What’s Wrong With Men

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There are two things about which I am obsessed with reading:

1: The current American president and the fascination with how many people can support him despite his inherent lack of honesty and character.

2: Far-left cancel culture, which has tried to take down liberals from Stephen Colbert to Matt Damon to Joe Biden for the transgression of not being sufficiently “woke.”

Which leads me to this column by one of my favorite writers, Andrew Sullivan.
Sullivan is a man who defies categorization. He’s British but lives in America. He’s conservative but supported Obama. He’s gay but he’s married and pro-masculinity. He’s a Catholic but he is critical of the church and respectful of non-believers.

You can understand why I like him: he’s not a caricature. He’s thoughtful. Nuanced. Well-read. Can see arguments from multiple sides.

So when you click here, skip the stuff about Trump and read the piece about JK Rowling. It’s an astounding example of how untethered my fellow liberals have become when it comes to sex and gender. Sarah Silverman once had the Twitter mob after her because she made a joke that assumed that women had vaginas…until it was pointed out to her that transgender people didn’t so it was wrong to make such assumptions. This JK Rowling thing is just as nuts – and thankfully, it’s mostly blown over.

But the REAL reason I’m sharing this piece from December is because it alludes to Peggy Orenstein’s work interviewing teenage boys about masculinity and how far astray these young men have gone.

Per Sullivan: “Orenstein reports the following facts drawn from her meticulous research: Boys brag to each other about whom they’ve had sex with and compete for girls, they boast about how they screw around on girls, they tend to admire jocks and athletes and mock those less active in sports, they try not to cry in public. They admire “Dominance. Aggression. Rugged good looks (with an emphasis on height). Sexual prowess. Stoicism. Athleticism. Wealth (at least some day).” 

Yup. A deep dive look inside American high schools to reveal that…teenage boys still act like teenage boys. I anxiously await the similar revelation that teenage girls can be mean.

Sullivan continues: “Orenstein — of course — has as a premise that masculinity is entirely a cultural or social construction that can be altered by reeducation. Hence the title of the piece, which refers to the “miseducation” of boys. But what if a hefty chunk of masculinity is not social or cultural but rather biological, genetic, crafted by hundreds of thousands of years of natural selection? What if so much of what she abhors — admiration of strength, envy of others’ ability to have sex with women, aggression, nonverbal forms of interaction, stoicism, risk-taking, mutual mockery, bawdiness — is intrinsic to being male? Because this possible alternative or complementary explanation is never raised in the essay, it is never argued against. If Orenstein could prove that men never used to be like this or point to a culture in which men are not like this, she’d be a lot more persuasive. Instead, you’re left with the sinking feeling that the essay is really simply a lament: that men are men, that they are different, that their world can be alien to women, and that their rituals and discourse and company are somehow inherently problematic in a way that women’s simply could not be.

“Men are not just hairy women.”

The boldface is mine. Indeed, that paragraph explains why I still have a job after 17 years. For all the power of the internet, all the research that’s reported and all the content that’s posted and reposted, for some strange reason, many women still can’t accept the fact that – as my peer, Alison Armstrong says, “Men are not just hairy women.”

Instead of judging and focusing only on the negative, I try to get my clients to see things from all sides. Without forgiving men of their worst sins – stalking, sexual assault, verbal abuse etc – how can we look at dating in a more objective way?

My client laments that a guy let her split the check. She never considers what it’s like to pay for two dates a week with women who have no interest in you.

My client laments that guys have lame profiles and intro emails online. She never considers how hard it is to come up with a winning opener to a generic profile on an app.

My client laments that men are looking for younger, thinner women. She never considers that she refuses to consider shorter, less wealthy men.

We know that men are notoriously bad at understanding women, but why do you think smart women are so willfully unable to accept that men may approach life a little bit differently – and that this difference isn’t inherently wrong?

Please check out Sullivan’s piece in New York and share your comments below.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Jeremy

    Indeed. Sullivan asks what if dominance etc are intrinsic to being male. Good question, though I happen to disagree that it has more to do with gender than personality. But I’d ask a different question – what if female attraction to men is based on all those things? What if the men that women are trying to create through their advice are precisely the men they don’t find arousing, attractive-for-relationships though they are?

