The literary world needs more essays written by men who are disenchanted with the behavior of women. Perhaps it’s only my experience, but it seems as if publishing is rife with memoirs and self-help books and online rants about how men won’t commit and can’t communicate and how chivalry has gone the way of the Dodo, whereas similarly-themed works from the male point of view are proportionally scarce.

One reason for this might be that it’s not politically correct for men to express their baldest, gender-specific feelings. Perhaps that’s why, when it occurs, the stories lean to the extreme. In his second autobiography, A View from Above, Wilt Chamberlain, a lifelong bachelor, claimed to have had sex with 20,000 women. Since this seems fairly absurd (the number calculates to nine women a week from the age of 15 until the book was published), it becomes a caricature of male desire rather than an accurate description of it. The same with books like Tucker Max’s I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell and forthcoming Assholes Finish First. Max’s genius is to live and render his natural male inclination to such an extreme that it transcends any sort of serious deconstruction. The man is a consummate, admitted asshole and womanizer. His stories are funny to the frat boy and above discussion by intelligent women everywhere, right? Most men aren’t anything like him.

Right?

What if the more accurate claim is that most men aren’t like the above examples because they simply aren’t afforded the same opportunities? How often have you heard someone make an argument like, Well, he’s a rock star. Of course he’s going to sleep around with all those women after him.? The same for athletes and politicians and movie stars. We expect them to live the life of the alpha male because they’ve earned it, have they not? Even the local “player” who frequents the martini bar earns a certain reputation for having the look or the silver tongue to talk a girl out of her panties. And many women, we all know, are attracted to this sort of appeal. They don’t necessarily want to marry the guy…but they might. If they could be the one to tame him, they’d actually love to land someone like that.

In any case, stories about men spreading their seed aren’t even what I mean. Where are the books written by men who are tired of women being so indecisive? Who are sick of being dragged into pointless arguments? Why is it okay for you to want to tie us down but it’s not okay for us to lack commitment? Both of these desires arise from biological urges. What makes yours more proper than ours? Because you have abandonment issues? Well, we men happen to have abandoning issues. It comes with the core programming, the same as yours.

Or so a man might argue if he just had the balls. To admit that you’re a regular guy who is kind to most people, including women, but you still have an occasional (or even constant) desire to sleep around…well, that just doesn’t compute. In fact, the men who appeal the least to women are often those who say the most sensitive things. I would never treat a woman that way. Women are unique and beautiful creatures who deserve my full attention. I only want to have sex with one! My soul mate! Women, you know these men. You probably call them boys. He’s such a nice boy, isn’t he? But he isn’t the one who makes your engine run, is he?

Of course women sometimes want different things depending on where they are in life. In their 20s they may only have eyes for the panty-droppers. But sensitive men, have patience: These same women in their 30s may very well come looking for you. Or just get yourself a copy of The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists and stop feeling sorry for yourself.

I suppose you don’t see more men writing books about their problems with women because, frankly, it’s unbecoming. For all their feminist posturing, most women I know still want a man to be strong for them, to be the unmovable rock against the powerful and fluid current of their emotions. Women want to feel secure and special and loved; they want to know that no matter how many activities and friends and hobbies you enjoy, they remain the most important thing in your life.

And you know what, ladies? There’s a guy out there who wants to give that to you. Probably a few of them. It may take a while to find him, because close matches are hard to come by, but eventually you will. All you have to do—from our point of view, anyway—is lower your guard a little and be willing to accept that not every relationship you enter will be “the one.” Nothing turns a guy away faster than the instant reach for “soul mate” status. A burgeoning relationship is an interview, not a love story. At least not to us. Not yet.

But in the end, most of us want the fairy tale as much as you do. We realize the value in a long-term partnership with someone who sees the world in a way familiar only to the two of us. Just because we imagine ourselves sleeping with every hot woman in the world doesn’t mean we will actually attempt to do so.

Especially not as we lie in bed, smelling your sweet skin, listening to you breathe, your warm body asleep in our arms.

After all, this is the only time you stop talking.

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RICHARD COX is the author of The Boys of Summer, Thomas World, The God Particle, and Rift. He can be reached on Facebook or at his personal web site, www.richardcox.net.

392 responses to “Building a Bridge Over the Grand Canyon”

  1. Kimberly says:

    OOOOOH! How I am looking forward to the comments on THIS thread!

    (For the record, I loved this.)

  2. Zara Potts says:

    Well, we all know that men are stupid and women are crazy.

    This is a quick note to ask you what your title really means? What is it a metaphor for?

    and I keep reading your lead in as : Richard Cox explains in hymen’s terms what’s wrong with women.” That’s what’s wrong with me…

    I’ll be back…

    • Richard Cox says:

      The title was correctly determined by Joe as a nonexistent premise, in that I don’t think the divide between men and women is as great as some would have us believe. That’s why my piece is more silly than serious, and why it ends on an inclusive note. Leaving aside the joke at the end, of course.

  3. kristen says:

    You said “panties”! Blech.

    Kidding. Sorta.

    Anyway, thoughtful piece, this. I certainly do not envy men, the confounding place 2010 finds them in, for reasons you outline. The “damned if you do/don’t,” more than anything.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Panties. Hahahaha. ZaraPotts doesn’t like that word, either.

      It doesn’t have to be that confounding of a place, though. As long as we keep our expectations in check.

      • kristen says:

        True dat. Keepin’ it real will lead to good things most always.

        Undies instead? Eh.

      • reno says:

        in the movie “boomerang” i believe it’s eartha kitt (who plays a very horny older woman w/ an odd voice) who tells eddie murphy something about her “taking off her panties.”

        they way she says it is kinda gross.

        but at the same time if a girl (young or otherwise) says that she’s gonna take off her panties well then hell! by all means! right?

      • Shannon says:

        at least he didn’t say “moist panties”. GEH!

        moist and ointment. those are the words that get me.

        • Richard Cox says:

          How about oink? Boink? Point? Anoint? Foist? Hoist? Joist?

        • Shannon says:

          “oink” i don’t really consider a word because it’s a HORRIBLE descriptor of a sound – meh.
          “boink” i love. in all connotations of the word.
          “point” i dislike only because it reminds me of horrid work that i still have to do.
          “anoint”, “hoist” and “joist” = ambivalent

          one word i LOVE that others don’t like = squirt
          everytime i get a tea drink, i ask for an extra “squirt” of something in the hopes that, one day, the person taking the order with chortle a little. i’ll know then i’ll have met one of many “soulmates”.

  4. Becky Palapala says:

    WHAT IS THIS?

    I have controversy blue balls here, Richard.

    You promised me an earthquake and then just kicked my bar stool instead. I was startled for a minute, but I didn’t even spill my drink.

    *sigh*

    How about this:

    Stories about men disenchanted with women = Everything written before 1970

    • reno says:

      Stories about men disenchanted with women = Everything written before 1970

      heh.

      becky: you’re hysterical. thanks for the afternoon laugh there, trixie.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Yeah, I went with the strong teaser line but delivered something a bit different. I known we talked about controversial posts the other day, which may have had something to do with the earthquake bit, but in the end I think the “divide” is more fiction than fact.

      “Everything written before 1970.” Haha.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        Well it’s true.

        The archetypal wife for all of western civilization? Hera.

        A conniving, psychotic, shrewish, catty, jealous BEEE-OTCH.

        Men just took that shit and RAN with it. For 2000 years.

        But honestly, I have to say, I think it may be the company you keep.

        WTF kind of wife has to tie you down, anyway?

        I don’t claim that those women aren’t out there. They account for a large percentage of women. And I fucking hate them. They steal my guy friends from me. And lock them up in neutral-toned livingrooms. And dress them in khaki.

        So, I don’t have any friends like that. I’ve found that a good test is the girl’s attitudes towards strip clubs and porn. If she makes you throw out all your porn and forbids you from ever attending a strip club again, run. Run like your ass is on fire. She’s insecure, and insecurity is the wellspring from whence all annoying, shrewish, catty, jealous girl behavior flows. This also goes for refusing to speak to you if you look at another girl. That’s twisted, too.

        Most panty-droppers are shallow and uninteresting, and most importantly, they play games, just like their feminine counterparts. I don’t have patience for games. I don’t know what self-respecting woman could, but maybe that’s exactly the problem with so many women.

        • Richard Cox says:

          We’re all Heracles to Hera’s jealous anger, eh?

          All good points you make. I especially enjoy the point about the strip clubs. Wouldn’t you rather him stare at a couple of fake ones for $20 instead of him standing in a bar where drunk, single women are lined up in rows?

          As far as the game players, are you arguing that players and their willing counterparts don’t respect themselves, nor their partners? That’s awfully depressing. But it seems fairly accurate, I suppose.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I mean, at some point, like if it was a weekly outing with him and his single buddies or something he did on his own as some kind of hobby, I might get uppity. All things in moderation.

          But here and there? Especially in the macho posturing context of a bachelor party or some other male bonding scenario? I’m not going to worry about it.

          Regarding women, I was thinking more of women who chase around after and compete and fight over players. That they must have no self-respect. How can you possibly respect yourself and tolerate being treated like that? Being among some gaggle fighting over someone who is probably not much of a catch anyway? Yuck. Like getting in a catfight over a knockoff handbag. Really in poor taste.

          I guess I feel the same way about men who elbow each other to get at some female piece of meat.

          My general feeling watching either scenario go down is the same. Watching people act pathetic and desperate is uncomfortable for everybody.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I see what you’re asking.

          Their “counterparts” would be the female players.

          Those who chase them around are just…not even victims. Idiots.

        • Mary Richert says:

          Becky, high five, lady. “WTF kind of wife has to tie you down, anyway?” Yeah, exactly.

          And can I just add that dudes who put every woman on a pedastool get labeled as “nice” guys because they are harmless, yet spineless. Nice = vanilla. What a smart lady really wants (in my not so humble opinion) is a guy who can speak up for himself and respect her at the same time. A relationship shouldn’t be a power trip for either party. If you can’t agree on who you’re allowed to sleep with, you’re with the wrong person.

          GJ Richard. You’ve earned the most horrifyingly hilarious comments I’ve read on TNB in a long time.

        • Becky says:

          Yeah. I’m thinking if you have to tie him down, best to let him go. I have to think keeping a captive for your whole life would be way too much work. And I’m sure as shit not interested in begging for anyone’s companionship. Find someone else to stroke your ego, dude. I got shit to do.

        • Richard Cox says:

          In this case, just to clarify, the terms “tie down” and “lacking commitment” were meant to signify being in a relationship at all. As in a woman is interested in nest-building, while the guy wants to have some quick fun and move on.

          I am joking, of course. I don’t really mean that all women want to be in relationships and zero men do. It just seems more PC for a woman to desire commitment than for a man to run from it.

          I’m sure the humor didn’t come off the way I intended, but certainly the above two explanatory paragraphs are no better.

          FAIL.

        • Richard Cox says:

          P.S.

          Mary, I like this line: “What a smart lady really wants (in my not so humble opinion) is a guy who can speak up for himself and respect her at the same time.”

          Mainly because in the past I have failed by being too nice and agreeable and not having an opinion. It took me a while to get a handle on this one.

        • Mary Richert says:

          RC, I know you were joking, but sadly I know SO MANY people who don’t seem to grasp this! They’re the ones I worry about.

        • Becky says:

          At some point it’s reasonable to ask that your sexual partner stop sleeping with other people. That goes for both men and women. On the same token, it will raise eyebrows if you refuse and expect to keep sleeping with the person who asked. That, too, is true for men and women. Moreso for women, actually. Way more so.

          I don’t see how that’s tying down. Afterall, you have options: quit sleeping around or get lost. I think the problem–the social unacceptability–comes with the notion that a person would expect to have the benefits of commitment without having to invest anything. Asking for commitment isn’t the same kind of thing, no matter who’s asking for it.

          I’ve been asked by a guy to make relationship commitment and said no. So we didn’t see each other anymore. That’s how it goes. I never felt like he was trying to restrain me. Or capture me. I think that’s a guy thing. That paranoia. In my mind, he asked me to do something in order to keep seeing him. I said no. I didn’t resent him for it. It was my choice. He didn’t DO something to me. I would have been a fuckin dick to try to talk him into seeing me anyway, giving up nothing, knowing how he felt.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Your entire comment is spot on but I can’t stop chuckling at the bald honesty of this line:

          “At some point it’s reasonable to ask that your sexual partner stop sleeping with other people.”

