Why can’t a man be more like a man?

Oh God. Why me. It’s my long day — 6 am to 6 pm, twelve hours, baby. I planned to sign off tonight without posting, just get some sleep. But then I did it. I clicked. I scrolled. And I read. This. I’m not going to “fisk” the whole list, because I’m exhausted. I’m just going to pick a few things that stood out, so to speak.

Disclaimer before I begin. I am not a liberal feminazi manhater who thinks males can only redeem their sins by taking up the the cooking and the cleaning &c. But I know something silly when I see it. And much of the list in this post is very, very silly.

Anyway, moving on:

Morgan K. Freeberg has a list of what makes a man a proper man, that’s spelled M. A. N. Man. I have issue with a few of these requirements:

1. He knows trigonometry.

I have one question: why? Then again, I had to have special tutoring to pass Trig, so maybe this is some male mystery that We Women aren’t equipped to understand. If you know the answer to this, and it’s not some secret of the drumming circle, feel free to explain in the comments.

4. He can type without looking at the keyboard.

I thought touch-typing was a womanly task, while man-typing was supposed to consist of the man using only his index fingers to slowly type up police reports and other such manly texts. If you’re Ernest Hemingway, and you know your way around a Royal Quiet Deluxe manual typewriter, you overcompensate for the reduction in maleness points by indulging in drinking, bullfighting, womanizing, and suicide (manly violent suicide by shotgun). Hey, I’m willing to accept that my stereotypes may be a tad out of date.

5. He eats meat. He drinks beer. He goes to Hooter’s.

What about all those other countries where Hooter’s hasn’t opened a franchise? Are there no men there? Seriously, I have nothing against Hooter’s, but I didn’t know that it had become some sort of an official marker of being a Man that you have to go there. That’s just weird.

11. With his wife/girlfriend/kids in the room, he uses the word “chicks.” No apologies offered.

I knew a guy who used the word “chicks” to refer to women all the time. He may not have been homosexual, but he was as effeminate as Liberace.

13. He knows how to cook. Something that involves mixing a sauce together and heating something up.

That’s not… cooking. That’s adding water to something and then microwaving it.

14. A woman who builds a household with this man, knows the household is different because it’s him.

I have absolutely no idea what this means. I’m going to guess it means he is distinctive enough that she remembers who he is and thus doesn’t go to the wrong house on the way back from the grocery store.

23. He is well read. He has read Atlas Shrugged from cover to cover. He can tell you the parts of it he agrees with, which is most of it.

I will tell you something right now: no one has read Atlas Shrugged cover to cover except Ayn Rand. The proof is that long-ass speech in the middle by John Gaunt, or whatever his name is, is in there. If her editor had actually read it, it would not be in there, because it is too fucking long and no one reads it. They skip over it to get to the good parts where Dagnique is fucking Fernando, or John of Galt, or to get to the S&M scenes with the factory owning guy. (Psst! I’d also like to let you in on a secret: you can be well-read without having read this gigantic tome or anything else of Rand’s. There are a lot of books out there. But if you must, Anthem is a much better work — also it’s way shorter. And I’ve heard that We The Living, about the horrors of living in Soviet Russia, is much, much better than her stuff about her fantasy Americans.)

25. He thinks the happy ending to “Stepford Wives” is a tragic ending, and that all the eerie parts of it are actually happy. He isn’t afraid to say so.

Um. Real men want to kill their wives and replace them with robots? That was the plot of the 70s movie; I haven’t seen the remake. Anyway. NO. Just no.

29. He possesses the ability to pave his own road, as well as to observe social protocols. He can survive if society is completely dismantled, but he can follow orders too. He is Patrick Swayze’s character in Steel Dawn.

I can’t even– He owns a cement mixer and whatever those things are that lays tarmac? He’s some movie character played by Patrick Swayze? Yeah well, you know what — MY ideal man has a TIME MACHINE. He doesn’t need no freakin’ ROAD.

Damn. I’m done.

19 thoughts on “Why can’t a man be more like a man?

  1. Jeffro

    Basically, I do a lot of looking when I type. If I’m proven wrong, I don’t stubbornly insist on keeping my point of view. Guess I’m some sort of metrosexual. Dern.

    1. Andrea Harris Post author

      It took me absolutely forever to learn how to touch type, and well — I still have to look from time to time. But I’m a weak, uncoordinated female. It’s just that I can’t get my own personal man to leave Hooter’s long enough to do my typing for me!