    In the post about cuckoldry, one commenter cited the book “A billion wicked thoughts.” I enjoyed that book, simplistic and somewhat flawed though it was. But one thing I thought the book did well was parse out what men and women each, as a group, find attractive in the opposite gender. Worth a read. The dominant, strong male with a mushy interior that is only accessible to her….

    I sometimes wonder whether the advice women give men is given because they don’t really believe men will follow it. That it might temper some men’s natural state, but not change it. That they don’t really believe men will actually do what they ask, but just turn down the knob slightly?

    1. 1.1
      jo

      Jeremy, there’s a logical, plausible answer to the seeming paradox you describe (although some men may not want to hear it). The advice that you claim that women are giving to men is because women value men’s friendship and companionship – they don’t necessarily want to be attracted to or have sex with the men.

      Just as men don’t think like women, so women don’t think like men. For many of us, intercourse isn’t that exciting, therefore we don’t focus our efforts on getting more of it. But we do value friendship and male companionship.

      1. 1.1.1
        Jeremy

        The only part of your comment with which I disagree is the notion that men don’t want to hear this. It’s EXACTLY what we need to hear. If men understood what this advice actually was, the motivation with which it is given, the desired end-result, we’d be far less likely to listen to it. The reason men follow this advice is because we were given to understand that it was the advice we were actually asking for. Sparkling Emerald recently chided me for expecting women to overtly mention things that (to her) should be obvious. But I only need people to mention the things that are obviously not obvious to the people hearing them.

        Seriously, if a woman asked a man for advice on how to find true love and emotional intimacy, would she appreciate advice on how to give a great blowjob? Whether or not that was what the male advice-giver valued far more than he valued intimacy?

        1. jo

          Oh, we women hear that kind of advice… all. the. time. It is a universal, not just limited to one gender, that we tend to give what we want to receive.

  2. 2
    Bbq

    All the men are from mars women are from Venus type advice from the past may not have been entirely accurate, but it I still think it produced better results (for both sexes) than the current advice, basically – “men you need to change however we feel you need to change till you need to change in a different way” and women – “you perfect, your problems are somehow men’s fault”. Yeah that’s gonna help.

    Men gonna men. Women gonna women. Better off searching for the modern yingyang that trying to enforce “women’s vision” of equality (which ironically highlights their gender differences to men) Cos unless it’s really possible to brainwash the next generation of men, that ain’t gonna hold.
    And based off the teenage boys I interact with, it’s already failed with them.

  3. 3
    Emily, to

    My sample is small, but of the few young men I know (25 and younger) they seem a lot less dominant and “traditionally male.” So if that’s what younger women say they want — a more “woke” man — it seems to be happening. I don’t even see young people flirt with each other. The sexes are blending ino one.

    1. 3.1
      Bbq

      I’m a few years older than that and all I can say is your sample size must be small.

      1. 3.1.1
        Emily, to

        BBQ,
        I have a older male friend who calls it the “wussification of America.”

    2. 3.2
      Buck25

      “So if that’s what you’re women say they want–a more “woke” man–it seems to be happening”

      Emily,
      Actually that’s happened before; late eighties/early nineties, as I recall, when many women decided they wanted a “Sensitive New Age Guy” (that’s SNAG), which basically meant a woman with male plumbing, as it were. Maybe they had the idea that if only they could have a heterosexual version of their more effeminate gay male friends, all would be well with a woman’s world; but who knows. At any rate, more than a few of those women got exactly what they were looking for. What followed was a fine example of “Be careful what you wish for!”

      From a man’s point of view, what happened after women had about 2 or 3 months with their SNAGs was really funny, as they quickly tired of the pathetic lapdogs. Oh, they got a man who would cry at weddings, just loved to share his oh-so-sensitive feelings, would listen to them vent for hours on end, and loved watching chick flicks, not to mention enjoying all sorts of trendy, New Age things that women loved and traditional men sneered at. Unfortunately, the SNAG typically cried over all his own hurts in life, needed constant nurturing and validation, (comparison to present-day “snowflake” boys is irresistible, and pretty much on target), was massively insecure, had little to no self confidence, was totally lacking in sex appeal, and like many a very beta wuss, passive-aggressive to boot. He bled his emotions all over the floor, and wet it with constant tears as well; he was as messy and whiney as a new puppy, and a lot less endearing, once the novelty wore off. Women got sick of them in a hurry after that; most were happy to get back to dating traditional men, imperfections and all.