          That’s pretty much it, isn’t it?

        • I ought to write a self-help book for men on the topic of sleeping around, and directly addressing Becky’s comment.

          I have such great luck at not sleeping around when I’m completely available and willing that maybe men could follow my example when they enter relationships so they will not be able to sleep around even IF THEY WANT TO – and try – to sleep around, to drop panties, if you will. Genius. Anyone buying?

        • Richard Cox says:

          If Rodney Dangerfield were alive you could get him to write a foreword. That would be choice.

        • That would be pretty great.

          My author photo would be me kicking Tucker Max.

      • Erika Rae says:

        Exactly what Becky said. Substitute your question with a racial issue, for example, and you’ve got your answer. It’s a question about power: who’s currently in power, who’s been in power, and who’s vying for power. Go ahead, Richard. Write a book about abandoning issues. It’d be a good test. If it sells, then it’s an excellent indicator of where women are on the power scale. Because for it to go over well, men must see themselves as weak and in need of some catch-up. Point to the ladies.

        Oh, and “panties”. Panties panties panties. [end Zara and Kristen taunt]

        • Richard Cox says:

          I thought about the power issue when I wrote that part, actually. But what power are we talking about? Being in a relationship or not? Isn’t the emotional power equal there?

          Leave aside for a moment the idea of being married with children, and maybe the mother decided to stay home with the children, and has been out of the work force and now her earning power is reduced. A man abandoning his family is a completely different scenario. But if you’re talking about a recently married couple or one who is dating, why do men necessarily have the upper hand then?

          I get the feeling that women in general feel more betrayed when “left” than men do. I don’t know this for a fact, it’s just a sense that I get. When I recently re-read The Time Traveler’s Wife I could feel this sense of abandonment throughout the novel, that Henry’s time traveling was a metaphor for the general fears women feel about being left. I suppose one could argue these feelings linger because women possessing more earning and voting power is relatively new to our society. Am I headed in the right direction?

          I’m very curious about this. I’m not trying to be flippant or silly, in the event it’s coming across that way.

        • Zara Potts says:

          ERIKA!!!!! I heard that. You are in so much trouble. I’ll get you back for the P word.

        • Mary Richert says:

          Can I just say I’m completely OK with the word “panties?” It’s kindof cute and frilly and euphemistic. It sure beats “thong,” which is awfully crass.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I really want to answer you, Richard, but I have no idea what the question is.

          How does power correlate to who leaves who, again?

        • Mary Richert says:

          I know you’re asking Richard and not me, but here’s my take on it. Women over the centuries have been conditioned to believe that without a husband, we are worthless. There were times in history when that has been true, right? And now, many women and girls still have that impression in their minds, even though it’s not really true anymore. What may have been a social survival instinct in the 1700s is seen as clinginess, neediness, or insecurity. The man in a relationship with this theoretical woman doesn’t have any real power, but the woman perceives him as being powerful because she thinks she needs him to validate her.

          Power is all about perception. The person who leaves a relationship of his/her own free will is the more powerful one. Or if a very needy person is able to “tie down” someone else, then the needy one can actually be more powerful in a way.

          Or I might be just jumbling up what little I remember from a handful of feminist books and one women’s studies class … in which I earned a D.

        • Richard Cox says:

          This is exactly what I mean, Mary. Becky might have a different take, which would be great to hear, but my assumption was that it must be a holdover from before women had achieved more equitable social circumstances than what exists now.

          Okay, so since we’re on the subject of baffling female behavior, I’ve read and experienced where a woman will argue with you about something or test limits to get you to fight back or see how much “shit” you’ll take from her. Any truth to this from your end? Is it really a test of one’s mettle and a search for boundaries? And if so, why?

        • Becky Palapala says:

          My understanding was that Erika was responding to my comment about the literature.

          Like, Richard’s polite way of asking (even if tongue-in-cheek) why there wasn’t more misogyny out there in literature.

          And the answer I gave is that misogyny has had the run of the place for 2000 years.

          And a lot of nasty stuff has been predicated on misogynist literature. Or misogynist literature has been both a symptom and carrier of an institutional, gender-based power imbalance that has impacted the lives of women for the worse.

          So now it’s considered to be in poor taste.

          Similar to (Erika’s example) the proliferation of racist literature.

          That’s why I didn’t understand Richard’s one-on-one relationship example. I thought Erika was talking about power at the societal level. Though you make a good point about how that plays out on the ground for individual women.

          Anyway, this is all Feminism/Women’s Studies 101 stuff, which is why I sound like a text book right now.

          Pleh.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Cross-post.

          The boundary-testing thing is a personality trait. Not a gender trait.

          A lot of women–and men, for that matter–are total doormats.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Well I realize I’m asking basic women’s studies questions. I know I could go look up this stuff on the Internet or find a book but I figured that was sort of the point of having the comment boards here. Plus it’s nice to hear the answers filtered through the perception of people you know. To see how it plays out in the real world.

          Are you sure the boundary-testing thing is equally spread out among genders? My feeling is purely anecdotal but I don’t hear many of my guy friends saying that they just push the buttons of their womenfolk on purpose to see how far they can go, but I’ve had women tell me they specifically do that. And I read it in one of those Esquire surveys of “things you don’t know about women.” Hahaha.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Men don’t do it, or men don’t tell you they do it?

          And, with all due respect to both them and you, I think it has thusfar been well established that there is something seriously questionable about the female company you seem to keep and their qualifications as representative of females in general–or at least the type of females hanging around TNB.

          I button-push and play and boundary test, but that’s an intellectual game to be played with acquaintances and debate participants. Not with people I care about. It’s certainly one way to get to know someone in the initial stages, in which case, in a romantic setting, it might be a form of flirtation, but once you’re someone’s man/womanfolk, I have to think that behavior has to stop. Otherwise that’s some gamey, manipulative shit.

          Theoretically, at later stages in a relationship, it shouldn’t be necessary AND it shouldn’t work. You should know them already by then, and they you.

        • Erika Rae says:

          My brain is SO not in this argument right now due to, oh I dunno, a massive FIRE burning less than 5 miles from me, but:

          1) I was addressing power at the societal level
          2) I disagree that women feel more betrayed when left (unless, perhaps, when influenced by children to care for). I can site several example of friends, if you like. More weepy, perhaps – but that is a matter of expression of emotion, and not necessarily the emotion itself.
          3) I disagree on the boundary testing being a women’s trait. I think it’s more likely a trait of personality and probably whomever feels like they have more to prove or a need to flex in a relationship (the weaker of the two, vying for position and voice).
          4) I also think that the interpretation of women battling just for the sake of boundary definition is a male interpretation. (Some of us call it “logic”.) I believe some people (both men and women) tend to take their stance (whatever topic) as a given – so when someone tries to argue against it, it gets interpreted as arguing for the sake of arguing. A good way to write of another voice. (That one’s called “dismissal”)
          5) I’m going to have to insist on taking this argument to the ping pong table, Richard.
          6) Panties. That’s it, just panties for panties’ sake.

          Now, I’m going to get back to this little fire thingy. There are people who need internet access down below.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          My buddy’s wife moved out on him recently. Left him.

          He got so tore-up, ripped-ass drunk that he started cornering strangers in the bar and asking, “How’s you’re day been? Well guess what happened to ME? My wife MOOOVed the fuck out. So WOO HOO!!!! Now I’m fuckin’ DRUNK!! Fuckin’ A!!”

          It was some dude’s birthday.

          “Happy birthday man!!! Guess what???? MY FUCKIN’ WIFE LEFT ME.”

          Oh yeah. He was totally unfazed. No big whup.

          He’s a pot-smoking surfer guy who is totally laid back and never gets agitated about SHIT, and Palani had to wrap him up and haul him out of there before security did. It was straight out of a movie.

        • Wow. Seems like I got in on this a little late. I think it says a lot about both the good and the bad of TNB that there hasn’t been some genuinely offended, raw outrage from either camp. IN fact, we’re all so reasonable and well-adjusted and able to see past gender cliches that the site should probably just evolve into Match.tnb.com, don’t you think? Why pretend there isn’t a cumulus of musk and pheromones wafting around with each conciliatory sentence?

          I have to hand it to you being willing to stir the sauce, Richard. Just mentioning Tucker Max would get you flayed in many other forums.

          And I really liked that last line. Except I think this site sort of refutes the female end of the stereotype. None of us ever shut up.

        • Erika Rae says:

          …And that would be “cite” and “write off”. Sheesh. Doesn’t TNB have a good editor anywhere around? Oh wait-

          What’s a little fire when there are typos to correct?

        • Erika Rae says:

          …And that would be “cite” and “write off”. Sheesh. Doesn’t TNB have a good editor anywhere around? Oh wait-

          What’s a little fire when there are my own typos to correct?

        • Erika Rae says:

          See – I tried to correct myself again and look where it got me. Repeating myself. Yeah, yeah – there’s a woman for you.

        • Richard Cox says:

          But I bet you’re angelic when you sleep. Hahahahaha.

        • Erika Rae says:

          Watch your back, Cox. One word for you: shortsheeting.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Thanks for the idea.

        • Joe Daly says:

          But I bet you’re angelic when you sleep. Hahahahaha.

          With the comments no longer nesting, I can’t tell if this is for Sean or Erika Rae.

        • Erika Rae says:

          I know, right? Seriously, Richard and Sean. Get a room.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Sean, don’t be silly.

          It’s TNBharmony.com.

        • Starting to sound like it’s Men4Men/SensitivePoet.com

        • Richard Cox says:

          To properly respond, Sean, this line is great:

          “Why pretend there isn’t a cumulus of musk and pheromones wafting around with each conciliatory sentence?”

          Reminds me of something you said about the similar, barely-concealed conditions at the airport.

          Debating the behavior of Tucker Max is relatively pointless. I wouldn’t have expected us to have a discussion about something so obviously published for shock value. Sure, TNB could use a bit more raw outrage, but surely we can find something a bit more nuanced to become outraged about. Like using prepositions inappropriately, for instance?

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Tell me about it.

          Richard’s taken to calling the behavior an “idiosyncrasy.”

        • Judy Prince says:

          Mary, you got a D in a women’s studies course? HOOT!

  5. Mandy says:

    The tags made me laugh.

  6. Lorna says:

    Disenchanted by women? Oh, I don’t know that I can continue to read this…… But I’ll give it a shot. Maybe I’ll learn something.

  7. Joe Daly says:

    Well done, Rich! I loved this read from top to bottom.

    I’ve noticed that when a man writes about those biological impulses to attract and bed women, they almost necessarily seem to be phrased in either negative terms or as a surreptitious strategy for acquiring something the guy would not otherwise deserve. All these pick up artist books and such are built on the premise that being yourself is simply not enough to attract women.

    The bridge over the canyon (the nonexistent/faulty premise) is that it’s a good thing to attract all types of women- particularly those that fit conventional stereotypes of beauty, sex, and success. The whole premise that “nice guys finish last” is only true where the nice guy is looking for someone who is fundamentally incompatible with who he is at that moment.

    And thank you for the perfect ending:

    >>Especially not as we lie in bed, smelling your sweet skin, listening to you breathe, your warm body asleep in our arms.

    After all, this is the only time you stop talking.<<

    Bravo!

    • Richard Cox says:

      Wow, Joe. Thanks a bunch. You hit it perfectly by identifying the title as a non-existent premise. I really don’t buy into the whole gender gap thing. I mean we know men and women think differently, but this has been known for pretty much forever, so going on and on about our differences doesn’t accomplish anything.

      True, we’re all hurt from time to time, but it’s not the gender’s fault. It’s the individual’s fault. Just as its our own fault if we’re looking to meet someone “fundamentally incompatible” as you put it.

      I liked the ending as well. Thanks for that, man.

