Sad Boner Confessionals
June 28, 2016 9:36 PM   Subscribe

"You can tell you’re reading a Sad Boner Confessional when a man is describing the worst trauma of a woman’s life purely in terms of what it means about him. " After the Huffington Post picked up "self-described "Media Activist" Ian MacKenzie's blog post "Love Will be the Death of Us" (warning: Huffpo), author Alexandra Erin (previously, previously) had some thoughts on the narcissistic and self-serving genre of author confessional.

Not stopping there, she went on to write her own version of McKenzie's essay: Infidelity will be the Death of My Marriage.
posted by happyroach (562 comments total) 119 users marked this as a favorite
 
"early adopter of loneliness" is a smashing line. Great response essay from Alexandra Erin. Ew to the original "essay" by thingo.

Edit: "Less than a week later, I dial her a phone call".
posted by turbid dahlia at 10:01 PM on June 28, 2016 [12 favorites]


Ugh I started reading that Ian MacKenzie piece earlier today or last night and couldn't finish it because it seemed really gross to me. i thought maybe I was being unfair, that maybe I just don't get that certain kind of guy who fancies himself the hero on his journey or whatever it is. And he doesn't get how ridiculous he sounds. It's so shallow.

Oh well.
posted by discopolo at 10:09 PM on June 28, 2016 [12 favorites]


"People who were creeped out and unsettled by the original have thanked me for validating what they were feeling"

Thanks for posting this followup, happyroach, I've had a gross taste in my mouth since the original was posted and am really grateful for the palate cleanser.
posted by Cozybee at 10:09 PM on June 28, 2016 [29 favorites]


I read the original essay a few days ago, but I brought it back up to read the two of them in parallel. She does a really nice job of balancing the parallels -- she follows along quite closely with the original essay, but at the same time her version isn't just a 'fixed that for you' style copy with a few adjustments.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:10 PM on June 28, 2016 [16 favorites]


Seconding Cozybee's comment. I feel so much better now.
posted by discopolo at 10:13 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, that essay was awful. I quoted parts of it to my partner the night I read it-- what I remembered being the bits about how her face drained of colour while he proclaimed his need to sexually "explore" with other people, how she "reluctantly agreed" to an open relationship, and how, later, he wondered if he had wrecked his marriage. You think?
posted by jokeefe at 10:14 PM on June 28, 2016 [15 favorites]


I receive a text from Katherine: “Leila was born this morning at 7:30am. 7 pounds. I did it without drugs, at home. We are well.” ... Pain stabs my heart, and I text back “So this is love. The willingness to be broken, again and again.”

nooooooo lady just gave birth ffs don't say that
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 10:23 PM on June 28, 2016 [145 favorites]


I just want to, for catharsis, quote the section that most creeped me out in an essay overflowingly full of creepiness:

Her green eyes are shining and vulnerable. Behind the flushed cheeks, I sense the legacy of past wounds. Her hesitant visage betrays a silent plea: don’t be another one that hurts me.


Frankly, I should have stopped reading right there.
posted by Cozybee at 10:25 PM on June 28, 2016 [55 favorites]


I grow closer to a particular woman, Mya. We speak in poetry and myth

nooooo dont speak in myth bro that's bad
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 10:26 PM on June 28, 2016 [205 favorites]


I grow closer to a particular woman, Mya. We speak in poetry and myth, and she whispers a willingness to explore my untapped sexual nature.

I am not ashamed to admit I laughed my ass off when I read this. Dude can't just get a blowjob like anybody else; he has to like cross the Rainbow Bridge and shit. What a pretentious asshole. I bet his ex-wife is breathlessly reading this shit to everyone she knows and they all think it's hilarious and congratulate her on dodging a bullet the size of the Titanic.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:28 PM on June 28, 2016 [250 favorites]


That thing by MacKenzie is the worst essay ever written by a human being. Every paragraph was like a knife in my brain. I want to set my surroundings on fire after reading it.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:34 PM on June 28, 2016 [89 favorites]


Shit, this dude is every guy from Debi Mae at Burning Man.
posted by benzenedream at 10:34 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Dude can't just get a blowjob like anybody else; he has to like cross the Rainbow Bridge and shit.

Jesus. If people only knew what kind of nasty shit was happening on "the farm."
posted by threeants at 10:36 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


I read the original essay a few days ago, but I brought it back up to read the two of them in parallel. She does a really nice job of balancing the parallels -- she follows along quite closely with the original essay, but at the same time her version isn't just a 'fixed that for you' style copy with a few adjustments.

Yeah the worst/best part was when you'd read something that you'd think was an exaggeration and then you'd click back to the original piece to find that, nope, he really did text that to her just after her child was born.
posted by Krom Tatman at 10:37 PM on June 28, 2016 [24 favorites]


Oh god, the response essay is a thing of absolute delicious joyous beauty. I'm off to donate to her Patreon right now.
posted by jokeefe at 10:41 PM on June 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'm pretty sure this article is actually an early-aughties emo album generator

Sources confirm that the track listing for A Silent Plea's upcoming album, Her Hesitant Visage, has been leaked online:

1. punctuated by seagulls
2. a curb-side kiss and a promise
3. this palace of grief
4. she shatters me (and i weep)
5. a future without children
6. on a deserted beach, playing fetch
7. mya, whose long-term partnership had also ended for reasons that remain their own
8. an altar of our collection
9. cues from television shows [bonus track]
posted by threeants at 10:48 PM on June 28, 2016 [133 favorites]


Talking about this horrorshow on twitter the other day, I realized the essay feels like a classic unreliable narrator story, in which everyone involved learns a very clear lesson except the author himself.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:49 PM on June 28, 2016 [52 favorites]


Oh, this is great. And Katherine must have quietly but cheerfully given consent to publish the original article because it was exactly the perfect amount of rope.
posted by mochapickle at 10:51 PM on June 28, 2016 [112 favorites]


The way he describes it when he first starts messing around with other women, it's like he thinks his wife's infertility means she can't get pregnant with his first book, not anything to do with an actual new human being coming into the world.

I wonder whether he will ever be able to make real contact with any other human being, and part of me laughs at how it looks like her body had his number from the get, and bided its time until he was out of the picture.
posted by jamjam at 10:54 PM on June 28, 2016 [31 favorites]


I strongly advise not even dating anyone who writes as badly as that guy.
posted by quarsan at 10:55 PM on June 28, 2016 [13 favorites]


This is an absolute treasure, and I am glad to finally have a name for this particular genre of writing.

[Pretty sure I am naming our all-women book club 'Sad Boner Confessionals']
posted by Space Kitty at 10:57 PM on June 28, 2016 [45 favorites]


We speak in poetry and myth.

Alexandra Erin amped up the douchebaggery and went with this: "I mostly focus my exploration on one woman, who breathes to me in the whispered tongue of forbidden poetry and forgotten mythology."

On the other hand, if you strip away the douchebaggery, I am pretty sure this actually translates directly to English as: "I told her whatever lies I thought she wanted to hear."
posted by jacquilynne at 11:03 PM on June 28, 2016 [49 favorites]


OMG, the retelling with Katherine doing what she can to keep herself safe is amazing.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:08 PM on June 28, 2016 [23 favorites]


Alexandra Erin is outstanding people and I am always happy to see her getting recognition.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:08 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh man, I share a bunch of Facebook friends (edit: his page has likes, not friends, my error) with this guy. Vancouver's a small town.
posted by jokeefe at 11:08 PM on June 28, 2016


Worst captain's log ever.
posted by Artw at 11:10 PM on June 28, 2016 [27 favorites]


good god the opening where he was literally describing jerking himself off was among the least masturbatory parts
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:11 PM on June 28, 2016 [131 favorites]


As if everything bad about this guy's story wasn't bad enough, how does one's brain jump straight to "open relationship" as a next step after infertility and skip completely over "adoption"?

I'm pretty sure I can guess, and I'm pretty sure it's not about actually wanting kids.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 11:14 PM on June 28, 2016 [22 favorites]


oh my god what a pretentious unbearable douchecannon

oh how i laughed and laughed when she announces she is preggo with the other dude's baby

go craft another fucking poem dickwad
posted by poffin boffin at 11:14 PM on June 28, 2016 [46 favorites]


I found her takedown of the essay to be really funny but the 2 minute hate on twitter was really uncomfortable to watch and these comments are no different. The assumptions about Katherine's current (and former) state of mind that paint her as a damsel in distress are patronizing at best. Why does anyone feel the need to make fun of this guy? Because he writes poorly? Because he goes to decidedly unhip music festivals? Because he's self-aggrandizing? Although that's true, he pointedly says "I ruined our marriage."

This is like a progressive version of People of Walmart where no one realizes they are punching down. Shitty essay by unsuccessful writer gets posted on HuffPo: "let's all make fun of the loser!"
posted by R.F.Simpson at 11:15 PM on June 28, 2016 [23 favorites]


Maybe he'd be less of a shithead if he did have kids and had to think about something other than himself once in a while. Probably not. Probably for the best he didn't.
posted by Artw at 11:17 PM on June 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


Anyone else get assigned Philip Lopate's Sad Boner Confessionals in college?

he was considered The Shit in literary nonfiction, and was literally writing essays that were just about his sad boner
posted by gusandrews at 11:18 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


I really don't want to defend either this dude or his, uh, subgenre, but my sense of fair play is prodding me to point out that Katherine was a yoga instructor and stayed married to him for ten years, so the odds are actually pretty good that she was a collaborator in the overall goopy mysticism of the marriage's narrative (if not in the infidelity, etc.). You don't not know that your husband's on this kind of Spiritual Journey of The Spirit.
posted by praemunire at 11:19 PM on June 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


The assumptions about Katherine's current (and former) state of mind that paint her as a damsel in distress are patronizing at best.

He painted her as a damsel in distress. "When I had decided to rock the boat, she had wisely fled to the nearest, safest ship." Seriously? That is so insulting to her; sounds like her new partner is a lot more than just the nearest, safest substitute for him.

I do admit I liked seeing how happy she looked in the last picture he took of her, though. I wish her well. I wish him insight.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:19 PM on June 28, 2016 [30 favorites]


OMG -- I'd missed this before. In the original, Katherine texts Ian to tell him the baby has arrived and they're doing OK. She must have been feeling so much joy and relief and exhaustion in that moment. Most normal people would respond Congratulations, or I'm so glad everything went great and I'm wishing you well in the days ahead.

But not Ian. Instead, he writes:
“So this is love. The willingness to be broken, again and again.”
I imagine Katherine groaned out an Ugggggggh so loud that it shook the house and woke the baby.
posted by mochapickle at 11:20 PM on June 28, 2016 [67 favorites]


Shitty essay by unsuccessful writer gets posted on HuffPo

...professional writer gets published on widely-read website? Where is the "down" here?
posted by praemunire at 11:22 PM on June 28, 2016 [17 favorites]


His wife had a miscarriage and was devastated and his reaction was basically "welp, I'm already in line to cross the border and head to Burning Man, sorry bb, gotta go get my desert fuck on". He deserves this excoriation.
posted by palomar at 11:23 PM on June 28, 2016 [116 favorites]


When people ask for money so they can write self-aggrandizing garbage professionally it's ok to point out whether or not they're terrible
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:25 PM on June 28, 2016 [87 favorites]


This is like a progressive version of People of Walmart where no one realizes they are punching down. Shitty essay by unsuccessful writer gets posted on HuffPo: "let's all make fun of the loser!"

it's weird to me when people pick up the banner of "mocking someone is bad! you wouldn't be for mocking if it was this different kind of situation!" and completely miss the role of, frex, classism and the importance of consent (pictures taken by a stranger in a public place vs. published essay) and flatten it out to "it's bad! to be mean! all kinds of meanness are equivalent!"

not trying to be "this is what's wrong with you/mefi/twitter/the world", just something that I've been mulling over in the backlash to the backlash to this essay
posted by Krom Tatman at 11:28 PM on June 28, 2016 [74 favorites]


I imagine at some point in the future this guy will travel back in time to slap the MacBook Air out of his past self's hands before this is published, and I'm just wondering if maybe we should ask him to do something about Brexit while he's back there.
posted by No-sword at 11:33 PM on June 28, 2016 [41 favorites]


This is like a progressive version of People of Walmart where no one realizes they are punching down.