      I guess it proves that no really bad idea ever dies, and now we have another generation of women wanting to remake men in the supposed perfection of their own image. The bad news is that there will be a shorter supply of masculine young men for a while; the good news is that, like the last time, the situation will be self-correcting eventually. In your own case, the men in the age cohort you are likely to date aren’t likely to have the problem, as few of them are “woke” or were raised as snowflakes. A good thing; as YAG said in another thread, I’ve never seen a “woke” man who was remotely alpha.

      1. 3.2.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        Buck, FYI: you shouldn’t turn this into something binary. It’s not. I know I’m just one guy but I feel have accomplished much in my career, make a good living, have had great success with women, and am nobody’s idea of a lapdog. And yet I “cry at weddings, love to share my oh-so-sensitive feelings, and would listen to them vent for hours on end, and watch chick flicks.” Which is why I’m more of an example of what women are looking for than you are. They want their SNAGs to grow balls and they want their Alphas to make them feel safe, heard and understood. I believe it’s possible, not an either/or.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          @Evan

          I believe that buck is lashing out against the extremes men experienced during the eighties. I was a twenty-something during that decade. It was a weird time for adult men. Does anyone else remember the pastel colors that a lot of fashionable men’s clothing and shoes came in during the eighties? How about pastel mauve male shoes?

        2. Buck25

          Evan,
          May be a generational thing. Boomers had a very different formative experience than your generation (I believe you’re about the age of my oldest child). That male culture was a lot more macho than what you grew up with, I think. We Boomers had little experience with sharing our feelings at all, so that sort of vulnerability is largely alien to us; most of us never became entirely comfortable with it (assuming we even had the vocabulary for it). I can tolerate the occasional chick flick, though I have to say that I find that about as pleasant as a root canal, and while I have some patience with women’s venting about things I cannot do anything about, that patience has limits. Incidentally, do you really cry at weddings? I never did understand that in either gender; I thought that was supposed to be a joyful occasion, not a funeral.

          YAG, who is at the younger margin of my generation, has a point about the eighties; that WAS a really confusing time for any adult man, as it seemed women were even more confused than now as to what they wanted, and generally that went back and forth between one extreme and the other. One day they wanted John Wayne, or the Marlboro Man; the next day they wanted a full-blown SNAG (and that type at that time was extremely effeminate – I think some of them could damn near menstruate). These guys were totally beta; like I said, most of them lacked both confidence and and security in themselves. Balls? I don’t think those guys could ever grow any; as I said, emotionally speaking they acted like, well, women. Compared with that, what you do looks positively macho by comparison. I don’t think anyone would call you effeminate, anyway.

          Given the choice of one extreme or the other, I chose to remain as I was, on the theory that you can’t please all the women all the time. Of course I alienated some of them, but at least at the time, I had pretty good success with the rest. I think I made them feel safe, heard (at least somewhat), and apparently turned most of them on. I didn’t pretend to understand women, and still don’t; I don’t think I’m wired for that, and these days, it makes my poor old head hurt to try.

        3. Evan Marc Katz

          I like having you here, Buck.

      2. 3.2.2
        Emily, to

        Hi buck,
        I don’t want a woke man. Dog nabbit: sexually objectify me! Look me up and down! Be inappropriate. Don’t think. Just do.

        1. Buck25

          Emily,
          You might have liked my younger self; unfortunately, I came along about twenty+ years too soon for that, lol. Don’t worry too much though; I feel sure there are some gen X men who aren’t woke, and thus suitably bold and inappropriate enough for your taste.

        2. Emily, to

          Buck25,
          “You might have liked my younger self; unfortunately, I came along about twenty+ years too soon for that, lol.”
          I think you’d like me if you met me. I tend to be a little popular with the “seasoned” gentlemen. They think I’m funny. 🙂
          “I feel sure there are some gen X men who aren’t woke, and thus suitably bold and inappropriate enough for your taste.”
          I certainly hope so. 🙂 I saw the new version of “Little Women” a couple of months ago. The actor Timothee Chalamet, who plays Laurie, is the perfect poster boy for Gen Z. Asexual and non-threatening.

