5 Stupid, Unfair and Sexist Things Expected of Men
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Of course, while it was horribly unmanly for him to be guided by his wife, it was perfectly fine for him to be guided by the guys he worked with at the auto shop. As Scott said, the TV show "'King of Queens' is a good example, I think because though he tries to be a good husband and companion, he often finds himself in conflict with what his friends want or with his own sense of what should be considered masculine." Men's definitions of manhood are supposed to come from other men -- not from women. They're just not supposed to care all that much what women think of them.
You see this a lot in fashion advice for men. Men aren't supposed to look like dorks or slobs, of course... but they can't look like they care about their looks, either. Men -- straight men, anyway -- have to achieve that perfect, razor's edge balance between good grooming and carelessness. You're supposed to look good -- but those good looks have to seem effortless. Looking like you care how you look makes you look like a woman. Or a gay man. (More on that in a tic.) Women are supposed to be the ones prettying themselves up into objects of desire. Men are not supposed to be the objects of desire. They're supposed to be the subjects. And subjects aren't supposed to care what their objects think of them.
Except when they're trying to get those objects to come.
3. Be hot to trot. Always. With anybody.
This is another expectation that came up with striking (although hardly surprising) frequency. Men are supposed to want sex -- and be ready for sex -- all the time. With pretty much anyone of the right gender who makes themselves available for it. In his evaluation of male gender roles, Michael T. says, "To be a man you must use sexual conquest as a gauge for manhood." Jraoul quoted a song, Lou Christie's "Lightning Strikes," with lyrics that go, "When I see her lips begging to be kissed, I can't stop, I can't stop myself... When I see a sign that she wants to make time, I can't stop, I can't stop myself...." And in his litany of male gender expectations, my friend Michael listed, "Have sex with any woman who says yes, or who offers herself. If not, I must be gay, right?"
It's weird. An intense, even predatory sexual desire is a big part of the Manly Man picture. And yet that picture doesn't allow for men to have preferences. Or rather: They're allowed and even expected to have preferences -- as long as those preferences conform with social norms. I vividly remember an article from a late '60s Playboy, analyzing men's personalities based on what kind of female bodies they liked: liking big breasts made you cool, while liking big butts or legs meant you were immature. And that's hardly a relic of the '60s: even today, lots of men feel pressured to date women who meet the current standards of female attractiveness. Lots of men, for instance, feel pressured to date fashionably thin women: even if they personally prefer women with more meat on their bones, they feel embarrassed introducing them to their buddies. Like dating a fat chick is a slam on their ego. Like it means they're not high enough on the primate status ladder to acquire a high-status mate.
So yes, men are allowed to be hotter for some girls than others. But they're still supposed to get it on with anything that moves and spreads its legs. Anything female and not grotesque, anyway. Men are expected to have sexual desire... but that desire can't be their own. It can't be idiosyncratic. Or even all that personal. It can't belong to them.