Thursday, September 18, 2008

Men Need Men's Approval

As alpha male playwright David Mamet notes, "Women have, in men's minds, such a low place on the social ladder ... that it's useless to define yourself in terms of a woman. What men need is men's approval."

Imagine a world where you can't express your feelings. Where women are treated as objects or bargaining chips, and alcoholism and drug abuse are the norm. Where you must reject your own mother, and your father will rebuff you. You'll belong to a kind of cult that demands that you ostracize anyone who doesn't follow the group's twisted values. This cult may pressure you into physically and sexually abusing someone incapable of fighting back. If you're an American guy age 16-26, congratulations. You probably live there already.

"We need to develop a pedagogy of resilience," he says. Boys need a "charismatic adult," he proposes, "a person with whom they can identify and from whom they gather strength." The latter seems obvious, the old "role model" solution, but the pervasiveness and dominance of Guyland's values, which are essentially racism and sexism lite, demand a more sweeping response that directly addresses the schoolyard premises on which they're based.

The world of adolescent white males that Kimmel describes puts macho boys in a curious double-bind. "The most common put-down in American high schools today is 'that's so gay,' or calling someone a 'fag,'" he tells us. "The average high school student in Des Moines, Iowa, hears an anti-gay comment every seven minutes -- and teachers intervene only about 3 percent of the time."
From Salon Magazine book review called "Dude, Where's My Manhood"

All my guy friends are really hip and don't tend to insist on "boys only" activities even if their wives don't watch quite as much hockey as they do, heh heh. I've know a lot of young men between the author's age group...16-26 and they tend to want ANYBODY's approval and are very female oriented. My daughters friends and my friends tend to be more gender bending. Maybe that's because we tend to come from punk music, my daughters boyfriend is very open and artsy...our family has a lot of gay people in it and lots of gay friends. Is this a Canadian thing? Is it an art crowd thing? I think Stagg would say this is a Candian thing and an art thing. I hope he pipes in here later he hasn't seen this article but it's something we love talking about...I don't think men needing men's approval is a bad thing. It would be negative if it was the only voice men respected though. I don't think that's true. But I do think sometimes any sub group of folks, women included get high strung with each other and get a lot of pleasure out of feeling free to talk about their hobbies without having to justify them. I think this happens with all specialized behaviour from manicures to hockey to fishing to shopping.

I know J.K Rowling said she made "harry Potter" a boy because girls would read about a boy main character but boys don't tend to read about a girl main David Mamet correct?

About five years ago I was without a place to live and landed up moving into a place with customers at one of my jobs. Yep, I lived in a house with four 25 year old guys. The decor was "contemporary beer" and calzones or rice krispie treats were the meal of the day. It was a really great experience for me (I am not sure why they tolerated an old lady living with them...oh right, money ha!). I did not experience any of the kind of angst suggested by the Salon article...but I don't doubt it's heft though. I just think I tend to be attracted to a certain kind of urban openmindedness. I also used to hang out with lots of musicians (now you be quiet Mister Anchovy!) and have seena lot of "boy stuff"...but always it's been good clean fun. I feel lucky as a woman to have been a "tom boy" and able to see the other side of a "booty call". It's just what you might think it looks like, 20 beer later, boxer shorts and a long list of cell phone numbers!!!

Do you think we have long gotten rid of gender wars? Is David Mamet correct "that women are so low on the social ladder"? Is the battle between sexes passe? Is observing the difference between the way men and women move in the world and talk a "tired" area of exploration? Is pointing out the difference between men and women's needs unenlightened?

Related Links:
Harper Collins
Oprah Asked The Question: "Why Do Men Cheat?" The answer? "They need approval and attention".
"The Cheating Gene" at Huffington Post (thanks Uncle Steve!)
Gail Sheehy on Men's Passages
STIFFED by Susan Faludi
Man Trouble
Masculinity Crisis


brassawe said...

Actually, two out of five men have a gene variant that causes them to cheat on their significant others. It's not a moral issue. It's a health issue.

Candy Minx said...

Wow, Steve, thanks for the link. I know Oprah's fans will be relieved, her show last week had women freaking out! It's kind of funny. The guy did say that 12% of men had this health issue or prevalence and there was nothing anyone could do but to run from such a guy. Women cheat on men too but for different moral/self reasons. Stagg said he thinks men mostly do cheat because they are needing to be the feeling of appreciation/attention. And that made a lot of female viewers really pissed off.

I'm off to read Arianna...

Webradio said...

Bonsoir Candy !

Oh là là, beacoup de textes à traduire...
Je vais revenir pour tout lire...

Gardenia said...

