Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
Maybe it’s because I live where they shoot the show, but recently I’ve felt like every guy I know in Santa Monica/Venice wants to be Hank Moody. I love the show Californication and at first, I thought all the references to it had to do with some general wistfulness about just being able to sleep with all the hot girls on the Westside that continually parade through the show as guest stars. But upon some deeper reflection, I think it’s much more than that. Hank Moody is the quintessential smart handsome L.A. guy – he constantly struggles to be this man he wants to be and yet, day after day he is forced to confront the fact that the man he is doesn’t quite measure up.
Hank clearly loves Karen - he has her name tattooed on his back! But he can never get it together enough to have her. In the meantime, he can’t turn down the bevy of pretty girls willing to ignore his chain-smoking, alcoholic, statutory-rapist ways who can’t get their shirts off fast enough the second they see him.
Recently, I had a conversation with this kid Preston I go to graduate school with, which quickly became embarrassingly revealing which I owe in no small part to his buying me a few shots to lubricate the conversation. I was feeling a little frisky in my short dress, thinking about this new guy I’ve been seeing whom I was supposed to see the following day and briefly toyed with idea of texting him at 10pm that night and asking him what he was up to. This was a bad idea for so many reasons and I would counsel every one of my friends against ever doing such a thing. But at the end of the day, we’re all animals acting on arcane sexual impulses and sometimes even I can momentarily succumb to such desires.
So I was asking his advice which basically meant I was asking his permission to text this guy and thankfully Preston said absolutely not. He didn’t even want me to give him all the details and back-story and complications which I actually think still made a compelling case for breaking the rule. In any case, Preston pulls out his phone and tells me that just about every weekend night he gets three or four texts from different girls, checking in to see what he’s up to that night. He takes his pick of the litter for that evening. Needless to say, this quickly reminded me of why I never do these things and got that idea out of my head pretty fast.
However, much more interesting than my trifling dilemma, is the fact that a few minutes earlier, Preston was telling me that he was always getting his heart broken. Maybe this doesn’t seem that surprising but if you knew Preston, you might be shocked. Preston is one of those good-looking guys that if he were a tad less nice, one might call him a player. But despite engaging in a high number of trysts, he’s a genuine, sweet, caring person and you can tell one day he’s going to make a great father. So he’s a great guy in his mid-twenties that happens to be a big fish in a small sea (there are a limited number of hunky affable boys at my Christian law school) and is taking advantage of the opportunities that continually throw themselves at him. But can you blame him? If I were I guy, I might be doing the same thing. Why not?
So naturally, I was rather floored to recognize that pang of heartbreak in his face when he was waxing contemplative that having your heart broken makes you a man. Of course, it was fairly obvious that he’s currently heart broken because the one girl who has rejected him is the only one he wants but still surprising that he was so affected by it. Then he surprised me again when he seemed ashamed as he was telling me about how many girls he regularly hooks up. He intimated that he was almost disgusted with himself. I was shocked. I wasn’t disgusted by the number of girls he hooks up with. I was momentarily jealous that I wasn’t a man. But yet, being ashamed in no way meant that Preston was going to change his behavior, i.e., soon after our conversation, he left the event early and I couldn’t find him - I knew what that meant. Like Hank Moody, Preston predictably wants the one girl who doesn’t want him and in the meantime will take a hundred others instead. And though he may be ashamed or disgusted or self-loathing at times, he still can’t make himself change.
But Preston is just one of the many Hank Moodys in my life. Take my friend Teddie, whom I adore and is a really quality guy, but we literally can’t go outside in his neighborhood without running into a girl he used to “date” (date is a generous term here). Last week he was coming off a complete bender – he had been out that week with five different girls and was exhausted. Not that long ago, Teddie had broken up with a long-term girlfriend which in part explains his current resolve not to settle down. But despite getting precisely what he thought he wanted by seeing all these girls, he was telling me how unfulfilled he was. For him, quantity could not replace quality. Now as a girl, of course this seems obvious to me and fundamental to my most primitive impulses. But I’m not always sure if all men feel the same about it. It was comforting to hear him explain how much he wanted not just sex but sex with someone he really cared about. He said he was cutting all the rest of the girls out of the picture and just sticking with two at a time from here on out. Although, I’m not holding my breath for this to happen.
