A little link hopping while working on that last post brought me to this article in the Times. It’s called “Women have So Many Don’ts. What’s a Guy to Do?” Can you tell where this one’s gonna end up yet? Just wait.

men_womenIt starts off talking about a popular post on a “women’s” website, Jezebel.com, where women commented in droves about the stupid things men have said to them in the process of trying to get some, they created a long list of “don’t tell me…” instructions for men. Quite amusing at first really, worth a glance, though after a while I was stunned. It makes men look incredibly dumb, and, though I’ve known some dunces, this makes them look much worse than I would have guessed. Maybe I’m lucky. Though I did have one guy tell me almost immediately upon meeting me that (since he’d seen me on Mobuzz) “I looked thinner on video.” That was a stunner. (Fave comment so far from the Jezebel article: “On the first date, please do not tell me about your psycho ex and the time she made you to wear fishnets and heels before sex in an effort to emasculate you.” Weird!)

Anyways, that actually wasn’t point of the article. Later they mention a study that shows women find self-deprecating humor most sexually attractive in a man:

Gil Greengross, the anthropologist behind the research, was quoted in The Observer, explaining: “The frequent use of self-deprecating humour in sexual context – with potential mates, established mates or sexual rivals – was astonishing … people who used this humour were considered to be more desirable as mates.”

So far, so encouraging, you might think. There’s hope for us all. But Greengross ruined it all by adding the following caveat: “If you are a low-status individual, using self-deprecating humour can be disastrous to you. Think about the secondary school child whom nobody liked, who makes fun of his shortcomings in sports. His peers mocked him and he was considered more pathetic than he was previously.”

In other words, to impress, men need to be hugely successful, but pretend that they are not.

Now, note the bolded line [emphasis mine] is the writer’s interpretation, not the study’s. You could also just as easily put it this way “women like successful guys (not the pathetic losers who no one likes cuz that’s the point, no one likes them) but who are also humble about it.” Would you expect girls to like lame failures who think they’re god’s gift?

The times is subtly painting this as “women put men in an impossible position” (though, note, he actually doesn’t use the active, he merely says men “are in” this impossible position) and the feel of the article is a bit “bitter man blaming women but trying not to be overt about it” for my taste. Here’s this journo’s further analysis:

Men need to convey sexual desire without sexualising the person in front of them, need to be authoritative, opening doors, paying bills, deciding where to go and so on (recent research found that 60 per cent of women would consider it a bad first date if they paid), yet treat women as absolute equals. They need to flatter without seeming overly impressed, they need to care about their appearance (but not too much), and when it comes to chatting up, they need to take the initiative, and absorb any humiliation that comes their way, without seeming at all arrogant or pushy.

I’m sorry, is he really saying that we’re unreasonable and being “impossible” because we like: not being sexualized, being treated as equals, men who are confident (“not overly impressed”, “take the initiative”), men who are well-groomed but not vain, men who are strong and resilient and finally, men who aren’t arrogant? Umm, that’s all pretty common sense to me.

The trick is in his language. The argument almost sounds convincing the way he writes it, but not because of the content, because of the way he sets up these propositions. He’s setting the two qualities in each phrase up as opposites, or contradictions. But they’re false oppositions. “Men need to convey sexual desire without sexualizing” – yeah, and? There’s no inherent contradiction there. Men do it all the time. I’ve seen it. And women manage to do it to. It’s a good thing. Let’s encourage it among everyone, not declare that it’s impossible, and that women should lower the bar, ok?

Let’s take another look: “[Men] Need to be authoritative, opening doors, paying bills, deciding where to go and so on …, yet treat women as absolute equals.” Again, and? Just because a woman likes a decisive, confident guy who knows what he wants (out of a date, out of life, whatever) doesn’t mean its therefore unreasonable for her to want to be treated as an equal human being. This writer’s a dick.

All the qualities he lists are perfectly normal qualities, that, if asked about separately, most of us would say we appreciate in people, in general, not just in men. Do we like clean people? Yes. Do we like humble people? Yes. Do we like confident people? Yes. Do we like people who treat us like human beings, not things to fuck? Double yes.

He makes it out to be this labyrinthine complicated list, but any of us could come up with a long list of specific qualities we like in people, in general. I like good conversationalists but I also don’t like bullshitters. “OMG! I have to talk to you!? And NOT out of my ass?!” Yes, sorry to say, you do.

(I’m not sure where the “taking humiliation” part fits in btw, cuz that makes no sense to me at all, is he really saying women in general like to see men be humiliated? I’d hate to see my man humilated. It’d make me sad 😦 )

And the kicker. (Remember, its womens’ impossible demands that create this chaos, and though he doesn’t repeat it, the emphasis is on confusion and difficulty for men on the dating scene, not for women)

In short, the early stages of hooking up are more fraught with potential disaster than a stroll through the streets of Kandahar, more political than an episode of Question Time, more unpredictable than Gordon Ramsay on ketamine. It’s no surprise that so many men are rendered incoherent and imbecilic by the pressure of it all – and truly some kind of miracle that any relationship manages to begin at all.

Aha! So if your date’s a moron and says incredibly imbecilic things like those linked to above – it’s only natural! What did you expect, women, being so demanding? Confusing men’s poor widdle brains (I mean, geez, in the end its insulting to men too!) It’s your own fault for expecting him to be (essentially) a decent person.

Shit. It all makes so much sense now. Thanks, Dickwad From the Times 🙂