MEN, Inc.

January 27, 2012 § 20 Comments

Individual men I get.

Just like women, they can be friends, associates, competitors, neighbors.

What I wonder about is the brand, MEN: the hype, the front, the public face of the gender.

I’m not sure your PR person is doing you any favors, guys.

If you are a member of the supercategory, MEN, you may wonder about some of this yourself—I appreciate that living up to the manly hype is hard work and that you (the individual) may have opted out.

Still I have questions (I inquire on behalf of that other well-established brand WOMEN, Inc.). Please answer as honestly as the secret oath of Club MEN allows.

Is romance something invented by females that you play along with? Do we fall in love with who we imagine you are—and do you let us?

Do you know how many points you’d gain if you liked to dance?

Do you resent the fact your wardrobe is drab and unexciting, or does one of us on your arm do the trick without all the fuss?

What do you really talk about when it’s just guys? Not sports. That’s just a smokescreen thrown up to keep us guessing, right?

Does walking a poodle embarrass you? Ditto a Chihuahua.

When we ask the girl question, “What are you thinking,” are you?

Are those decisions you seem to make with such confidence arbitrary (do you have some internal paper/scissors/rock routine you run when confronted with a choice)? To be blunt, are you making it up as you go along?

Why is it that the more powerful and successful you are the less you can actually do? (Unstop a toilet, wire an electrical outlet, cook an omelet). And why are you so proud of your ignorance?

You do know that when you cross your legs we can see your socks. Your white socks. Your short white socks. Your hairy legs.

We consistently outperform you academically. We’re more diligent, more reliable, and easier to work with. Why are you still in charge?

What you do with all the tears you are not allowed to cry? And if you were allowed to cry, would that obviate the need to go to war?

Is your first thought really, I wonder if she’d go to bed with me? A guy told me that was thought numero uno, but maybe that was a guy joke.

Powerful and in charge–and yet you are slavishly willing to wear a necktie.

We accept your shortcomings. Ugly? Short? Fat? Old? Bald? We give you that generous blank to fill in: other. Tell us what you’ve got, we’ll overlook almost anything, especially if you make us laugh. I have never figured out the biological advantage of a funny mate but we all want one. Not joke-telling funny, just someone who can make the hard times less hard.

Why are you so unimaginative when interviewing us for a spot in your lives? Why do you look so hard at the package? We have lots of “other.”

We can be funny too.

Note: Feel free to answer or contradict my questions–or ask your own. WOMEN, Inc is a far from perfect brand. What’s with purses anyway?

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§ 20 Responses to MEN, Inc.

  • craig reeder says:

    dang! you’ve figured us out! was it that obvious?

    Like

  • Liz Jameson says:

    Love Adrian Fogelin’s blog exploring men: the creature (er, um, the BRAND) Love it!

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  • Liz Jameson says:

    Oops — I thought my comment was going on my Facebook page — that’s why I stated the obvious. Great blog, Adrian.

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  • Adrian: Your post is pointed, but with good reason. My own concern, however is Boys Inc. Young men are arriving at high school with 2nd to 4th grade reading, inability to write and do math. Wave after wave of these young men are lost in a system that seems incapable of helping with these problems. Injustice, against women in the workplace needs to stop. The current problem within secondary schools is that young men have fallen off the map and there are no programs, no advocacy for these young men. This won’t add up to a victory for women. Educated women are already struggling to find young men who also educated.
    Secondary schools have done a good job of advancing sports for young women, stopping sexual harrassment, and making young women see they have a place in higher education. The same can’t be said for young men and the problems of young men get worse and worse.

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    • You’re right. I see it in the poorer-performing schools I visit, which are usually in economically struggling communities. There is almost a culture of not-learning, especially among the boys. It is as if it is not cool to excel in school, but I don’t think that’s really it. I think, as you state, they lack the most basic skills and the bravado and unwillingness to learn or show curiousity are an act to cover the fact that they are incapable of doing the work.

      Where does a young, unskilled man end up? There aren’t many options and almost none of them are good.

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  • Perhaps in our (Women, Inc.) nearly 50 year push to more equitable treatment, we have inadvertently said to the guys, “Hey, you aren’t worth bothering about anymore.” I hate that so many boys and young men are falling through the cracks like we did for so long.

    When bussing began so that more integration could happen, everyone complained. But my mom said, “We’ve held the pendulum on our side of the clock too long. It’s going to have to swing in the other direction for a to make up for all the injustice done to African-American America in the past 100 years.”