        3. Emily, to

          Hi Buck25,
          “I didn’t pretend to understand women, and still don’t; I don’t think I’m wired for that, and these days, it makes my poor old head hurt to try.”
          I feel the same way about straight men. 🙂 That’s why I gravitate to gay men and women for companionship. Now, if your side wants to get together for a little shammy dammy … I have no problem with that. 🙂

  4. 4
    Karl R

    Evan asked:
    “We know that men are notoriously bad at understanding women, but why do you think smart women are so willfully unable to accept that men may approach life a little bit differently – and that this difference isn’t inherently wrong?”

    Simple question, and an extraordinarily complicated answer. So of course, I’ll try to oversimplify it to where it’s comprehensible. (I haven’t tilted at windmills recently, so I’m overdue.)

    Let’s split the world into two types of people. In this instance (surprisingly) they don’t act differently. It’s the justification for their actions that differs.

    This is not a male vs. female attitude. Instead, it’s arrogance vs. insecurity. (There may be strong tendencies for one gender or the other to be disproportionately represented on a particular side, but it’s not inherently gender-driven.)

    If someone is arrogant (as I tend to be), there is a natural, egocentric tendency to assume that my point of view is correct. People who have a radically different opinion clearly cannot be correct. Therefore, their opinions can be disregarded, mocked, or even attacked mercilessly, without remorse.

    If, on the other hand, someone is insecure, opposing points of view are threatening. For an insecure person, an opposing opinion, should it prevail, it could potentially rewrite someone’s conception of the world, or even himself/herself. Therefore, opposing points of view must be attacked wholeheartedly, purely as an act of self-preservation.

    Neither attitude is admirable. Neither is even justifiable. Both are biased towards assuming that others should think as they do.

    There is a natural tendency to see ourselves as someone who knows the truth. And that is the trap. As an alternative, see yourself as someone who seeks the truth. The former will see compelling controversial evidence as an attack. The latter will see the same evidence as an opportunity to gain knowledge.

    Changing gears….

    My thoughts on “masculine” differences:
    Even though my father was not a manly man, and even though he didn’t overtly try to mold us in a particular ideal of masculinity, I’m a product of the culture, place and time I was raised in. Most of it was biased towards a particular masculine ideal.

    I may not be capable of being different than who I am. But as a lifelong fan of science fiction, I am capable of imagining a world that is vastly different. If I had grown up in a world where masculine/feminine tropes were neither encouraged nor penalized, would I be different?

    Honestly, I would be significantly different. I am not capable of regretting the person I’ve become. I have learned how to survive and thrive in the world that I exist in. But I can at least acknowledge that there were other possible outcomes. Whether those would be objectively better or worse … there’s no way to know. And it’s probably subjective.

    On being “woke” ….
    Don’t get me started. To keep it short (and somewhat non-controversial) … if you can’t bother to get your ass to the ballot box, you ain’t “woke.” You’re just pretending. And if you can’t put in the day or two of research to become an informed voter … well … you’re still not “woke” yet. But you might be a puppet dancing to the strings of someone who is more “woke” (or more manipulative) than you. So … um … Yay you?

    1. 4.1
      Jeremy

      Good post, Karl. And tilting at windmills is a good distraction from the craziness of the world right now. Schools cancelled for a month, lineups at grocery stores as though the zombie apocalypse is upon us, people who used to cough to cover to a fart now doing the opposite. Good to focus elsewhere.

      They say that personality is a combination of disposition and predisposition – our inborn nature and our lived experience. But I think the extent to which our lived experience can alter our predisposition depends on a lot of things – our intelligence, empathy, flexibility…. but perhaps most of all, our motivation to change. Give me incentive to change, incentive that means something to ME, not you, and I’ll change.

      And the converse is also true. If men have not changed in spite of women’s assurances that such change would be good for both men and women, perhaps its because men have realized that such change isn’t so great for them at all? Results in worse outcomes, not better, for men?

      I’ve had plenty of motivation to change over the course of my life, growing up alone and isolated as I was. Followed lots of suggestions of how to be, to change my situation. Including and especially those changes suggested in the article. It don’t work when the only rewards it provides ate to others. When men who act as the article describes are legitimately desired by women, such behaviour will proliferate among men.

      1. 4.1.1
        sylvana

        Jeremy,

        “When men who act as the article describes are legitimately desired by women, such behavior will proliferate among men.”

        I’m not so sure about that. Look at divorces. Over 70% of divorces are filed by women. So obviously, the old behavior isn’t getting men what they want, either. Women don’t actually desire those behaviors. They might temporarily get men what they want, but it’s obviously not a successful strategy either, seeing the overall high divorce rates.