He appears to be a cis-het, educated, mid-upper class, able-bodied white dude, and he deliberately chose to express his privilege on HuffPo with a total lack of self-awareness. Unless you're contending that this level of narcissism is a diagnosable mental illness, in what way can this possibly be construed as punching down?

Clueless White Guy is not a oppressed class.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:37 PM on June 28, 2016 [213 favorites]


I grow closer to a particular woman, Mya. We speak in poetry and myth

I used to write stuff in my journal like that, but I was 17 and it was 1976 and the backwash of hippiedom was alive and well on the West Coast. Also, I never showed it to anyone and certainly wouldn't now except on the pain of death. Maybe not even then.
posted by jokeefe at 11:41 PM on June 28, 2016 [17 favorites]


The link to the actual essay doesn't seem to be working any more, but in 2008 Dean Wareham wrote an absolute classic of the genre.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:41 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


How long until we find out that this article was actually created by an algorithm based on a combination of @GuyInYourMFA and the ""loving"" husband in Joe Hill's latest novel?
posted by Maladroid at 11:43 PM on June 28, 2016 [12 favorites]


“So this is love. The willingness to be broken, again and again.”

Then adds, "Sending blessings on your new life."

Dude. Way to pull out of that nosedive. Way to acknowledge that other people in the world aren't just furniture for you to buff your ego on.

Because this is how it comes off:

A: "I had the baby. She's fine."
B: "Fuck you."
B: "I mean, 'Congratulations!'"


What a turd.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 11:45 PM on June 28, 2016 [42 favorites]


I have to admit I cackled with glee at the point when Mackenzie's wife leaves him for the guy who succeeds in knocking her up. No dude, looks like the problem was you all along.

I am a bad person, but in my defence I am half way through an IVF cycle and Mackenzie was not endearing himself to me one little bit. What a little self involved twerp.

Brb, must go kiss my husband, who has been a pillar of strength.
posted by arha at 11:55 PM on June 28, 2016 [28 favorites]


Wow, Erin's parody is amazing.
Perhaps to say it was love at first sight would be a touch cliche, but it was that moment that I first knew it: this was the woman about whom I wanted to write personal essays describing the arc of our relationship.
...
Katherine is gazing out the window, quiet. I wonder what she’s thinking, but as I cannot decide what would be dramatically appropriate for her to be thinking at a moment like this, I can’t quite decide and have no other means of finding out.
...
As I read to her, she agrees with me the way she fell in love: eventually, and reluctantly.
...
Miles away, in a life that I am no longer living, a thing had happened that did not involve me at all, and I am momentarily at a loss as to how to make it about myself.
posted by straight at 11:57 PM on June 28, 2016 [40 favorites]


> At home, into the quiet evening, I craft a poem:

I laughed harder at this than any intentional attempt at comedy I've read in quite some time. I bet this is how he pictured the scene.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:58 PM on June 28, 2016 [27 favorites]


Alexandra Erin is outstanding people and I am always happy to see her getting recognition.

In my utopian dream, Alexandria Erin and Mallory Ortberg get together for an extended lunch and coffee. Or cocktails, whatever. And we get to read the result.

Do you think we could do a GoFundMe for this?
posted by happyroach at 12:00 AM on June 29, 2016 [23 favorites]


I am a bad person

Less "bad person" than "person under a great deal of stress who can't help but laugh at someone who's got it coming to him". As someone who has experienced infertility and IVF I can't imagine doing it without my husband who, like yours, is awesome.

A husband who decides to go on a holiday whilst I'm miscarrying after fertility treatment (or indeed miscarriage full stop) wouldn't be my husband for much longer. More likely he'd find his stuff on the street and the locks changed on his return.

Alexandra's version feels a lot like catharsis.
posted by prettypretty at 12:00 AM on June 29, 2016 [25 favorites]


I'm not claiming he's part of an oppressed class. I'm claiming that this type of pile-on is troubling. These comments have accused him of being mentally ill, suggested that he not procreate, and that he will never be close to another human being. Twitter was worse. He wrote a poorly written essay about himself behaving poorly.

The reason that I think this is "punching down" is that he seems to have no self-awareness at all. So what if he's not aware of how bad his essay is? What's wrong with ignoring it and/or pointing out misogyny/sexism and moving on? Why the need to pile on? It's not like this is a Phillip Roth situation where there is a need to point out problematic things that were ignored by decades of critical praise. This guy is a nobody. Has anyone been to his website? He comes off like a clueless special flower late-millennial.

Apparently being clueless merits being told to "go craft another fucking poem dickwad."
posted by R.F.Simpson at 12:06 AM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


Twenty bucks says "Garden State" is one of this guy's favorite movies.
posted by Lyme Drop at 12:06 AM on June 29, 2016 [23 favorites]


This is like a progressive version of People of Walmart where no one realizes they are punching down. Shitty essay by unsuccessful writer gets posted on HuffPo: "let's all make fun of the loser!"

Just because someone exposes themselves as an utter empty bag of a human being, doesn't mean you shouldn't point that out, especially when they are using their cruel inanity to shill for money to write more crap of the same sort.

I read the parody first and then the original essay thinking there was no way anyone could be as awful as this person. And found out they were worse. How is that even possible? How can that parody be more self-restrained than the original?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:07 AM on June 29, 2016 [37 favorites]


Apparently being clueless merits being told to "go craft another fucking poem dickwad."

yes that is correct
posted by poffin boffin at 12:08 AM on June 29, 2016 [124 favorites]


He wrote a poorly written essay about himself behaving poorly.

Except that he didn't. He wrote a poorly-written essay about him showing off how smart and passionate and soulful he is--yes, that's what he thinks he's doing--while pretending he thinks he behaved poorly. You said yourself that he seems to have no self-awareness at all; the chance is very close to zero that this guy actually thinks he did anything wrong at any point here. In his head, this is more of a tragedy that happened to him, like a natural disaster, than anything that he's actually responsible for.

And I say that as a person who had to stop reading his essay not just because it was bad, but because it was so familiar it was making my skin crawl. I totally was this guy. (In my defense, I grew out of it before I left high school, in part because I didn't have the level of privilege necessary for people to keep letting me get away with this bullshit.)
posted by IAmUnaware at 12:13 AM on June 29, 2016 [76 favorites]


The reason that I think this is "punching down" is that he seems to have no self-awareness at all.

So, I work with a number of men with no self-awareness at all. In fact, I could see a few of them writing this or something like this. The thing is, though, that lack of self-awareness is something they hold fast to no matter what goes on around them. They are always the sufferers. They are always the victims. They are the martyrs. You cannot persuade them that perhaps there are others who have also suffered and possibly suffered more than them. As they roll around in their angst they will deny suffering has occurred to anyone but them and talk about their pain. They work hard at nursing it. Fine, I guess - we all have our blind spots and we all do get wrapped up in our own narratives. But it shouldn't mean that when they post that publicly and try and make money out of it, no one should not point that out.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 12:14 AM on June 29, 2016 [87 favorites]


To put it more simply: Nobody's punching down here because this guy is not a victim in literally any sense. He has, however, during the story he's telling at least, inflicted a bunch of bullshit on a bunch of people, and he's trying to use the story of him inflicting bullshit on people as some kind of badge of his own worth. People who are contrite about things that happened in private do not express that contrition in an essay in Huffington fucking Post.

He is not a victim. He is a perpetrator. Fuck him.
posted by IAmUnaware at 12:20 AM on June 29, 2016 [66 favorites]


[Let's drop the "punching down" thing now, please. Having no self-awareness doesn't make one a member of an oppressed group, and insistence on using the term / concept to describe this situation is just going to be an extended derail. Also, a couple of earlier comments deleted; "why even pay attention to this guy?" is answered in the first link.]
posted by taz at 12:27 AM on June 29, 2016 [20 favorites]


Apparently being clueless merits being told to "go craft another fucking poem dickwad."
He's Patrick Bateman without the ultra-violence.
You know all those academics or journalists who get fired after it emerges they have been sexual predators for decades.
This is what they look like at the start.

His narcissism is dangerous because there is literally nobody he won't sacrifice at the altar of his own magnificence.

This is as good a way of warning people as any.
posted by fullerine at 12:28 AM on June 29, 2016 [33 favorites]


I enjoyed the "Raven" part of his name in the translation, a pretty clear nod to the protagonist in so-bad-it's-something fan fiction classic My Immortal. That's really what this is, execrably bad fan-fiction of the self.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:42 AM on June 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


Why does anyone feel the need to make fun of this guy? Because he writes poorly? Because he goes to decidedly unhip music festivals? Because he's self-aggrandizing? Although that's true, he pointedly says "I ruined our marriage."

I am finding it hard to make it through this essay, even though as a douchey writer dude who writes poetry, explores sexuals, and secretly thinks of the universe entirely in terms of Greek mythology, I should literally be this asshole's target demographic. And I think your question above can be answered with two important messages, both of which I think cut right to a central theme about today's society (oh, fuck me, there I go) that we'd all be better off internalizing (agh).

You can be a clown and still be a monster.

You can be devastatingly, heartrendingly upset and still be a monster.

Men, unsurprisingly, show up frequently in both categories, though I daresay both genders contribute amply to each list. If I go by former roommates alone, I could cough up a pretty tidy list of dudes whose lives were simultaneously laugh-out-loud pathetic and minor-league Tragedy with a capital T, all of whom still managed to inflict more harm upon the women in their lives than they'd ever personally felt. And without fail, they used their clownishness and sorrows as a justification for their actions, because of this assumption that being the still-grieving butt of jokes somehow assured them a status at the bottom of society's ladder.

I've been that guy myself. I try my best not to be, and worry at times that I'm succeeding less at that than I'd like to be, but at bare minimum it's a tendency I know well. Enough so that I know there's a predatory tinge to the behavior—that, on some level, people who act in this way do so knowing that they've found a tool, a way of getting something that they want and of maybe even justifying the acquisition. To themselves, to their loved ones, or to their victims, maybe. The circumstances can change. And this can happen on varying scales of grossness and reprehensibility, from minor-league vanities to genuine atrocity.

With this guy, I got as far as...

I glance at her age: 26. I am ambitious, though four years beyond my own is pushing the boundaries.

...and the combination of chronological jump, gross-out masturbatory debut, and the linear fetishization of (a) his "pioneer" online dating experience, (b) his wife's profile, and (c) her vaulted status as Older proved to be too overwhelming for me to go on. So much misogyny even in the tiniest of details here: his taking literary ownership of her profile picture, her frozen avatar smile, her username, her bio, as if it all existed to become his remembrance; his treating a four-year age gap as if it makes him Odysseus (and how much do you want to bet he dated women that much younger than him, and at a younger age?). This goes beyond unaware: it feels like an aggressive assault.

If this guy was a saint up to the point of his writing this essay and resumed sainthood beyond, this essay—written as it is about the event that it's written about—would still be unforgivable. Not because the guy's untalented or unintelligent: if he was dumber, in fact, he wouldn't have had it in him to write something this godawful. Instead he applied his mind, his craftsmanship, to this abhorrent depiction of a failed relationship, in which the tiniest of details—I didn't even make it to the part where he meets his wife—are all but weaponized, and put to the service of elevating this man, his thoughts, his cares, to the height of tragic hero—and transforming his ex-wife, publicly, into the object that serves as his tragic focus, bringing him and his angst into sharp relief.

There's an essay to be written here about aesthetics and morality, about how the discernments that define "taste" are the same ones that define empathy, about how tastelessness is redefined as societies evolve to include all the forms of heartlessness that at some point were overlooked by less sensitive discerners. Certain flawed masterpieces retain their masterpiece status—for some while, at least—because they reach empathy and nuance even within a gross cultural ignorance.

This essay is the opposite of that. Everything it applies its "literariness" to only emphasizes the ugliness of its ambitions. It's tasteless and crude, employing literary devices in pursuit of some disgusting simulacrum of good writing, and its ethics reflect that same tastelessness. This author is smart enough to reveal every nuance of his wretched, ugly mind, enough so that now a genre of literary crime will be named after him, and I hope he has it in him to appreciate that backhanded accolate.

Or wait, no, I kind of hope he doesn't. Because this is the kind of man who'd play that derision off as a joke, and then as a kind of self-pity, and then use both as a means by which to target the sorts of people who'd assume their laughter or their pity meant they owed him something. Because this is the kind of man who assumes that he's entitled to something for his self-inflicted suffering.

