What if “12 Angry Men” was “12 Angry Women?”
Twelve different women on a jury for a murder trial in Chicago, and the accused was a man—just a man. One woman has tickets to the Lyric Opera and hopes to get out ASAP. One woman has a horrible summer cold. Another is a stockbroker checking the paper. One a charismatic ad exec.
And one woman, during the first round of voting, is the only one who doesn’t vote guilty. She says, “He’s just a kid. He had a miserable 18 years. I think we just owe him a few words is all.”
The woman with the summer cold says, “I don’t mind telling you this, sister: We don’t owe him anything. He got a fair trial. Listen, I’ve lived among them all my life. You can’t believe a word they say, you know that. I mean they’re born liars.”
If you’ve watched the Henry Fonda film from 1957, (when it was not legal for a woman to be on a jury), or its remake, or seen it in a theater, you’ll know that Juror #10 is clearly racist, even though the ethnicity of the suspect purposefully isn’t mentioned.
But it’s an interesting exercise in gender swapping that I find fascinating. I imagine that in my daughter’s lifetime, it might make no detectible difference whether the jurors are male or female. I imagine and I hope that another generation down the line, hatred of the genders will abate. Maybe transgenderness will become more acceptable. But I don’t think that will change the way men look at women.
At my current job, there are two guys who work together in the office next to mine. They are both minorities in this town, and represent the Christian and the Muslim faith. What they find to talk about is women; females are their common ground.
They measure every woman up, down, left, right. Her looks—body part by body part in detail and comparison shopping—her actions, her reactions, her faults, her dimensions. Not her mind, never her ideas, thoughts, generosity, or career.
Today, Rhianna and Beyonce were the hot topic of conversation. “That chick was fuckin’ hot, you know?” “Hell, yeah. I could get inside that.” “Jay Z is a motherfucker. He doesn’t deserve her.” “She just wants someone to love.” “I could be a better fucking husband, let me try.”
And, on the negative side, “I don’t trust no bitches for as far as I can throw ’em.”
When the topic turned to one of their girlfriends who kept calling, they discussed her like she was an object, a vile, trouble-ridden ball-and-chain. My favorite line was, “I fucking hope Jesus helps her ass.”
My high school senior son was hanging out in my office that afternoon reading Descartes (seriously). I apologized to him for their rude talk. He shrugged his shoulders. Which made me more worried. When the next door conversation turned to even more cussing, I poked my head around the corner.
“I lived in Chicago. I use the F-word. But this is work. Can you please clean it up?”
“Did we say the F-word?” they asked in complete lying denial.
“Even as an adverb,” I answered.
But they were right back at it. I let the teen borrow my headphones.
What if they talked just as passionately, but about things that actually mattered?
“Fuck, that chick—she is one smart female.” “I could get inside that brain, I’m telling you.” “That bitch has crazy-ass ideas for inventions.”
“Jesus, I fucking hope Harvard helps her ass.”