        And we’re not even talking Millennials here, because many of them don’t even enter relationships anymore because they’ve seen the misery of their parents’ and grandparents’ marriages and try to avoid it at all cost.

        I think the major problem lies in the fact that sex and relationships are two different things. We’re (women and men) are attracted to/desire certain things when it comes to sex, and others when it comes to relationships. And those things generally do not come in the same package. So we have to choose between one or the other.

        The things that make men sexually desirable to women often aren’t very desirable in a relationship, or simple don’t make any of the qualities needed for a good partner (that actually often applies to women as well). So the current strategy might work for men when it comes to getting sex. But when it comes to relationships, not so much. Likewise, the new strategy might work better for relationships, but not so much for sex. And it’s somewhat hard to get a relationship off the ground without the sex part.

        Women face an even worse situation. With only around 25% of women experiencing orgasm during sex with men, they’re not just looking at a boring sex life, but a totally physically unfulfilling one. At least most of you guys still get off, even if it’s someone you don’t desire all that much.

        So I don’t think it’s so much women claiming they want one thing and actually desiring another as women desiring one thing when it comes to sex and another when it comes to relationships. What she is attracted to sexually and what she is attracted to relationship wise are two very different things.

        That being said, it’s rather easily fixed. For most women, sexual excitement is mostly about the brain. As such, it can easily be triggered by things other than looks or money, or old-fashioned ways.

        The one thing that’s for sure is that the old-fashioned ways are leaving women extremely sexually unfulfilled (on top of relationship unhappy). The qualities that might lead to the best possible offspring don’t necessarily make for either good sex or good relationships. Hence so many women losing interest in sex or not having much interest to begin with. There’s nothing exciting about it, unless you go for a “bad boy”. That brain thing again…lol.

        And, as you said, the new way might make for good relationships, but it also doesn’t produce sexual excitement on its own.

  5. 5
    Emily,to

    Jeremy,
    You know, Jeremy, women get equally bad advice about how to be for men. Look at the female role models in the media I had while growing up — Madonna, Liz Phair, Alanis Morrissette. Bold, in-your-face, angry, bigger-than-life, raunchy, sexual. And as a young women, you think: How cool! But how many men do you think like those kinds of women? No, it’s be nice, be soft, be giving, be accomadating, be maternal. There are women who women like and women who men like (I’m referring to personality, not appearance) and they are usually totally different types.

    1. 5.1
      jo

      Emily, hm. I like both types of women. (Maybe I swing both ways and don’t know it, which is why I always like sylvana’s comments even though she says women don’t get her.) In any case, you are right – that’s the point I was making to Jeremy above too. Each sex gives the other sex equally bad advice on the whole, because it’s tailored to what we want and not what the other party wants. For men, it’s ‘how can I get more sex,’ and for women, it’s ‘how can I get a relationship’. They don’t always coincide. Speaking in broad generalities, of course – not all men and not all women want the same things.

      1. 5.1.1
        Emily, to

        Jo,
        “I like both types of women.”
        Really? The older I get, the more bored I am with people with no balls. And even more bored with women who were bold and then toned down once they got married and had kids.Madonna was never more interesting than in her early slutty, street urchin phase.
        “Each sex gives the other sex equally bad advice on the whole, because it’s tailored to what we want and not what the other party wants. For men, it’s ‘how can I get more sex,’ and for women, it’s ‘how can I get a relationship’.”
        Completely agree. And I agree with your earlier comment that intercourse isn’t that interesting for most women. For women, intercourse is having to adjust to a completely different way to have sex after learning mastaurbation as a teenager/young adult.

      2. 5.1.2
        sylvana

        jo,

        well, some women get me. Mostly other like I, and some who swing a little in both directions 🙂

        And you’re pretty much right with what the sexes want generally. The problem is that a lot of men in their quest to get sex totally forget to make sex exciting and worthwhile for women. And that’s why they’re not getting enough.

        As long as they keep going about it the way they have, long-term satisfaction for both sexes will continue to be a major issue. I often like to ask men this: If your woman desired to shove a dildo up your butt all the time, and all you got out of it was a messy behind and a hardon that won’t go away unless your masturbate and bring yourself to orgasm, and in worse cases, pain or discomfort, would you keep wanting her to do it, and show excitement about it just to please your partner? Now imagine this scenario for years and years on end.

