Monday, August 07, 2006

Men will be boys. Duh.

Ms. Belinda Luscombe recently commented in a major newsweekly how frustrated she is with the repetitive nature of romantic comedies featuring the pairing of “together” women with loser men who willfully embrace unemployment, drunkenness and other extended adolescent silliness.

She describes it such: “The shift in power between the sexes has never been greater than in romantic comedies. The men are about as useless as a pitcher of spit, while the women have careers and well furnished apartments and vast freighters of wisdom.”

(Pitcher of spit…useless? Bah! She’s obviously never set the bar on fire doing volcano shots.) She asks: Where did Gregory Peck go? The answer of course, Bella Belinda, is that Mr.Peck is dead. He died in 2003. And his heirs aren’t quite so sure being a man is all it’s cracked up to be.

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Now…to be clear, Ms. Luscombe is complaining about movies. However, many would argue she makes a point valid beyond the multiplex. It’s not new news that dudes could be a might confused over when to be sensitive listeners and when to be MAN-tastic. It has, after all, only been two generations since the era of sheer chauvinism. Those of us in our thirties were just born, or at least young children, during the big equal rights push. The next decade, the Greedy 80s saw the birth of the glass ceiling. But women were beginning to become a real force in the workplace. (That’s why Chet and Bubba worked to build that ceiling.)

By the time ol’ Chas Chesterfield was in college, the PC 90s were in full swing. All the chummy Alpha Male shit was, if far from eradicated, at least driven underground. For all its backlash today, I feel strongly that there is something to be said for getting privileged white kids to be aware of the experiences of other citizens in our culturally and economically-diverse country. And, beyond that, for men to learn to work with women in setting not charged with bullshit sexual innuendo at every turn is good for business and for women. In the most advanced fields, great strides have been made. PC made this a reality. That, and lawsuits.

Today, while women still need to battle for position in the workplace, it is their skills which seem best suited for success. Saatchi & Saatchi CEO, Kevin Roberts notes, “This is a new era for feminine power. Deep emotional connections are where it’s at and every company has to be up for it. FastCompany just ranked emotional connections number one out of ten corporate challenges. Sir Mark Moody-Stuart knows it. Writing the foreword to an April Judge Institute survey on corporate reputation factors, he registers his surprise at the low ranking by CEOs of 'emotional connections'.”

Roberts goes on to point out how women, by being more open to collaboration, dialogue and team work, versus piss contests and the like make better executives. How the macho posturing of type A males is bad for business.

Let’s say for a moment that women are empowered. I’d argue that they are, in many respects. One stat that says so is that over the last decade women-owned businesses have mushroomed. One in eleven women in the States is now a business owner. How is the Alpha doing in these environments? Do you really want a team coordinator or other entry level player swaggering around, acting dominant and over confident? In the inverse ‘survival of the fittest’ world of business it is not the physical leader who always succeeds. It is the person who can ‘adopt an effective attitude’, who has ‘emotional intelligence’. Probably not the man of action.

The superficial examination of business aside for a moment. Let’s get back to love interests. Are you familiar with the Cads and Dads study? It seems that when it comes to enflamed passion, fucking and the like, women tend to prefer a dominating, powerful and promiscuous man. The Type A jerk. However, when considering the long-term relationship, women are more likely to turn to a compassionate, sensitive and monogamous man in touch with his feelings. Sure…you say. No shit. But this is science, people!

"About 60 percent of the women said they would prefer to have sex with a cad when considering a brief affair," notes Daniel Kruger, psychologist at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. The study tested evolutionary mating theories using hypothetical scenarios involving classic “cad” and “dad” character types from 18th and 19th century British literature. The subjects were an ethnically diverse group of 257 female undergraduates at a large Midwestern university. While the women said they preferred dads for long-term relationships, they found cads more desirable as short-term mates.

I have noted before and will do so again that we are merely animals battling years of instinct and societal patterns in an environment where the primal drives must be curbed. Yet in those times when primal drives emerge: the bedroom, the war zone, our civil constraint and rules ring hollow. But day to day, it’s a different story.

So where are we? Women are attracted to type A jerks but they don’t want to live with them, work with them, for them or supervise them. You’ve come a long way, baby. Because society has. Advanced society does not share the same rules as one in which the top hunter/warriors ruled the roost. Physical prowess is irrelevant. Collaboration is king.

Art, after all, mirrors life, or so they say. And if you can call Hollywood films “art” at all, you don’t have to look much further than the types of males found on Hollywood’s A-List these days. As Ms. Luscombe might say, “where have all the men gone”? Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Tobey McGuire, Matt Damon, Jake Gyllenhaal, are boys. Some of them, 40 year old boys. But boys all the same. Even when Pitt gets huge from lifting, he still looks like an 18 year old Adonis. Where are the Burt Lancasters? The Bogarts? The Robert Mitchums? Like Peck, they’re six feet under.

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This is no call for a return to the tribe, to painting faces, banging drums and killing animals. It is a request to cease the complaints. Why did human males control society for so long? What makes us different? Testosterone for one. Pump enough juice into a woman and while she may not feel like a man in terms of gender identity, she’ll start to look like one and act like one. Men are important because we made ourselves important. Food first, conquest and empire next, then business. But business doesn't really require biceps and fists, not literally at least.

