G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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An article in Esquire written by Stephen Marche has enraged a few feminists (one of them, Marcotte, refused to link to the piece so nanny-nanny-boo-boo, I won’t link to you…either). Marche discusses “the sneer, the female gaze of contempt” while also dismissing the entire discussion being led by Hanna Rosin et al on the crisis of masculinity. Though I don’t know if feminists picked up on Marche’s nuance, he argues that the entire notion of a crisis of masculinity is a function of this gaze of contempt. And this contempt entrenches itself in our everyday romantic relationships because men just passively accept whatever it is that women think or say about them.
Marche cites Michelle Obama’s tendency of belittling Barack, though Marche forgets to bolster his claim by mentioning that the President has routinely publicly denigrated himself for cheap laughs, playing into the crowd’s tacit acceptance of female moral superiority. Of course, Obama is top dog, so maybe he can afford, unlike most guys, to blow a little alpha capital.
Marche also mentions Louis CK’s brand of humor which has trended towards beta supplication over the years. Marche says “the best and most refined comedians of the moment all take it for granted that the masculine is inherently the stupid, the obese, the miserable, the lazy, the selfish.” All this is done for the approval of women, Marche argues.
It’s interesting that Marche mentions CK because last night’s episode of “Louie” has a scene in which the comedian is coaxed into a shopping trip with a woman he’d last encountered after her meltdown during an S&M session. She wanted him to spank her before having sex, and she ended up sobbing into the bed comforter while Louie looked on in horror. But because the woman offers him a blowjob, Louie goes with. In the store, an IKEA, she asks Louie whether he likes a certain rug. Louie doesn’t care; he says it looks “fine.” She berates him, telling him that he doesn’t contribute and that he’s an idiot, etc. Louie comforts her because, what else is he going to do?
But the scene works because we do recognize that there is an enthusiasm gender gap. Men just don’t care about rugs. Louie says that it isn’t covered with AIDS which means that it’s good enough for him. No rug will ever “make me cum”, he says. What is there to get excited about? And why must his excitement meet her excitement?
I enjoyed this scene because it reminds me of almost every single domestic/household decision I’ve ever had to make with my girlfriends – past and present. I just don’t care about what color we should make the bathroom. I don’t care, just pick one. And because of this – because I don’t care at all about these mundane, day-to-day decisions – I feel the contempt. She’s staring darts through me. The only thing I can say for myself is that I address this for what it is. I put a name on it and tell the woman that I am never going to get excited about such things and that it is impractical and cruel to ask me to ramp up my enthusiasm just to make her feel happy. That kinda works, but there is always that nagging feeling that I should take a more active interest in these things that I don’t care about. That nagging pressure is the thing that Marche is talking about.