FOR SOME REASON I spent this morning lying in bed mentally composing a response to Elissa Schappell’s fine post, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of strong opinions will be in want of a forum to express them”. Maybe it was the length of the title and the way it kept butting up against my glue huffer’s attention span. Or the fact that any article mentioning Jan Brewer is likely to be both intellectually and emotionally mesmerizing regardless of its slant. But I finally realized it was because, although Elissa’s piece uses its considerable girth to poke holes in a certain brand of contemporary Republican male-dom, the essay also implicated me. If only because I also tote a dangle.
The men Miss Schappell describes do not speak for me, and do not represent my values. Or those of most of my friends. Not because we’re so terrific (although some of us are. You should, for instance, see me samba away the aches of my wife’s hard day over a few glasses of wine in our darkened living room like the world’s best Levitra commercial) but because the logic of extending equality across gender lines is as self-evident and unassailable as oxygen. Individual rights, a notion our founders cast as their lodestone value (while blithely retaining ownership of certain melanin-imbued field workers) remains our single non-arguable precept. Nevertheless, the United States is, and always has been, ruled by a white gerontocracy that makes decisions based on the dictates of a confused and often unintelligible god. As such, a long line of ancient and constipated men with no practical life experience and precious little exposure to women—let alone women with a sense of self—has continued to legislate their way in and out of the collective vagina as a matter of course.
So I was lying there, composing an impassioned repudiation of all things Newt, not to mention forced ultrasounds, cowardly Komens, clueless Issas, Arizonan female apostates, and various other oppressors, dominators, and tittie-whistlers—even though as a man (yes, spelled m-a-n), part of me still felt compelled to stand up for my ilk. Or at least some of it. Especially since no one has had the stones to do so unapologetically since Norman Mailer. We (I am speaking of the tepid, piss-warm pool of non-offense in which swims the modern sensitive male) have spent the last two decades being reduced to neutered Judd Apatow characters whose greatest internal conflict is trying to be a little less lovably quirky in front of our long-suffering girlfriends.
But, you know, in the end, there really is no defending us. Any of us. Even the us of Us that are relatively progressive and open-minded, that believe in equal pay and workplace protections and free contraception and domestic non-violence. Even those of us that read Alice Munro and Zoe Heller and Hannah Arendt and Mary McCarthy. The problem is that misogyny is not only a mental illness, it is a brand. One that has a global reach, a better logo than Nike’s swoosh, and disparate but equally dimwitted theological underpinnings. In fact, a casual condescension and institutionalized domination of women is the one thing Jews and Arabs can agree upon. In countries where honor killings and acid-tossings are commonplace, it tends to be more visceral than intellectual. In America, inequality is assumed to be less a seventies anachronism than a founding-document guarantee. But strip away the falsehoods of border and custom and randomly interpreted scroll, and we’re still an un-enlightened breed. Men. This band of brothers. We few, we happy few. Even amongst “the good ones”, we’re still all letches. We’re masturbators, rut-mules, cave-dogs, and intractable emotional blanks. We are subnormal. We are hairy. We are dirty. We’re fooling no one. Pick your longitude and throw a dart at any latitude—all men are, essentially, tools.
So, what is there to argue about? Let’s talk about something we can all agree on.
The Thirteen Types of Men You Should Hate as Much or More than the Men You Already Pretty Much Instinctively Hate
1. The Door Opener: Trying way too hard on every front and probably wearing rubber underwear. A smile that is pure enamel deceit.
2. The Hemp Statistician: Did you know George Washington smoked hemp? You did? Well, um, did you know that he also made really cool rope out of it?
3. The Hot Peppers Guy: “Hey, look, ladies, I can eat three raw haberneros.”
4. The Thinks-The-Beatles-Suck-to-Prove-a-Point Guy: “I think the Beatles suck.”
5. The Facebook Recourse Guy: Trouble with your mom, sister, co-worker, bartender, soccer coach, bass player, yoga guru, boss, or hair stylist?
6. The Angry-That-Soccer-Isn’t-More-Popular-in-The-U.S. Guy: Where do you think the word “football” originally came from? Um, foot? Um, ball?
7. The White Dreadlock: Sat in a radical humanism workshop and didn’t hear a word, mostly because he’d yet to admit that the intolerable itching in his pants was crabs, but was too embarrassed to go to the dispensary and ask for a bottle of Qwell.
8. The Kite Runner: He liked it.
9. The Lactose Intolerant: Certain enzymes just give me percussive gas. It’s a totally documented disability. No, really, it is.
10. The Under Armorer: A shirt that should, by law, have to come with a silkscreened cumshot across the abs.
11. The Bitter Celibate: “I mean, please, look at the way she’s dressed. Special in aisle thirteen, K-Mart shoppers? See the nose on that one? Hello? It’s called rhinoplasty? And check fatty out. Um, ever heard of South Beach, sister? Do you need a map or should I spell it for you?”
12. The Recumbent Biker: If I believe in anything, it’s efficiency.
13. The Gambler: Convinced that being right is directly linked to the willingness of assembled guests to pony up cash during dinner.
Hint: at some point, I was at least three of these guys. I’ll let you guess which.
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