Apparently, Kay Hymowitz wrote an article mourning that young men spend a lot of time playing video games instead of making babies. I have my doubts—Hymowitz is a standard issue wingnut welfare writer, and therefore blaming men for anything is against her contract, unless said men can be proven not to be white—but nonetheless she’s come around to make it very clear to her benefactors that if there’s something wrong with young men who don’t get married and make babies right out of college (something that’s debatable in itself), then all of the blame can be placed on the shoulders of women. 100%, complete, not a speck of blame goes to men for male behavior. I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief.
Their argument, in effect, was that the SYM is putting off traditional markers of adulthood—one wife, two kids, three bathrooms—not because he’s immature but because he’s angry. He’s angry because he thinks that young women are dishonest, self-involved, slutty, manipulative, shallow, controlling, and gold-digging. He’s angry because he thinks that the culture disses all things male. He’s angry because he thinks that marriage these days is a raw deal for men.
Ah yes, the marriage “boycott”. Your average feminist is well-acquainted with the boycott. We get warned about it all the time by certain men: You women shape up and accept your second class status, or we boycotters will continue not to marry! It’s interesting, because it’s as if a bunch of people who don’t shop at Bloomingdale’s because they can’t afford it decided to redefine their non-shopping behavior as a “boycott”. Do they really think that’s going to fool anyone? I disbelieve there’s any such boycott going on, but if there is, good! Men who think women should be held to a separate, unfair standard should remove themselves from the dating market until that day that they grow up and realize the world doesn’t revolve around them and their desires. The problem isn’t that there’s a “boycott”. The problem is that there isn’t one. The people who are showing up at Bloomingdale’s to gawk are getting in the way of paying customers, to extend this metaphor way past the comfort zone.
What’s interesting about the demands of the Nice Guys® that Kay pities is that they’re self-contradicting.
Here’s Jeff from Middleburg, Florida: “I am not going to hitch my wagon to a woman . . . who is more into her abs, thighs, triceps, and plastic surgery. A woman who seems to have forgotten that she did graduate high school and that it’s time to act accordingly.”
Poor Jeff! Women owe it to him to have a BMI of no more than 18.5, but if they show any visible effort to get this, they are disqualified. Going to the gym to get your body perfect for a demanding man gets in the way of other ways you could be spending your time to make a demanding man happy. You could be cooking food he likes, instead of that rabbit food you eat, for instance. Women, you suck. You need to be thin and taut, but eat like a horse and be able to spend all your time lounging our playing video games instead of working out.
How do I know that Jeff wouldn’t be happy with a chubbier lady who did eat more and work out less? Well, if he was willing to date such women, he wouldn’t be generalizing this way, now would he?
Alex: “Maybe we turn to video games not because we are trying to run away from the responsibilities of a ‘grown-up life’ but because they are a better companion than some disease-ridden bar tramp who is only after money and a free ride.”
Indeed, one wonders why a man who is prone to using terms like “disease-ridden bar tramp” finds that his only opportunities for physical affection come from women who want the money up front before they touch him. With charms like his, he should have women on him like he’s James Bond.
This is from Dean in California: “Men are finally waking up to the ever-present fact that traditional marriage, or a committed relationship, with its accompanying socially imposed requirements of being wallets with legs for women, is an empty and meaningless drudgery.”
Hear hear! If your wife is nothing to you but a source of paid labor in the form of sexual service and housework, then why waste your time on amateurs? I can agree with Dean—men who are interested in service women should stay away from the messy emotions of those who want things like love and passion in their lives, and stick with women they don’t weigh down with their bullshit. When I have housekeepers clean my house, I don’t have to marry them, either. I just pay them and everyone’s happy. Of course, I pay a fair wage, so I’m probably doing more than Dean thinks he should.
So what’s to blame for all this male anger? The obvious conclusion to people not on the wingnut welfare tap is that a handful of men who wrote Kay are megawatt assholes with a major sense of entitlement. You know, it happens. There are people of every race and gender who are incapable of relating to others as human beings, and so are easily angered when other human beings make choices for themselves instead of the care and comfort of the megawatt asshole. But since this is a wingnut welfare piece, the source of the problem is not, “Some people are just big assholes,” but women, or specifically women’s equality. See, things were better for men in the days when women were all allowed to only have a very standardized set of desires: Find a man (any man) who will have you, marry him, and have babies. And only one gender was allowed to be capricious, have mixed feelings, move through phases of their lives, or be manipulative for sadistic reasons.