I want to empathize with him, I really do, and I can clearly, because there but for the grace of God &c. &c. &c. But you can be a miserable, pathetic wretch, and still be the oppressor in a situation, still be the abuser, the monster. You can be all these things and still be funny and still be sad. No amount of ridicule, no amount of suffering, relieves you of the burden of being human, or of the capacity to care about others, to want what's best for them, to need to make an effort to be as good to them as they could possibly deserve. If you shrug off those duties yourself, then that's on you, and only you.

I feel bad for this man, I really do. But I feel worse about anybody who reads that essay and learns that this is how you ought to be a human, or a thinker, or a sensitive man. I bet somebody was taken in by his would-be artfulness, and assumed that the craft of his piece justified its contents, because they're too young and ignorant to know better. And I hope the derision which has followed in that piece's wake reaches that somebody too, and either impresses the wrongness of that essay on them, or else convinces them to keep those tendencies to themselves for long enough that they can outgrow the impulse. Otherwise, this essay has bred another sad, ridiculous monster, as such essays often do.

I get the impulse to want to go, "Okay, at least he's trying." And on some level, I think that impulse is noble and good. But I'd argue that "some level" was about five steps short of the Huffington goddamn Post. "Some level" was he shared this with his slightly-more-self-aware best friend, or maybe he wrote it for himself and threw it in a fire. I've written my share of reprehensible, offensive trash. But I chuck it before anybody, including myself, can look at it again.

Publishing this essay was an awful, gross, offensive thing to do and I hope he is relentlessly mocked. Partly because he deserves it. But also because the mockery is smarter and more tasteful and more satisfying than that essay possibly could be. If his piece does a service to anybody, it will be in how delightful people find it to rip his words to shreds. And may he, like Tommy Wiseau before him, learn how to bask in other people's merciless derision of his misery. That's the only solace this essay deserves to find.
posted by rorgy at 12:42 AM on June 29, 2016 [161 favorites]


(I knew while writing that comment that ten other ones just like it would be up by the time I hit Post, and I didn't care because calling bullshit like this bullshit is really fun.)
posted by rorgy at 12:44 AM on June 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


Seems that this guy needs to act publicly in order to process his feelings. Like, he kissed other women in order to test his feelings for his wife, and maybe even to get their approval for his desire to stray. Same with the article. He states at the top that it's an attempt to learn from the relationship, and surely he was looking for approval in the comments section, as well.

Dude should get a diary or a therapist. And learn how to speak honestly with people about feelings in the moment rather than bottling them up until they compel him to act.

Prime example: his unacknowledged lack of desire for kids compelling him to sabotage the relationship in a passive way that allowed him to continue benefitting from it until he found a replacement. Katherine possibility did the same thing here, it's hard to tell.
posted by mantecol at 1:08 AM on June 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


I made the mistake of clicking on the original essay (damn you, twitter) a few days ago, and while reading found my brain sort of organically generating insulting Hamilton lyrics in reply. Oh my god, tear this dude apart!
posted by karayel at 1:21 AM on June 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


"I have but one flag pole, and it is not always up to the task."
Right there is where I lost it.
posted by Floydd at 1:55 AM on June 29, 2016 [19 favorites]


Sources confirm that the track listing for A Silent Plea's upcoming album, Her Hesitant Visage, has been leaked online:

1. punctuated by seagulls
2. a curb-side kiss and a promise
3. this palace of grief
4. she shatters me (and i weep)
5. a future without children
6. on a deserted beach, playing fetch
7. mya, whose long-term partnership had also ended for reasons that remain their own
8. an altar of our collection
9. cues from television shows [bonus track]


All of which suggests that Of Montreal's actual genre is sad-boner.
posted by acb at 3:15 AM on June 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


[Comment deleted. Sorry, but the thing is that the whole point of Metafilter is that topics are posted here and then members who are interested discuss them. Moderators typically delete comments that are basically "don't read / talk about this stuff, go do [other activity] instead," and similar. ]
posted by taz at 3:19 AM on June 29, 2016 [24 favorites]


I think this essay and the reaction to it provide a great service to the world. There is little doubt in my mind that a person like this gaslights the shit out of any woman in his life, and is so committed to a narrative in which he is a great and misunderstood genius that said women often don't know what the hell is happening in their own lives after a while. This essay exposes quite thoroughly just how not great and how easily understood a guy like this really is. He's a selfish, self-centered dickrocket who mythologizes his own desire to fuck strangers so that he is not, to himself, just some guy who wants to fuck strangers. He sends his ex-wife a passive-aggressive text in reply to the announcement that she just had a baby (which, by the way, I am certain was a mass text to everyone in her address book, not a personalized message to the great man himself), because somehow this faux-poetic horseshit is better than a more honest "fuck you." He's a narcissistic monster, and people need to know the warning signs that someone is a narcissistic monster, and they also need to mock that motherfucker mercilessly because mockery is anathema to a man who probably crafts poems about his own most memorable bowel movements.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:19 AM on June 29, 2016 [58 favorites]


Alexandra Eric's parody was near-perfect.
posted by not that girl at 3:19 AM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


"Translated from douchebag" is my favorite part.
posted by Cocodrillo at 3:31 AM on June 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


This weird, "I did something wrong, but I'm going to tell the story as if I did nothing wrong, while at the same time sort of admitting I did something wrong" kind of writing has a long and storied history. Ian Mackenzie's essay reminded me of something from many, many years ago. Jan Clausen was a lesbian poet and novelist, and at some point, while in a monogamous relationship with a woman she was also raising a daughter with, she started having an affair with a man. Eventually she published a memoir about this experience, called Apples and Oranges: A Woman's Journey To Sexual Identity, that was so blindly self-serving that even though I read it when it came out in 1999 I still have this upwelling of impotent rage when I think about it.

One thing I particularly remember is a point in the story where she has told her lover about the affair. She and her lover agree that she'll stop sleeping with the man she's having an affair with, so that they can think about their relationship without that complication. She writes something like, "I promised to stop sleeping with him, and I kept that promise," and then goes on to describe a number of occasions on which she slept with him, each of them somehow justifiable in a way that allows her to continue to believe that she is keeping her promise not to sleep with him. Sort of the equivalent of, "I kept my promise except that one night when I was really drunk, and then this other time when we met in a hotel room just to talk and somehow ended up fucking, and then this other time when..."

The weirdly passive-voice thing where somehow Sad Boner guy keeps ending up kissing women as if he has no volition reminds me of this.
posted by not that girl at 3:35 AM on June 29, 2016 [32 favorites]


Seems that this guy needs to act publicly in order to process his feelings. Like, he kissed other women in order to test his feelings for his wife, and maybe even to get their approval for his desire to stray. Same with the article. He states at the top that it's an attempt to learn from the relationship, and surely he was looking for approval in the comments section, as well.

Dude should get a diary or a therapist. And learn how to speak honestly with people about feelings in the moment rather than bottling them up until they compel him to act.


This is an example of toxic masculinity in action. Dude should've never gotten married. Dude probably shouldn't even be attempting monogamy. And not in the "whoops i fucked somebody lets be open now i still love you" sense, but the sort where you actually open up to partners about the kinds of thoughts, feelings, and desires that we don't think of as being open for discussion. (Some of those thoughts/desires would probably spell the end of this kind of monogamous relationship, but that's a layer on top of the base problem, which is that seriously there is a middle ground between savin' it for marriage and one-night stands.)

There's other Toxic Masculinity happening here, such as the author's thinking that essays about being a shit justify your shit-being, but there's a part of me that's horrified at how bad we are at teaching people about finding what they need out of relationships, men especially(?), and in ways that predictably lead to men hurting women and then using their misery as a defense.

The misery isn't a justification, but it exists, and it shouldn't. This is a fucked-up way to try and express yourself and it kills me that so few people know there're venues for this sort of thing which don't involve exploiting people who're trying to love you.
posted by rorgy at 4:11 AM on June 29, 2016 [27 favorites]


The best line in Erin's brilliant piece?

Somehow, she chooses Chad.
posted by chavenet at 4:22 AM on June 29, 2016 [40 favorites]


According to his postscript, there's some interesting poetry and myth he wanted to inspire people to, which he totally failed to do. But if you're a monthly supporter of his work, you can ask him a question and he might answer it in a video he's making.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:31 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Holy crapbiscuit - I almost married this exact guy.

Ahhhhhhhh that was a terrifying look into an alternative self timeline. (Fortunately after he decided we were having an open relationship my friends noticed how incredibly poorly I was doing and got me away from him.)

Though this guy and his "welp I'm at the boarder no turning back!" when his wife just informed him of her miscarriage... That's some next level cruelty by obliviousness right there.
posted by harujion at 4:33 AM on June 29, 2016 [27 favorites]


When he whines, "how could I have saved us?", is was all I could do not to grab my monitor and scream, "you could have behaved like an responsible adult, rather than a horny PIA, you dick!"

Gotta admit it was hard getting past the first few paragraphs, especially when he describes Katherine's "smirk" at their first meeting. I hope she's happier now that she's unloaded this self-centered jerk.
posted by easily confused at 4:46 AM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


He's a narcissistic monster, and people need to know the warning signs that someone is a narcissistic monster, and they also need to mock that motherfucker mercilessly because mockery is anathema to a man who probably crafts poems about his own most memorable bowel movements.

This. The idea we should not pay attention to people so clearly starved for our attention is false. We should shed light on dudes like this because they can only operate successfully in the shadows - in one-on-one situations where they control the narrative and can gloss over all of the parts of their life that are not "poetic." Calling them on their shit provides two services - one, any woman attempting to date this specific dude now has Google to be the antidote to his manufactured limerence. And two - for women currently being pursued and/or dating other dudes who sound a lot like this, it can be an opportunity to see something that may otherwise be obscured.
posted by scrittore at 4:54 AM on June 29, 2016 [48 favorites]


Oh christ I knew somebody like this author. I'm trying to remember his name, and regretting this, even as I'm doing it. I'm so glad that Alexandra Erin wrote that takedown piece so that maybe I can go back to never remembering this dude.
posted by XtinaS at 5:01 AM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Sorry, I'm willing to go easy on people like Cory Doctorow because while I might not like their writing style, lots of others do, and at least he's not hurting anyone. I think the original article reads as bad High School writing at best, but agree there shouldn't be a pile-on for that.

But as someone in a marriage without biological children, reading idiotic lines like "We would be a childless couple!" and "in the absence of biological children, what are we to become?" and finding that his solution to that terrible problem is "an open relationship" --- I think he deserves everything he gets and then some.

Not to mention "the vision of a pleasant but passionless coupledom, like so many marriages that choose the facade of stability instead of the fire of truth." Somehow passion and "having biological children" have become the same thing here?

Dude, there are plenty of happy childless couples and there are plenty of happy couples with non-biological children. And I'm sure there are lots of successful open relationships, but they weren't started by people who were trying to solve the problem of being biologically childless.

Not to mention the not-so-subtle misogyny and narcissism throughout. The idea that he'd be OK with her "reluctantly agreeing" to the open relationship is so tone-deaf it's shocking.

I'm just glad we have a thread about the awesome parody here instead of purely about the original icky essay itself.
posted by mmoncur at 5:13 AM on June 29, 2016 [48 favorites]


Mmoncur, I agree, the part where he seems to imply that not having kids would dampen passion was mind-boggling (to be fair, I think this was just bad writing), and the segue to "So let's be polyamorous!" could have appeared pretty much as is in the parody.
posted by No-sword at 5:24 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


A few hours before, she had revealed how she had begun drifting from our marriage the first time I’d confessed about kissing the other women, almost a year earlier. “You never told me,” I pleaded. “How could I have saved us?”

Pay me $50, sad boner man, and for you I will INVESTIGATE this MYSTERY. 🕵
posted by nicebookrack at 5:27 AM on June 29, 2016 [68 favorites]


Inside the clinic, Katherine attempts her first injection under the watchful eye of the doctor. Her hands shake. I record the scene on my iPhone for review later (in case she forgets) but also because it’s somehow absurdly funny.

What the everloving fuck. I had to stop at this, seeing no sign of any self-awareness regarding the utter cruelty this is. No way I could read further. Past a certain age and one too many real-life narcissists, you see the instrumentalization and dehumanization of others right quick and just, no.