      • Joe Daly says:

        It’s still sort of funny how each gender can forget that the other thinks very differently. I would need some Old Testament measurements to figure out just how many hours I’ve wasted trying to get various girlfriends to just understand what I’m saying. Only in the past few years have I come to realize that they always understood what I was saying- they just felt very differently about it.

        Had lunch with a buddy yesterday, who recounted a recent bad blind date that ended with the girl becoming annoyed that the date was over and sarcastically saying, “Well, I guess men and women just think differently then.”

        He ended the date once and for all by saying “Well, DUH!”

        • Zara Potts says:

          I recently had an experience where I asked a man to tell the truth. In return, I was called an ’emotional terrorist.’

          I think it’s man-code for: You are so incredibly awesome that I am highly intimidated by you and so I am going to say something that seems highly charged and powerful but is in fact, totally meaningless.”

        • Joe Daly says:

          For the record, Pookie, I would only call a woman an “emotional terrorist” if she held one of my beloved dogs hostage until I promised to be her soul mate.

          Unfortunately I have had to call two women “emotional terrorists.”

        • Zara Potts says:

          Wow, Cupcake! I didn’t even know that term existed – see, it must be a man thing.

          Women would probably not use that term. We would probably go for something like ‘you’re an asshole’ or ‘what a dick.’

          Anyway -the thing to remember is that you shouldn’t negotiate with terrorists – especially over something as important as soul matery.

        • Joe Daly says:

          Yeah Pookie, that term’s been around for ages. Henry VIII used it quite liberally, back in the day.

          But if I don’t negotiate with terrorists, they might do things to my dogs. How can it work out without the terrorists winning? Apart from some sort of shooting.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Poison darts, Cupcake.

          Make sure the doggy is safe and then blow hard in the direction of a major artery – of the Emotional Terrorist that is – not the pooch.

  8. reno says:

    well, well, well. hmm. i found myself single again and have found myself in the company of single women NOT in their “i just wanna fuck the hot guy” to i want to gaze into the eyes of my “soulmate.”

    i’m a dude and hang around dudes. i know educated dudes and fuckers that are the definition of lame. hot guys and soulmates? sure, they may be out there, but somewhere along the line they’re not and what ends up happening is that you simply deal with their shit. hot, soulmate, fart-sniffer, cash guy, whatever.

    how does that saying go? “find a hot women (or man) and there’s some dude out there sick of her fucking shit.”

    but i saw it big time this year. it was hysterical, predictable, and boring. i simply sat on the sidelines and ate two chili cheese dogs.

    yummy.

    anyhow.

    i like chicks and don’t like bashing them. i’d rather poke fun at the absurdity of humans in general.

    but let me tell you a quick story. i came from a relationship that the TOTALLY kick back. it was one of those you do what you want i’ll do what i want deals. then this year i came across this arrogant woman (good looking, educated, so i can understand to some degree) that at the end of the day was demanding, mawkish, draining, spoke in hallmark poems, wanted to be the center of my universe, wanted to know where i was ALL THE TIME, liked those stupid love flicks (she probably uttered “you complete me” or “you had me at hello” to the dude that was poking her at the time), and about every “woman” cliche you can come up with.

    at first i thought it was a joke. i looked around for a camera and kept waiting for people to pop out of walls and go: “ha! we got you, prick!”

    but no.

    i’ve heard of these fuckers but really didn’t know they existed.

    but there it was right in front of my eyes, in my damn bed.

    needless, to say, i bailed. and then i bailed some more. and then a little more.

    yikes.

    thanks, mr. cox. don’t know if i answered anything or helped any. but you’re bound to have a good time with this one. i’ll check in later.

    • Richard Cox says:

      “i like chicks and don’t like bashing them. i’d rather poke fun at the absurdity of humans in general.”

      I feel the same way, hence the pulled punches in this post.

      “spoke in hallmark poems, wanted to be the center of my universe, wanted to know where i was ALL THE TIME, liked those stupid love flicks…”

      That makes me laugh. It’s life imitating art in the worst sense, no?

      • I’m eagerly anticipating my thirties, here, when the ladies come running for the sensitive, not-asshole.

        That gives you a year, ladies. One year. And, then: go.

        Mark your calendars. And, if it’s helps entice you, I live next to Lake Superior.

        • reno says:

          good luck, justin. may you find a KEEPER. if not, may you find a TAKER. hell, like in Hair Metal: it’s all relative.

          i think.

          perhaps not in close proximity to ur lake. if not relocate. that’s what i do when i don’t find what i’m looking for.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Well, Reno, and that’s what the Internet is for, right? To broaden the pool of potential mates?

  9. Zara Potts says:

    Okay, I’m back.

    First of all: you are such a stirrer, Richrob. All the women reading this are totally on to you.

    Second: What’s wrong with women? Plenty. What’s wrong with men? Plentier.

    You are right though, in many of your points. When I was younger I always went for the bad boy. I remember having a boyfriend (once) who was a ‘nice guy’ and he bored me silly. Now, as I look down the barrel towards 40, I kind of wish I had given him more of a chance. The damage that bad boys cause is just not worth the effort. Also, when you get right down to it, bad boys are actually just not very interesting.

    But when it comes to the problem with women, here’s what the real issue is – it’s that you men are like bad advertising. You promise all sorts of wonder but the reality is that you just don’t come up with the goods. So it’s not really any surprise that women behave badly when they realise the bill of sale they received was for faulty merchandise.

    I understand that men are biologically programmed to want to sleep with as many women as possible, but I’m afraid that doesn’t let you off the hook. Don’t you think that women also want a little bit of variety, that we get bored sleeping next to the same body every night? But the difference (in my experience anyway) is that fewer women act on these desires. I can’t speak for the rest of my sex but I don’t expect that my boyfriend/husband/whatever will only ever have eyes for me, but I do expect that he will, ultimately, be loyal to me. For that, he gets my undivided love and attention, my best cheerleading and I will forever be his champion. Surely that’s not a bad pay off.

    And as for ‘that’s the only time you ever stop talking” bit…. Hmmm. Maybe you’re right. Maybe we do talk to much. But in my experience, it’s always been that men can’t shut up. Especially when it comes to their favourite subject: themselves.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Hi ZaraPotts!

      I’m not breaking any new ground here but the subject does serve as a good item for discussion. We know the biological and social factors at play, which means it’s up to each of us to look past those and find what makes the individuals tick. And that’s the most fun part, anyway, isn’t it? Getting to know someone, at first and then over months and years?

      “For that, he gets my undivided love and attention, my best cheerleading and I will forever be his champion. Surely that’s not a bad pay off.”

      Absolutely. It’s the perfect payoff.

      “But in my experience, it’s always been that men can’t shut up. Especially when it comes to their favourite subject: themselves.”

      I find this true of everyone, including myself. I’m among the worst offenders, I fear.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        Actually, studies are ample.

        In mixed-gender situations, men talk more than women. I don’t know if this goes for at home in their living rooms, but I seem to remember…mere weeks ago, I think…glimpsing a study that reaffirmed that the “chattering women” thing was a total fabrication.

        • Hmm. I need to see this study. I mean, I’m a pretty reticent guy, so I’d typically think women talk more than I do, being a member of my sex.

          Not that I disagree with what you say, Becky. I just want to read it. Because I seek that stuff out and read it for fun. Because I’m really cool.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Here’s a summary article with details on where to find the full published text of the findings.

          http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071108171518.htm

          Though there is evidence that women–overall in their lives–spend more time talking, in mixed-gender situations and between husbands and wives, it’s men who dominate.

          Men also tend to interrupt women significantly more than women interrupt men. This isn’t a part of the study, just a tidbit I recall from an Anthro of sex & gender class.

          Filthy oppressors. Sheesh.

        • Zara Potts says:

          That’s totally true.

          Men do talk more than women and they do dominate conversations and interupt more.

          And as I said to Richrob above – men do talk more about themselves than women do.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Err..well…actually…

          Same study found that women talk more about themselves than men do.

          Women also talk more to children and to college friends.

          But when it’s men and women talking to each other? Men go tromping all over us.

          Jerks.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh. Shit, did it? That study must have a large margin of error!!

          Well, maybe that’s true. Maybe we do talk more about ourselves, but as you say, only usually with other women.

          I think we are better listeners than men. And I think sometimes, we are better thinkers than men. I also think we are better manipulators than men, and that we can be much more cruel than men.

          But we are much nicer to cute animals than men.

    • Tawni says:

      …bad boys are actually just not very interesting.”

      So true. I noticed in my thirties that as my self-esteem rose, my desire for bad boys waned. As I stopped believing I deserved to be treated like shit, I stopped allowing people into my life who treated me like shit. What a concept.

      You promise all sorts of wonder but the reality is that you just don’t come up with the goods.

      Ha. I refer to this as Full Disclosure, and occasionally shout it at my husband, in reference to either of us, depending on the gripe. (Him: “You’re so weird.” Me: “FULL DISCLOSURE! You knew what you were getting into when you married me. I didn’t hide my crazy.”) Full Disclosure is why I can’t get mad at him for completely monopolizing the television during football season. He made it perfectly clear that he lives for football when I met him. If I had a problem with this, I should have mentioned it earlier, but I didn’t. No take-backsies. There was Full Disclosure.

      Don’t you think that women also want a little bit of variety, that we get bored sleeping next to the same body every night? But the difference (in my experience anyway) is that fewer women act on these desires.

      Hell yes, sister! The “guys are the ones with the wandering eyes” stereotype bothers me, mostly because it makes me wonder if they think we ladies are just sitting around adoringly kissing our photos of them when they aren’t around. Do they think we don’t look at other guys the same way they look at other girls?

      I love your entire comment, Zara. I love it so hard. xoxo.

      • Zara Potts says:

        And I love your comment, Tawni!

        (almost as much as I love that awesome picture of you!)

        Yep, bad boys are totally overrated. And in my experience – the broody, quiet ones that we think are deep and interesting are usually as shallow as puddles.

        Full disclosure is awesome!! No take backsies (on either side) makes for a really good relationship I think.

        xx

        • Richard Cox says:

          Yes, full disclosure is certainly the way to go.

          It’s how I felt when I first joined MySpace. Everyone was talking about over-inflated profiles, skewed-angle profile pics, lying about your height, weight, creating these larger-than-life personas, and I always thought, “But what if you meet someone in person? How are you going to live up to that online character you’ve built?”

          So yes. Full disclosure. Although there should also be room for mystery in there, no? In a new relationship? At least at the beginning?

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Everyone is allowed to be their own person.

          In any relationship.

          That includes keeping some secrets.

          Whether over 2 months or 2 years or 20 years.

          Which secrets one keeps is a judgment call, but truly FULL disclosure, in my opinion, is inadvisable and degrading to the person who discloses. To ask for it is greedy, and to demand it is psychotic.

        • Zara Potts says:

          You are totally right, Richrob.

          A little bit of mystery at the beginning of a relationship is a very good thing. There’s nothing better than slowly piecing together the jigsaw of a newly important person in your life. Those little bits of information that are casually dropped into conversations; the quiet filing away of likes and dislikes and personality traits; the jokes that become precious; all those little things that add up to the big picture are very important. It would be no fun at all if there was full disclosure on the first date.

          But… full disclosure about deal breakers should definitely be put on the table fairly early!

          You know, if you’re a secret serial killer or a porn star or completely crazy about Justin Beiber.. or just completely crazy full stop…those sorts of things are important.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Becky makes some good points, as do you, ZaraPotts.

          How about we call it DBD? Deal Breaker Disclosure?

          Speaking of JB, I mean Justin Bieber, my first real exposure to him was this video where someone slowed him down 800 percent. It’s pretty funny and it actually does sound like some electronic mushroom rock I listen to.

          Then I saw him on an SNL rerun the other night and I realized why everyone pokes fun at him. Hahaha. The funny thing is everyone seems to say his voice is so good, but I swear SNL had his mike running through a vocal compressor even when he was just talking. And when he was singing in a classroom skit where he was supposedly a student, he was definitely singing along with a pre-recorded vocal, because you could hear him not quite keeping time. It was just a silly thing, seemingly written for that skit, and yet he had all sorts of production magic going on. Strange, because I thought SNL stopped allowing that after the Ashlee Simpson debacle?

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I was a little podium-poundy though.