The reason I’m so skeptical is that Teddie will actively have to turn down girls. He’s tall and good looking and as he reminds me often, he has a very cute Poodle which he walks often and all this means girls are constantly hitting on him. I actually got offended once because he and I were out together and a woman hit on him right in front of me. But Teddie is in a place in his life where he wants to have fun. The problem with turning down a girl is that he has to be sure that the girl he has now is better than the potential of the pretty one hitting on him. And the Hank Moodys of the world can’t do this.
The thing is, I can’t stop loving Hank Moody either. He’s charming and witty and emotionally honest and wants to be a good father. But loving Hank isn’t necessarily bad news for me because I would never sleep with Hank. And I wouldn’t for the same reason I haven’t slept with Teddie and wouldn’t sleep with Preston. There was only one guy who ever made me feel like a number in a line of conquests and that’s all it took. That was enough for me to know that no matter how much I like someone, I’m not ok with being Guest Star #500. Unless I were Karen, Hank and I would be just friends. To all the girls out there in recurring guest star roles, I recommend you take a good hard look at what you’re doing. Statistically, almost no one makes the leap from guest star to series regular. Hank Moody is not going to change, no matter how many times you get into bed with him. You just have to find the guy that thinks you’re his Karen. And of course, pray he doesn’t sleep with a sixteen year-old…
Tamara Shayne Kagel is a writer living in Santa Monica, CA. To find out more about her, visit www.tamarashaynekagel.com and follow her on twitter @tamaraskagel. © Copyright 2011.
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March 11, 2011 | 11:07 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
This Saturday night, I was at a fundraising dinner at the Beverly Hilton for my graduate school. As a screenwriter who writes often about teenagers, you should trust me when I tell you just about every movie about teenagers culminates with a prom. Prom is a big deal in high school partly because you’re told that this is the one chance to go to your prom and you’re not supposed to miss it. This is one of the huge lies adults tell teenagers and we’re just naive enough at the time to buy into it. If you’re a social person, especially in the middle-upper class world of college-educated professionals, you’re going to be going to proms the rest of your life.
Nobody told me in high school that two years later in college, I’d be getting bussed to my sorority formals at some fancy hotel downtown in a poofy dress. If you were lucky, you got asked to the fraternity formals of a Delt or Lodge kid. If you were socially rejected by the Greek system, you could always go to your dorm formals. Then there are grad school formals – barrister’s ball or law school proms or business school dinners. There are fundraisers where your company has purchased a table, there are fundraisers where you get set up on dates. Then there are alumni formals and bar association dinners and military dinners.
You get my point. I’ve been doing these for a while now and really they’re pretty much the same as high school prom – minus the breathalyzer test we had to take to get into my prom (gotta love rich suburbs). Mostly everyone looks nice and holds their liquor or drug of choice. But the most exciting and memorable parts of the evening comes from the people who don’t.
But in addition to seeing whose dress will be shorter than mine and what girl has just discovered Long Islands, I love watching the coupling off that always occurs at these things. There’s a predictable social choreography that is unfolding at every one of these events. Here’s essentially who is usually attending these things:
These are to be distinguished from the majority of couples who by and large are delightful to be with. Three-legged couples are obsessed with being a couple – they do everything together and the whole evening is about how into each other they both are. They act like they are physically attached, going to the bar together and insisting that they never engage in separate conversations. We’re all a little guilty of this right at that part of a relationship when you’re falling in love with someone. But for the most part, these couples are just annoying and often rude. My best advice is to stay away from them. They can be unusually hard to get away from because once they found someone who will converse with both of them, they’ll try to keep you all night so they don’t have to pretend to care about finding someone else to talk to.
There’s a girl that you’ve thought was the prettiest in your class all year or since you started at this job. You’ve never really hung out outside of the office or school though, so finally you get to be around her with alcohol in the evening. These goal-getters have one person they want to hook up with and making a connection with her is his one and only goal. I love watching these guys operate because it’s like watching a hunter pursue its prey but I hate being someone’s goal. The problem is if you’re not into him, you realize you essentially have a sidekick all evening because the guy is following you around everywhere and joining every conversation you strike up. A girlfriend of mine last Saturday couldn’t wait to hook up with this German exchange and was hoping he’d be at our dinner. He was and so she knew where he was and whom he was talking to at all times. When they weren’t together she was trying to figure out how to get back over and talk to him. The good thing about these guys is that sometimes the goal can be accomplished without ever hooking up. If the two of you end up in a great conversation for hours but part at the end of the evening, it’s a great basis to continue a relationship from.