        1. jo

          sylvana, that is the perfect analogy and one I will use in the future! Thanks.

          Speaking of swinging both ways: maybe a decade ago, I read an article trying to put numbers to how many times a week (a month?) these types of couples had sex: heterosexual, gay men, and lesbians. The article writer made fun of the lesbians because they had the least sex. Even back then, since I’d already had enough bad, painful, and unfulfilling experiences, I was kind of miffed by the spin he put on the article, thinking that for women, maybe it was good to have it less often.

          Why this constant cultural dialogue of ‘the more sex, the better.’ It just isn’t for women. It’s only better for men. And they of course write the cultural dialogue, at least in this context. I agree with you completely. In this day and age when women don’t need men to financially support them anymore (and even if they do), men need to put a LOT more focus on how to please women in bed, if they want to keep getting some and if they care about the pleasure of their partners at all.

    2. 5.2
      sylvana

      Emily,

      well, I’d say there are women who men like to f*ck, and women who men like to marry. The problem is that the two of them are two totally different women. Men want both in one package.

      As an extreme high sex-drive woman, I always get a kick out of men claiming that sex is one of the most important parts, and that their dream woman would have to do no more than give them regular sex, be nice, laid back, and not nag or take away too much of their freedom.

      What they’re essentially saying with those statements is that they would be perfectly all right dating a woman who pretty much is just like a man. Since I am one of those women, I can tell you it isn’t. Just like you said, on top of pretty much being just like a man, they also expect you to be just a like a woman – soft, giving, accommodating, admiring, ego-stroking, maternal, etc. And yes, there apparently is such a thing as being too laid-back when it comes to giving him his freedom.

      And those women who were bold and then toned down once they got married and had kids mostly did so because they wanted to stay married.

      1. 5.2.1
        Emily, to

        Sylvana,
        “Well, I’d say there are women who men like to f*ck, and women who men like to marry. ”
        I’d say that’s true to a certain extent. Alhough there are men who seem to f**k and marry the Dorris Day type. A more sexually aggressive woman seems to scare them. I’m just tired of reading about this Machieavellian scheme women have where they marry the guy, get impregnated and then toss him aside sexually. If you’re looking for a long-term partner and co-parent, your priorities have to change. Nobody puts “hottest sex” at the top of the list. Either sex.
        “And those women who were bold and then toned down once they got married and had kids mostly did so because they wanted to stay married.”
        Yes, true, but aren’t they smothering a part of who they really are? If you figure that you only get to really be yourself and share who you really are about 10% in life (the rest is the minutiae of living), what happens when you stuff all that down?

        1. Bbq

          “I’m just tired of reading about this Machiavellian scheme women have where they marry the guy, get impregnated and then toss him aside sexually”

          It would actually be preferable to think this was a Machiavellian scheme, rather than a behaviour which occurs naturally often even to women who wouldn’t choose it that way if you could ask them earlier in the relationship.

        2. SparklingEmerald

          Emily to at 5.2.1 said ““And those women who were bold and then toned down once they got married and had kids mostly did so because they wanted to stay married.” (quoting someone else) and then replied . . .
          “Yes, true, but aren’t they smothering a part of who they really are? If you figure that you only get to really be yourself and share who you really are about 10% in life (the rest is the minutiae of living), what happens when you stuff all that down?”

          Is “who your really are” the same as you really were at age 16 ? At age 21 ? At age 35 ? “Who we really are” is ever changing. Changing with maturity, and our ever changing life experiences and circumstances.

          My son once told me “My younger self would be kicking my current’s self in the ass”, and he was only in his mid 20’s. He was commenting on how much different (and responsible) he was compared to his college self.

          My younger self was a “bold” party girl who “NEVER” wanted children. If I my younger, partying self ever met, the happy, stay at home mom of an infant and toddler, she would have never recognized her.

          When I toned things down, to focus on the responsibilities of caring for a family, I never felt more like myself. I was happy and content. I was crazy in love with my husband and son. Much happier than than that crazy party girl, with the two toned Cyndi Lauper do, in a too short dress. Perhaps that crazy party girl really hadn’t discovered her “real self” yet, and was just acting “bold” to seek attention from strangers. And maybe in order to discover who I really was, I had to try on a few other “selfs”.