          Yeah. Deal breakers are the main thing.

          I don’t need to know, for example, how many women a man has slept with, just whether or not he has an STD.

          That sort of thing.

        • Tawni says:

          Good addendum, Becky, Zara and Richard. Of course I meant full disclosure about deal breakers – things that could possibly become an issue later. (Like the fact that I will sometimes meow for no reason. Or my husband’s need to play golf to keep his inner zen intact.) I like Richard’s DBD suggestion. I am going to start jokingly screaming that instead. Heh.

          Expecting full disclosure about someone’s past isn’t fair, because you are dating them today, and we’ve all done things we’d rather leave behind or keep to ourselves. I have entire years I’d rather not discuss. I didn’t mean to make it sound like I’m that crazy chick who demands to know every little thing about the guy I’m dating. “TELL ME ALL OF YOUR SECRETS! ” *makes Norma Desmond ready-for-my-close-up face*

          And how incredibly boring would it be to know everything about someone, anyhow?

          Plus, I’m a Scorpio. You know we actually wither up and die if we aren’t allowed to have some secrets and mystery around us.

  10. I loved the tags, except the bit about Dallas scoring a touchdown.*

    I wish I had a crazy girlfriend I could write a bestselling book about.

    Fuck, screw the book and the crazy, I just wish I had a girlfriend.

    Or enough money for a hooker.**

    *Unless the camera cuts immediately to the cheerleaders
    **This is a joke. I have enough money.

  11. I have reserved my third “Amen!!” on this piece for this comment box right here. So here it goes again…….. AMEN!!!!

    This was a great piece, one that I don’t have the cajones to write. But glad you did. It’s all true!!

  12. Jessica Blau says:

    Well, I’m sure you have plenty of women all over you and maybe they’re all the same type and so some patterns are being repeated (want to jump into a relationship, want to “talk” about feelings, etc.), but if you spread your search far enough, surely there are many, many women who don’t fit into the general descriptions that most of us use to describe most women.
    I, for example, hate talking about feelings, emotions, blah blah blah, and loathe “discussing” things. A discussion avoider is totally for me–let’s just ignore it all, go out to eat, crack up and have some fun. And if I weren’t contentedly married (which I am) I wouldn’t want a serious, heavy relationship with anyone. I can’t stand having someone crawl all over me with neediness.
    I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. I bet there are all sorts of women who want to be with men without the burden of obligations, commitments and expectations.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      *raises hand* Me.

      Confirmed.

      Richard is keeping annoying company.

      • Richard Cox says:

        “I bet there are all sorts of women who want to be with men without the burden of obligations, commitments and expectations.”

        Absolutely there are. This piece was about making fun of stereotypes as much as anything. If we all fell into these narrow behavior sets the world would be a pretty sad and uninteresting place.

        As far as my own company, I didn’t cite any specific examples and will decline to discuss them here except to say the few I’ve been lucky enough to spend a significant amount of time with have been down to earth and lovely and definitely not overbearing. I’m not attempting to characterize them or any individual in this piece (other than the authors I mentioned by name, of course).

        • Jessica Blau says:

          Aaaaah, good. I thought maybe you were too good-looking for the real women and were just attracting the white, flitty moths who cling to light and nothing nothing else!

          Carry on, Richard, stick to the meaty ones!

        • Richard Cox says:

          Maybe Julio Iglesias has it right. He loves all women unabashedly.

          Although his definition of “love” may not be the understood definition.

      • Erika Rae says:

        In the *word* of Nick Belardes, “amen”.

    • Jessica, you’re icky. I don’t want to marry you anymore.

      • Jessica Blau says:

        Oh Nick, you’re making me feel so bad! Okay, okay, I relent! If I’m in a relationship with you it can be full of demands, and obligations and you can crawl all over me with neediness and I’ll be happy about it, I swear, I really will, I’ll nudge you and harangue you into conversations about feeeeelings, and make sure you call me every five minutes and I’ll text you every time I change locales even if it’s from the living room to the dining room to the kitchen to the car!
        xxx!

        • Richard Cox says:

          You laugh, but there is an app for the iPhone that allows your partner and you to know each other’s exact geographic location at all times, and you can’t tell me there aren’t plenty of people out there (women and dudes) who are totally using that right now. I envision the conversation going slightly differently, based on whose suggestion it is.

          A dude might say, “Here. Put this on your phone. This way I’ll know where you are in case you get in an accident.”

          A girl might say, “Wouldn’t it be so GREAT if we knew where each other was AT ALL TIMES? Wouldn’t that be so ROMANTIC? It’s like we’ll be together ALL THE TIME.”

          Of course the real reason has nothing to do with the stated reason. Right?

        • Jessica Blau says:

          Oh yes, Nick and I are getting that for our future marriage! And then we’re face-timing each other every time we talk so we can each see who is in the background just to make sure that neither of us is cavorting with someone of the opposite sex! And, BTW, we’re each dropping the activities the other doesn’t enjoy so we can ONLY do things together. That’s it for the interests outside of this new marriage, we are a WE now. No more I! WE don’t watch movies with Sondra Bullock because N.L. doesn’t like her. And WE don’t watch soccer because I get bored watching soccer. So we sit on a couch together all day, thumbing through DWELL magazine and talking about what WE want in OUR house one day! Isn’t all so beautiful and dreamy?!

  13. megan says:

    Richard Cox, you have some big balls. Kudos. that Tucker Max book was an abomination.

    I agree with you. We do need these essays. I would pay $100 to read a completely vulnerable, literary and self-effacing account of The Masculine Difficulty with Intimacy. In all its unbecoming glory.

    Re: “most of us want the fairy tale as much as you do” I feel this. I’ve experienced this.
    And yes, women want security and commitment like a fat kid wants cake. We hunger for those things, aside from our awareness you might not be the right person for us.

    Nice job Cox.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Thanks, MLP.

      “I would pay $100 to read a completely vulnerable, literary and self-effacing account of The Masculine Difficulty with Intimacy. In all its unbecoming glory.”

      Hmmm. $100. That’s probably not enough to shame myself in such a way, but if there were, say, 1,000 women willing to pay the same, that might be a good start.

      Haha.

      Btw, do you hunger for those things from the current fella even if he might not be the right person for you?

      • megan says:

        Cox, you are the person to write these essays. I am sure of it. Name your price. Though if we are considering current economics, where royalties are 10-20% best case and most books retail for under $20, I am offering you roughly a 100% increase on projected earnings.

        Interesting too you thew out a book of essays, since the fiery minds feel essays will save contemporary literature.

        No current to speak of, but to answer your question, historically I’ve felt like forever was doable but still harboured major major doubts about marriage as a contract so we should have probably just gotten permanently engaged and moved onto other issues like why the fuck you leave your dirty clothes all over the floor like a toddler instead of breaking up. Ee.

    • “I’ve experienced this. And yes, women want security and commitment like a fat kid wants cake.”

      That line right there, Richard. Please edit it into your essay somewhere. That’s some funny shit, man. Maybe Megan is a dude after all. j/k

    • I hate Tucker Max. He’s such a complete anti-model for the modern man.

      In Fight Club, when Brad Pitt asks if you could fight anyone, who you fight? I would say Tucker Max. Assclown.

      • Richard Cox says:

        Tucker’s argument is that he’s the model for the real man and that modern men are pussies.

        For all his antics, I suppose the underlying theme is that while feminism has its place, there will be always be certain gender and societal roles that no amount of upheaval will erase. There will always be a pecking order, and ruthless folks will find their way to the top.

        Before they spectacularly fall and find Jesus.

        Okay, that last bit is my own. Haha.

  14. Rachel Pollon says:

    Loved the last line. Yeah, yeah — men and women are pretty different. Different but complementary. The same but go about doing things in entirely opposite ways. We humans are adorable.

    I very much like to read things from a man’s point of view that gives me insight into their psyches. I think the last time I felt surprised and privy in that way was when I read High Fidelity way back when. I suppose Nick Hornby isn’t exactly a macho writer but he lets us into your heads.

    Michael Chabon might be like that too. And Jonathan Ames for that matter. Wait, now I’m just naming male authors.

    I guess that’s not what you’re talking about though. They’re all rather sensitive.

    Maybe the more testosterone-fueled male writer likes to keep some of that stuff to himself so he doesn’t feel like he’s giving his playbook away?

    Interesting stuff to think about.

    • D.R. Haney says:

      Rachel, was there no insight to be had into the male psyche from Jason in Banned for Life? Don’t answer. It’s a terrible question. I withdraw it!

      Oh, and Richard, there are any number of standup comics who work the whole “What’s the deal with women?” deal. That’s where the action is, not literature. I’ve mentioned in the past at TNB that there aren’t many “manly” men writing (seriously, at least) these days, as opposed to, say, the fifties.

      Anyone who’s got a problem with women/men isn’t involved with the right person. That’s my very simple, and simplistic, take. I also think we deep down know who is and isn’t right for us, but we often ignore what we know and place ourselves in ridiculous situations. I personally don’t make that mistake anymore. Besides, I’m undateable.

      • Gloria says:

        I’ll bet I could carbon date you, Duke.

        TNB is funny. I believe it was once said (possibly by me) that it is probably the only site where the women are generally more masculine than the men. 😀

        • Zara Potts says:

          Really? I think the men on this site are very masculine and the women very feminine..
          How funny!

        • I’m not the man to argue against this statement.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Au contraire, mon ami.

        • Gloria says:

          I should point out that it was said, it was said jokingly. I just recalled my own joke because of Duke’s comment about a lack of “manly” writers on TNB. I’m certainly not going to prove my mettle by arm wrestling Daly or having a pissing contest with…well, anyone.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          I wasn’t talking, Gloria, about the lack of “manly” writers at TNB; I was talking in general terms. Where are the latter-day Mailers or Hemingways? If they exist — and they might — I’m unaware of them.

          I’m not speaking of behavior, by the way; I’m speaking of subject matter.

        • Gloria says:

          Sorry, Duke. I was trying to be funny (and obviously failing.)

        • it’s because nowadays writing is ‘like, totally gay’ so most men inclined to write tend to be a bit more sensitive.

          society’s perception of masculinity and what it means to be a man has changed.

          basically it’s feminisms fault. metrosexuality, moisturiser for men and all this ‘gender equality’ nonsense.

          men have become more feminine. simple as that.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Not only that, Irwin, but I would argue, at least in the U.S., a large swath of the country seems to have decided that “intellectual” is some kind of dirty word, and great pains are made to steer way from things deemed intellectual. Particularly among the crowd that considers itself the most masculine.

          Intelligent people are everywhere in the country, but the masculine smart folks seem to– generally, not universally–regard the arts as some kind of snobbery. Which may be why you find male literary authors emerging more often from the metrosexual set.

        • I had to look up ‘intellectual’ on google, and I guess you’re right about that being the case.

          I find myself a bit thrown by this debate. I’m quite intelligent and intellectual but I tend to paint myself as an unsophistiated pop culture junkie for comic effect.

          I also consider myself typically masculine in many ways— I love steak, beer, sports, scotch, stoicism, proving I’m better than everyone else— whilst simultaneously having all the physique of a twelve year old girl, the fighting prowess of a dead hamster and entirely non-sexual friendships with girls.

          I don’t really know where I stand. But I agree with you, and it’s kind of a shame the way it’s almost taboo to be masculine, smart and arty.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I wonder if there really aren’t that many masculine writers or if, because of the reasons Richard cites, in part, we just don’t know of them? Or, in part, intellectualism has run them off?

          I mean, if you’re running with intellectuals you’re not going to know many “anti” intellectuals. And furthermore, even if you did, this attitude in which so-called anti-intellectuals are anathema to the legitimate writing world would probably lead you to declare they didn’t count, anyway.

          See what I’m getting at?

          I mean, most traditionally macho/masculine behaviors–those we find in a hemingway or Bukowski, for example…the huntin’ the fishin’ the boozin’ the whorin’ around, quick temper, no b.s…. I mean, I gotta be honest with you. If a writer like that walked up in here, I’m pretty sure he’d be run off.

          Intellectualism is, ironically, remarkably intolerant in this way.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          But oooh! Ooh! Ooh! *wave arm* I’ve got one!