Prowlers are like walking male libidos (even the plentiful female prowlers too). Prowlers want to hook up with someone – anyone. They have one goal which is not going home alone. So they are pretty much just looking for opportunities and usually drinking heavily to get up the courage to be a prowler. There are some men and women who are like this all the time but the trouble comes with the dayplayers – the people who don’t usually hook up like this but put them in a suit or a cocktail dress and suddenly they’re ready to rumble. The good thing about these guys is that you can get rid of them fairly easily. If you make any excuse to get away from them during the conversation, this is usually a sign that you’re not interested.
(It’s amazing how subtle some of these signs can be but it’s true. If you let one guy monopolize your time, as in you spend the entire evening talking with him and you never try to leave or talk with other people, you’re definitely sending out some vibes. So be wary – I once thought I was just grossed in one of the best debates I had ever had arguing strenuously with someone who thought that Nikola Tesla was more responsible for discovering electricity than Thomas Edison. Two hours into the debate, the boy thinks he’s taking me home. I was in a relationship at the time and rather shocked I had given him the wrong idea. But my point is, giving someone all your time at these sorts of things can be misconstrued.)
You’ve been flirting with him for months. You’ve been out with groups together and you’ve spent a lot of time at work on the same projects. You’re shocked by how much the two of you get along. You know he’s going to the dinner and he asked if you were but you’re just not sure if it’s going to be another great time with a friend or if it might turn into something. Flirting consummators are the most satisfying coupling off because the relationship has been building for a while.
Although, this blew up in my face once. I’m a bit of a flirtatious person by nature – less in the sultry sexpot kind of way and more in the Bill Clinton kind of working a room way – or at least I tell myself so. Two years ago at this same dinner, I found myself in this situation. So Ian showed up late to the dinner and I saw him but I was having fun talking with a whole slew of people I don’t normally talk to. Plus, I tend to revert to playground rules: to keep a boy interested flirt with as many other boys as possible in front of him (I strongly do not recommend this). So by the time the dance floor was out and people were grooving with the Dj, I had barely talked to Ian. I’ll never forget, I saw him look like he might be leaving and chased after him on the balcony overlooking the pool asking him where he was going. He said he was leaving. I pouted and asked him not to. He said he had come mainly to talk to me and hang out with me but he wasn’t having fun and now he just wanted to leave. I think we ended up going out on our first date the following week so it ended up ok but I really regretted my behavior that night.
These are my favorite hook-ups to watch for. These are the couplings no one can plan for. Usually, both parties are drunk and random circumstances have pushed these two fated people together - usually because friends have ditched them or they were too drunk to follow their friends or they were just completely lost. I can’t say, I’ve ever really been a party to this, but I know some people who have ended up in long-term relationships from these sorts of events.
PS – Male/Female roles in the above blatantly stereotypical overgeneralizations are interchangeable.
March 10, 2011 | 3:59 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
The Santa Anas have been blowing and this is never a good sign for me. Sometimes L.A. gets these hot winds that blow in during the winter. It’s weird because it’s warmer than it should be at night in a desert climate, but also so blustery that it’s miserable to be outside. I always go a little crazy when the Santa Anas blow and this week has been no exception.
I love writing and I’ve been loving writing this blog. But some times writing it is easier than others and this week it’s been hard. And not for lack of material. My mind is spinning with tidbits and tales from men and life over the last few days but writing it means making sense of it all and this is the daunting task. I’ve been up late every night trying to thread a theme through it all like Ira Glass, but he doesn’t have to do it about himself and so I feel like he’s got a leg up - plus he’s got a whole staff. This also means I’ve been no picnic to live with. Any week that starts with a Monday morning where your carpool and your roommate are in your room telling you, you’ve overslept and can you be ready in ten minutes is not going to be a good week. I’ve also gone through an entire carton of Diet Dr. Pepper which wasn’t mine in the first place in order to help fuel me while I was working but without much to show for it except stealing my roommate’s soda.
All this is to say, I’ve been feeling a little low this week. I thought it might have to do with my writing or the lack of certainty in my future plans beginning in a few months or the fact that I accidentally ended up at the website of an ex, but I actually think it has to do with the fact that I might like someone and that would mean that would mean I’m waiting to hear from him. Me - waiting for him?
I’ve been on a lot of dates in the last few years. While this can take up much of my weekends, it rarely effects my work during the week. But this week, I’ve found myself distracted, wondering when I’ll hear from him or what we’ll do when I see him next - if I see him next. We’ve only been out a few times and each time I’ve been surprised by how much I like him and how much more I want to talk to him and how much more time I want to spend with him. AND I’M FREAKING OUT!
