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Lelia Nebeker

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Schoolyard Survivor: There's No Chivalry in the Jungle

Posted: 02/16/2012 1:17 pm

No sooner had Jeff announced to the new crop of survivors that they would be divided into tribes of men and women than the entire group devolved into grade school boys-versus-girls rivalry. Survivor has done men versus women in the past, but this is the first time they've shared the same living space.

Personally, I find it somewhat painful to watch, because I never feel like my gender is well represented on this show, but it really is an interesting study in gender politics. One might assume that with a group of mature adults, the tribes would be able to maintain some air of civility, but you would be utterly mistaken.

I might be a little biased (girls rule, boys drool!), but I think it's safe to say that the boys started it. Michael the banker stole a fair amount of supplies from the girls' pile during their opening race to strip the truck of all useful materials. This move reminded me a little bit of Rupert (a Survivor fan favorite), except that Rupert was a loveable pirate, and Michael is a sleazy banker with a vaguely menacing smile. Needless to say, inter-tribal relations were not off to a good start. Of course, at this point, they didn't realize they'd be sharing a beach for the foreseeable future. It was like a giant sandbox, and the boys and girls were definitely not sharing their toys.

Once they all got to camp and figured out the living conditions (same beach, separate camps, so they don't catch each others' cooties), they pretended to "work together" for a few minutes so they could catch the two chickens that were running around camp. Chickens are probably one of the most reliable sources of entertainment on Survivor -- they usually lead to drama, and watching the castaways run around chasing livestock is always hilarious. This season was no exception.

After agreeing (in a loose sense) that they would work together to catch the chickens and then get one per tribe, the group spent a few minutes running around and diving into bushes with minimal success. Then something awesome happened: Chelsea caught both chickens with her bare hands. "Don't mess with the country girl!" she exclaimed proudly. When king of the roost Matt (whom I will refer to as Fake Brad Womack) approached Chelsea rather hostilely about their "deal," Chelsea said she'd have to discuss it with her tribe before she handed over the chicken. Well guess what, boys -- after that stunt you pulled with the axe and supplies that you stole, the girls aren't feeling too generous with their chickens. Go figure.

Fake Brad Womack was not at all pleased by this move, and he got his feathers all ruffled (no, I will not stop making fowl references, but thank you for asking) and suggested to the camera that the girls should give them the chicken as "an apology." HA! Good one, Fake Brad Womack. He went so far as to say that he's "not a ladies' man... I don't care about those girls," which is to be expected from rival tribes, but the thing these idiots are forgetting is that eventually they're all going to have to merge, and then things will get really ugly.

Speaking of looking ahead towards the merge... The men faced the decision of whether to take their hollow victory at the immunity challenge, or play it through and give the girls a chance to stage a comeback without Kourtney, whose injury had rendered the challenge technically over, despite only having completed the first third. Jeff offered them a piece of advice: "The single biggest mistake made in this game is doing decisions early on that no one will forgive you for in the end." Of course, the men promptly ignored this nugget of wisdom and opted to take the victory, much to the surprise and disappointment of the women.

The women were understandably upset, and questioned the men's pride. Kim commented that, being from Texas, she's used to chivalrous men, but I guess there's a reason why it's not "Out-chival, Outlast, Outplay." I can see where both tribes are coming from. On the one hand, this is Survivor, and in terms of strategy, why turn down immunity when it's offered to you? At the same time, it was a crummy way to win, and I can totally understand the girls feeling cheated and resentful after all the other shenanigans with the stolen axe and the fire and everything.

Unfortunately, this frustration with the men and with each other came to a boil at tribal council, where Alicia and Christina got into a heated argument over Christina's deal with the boys to get fire (which was definitely better than the semi-joking suggestion that Monica pole dance naked in exchange for fire). This was the first tribal council I can remember where Jeff actually looked scared.

At first it seemed like Alicia was the more threatening one of the two women, but when Christina whipped her head around and shouted "BECAUSE YOU'RE WRONG," I was legitimately afraid she was going to strangle Alicia with her buff. Like I said, I always feel like women are poorly represented on this show, and this week's tribal council was indeed a train wreck. At least the men seem almost equally incompetent. I mean, considering two of the men have some form of Tarzan nicknames, I'd say the scale of stupidity between the tribes is pretty evenly balanced.

The big question is, who wins the award for the dumbest line of the night? Is it Fake Brad Womack, who announced (with a completely straight face), "There's a lot of manly men around here," while explaining why he thought Colton (who is gay) might find it difficult to fit in with his all-male tribe. (Frankly, I didn't think he would've had much trouble at all, considering how homoerotic it was watching Jay, Michael, and Fake Brad Womack walking around shirtless carrying large bamboo sticks, talking about their manliness and how they were going to make it to the end together.) Or does the dunce cap crown go to Kat, who asked what "ambiance" meant?

It's clear that this cast of survivors is certainly skewed towards the lower end of the IQ range. (Is that why they hid the immunity idol in the most obvious hollowed-out log on the planet?) But hey, at least Chelsea can wrangle chickens.

 

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