          Brin Freisin. Friesen? I’m not looking it up.

          Anyway. He’s macho/masculine.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          I was thinking about him.

          Scarily macho.

          Although I label anyone who has been to a gym ‘scarily macho.’

        • Gloria says:

          I officially recuse myself from this conversation.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Slade’s pretty masculine. World music notwithstanding. Reno’s working some machismo.

          I’m just going to keep listing everyone but Richard until he has a silent, total macho breakdown.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Ah, but Becky, your Jedi mind tricks don’t work on me.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Seriously, though, when writing a response to David down near the bottom, I was thinking about masculinity and what defines it, and I thought about the music issue. Why does a man’s music preference determine his masculinity? Or affinity for certain liquors? I wrote a post about this on MySpace one time, how the arbiters of gender definition can be so arbitrary, and it was funny to read the variety of responses that generated.

          Like, I like a certain flavor or I don’t, and that decides if I’m a burly man or a girly man?

          Where’s the evolved consciousness in that scenario?

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Oh, you think you’re immune, Richard. I’m sure you do. But this is a brain worm. It will burrow and burrow and burrow…

          By the by, I think Tony Dushane is working some kind of residual Jehovah’s Witness traditional male dominance thing, too…

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I don’t think they’re arbitrary. They follow–generally, if by a few degrees of separation–standard paths for more evolutionarily-relevant behavioral phenomenon.

          Men should like stronger liquor and need less masking of its flavor, since men are supposed to be strong and not afraid of dangerous or unpleasant things.

          Men should like louder music and/or music dealing with traditionally masculine subject matter like aggression, sex, etc.

          It’s not THAT confounding.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          There are probably other historical factors, with beer especially.

          Like, for example, during the 19th century and early industrial revolution, it was the preferred workday beverage of manual laborers. Kids would fill buckets at the local saloon and carry them out to workers at lunch time, selling it by the tin cupful.

          Manual laborers were not usually women. So it’s not tough to see how beer came to develop a sort of rough-n-tumble, hard work & sweat, macho thing.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Okay, but wouldn’t a feminist support the idea of redefining gender roles? Why should arbiters of masculinity be any different? Men “should” prefer unpleasant things to prove their relative manliness? Isn’t that a bit to close to the caves?

          And to take the alcohol example, beer contains significantly less alcohol than, say, bubblegum-flavored vodka. But no one would argue bubblegum vodka is more manly.

          In any case, I would expect a modern woman to be more attracted to a man who rejects these traditional definitions of masculinity. Everywhere on this board women are arguing against standard opinions of women’s issues and thought processes. So where is the equal support for the male side?

          And no, I am not arguing that men should begin swilling bubblegum vodka. Don’t even say it.

        • Richard Cox says:

          You beat me to the beer argument. But still I say, it’s 2010. Why the persistent belief in these antiquated masculinity signals?

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Well, I cross-posted the beer answer, above. Additionally, beer is something it’s easy to drink a lot of. And it’s macho to drink a lot. To be “strong” enough to “hold” one’s liquor.

          Why still? Because cultural norms are self-perpetuating things. Also, by a lot of measures, beer tastes bad. See above for discussion of the machoness of imbibing gross-tasting liquors.

          Why would you expect a modern woman to be more attracted to a less masculine man, again?

          That’s something she’d have to take up with her ovaries, dude. I don’t think most women’s hormones care too much about subverting the dominant patriarchal paradigm.

          I don’t think a modern woman should go seeking out effeminate men in order to assert her feminist ideology any more than a modern man should seek out butch, unattractive women to assert his ideological belief that inner beauty matters. I mean, unless they want to, I guess. But I don’t see it as any kind of ethical or ideological imperative.

          “So where is the equal support for the male side?”

          Is that really what this is all about? A search for some kind of validation of non-traditional masculinity?

          Women don’t want men to stop being men. Feminism isn’t about emasculation or the butchification of women.

          It’s about people having options.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I should also add that there is probably a class structure element to beer. Beer, both historically and now, is cheap and relatively easy to make.

          Manual laborers, in addition to being men, are generally not wealthy. So a type of liquor comes to represent a certain level of refinement or lack thereof.

          Or, it could be said, the difference between a person who works with his hands and one that doesn’t.

          Both women and wealthy men tend not to work with their hands.

          Hence, by a few degrees of separation, men who don’t work with their hands = women.

        • Richard Cox says:

          “Is that really what this is all about? A search for some kind of validation of non-traditional masculinity?”

          That’s definitely not what this is about. It emerged from a portion of the discussion. And besides, most guys enjoy a few things in their lives that don’t jibe with the typical masculine cues. The way to retain your masculinity in these cases is to completely own the thing and make no excuses about it.

          Because, in my experience, it’s not the things you do that define masculinity as much as the way you do them. The way you carry yourself.

          Re: ovaries. Baahahaha.

        • Richard Cox says:

          “…men who don’t work with their hands = women.”

          Hahahahaha. Good thing writers type with their hands.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          “Because, in my experience, it’s not the things you do that define masculinity as much as the way you do them. The way you carry yourself.”

          That’s an ideological stance.

          That’s a hopeful sort of thing.

          I mean, like it or not, whether you do it while scratching your balls and farting or not, if you walk around a Tulsa area bar with a sea breeze with a bunch of fruit hanging out of it, sipping daintily out of the straw rather than bending over the corner of your glass with your finger, you’re going to draw some looks and potentially have a hard time getting phone numbers.

          Just saying.

        • Richard Cox says:

          That sounds like a challenge.

          No, you’re right. There’s a limit to what you can get away with. But within a certain tolerance, I believe most women will accept your idiosyncrasies more easily if you aren’t constantly apologizing for them or being embarrassed by them.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          It is a challenge. I want you to go to a bar, sip your sea breeze or daiquiri w/ extra fruit from the straw, and try to meet women.

          Offer to buy them drinks. Say, “May I recommend the daiquiris? You’ve got to get the extra fruit, though. Delicious.”

          And please make sure it is videotaped.

          Oh, I don’t know. If you tease a man enough about his manties, for example, I have found he will quit wearing them.

          Slow, gnawing degradation over time. That’s the way to go. None of these undignified ultimatums.

        • Tawni says:

          I would argue, at least in the U.S., a large swath of the country seems to have decided that “intellectual” is some kind of dirty word, and great pains are made to steer way from things deemed intellectual. Particularly among the crowd that considers itself the most masculine.

          Y’all better stop that fancy talk rahght now, COLLEGE BOY, or me an’ the fellas er gonna kick yer fancy ass!

      • Richard Cox says:

        Duke, you’re right about the standup comics. And they do a great job mining these ideas for humor. But I still think literature is missing the boat here somewhere.

        “Anyone who’s got a problem with women/men isn’t involved with the right person.”

        That’s the whole post, isn’t it?

      • Jude says:

        “I also think we deep down know who is and isn’t right for us, but we often ignore what we know and place ourselves in ridiculous situations.”

        And ain’t that the truth…

    • Richard Cox says:

      “Different but complementary.”

      Totally. That’s a great way to put it, Rachel.

      I’m like you–I like to read books written by women to get a sense of how they view the world. It can be eye-opening, especially when women write from a male point of view. I’m sure you get the sense of that when men try to write women.

      I tried to write my last novel from the point of view of a masculine man who was a bit of a jerk, and my agent asked me to change it. He said it was too off-putting. I suppose if my sales were better I could get away with whatever I wanted. But it was interesting to see how even a man (albeit one who wants to sell my work) was aware of how careful I should be trying to build an audience. Or maybe I just wrote it poorly.

      I dunno about the playbook idea. Perhaps. Or maybe his persona is built upon being perceived as masculine, and if he drifts too far into the sensitive arena he fears he will lose that macho appeal.

      For what it’s worth, I enjoy reading the male authors you mentioned. Well, two of them, anyway. I haven’t read Ames yet.

  15. Gloria says:

    Like a bridge Over the Grand Canyon, you will lay you down?

    Also, I would like to point out that I read “chivalry has gone the way of the Dildo” on the first read-through and was disappointed that I’d read it wrong.

    What if the more accurate claim is that most men aren’t like the above examples because they simply aren’t afforded the same opportunities? What if it’s also true that more women aren’t like that for the same reasons? It’s a human thing – not a man/woman thing. I’m not saying everyone thinks this way. I’m just saying it’s a gender neutral way to think.

    Jesus. The grand sweeping statements in this piece are dizzying. Like the paragraph that starts with, “Or so a man might argue if he just had the balls” and ends with “If you’re willing to admit the truth?” Who the hell are these people you hang with man? Maybe it’s an Oklahoma thing?

    Ooooooooooooooooklahoma, where the grand, sweeping statements come winding down the plain!

    Women want to feel secure and special and loved; they want to know that no matter how many activities and friends and hobbies you enjoy, they remain the most important thing in your life. Men don’t want these things? Sweet. That relieves all kinds of pressure, should I decide to ever be in a relationship again.

    A burgeoning relationship is an interview, not a love story. Okay, this I agree with. Wait…does that make me a dude?

    The last two paragraphs are golden. So, so funny.

    • Richard Cox says:

      I might have used “chivalry has gone the way of the Dildo” except that, as far as I can tell, the Dildo is nowhere near extinct. Or even becoming less populous. Hahahaha.

      “What if the more accurate claim is that most men aren’t like the above examples because they simply aren’t afforded the same opportunities?”

      Ironically, when I wrote that line I immediately thought of an interview I saw once where Belinda Carlisle talked about how she took complete advantage of her status as a rock star, meaning she had many opportunities for casual sex. The difference here, one on which surely most of us could agree, is that Belinda Carlisle could have dropped by the local bar and found a decent looking guy to sleep with every night whether she was a rock star or not. Men are easier that way, generally. Women are typically a more difficult sell. Surely?

      Anyway, I’m not here to defend my grand, sweeping statements. I made them in jest, to encourage discussion, and you know I did. 🙂

      I mean, everyone knows nice guys always finish first.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        See. This is fucked up.

        This notion guys seem to have about any reasonably decent-looking chick being able to just walk into a bar and pick a hot guy–not just any guy, a good-looking one–and he’ll go home with her.

        The same notion was voiced by a friend of mine in the course of his divorce recently, when his man vs. woman angst was, perhaps understandably, at an all-time high.

        His whole thing was, a chick might NOT do that–but she COULD. Just pick a guy and he’d go. Women DON’T do it. Men CAN’T do it.

        I gently reminded him that he, too (he is drop-dead gorgeous, by the way. Like, shockingly so), could go into any bar and probably do the same. The only thing standing in his way was that he wouldn’t want to go home with any of the girls who would go home with him under such circumstances.

        Which is exactly why a lot of women choose not to do it. Same same. But men see it as, again, something women DO to them (refuse to sleep with them) rather than a decision they make for themselves–choosing not to sleep with anyone instead of sleeping with people that don’t appeal to them.

        Holy cow, man. Men are fackin’ crybabies.

  16. dwoz says:

    ahhh.

    Women.

    Can’t live without ’em, can’t shoot ’em.

    \nn/ \nn/

  17. Greg Olear says:

    This seems relevant somehow:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzUPG8olnO0&ob=av2e

    I think you should write this book, Richard. The dude’s answer to Eat Pray Love. Working title: Eat Prey Love.

  18. Matt says:

    FINALLY.

    I’ve never understood why we, as men, are supposed to feel ashamed of our natural impulses. Acting on them without regard for consequence is a bad thing, yes, but the notion that they’re somehow wrong or shameful just for existing is another matter entirely.

    Probably the biggest battles I’ve ever had involved trying to explain to whatever girl I was dating at the time that yes, my eye is going to wander from time to time, and yes, I will be attracted to other women, but that is in no way a reflection on you as a person ; it would be true even if I was with (>insert name of current Ridiculously Hot Famous Woman here<).

    I don’t have much choice in feeling these things (and really, they feel good – the female form is an awesome, awesome thing), it’s how I act on them that matters. When I’m in a relationship, I’m strictly a “look but don’t touch” kind of guy, or as I like to put it: I go to the museum to see the paintings, and my life is enriched by doing so…but I don’t feel the need to take them all home and hang them on my wall.

