January 13, 2005

Men, Explained

(We have written an UPDATE to this post, see below. -- BJK).

MAUREEN DOWD -- whom we suspect may have had a bad week -- has written an amazingly petulant column complaining about men. It seems Ms Dowd believes the coarser sex is increasingly interested in marrying women of lesser status, while accomplished women of greater status are left out in the cold. This has made Ms Dowd upset -- and she even goes so far as to wonder whether feminism was some kind of "cruel hoax."

Well, of course it was. But before we get into that aspect of things, let's look at men and why it is they're supposedly more attracted these days to women in subordinate positions. (They're not, but we'll get into that). Ms Dowd, you may take notes, if you'd like.

Now, we should first start off with saying that we are not the type of man inclined to marry his secretary, although we would never rule anything out.

We do know our own soul, and because of this, we know we not only want but need a woman who is very well-educated and very intelligent. And while secretaries by definition fall into this category (you try the job sometime) many women have decided they do not want to be secretaries, and instead have become doctors and lawyers and actuaries and economists and what not. Therefore, it stands to reason our eventual wife will likely have a professional background, and will likely be quite accomplished in her field. (She will have enough smarts, for instance, to realize that one never, ever, ever crosses a secretary, lest the wrath of Heaven fall upon one, causing one to wail and gnash one's teeth).

So we have one of our base minima established. Next, we must add in two other base minima. These deal with physical beauty and personality. The beauty aspect is something which, as a man, is hard-wired into our system and which we cannot ignore. For instance, we like women with curves, and nothing is going to change our predisposition for this. But more important than the first two criteria is a woman's personality -- we want someone who is nice and caring and kind and preferably religious and likes children and shares our interests and isn't inclined to cut our balls off at the first opportunity.

There. We got it out into the open. We do apologize for the coarseness of that last remark -- unseemly, we know -- but there is no better way to encapsulate what we mean. We men have enough trouble in this world without getting undeserved crap from our wives. (Sometimes -- many times -- we do deserve it, but that is another kettle of fish entirely).

Now, we realize many of our readers may complain that we have boiled down how men work into a simple equation: X (sub I) + X (sub B) + X (sub P) = Y; IF all X values > 80, AND X (sub P) > 100 and Y > 300, THEN call tomorrow for second date. But the thing is, this is kind of how men work. We're simple that way. Men are fundamentally different from women, whose decision-making processes remain unknown to Guy Scientists.

(However, early research indicates those processes are somewhat like incredibly-complex flow charts, except the variables keep moving around in the charts without notice, and the relative values of the variables keep changing, and variables may disappear and reappear with no forewarning whatsoever. Success on this front is expected eventually, once Guy Scientists stop blowing up bridges and begin focusing on key questions, such as the Football Season Issue).

Sorry. Couldn't resist. Anyway, back to the matter of undeserved crap from one's spouse.

One of the things for which men hunger, if they have reached that point in development where they recognize and appreciate manly virtues, is a partner in every sense of the word. We personally want someone with whom we can talk and with whom we can share new things and with whom we can present a united front to the outside world. This last item is incredibly important. In short, we want someone who is going to offer us unqualified support -- just as we would offer them unqualified support.

We do not mean that in the sense of "we'll have someone to do the dishes." We mean that we need a sounding board and a shoulder to cry on (or at least pour out our heart upon) and so on. The last thing we need is for our wife to act like Clytemnestra. Then, we'd have to deal with scorn and unpleasantness heaped upon us when we got back from a hard day's work at the office, and we'd have to watch ourselves in the bath, and it'd be a huge mess.

We should further note we do not expect women to consider "unqualified support" as the equivalent of "letting the man not hold up his end of the bargain." For there are things men must either do or be capable of doing for things to balance. He must, for instance, be willing to work to support his family. He must be willing to show the proper love and devotion to his wife and family. He must be willing to defend his family from the world, even if it means sacrificing everything in the process. In short, these are virtues which men must have for a relationship to work. This explains why, despite certain regrettable instances in our popular culture, nearly all men despise those who Dante memorably called "pimps, troublemakers and other suchlike scum."

But what we do expect in terms of that "unqualified support" is not to be cut down unnecessarily. For instance, if we were sitting on our sofa and not out looking for work, then a reminder of one's mission might be justified; but if we were looking for work but simply didn't have any luck yet, then such a remark would be unjustified. A man would not dare openly criticize his wife if he didn't like some aspect of her appearance; but women like Ms Dowd must recognize the same must hold if, for instance, her eventual husband failed to get a promotion at work.

Quite frankly, we do believe most professional women realize this; it's just that others haven't gotten the memo yet. As for Ms Dowd, we don't exactly see why she is so surprised men aren't attracted to women who upbraid and criticize them at every opportunity. Does she think the economics of competition stop during working hours? Let's take a look at one example Ms Dowd notes in her column, about these relationships she criticizes so.

Ms Dowd writes:

In James Brooks's "Spanglish," Adam Sandler, as a Los Angeles chef, falls for his hot Mexican maid. The maid, who cleans up after Mr. Sandler without being able to speak English, is presented as the ideal woman. The wife, played by Téa Leoni, is repellent: a jangly, yakking, overachieving, overexercised, unfaithful, shallow she-monster who has just lost her job with a commercial design firm. Picture Faye Dunaway in "Network" if she'd had to stay home, or Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction" without the charm.

Ms Dowd writes later in her article:

Art is imitating life, turning women who seek equality into selfish narcissists and objects of rejection, rather than affection.

Gee, we don't know about you, but we suspect Mr Sandler's attraction to his maid in the movie is based on the fact that his movie wife is, and we quote, a "yakking ... unfaithful, shallow she-monster."

Of course he's going to want out of that marriage. Any man would want out of it. It's not a difficult thing to understand. Nor is it difficult to understand why men would be attracted to people who actually seem to love them for who they are. If Mr Sandler's movie wife was a decent human being, the attraction to the maid would not exist. God in Heaven! Only Ms Dowd could confuse personality issues with social status, and somehow think the latter is to blame for the misery which some in this life experience.

As for feminism, we had written earlier that it was indeed a cruel hoax, and we should explain why we think that way. It's simple, really.

Now, some tenets of feminism, for instance, having women in the workplace and letting them compete with men for jobs, were perfectly good things. We were smart to have introduced those things into our society.

But the Sexual Revolution, despite its initial intent, actually ended up being an incredible gift for men. It's not merely that it presented men with lots more opportunities to get action. It's that the Sexual Revolution released men from all the bonds to which they once had to submit to get action in the first place. If there's no incentive to marry, marriage will decline. If there's no disincentive to divorce, divorce will increase. The results of changing the rules aren't rocket science. And when one works out the new equations, one finds that in the end, we are all the poorer.

UPDATE, 8:17 p.m.: Based on some of the e-mails we have received, we should qualify a few things, as we would feel awful if we were being mis-understood. We have done so above in a couple of spots, but we'll do so again here. Our point is not at all to suggest that women in professional positions are undesireable -- far from it, trust us. Nor are we arguing that women in professional positions are inclined to have it in for men.

Rather, we merely wished to say that Ms Dowd is confusing personality issues with social status. So let's be perfectly clear about that. It's just that at the end of the day, men want wives, not carbon copies of their bosses. That's something which we think most women understand, and explains why so many professional women have happy and successful relationships. It's just that Ms Dowd seems to think holding a white-collar job can wash away everything else.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at January 13, 2005 12:11 PM | TrackBack