I am glad this man did not inflict his narcissism on a child.

I am very glad that Katherine is happy now. Go Katherine.
posted by fraula at 5:30 AM on June 29, 2016 [87 favorites]


The thing is, though, how uncommon are people like this guy? Maybe not literally people who think they can write a giant piece making their cheating and their abandonment of their partners all about how sad it makes them, but guys who ruin their relationships because they really, really wanted to sleep with someone else, guys who can't see their partners' suffering as fully real, etc. I mean, I have met guys like this. I'd say I've met even more guys who are sort of like this - although to be fair to those guys, they have been pretty upfront about "I am not here for you, the minute I get sexually bored or you get sick, I'm out". I mean, I dated a guy who later went on to dump his next girlfriend because she got depressed when her mother got cancer. She wasn't fun anymore, he said. She didn't want to go out and do anything. She wouldn't make an effort. And also, she was slightly older than him.
posted by Frowner at 5:40 AM on June 29, 2016 [72 favorites]


Thank you so much for this post.
posted by odinsdream at 5:40 AM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


Give him time; he might just turn out to be the next Martin Amis.
posted by Captain l'escalier at 5:40 AM on June 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


Recently I had a guy who I thought I was dating message me one night to let me know he'd gotten back with his globe-trotting ex. They were FBO mere minutes after he messaged me.

Up til then there were not really any huge red flags. Small ones, but nothing to expect that kind of bullshit.

This was at 930 at night when he KNOWS i got to bed at 10. On a weeknight.

I told him he better come talk to me.

He met me. He said of bunch of idiotic shit I couldn't believe someone was saying. Including, when I asked him why he was chasing after her when she'd already left in OTHER COUNTRIES multiple times before,

"We choose what destroys us."

Readers, I didn't even look at him. I just stood up and walked away. I wasn't even upset or crying because it was so surreal and it pissed me off. I did have some crying a few days later as I mourned the loss of the person I thought I knew.

Oddly enough, he's moving to Vancouver to be with her. Which is where this guy is from.
I don't care if he or anyone sees this and figure out who I'm talking about.

That was some bullshit and I can see him and this douchebag dimwit comparing miseries in a coffee shop.

What a fucker.
posted by sio42 at 5:47 AM on June 29, 2016 [76 favorites]


I knew a couple of guys just like this in college, and this essay is like a time warp back to having to listen to their self-important and tone-deaf blatherings, yuck. The take-down essay is perfect, and nails it exactly.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:47 AM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure this article is actually an early-aughties emo album generator ...

This is funny because it's true. Also, dude would probably have taken a lot less flack if he had chosen to put his feelings into song instead of memoir. People tend to lap that shit up and come back for more.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:53 AM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


seeing Frowner's post now.... yep, i think he wanted to bang and he couldn't bring himself to just say that. so he put on this whole pretense and then made it about his misery.

He also told me such gems as "if it wasn't for her, we'd be together" and "I acted like a child to get what I want" and "There is a shadow over everything I do without her".
posted by sio42 at 5:53 AM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


"There is a shadow over everything I do without her"

Do their friends just never call them on this shit? Or do they just keep burning through friend groups? I remember telling a friend in early undergrad (woman) who said something similar to this that she needed to get out more.
posted by ghost phoneme at 6:00 AM on June 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


"self-described "Media Activist" Ian MacKenzie's blog post "Love Will be the Death of Us"

Also also, I am undecided if his failure to just title the post "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is a net gain or loss to humanity.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:02 AM on June 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


It's absolutely worth mocking this guy because he's a representative of a particularly insidious kind of male privilege, specifically that kind of privilege that appropriates the trappings of sensitivity, and even femininity, in order to preserve rather than deprecate male privilege. I agree, this guy is never going to change, or is not going to change from reading takedowns of his piece, but there are still plenty of reasons to take his story seriously. His latest response, which again tries to shift focus from his behavior to the big existential questions that he believes to be responsible for the destruction of his relationship (specifically, belief in "The One" instead of "The Many") is horrible.
posted by OmieWise at 6:07 AM on June 29, 2016 [99 favorites]


Bc i didn't know and after having looked it up, "FBO" is "Facebook official."
posted by nevercalm at 6:09 AM on June 29, 2016 [42 favorites]


ghost phoneme - he went to school for drama so i think they all must be like this.

he would talk like this sometimes but so do i ... IN JEST. i had never imagined ever someone would actually use such literary flourishes to end our relationship.

In fact, his message to me was "I'm sorry but I have to call a halt to the physical side of our relationship."

UM YOU MEAN THE WHOLE THING CUZ WE'RE NOT FRIENDS ANYMORE.

(I thought stupidly I could be friends with him for about a week bc i'm a nice person and liked the person I had been hanging out until then. Then I finally was able to just see that the person I thought I knew was all an act and he's just a terrible self-centered person.)

I really just can't believe how similar these two dudes seem. I am so glad that I've learned enough from askme and The Thread and Crone Island that I didn't spend a lot of time beating myself up, wondering where I went wrong. I would never make this mistake again.

It's too glaringly obvious to me now.
posted by sio42 at 6:11 AM on June 29, 2016 [16 favorites]


Do their friends just never call them on this shit? Or do they just keep burning through friend groups? I remember telling a friend in early undergrad (woman) who said something similar to this that she needed to get out more.

Most guys I know don't usually talk to other guys like this - fatalism is reserved for women you're trying to woo or confuse into not hating you when it's over. When it's guys shooting the shit, the language is more decisive - I took her back, I convinced her to sleep with me, etc.

I don't think I've ever heard a guy friend say "we were meant to be together" or some shit like that, even though I know from second-hand accounts of people they're dating/dated they've used that specific language.
posted by scrittore at 6:11 AM on June 29, 2016 [31 favorites]


lso also, I am undecided if his failure to just title the post "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is a net gain or loss to humanity.

Ian Curtis: the original* Sad Boner?

* far, far from original, but still...
posted by acb at 6:13 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Net gain. The whole thing is a train wreck that just needs to embrace it's awfulness. An honest title can't save it, and this one just shows how clueless he still is.

Although I guess it could be amended to "Self-love Will be the Death of Us" and be pretty accurate...but he doesn't really do that.
posted by ghost phoneme at 6:15 AM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


> It's absolutely worth mocking this guy because he's a representative of a particularly insidious kind of male privilege, specifically that kind of privilege that appropriates the trappings of sensitivity, and even femininity, in order to preserve rather than deprecate male privilege.

Women can't even write about receiving death threats on the internet without receiving death threats, so the mocking this guy has set himself up for and is deservedly receiving reminds me of this quote (attributed to Margaret Atwood):

"Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them."
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:20 AM on June 29, 2016 [101 favorites]


oh my god he kissed the other woman HOURS after his wife told him about the miscarriage. this guy is such a douche.



“You don’t seem married,” she says. [the girl he just kissed]

Her words puncture my heart. I look at her sadly.

“I know,” I say.


WHAT.
posted by sio42 at 6:33 AM on June 29, 2016 [46 favorites]


San Francisco and the greater Bay Area* is teeming with people like him, narcissistic new-age bullshit artists who use "poetry and myth" to justify horrible, selfish behavior. The call for an open relationship in particular is rarely an honest plea to explore the wonders (and significant challenges) of polyamory - though I've known a few people who truly wanted to make that work - and more a request to cheat on and emotionally abandon the other partner without having to use those words or shoulder the burden of, you know, shitting on someone you supposedly love.

This douchenozzle takes it to the next level by publishing what ought to have remained his insufferable inner monologue. He is clearly a narrative of the worst sort.

* I know, he is from Vancouver.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:34 AM on June 29, 2016 [18 favorites]


Seven years ago, we discussed a cheating narcissistic writer here. Not much has changed except for the existence of a hilarious, cutting critique in the form of Alexandra Erin's awesome takedown.
posted by infinitewindow at 6:35 AM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


Words matter. Mocking someone is damaging. But if we are going to acknowledge the power of words and social injuries- this guy has committed attacks on another persons welfare far beyond the difficulty of facing social mockery (and I take social mockery seriously as a cause of psychological injury). This guy- this clueless guy who can't and doesn't even try to know the pain of those around them, the pain he is often involved in CAUSING and still can't connect the dots or be bothered to see outside his own experience to how he damages people around him; this guy causes a huge amount of suffering in the world. And we are trained to nitpick every potential social harm a woman could ever dream of doing because we assume women should know better, women should be better- but we insulate and protect men from facing the reality that they are a destructive force in the world and they should know better, they should be better. Because we think men are too fragile to handle the burdens we have no problem heaving on women.

It needs to change. And as someone who empathizes with pain anywhere no matter how much a person has set it up for themselves, I do think mockery should be avoided- however what action do you really think will stop guys like this who refuse to listen to kindly worded "constructive criticism"? Asking nicely and waiting for abusive people to decide to change is a recommended behavior that leads to untold suffering, unnecessary suffering. If you are so unaware you don't realize you are damaging people around you to the core of your being, then others still have the right to defend themselves even if you don't understand what you do. And unfortunately, as we talked about in another thread, being forgiving and understanding can actually lead to marked increases of harmful behavior- not improvement.

Maybe we can try to find out what caused this guy to become this way, so we can help other men avoid this fate- sometimes child abuse or other issues can indeed cause dampened empathy and anti-social behaviors. But I think there is another way men like this are formed and it is a culture that is set up to ignore their harmful behavior and to cringe in genuine empathy and pain at the idea of how painful it must be FOR THEM to face their own behavior- instead of feeling that cringe for the people he has and WILL CONTINUE to hurt because we are afraid to call him out on it or hurt his feelings.
posted by xarnop at 6:36 AM on June 29, 2016 [26 favorites]


I just met somebody for a morning coffee date, and I couldn't resist telling her about this essay, so we loaded it up and read past the part where I stopped reading, gagging over the awfulness. And at some point it occurred to me that this entire thing makes sense if you contextualize it as Brad Neely's narrator from Wizard People, Dear Reader telling the story of a horrible relationship in the most contrived and purple manner possible. I think this might have been Wizard People 2, aka the one in the trilogy where everything gets sad and dark, and in the sequel to this the guy becomes a Jedi and murders his father.

On preview: I just re-hate-read the Sandra Tsing Loh thread last week! Not sure if I like this guy more or less for at least being up-front about cheating on his spouse and not masking it it a sneaky bit of floral prose. But I'm content with not knowing this before I start work on my Internet-inspired rewrite of The Divine Comedy.
posted by rorgy at 6:38 AM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


The thing is, though, how uncommon are people like this guy?

In my experience, common as dirt.
posted by maxsparber at 6:42 AM on June 29, 2016 [32 favorites]


Well, now I had to read the original. So far, I've gotten this far:

Our lips find each other.


Yeah, we don't need Dr. Freud to tell us he's denying his own agency in life. Not good.

Wish me luck, I'm going back in...
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:44 AM on June 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


Clueless White Guy is not a oppressed class.
And they are the only ones who don't understand that!
posted by pjsky at 6:48 AM on June 29, 2016 [26 favorites]


At some point yesterday I started reading this guy's Facebook page. (I have to admit, I was looking for a link to the actual Katherine somewhere, because I wanted to see that she was doing okay and happy and healthy and totally disentangled from this guy. I didn't find anything and it's none of my business and it would have been intrusive. I'm sorry, Katherine, and I'm rooting for you.) Anyway, I'm not sure I gained any insight, other than he's full of weird woo stuff about crystallized healing nodes. He describes himself as "a new paradigm media activist crafting conscious memes on behalf of the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible."

His latest FB post, in response to the reaction to his sad boner confessional, reads in part: I've received hundreds of comments and questions on my essay 'Love Will Be The Death of Us.' Rather than try an answer them all, I would like to extend an offer to my monthly supporters on Patreon to share their questions there. I will then shoot a video answering as many as I can.

So, yeah. He'll answer his paying fans' questions, in a video (which I assume will be carefully prepared and scripted and edited and otherwise "crafted"). That's some impressive dedication to forcing things into his own perspective.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:49 AM on June 29, 2016 [21 favorites]


"Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them."

Very apt to quote that here, I loved how Erin made it very clear that the guy was breathing danger at Katherine all while trying to pull it off as "symbolic".