    I like Becky’s thoughts on the strip club/pornography mentality, and may start using that as a litmus test for potential partners in the future. Though I need to find a slightly more delicate way of putting it: “So, what are you thoughts on erotic photography/the human form in the nude?”

    Yeah…maybe save that for the third date or so.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Precisely. Our innate desires are no more “wrong” or “right” than those women have. Every time I hear the phrase “Men are dogs” I think, well, we’re just doing what we’re programmed to do. You can’t blame a whole gender for doing what they do. If men are dogs, what are women? Cats?

      That being said, there still exists a tremendous double standard when it comes to sexual behavior. As ZaraPotts pointed out above, or Gloria, or both, women have plenty of similar sexual urges, including having casual sex or having many sexual partners, and yet it seems society condemns them even more than men for this. That is obviously and equally unfair and wrong.

      But leaving that issue aside, I’m of the opinion, as you are, that gender behavioral trends are a known entity and basically a silly thing to get angry about. Both sexes ought to have figured this out by now. I wrote this from a man’s point of view, but women could make the exact same argument. We’re human beings, for Pete’s sake. We’re smart enough to figure this out.

  19. Judy Prince says:

    Richard, I don’t understand this.

    Could you synopsise it?

  20. Judy Prince says:

    Quite satisfactory, Richard.

  21. Karen says:

    Once again I find myself reading comments without having read the story yet. You writers and your amusing banter may be sabotaging the readership of your main events… or maybe I’m the only antsy one who jumps ahead like this.

    I’ll be back to read the main rant.

    p.s. never would have guessed moist panties (sorry ZP) would get so much air time.

  22. This was a fun read, and as I guessed from your first lines, the comment board has also been alight with more than a few entertaining comments. I think we were all awaiting the arrival of Becky, to be honest… And she did not disappoint.

    I like that you ended this thing so inconclusively. I was thinking last night about some puzzle or thought or something… and I came to the conclusion that I stopped trying to solve puzzles and answer questions when I was maybe 19 or 20 yrs old. You can wonder and wonder at something but in the end we always look like fools when we take one side and call that truth.

    There certainly is a lot of food for thought here… Men… Women… I don’t even know where to jump in, if I were to do so. The old “men are stupid, women are crazy” thing always stuck me as having some truth to it, but of course being a pretty stupid thing.

    Hmm… Honestly, I don’t know what to say without coming back and arguing with myself.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Certainly I wrote this piece fully understanding the ensuing discussion would overwhelm the piece. As I said above, knowing that literature is evolving into a discussion and not just some kind of artistic push marketing, writing a piece with an eye on conversation is the new black.

      “You can wonder and wonder at something but in the end we always look like fools when we take one side and call that truth.”

      This is an interesting point you make, David, and one that I revisit again and again. I’m the kind of guy who thinks humans rarely have it exactly right, “it” being whatever they’re so sure about, and I always tend to not fall squarely on one side or the other unless the evidence is overwhelming. However, to steer this idea into a gender discussion, my impression of women is that many of them (most?) prefer a man to take a stand, that they are attracted by conviction. I don’t want to paint with too wide a brush, so I’d be interested to read the take of a few women on this subject. Are you more attracted to the guy who picks a side and defends it to the end, or a guy who weighs many options and tries to come up with the best solution? Is it situation dependent?

      • Hmm… You might be right about women liking guys to take a stand, but I honestly don’t know. I prefer women who can debate something rather than pick something and fight for it. Same goes for guy friends. I’m not impressed by people who think they’re right because I think it blinds them to any other position.

  23. Tawni says:

    Grrrrr. I didn’t get on the computer last night and missed all the fun.

    First: Ew. No more talk about “spreading seed.”

    Second: Gross. You quoted that horrible John Mayer song in your tags.

    Third: Panties. NO. I read the comment discussion about this word, and agree with Zara and Kristen wholeheartedly. Underwear. Underwear for men, underwear for women. You wear them under your clothes. And “underwear” doesn’t sound like some cute term for an overheated lap dog.

    You are officially on notice, my favorite Xanadude. (:

    I’m a ridiculous tomboy, and aside from being primarily driven by emotion (logic, shmogic, said the sleeve-hearted girl), I don’t usually conform to the typical female stereotypes.

    I don’t care about many of the things I’m “supposed” to love as a girl, like shoes, lingerie, shopping, and all of the awful, gender-pandering movies and television shows aimed at my demographic. I sometimes wonder what’s wrong with me for not being into these things. (“I hate “Sex in the City” and love beer. Does that make me… butch?!”)

    As Becky mentions above, the idea of trying to coerce someone into a commitment is nothing short of ridiculous to me. Like cheating on a test and being proud that you got a good grade. You don’t actually have anything at all if it’s not real. I have walked away from marriage proposals and relationship ultimatums from men, and feel repulsed by descriptions of women trying to “tame” or “land” a man. Really? Give me a break. It makes me feel indignant and eye-rolly, like, Puh-lease. Don’t flatter yourselves, guys. But I know these women exist, because my husband dated one right before me. And it took him months to stop asking me if what he was wearing to go somewhere with me was okay. (I was bewildered. You’re a grown man. I’m not your mommy. Wear whatever you want!”)

    Good write, Richard. Such a thought and comment-provoking piece.

    xoxo.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      God, that’s exactly it.

      I’m not your mommy.

      If I have to be the one to keep us both well-behaved, it’s never going to work out. I’ve got a tenuous grip on myself at best.

      Though, if asked, I will give my opinion on an outfit. I usually don’t have to, though. My husband does a pretty good job of dressing himself. Such a big boy!

      • sheree says:

        Fuckin A. I don’t want to be your momma. Do what you’re gonna do. Be who the fuck you are.
        I don’t have enough time in my day to direct your life and mine too. I’m not a man or a woman. I am a human being. I eat, sleep, shit, fuck, work and play, fart and make endless mistakes trying to learn who the fuck I am. Why should a mans world be any different than mine?
        I don’t know, my culture is so different. I just don’t get what all the hoopla is about concerning relationships. You get what you bargin for in the long run.

        I think alot of people would rather be with someone than no one at all. One is the lonelist number, ah well yeah it is, if you don’t learn how to be alone.

        Theirs nothing wrong with being alone, but all this media shit could has some folks believing otherwise.

        I don’t know, maybe I’m retarded. My sense of independence and ablitity to be alone rather than concede to anothers idea of who the fuck i should be has freaked out men and women alike.

        Meh… I liked your post Mr Cox.

        And yes Mr Haney I thought Jason did give insight into what goes on inside the mind of some men.

        Pressing add comment before I spill anymore of my human guts all over the page.

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Yay! Thanks, Sheree!

          Keep the guts coming.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Thanks, Sheree. Like Duke said, keep the guts coming!

          I’d like to address this point in particular: “I think alot of people would rather be with someone than no one at all.”

          What of this? You mean settle for something less than what you really want or hope for? And what someone wants, is this based on their own desires or something that’s been manufactured for them by goofy romance novels or rom-com’s or fairy tales? How does one know if he or she is hoping for too much? Or something too rare?

          I find fairly depressing, this idea of picking someone to help stave off the boredom. But I’m sure it happens every day.

          Thoughts?

        • sheree says:

          I don’t think they see it as settling for less. I think they view it as potential for the perfect mate. Someone that could be possibly molded into the perfect mate. Yawn….

          I have seen people settle for shitty relationships because the sex was incredible. I’ve seen people settle for shitty sex because the person was incredible. Some people look for what they have been told and shown through books and movies that a relationship is.

          I can only speak for myself. I don’t want a fixer upper and I am not looking for perfection. I have mad respect for people who present themselves as they are.

          My husband did not hide who he is from me in order to gain my attention. He put his real self out there and hoped for the best.

          What we have is not a story book romance or a romatic comedy of perfection with hours of porn perfect fucking.

          What we share is who we really are with each other. Good, bad and sometimes insanely beautiful and on rare ocassions down right fucken ugly.

          However, we both know that we’re human and in reality humans aren’t perfect. Though some would like to believe otherwise.

          My culture is genderless. I don’t know how else to say it. Women are free to do as men and men are free to do as women. Plow the fields, hunt, straddle a horse, wear pants drink beer and drive a truck, gamble, smoke and cuss if ya had a mind too.
          Men were free to stay home raise the kids, cook, sew, clean, take care of elders and babies. Whatever fit the person no matter the sex.

          Hell I grew up with a guy who wore skirts all summer long because his balls sweat in pants and it made him uncomfortable. So he wore a skirt all summer. No one gave him shit for it.

          In my culture the only difference between men and women is that men pee standing up and women sit. Men provide seed for women to birth. Thats it. Nothing more. What makes a man? What makes a woman? Organs and nothing more. The rest is just society forcing constraints on folks. Again all of this is just from my point of view, gained while raised inside my culture. Which is American indian and celtiberian with ties to scythians. Long story.

          Not sure what you’ll make of all this but it’s all I have to offer. Meh, enough of my auld country mouth.
          I hope you find a mate who respects and accepts you for the man you are.
          Beers to ya.

        • sheree says:

          Here’s some media romance for ya: Google Zoosk dating commercial. Nothing about that adversement says romance to me. Everything about that commercial screams you look good lets fuck. Thats romance? Really?

        • Richard Cox says:

          “…romatic comedy of perfection with hours of porn perfect fucking.”

          Now that’s a funny line, Sheree. Hats off to you for that. Made me laugh.

          Congratulations on being in a down-to-earth, realistic relationship like that. We touched briefly on expectations somewhere else in the comments and that’s as important as anything in a real relationship. Not being misled by silly romantic comedies and romance novels (which are basically middle-aged lady porn). You guys are very fortunate.

          And I want to hear more about your culture. American Indian and Celtiberian with ties to Scythians. Sounds interesting. Is it a small community?

          Oh, and I watched that Zoosk video. Funny. Not that any other dating site is any more romantic.

        • sheree says:

          Google Scottish Scythians to find out more about those lines of my dna. The majority of my blood came to this country by forced migration, taken in willingly as slaves by the local populations. Not the transplanted populations, the original populations of this country.

          Most were WILLINGLY enslaved for about 10 years, but stayed in the same collection of people for centuries. Ties were made, blood bonds formed and respected. We are now back to more celtiberian than indian blood.

          My mothers lines have very interesting dna, however I am not comfortable talking about her lines in a public forum. There are still court battles going on due to her bloodlines. And with those fights still ongoing it’s just much easier if i remain silent about it.

          I have endured all the name calling and brow bashing that i care too on that subject. Not to imply that you or anyone else on this site would do that to me. But, there are people who sit and google all damn day long looking for things being said. The sites are attacked and any info disputed and destroyed. Now thanks to dna testing much of this is being settled. Yet the fights still take place. Heh, imagine that bigotry in America.

          Oh and sorry for all the cursing in my posts. I tend to get lippy when blabbing my auld mouth sometimes.

      • Tawni says:

        Exactly! I was like, “You’re asking ME for fashion advice? Oh dear. That won’t help you at all.” Again with the “tenuous grip on myself at best” thing you mentioned. I wear Converse sneakers with skirts, for chrissake. (:

        • Becky Palapala says:

          To be honest, it’s usually me asking him if I look ridiculous.

          And about 20% of the time, he’s forced to say yes. But he does it all nice-like.

          “It’s something…around or near the striped shirt, checked pants, and bowler hat, I think.”

          Just kidding. I don’t have a bowler hat.

    • Richard Cox says:

      I’ve been waiting for your response, Tawni. In my first long-term relationship, my lovely lady was a carbon copy of you. She would have answered the same way you did, in that she always felt marginalized with regard to her femininity because of her relative gender neutrality. And she was shy and hated social interaction and all that. Which is why I’ve always wondered how in the hell you EVER went on stage and performed in front of audiences. She would have run screaming from a stage, dragging the guitar behind her. And I say all this with total respect because we’re still good friends.

      Also, did you see my bit about Belinda Carlisle above? Care to comment on that? The relative ease you could meet someone, being in a band?

      It seems every woman who has commented about the “coercing commitment” concept has declared it to be ridiculous. So do the “other” women not read TNB, or are they neglecting to comment, or what?

