Posted by Smokey Stover on February 12, 2007
In Reply to: War of the sexes posted by ESC on February 12, 2007
: : : 'War of the sexes' where does the term originate and in what sense?
: : Since "war of the sexes" is a phrase in plain English, it's beyond guessing when and where it started. The actual war, that is, the conflict based on sexual roles, began when the first caveman said, "No, I'm not going to start the fire. You know how to do it, and it's your turn." Or his mate said, "Make your own stupid breakfast, I'm tired of the same old routine. You hungry, you cook!"
: : In a more modern context, it usually involves skirmishes in the battle for women's rights, such as the right to vote, or wear pants, or receive equal pay. Actually, those issues are nowadays usually subsumed in some phrase using the word "sexism."
: : To me, the phrase "war of the sexes" brings up the cartoons of James Thurber, an author who brought his sense of humor to bear on all kinds of subjects, including, in his cartoons, "the war of the sexes." These cartoons, published in the New Yorker magazine in the 1930s and '40s, gently spoofed various gender-based contretemps between men and women.
: : Whether taken seriously, semi-seriously, or humorously, "war of the sexes" is shorthand for all the conflicts that arise between men and women out of their notions of gender-based roles. Whenever these conflicts are to some degree settled, new ones begin, for genetic reasons which even mentioning will start a new skirmish in this never-ending conflict.
: : SS
: The phrase that I've heard most often is "battle of the sexes."
ESC, as a generality you are surely right. As for Thurber, he used the phrase "The War between men and women" in his cartoons, and commentators on Thurber use the phrases "battle of the sexes" and "war between the sexes" pretty much interchangeably. The movie, Battle of the Sexes is based on a Thurber short story, "The Catbird Seat." Personally, I think a series of hostilities that has been going on for at least 150,000 years is more like a war than a battle, but it's a very strange war in which the participants are most often found embracing each other in a non-combative mode.