Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Are Men (Who Hate Women) Necessary?
Monday morning got off to a surreal start. A guy from the West Coast was eager to break onto the East Coast circuit with his book and message. He had a unique approach for men who need help dealing with women. He was a favorite of talk shows and had recently been quoted in the NY Post on why Valentine's Day is such a drag for guys. To this end, he wanted to talk to someone with the ear of the local media and program directors at places like the 92nd St. Y (www.92Y.org).*
Okay, I said to my friend, Judy. Send him on.
Five seconds later, my phone rang. The voice on the other end told me he wrote a book for guys who are sick of being taken advantage of by women. He wanted to come to New York to promote it, but he wondered if New York is the right venue because it is "full of princesses."
Evidently clueless that a New York woman might have special disdain for any guy who alleges that her city is filled with princesses yet all-too-eager to reveal the crux of his philosophy to a citizen of this regal city, West Coast Phone Dude immediately followed up with a statement that was stunning in both its brevity and its vulgarity:
Women, he told me, want men to kiss their asses.
It's not every day that a conversation with a prospective client opens with such bold self-expression, such brio. Women want men to kiss their asses. Wow. I pondered the meaning of that provocative statement. Now, I know that he didn't mean it in the literal sense, with apologies to Owen Wilson (http://www.wilson-brothers.com/owen/) who reportedly spent two hours this past summer licking some lassie's bare buttocks. Did he mean it, perhaps, in the defiant "go to hell" way that someone you've succeeded in pissing off might yell at you --hey, kiss my ass!! Or did he mean that women want men to grovel at their feet, dote on them, worship them, do everything humanly possible to please them, buy them expensive gifts, take them to fancy restaurants, ignore their PMS, never tell them they look fat and essentially, build their lives around them??
He meant the latter, vomiting out the various ways in which women step all over the male race. Moreover, there was an epidemic of man-hating going on. Just look at Maureen Dowd! Did I know that when she spoke at the 92nd Street Y, she packed the house while Elie Wiesel could hardly get people in to hear him? (No I didn't and I doubt it is true. Note to self: call the 92nd St Y and check in with the PR office.) And that terrible title of her book: Are Men Necessary? only stokes additional man-hatred. Could I imagine if a man had written a book called Are Women Necessary? He'd be pilloried!!
In the face of this rampant, rampaging race of princesses who longed to have their hindquarters snogged by hapless males -- and whose idea of recreation was guy-hating -- this enterprising He-Man, this social visionary, this enlightened prophet had a message: Stop the Madness. Ask me how.
As he yammered on, my Upper West Side brain began to wake up...and get really annoyed. It was not even 9:30 in the morning and some strange dude from the West Coast was basically spewing his hatred of my gender right into my tender ear. So obnoxious was he that I concluded that there was not a woman alive deserving of his loathing...not even such loathsome characters as Courtney Love or Anna Nicole Smith or Leona Helmsley or Imelda Marcos or Jackie G., the biggest bitch in my elementary school class at North Shore Hebrew Academy in Great Neck, or even Elsa, She-Wolf of the SS. Perhaps the poor schmuck had dated some of these babes! Yeah, that could kind of sour a guy's appreciation for regular girls.
Hey...aren't ya generalizing just a little bit? I ventured. None of the women I know are remotely the way you describe...
Women lie to each other, he asserted, cutting me off. They scheme and they compete with one another and they hide important information. But alone with me, they reveal themselves, they let their hair down, they stop playing games...they become naked, he said, his voice descending into a dramatic whisper.
As the word naked fell from his lips, I thought I heard the sound of his injured masculinity stirring to life. This was beginning to remind me of phone sex. (Not that I'd know, really...) Horrified yet oddly fascinated, I stayed on the line. Then, as if the conversation was not already weird enough, he began deconstructing naked, telling me that he meant it figuratively -- without artifice -- and, yes, literally. When a women talks to him, you see, there's always sexual tension. That's just a given. It oozes from his He-Man essence. Yet, being the fearless princess-slayer that he is, Mr. Refuses to Kiss Women's Asses is able to skillfully seque from sexual tension into seduction, bedding women who fall captive to his powerful, er... powers.
Listening to him, I began to wonder what was the matter with me. How come I didn't spend my every waking moment plotting Female World Domination? And what about my lovely teenage daughter, Middle Babe? No princess she, in fact, just this evening, she gave a powerhouse performance in her high school's production of The Princess and the Pea where, come to think of it, she starred as Princess Winnifred the Woebegone. Hmmm. Must ponder her playing the part of a princess. But my dear, sweet mother, MOB (mom of Bungalow Babe)! How could this strange man accuse her of crimes against MANkind?? And my beautiful friends, especially the single ones who have been far more screwed over by the men in their lives than the other way around!! And my dearly departed Grandmas! Never had a day passed when these selfless balabustehs weren't nurturing the men in their lives!
Enough, I heard my grandmothers whisper in my ear from the Other World where I sincerely hoped they were having eternal mani-pedicures after a lifetime of hard work. Get off the phone, darling. Stop wasting your time with this yutz.
And so, before Mr. Misogyny could go one step further, I interjected, telling him that our conversation had come to an end. I could not work with him. It wasn't a good shidduch.
The marriage metaphor must have thrown him, because he stammered. That's an interesting choice of words, he said, his voice suddenly panicky. Yeah, it's the way we princesses blow off guys here in New York, I thought, turning on my computer.
But why? he whined as I started reading my e-mail. The guy didn't need a publicist. He needed a Clockwork Orange-like procedure to deprogram his hate-poisoned brain.
But I wasn't going to tell him that. He might not get the allusion. And so, inspired by his forthright candor earlier in the conversation, I decided to return the favor.
"Because you're a complete jerk," I said, as the line fell blessedly silent and his words evaporated in the restored momentum of Monday morning.
*When not residing within the blogosphere of Bungalow Babe in the Big City, I run a public relations and marketing firm in NYC.