The reason for all this anger, I submit, is that the dating and mating scene is in chaos. SYMs of the postfeminist era are moving around in a Babel of miscues, cross-purposes, and half-conscious, contradictory female expectations that are alternately proudly egalitarian and coyly traditional…..
The woman may be hoping for a hookup, but she may also be looking for a husband, a co-parent, a sperm donor, a relationship, a threesome, or a temporary place to live. She may want one thing in November and another by Christmas. “I’ve gone through phases in my life where I bounce between serial monogamy, Very Serious Relationships and extremely casual sex,” writes Megan Carpentier on Jezebel, a popular website for young women…..
In fact, young men face a bewildering multiplicity of female expectations and desire. Some women are comfortable asking, “What’s your name again?” when they look across the pillow in the morning. But plenty of others are looking for Mr. Darcy.
Oh my god, that’s terrible. Different women want different things. Women may want one thing now and something else entirely later. Women have different personalities and change as they age. Some women are players and some women are husband-hunting. Some women are assholes, and others are sweethearts. Some toy with your emotions to boost their own ego. You can’t just input “flowers + smiles + ring” and get what you want out of women. You have to think about their desires. You have to wonder what they want. You have to talk to them and try to figure out what they expect. Sometimes they don’t know, and put you off. You may even be forced to discuss your dates over coffee with a friend. They may stress you out. You wonder when they’re going to call. If they really like you like they say, or if they’re leading you on.
Dating women sounds a lot like a lighter, simpler version of dating men, actually. No wonder sexist assholes are so humiliated by it that they react by flipping out and trying to punish women, by calling for a boycott until all women want the same thing and acting the same way, or in lieu of that, trying to control our behavior by, say, getting abortion banned.
Kay Hymowitz and her self-pitying man squad can go fuck themselves off a cliff. The premise of her article—that women’s basic human right to self-determination should be rethought because it means men have to put more effort into dating that puts them closer, though still far short, of what women have to put into dating—is unbelievably demeaning. People who rail against feminists because we believe that women are—gasp!—people, and should be treated as such never fail to amaze me.
To be generous to men who claim confusion, though, I will say that our media does no good by them. If you flip on your TV or go to the movie theater, most images you see of women will posit that the world is stuffed full of beautiful women (who never have to work at it) that are lonely and desperate to marry just about anyone to avoid the horrible fate of spinsterdom. That the world is a fairy tale for straight men, where women are so desperate and so single-mindedly focused on the ring that you can pretty much do anything you want to women without receiving any blowback, because they’re so afraid you’re going to take that ring away. Even my beloved “30 Rock” mines humor out of the baffling idea that professional women in their 30s are desperate for male attention, and it makes them, if not give up their career aspirations, at least feel very conflicted. If you’re a dude and you go out there under the impression that women have an air of desperation, and that things like making your own money or being independent are just brave fronts women put on that fly off the second a guy—any guy—presses his hand, then you’re going to find the real world to be a massive disappointment. It’s not just that women spend time at the gym and still have cellulite. It’s that the career and the independence might not be a front for a lot of women after all. And that women aren’t so desperate for marriage that the name and identity of the groom don’t matter much. You have to actually try. You find that women have desires that are complex like actual human desires, and that you have to behave, well, a little more like a woman if you want a healthy relationship. You have to care what the other person wants. You may even have to ask.
Smart men realize a) that this isn’t such a big deal since it’s women’s lot in life and b) women generally still have it worse and end up putting more time and effort into dating and mating than men, even though things are more equal. And they don’t get bitter, but do what they have to. Many even decide that dating real women who have ambitions and idiosyncrasies is more enjoyable than dating imaginary fembots who perform up to expectations would be. Real women are human, which means that if you accept this, they often end up being more than sex-and-service dispensers, but can be your lovers and your friends. That spending time with a girlfriend can be more than a chore endured for sex, but like spending time with your human (aka, male) friends—fun and interesting. I know, crazy.
But Hymowitz isn’t doing her male readers any favors by playing up their thwarted sense of entitlement. Instead of burrowing into a bitter, sexist pseudo-boycott, these men would be better off accepting women as equals, and realizing that means that they have to put up with some of the stuff women have to put up with from men (mixed signals, confused expectations, relationships that peter out because of different goals), but in the process, they’re regained some of their own humanity by believing in the humanity of women.