ON A SCALE of 1 to 10, women appear to be the angriest people in America. They're even angrier than New York Mets fans.
Not all women, of course. There are those who have a sense of mirth and seldom gnash their teeth or let their nostrils quiver.
The angry women are the many who seem to believe that all men are cruel, sexist beasts, constantly looking for ways to do them physical or mental harm. They see enemies in trousers everywhere.
I've been hearing from them lately. They are fuming over a column I wrote about boxer Mike Tyson being sued for $100 million because he placed a hand on the buttock of a beauty queen while posing for a picture.
They not only accuse me of condoning Tyson's conduct but of encouraging the American male population to run amok, pawing at every defenseless buttock in sight.
One of the most furious of them is Jean Birmingham of Glens Falls, N.Y., who wrote:
"I am disgusted and outraged by your sarcastic, mocking attitude toward the suit filed by Rosie Jones against Mike Tyson.
"You seem to imply that, at worst, it was just a lark for Mr. Tyson to fondle Miss Jones' buttocks and Miss Jones should quietly accept this invasion of her privacy and violation of her person."
(That's one of the effects of rage. It can be blinding. In fact, I did not suggest that Miss Jones should have quietly accepted her buttock being patted. She might have screamed, slapped his face, kicked his shins or called the police. But even with inflation and an eager New York lawyer, $100 million seems a bit steep, which was my main point.)
Birmingham thundered on: "The amount of the suit, $100 million, may seem excessive in relation to the offense but would a lesser amount deter Mike Tyson? How much would you charge Mr. Tyson to fondle YOUR buttocks?"
(I doubt if Tyson would want to do that, and his fans would be shocked and disappointed if he did. By all accounts, Tyson is inclined to fondle only female buttocks, which indicates that he is normal in sort of an abnormal way.
(In fact, he has been accused in still another lawsuit of being a "serial buttocks fondler," which might be the first time anyone has ever been so described. This allegation was made by the operator of the Black Miss America Pageant, who said that Tyson established himself as a "serial buttocks fondler" when he fondled the buttocks of about half of the 23 contestants in the 1991 pageant. If true, this would also establish that Tyson, a slugger in the ring, is also much quicker on his feet that he has been credited with. It would require considerable nimbleness to even pat that many buttocks, much less fondle them.
(So to answer Birmingham's question, I don't know how much I would charge Tyson. But if Birmingham fondled my buttocks, I might blush, but I would not sue her for $100 million. In fact, I would not charge her one red cent. Now does that not show that I'm a good sport? And for all I know, she has big, beefy hands or long, sharp fingernails and would cause me grief, misery and humiliation.)
But let us return to Birmingham's fury: "By his actions, Mike Tyson has repeatedly demonstrated his contempt for laws and standards that safeguard the welfare of us all; he gives every evidence of believing that what he wants, he can and will take. The final extension of this kind of attitude can result in rape, robbery or murder."
That's what I mean about this form of female rage. While patting someone's bottom might be boorish behavior, I can't accept that it means the patter is a potential murderer. Football players pat their teammates' bottoms all the time. Does that mean that the next step is sodomy?
Or let us consider the fluttering of eyelashes. There are women who do that, you know. Some not only flutter their eye lashes but they gaze. Yes, gaze, and sometimes at men to whom they are not even wed nor properly introduced. And some even wiggle their hips when they walk.
But does that justify anyone saying that a female who is an eyelash flutterer, a gazer or a hip-wiggler should be labeled as a tart, a doxie, a harlot or a scarlet woman?
Well, if I accept the reasoning of Birmingham, that a buttock patter is only a few steps removed from being a murderer, then it follows that an eyelash flutterer or a gazer is a potential harlot. And I am too much of a gentleman to ever suggest such a thing.
Anyway, I hope Birmingham and all the other angry female persons calm down. And if any male person accidentally bumps into her on an elevator, I hope she doesn't sue for any more than $50 million.
It's a good thing the Soviets have had their crisis. It helps get our mind off these heavy issues.