        3. Emily, to

          Sparking Em
          “When I toned things down, to focus on the responsibilities of caring for a family, I never felt more like myself. ”
          I guess we’re the opposite. The older I become, the less interested in responsiblity and convention I get and the less interested in talking about either of those topics I am. I can only talk about what we’re having for dinner for so long.

  6. 6
    S.

    “Orenstein — of course — has as a premise that masculinity is entirely a cultural or social construction that can be altered by reeducation. ”

    What?! I’m not even going to go in to the ‘altered by reeducation’ part. Good grief. Entirely a cultural or social construct? Why does it always have to be an extreme? Why ALL nature or ALL socialization? People need to get a grip.

    Both, both, both. Goodness.

    The reason most people who identify as women like men is *because* of the differences between the sexes.

    I just want as Sullivan states ” to guide boys away from some of the extremes that teen-boy culture can generate. Among the ways to do this: more male teachers, more all-male schools, a fusion of the ideals of aggression and competition with an ethic of fair play.”

    I have to admit I am personally attracted to a more sensitive, less masculine man. But with that I don’t want to get rid of all a man’s maleness altogether. It’s a subtle nuance, people find difficult to understand.

    To answer Evan’s question: why do you think smart women are so willfully unable to accept that men may approach life a little bit differently – and that this difference isn’t inherently wrong?

    I can only answer this for myself, I don’t know about other smart women. First, I was lucky. Even though I didn’t grow up with a man in the home, I grew up around a lot of men. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my mom worked briefly at a taxi dispatch office. We’d come in and it was mostly all men. She was the first to have a child so for the first few years, I’d come in and they all adored me. I remember the love. Getting quarters, candy, the smell of cigarettes and cologne. And the care. Nothing bad ever happened to me. I was this adored baby darling and got driven by taxi–kind of a privilege–every where. I knew them all by name too. My mom also had great boyfriends who gave me piggy back rides, told me I was pretty, and simply loved me like I was their daughter.

    I was fortunate. I was safe and it was there from ages 0 – 6 that I learned to implicitly trust men. And not just one man but many men who would keep me safe and protect me. I think my love of men now stems from this upbringing. And it was the 70s so these were all very masculine men of color. So there’s that. 🙂

    Then we moved from that neighborhood. And I didn’t spend as much time with men in general afterward. I got older and as I hit puberty (from age 9 – 13) I started to get this subtle message from women. From TV. Men weren’t safe. Be careful. Don’t get pregnant. Men only want one thing. (Even when I didn’t know what that one thing actually was but I got the message men wanted it.) It was at odds with my previous experiences. But I accepted the message as a child the way I accepted my earlier experiences. Somehow, both could be true?

    But I did start to have more fear. On TV they started showing movies about sexual abuse and assault. At first as a child, I was completely appalled and afraid. Somehow I would have to protect myself from this which could happen at any time. It was so at odds with the safety of sitting on a man’s lap who treated me like a beloved daughter, nothing ever inappropriate even hinted at, and this new knowledge I had to assimilate.

    At that time a lot of oppression and abuse was hidden, not expressed publicly. Into the 80s people, male and female, began to speak out. And I think now that the negative things — the stalking, sexual assault, etc. — so much attention. I think it needed to since for so long those things went unexpressed to the great harm of a lot of people.

    But. That’s. Not. All. Men. Not even most men. I’ve been blessed. The men I’ve known, to very masculine to not-so-masculine have all been nothing but good and kind to me. Trying their best. That’s not everyone’s experience but that’s mine. So it’s a real shame that by supporting women in finding their voice about oppression and harm, the great men I know and in the world get lumped together with the ones who cause such harm.

    So I think, in my very humble opinion, this is why sometimes men just being men is perceived as ‘wrong’ rather than simply different. And why it’s difficult to accept. The social construct around masculinity and to some extent femininity has changed so much in my short time on this Earth and I think we are all reeling somewhat trying to reorient to some sort of balance. We are not there yet. But I hope we get there.

    1. 6.1
      sylvana

      S.

      Honestly, the problem with these kind of articles and statements is that they’re not actually referring to men, in general, but certain bad behaviors displayed by a certain type of men. It’s a particular behavior that they’re condemning. And rather than just saying so, they brush it all under the umbrella of “well, men are like this.”

      No, they’re not. Or, at least, men being like that is not what the problem is. The problem lies in how certain men act because of it. That is a huge difference.