I am usually exceedingly disciplined (don’t ask how quickly I can drop five pounds) but this week, I can’t focus, I can’t finish my writing, when I get a text - I’m hoping it will be him. This is all making me a complete mess. I am totally unprepared to deal with liking someone now. Dating is one thing - dating fits into my schedule and keeps my parents from shelling out too much guilt and allows me to pursue my busy fun-filled life. Liking someone is something I am completely unprepared to deal with. Liking someone means being vulnerable to how he feels. Liking someone means not focusing on my work. Liking someone means there is something I want that is not under my complete control.
Over the holidays this year, I got a bit tipsy at a family gathering. My dad said something along the lines of “Tamara needs to be in control so much that even when she’s drunk she’s still in complete control.” I thought this was a compliment at the time, but in retrospect it seems really sad.
I do like to be in control a lot. And I rarely let myself get drunk for this precise reason. Which overall, I hope is a good thing. But I probably do need loosen the reigns when it comes to a few things in my life. Perhaps, I keep men at bay, so that I always have complete control over our relationships. If I don’t like anyone that much, there’s not much to risk. But by liking this boy, I’m putting the ball in his court. I can’t make him like me. He could never call me again and there is nothing I could do about it. But I can’t do anything about that either because I can’t stop myself from liking him. I’ve grown up in a world that told me that if there was something I wanted, anything at all, I just had to go out and get it. Work hard and I would get my rewards. Most of my life this has been true. But of course when it comes to matters of the heart, we all know that we can’t control how someone else feels about us.
So I’m stuck here, wanting something I’m not sure if I can have, listening to the Santa Anas, waiting for someone else to make a move…
March 4, 2011 | 11:16 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
I saw the Adjustment Bureau last week. It was a little hokey for my taste. I love a good government conspiracy thriller. But it turns out, the Adjustment Bureau is a group of “angels” doing God’s bidding and the story revolves around whether or not free will in the shape of love is strong enough to overcome fate. It had potential but it was hard not to laugh at some of the contrivances like – God and the Bureau can’t see you too well through water so you can act covertly when it rains or on a ferry and hats have magical angel powers.
Nonetheless, the romance turns out to be not hokey at all and is surprisingly the most enjoyable part of the film by far. Now some of this of course has to do with the strengths of the film – answering Nietzsche’s seminal questions on fate is much harder than writing convincing love story dialogue. But as I’ve been reading the surprisingly positive reviews of the film, I found myself wondering if I’m just always a little more willing to suspend my disbelief when it comes to soul-mates. When it comes to believing in fate, I end up more on the side of Deists who think that even if there is a God, God has sort of left man to deal with the world themselves and free will is where it’s at. And so the whole plotline about God’s plan and humans going off of it, makes me roll my eyes a bit. But the part about how these two people are meant for each other because they were destined to be together and they feel something so special for each other because fate has determined they are meant for each other – I’m just eating up every word.
Why is that we’re so willing to put our rational intellectual normal selves aside when it comes to love? Why do I want to believe so badly that the person you end up with in the end is your soul-mate as opposed to someone who you logically concluded was the right choice for you based on reasoned decisions?
If the latter is true, is that really so bad? If you make a reasoned decision about how to marry and end up with a happy loving marriage, why is that somehow still lesser than the person who ends up marrying someone because the heavens sent down a match that was predetermined for you. It actually seems backwards, because you’d think we’d be giving more credit to the person who actually made the decisions him/herself as opposed to the person who got lucky enough to just happen upon kismet.
I’m smart enough to recognize all this and yet powerless to do anything about it. I know there’s hypocrisy in my thinking but I still want to believe that someone out there is destined for me. I don’t want to think that marriage is a logical conclusion to a rational question. Maybe I have such a hard time with that, because love never feels rational. Everything about it in fact, feels completely irrational and the ultimate seal of this emotionally reckless union, marriage, seems like it should be the most irrational act of all.