    Perhaps it’s time for us to let this pendulum swing a more equitable path as well. I believe Boys, Inc, and our future depend on it.

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  • G Wallace says:

    Here you go – please understand these are only my responses – I am not speaking for all Men Inc –
    Romance is fun! Sometimes it’s the most fun part of the relationship. The trick is finding a woman who likes the fun part of the relationship more than the serious part.
    I like to dance! I just don’t like to be forced to dance.
    Men’s clothing is generally boring – check out the Oscars – they don’t talk about who has the most exciting tux – it’s not our fault – we go for functional and comfortable and if it looks good too, it’s a bonus
    We talk about whatever we think might be of interest to us – if one topic fizzles out, we talk about something else – some guys are really into sports but other aren’t – anyway we don’t have makeup to talk about so we have to think of something – and yes, sometimes we talk about women – I’ll bet women talk about men
    If the poodle or Chihuahua is yours, I’ll gladly walk it – otherwise I probably would not choose those breeds for myself – and I won’t be embarrassed because anyone who sees me walking the dog will give me points for walking my girlfriend’s dog
    Sometimes we are thinking and sometimes not – sometimes we might be thinking about something really stupid, such as I really wanted a pickle on the hot dog and we know it’s really stupid so instead of saying I’m thinking about how I really wanted a pickle on the hot dog we’ll say Nothing – or sometimes we’ll be thinking I really wish she didn’t ask me what I’m thinking
    Wow – I didn’t know I made decisive decisions
    I’ve always been glad I know how to unstop a toilet and cook eggs – am I odd? Then again, I’m not rich either so maybe the size of a bank account is inversely proportional to how much a guy can do for himself
    I hardly ever wear white socks – I much prefer over-the-calf dark socks so I guess I’m really not the right guy to answer this one
    I’ve often wondered about why guys are in charge – frankly I thought Hillary would have made a better president but I’ll still vote for Obama – I’m also VERY GLAD Palin is not one heartbeat away from being president
    I have no problem with crying – you should have seen me at Big Fish or United 93
    My first thought is not Will she go to bed with me but I’m always grateful when she does – my first thought is generally Oh God Did I Just Make A Royal Fool Of Myself And Botch Everything
    I HATE NECKTIES! IT IS THE MOST WORTHLESS PIECE OF CLOTHING EVER INVENTED AND I HOPE THE PERSON WHO INVENTED TIES IS BURNING IN FASHION HELL!
    Honestly, most women I have met say they will overlook my shortcomings but deep down inside really wish I was rich, looked like Brad Pitt, had a sense of humor like Seinfeld, and a body like Schwarzenegger and could perform sexually at a moment’s notice but only when she wants
    I value a woman with whom I can have fun and good conversation much more than a woman who has perfect you-know-what – but I must admit in my younger days I valued initial physical attraction more than I do now
    I hope you can make me laugh and I hope I can make you laugh too and I hope neither of us has to work at making the other laugh, I hope we just do

    So there you go

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    • Wow! Thanks for the answers. We WOMEN appreciate your candor–and value the information. Also appreciated is your willingness to walk our poodles.

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      • G Wallace says:

        Poodles are cool! Especially the full size ones. I’m not really big on the fru-fru poodles with all of the really odd grooming.

        I hope you know I had a smile on my face when I wrote about the neckties. On the one hand, I meant my comment to be an exaggeration. On the other hand, I really do despise nedkties and only wear them on rare occasions, maybe once a year tops unless I’m forced to wear one.

        Here’s a question about women’s fashions – are Manolo’s really worth hundreds of dollars or are they more of a statement, something along the lines of a Rolex (I could never figure out how a wrist watch could be worth thousands of dollars – I’d rather invest it or take a trip).

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  • KM Huber says:

    Incredible writing all around, blog and comments. Does appear that with age both gender “brands” look for more “other” and less packaging. It’s something.

    Like

  • The man I know best is Jim. I kissed him at 18 and have been a goner ever since. Thirty-nine years later, here’s what I’ve learned from my sample pool of 1:

    Romance? Jim has brought me flowers practically every week for 34 years. For sheer romantic endurance, that has to be close to a Guinness record. But for sheer force of romance, I’d site the chicken soup he makes when I have flu. All those 8 a.m., 30 degree, rainy Saturday mornings he got up and took our children to soccer. The 24 year-old water heater he can somehow always resurrect with an $8 coil. The stack of books he chooses for me from the library, and the chocolate orange candy bars he puts on top.