Real dude's actual writing:
[commenting on the, uh, parting ceremony, we'll call it]
Life does not feed life. Only death can do that. Perhaps this was the cost for her fertility. Perhaps love demanded the death of us.

[then on meeting the baby]
Soon after, I recognize her partner walking down the street. He doesn’t look up, perhaps sensing we are in his vision. I look to Katherine, who glances furtively back at me. I pause... then shout his name and wave him over to us.

He draws up slowly, uncertain what to expect. In that moment, I don’t know either. The hurt animal in me wants to strike him square in the jaw, spouting rage and obscenities. The quiet peacemaker in me wants to remain detached, equanimous.

I stand up, and say “Congratulations on your new child, Cameron” and embrace him.

“Thank you,” he says with noticeable relief. The moment is over and he continues onward. After he’s gone, Katherine whispers her gratitude.
Erin just nails the implicit threat and explicit narcissism:
“Life does not feed life,” I tell Katherine as we arrive at the cabin. Her eyes dart around, but behind the apprehension I believe there is hope for a new beginning. “Only death can do that.”

[then for meeting the baby]
She shows me her daughter. We make small talk. I ask her about our beloved dog Momo whom I miss so much. After the the third time he walks by, I succeed in identifying her partner Chad wearing a baseball cap and a jacket with the collar turned up.

I look at Katherine. She freezes up, like a rabbit under the shadow of a hawk.

I call Chad’s name. He starts like a guilty thing, then comes over.

“Are you okay?” he mouths to Katherine.

“I’m fine,” she mouths back. “I’m fine.”

“Good to see you, buddy,” I say.

“Yeah, yeah,” he says. He won’t look at me. “You, too. Are you sure you’re okay, honey?”

And for a moment, we’re just three friends, three people whose lives have crossed and entangled and uncrossed in ways no one could have foreseen or guessed.

“Congratulations on your new child,” I say to Chad. “I’m really happy for the two of you.”

I notice how much relief has washed over his face, and I realize that maybe this is my role I life: I bring people relief. I’m a soother. I’m a peacemaker. I take away people’s fear.

When I part from Katherine for that second to last time, I know that I’m right. I’ve never seen anyone look as relieved as she does, in that moment.
I love how Erin brings out Katherine's agency and intelligence in a way me-dude can't even fathom.
posted by fraula at 6:49 AM on June 29, 2016 [60 favorites]


Ugh. I hope the market for this kind of writing dies quickly before it inspires more "bohemians" to treat their loved ones as props in their personal journey through life rather than as real people they've made certain commitments to.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:51 AM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


I had a friend who dated a guy like this. When he broke up with her to go back to his ex, one of his "brutally honest" confessions to her was (he was apparently weeping with the emotion):
"I'm a LEG man!"
posted by asavage at 6:51 AM on June 29, 2016 [70 favorites]


Oh man how could I have forgotten about Hugh Schwyzer, the ur-this guy!
posted by radicalawyer at 6:51 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


As someone who greatly dislikes People Of Walmart and worries a lot about pile-ons, I have to admit, I don't think that's a good analogy.

People who are just freaking trying to shop at the store who are being essentially stalked and mocked for their appearance in ways that are achingly classist in many cases are just not the equivalent, for me, of a person who decides to use his personal life to further a professional writing career. I am an advocate of the "don't make a mountain out of an egg avatar" approach to Twitter; I try very hard to employ it in my own life. People often don't have any reason to know what they're getting themselves into. They don't know that they've stepped wrong until they are suddenly awash in harassment that's often out of proportion to whatever the original sin was. I worry about this, a lot.

But when you choose to write at length about the deeply gendered questions about your marriage, and when your essay becomes widely read and successful, another essay in response that ridicules you is, for me, a proportional response. Yes, we could ignore it. But it was already being praised. Praise for viral essays, like it or not, is becoming a part of how we form cultural narratives about what's a wow-that's-deep kind of thinking and what's not. To ignore something like this isn't merely to let it never hit the eyeballs of anyone, really -- it is to let it go unchallenged while he uses it to ask for money. It's to let it circulate indefinitely without friction being applied against it.

I don't think there is the slightest doubt that he is casting himself as the hero of this story. Not necessarily the hero husband, but the hero writer, capable of deep reflection and profound epiphany and wisdom. When you cast yourself as the hero in any respect, you have to expect that people will challenge your hero narrative, because hero narratives are important. Swallowing a hero narrative is how we teach, in this broad popular-culture sense, what kind of behavior we admire. Saying nothing about bad writing disguised as good writing and particularly about selfishness disguised as mysticism is accepting as a hero someone who needs to stop writing about himself and his marriage and write about something, anything else.

Had this been a Facebook post screengrabbed and shared and seen vastly beyond what he could have imagined, I might -- MIGHT -- be more sympathetic. But there is a cost associated with writing a deeply personal story in which you portray yourself as a Great Man and then say, "If you liked this story of me, the Great Man, please donate here." Again, I don't think the Great Man here is the Great Husband but the Great Writer. That's why I think what's being mocked is not the Delusional Notion About What Polyamory Is but the Sad Boner Confessional. What's being mocked is not his experience but his processing and positioning of it. This is not a man caught unburdening himself -- it's a man caught in an unfortunate moment of self-aggrandizement he somehow thinks he can pass off as humility. If we're going to have personal essays, we are going to have to develop an ethic of what we expect from them as far as self-awareness and distance, and when they lack it, we are going to have to say so.

I think it's also important to remember that the right to write this way, the right to say, "Here is a situation in which I was unkind and a little awful, but I learned so much and am willing to share my true feelings, so please give me twenty dollars," is deeply entwined with privilege of all kinds. Essays like this come overwhelmingly from the already fortunate.

Nobody accidentally starts a personal essay, "So let me set the scene: I was masturbating." You do that to draw a reaction and to trade on intimacy. He drew a reaction specifically based on the way he traded on intimacy. If he doesn't like it, I'm afraid he has himself to thank -- which, again, is on theme with his lede.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 6:53 AM on June 29, 2016 [153 favorites]


> Clueless White Guy is not a oppressed class.
And they are the only ones who don't understand that!


I was not a fan of the movie Sideways, but I thought this sequence was a perfect depiction of the sort of guy who thinks that his inability to exercise sacrifice and self-control, or take into account anyone's feelings but his own, is a disability for which he holds no responsibility:

Jack: Listen, man. Cammi gets off in an hour, so I was thinking I'd just hang around and have a drink, and make sure she [i.e. a woman he wants to cheat on his fiancee with] gets home safe.
Miles Raymond: You're joking, right?
Jack: No.
Miles Raymond: Un-fucking-believable. Can't we just... go back to the motel... and hang out... and get up early, play 9 holes of golf... before we head home?
Jack: [puts his hand on Miles' shoulder] Listen, man. You're my friend, and I know you care about me. And I know you disapprove, and I respect that. But there are some things that I have to do that you don't understand. You understand literature, movies, wine... but you don't understand my plight.

posted by The Card Cheat at 6:54 AM on June 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


I have a confession of my own - I read the original essay and it didn't twig any "omigod what a loser douche" bells for me. But upon reading this now, I'm now able to go back with hindsight and realize "oh, wait, yeah."

This is giving me thoughts about how I may need to work on improving my ability to spot shitgibbons for what they are, sooner (I'm pretty sure that if I were with a guy like this I'd figure him out eventually, but I'd like to do so on, like, the first few dates rather than in a few months).

So thanks.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:58 AM on June 29, 2016 [48 favorites]


Yeah, mocking this guy is a goddamn public service, if only because it gives a little less cover and concealment to any other dude who is thinking of burning down multiple people's lives for his own funsies.
posted by corb at 7:01 AM on June 29, 2016 [37 favorites]


He describes himself as "a new paradigm media activist crafting conscious memes on behalf of the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible."

IOW, "bullshit artist."
"When young, we mourn for one woman ... as we grow old, for women in general. The tragedy of life is that man is never free yet strives for what he can never be. The thing most feared in secret always happens. My life, my loves, where are they now? But the more the pain grows, the more this instinct for life somehow asserts itself. The necessary beauty in life is in giving yourself to it completely. Only later will it clarify itself and become coherent."
— Old Man, Slacker.
(Dunno, those lines just seemed apropos, somehow.)
posted by octobersurprise at 7:02 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


The original essay gets better and better (and by that, I mean worse and worse).
A few hours before, she had revealed how she had begun drifting from our marriage the first time I’d confessed about kissing the other women, almost a year earlier. “You never told me,” I pleaded. “How could I have saved us?”

I believed wholeheartedly the myth of the One. The belief that human happiness means finding your other half, pledging them your heart and soul, and committing until death do you part.

She was my One.
Emphasis in original. As bad as the original shock must have been, I'm beginning to think that "worst trauma in her life" might well be "best thing that ever happened to her."
posted by clawsoon at 7:03 AM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm stuck by the parellels between the tropes of Sad Boner Dude using women as his tool for "enlightenment" and Well-Meaning White Person using people of color as their tool for "enlightenment" (i.e., the Magical Negro). In both cases they use their relationship with the Other as proof that they are good. In both cases they use the Other as nothing more than a badly distorted mirror to reflect themselves as they wish to be seen. And in both cases they are completely incapable of seeing the Other as having agency and feelings.
posted by mcduff at 7:12 AM on June 29, 2016 [34 favorites]


They should have sent a poet.
posted by beerperson at 7:13 AM on June 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


But I think there is another way men like this are formed and it is a culture that is set up to ignore their harmful behavior and to cringe in genuine empathy and pain at the idea of how painful it must be FOR THEM to face their own behavior- instead of feeling that cringe for the people he has and WILL CONTINUE to hurt because we are afraid to call him out on it or hurt his feelings.


Brock Turner's statement to the judge:

The night of January 17th changed my life and the lives of everyone involved forever. I can never go back to being the person I was before that day. I am no longer a swimmer, a student, a resident of California, or the product of the work that I put in to accomplish the goals that I set out in the first nineteen years of my life. Not only have I altered my life, but I’ve also changed [redacted] and her family’s life. I am the sole proprietor of what happened on the night that these people’s lives were changed forever. I would give anything to change what happened that night. I can never forgive myself for imposing trauma and pain on [redacted]. It debilitates me to think that my actions have caused her emotional and physical stress that is completely unwarranted and unfair. The thought of this is in my head every second of every day since this event has occurred. These ideas never leave my mind. During the day, I shake uncontrollably from the amount I torment myself by thinking about what has happened. I wish I had the ability to go back in time and never pick up a drink that night, let alone interact with [redacted]. I can barely hold a conversation with someone without having my mind drift into thinking these thoughts. They torture me. I go to sleep every night having been crippled by these thoughts to the point of exhaustion. I wake up having dreamt of these horrific events that I have caused. I am completely consumed by my poor judgement and ill thought actions. There isn’t a second that has gone by where I haven’t regretted the course of events I took on January 17th/18th. My shell and core of who I am as a person is forever broken from this. I am a changed person. At this point in my life, I never want to have a drop of alcohol again. I never want to attend a social gathering that involves alcohol or any situation where people make decisions based on the substances they have consumed. I never want to experience being in a position where it will have a negative impact on my life or someone else’s ever again. I’ve lost two jobs solely based on the reporting of my case. I wish I never was good at swimming or had the opportunity to attend Stanford, so maybe the newspapers wouldn’t want to write stories about me.



... All I can do from these events moving forward is by proving to everyone who I really am as a person. I know that if I were to be placed on probation, I would be able to be a benefit to society for the rest of my life.... And in accomplishing this task, I can make the people around me and society better through the example I will set.


---

It's very clearly a type, hm.
posted by Cozybee at 7:15 AM on June 29, 2016 [24 favorites]


"I'm a writer, you monsters! I create! I create for a living! I'm a creator! I am a creator! This is my uniform! This is how I serve the common man!
— Barton Fink
posted by octobersurprise at 7:20 AM on June 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


It's absolutely worth mocking this guy because he's a representative of a particularly insidious kind of male privilege, specifically that kind of privilege that appropriates the trappings of sensitivity, and even femininity, in order to preserve rather than deprecate male privilege.

At least on the west coast, there seem to be a lot of guys like this. (Or, probably, not so many in real terms, but they stand out once you start noticing them.) And the thing is, it's a horrible act, and yet it completely works in terms of attracting a certain kind of woman. It's amazing to watch, because from the outside it looks as fake and pathetic as this article, but then you see someone just totally eating it up.