I like to think that I’m just a hopeless romantic, but maybe I’m just hopeless. When I get down to brass tacks and force myself to be completely realistic, I realize that regardless of what happens, I’ll probably convince myself that I will have ended up with my soul-mate because of how much I want to believe in it. There’s just nothing out there strong enough to convince me to give up hope. In fact, I’m probably more likely to start believing that water shields us from “angels” than truly believe deep down that I don’t have a soul mate. But really guys - I mean God can’t see you on the Staten Island Ferry?! Even us believers have our limits…
March 3, 2011 | 11:29 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
Awards Season is over! Thank God! While I wasn’t at the Academy Awards Sunday night, I along with the rest of the city’s scenesters have been all over the city in the last few weeks for awards parties, luncheons, and celebrations. As fun as it all is, it’s also a lot of work – for every shared moments with a C-list celeb, you have to talk to plenty of creepy awardsters who work some job in Hollywood that apparently requires no social skills. Anyway, I’ve been a little under the weather, recuperating from all the excitement.
After the Hollywood Reporter party, I was talking with my Dad and he asked if I had brought this guy that I had been seeing for a few weeks prior. I sort of laughed at the thought of it. For me, showing up to that party with a date in tow would have been a huge deal – it would have meant that I wouldn’t be able to flirt with other men which impacts not just meeting men in a relationship context but also in a career context. It also would have meant introducing him to people like my boss or other acquaintances who might then put me in the category of people out of the single’s box. Career-wise, I’m not sure I want to be out of that box yet.
Before you get all high fallutin’ about my failure as a woman to want to breed immediately, please take note that I didn’t make the rules of the game, I just play by them. And the ability to flirt with men, (especially accomplished men which often means especially older men), is a networking tool just as useful as Linked-in. We live in tough times. Using every tool at our disposal to get ahead separates the wheat from chaff in competitive industries. Who really wins if the girls who choose to take the high road and never engage in this type of flirting end up without the careers they wanted?
When you work in a business that relies heavily on networking, single girls have an advantage. Like it or not, a man will treat you differently if he knows you’re “single.” In Hollywood, that’s currency and to not trade on it, is simply a wasted opportunity.
An older single male Director friend of mine took me to a movie screening this week. I enjoy his company and it’s completely plutonic and comfortable and not really that flirtatious. But at the same time, I would feel weird putting myself in that situation if I were in a relationship. Even if my boyfriend said he was fine with me going to the movie with a straight new male friend, the entire situation would just feel a little off. I’m not saying it’s wrong if it happens. But I would just be aware of the situation more and I wouldn’t feel as comfortable making the plans. Plus, I’m not sure that I would have been invited in the first place. Most guys would feel weird inviting another man’s girlfriend out for a meal or a movie even if his intentions were purely platonic. But I’ve been glad for the chance to get to know him and who knows how we might be able to work together in the future?
Furthermore, when you show up with a date, you don’t create the opportunity to get hit on. At a Hollywood party during awards season, every time a guy hits on you, it’s an opportunity – for a relationship yes, but also an opportunity to work together and in a one-industry town like L.A., plenty of movies are made and deals are entered into because of chance meetings like this.
Is this all a good reason not to be in a relationship? Of course not. Being in a rewarding relationship is well worth sacrificing being able to flirt for any reason. I’m just not willing to give that up, until I’m in that kind of relationship. But in the meantime, is it so bad that I enjoy make the most of showing up alone?
February 25, 2011 | 11:38 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
A District Judge has ruled that Julian Assange will be extradited and so he leaves to face his accusers. As a news junky, I’ve been fascinated with Assange for months and so I’ve been following his rape case rather closely. Or I guess I should say, alleged rape. There are two good articles on the subject that shed more light on the issue in Salon and The Daily Mail.
Although no one will ever really know what happened, from all the leaked documents and excessive reporting out there, it seems like Assange started to have consensual sex with Girl 1 (whom he was staying with and who organized the event he was there for), the condom broke, and he continued – she may have asked him to stop and he may have used his body weight to pin her down to finish. Girl 1 threw Assange a party the next night.
Three days later he had sex with Girl 2, one of his groupies at her apartment with a condom. He slept over and the next morning she was asleep when he started having sex with her. Presumably she woke up and assumed he was wearing a condom again but he wasn’t. Girl 2 wanted to stay in touch but was hurt that the encounter turned out to be a one night stand. Soon after, Girl 2 called Girl 1 for Assange’s contact info because of her fear about STDs and the two ended up confiding in each other. They went to the police station together to report the assaults.
Was this rape? It appears the answer to that question will be different in Sweden than in America. In Sweden, if the consent to have sex was given on condition that a condom be used and then the man didn’t use one, this is rape (albeit in the least serious category of three). In America, rape in many states can only occur if there is force, so if consent has been given, it probably can’t be verbally revoked. New York is a notable exception to this.