    Dancing? Jim is god-awful. Elaine on Seinfeld? Not even close. He may hate to dance, but he does it for me. I put that in the major point category.

    Wardrobe? He doesn’t have a clue. When Jim goes out of town, I write down each item of each outfit so he can put it all together. When our 4th child was born, Jim brought our older three children to the hospital for a visit. They were dressed in each others clothes: the older daughter crammed into her younger sister’s dress, the younger girl swimming in her older brother’s t-shirt. Some of their clothing was on backwards. One shirt was on inside out. Years later, after I’d helped one of our children dress for their prom and sent them off, Jim told me he really appreciated how much I had taught our children about dress and style. He was wearing ripped shorts and a faded t-shirt that didn’t match when he said it, but I have to admit, my black Irish husband looked pretty damn gorgeous at that moment.

    What do guys talk about? Fishing, sports, fishing, politics, food, fishing, finance, more food, and hilarious and self-deprecating stories about them or their friends acting like jackasses. They’re honest. Straight-forward. No drama.

    White socks? Jim rarely wears socks at all. And I’ll gladly look at his legs any chance I get.

    First thoughts upon meeting a woman? My guess is boys look at the outer package and think about ways to bed her. A few years ago someone we knew left his wife for someone the age of his daughter. Jim said he didn’t get it; he wasn’t attracted to younger women because they looked ‘raw.’ Now that’s a man.

    Are men perfect? No. Are some of them jerks? Absolutely.

    But most of them are just like us, trying their hardest and yes, making it up as they go.

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  • Carl Fogelin says:

    I figured I’d give you my input too, although it’s “couched” with me being your brother. Regarding romance, I suspect you folks started it, but at this point both groups actively participate. As to perception vs reality, I always present who I am and I am dateless. What does that say about what you women want? I like to dance, but it hasn’t gained me any points since college. As to fashion, we tend towards practical although the accessory you mentioned makes us not really care what we wear.

    When guys get together, we talk about almost anything. Sure, sports come up, but also the job, home projects, what’s happening in the world and such worthy topics like “beer or should we go for the hard stuff”. Regarding small dogs… the relationship better be worth it. It wouldn’t embarrass me, but it’s not my style.

    As to the whole thinking thing, we commonly are off on some unrelated tangent and are embarrassed that we haven’t been paying attention. “Nothing” is just a reflexive response. It feels safer than “I forgot to get the tire pressure checked when I had the car in the shop last week”. As to decisions, we learn at a young age that being decisively wrong is better than wishy-washy right. I mean, if you’re not decisive, your friends would never do anything you wanted to do.

    Powerful people don’t need to know how to do menial things, like fix the toilet or make eggs, so they intentionally forget whatever they knew before they became powerful. Being proud of ignorance is just a way to display how powerful you are. Since I remember how to do these things, I obviously do not fall into this category.

    White socks are my thing. Sorry about the hairy legs, but I’m not changing.

    As to being in charge, do you really believe that? You folks are Evita and we’re Peron. You just let us feel like we’re in charge, but weI know who really runs the world.

    As to first thoughts, no, that’s not what I think of first although it probably is in the top 10. And lastly, as to neckties, I wear them only when I need to look more formal. My fashion statement lately has been more about chinos and polo shirts. Neckties have no business being in that picture.

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    • Chris, I learn more about you when you comment on my blogs than at any other time! That’s saying something considering you’re my brother.

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      • Carl Fogelin says:

        Sometimes communication needs to be in an impersonal medium before the good stuff comes out. Truthfully I think you came to an opinion of who I was when I was little, a quiet shy kid. That all changed in college and now no one can shut me up. I love to express an opinion, whether it is right or wrong, so I’ll continue to respond to your blog posts.

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  • G. Wallace, I am a poor representative of the fashionable side of Women, Inc. Although I have no idea what a Manolo is I am sure it is not worth hundreds of dollars more than its generic equivalent.

    If I can’t get whatever it is on half-price Monday at Goodwill, I don’t want it.

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  • G Wallace says:

    Here’s something else I forgot to mention – if you tell me you are going to have lunch with an ex-boyfriend and I don’t fly into a jealous rage and instead tell you to have a good time, please don’t take this as a sign I don’t care. I do care – I trust you too – and I really hope you have a good time! I trust you enough to believe you will tell me if we have a problem with our relationship. Unless you tell me this, I will believe we are good and solid in our relationship and I have nothing to worry about.

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