Raw end of the deal?

中国日报网 2014-06-24 13:51



Raw end of the deal?

Reader question:

Please explain “raw end of the deal” in this passage:

Do men get the raw end of the deal in today’s society when it comes to time at home with their children? Is there less sympathy for working fathers than for mothers?

My comments:

In any deal, a transaction of buying and selling for example, the buyer and the seller represent both ends of the transaction, like the two sides of a weighing machine.

If the seller gets the better of the buyer – by setting a higher price than usual – the seller gets the better deal. If the buyer gets the better of the seller, well, that never happens.

That seldom happens, at any rate. Perhaps sometimes the seller loses his mind in the bargaining process the buyer gets off the hook once or twice but that kind of situation rarely happens.

In fact, it happens so rarely that I don’t mind neglecting it altogether and remind you only that it is the buyer who gets the raw deal all the time.

Raw deal?

Yeah, that’s the Americanism in question here, what “raw end of the deal” means.

This phrase originates in the game of poker, as a matter of fact – deal, noun, refers to the handful of cards you have after the dealer has dealt (distributed) them at the beginning of each game.

Raw deal means your cards are poor, raw meaning crude, unrefined, bad. Raw, as raw meat, crude and cruel – cruel being descriptive of how you feel.

You feel fate has done you another bad turn and you cannot expect to win with these wretched cards in hand. Better give up and see what you can get the next time, you mutter under the breath.

If that’s how you feel, actually you’re not alone. I’ve read stories of people complaining about things like that since ancient times. One such moaner of a man many hundreds of years ago for example played the Chinese “go” chess with another person. This man drew black and made the first move. And it went down hill for him ever since. The long and short of it is, the more pieces they put on the board, the whiter the board looked as almost all the black pieces were “eaten” (taken out), one after another.

Finally, throwing his hands up and conceding the game, our man in question ruefully remarked: “Bad luck – I picked the black pieces to begin with!”

There goes the classical example of the moaner.

Anyways, “raw deal” is an American colloquialism created “circa 1930, from card games (A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English by Partridge and Beale) and is now used in any situations where someone feels like the afore-mentioned chess man, who feels harshly, especially unfairly treated.

Back to our top example, what does it mean when they ask whether men “get the raw end of the deal” in today’s society when it comes to time at home with their children?

For the Chinese men in the city today, it means this:

If you as a man don’t spend anytime at home with the kids and don’t do any household chores, you get heavily criticized for being such a heartless and inconsiderate father and husband.

If you spend the time taking care of kids and doing all the household chores, you get heavily criticized also, for being such a worthless man – apparently having no chance at greater success in the world at large.

That’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea. Women have it better, both ways. If they take care of home and children, people say they’re doing their duty. If they take a career and spend little or no time at home, then people say that these women are obviously doing all they can.

In short, Chinese men are having it rough now and it’s about time, if you ask me, considering the rough deal Chinese women had got in our long history.

Anyways, I am making a sweeping generalization of the situation here. It doesn’t have to be true with you. You and your family don’t have to be the same.

Whatever the situation, don’t act like the moaner chess player. Don’t spend all day moaning that it is always you who gets the raw deal.


Alright. Here are media examples of other people who get the raw deal:

1. Willie Nelson says the Dixie Chicks “got a raw deal” from a disapproving public following their criticism of President Bush.

“I think the fact that they were overseas and onstage had a little bit to do with it because you’re speaking to other people about our business,” the 73-year-old country crooner said in an interview in this week’s Time magazine.

The trio caught harsh criticism after lead singer Natalie Maines told a London audience in 2003 that the group was “ashamed” Bush was from their home state of Texas.

Nelson said he was surprised his remarks about Bush a year earlier during an overseas news conference didn’t incite a similar controversy.

“I said ‘He’s not from Texas and he ain’t a cowboy, so let’s stop trashin’ Texans and cowboys.’ It got a little chuckle, but I didn’t get run out of the country,” Nelson told the magazine.

- Willie: Dixie Chicks ‘got a raw deal’, AP, July 31, 2006.

2. OK, the economy has seen better days. Wall Street is up and down like a yo-yo. We’re all working harder than ever.

But we think it’s time to start focusing on the positive.

Gas prices are lower than they've been in a very long time. Home heating oil bills are not turning out to be the nightmare that we all feared. And what’s so bad about working hard?

Thanksgiving and the holiday season present the perfect opportunity to think about what’s good in our lives, appreciate what we have, and stop creating self-fulfilling prophecies of doom and gloom.

With the price of oil coming down, consumer prices and transportation costs should follow. That’s all good news. So let’s shed the negativity and shine a light on something positive.

Here at the Chamber of Commerce, we’re telling our members that it’s challenging times like these that bring out the best in a business. Difficult conditions force us to hone our skills, focus our energies and keep our eyes on our goals.

These, of course, are things we should do all the time, but now more than ever. And, again, this is a good thing. We’re learning firsthand the importance of solid work ethics.

Lee Iacocca once said, “There ain’t no free lunches in this country. And don’t go spending your whole life commiserating that you got raw deals. You’ve got to say, ‘I think that if I keep working at this and want it bad enough I can have it.’” These are great words to live by anytime, but they seem particularly appropriate now.

- Challenging economic times can bring out the best in all of us, RecordOnline.com, December 03, 2008.

3. A search for the worst road is under way in Guildford, with residents being asked if they have the most potholes.

Labour candidate Tim Shand has run the search to highlight the issue of roads in bad repair. He has blamed priorities set by the Tory-run county council.

The Conservative candidate defended the council and said Surrey had suffered from a raw deal on central funding from the Labour government.

The Lib Dems said the council had wasted money and paid for poor work.

Tory candidate Anne Milton said: “The state of the roads is of huge concern to us all in Guildford.

Surrey gets a really raw deal when it comes to central funding, so to improve the roads we need a fairer deal for Surrey.

“I have fought and will continue to fight for fairer funding.”

- Campaign to find most potholed Guildford road, BBC.co.uk, May 1, 2010.




About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.



Finest hour?

Running up the white flag?

An endless balancing act

Time to call time on cheap, strong alcohol

Worth the candle?

Ebbs and flows


(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑:陈丹妮)



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