Interesting post, Candy! Well, let's see - I wish I had seen the Oprah show - though I wonder where's the testosterone in the mix. I read somewhere once that men were wired from caveman times to reproduce with as many females as possible, as often as possible to ensure the survival of the species. I tend to follow that line of thinking. :)

Then they get old(er) and the urge to procreate is mostly in their heads. They've long since stopped treating the woman in their lives as a valued partner, if they ever did in the first place, and the relationship has disintigrated. Enter a 20 something, 30 something, preferable under 35 who still has hope that mates can saunter off into the sunset of retirement bliss holding hands and taking cruises while gazing into one another's eyes. The young set of females has not had 30 years in which to get pushed away -granted, a rare man will share a feeling - uh, a mental feeling.

Not to discount what Stagg said, but I found in my own situation, that the self esteem of a partner is so important - we do need to build one another up, but if our partner has low self esteem, we can never find the "right formula" that will build the guy up like they want to be built up - heck, they don't know what they want because their own "demons" whisper in their ears.

To be equal on this - I think this applies to a lot of women too. Been there.

I've fallen head over heals for a bit of attention more than once!

But, perhaps the younger generation is different. Most of my friends tell the same story. You put up with infidelities and struggle through major control issues. Most of the time the errant spouse, boyfriend will wander back, maybe the relationship is destroyed, maybe not. My younger friends seem to be battling pretty much what my age group battled as we matured. The twenty somethings that I know that do the bar scene report incredible faux paus on the part of young male contacts.

Nothing makes me madder than insipid books on how to make a man happy. If the man won't talk to us about what he needs to be happy, then he isn't worth years of effort trying to read his mind and respond - in fact that is so self defeating! It is a subconcious setup for destruction.

I think its cool you lived with these kids - and had a great time. What a learning phase! I so enjoy my almost eighteen year old grandson and his friends and enjoyed, for the most part, my much younger college guy friends, though I felt I was on a different planet, I never "hung" with would have been like "hanging" with your grandma, LOL.

I've always had a theory about my generation - the men and women went throught the "sexual revolution," a paradigm shift, a needed redefining never really happened on what was expected of both men and women, leaving our generation pretty confused. The only solution seemed to be one of working out a system within the relationship that worked for us. Perhaps the defining will come later as the previous generation ages.

Remember Archie Bunker and Edith - he was downright abusive - it was one of the most popular TV sitcoms of its time!

Scientifically, it is proven that men and women differ in development of the brain. We are different! How much society pounds into us to conform to roles, well - that's a huge factor too.....

LOL, at least you can get some discussion out of your Stagg! And honest, at that!

For me it comes down to my personal beliefs and that of my significant other. I expect that person to follow what they agreed to when the relationship was established. If that needs to be redefined, then so be it - but lies are unforgivable, well, not completely. I don't think its the cheating that destroys a relationship as much as the disrespect of a refusal to discuss feelings, needs, expectations, to take time to redefine and reshape -

All in all, so many people get lost in the process, thus so do relationships. You can look in from the outside and wonder what in the heck is going on, and see the fallacies, but when we are playing out in the fallacies, then it becomes another matter - then we have lots of work to do and maybe, maybe will come out better on the other side. And maybe not.

BTW, have you heard about the latest - the Cougar? Check it out. Rrrraaaarrrrwwwwl Sfffft.

Candy Minx said...

Bonsoir have an amazing gorgeous web site. Loved the Jimi photos and all the handcrafted items. Merci!

Gardenia, The Oprah show was fascinating. For 24 hours you could download the book. I should have told you sooner!

-interesting about the younger women. I thinka lot of women have elective surgery afraid their partners will seek a "hotter" body outside relationship. I also think, well on Craig Fergusi=on model Paulina asked him what kind of woman he was looking for. And he said one that wasn't bitter. She siad, he'll have a hard time finding one that is not bitter and still legal! I think that is true to a large extent and very funny!

-well, that does fit with the book presented...that the need for attention in the man and for approval was with low self esteem. All the guys shown said they felt their wife was busy with kids...wasn't as excited about them as she used to was really sad. One woman though came on and said "excuse me we want attention too!" It was part sad, part funny.

-oh yes, all those books on how to make a man happy. What is really scary is back when my singele girlfriends and I were dating...a couple of them tried "the rules" to a detail. And guess what the men responded like kittens to milk. It was fascinating except it works, but then you're stuck with a guy who fell for games. Not cool.

-I am lucky that Stagg likes to talk a bout all kinds of human stuff as much as I do. And we come at things so very differently. We often absolutely do not agree with each other but we have an amazing time trying to find out just what we do believe. He is very savvy when it comes to relationships and people chemistry and politics in general. I learn a lot from him.

-oh yes, the cougar...but of course! I used to think that Heather Locklear was the best cougar...but Demi Moore is the uber-cougar...I say go girl!

I like the old adage...I don't know what I'm thinking till I say it!

Anonymous said...

Men do take reward from talking and working with other men. I don't think they mean to disregard the opposite sex all the time. We certainly don't act casual when our wives speak if we know what is good for us. LOL. But men do listen more with other men and they feel less bored or threatened. I think it is something like what David Mamet says. Men do buddy buddy up with each other and they are not always aware they are doing it. Look at a suburban bbq. The men congregate and so do the women.