  2. ak4mc

    Number One on my list of what makes a man a man is, “He doesn’t read lists on how to be a man — at least not beyond the first item.”

  3. kc

    I recently bought a copy of Atlas Shrugged and I plan to read it again. I remember NOTHING about it from the first time I read it, probably 40 years ago…I think it’s gonna take me awhile…IF I read it ‘cover to cover.’

    A few of the things on this list fit My Chief, who is a fine Husband, Daddy, and Grandpa and wouldn’t take a Stepford Wife if you paid him…he tunes his own vehicles, trims his own trees, doesn’t drink beer or go to Hooters AND he doesn’t keep score to see who owes whom among his family and friends.

    He also doesn’t “control” this household.

    That’s MY job.

    1. Andrea Harris Post author

      Oh oh — you feminazi hater, not letting your man control the house!

      Re Atlas Shrugs: when I first read it I liked it for the philosophy, probably because at the time I was in one of those relationships where all the taking is on one side, and that wasn’t mine. Later on when I read it again, I liked it for her secondary characters, where Rand allows herself to unbend from her rigid Objectivist stance and write something approaching real people. Her main heroes seem more and more tinny and hollow when compared with, say, Cheryl, the wife of the heroine’s parasite brother. A simple, uncultured shop girl that he marries out of spite and to degrade his family (and by implication, the institution of marriage) actually loves him (because she, uneducated as she is, thinks he’s a great and dynamic man just because he owns a rail road), and she has herself educated and trained into being the high-class lady he never wanted. There are a few other gems of acute observation among all the shiny big concepts and set pieces.

  4. aelfheld

    I have read Atlas Shrugged cover to cover, including the 50+ page speech. More than once (though I skimmed the speech the first time through).

    Dunno what that makes me.

    More importantly, I don’t really care.

  5. Steve Skubinna

    A real man doesn’t let people tell him what a real man is. In fact, he doesn’t “try” to be anything. He sure as hell doesn’t take a careful self inventory and write a list of what he thinks is a real man.

    As far as trigonometry, celestial navigation is applied spherical trigonometry. So it follows, according to this list, that all Merchant Marine deck officers, and Navy surface warfare officers, are real men. Even the women.

    1. kc

      Would this same hold true for pilots, both professional and private level?

      NOTE: As a Navy Wife for 22 years, I know some of these people, and they would not be offended at what follows.

      US Navy’s new advertising motto – NAVY: Where the Women Are Real Men, Too!

  6. Tully

    I still have to sneak peeks at the keyboard to type, though I type quickly. I can cook pretty well, especially MEAT. I drink beer when I feel like it , and I’ve only been to Hooters once in my life (believe it or not, because it was the only place in that town I could get steamer clams). I can fix many things, because I spent long enough poor that I had no choice but to learn.

    I’ve actually read the whole of Atlas Shrugged. I regretted having done so — the whole book could have been condensed by two-thirds, still gotten its message across, and been a much better read. I also noticed that Randian protagonists tend to be childless — nothing adjusts an egocentric attitude like being responsible for kids.

    On and on down that list. I am reminded of the whole “Real men don’t eat quiche” thingof a couple of decades back. To which my standard reply was always “Real men eat whatever they hell they want to, and what are you going to do about it?” I guess people thought it was a rhetorical question, as no one ever had an answer.

    I can cook a quiche.

    1. Andrea Harris Post author

      My dad did most of the cooking for our family. Not because he was a henpecked wuss, but because my mother just couldn’t cook that well. As a consequence, we ate a lot of meat, and had barbecue frequently. It did us good — I was a skinny kid, and I’ve never broken a bone. (Of course, I tend not to do things that will bring me close to bone damage, but still.)

  7. david foster

    Trigonometry…the US Naval Academy dropped the celestial navigation class a few years back. May not turn out to have been such a good idea, especially now that the main electronic backup to GPS (the LORAN system) was terminated by the Obama administration to save a very small amount of $$$.

    Rand…interesting point about the minor characters in Atlas Shrugged. I thought Cheryl was well done. Also, the characterizations in We the Living are IMNSHO better than in anything she wrote later.