      Let’s take two men for example. The first one is a charmer who can manage to make a grandmother blush. He admires hot woman, he flirts, he wants sex. He gets away with murder because of the way he does it.

      Then there’s the second one. Two words of out his mouth, and women run scattering, calling him a pervert. The way he went about it was perceived as threatening, crude, and disrespectful.

      Now both men actually display the same behavior. They both like hot women, they both want sex. The problem was not the behavior, but how the second one acted on it.

      And that is the fine distinction that articles and statements generally don’t take into account. They condemn the behavior itself, rather than the action the man took. Incels go screaming that all women are a threat, meanwhile, number one is still out there, flirting and charming the ladies, getting away with actions other men would get slapped for. When he says something, it’s perceived as a compliment. When number two says it, it’s perceived as a threat.

  7. 7
    Kitty

    Hi everyone,

    It’s been a long long time since I was here. I bought “Finding The One Online”, “Why He Disappeared”, and “Believe In Love”. I lost weight, got some professional pictures and put myself on Match. I went on one date per week, sometimes two for 12 months and 11 days. Yes I was counting the days and was almost entirely burned out. Right before I was about to collapse in exhaustion I went on a Match date with a man who turned out to be the love of my life. We got married a month ago on Valentine’s Day. Thanks Evan!

    1. 7.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Thanks, Kitty. THIS made my rainy self-distancing day. Congratulations to you for persevering and succeeding.

  8. 8
    MilkyMae

    “My client laments that guys have lame profiles and intro emails online.”
    Translation: “Icky guys write to me and I don’t want to contact to the cute ones.” Online dating has many drawbacks but lame profiles and messages are more of an excuse. This type of complaint is lame because it is solvable. A woman can read profiles and craft emails for the ones they like the most. Only then can someone legitimately lament. If you can’t put on your big girl pants on and express interest in someone in an email, then you get what you deserve.

  9. 9
    sylvana

    I don’t think it’s so much intrinsic to being male, but intrinsic to being human. Shoot, even animals display the same. There are also lots of men out there who don’t really fit into that description, and plenty of women who do. I think we’re simply seeing more of that behavior in men because men don’t have centuries of social programming about those behaviors not being ok.

    I think the biggest difference we see is that men tend to be a bit more crude about it. Ever heard a gaggle of women going off when a hot guy walks by? Yeah, we’re not the demure little things people make us out to be. Likewise, a lot of European women actually consider American men shockingly prudish. The cultural/societal influence is huge on people’s behaviors.

    I also don’t think that smart women are willfully unable to accept that men may approach life a little bit differently and feel that this difference isn’t inherently wrong. What I think is that this falls under the respectful behavior category and the good old double standards. It might not be inherently wrong, but it certainly isn’t attractive. And when a woman has the same tendencies, and suppresses them in order to make her partner happy or to simply not seem crude or rude, she expects the same curtesy to be extended to her in return.

    With other words, if she has to do it, he also has to do it. Otherwise, she has to accept the double standard and deal with it. That is what’s hard to swallow. Not that it’s inherently wrong, but that it’s inherently wrong just for her to do, and perfectly acceptable for him to do.

  10. 10
    AD

    What I find pedestrian about this blog is that you excuse bad male behavior at every turn as “boys will be boys.” Now it’s “genetics are genetics.” How enlightened you are. If you really wanted to help women, you would inspire men to evolve. If we still lived in caves, you would be the guy telling women how to grow their hair longer so men could have more material to work with. Why is a guy on a date with a woman who has no interest in him? Probably because she’s HOT. Why can’t he come up with a winning opener? Because he only cares himself and whether he can get laid, not really about other people. Poor victim. Men are wrong in many ways and you aren’t the man to make them any better.

    1. 10.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      What I find inane about this comment is that this is a blog for women who want to better understand men and make healthy long-term relationship choices.

      You seem to think my mandate is to “inspire men to evolve.”

      Even if I agree with you 100% that men can improve, that is not my job. You do understand that, right? It’s not the electrician’s job to do the plumbing, or the OB-GYN’s job to give men prostate exams, or women’s social network’s job to help men meet other men. My job is in helping women GIVEN the reality of how men are. So yes, “boys will be boys” and “genetics will be genetics” unless you think that yelling at a dating coach for women will change men or genetics.

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