If you have already started the act of sex, and then the girl changes her mind and says stop but he continues, should this be rape?
Although many legal scholars have argued that America’s rape laws are antiquated and should be more akin to the laws in Sweden, I’m not sure that this is necessarily true. If we did have a rape law on the books like that, how forcefully does the girl have to revoke her consent? Obviously, it’s easiest if she’s kicking and screaming and desperately trying to get away, shouting “Stop!”
But what if consent has been given, the condom breaks and she says something like “we should stop this.” If the man continues, should that be rape? If the girl whispers “stop” one time, but doesn’t physically try to get him to stop and he continues, is this rape? Or say the man is wearing a condom and ten minutes into the sexual encounter, the girl says “stop,” he thrusts only one more time to finish and then it’s over. Is he a rapist?
These scenarios really bother me and despite my strong feminist leanings, I’m probably in the camp that says no, this isn’t rape. I know I’m supposed to talk about how a woman’s right to say no is limitless and anything less than full consent at every moment is rape, but this completely ignores the primordial context with which these verbal protestations are taking place.
Sex is an expression of our most basic animal instincts especially for men and I’m not sure a woman has the right to incite those instincts right up until moments before the apex of a physiological expression and then tell a man’s brain to take over and resist every animal urge in his body.
Before you all get your panties in a bunch about how I’m making an argument that men should get away with rape, let me be clear, rape is one of the most evil violative acts in the world. I’m not making an allowance for it or anything like it whether there’s a weapon or it’s date rape or she has given consent before. Of course women have the right to say no to sex – my question is: how strong does the no have to be? and is it physiologically realistic to be able to say no seconds before the sex is over?
We don’t have the right in this country to provoke people to their breaking point. For instance, the constitution protects free speech but does not protect “fighting words,” as in there are some things which it can be illegal to say to someone if it’s likely to cause an immediate breach of the peace. It’s understood in our legal doctrine that there are somethings which can be said which are so likely to cause a violent result that you lose the right to say it. Should there be a parallel in sexual assault laws? Is there some point of no return during the act of sex where it’s almost unreasonable to ask a man to stop?
I’m sure most of you will disagree with this suggestion and say that even up till the millisecond before climax, a woman has the right to say no. And although I’m on the fence, even if I concede that you’re right and I agree that no matter where in the sex act the couple is at, if she says no, it’s rape, it still leaves open the question of how strongly does she have to say no? What if the sex has started, the girl says clearly she wants to stop, but then the man says “are you sure” and then she doesn’t say anything again? These scenarios are endless and I have a real problem lumping these men into the sexual deviant category of rapists we all agree are evil.
If a girl merely says “we should stop” and he doesn’t, that’s not rape. That’s a woman who’s making a mistake and doing something she’s going to probably regret but that’s not rape.
I’m sure the truth in the Assange case has yet to fully come out, but if the case hinges on whether or not the woman merely asked him to stop or instead told him to stop or just suggested he stop, I worry we are headed down a road that gives truth to the adage that “in Sweden, a man needs a woman to sign a release in order to have sex with her.” I agree that No means no. But what does Yes…I mean well…I mean wait I’m not sure but I don’t think we should do this mean?
February 24, 2011 | 12:16 pm
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
A couple that are friends of mine, Gwen and David, have been going through some rough times lately. She’s a super smart, very pretty girl, who has dated a string of a$$h*l@s who have treated her like dirt. Probably something about being a little too nerdy to ever be that popular and never quite skinny enough to feel truly beautiful has kept her thinking the best she can do is a hot guy who’s probably not going to treat her that well. Until now.
She’s been dating David for almost a year and David is your typical Nice Guy. He’s friendly with everyone, he’s not traditionally handsome but he’s cute and probably cuter the more you hang out with him. Like all Nice Guys, he’s easy going and smart, completely unassuming; everyone always has nice things to say about him and he doesn’t just have sex - he engages in sweet love-making.
The problem is, David hasn’t figured out that he’s the Nice Guy and so the first time he gets in a relationship with the kind of pretty, accomplished girl which causes whisperings about how she’s too good for him, he stops acting like the nice guy to Gwen.
What is wrong with you?! Girls date the Nice Guy for one huge reason – they are sick of dealing with jerks. Actually, a lot of girls end up marrying these guys. Perhaps they do really win out. I’m not sure how it will turn out and I’m not recommending that women pick these guys. I’m just saying if you are the Nice Guy, you need to act like it.