So of course the guys do it, it's a successful way for them to act on their privilege while acting pseudo-enlightened about feminism and sexuality. From their perspective it must be the best of both worlds, and as long as it works they will continue the act.

A lot of my appreciation of the take-down essay was in her bringing all the subtext to the foreground, including the parts people have quoted above about his pathology and scariness.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:42 AM on June 29, 2016 [21 favorites]


Doesn't anybody care about this guy? Somebody who can take him aside and say, "hey man, this essay? This isn't your ... uh, best side. Maybe go work on yourself some and hey, you should try and write about something else in the meantime."
posted by From Bklyn at 7:48 AM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


i loooooooooooooove when men talk about how they forced their wives and girlfriends into poly relationships because they already had one foot out the door and wanted to be absolved for it, and then their partner after tearfully, reluctantly going along with it, ends up with so much more love/fulfillment/sex/etc than her shithead partner. this is one of my favorites of the genre (originally from reddit but deleted, don't click the redditlog link bc it redirects to somewhere scammy now).
posted by nadawi at 7:48 AM on June 29, 2016 [81 favorites]


For all the folks who were wondering why people were so harshly mocking this self-involved bad date guy last year, it's because this what he grows up to be.
posted by palindromic at 7:49 AM on June 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


This morning I unfriended someone on Facebook for posting the original essay. Or, to be more accurate, I unfriended her because of her long history of taking social situations that had nothing to do with her, inserting herself into them in such a way as to make them entirely about her, and then retreating from them the moment that she was asked to step up and contribute, because she was never actually interested in them in the first place.

I saw her post the essay and gush about how we all needed to read it with a #modernlove hashtag, and it I suddenly had a moment of clarity that, yes, I did indeed find this person intolerable.

So at least one good thing came out of the essay in question.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 7:49 AM on June 29, 2016 [21 favorites]


it's a horrible act, and yet it completely works in terms of attracting a certain kind of woman.

Many women who date men have dated a form of this fellow exactly once.
posted by palindromic at 7:50 AM on June 29, 2016 [18 favorites]


How does one "speak in poetry and myth," anyway? I mean, I get that you could recite poems to someone, but after a bit, you have to kind of just...talk?
"Hey, honey, how was work?"
"The burdensome loneliness of concrete cubicles is lead on my feet and razors to my soul."
"Right, but didn't you have a presentation yesterday?"
"Mine is the lost journey of the hero, broken."
"Okay, fine. Did you get eggs on the way home like I asked?"
"Zeus and Medusa didn't need eggs to have power."
"Sigh."
posted by xingcat at 7:53 AM on June 29, 2016 [105 favorites]


It's absolutely worth mocking this guy because he's a representative of a particularly insidious kind of male privilege, specifically that kind of privilege that appropriates the trappings of sensitivity, and even femininity, in order to preserve rather than deprecate male privilege.

this is why many women are completely wary of 'male feminists' - we've seen too many jian ghomeshis, matt hickeys, ian mackenzies. this guy is everywhere and it can take a while to recognize him. i am all for the mockery - it strips away the cover from some of the missing stairs.

Many women who date men have dated a form of this fellow exactly once.

and some of us have to repeat it a few times before we begin to recognize that the problem isn't us, that we can't be better and fix this. another good reason for the mockery, if one woman sees it and realizes, truly, it's not her it's him, it's worth it.
posted by nadawi at 7:54 AM on June 29, 2016 [66 favorites]


I just remembered that the song "Hey Soul Sister" was inspired by Burning Man. I have a weird feeling the "poetry and myth" in which this guy speaks sounds like something Pat Monahan would put to terrible music.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:55 AM on June 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


I really didn't need a follow-up article to tell me that this guy was a navel-gazing twit. I summed it up a couple days ago on Twitter:

Jerkface “opens” his marriage, wife finds someone better as a result, dumps him. Can’t blame her.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:58 AM on June 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


The thing is, though, how uncommon are people like this guy? Maybe not literally people who think they can write a giant piece making their cheating and their abandonment of their partners all about how sad it makes them, but guys who ruin their relationships because they really, really wanted to sleep with someone else, guys who can't see their partners' suffering as fully real, etc. I mean, I have met guys like this.

Oh hell yes. The guy I thought I was friends with in my last year of college, who I roomed with the summer after graduation, and who I became disenchanted with once I was hanging around him enough to see just how scummy he was in interpersonal relationships. While he was still going out with Woman A, theoretically, but wasn't going to be seeing her for the entire summer, he started sleeping with Woman B, but didn't want Woman A to find out because he was planning on taking up with her again come the fall (and Woman B was not the only other woman that he was cheating on Woman A with); when things got serious with Woman B, he hoped that Woman A would find out, from someone else, so that he wouldn't have to undertake the messy business of breaking up with her. Quite a piece of work.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:58 AM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Whewwwww. Ian MacKenzie is the spitting image of the prolix, pseudo-sensitive narcissist for whom I served as a side-piece for too many years.

The only time the dude I knew ever appeared to take a micron of personal responsibility for his actions was when he said, regarding his selection of mistresses: I make these decisions very, very carefully. And even then, he wasn't saying it because he was reserving the occasion of stepping outside the bounds of his marriage for only the most special and irresistible women, but because he didn't give a shit about us at all as long as we would keep his secrets indefinitely without complaining or asking for anything ever. Which is why he wrote me my very own sad boner confessional after I told his wife.

"You can tell you're reading a Sad Boner Confessional when the language suggests a high wire act where the author is trying to achieve some delicate balance between "I'm a sensitive man" and "BUT I'M A MAN" and wants you to sympathize with the contortions he puts himself through as a result." ...goddamn. It's taken me twelve years and reading Alexandra Erin's response to understand what kind of man my ex really was, and I spent at least half of that time truly believing he was a legitimate feminist ally who actually valued me as an individual. Not so! Alexandra Erin has explained everything! I am for real bringing her blog post to therapy. Thank you thank you thank you.
posted by amnesia and magnets at 7:59 AM on June 29, 2016 [44 favorites]


That parody is amazing. I loved it. Every shitty article written by someone who is completely incapable of seeing themselves through another person's eyes should have something like this written for them so that they might possibly stand a chance of not being such a dick in the future.
posted by h00py at 8:01 AM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


I have read every single comment in this thread. Somehow this essay hasn't hit my feed yet and now I don't feel like I ever need to read it. I feel like y'all, and especially happyroach have saved me. Saved me from this douchebag, cocksplat, sad-boner whine-fest. Thanks team!
posted by Sophie1 at 8:02 AM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


This brought to mind an anecdote:
[Lindsey] Crouse married playwright David Mamet in 1977. [...] When the two did indeed wed, Crouse's mother took her aside and told her what Oscar Hammerstein had told her when she married Russel Crouse: "A playwright's wife is the only woman who knows how her husband feels when she's having a baby."
posted by Rat Spatula at 8:03 AM on June 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


Cocksplat! The best insult of 2016.
posted by h00py at 8:04 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]




Straight up, it's dudes like this (and his female counterparts) that have made me incredibly wary of the burner crowd. I have a few friends who are burners who manage not to be this far up their own asses, but I will be honest, 9 times out of 10 when I meet a guy who's super into how counterculture he is and loves to talk about all the times he's been to the playa and how lifechanging it is and blah blah blah, he's a guy like this. I watch them flit around at parties and get all swoony over women other than their partner, I watch their relationships implode as they open them up and then have to contend with the fact that the partner they didn't want to be faithful to is incredibly desirable to other men and is much happier without them... and they never seem to learn. They never seem to grow the fuck up and learn to stop hurting other people in their need to feel more special and magical.
posted by palomar at 8:06 AM on June 29, 2016 [32 favorites]


Not very often a broken stair makes their own existence so plainly visibly for the world to see like this.

It's the ones who aren't writing this article I'm worried about, but this guy has given the world enough sample text and scenarios to add our lists of warning signs so that's helpful I suppose.

(And uh...I totally could have been that guy and perhaps I was, maybe he is as common as white bread, and maybe if I'm any evidence, there's hope that people like this may someday cut their shit out and become better humans.)
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:06 AM on June 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


"You don’t seem married," she says.

"But I am," I say. "To myself."

...

Early one summer day, after we have stopped sleeping together, Katherine’s menstrual cycle returns. "Todd Akin was right," I think. Do I think it out loud?

posted by clawsoon at 8:19 AM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


I got about halfway through the original piece the day it came out before abandoning it when I found myself muttering "Screw you, douchenozzle." Thanks to this thread and the amazeballs parody, I just went back and read the original piece all the way through. That combination of self-absorption, self-aggrandizement, and passive/not passive behavior--it really is the heart of a certain kind of white, middle-class, heterosexual, cis masculinity. Funny how the lack of awareness of one's own privilege bleeds into every area of life.
posted by chicainthecity at 8:20 AM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


Just awful. My absolute (least) favourite detail in the original essay is where he steals one of Katherine's cigarettes and justifies it by saying parenthetically "I rarely smoke". The justification of theft by, basically, saying "I really want it and it's convenient for me to take it" is a tiny bit of oblivious cruelty that replicates his treatment of her in miniature, like an unthinking hateful shit fractal.
posted by Dim Siawns at 8:32 AM on June 29, 2016 [68 favorites]


The thing is, though, how uncommon are people like this guy?

I know seven women who have gone through this hell. That's seven different sad boner guys ranging in age from thirtysomething to fiftysomething. Three should be in prison for sexual assault. Two have restraining orders against them. Two have children with new partners but are still sad boners. The amount of psychological damage they inflicted on their former partners can't be understated, but the financial havoc they wreaked is astonishing. Counseling sessions, moving costs, attorneys' fees... In three cases, their exes took on the sad boner's debt, putting themselves in financial hardship, just to get them to sign divorce papers and/or move out. And that's after years of holding the household together financially while the sad boners did important manly work such as "finding themselves" or behaving like emo preteens on social media.

It's disturbing how widespread and consistent the behavior is, like they all read the same instruction manual, How To Be A Giant Gaping Ballbag. Sad boners roundly deserve to be mocked. They are dangerous.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 8:40 AM on June 29, 2016 [46 favorites]


My absolute (least) favourite detail in the original essay is where he steals one of Katherine's cigarettes and justifies it by saying parenthetically "I rarely smoke".

There is sooo much of this parenthetical justification in the original essay that I actually wondered if someone he showed it to pre-HuffPo publication was like, Uh, dude, you sound a little unsympathetic here? and he shoved those in as cursory attempts at mitigation. I don't want to reread the whole thing but I specifically remember this one:

Inside the clinic, Katherine attempts her first injection under the watchful eye of the doctor. Her hands shake. I record the scene on my iPhone for review later (in case she forgets) but also because it’s somehow absurdly funny.

Sure, bro. In case she forgets.
posted by alleycat01 at 8:40 AM on June 29, 2016 [16 favorites]


AE is such a treasure. The only thing the puppies managed this year which angered me (aside from their insistence on continuing to be generally awful) was keeping her "John Scalzi..." piece out of the Hugos. It clearly should win that category.
posted by phearlez at 8:41 AM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


These guys are actually pretty common. What is actually astonishing is how effective a mating strategy their approach seems to be. I've known one of them for fifteen years; he's sort of a lingering context kind of friend. To this day I suspect - but cannot prove - that he's in on the scam. That he is not in fact clueless but rather stumbled upon a kind of costume that has so many perks in terms of women's attention and engagement - especially attractive young women - that he sees no point at all in even considering the question.

Dude is on faltering marriage number three with dozens of young mistresses over the years including one now who finds his balding, pot bellied star-seeker-self-fulfillment nonsense utterly alluring.
posted by rr at 8:48 AM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


As far as how common guys like these are, it occurs to me that he's in the same vein as those guys who convince their reluctant girlfriends to do a sex tape, that then gets released to porn sites.

Sure MacKenzie has literary pretensions and a veneer of artful soulfulness, but isn't there the same element of treating his lover as a tool for his narcissism? Of using the most intimate activities as fuel for his public aggrandizement?
posted by happyroach at 8:52 AM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Is this the trolls?
posted by petebest at 8:57 AM on June 29, 2016


This man is unable to conceive of a story in which he is not the protagonist. Even when his ex-wife has a baby with her new partner, it's somehow about him.
posted by KathrynT at 8:57 AM on June 29, 2016 [46 favorites]


> Maybe he'd be less of a shithead if he did have kids and had to think about something other than himself once in a while. Probably not. Probably for the best he didn't.