It's not intentionally sexist it is a sense of ease and fraternity.

Crushed said...

I don't think the gender wars are over, just moving into a new phase.

First, I think the main issue that needs challenging is the double standard regarding female sexuality.

Since it's so obvious how that works, he's a stud, she's a slut, I don't need to say much more on it.

But by the same token, I think it has to be recognised that adrenalin and testerone are powerful hormones. And they do make men think and feel differently.

I think it's hard for most women to actually understand the POWER that resonates through a male watching a football game., for example.
But I think the answer is in recognising differences where they exist as differences and not defintions of superiority of one sex over another.

The differences tend to be related, after all to matters of biological function.

For one thing, men will always p*** standing up.

But at another level men contain hormones designed to make them feel fearless as they hacked sabre toothed tigers to pieces.

And that is something that should never be forgotten.

Men do think in terms of pack quite a bit, in a way I think women often don't quite see. But we really are programmed that way.

X. Dell said...

Hmmm. So much to comment on here. Good post.

First off, to me, the idea that young white males are racist, sexist, boorish and otherwise loutish because of a need to fit in seems a cop out. Social psychology 101 would say that people identify with groups because of perceived affinities, whether they are imagined or not. It would seem more likely that in groupings that Kimmel's describing, members use each other to support their own feelings. They aren't necessarily seeking approval of themselves, but rather of their sense of entitlement.

Anonymous said...

From James Brown:

This is a man's world, this is a man's world
But it wouldn't be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl

You see, man made the cars to take us over the road
Man made the trains to carry heavy loads
Man made electric light to take us out of the dark
Man made the boat for the water, like Noah made the ark

This is a man's, a man's, a man's world
But it wouldn't be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl

Man thinks about a little baby girls and a baby boys
Man makes then happy 'cause man makes them toys
And after man has made everything, everything he can
You know that man makes money to buy from other man

This is a man's world
But it wouldn't be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl

He's lost in the wilderness
He's lost in bitterness

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Hi Candy - I've dropped by on a really interesting post. I'm of the mind that men and women are basically doomed to not understand one another as long as the criteria remains 'why doesn't he think like me?' (she asks) or 'why doesn't she think like me?' (he asks.)

As soon as each gender tolerates the uniqueness of the opposite gender, and appreciates that opposite gender for what it is, rather than criticize it for what it isn't, then socially we'll see better relationships.

In private life, in my generation (I'm 43), in my Canadian, arty life, the men I know have lived a far different life than the Archie Bunker generation. And the men find deep kinship with the women in their lives.

Gardenia said...

I want to move to where Julia Smith lives!!

Once, running from the macho men of Wyoming, I moved to Baltimore and ran around with some artists in Baltimore, almost went to Canada to build a commune with them. I met an artist who clearly told me he didn't fit the mold of the man of the decade, that he was a "new" type of man. However the relationship didn't last, he had left his wife for a younger me, (which I am ashamed of) and then left me for an even younger student of his. Lord, help me, it wasn't because the sex was no good, and I was too young to be bitter then. Must admit that contributed to the now, if I think too much. Three years later, he came looking for me carrying the student on his arm, hoping for a threesome. Hmmmmm.

Candy Minx said...

sage man, I don't begrudge a "boys club" I do however get upset when the same understanding isn't given to other cultural bonding groups. Like things that interest and bring together women are often judged as "meaningless". I think we all need to feel a subgroup interest in our hobbies and friendships.

Crushed thank you for your unique perspective. By the way I wnet to your blog and it looks really cool. I'm going to try to follow your story. Do you think I'm paranoid if I think the double stand for women isn't just over their sexuality? I think that was what I was trying to say to sage man. I think women's past times and activities are often trivialized.

X-Spot...oh you picked up on the intricacies and the flaws in that Kimmel piece very aptly. Thank you! I think you're right, it's not about sexism or homophobia or's about a sense of entitlement. I missed that and thnak you...I'm going to return to the article again with that in mind...very interesting!

Anonymous...a wise appropriate song indeed! Touche!

Julia, I think you and I must have been in similar surroundings and atmospheres although we were in opposite ends of the country. Kitiimat was a small town but because "nothing happened" kids tended to have a vast amount of mnatural tolerance. All cultures maintained their interests and customs, yet we also were all friends. The town was small but with well-defined customs between Italian Portuguese, Native Canadians, British, mostly working class families. It was a highly isolated area (at least at the time) and instead of breeding fear among a small community it encouraged assimilaion, diversity and commaraderie. I grew up already accepting gays and different races not as an issue, and women worked in the Alcan factory or in the other jobs. Looking back, I see what a fully realized diverse and unique place I was lucky to experience.

Gardenia, you continue to attract me and engage and amaze me with your candid charming stories. What an adventure you have been on! You vixen!

Bridget Jones said...

I think it depends on where and with whom you hang out. To some morons (knuckle draggers, mouth breathers) that's an accurage statement.

In MY world, these types aren't allowed.