I worry that David thinks that he’s finally got this great girl, and he doesn’t know what to do with a girl like this and so he is taking the advice of the a$$h*l@s. He’s suddenly playing games – waiting to call her back, prioritizing spend time with his buddies so he doesn’t seem too available, flirting with ex’s to make her jealous. He’s even broken up with her once but she she’s never broken it off with him. This just baffles me. You don’t date a guy like David to get treated like this.
I wonder if this is motivated by David’s self-esteem issues. Perhaps deep down, he doesn’t think he’s good enough for a girl like Gwen, so instead of trusting his own instincts, he thinks he has to be something he’s not to keep her.
Another girlfriend of mine recently had a similar encounter. Beth got set up with this guy who everyone billed as the Nice Guy. He has a great job, great pedigree, pretty cute and genuinely nice to people he meets. The problem is that he kept playing hard to get with Beth. He wanted her to know that he was dating other people, not looking for anything serious, too busy to be very available, and only available to see her infrequently. Beth immediately lost interest. That’s just not what she bargained for. She just wanted to be with a decent genuine guy who wasn’t constantly trying to game her. This guy clearly just didn’t get it.
Dating is bad enough when a bunch of a$$h*l@s are acting like a$$h*l@s. Putting up with a bunch of not cute second-rate lugs that are acting like a$$h*l@s is just intolerable.
February 23, 2011 | 11:00 am
Posted by Tamara Shayne Kagel
My last post was about what’s wrong with women. This one is about what’s wrong with men. Two articles have been atop everyone’s cocktail party conversation this past week. In the first, Day of the Lout which appeared in the LA Times, Neal Gabler suggests in his own words that “unsophisticated, lazy, misogynist males may be the primary model for today’s young American men” which he attributes to a complete rejection of the subjugation they supposedly saw their fathers succumb to in an attempt to play the feminist driven sensitivity game. The second, from Kay Hymowitz in the Wall Street Journal, suggests that most twenty/thirty-something males are stuck in this slacker-worshipping prolonged adolescence because feminism has so drastically upended the role of men that this slap-stick pre-adulthood is an expression of our cultural uncertainty about the social role of men.
Both articles are good and I strongly recommend the read. And in fact, both are supported by another trend setting article in the Atlantic last year by Hanna Rosin called The End of Men where she essentially argues that modern society is better suited for women than men. But I remain unconvinced by Hymowitz and Gabler. These are elaborate theories to make successful women feel better about the emerging societal norm that there are more better educated women who are successful at younger ages and most importantly to absolve them of any culpability in this phenomenon.
But I don’t believe this a result of either a backlash against female success or confusion about the future role of men. I’d like to suggest another theory for what’s wrong with men today. They’re just lazy. That’s it, pure and simple. America values laziness and we’ve finally created a world where it’s possible to be lazier than we ever imagined. We don’t have to leave the house to learn anything, to do anything, or to get anything. In fact, we’ve created a society that puts a high premium on being lazy. We like to know that our Presidents sit on the couch, drinking beer and watching sports. We are constantly coming up with technological devices so that we can move less than we already were (ie – remote controls, sound operated light switches, voice controlled everything, electronic tablets). It seems like the goal of modern science is to create enough devices so that we can live life without ever moving more than an eyelid. Vacations are taken on cruise ships or at all inclusive resorts so that you never have to go anywhere. You can buy anything from almost anywhere and have it arrive at your doorstep. Men are just as likely to get together to sit on a couch and watch sports on a huge screen while drinking beer as they were thirty years ago, but there’s much more incentive to do it now since the plasma screens are in HD and there are 500 channels to choose from.
Now laziness is not a male dominated trait by any means and I in no way mean to imply that this is more inherent in men than women. Women would be just as lazy if we could. But we are constantly being made aware of our shorter shelf life for child bearing so to greatly over simplify, we push ourselves a little harder to speed life along because we’re afraid our time is going to run out. But if women were suddenly told they could easily get pregnant with healthy babies until they were fifty, you’d find the same rampant laziness among young women. Women would be on their couches surfing shoe sales like it was porn instead of forcing themselves to get out there and meet men. Or women would be willing to take a few more years traveling or living at home and starting that reversible lingerie line instead of being so career oriented. But most women want families and that means at some point, they’re going to have cut back on focusing on their education or jobs so if they want a career at all, the time to focus on it is now. Women just can’t afford to be as lazy as men.