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  9. Morgan K Freeberg

    Interesting feedback, interesting blog and I’m a little puzzled as to why I didn’t get a trackback leading me to you. Sorry you found my list to be so distressing and confusing. It may make things clearer if you lean away from the unstated, implied and unintended “if you do some certain number of these then you are a man,” and more toward one of “if you’re raising a man and wondering what might be missing from your mix, here, these might help.” Example: One of the most contentious, #11 — the issue is political correctness. Men who try too hard not to be something that others might find offensive, very often fail…they succeed only in becoming a nothing. This circles back around to the one you really couldn’t figure out, #14…they end up lacking personality, character. A man should feel comfortable being what he is, doing what he does. Boys and men who seek this personal validation externally, from outside themselves, end up being irritating and whiny. Seeking a broader horizon & knowledge base is good, improving himself is good, service to others is good. But don’t let others define your personal goals for you, that’s a mistake for both men and women.

    But it’s the boys and men, in our society, who are put under real pressure to define personal objectives of self-improvement from others.

    I’m very surprised #1 has been questioned & criticized by so many. I supplied a comment back at my place that, if I may say so myself, is exemplary in answering this.

    Thanks again for the link!

    1. Andrea Harris Post author

      I checked and there is a trackback to here in your comments list. Maybe you hadn’t refreshed the page?

      Anyway, I didn’t find your list “distressing and confusing,” I found it silly, like I said. I do understand your objective, I just think that the way you chose to go about it was off-putting and obscured rather than made clear what you meant. You made a list of some very specific things. People will not read this list and say to themselves, “Ah, he’s saying let men be men!” They will say, as I do, “Why do I have to read Atlas Shrugged to be considered a man? Why do I have to know trigonometry?” Etc.

      By the way, maybe you meant the stuff about The Stepford Wives facetiously, but I get the idea that you don’t think there is anything wrong with putting a chip in women’s heads to make them be nicer to men. (I had to look up the plot of the remake. The original had real women being replaced by robots, which seems to be to at least be more honest than saying “Honey, I love you, but I’d be much happier if you had this little brain operation that will make you not mind bringing me my beer.”) I’m all for people being nicer to each other but not via lobotomy. Seriously, that’s really creepy, and it’s not even funny to joke about.

    2. Andrea Harris Post author

      Another thing: the list would have been much less silly without the specific items (“go to Hooter’s,” etc.) and just the stuff about not being a patsy and defending your family. Those bits I agreed with, but they didn’t fit with all the other stuff, so their impact was lost, at least for me.

  10. Morgan K Freeberg

    Well then yes, the list is aimed at you. There are a whole lot of men out there who honestly don’t like Hooters; I myself have complained repeatedly that the whallop in the wallet is a bit harsh for anything more than a once-a-year trip. But really, it all comes down to: A man needs to make up his own mind about things. He shouldn’t have his personal tastes dictated to him, and he shouldn’t have reality dictated to him either. It’s a little bit of a “If you have to ask you’ll never know” thing.

    But not completely so. You might want to pull both versions of the Stepford Wives and watch them from beginning to end. There’s something much creepier in both versions than the lobotomy (robot replacement) itself; you won’t find it in the script, or the transcript, and I think the people who made the films honestly missed it.

    The women start, for the very first time, to be nice to their husbands and the *theme* of these scenes is one of creepiness. No evil plot has been discovered, at this point, or even hinted to the audience. Just women doing nice things for their husbands. Bringing them drinks when they come home — just that. Something is supposed to be terribly wrong with that. Now, if they showed the women being replaced/lobotomized, followed by this, it would be a completely different conversation.

    And then there’s the closing scene of the more recent movie. The “happy ending.” If you don’t see what’s wrong with that, let’s just say you’re outside my intended audience. I live in Folsom, the “Stepford Husband’s” capitol. We already have that going on every day…although not in my house, thank goodness.

    1. Andrea Harris Post author

      I have better things to do then watch movies. But I have read reviews of both films, and I do believe the whole point of the story in both films is that the niceness and attentiveness displayed by the Stepford wives is abnormal and out of character, and has come about from no normal cause, and that’s the source of the horror and the heroine’s discovery that something is wrong. I rather doubt that the filmmakers of either movie thought that anything was wrong with ordinary wives being nice in real life to their husbands for ordinary reasons — they are against, as I am and as any normal person would be, such nice behavior being coerced from women against their will, such as by putting a chip in their heads (as in the remake) or just by killing the real women and replacing them with robots, as in the original. I certainly hope you don’t think there is anything good about forcing women to be nice to men against their will.

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