I'm pretty sure that if he did have kids the story would be about his eye-opening discovery of how constricting to his being an artist parenthood is and using that as a justification for infidelity and ultimately ditching his spouse.

The guy is a shithead no matter how you slice it.
posted by Gev at 9:02 AM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


those guys who convince their reluctant girlfriends to do a sex tape, that then gets released to porn sites.

just to put the action on the person, and to take out the passive voice - that he then uploads to porn sites, sometimes finding services that he knows will potentially do the most damage, like those that were set up specifically to harass women.
posted by nadawi at 9:03 AM on June 29, 2016 [17 favorites]


> Also, dude would probably have taken a lot less flack if he had chosen to put his feelings into song instead of memoir. People tend to lap that shit up and come back for more.

I found that song for you!
posted by I-Write-Essays at 9:04 AM on June 29, 2016


that he then uploads to porn sites

which action he vigorously denies in the most hurt and bewildered terms and then, once indisputable evidence is found, defends self-righteously by saying it was a political statement to fight back against misogynistic double standards around sexuality, and aren't YOU the real misogynist for implying that a woman's worth can be harmed by viewing her body?
posted by KathrynT at 9:06 AM on June 29, 2016 [33 favorites]


AE is such a treasure. The only thing the puppies managed this year which angered me (aside from their insistence on continuing to be generally awful) was keeping her "John Scalzi..." piece out of the Hugos. It clearly should win that category.

In case you wanted to get even angrier at them, some puppies apparently tried to scam WorldCon in order to prevent her from going. Charming bunch, as always.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:07 AM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]



I'm pretty sure that if he did have kids the story would be about his eye-opening discovery of how constricting to his being an artist parenthood is and using that as a justification for infidelity and ultimately ditching his spouse.


I... know that guy.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:08 AM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


nadawi: and to take out the passive voice

Oh man, the passive voice in this essay. There should be a Strunk and White footnote that says, "If you are using the passive voice, please consider whether you're attempting to avoid responsibility for your actions."
posted by clawsoon at 9:13 AM on June 29, 2016 [97 favorites]


I read the original while sitting on a friend's couch, and I was super proud of myself for how long I managed to last before screaming out loud in rage. Then I forced her to read it, and she screamed out loud in rage too, and so this man's terminal self-centeredness was at least good for one thing (bringing two friends closer together in their mutual hatred of him).
posted by a fiendish thingy at 9:17 AM on June 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


> I'm pretty sure that if he did have kids the story would be about his eye-opening discovery of how constricting to his being an artist parenthood is and using that as a justification for infidelity and ultimately ditching his spouse.

That was pretty much the gist of the aforementioned Dean Wareham SBC. Here's a representative quote someone pasted in the MeFi thread:

Claudia and I had been in denial about the state of our marriage—we loved each other, somewhere, but we had lost the romantic connection. Our life together was about diapers and chores and being sure not to wake the baby. We were irritable and sleep-deprived, and becoming parents seemed to highlight latent differences in our personalities.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:18 AM on June 29, 2016


Counseling sessions, moving costs, attorneys' fees... In three cases, their exes took on the sad boner's debt, putting themselves in financial hardship, just to get them to sign divorce papers and/or move out. And that's after years of holding the household together financially while the sad boners did important manly work such as "finding themselves" or behaving like emo preteens on social media.

You've described most of the people involved in this year's Malheur standoff. Lately one of the perps has left his wife for another female "patriot" and he's in jail!

So if the whole "crafting conscious memes on behalf of the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible" thing doesn't work out for dude he can always make everyone's life even worse by taking up grift and the revolutionary struggle.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:19 AM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


thetical justification in the original essay that I actually wondered if someone he showed it to pre-HuffPo publication was like, Uh, dude, you sound a little unsympathetic here? and he shoved those in as cursory attempts at mitigation.

Nah, just unoriginal, he's used that line before. He seems to have a habit of repeating himself. The first time he went to Burning Man he ran out on his wife while her aunt was dying of cancer.

Boy is the guy ever the walking cliché. I shuddered when I looked at his website and saw he described himself as an 'activist'. Unfortunately I met his mirror image, in that context, far too many times. Without exception their contribution has been to run around taking credit for other peoples work, do nothing that didn't serve to bolster their own self image, only to move on and leave other people to clean up the shit. And I've literally had to clean up shit left behind by self absorbed a-holes so forgive if I come across as unsympathetic.
posted by tallus at 9:19 AM on June 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


It is entirely unsurprising that he's making a documentary about this flaming pile of free-love bullshit.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:25 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was reading the original essay with sympathy -- infertility is hard on men too, and that rarely gets recognized... And then I got to this part:

The treatment wasn’t supposed to take this long. We should have known before my planned departure to the Burning Man gathering in Nevada. I had contemplated canceling, though it was the first significant trip with my younger brother, and I didn’t want to let him down. Plus, Katherine would have felt further guilt about her body’s lack of cooperation with the hormone therapy.

Okay, I guess. But you would have told her that's ridiculous, right? You would have told her that Burning Man is every year, and your brother isn't going anywhere. You would have told her that you wanted to be there with her. That family is important and Burning Man might be some kind of profound experience, but no festival could ever be as profound as the experience of trying to create a family with your brave, beloved wife... Even if it ends up being a profound loss.

She's thirty-four, right, if he's thirty? So next year she'll be considered to be of "advanced maternal age." The risks of pregnancy and IVF go up quicker after that, of it not working or of it working but with severe complications. The expense will increase too, and it's already hideously expensive. This might literally be once in a lifetime experience.... (maybe twice) How could Burning Man possibly compete with that as a priority? He would tell her that feeling guilty about him missing Burning Man is ridiculous, right?

She bids me farewell with a curb-side kiss and a promise to call me immediately with the results. My brother and I wave as we head for the dusty outpost of Black Rock City.
Scarcely two hours into journey, we sit in the vehicle lineup waiting to cross the U.S. border. I receive a text.
“It failed.” Katherine writes. A miscarriage. Blood and tears in a toilet.


Oh my god, you turned around immediately, right? Miscarriages are terrifying. They can be deadly. Physically and psychologically devastating at the same time. Women who want to be mothers are very capable of loving their children before they are born. And it can be so much blood and so much pain. You wouldn't let her go through that alone, right? Not if you love her at all. Not just so you can go to a festival that happens every year.

My chest constricts, sadness welling behind my eyes. But I can’t cry. The border guard is waving us forward.

WHAT?!

With this epiphany, my heart erupts into urgency. All I can think: my camera. My tripod.

God damn. This must be a joke. Like intentionally juxtaposing a REALLY important thing with a thing that only superficially SEEMS important, to highlight the absurdity of taking yourself and your "art" too seriously?

Surely it's intentional, this phrasing that makes you think "NOW your heart is erupting into urgency? Now? Not while your wife was having a miscarriage?"

How can that not be intentional? How can anyone be that clueless?
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:26 AM on June 29, 2016 [86 favorites]


To this day I suspect - but cannot prove - that he's in on the scam. That he is not in fact clueless but rather stumbled upon a kind of costume that has so many perks in terms of women's attention and engagement - especially attractive young women - that he sees no point at all in even considering the question.

Of course he knows. Nobody gets themselves any amount of the way in life without acknowledging that their actions engender reactions. Barring gaslighting, in which reactions are cultivated to train somebody how to act, most people act the way they do because they want a particular response, and if they're getting the one they want, they decide they're doing "the right thing".

I think a lot of people (myself included!) have this weird believe that "being in the know" requires somebody to fully understand the context surrounding whatever thing they've figured out. "Aha!" they say, stroking their stubbly chin. "A society which encourages intellectual self-examination is one in which I will not only be rewarded for my agonizing over shitty behavior, but be exonerated for the original crime!" And then they write in their diary about different kinds of women they saw today and which ones have fallen prey to which patriarchal biases.

Most behavior is more atomic than this. A guy doesn't want to feel bad about something he's done—so he focuses on the pain he sees other people dwelling on, and tells himself he's a victim. A guy needs to convince somebody he's sensitive or interesting or smart—so he, uh, does that thing again. The loop is closed! All that's missing is giving a shit!

One of the lovely things about mockery is it precludes its target the privilege of self-respect. If you try to passionately argue a man out of his behavior, the fact of your argument suggests that you respect him and his thoughts enough to listen to his responses. If you get angry or emotional, you tell him that the problem lies with you, and maybe you have to resolve your issues before you can engage him once more on that platform of mutual respect. If you mock him, though, you let him know that his stance isn't in any way valid, that he's missing something crucial to people's giving a shit about him, and that he has in fact become the worthless Other whose sheaths and sheaths of intellectual thought make for decent kindling and not a whole lot more.

The same reason that makes punch-down mockery so ugly—that it teaches us not to listen to voices that ought to be listened to—makes punch-up mockery fantastic. It teaches us not to listen to voices that shouldn't be acknowledged. And its target pretty much always deserves it. Even if they want to be a good person despite their failures. Even if they're very sad. There are a lot of loopholes that make "feeling like you're a good person" easy to achieve even when you're a piece of shit. And most people learn pretty quickly that empathy is one of the easier qualities of decent people to exploit, so sadness is something you've got to be skeptical about too.

I have not dated this kind of guy before—yay, privilege!!—but I've seen these guys in action. Their tears are real: a guy I used to live once cried in my direction, big bawl-y tears, for a good half hour the day before he pressured an assault victim into being his submissive masochist. He (hilariously?) attempted to convince a mutual friend that he was her soulmate by asking her if she was sad, then interrupting her to tell her about how nobody understands him either. There's a deep sorrow somewhere deep within that dude, and he keeps convincing himself that the problem is the world's not being ready for him—that despite his being essentially the guy the modern world was built for.

Back when I lived with him, I think I was a bit more prepared to feel bad for him on some level. Nowadays I feel nothing but scorn for him and his ilk. To the extent that he's not "in on it" is his fault and his alone: it's not that he doesn't get it, it's that he knows he'd have to stop acting that way if he did. The deliberate choice to avoid examining behaviors because those behaviors work for you isn't quite the mustache-twirling cruelty we make it out to be, but in practice it's the same thing, and it's no less despicable.
posted by rorgy at 9:28 AM on June 29, 2016 [37 favorites]


Thank fucking Christ the only Burner I know personally makes no bones about the fact that he's only there to get fucked up and party.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:30 AM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


Honor for a delightful dance with a soulful healer in Vancouver.

Hey, when the tank and DPS go off to the auction house and leave you alone with the paladin, there's not much else to do but strip off your armor and cycle through your /dance emotes.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:30 AM on June 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


Guys like this are why San Francisco on Burning Man weekend is the greatest city on earth.
posted by East14thTaco at 9:33 AM on June 29, 2016 [44 favorites]


The funny thing is, I find his in-the-moment responses just...human, all too human, etc. It's the actions he takes and his positioning of them that really frost me.

I have felt really selfish things in the moment. I have also not been as present for people in my life as I should have been. I could see myself not understanding how grave a thing a miscarriage is; I could see myself accepting my partner's assurances that it was fine, totally fine, for me to travel. Like, I can see having all those feelings. Lots of times, I have shitty feelings about stuff, and I think that many of us who have not had to perform feminine roles* can suffer from ignorance and lack of empathy.

If this were an essay positioned as "here's how selfish I felt, sometimes it's hard to stay on top of selfish feelings and lack of self-awareness in order to act with probity, I found a lot of contradiction between my immediate urges and how I actually made myself behave in order to be a good person" I would find it a very interesting and relevant essay.

*I mean, there's places in my life where I have absolutely had to do unfair shares of emotional labor, housework, etc; but there are a lot of things where simply being a masculine-spectrum AFAB person who doesn't want kids has left me without experience with the stuff that many women deal with.
posted by Frowner at 9:35 AM on June 29, 2016 [30 favorites]


The essay should be; My Self Love Can't Tear Her Apart, Anymore, or I Fell For My Mirror.
posted by Oyéah at 9:38 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


The guy I know who is like this buys it completely. The whole tortured artist shtick. And it's worked for him, so why shouldn't he believe it? He so very badly wants to think his life is special, because he somehow feels things more profoundly, and that act of feeling profoundly is the experience of being an artist. He grunts out one poem every few months, which he puts up on a badly designed Blogger site, and it's always some explosively broken pastoral image couples ("the verdant stars envelope the mantle of night") coupled with something grotesquely quotidian (" I belch and fart in my bed").