      Also, Gloria joked above about something being “an Oklahoma thing,” but I definitely feel like gender roles and expectations in the U.S. differ depending on where you live. Having lived in California and the Midwest, what say you?

      • Dana says:

        “It seems every woman who has commented about the “coercing commitment” concept has declared it to be ridiculous. So do the “other” women not read TNB, or are they neglecting to comment, or what?”

        No Richard, they just don’t know how to read.

        It happens. I’ve witnessed it and it’s completely disturbing. However, I don’t believe it to be a female trait but rather one that applies to both sexes with extremely poor self esteem and in some cases it’s just a lack of maturity.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          TNB isn’t the kind of place that tends to encourage that kind of thinking. Or be too compatible with super-traditional ideas of any kind.

          In the grand tradition of people generally seeking out viewpoints that agree with them, it is not the least bit shocking that women with those kinds of ideas don’t hang around here too much.

      • Tawni says:

        Wow. You dated my emotional doppelganger. I’m glad you’re still friends with her so you don’t have to hate me for a bunch of weird and confusing reasons. Haha.

        I’ve thought a lot about your question, because you’re right; performing doesn’t mesh with my personality at all. Despite the fact that my shyness often renders me unable to form coherent sentences and/or covered in chest hives in social situations, I can get on a stage, play guitar, and sing with little fear. Honestly, I don’t quite understand it. The best logical explanation I can come up with is that I psychologically compartmentalize that facet of myself differently. Onstage in a band is possibly the only place in the world I’ve ever felt completely self-confident. Also, it’s impersonal. I think my social insecurities stem mostly from a fear of intimacy (stereotypically male, funnily enough), and there is nothing personal about a big crowd. I felt nervous about small coffee house-type shows because they are intimate, but when I played a show for hundreds of people, it was just exhilarating.

        Does that make any sense at all?

        I read the Belinda Carlisle comment. And yes, being a girl in a band seemed to make it easier to meet not only men, but people, maybe because we had a built in ice-breaker to talk about (music). It also made people feel like they could approach me, which is the only way shy people ever make friends or end up dating someone.

        I do recall going to a bar in my single mid-twenties with the specific intention of picking up some lucky fellow to take home with me for sexy time. And drinking at the bar alone. And going home alone. I decided they could smell the desperation on me. (People always want what they can’t have, right?) So it’s not always as easy for girls to pick up a guy as people think. But this is coming from the admittedly social inept among us, so maybe it was just me sucking at picking up a guy. Sigh.

        I think as far as the coercing commitment crowd goes, you’ve got a group of book-loving thinkin’ ladies here. None of the women I’ve seen commenting on TNB fit the vapid, superficial “trying to trap a man” stereotype of which you write. But I’ve seen them in real life. And I’ve seen just as many in California as I have in Oklahoma, Kansas or Missouri. It sounds very different where Gloria lives, though. Her state is all enlightened and shit. Lucky bitch.

        Jesus. Is it the time when I stop talking yet? Quick, somebody! Smell my sweet skin and let me lie in your arms so I’ll shut the fuck up! (:

        • Gloria says:

          That’s me: all enlightened and shit.

          Jai Guru Deva om, bitches. (<—- I stole that from Becky.)

          Seriously though – Portland may be super progressive, but I would never claim that you won’t find the spectrum of human behavior here, too.

        • Gloria says:

          So it’s not always as easy for girls to pick up a guy as people think. But this is coming from the admittedly social inept among us, so maybe it was just me sucking at picking up a guy. Sigh. This whole paragraph just described an experience that I recently had, from which I may never recover (is there anything worse than publicly making a fool out of yourself?) I blame the late hour and the whiskey. *sigh* But let me just confirm: a woman announcing her ready, willing, and ableness is not a guaranteed hot time. (And what’s hotter than slurred speech and the inability to look in one direction for any length of time?) Yeah, yeah, I’m still celibate. But through no fault of my own. I think I finally got over the hump, though. (Get it? Get it? Getting over the celibacy hump. Get it?)

          I’d totally smell your sweet skin while you lie in my arms, Tawni – in a non-sexy way though, of course.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          And, honestly, the few times I’ve actually found myself in those…um…impulsive aftermaths, it was never after a night I went out looking for any funny business.

          It was always some kind of accident. An idle Thursday afternoon happy hour or some shit…just gone totally apeshit.

          Maybe that’s dudes’ problem. They’re trying too hard. Try without trying, dudes! Try without trying!

          It’s the only advice I’ve got.

        • Gloria says:

          Dude. I totally wasn’t prowling – at ALL. I was fine, I was fine, I was fine and then KABOOM! It was 1:30 in the morning, I was drunk, and everything went totally apeshit. It all took about 10 minutes to go from okay to horrifying. And then it was over. (And this is totally not my M.O. I swear.) C’est la vie.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Mmmm. The cliff. I have been there myself.

          You’re…

          walking…walking…walking…walking…

          Then you’re…

          falling Falling…. FALLING!!!

        • Gloria says:

          Not a very feminine thing, man. Totally dude behavior. 😉

        • Tawni says:

          And what’s hotter than slurred speech and the inability to look in one direction for any length of time?

          Hahaha. “Wait! Let me cover one eye while we fuck so I won’t throw up.”

          Oh no. She’s over the hump, but falling off the cliff. Damn!

          *snuggles into Gloria’s arms, and scoots over to make room for Becky*

        • Richard Cox says:

          I must say this is an excellent thread. I still want to comment further on the “girl walks into a bar” discussion but first I wanted to golf clap you guys.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmjHT5GpAYQ

        • Becky Palapala says:

          No cuddling.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Tawni, regarding your long comment answer above, what you said about performing in front of a large crowd does make sense. A sea of eyes is a lot different than a few of them. Also, I noticed when I went out to do speaking engagements for my book signings, I was much more comfortable than when I spoke at work functions because I felt more confident in the subject matter: Me. Haha.

          It’s hard for me to get my mind around an attractive woman not being able to pick up a man at a bar. It’s not that I don’t believe you guys, it’s just that I can’t imagine many scenarios where a single guy would not like being hit on. And once you get him drunk, it’s not a big leap to taking him home, I wouldn’t think. I think you’re right in that people tend to sense desperation, as you put it, and maybe you portrayed yourself differently than you normally would because you were in unfamiliar territory. Whereas someone who is more comfortable with putting their sexuality on public display would come across differently. There’s also the notion that someone mentioned about standards and approaching someone attractive, versus who would be an easier sell. In any case it’s still difficult to imagine a typical guy turning down an attractive girl unless she’s extremely, uncomfortably forward.

          As an example, a few weeks ago I was at a local bar and a somewhat attractive girl was hitting on my buddy, and you could tell she was very interested in picking up someone. She was very drunk and made overt comments about the bartender and even me when my buddy went to the bathroom. In that case I certainly would be turned off, and eventually my buddy was as well. So she approached some other guy and in a few minutes they left together. That was interesting.

          On the geography question, maybe the commitment chicks are everywhere, they just wait longer to spring it on you. Because I thought Oklahoma had one of the lowest marrying ages in the country. Ha.

          Anyway, thanks for so thoroughly answering my queries.

          We are in Xanadu again, no?

        • Greg Olear says:

          Tawni, one of these days I’ll write about “Operation Wanting Widow” — this was before the term “cougar” was coined — where a twentysomething me, dressed in a vintage suit, went to six or seven hotel bars in Manhattan in search of older women who were into younger guys.

          Didn’t talk to a single person. Drank too much Scotch. Almost puked on the bus back to Hoboken.

          On second thought, I won’t write about it…

        • Tawni says:

          @Richard: “…Maybe you portrayed yourself differently than you normally would because you were in unfamiliar territory” is so right on. I wasn’t actively pursuing any guys because as a moderately attractive female, I’d never had to do the pursuing. And as a shy person, I was psychologically incapable anyway. I was just sitting at the bar where I knew the bartender, drinking alone. Which really puts out more of an aura of pathetic than availability. It was frustrating, though, because when I’d been in relationships and unavailable, I’d been hit on by men quite often. But now that I was free to do something about it, the crickets were chirping. Stupid crickets.

          It’s an everlasting world and you’re here with me, eternally, Richard. You know this.

          @Greg: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That’s awesome. No Mrs. Robinson affair for you, kiddo. (:

        • dwoz says:

          I will heartily second Tawni’s comments on being on stage. As crowds grow larger they very quickly morph into impersonal THINGS that you engage on an entirely different level than interpersonal.

          I’ve played in front of 5,000 people, and it was more like watching TV than being in contact. Throwing energy over the lip of the stage is like throwing rocks into the ocean. Hardest gig? playing in a small room for a VERY focused crowd of people who were music-educated and knew the material. When there’s at least 4 people out there watching your fingers to see if you make a mistake in the B section.

          Stage is theatre, which is fantasy. You don’t really HAVE to invest personally in it.

        • Tawni says:

          So true, Dwoz. It always bothered me that I could get on the stage at a big place (like the Metro in Chicago) and feel no fear, but put me in the corner of a coffee shop and my knees were knocking. The “folk singer girl with the acoustic guitar” thing is overdone (I wanted to be Joan Jett, not Jewel), so I always played electric. But as I got older, it really bothered me that I was such a chicken in an intimate setting. I finally said yes to the manager who had an acoustic night once a week at a club I’d played for years in my rock bands, and made myself play all by myself, on stage, just an acoustic guitar, microphone, and small practice amp. I just played my songs all stripped down, the way I wrote them. It was terrifying, but facing the fear made it easier over time.

          Do you cringe when your family asks you to play and sing for them at gatherings? I’m always like, “I actually care what you people think! I can’t do it!” (:

        • Richard Cox says:

          One benefit of playing to a small crowd, though, would be they typically don’t throw their smallclothes at you. Right? That ever happen to either one of you guys at a larger show? Do guys throw their smallclothes ever?

          Speaking of that, ZaraPotts was trying to get us to use muculent unmentionables, but what about succulent smallclothes? Eh?

        • Tawni says:

          Guys never throw their unmentionables, because ew. Nobody wants ball-sweat infused smallclothes tossed in their direction. It’s just really not as sexy as a scrap of lace to the face. Awkward.

          I played an outdoor all-day-long show (K.C. SpiritFest) with a vast and eclectic musical line-up. We were one of the later bands, so the stage was covered with bras when we got on. After I set up my amp, I draped everybody’s microphone stand with bras. It was very pretty. Like my four-year-old son told me when I caught him coloring on his Little Tikes Cozy Coupe with markers, “It needed some fashion.”

          P.S. I like succulent smallclothes because it makes me picture a desert plant wearing lingerie. I’ll have the Adriana Lima agave, please. Rowr.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Succulent smallclothes seems to roll off the tongue. So does Adriana Lima.

          *rimshot*

        • Tawni says:

          YEAH!!!!

          But seriously. That chick is HOT.

        • Gloria says:

          I had to look “Adriana Lima” up. Who the hell is that? Unreal.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Brazil must be the holy land. The women come with curvy Latin figures and blue eyes.

          It’s not fair, really.

        • Gloria says:

          I love the combination of dark skin and blue eyes.

          When I was a kid (about 12), in Vegas, I lived down the street from this guy who was around my age. His dad was African-American and his mom was Japanese. He had blue eyes. He was the most beautiful looking person in my age group I’d ever seen in my life.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I dunno if I have a type, but if I do it is women of mixed racial backgrounds. I’m not sure what it is. Maybe the blending of disparate facial features makes for an interesting look.

          But, typical guy that I am, I see beauty everywhere.

  24. Richard, this is awesome.

    I’ve been working on a piece on the new masculinity for two months now, constantly revising and pinging the site and revising and failing. Miserably. Because I don’t know what I want to say, for sure, or because there’s too much and I’m condensing considerably.

    Your piece did a great – and humorous – job at doing what I keep missing. Maybe I was holding back, which you aren’t. We should team up, write the supermasculinity epic for the ages. Well, you do the thinking and I’ll just look pretty.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Thanks, man. I’d be curious to read your piece. I wrote something else on masculinity once, I mentioned it to Becky somewhere above, and the basic result of the comment threads was that if you don’t like beer and pickup trucks, you aren’t a man.