One of the reasons that men have become so successful at cultivating this Peter Pan syndrome so prevalently is that women reward men for this behavior. Women are constantly afraid of emasculating men so every time these guys luxuriate in their anti-intellectual crude behavior, women say to themselves, boys will be boys like we dare not presume to tell a real man how to act.
This is most obvious of course when it comes to hooking up. There was a time when women rewarded gentlemanly behavior by accepting dates with and only with to men who acted chivalrous and abided by the cultural standards of decency. Likewise, the basest of men on the lower rungs of society were punished – they couldn’t find good mates or any woman at all to even lose their virginity with. But this is no longer true. Girls are constantly hooking up with complete wastes-of-space losers so what’s the incentive for them to change?
I was just on the phone last night with a girlfriend, who recently hooked up with a guy who has consistently blown her off. I kept begging her to delete his number from her phone. They’ll hook up, he won’t return her texts, and then a few weeks later, she’ll text him again. Then she’ll show up at 11pm at his house and the next day she’ll leave knowing that he’s probably going to ignore her for months again. Why oh Why?
Women have to take some of the responsibility for this behavior and it’s not because we’re all just so damned successful it’s intimidating men. I have another friend who financially supported her boyfriend on a waitressing salary so that he could start and run a “business” for years. I am guilty of this myself. A year or two ago, I dated this guy whom at the time I really liked. But he never wanted to do much of anything except sit around watch TV and play video games. At the time, I never said anything to him because I wanted to support his outside interests. But now when I think about it, I don’t understand why I didn’t tell him to get off his lazy drug-addicted a$$ and do something.
The other reason younger generations have been able to get away with this laziness for so long is our obsession with individualism and good old fashioned American pride. We need to “discover our unique talents and cultivate our specialness” by finding a job where we can let our inner light shine instead of just working for The Man. This idea, which is immortalized in movies like Office Space and even Weeds when it used to be good, that no one wants to be a cog in a wheel has allowed men to say “No! I won’t put on your monkey suit and work 9 to 5. I will stay in my pajamas all day and work from home developing useless software so that people can watch angry birds peck at each other.” The idea that this guy is doing what he loves is something we have come to overvalue to the point that a lawyer with a great salary is seen as a beaten down pushover who can’t stand up for himself, regardless of whether or not he likes his job. We as women are again rewarding this behavior every time we date some loser with no job who’s pursuing his dream. At the time, I thought I was dating a filmmaker, a musician, an actor, and an entrepreneur. But really I was dating a waiter, a telemarketer, a trust fund baby, and a guy with a lot of debt. Why would these guys go out and find real jobs in their twenties? They don’t have to work hard and girls keep having sex with them while they pursue their dream on their couch. Who would grow-up and leave that behind?
Lastly, the reason this generation of foolish lazy men has become an epidemic has to do with bravery. Women, going back for centuries, have been drawn to courageous men. The problem is that up until very recently, that used to mean something. Bravery used to mean being brave in a situation that called for it – fighting the draft, fighting for our country, standing up to other men in fights, risking your neck at your job in dangerous working conditions. But now, no one has to be brave anymore. We’ve created a world that has eliminated all risk and when there’s no risk, why would you ever need to face fear? So how can men show they are brave now? By going on Jackass! Technically I mean the show, but really if you’re just willing to act like one, that’s good enough for us. Get kicked out of a club, bully the weak, talk like Beavis and Butthead, imitate Jim Carey, revel in being fat, steal Stop signs. Floutting social conventions is one of the few ways left for a man to demonstrate courage. Which basically means, the stupider you act, the more your buddies will high five you, and the more women will buy into this notion that you are doing something manly. It seems so outrageous but I’ve seen it with my own eyes so many times; guys act stupid and girls mistake this for machismo and encourage the behavior. If you think this isn’t true, take a trip to any frat house in this country.
So now that there’s all this attention surrounding the retarded development of younger male generations, you’d think men might do something about it. But nothing will change unless women stop rewarding this behavior first. Knowing that this male inhibited-adulthood is really just driven by laziness and misguided buffoonery, you’d think that women would be turned off by this. But I’m not holding out hope. Until we start rewarding men for being anti-loutish, we best not criticize them for being louts. To answer Hymowitz’s question about where have all the good men gone, I’ll tell you where – they stopped showing up when we stopped asking for them.