It’s a sad fact that every minority group in any professional field knows: you can’t be just as good as the majority, you have to be better. Women, people of color, and other minority groups are constantly tasked with “proving” their worth. You can never be just as good as straight white men; you have to be better than them to even remotely gain their respect or attention.
We see this a lot in pop culture when female characters are pitted against male characters who are experts at what they do. Irene Adler in the original Sherlock Holmes stories is one good example. It isn’t enough that she be just as intelligent and cunning as Sherlock; she has to be better than him. She has to beat him in order to prove herself to the audience. It’s the same with physical power as well. Many female comic book characters are mocked by their male counterparts for not being as strong as they are, or the women are warned away from training with the men because they might get hurt. Then, the women must prove that not only can they handle fighting with men, but that they are more competent than them at fighting. This is best demonstrated by Stephanie Brown as Spoiler, Robin, and even Batgirl; she was hardly ever accepted as a “real” superhero by Batman and even on occasion Tim Drake, and had to constantly attempt to prove herself to them. If the female character cannot prove this, then she is deemed unworthy of working with the men, even if it is obvious that she could hold her own.
The message here is pretty clear: a woman must be better than a man in order to be considered the man’s equal. And that’s pretty fucked up when you think about it.
Yet we see the same sort of narrative play out in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels between Freddy, Lawrence, and Christine.