      So good luck with that. Hahaha.

  25. Joe Daly says:

    Holy shit. I can’t believe I missed the tags first time around!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmjHT5GpAYQ

  26. Don Mitchell says:

    I’m a little late to this one because I’ve been driving for 4 days: drive, eat, sleep, repeat.

    Now that I’m in L.A. I’m whipped and can only think about gathering strength to meet any L.A. TNB folks who show up wherever it is that I’m supposed to be at 5 PM for the dog & pony show.

    It may not be an M/F issue but I’m worried about not being cool enough.

    Well, it’s not like a marriage. Or date.

    Anyway, Richard, I liked this piece because it’s thought-provoking and indeed has provoked some thoughts, and I’d like to get them out, but I don’t think I can manage them today.

    I cast my vote for what to me are the gold standards of M/F or in fact any other human relationships:

    — reciprocity
    — complementarity

    You get those going for you, you’re good.

    • Richard Cox says:

      I like your gold standards. Particularly reciprocity. And I’m glad you enjoyed the piece.

      Sorry to hear about the long journey and the resulting fatigue. But have no fear of your impending TNB meet-and-greet, Don. You’re among the universally loved here at TNB. Particularly among women. Someone will probably have to restrain Lenore.

      Let me know how it goes.

      • Don Mitchell says:

        Oh-oh. Ruth was going to come with me, but needs to be with her close friends (our hosts) today. I’ll have to count on Stefan to protect me.

        Sometime we’ll talk cars. I’m not tired so much from the driving itself, but from the attention that needs to be paid to driving when I’m driving mostly well over the speed limit and often on secondary roads. Fast driving without concentration is lethal — as if I had to say that to you.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Can I just say how envious I am of you right now! Wonderful road trips, wonderful TNBers, wonderful company!

          Please have a drink for me tonight! I’ll raise my glass to you guys from way down here x

      • Lenore says:

        i didn’t hurt him. i just took the napkin he used when he wasn’t looking so i could put it in my Don scrapbook.

  27. See what happens when you’re late to the party.

    Thank you Erika Rae, I love the word panties too. The rest of ya’ll are sick and that’s all I’m sayin’.

    Frankly, I count on the fact that you people want to sleep with everything that walks by. Given that I walk by a significantly other more than any other woman over the course of a day, I have that many more chances to get what I want from him. Particularly if it’s done – shall we say – in the buff. It’s been my experience that the minds of men tend to go blank when faced with naked boobies and therefore they are quick to agree to almost anything if it means they can touch them. It’s a dirty trick, I know, but a girl’s got to use what she’s got.

    😉

  28. One quote I’ve always liked from a woman (I can’t remember who) about men goes something like “Only men and dogs are capable of being both charming and disgusting at the same time.” Why men can’t find the acceptable outlet to revel in this duality, I don’t know. Perhaps it has something to do with being in charge for so long and screwing everything up so monumentally.

    But this is a great piece because of the points raised and because of what you’ve managed to unleash in the comments. It’s nice to see you and everybody willing to acknowledge masculinity for what it is, and move beyond the kind of gender politics discussion that marked many a liberal arts college class of mine where dialogue was so often governed by what you’re not supposed to say.

    So thanks for this and for making it clear that there’s more sexual tension in the TNB air than I thought.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Thanks, man. I’ve enjoyed a lot the discussion that emerged, both for some great points and also a lot of silly humor. I’m with you on taking ourselves too seriously in a conversation like this. I prefer a more open discussion, which seems more real world to me, even if it sometimes devolves into jokes about panties.

      That’s right. Panties.

      What could possibly go better together than TNB sexual tension and panties?

  29. Slade Ham says:

    Really, Rich? You post this during the three days I have been without internet? Damn you! I could have had some fun with this one… I do have some unpublished male-perspective stuff on my hard drive. I write it, I just rarely put it out there. Maybe I’ll take this as a challenge to post a piece or two.

    Oh, and I laughed out loud at the ending. Looking forward to next weekend. And the next.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Yeah, I forgot you were without Internet and then when I didn’t see you around I remembered. Bad timing. But maybe you can get drunk later and comb through the comments looking for choice arguments to refute. Hahaha.

      Looking forward to it as well, sir. Good times on the way.

  30. I’m late, Rich.

    You’re awesome. And what Slade said. Well, not about having unpublished male-perspective pieces on my hard drive, but the other stuff.

  31. Angelina :-) says:

    LOL! Can I get an AMEN! LMAO!

  32. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    After all, this is the only time you stop talking.
    Ha! The ending is awesome. That’s so true.

    This is great, Richard. I wanted to read this but don’t have time to read the previous comments, so I don’t know what-all’s been discussed, but I have to say, I always appreciate your unapologetically male point of view. I think I have an appreciation for men in general, simply because my life is sort of structured in a way, as a single parent, that makes them less available to me – the good ones, I mean, and this mostly has to do with time.

    I love how you acknowledge the pressure men feel when women jump the gun far and beyond the getting-to-know you phase too soon. I’m always afraid that because I’m a romantic, and a single mom, men are going to get the impression that I’ll want to run them down the aisle on the first date.

    I like how you acknowledge the nature of the male sex drive here, too. That’s the kind of honesty that gives women security. In my opinion, it’s about awareness. When you know who you are and how you’re programmed and you’re honest about it, it’s much easier to find someone you can fathom and who’ll understand you too.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Yeah, it’s a fine line between being a romantic and a hair-trigger soul mate, isn’t it?

      Thanks for your kind words. As much as I was being silly here, I obviously embedded plenty of truth in the piece as well. Behind every joke, right? And in the comments emerged all sorts of conversations that branched into others and we were able to cover a lot of ground. I’m sure you’ll enjoy some of the comments if you get a chance to look through them later.

      I appreciate you stopping by, LRC. And I’m glad you liked the ending. I tinkered with it a bit before inspiration hit. It’s always nice when that happens.

      • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

        I think the term *romantic* has been destroyed by Disney movies. My literary bent rarely translates. I mean, from my point of view, a real romantic will find hair-trigger soul mates shallow and ridiculous.

        And I can’t resist the commentary on this one for sure. As soon as I saw ZaraPotts using “moist” and “panties” in the same sentence, I was intrigued. And then, you know, Becky’s gravatar always gets my attention.

  33. Damn. I’m hella late in arriving to this party. Looks like I’m getting sloppy 313th’s on this one. Wonderful post, Richard. Insightful, funny, touching. Heck, if women were in the market to sleep with a TNB piece, this one seems like it has all the perfect elements for a tremendous one-night stand, and then some.

  34. J.E. Fishman says:

    Is it just me, guys, or are all the women who commented on this post HOT?

  35. Jude says:

    Late to the party and here I am at the bottom of the comments pile… Got to say I enjoyed your piece as well as all the comments. Some light relief in a week of heavy shit. Thanks Rich!

  36. Lenore says:

    i think men don’t write those books because most men don’t want to turn to it for entertainment. they have to deal with their annoying wives all day long. they don’t want to read a book about their annoying wives. also, most men aren’t very smart and they don’t know how to spell. that gets in the way of their writing a book about how horrible women are. finally, men are too busy masturbating, eating meat in the shape of phalluses, and then thinking up good lies to tell their friends about how many women they’ve bedded. no time for writing with a schedule like that.

    • James D. Irwin says:

      that pritty mutch nales it 2 b honest.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Well, also women are doing the majority of the reading. So there is a bigger audience for books that cater to their insecurities. On the other hand, only middle aged white men who live in New York are capable of writing high quality work. So you think they would be writing chick lit since they would obviously be better at it than the women themselves. All I know is Oprah should have this post on her show.

      • Judy Prince says:

        “Well, also women are doing the majority of the reading. So there is a bigger audience for books that cater to their insecurities. On the other hand, only middle aged white men who live in New York are capable of writing high quality work. So you think they would be writing chick lit since they would obviously be better at it than the women themselves. All I know is Oprah should have this post on her show.”

        Richard, I echo here Irwin’s delightfully succinct comment: “that pritty mutch nales it 2 b honest.”

        Which, itself, was a comment on Pookie’s brilliant analysis: “i think men don’t write those books because most men don’t want to turn to it for entertainment. they have to deal with their annoying wives all day long. they don’t want to read a book about their annoying wives. also, most men aren’t very smart and they don’t know how to spell. that gets in the way of their writing a book about how horrible women are. finally, men are too busy masturbating, eating meat in the shape of phalluses, and then thinking up good lies to tell their friends about how many women they’ve bedded. no time for writing with a schedule like that.”

    • Gloria says:

      eating meat in the shape of phalluses God that’s funny.

  37. Brin Friesen says:

    About the best I can do on the machismo front is confess that I enjoyed your ballsy little piece shortly after peeling not one but *two* Valencia oranges with my teeth in front of an awed bi-racial spouse.

  38. Simon Smithson says:

    I’m so glad I don’t understand human relationships right now. If I did, this would probably confuse me.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Hi, Simon! You aren’t any more confused than me. I only pretend to understand women. In reality they are less predictable than the weather on Mt. Everest. And much, much colder.

      • Simon Smithson says:

        HI RC!

        How are you, man?

        Also like Mt. Everest, women have yetis.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I’m great, Simon. Except for my Dallas Cowboys played like losers tonight. That’s an American football team. 😉

          Women have yetis? You mean when they forget to shave?

          How are you, sir?

          • Simon Smithson says:

            And what a bunch of cowboys I’m sure they are.

            No, I mean the actual abominable snowman. The mythical eight-foot-beast.

            How that works, I have no idea. I just feel, very strongly, on the basis of no evidence at all, that it’s the truth.

            Sort of like every decision a woman ever makes.

            Hiyo!

            I’m well! I’ve been in a bit of an unpleasant patch, but I think the clouds have cleared. Which is awesome. Unless you want to go snowboarding.

        • Richard Cox says:

          “Sort of like every decision a woman ever makes.”

          Hahahaha. Haha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

          We should have co-authored this piece.

          I’m sorry to hear about your unpleasant patch. I’m glad to see the clouds have cleared. I would love to go snowboarding. But right now it’s still hot and humid here in the States.

          Antarctica, anyone?

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Heh.

          I have another co-authored piece in the works, as a matter of fact. If I could just get WordPress to be reasonable. Does anyone know anything about images?

          It’s freezing over here, and we’re getting more rainfall than we’ve had in a decade, so you could just come over here?

        • Richard Cox says:

          I’m checking with Sir Richard Branson regarding airfare. I’ll get back with you.

          What’s the problem with your image(s)?

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I wish I knew. In the editing of the article itself and previews, they work fine. When I try to publish the actual piece… nada.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Are you uploading them via WordPress or linking to images hosted elsewhere?

          You can PM me if you want. Not that I know any more than you.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Uploading via WordPress.

          I WILL PM you. Although it may not be for a little while. Lots to do!

  39. Katie Arnoldi says:

    Love this, Richard Cox. LOVE IT.

  40. Marni Grossman says:

    The problem isn’t so much with men or women but with our public conceptions of what those words mean. In women’s studies classes, we often talked about how patriarchy hurts men too. And here’s a perfect example. Not every man is a strong, silent type. Just like not every woman is a weepy, needy princess. We’re so much more complex than the gender binary would have us be.

    • Richard Cox says:

      I totally agree, Marni. I see gender as more of a spectrum. Though there are obvious physical differences, even those can be misleading on occasion. I wrote this as a spoof of the typical gender-bashing dialogue because to me those types of conversations get us nowhere.

  41. sheree says:

    Read this article today and thought of your post. Heh.
    Testosterone May Be Screwing Up The Economy By: Brian Alexander on the site: The Body Odd.

    • Richard Cox says:

      I don’t doubt that in the slightest, Sheree. I think I even made a joke about the rams somewhere in the comments above. It’s funny to think of all the primal factors that are pulling the levers of the human species, whether we want them to or not.

      Like how almost all advertising is about sex. Because that’s what fuels the engine of the animal kingdom, no?

      • sheree says:

        A point well made.

        Total truth and a brilliant line: “It’s funny to think of all the primal factors that are pulling the levers of the human species, whether we want them to or not”.

        Beers to ya!

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