an alliance with the men or the women. Now, being a middle-aged, typically weaker-than-the-males female, wouldn’t it be considered just a bit more apt to get rid of the tougher physical competition than the younger ladies? She’s just another example of the dumb-trusting-female that’ll listen to the wise words of any authoritative man who promises her security. And the only reason she may make it far in this game because she’s useless and non-threatening.
However, behavior like Caryn’s isn’t exceptional in Survivor, nor, really, is it in the real world. Flashback to Africa. Remember Kim Johnson? The same scenario played out when the unassuming old lady believed Lex and Ethan valued the alliance held with her. Theresa made all attempts to convince her out of it, to play an active role in the game, but she was more content with her “protective men”. Again, the only reason Kim J., made it to the final two (and was squashed 5-2, I might add) is because she’s not threatening and easy-to-take-advantage-of. Why vote off a weak female who doesn’t pose a threat and will do everything you tell her to when there are power-hungry individuals to worry about.

A not-so-strong rebuttal to my argument might be that more women have won Survivor, or made it further in the game, than men have. As any aficionado of the show is aware, after the merge, the gameplay shifts from the team-based format to individually based challenges. Also interesting is that with rare exceptions, the first targeted are the strong, healthier men, i.e., the Colby-types manifested in Hunter from Marquesas, Ken from Thailand, Dave in the Amazon and Andrew and Ryan O. of the Pearl Islands. Post-merge, women (of the opposing tribal majority) typically last longer than men because the mentality is that they don’t stand a chance of winning the immunity, so they can be voted out, “whenever”. The best case study is the Marquesas’ finale. The final council was between “too-much-drama” Vecepia and brain-dead loyal biblethumper Neleh. I don’t think anybody would disagree that besides Vecepia’s convenient under-the-radar approach to the gameplay, these two women are the most undeserving final two and least strategic this show has ever seen.

If Survivor truly represents a slice of real life, than with few exceptions, women are inferior to men. It’s a given that they’re nowhere near as physically strong, agile or enduring as their male counterparts, and with the handful of exceptions (Gretchen, Kathy, Heidi, Teresa, Stephenie), usually one-per-season max, they’re not as strategically aware, competitive or as hard-working. This season’s been chock-full of the typical female: whiny and lazy (Janu and Caryn, and the lineup of girlies in Ulong) and completely useless. At least when a man’s an idiot (i.e. Jeff or Gregg), you can exploit him in more ways than one for his hot muscles.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love powerful women, from warrior barbarians like Xena to methodical masterminds like Captain Janeway or Seven-of-Nine, buttkickers like Buffy and heartless assassins like Nina Mayer in 24. But alas, these characters are truly fictional. Survivor has taught me that strong women like Stephenie are glimmering exceptions to the ruling class of girls who can’t even carry 20 pounds for five minutes to win a million dollars.

Boy am I glad to be gay.