In 2006 we see a workplace more equal opportunity than ever before, and as such…women are performing. And dominating. Within a few more generations, they may prove to be unquestionably superior at the kind of management required to make companies succeed. Men may have a role, as sales people, gregarious backslappers, or as ADD afflicted Wall Street Traders, but within the flat team-based organization…where do they fit? They may not, at all. They may become relegated to those jobs where physical prowess still means something: law enforcement, manufacturing, construction. Those that prosper in the office-place, are likely to be sensitive “dads” and as such, while good partners, are unlikely to get the blood pumping on the silver screen.

This is bad news for Ms. Luscombe.

Look, I complain a lot, so I feel for Belinda. I really do. It’s just that her gripe is of such a common quality. The “why are things the way they are…they didn’t used to be” complaint. This complaint infects the writing of many an opinion-column. From sports, to music, to “values” (whatever), things never hold up to some past standard. With nostalgic zeal many readers, viewers, throngs of all sizes, pound their fists in agreement. Of course, this is just silly.

As Heraclitus wrote, “all things pass and nothing abides; you cannot step twice into the same stream.” The Gregory Pecks are dead. Long live Greg “G-Dog” Peck who can get you a sweet deal on a quarter of kind bud. He works in shipping. You'll find him living in his parent's guest house.

Sorry love, that’s just the way it is.


Blogger Lobo said...

There has been a shift in power or who is the dope this week. Women have changed how they see themselves and how they see men - true enough. They are making their own money and can do many things for themselves now. They say they want a meaningful relationship when they get into one but they want to act as crass as males have until they get there.

If you keep gong out with boy toys, then you get used to treating males as boy toys even when you are ready to settle down. It's like someone studying in school - if you cram for exams then you can't just automatically know how to study so ideas stick to your brain for longer than a test. You get what you practice and get ready for.

Any man's behavior can at times look stupid, sophomoric, like a kid's actions. The truth is that so do women's attitudes and behavior look stupid, like a squeemish baby and dumb. The difference is that we are male bashing now and no males object much and you can't say much bad about women without being accused of being sexist or a misoginist. It's often been interesting to me to see women talk among each other about men's foibles or see it on TV or commented on in public but get all bent out of shape if a man says something about some woman and her shortcomings - it's an attack on all womanhood or on her.

Equal rights also means equal responsibilty - but many women still want men to act like a gentleman at the moment they want it. They love the bad boy, the cad but if that is who they date then when they 'want' to settle down with someone better, they don't know how to act - they still respond as if they were the cad - research has shown that women are badly affected by being treated badly in a relationship and carry those scars emotionally in future relationships. So do men but it is not so emotionally imprinted.

It's interesting to see how many women are wanting to get married for the first time in their 40s now that they want to settle down with or without children. Sharing and being part of a couple is not always a natural process - lust and attraction are but how to work it out is not. It's hard enough in your 20s.

Women might be more collaborative and team players at work but at home it is not a work enviornment. Too many 'wearing pants at work' women continue to think they wear them at home and 'he'd better listen or he's a pig".

The fact that more women are starting businesses than men may not mean much - starting a business is one thing - sustaining one is another - being successful is another thing, etc. Maybe the men who have thought about strting a business already have years ago so women are just catching up so some degree. Women are very capable and can do many things we did not think they could do but whether they will sustain the drive or attempt is another thing.

I have often pointed out to people that drag racing in the streets is an equal opportunity occupation - men and women have cars, men and women can drive, both can drive fast, but its mainly men who are doing it (does not mean its a good thing to do). Yes there are a few women race car drivers and you can argue who will or will not sponsor them but if women are not racing in their youth, there is no practice structure.

A lot of women who chose a career and are in their 40s or 50s now find it hard to find a guy they are willing to live with and marry. Lots of guys don't want the bother. Women's liberation allowed men to be more liberated to get more sex from more women without the ring and license - Gene Simmons, singer for Kiss - is getting his own TV show about his family - he's proud he's not married his girlfriend for all these years - she is still waiting, so the promo goes.

Men are dunces in TV and in the movies - one point of view.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Chas Chesterfield Esq. said...

lobo: good points, mate.

you fucking misogynist! :)

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forget the element of competition, I think. The woman achiever in business, the confidant woman functioning in a world dominated by men, the flat brilliant (or sometimes just smart) woman--they have always had difficulty attracting a man Bella Belinda would consider a winner. I think it's because that kind of man expects a woman who will defer to him. I see this in friends. The achiever woman gets a supportive, non-competitive man, while the achiever man requires a supporter-wife who focuses herself on him and the family. No way he wants her to COMPETE with him.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Leesa said...

lobo said: "They are making their own money and can do many things for themselves now."

How insulting can you be!

cc esq: interesting read. Even if you attract idiots like lobo and me!

3:00 PM  
Blogger Bdogs said...

Damn straight, bro. Women have a different managerial style. Maybe we need one in the White House.

11:10 PM  

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