He is a graduate of a prestigious theater program and, with a massive number of friends, started a theater company here that has gone on to be pretty successful, although, for the most part, without his help, and he constantly takes credit for its success. He has a genius for taking credit for the work that other people do if he had a hand in it at all. He's a serial cheater and was notorious for sleeping with actresses in his plays, and sometimes he sees himself as a playwright and authors these utterly incomprehensible Godot knock-offs or modern "burlesques" that somehow manage to involve topless actresses.

And I feel like I am the only one who sees through him. I mean, it helps that I actually am a playwright who has had my work produced nationally at professional theaters. It helps that I actually am a published poet and short story author, and that I have made a substantial part of my income for 20 years from my writing, and know that the real, professional world of writing and making art is just the day-to-day business of putting words to paper, and isn't especially special. In my experience, people who throw up this fog of art are often doing so because they fear their art is mediocre, and so try to wrap it in a blanket of specialness and obscurity so that people project profundity where there is none. It's certainly true of his work -- it's eye-rollingly bad.

And yet -- he is treated as a sort of theatrical elder in this town. He runs one of the only national theater events we have, although, when I say runs, I mean he pontificates, sleeps in his office, often doesn't bother to show up for work, and has a group of mostly female colleagues do all the actual work. I literally work 100 feet from his office, and in the three years I have been here, I have physically seen him twice. He was regularly getting hired to direct plays, and, again, no matter what he did, it was a sort of cheap Godot knock off, but featuring confused cast members who couldn't make head or tail of his direction. That doesn't happen so much any more, but I think it's because he's gotten lazy enough to refuse offers, rather than they stopped happening.

It's just pure privilege, and he wallows in it. When he moved away and came back, somebody gave him a car for free. His then-girlfriend went out and bought him new clothes and furniture for his apartment, because he refused to do it for himself (he dresses like Michael Douglas after getting drugged and buried in Mexico in The Game). He just gets things, and people treat him like a genuine artist, because he acts like they think artists act.

As you can probably guess, it drives me crazy. Because I actually work. I work so hard. And yet, because I can't stand his act, I can't stand this posture of self-importance, of how terribly hard and meaningful it is to be an artist, I don't get the benefits he does.

But, then, what benefits? He's one of the most miserable people I have ever met, and I am generally pretty happy. I'm probably getting the better part of the deal. And I have an actual body of work to point to, instead of this cloud of flatulent nothingness that he insists on calling art.
posted by maxsparber at 9:40 AM on June 29, 2016 [63 favorites]


One of the side effects of going to art school is learning that most competent artists tend to be relatively normal, and that their fits of artistic passion look less like the streets of Paris catching ablaze and more like somebody going "fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck SHIT fuck" and you learning not to ask them what's wrong lest they take that as permission to talk storyboarding at you for an hour flat.

(that's me. i do that)
posted by rorgy at 9:49 AM on June 29, 2016 [39 favorites]


The funny thing is, I find his in-the-moment responses just...human, all too human, etc. It's the actions he takes and his positioning of them that really frost me.

Even the actions, I think, you can possibly somehow plot an imaginary course through in which they would all be the reasonable thing. Not for most any person, but as others pointed out upstream, his spouse stayed with him for a decade. Other people in his orbit presumably like him okay. There may well be an alignment of personalities, tastes, desires, goals, etc in which everything in factual choices is a-okay. They'd be a nightmare hellscape for me to be anywhere involved in, but different strokes for different folks.

But all his framings and portrayals make it very obvious that this isn't that. He points his lens back at this and creates a projection that is so gross you can be sure plenty of people were dragged along on an unpleasant ride. It's that retelling of the story and what he considers worth noting that makes him so awful.
posted by phearlez at 9:52 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I initially felt bad for him when presented with just the raw essay a few days ago. This brilliant parody makes it clear that publicly shaming his crap to a Jon-Ronson-appalling degree is actually a moral imperative. Good work all!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:52 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


maxsparber: He just gets things, and people treat him like a genuine artist, because he acts like they think artists act.

The Sociopath Next Door manages to see sociopaths under every rock and behind every bush, but one thing that stuck with me from the book was that the pose of The Artist is a great schtick for a sociopath to have, because that's how we expect artists to act.
posted by clawsoon at 9:54 AM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


The Artist is a great schtick for a sociopath to have, because that's how we expect artists to act.

One of his best friends once described him as the most selfish man he has ever met, and said that his selfishness was especially dangerous, because he was always able to convince himself that whatever was best for him was best for everyone. If that's not sociopathology, I don't know what is.
posted by maxsparber at 9:56 AM on June 29, 2016 [16 favorites]


He just gets things, and people treat him like a genuine artist, because he acts like they think artists act.

Ugh. The heterodoxy of the creative set... It's like there's an official uniform and lifestyle for being an artist now. I still love the arts, and for therapeutic reasons if no other, I'll always still make things, but the pretense of the social culture surrounding the arts and the petty egoism of it all is gross and really counterproductive. "Artists" are some of the most pretentious crabs in a barrel you'll ever see...
posted by saulgoodman at 9:57 AM on June 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


But, then, maybe it's just privilege. I increasingly think privilege is just sociopathology with an army and a navy.
posted by maxsparber at 9:57 AM on June 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


I have to offer up this fragment of one of his other essays, A blue moon love story:

I had a life in the suburbs of Vancouver, complete with a garden, a dog, and a bathroom with two sinks. (Never did use that second one). The following six months were awash in the carnage of heartbreak. Perhaps both our partners sensed what was to come, as each responded in their own ways. Mine fled to the arms of another.

Now, three years on, the blue moon has returned. I live a life that bears little resemblance to the one I left behind, having finally befriended the weight of the grief that still stirs. I weave my partnership with all facets of that fierce woman I met that day in the dust.


Ermahgerd.
posted by webwench at 9:57 AM on June 29, 2016 [20 favorites]


I'm curious: Who's worse, Sad Boner Dude or Angry MRA Dude?
posted by Lyme Drop at 9:58 AM on June 29, 2016


I'm curious: Who's worse, Sad Boner Dude or Angry MRA Dude?

I'm not sure I know the difference.
posted by maxsparber at 9:58 AM on June 29, 2016 [29 favorites]


I realized that Sad Boner was sorta means as Sad Trombone parody but... in that cause, perhaps...

Sad Traumbone
posted by symbioid at 10:01 AM on June 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


Because of my involvement in alternative communities, I unfortunately dated guy after guy like this. I always had high hopes that we could have a deep relationship of intellectual and artistic partnership, but the respect was never mutual. The last Tortured and Misunderstood Genius I dated turned out to be a pathological narcissist who gaslighted and emotionally abused me, and was working his way up to raping and beating--luckily I had a friend intervene and was able to get away.

I see this sort of male-cishet-wealthy privilege as a continuum. Certainly not all navel-gazing narcissists are abusers, but it's enough of a leading indicator that I no longer date men involved in media, the arts, or specialized intellectual communities where that sort of behavior is reinforced in an echo chamber. And although I know some people I like who have been to Burning Man, I'm sort of wary of dating anyone who has because my abusive ex was one of those who claimed to have had a life-changing experience at the festival. He was part of a group of people in LA who considered themselves really smart, and were well-off. His best friend was one of those who convinced a girlfriend to try polyamory or risk losing him. Other friends of my ex were into the libertarian and life extension movements. They were all extremely privileged people. My ex had life handed to him on a silver platter--the only child of a wealthy family, recruited for Microsoft at age 20 and retired on stocks at 25.

I'm firmly convinced, after this experience, that privilege begets abuse. And the more call-outs like the one by the brilliant Alexandra Erin, the more the ugly face of The Beautiful People can be unmasked.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 10:01 AM on June 29, 2016 [34 favorites]


I have a confession of my own - I read the original essay and it didn't twig any "omigod what a loser douche" bells for me.

I will cop to that as well. The piece felt overly flowery and --- odd, but I didn't see the narcissism straight away like others here. I didn't agree with the(his) decisions, but I didn't really get a firm handle on how exploitive and clueless he was actually being.

Two habits contributed to it, I think. I tend to miss how the passive voice is being used as cover. And when I read, I tend to give the author a lot of room. That is, I read things more like fiction than non-fiction -- and so maybe end up accepting the writer's framing a bit too much. (e.g. I tend to believe everything I read, at least for a while)

This is obviously the kind of thing people like him rely on generally, which makes the essay and the response very illuminating. Fortunately, I have not been gaslighted this way to such a degree, but it was... useful... to see the responses.
posted by smidgen at 10:01 AM on June 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


Just read the HuffPo article. That was time I shall never get back, and the most nauseating, narcissisitic, self-indulgent, and sociopathic piece of dreck ever created by putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

What a douchebag.
posted by prepmonkey at 10:02 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Whoa - I just had an epiphany that made me realize I may be better at spotting these dudes than I thought.

I was on the Nerve personals back in the day, and you used to be able to put a little headline on your profile. And on a number of occasions, I'd click on a dude's profile, and see that he'd used the line "The Only Living Boy In New York". I would always nope out at that - that seemed like the dude would always be a little too....something. I couldn't put my finger on what, but something about that just seemed to be a warning "no".

This is the kind of guy who would have titled his online personal profile "the only living boy in New York", isn't he?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:04 AM on June 29, 2016 [18 favorites]


I'm curious: Who's worse, Sad Boner Dude or Angry MRA Dude?

you know those optical illusion pictures that can be either a vase or two faces?
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:04 AM on June 29, 2016 [73 favorites]


The treatment wasn’t supposed to take this long. We should have known before my planned departure to the Burning Man gathering in Nevada. I had contemplated canceling, though it was the first significant trip with my younger brother, and I didn’t want to let him down. Plus, Katherine would have felt further guilt about her body’s lack of cooperation with the hormone therapy.

Okay, I guess. But you would have told her that's ridiculous, right? You would have told her that Burning Man is every year, and your brother isn't going anywhere. You would have told her that you wanted to be there with her. That family is important and Burning Man might be some kind of profound experience, but no festival could ever be as profound as the experience of trying to create a family with your brave, beloved wife... Even if it ends up being a profound loss.


I KNOW RIGHT? Sad Boner Dude had more emotions about taking a trip with his brother to an event THAT RECURS EVERY YEAR than he spared for the physical and emotional pain of his wife, or even his own emotional pain of hey, I also just lost my potential future child. Who goes through IVF and doesn't care about THAT OMG RAGE.

The filming the injections because he thought it was "absurdly funny" (wtf dude? If I'm so out of it that my HANDS ARE LITERALLY SHAKING, my husband better be holding my hand or playing with my hair or telling dirty jokes or something. Gah. Anything) and the fact that they both knew the baby couldn't have been his because he and his wife hadn't had sex in months (which, what? You wanted all the sex, and your wife agreed, and then you DIDN'T have the sex with one of your partners? What were you and she DOING all those months, that wasn't a wake up call? Agggggggggghhhhhhh) both really showed me how awful of a person he is.
posted by chainsofreedom at 10:05 AM on June 29, 2016 [33 favorites]


This essay reminds me of the only abusive relationship I've ever been in. One time, I asked the abusive guy, what was the worst thing that ever happened to you?

He immediately replied, "I was dating this girl 20 years ago (20 years, see), and she was an aspiring actress. She got the chance to read for a part in a Martin Scorsese film. This would have been It for her, career-wise. She was on the edge of her big break, and after she auditioned, she was just a mess, waiting to find out the results. I thought it would be really funny to call her and leave a message on her answering machine pretending to be the casting agent, so I did. I left this long message telling her that Martin loved her and she'd gotten the part and that we couldn't wait to have her on board. She went around, delirious, telling all of her friends about how she'd been picked for the upcoming film. It was so hilarious! When I finally told her, after about a week, that it was me on that machine, she broke up with me. Can you believe that?"

The guy was actually, I promise, IN TEARS when he was telling me this. Reading this fellow's essay reminds me exactly of this guy and his story, and of why calling people out on this kind of complete self-absorption and lack of empathy is not only good to do, but is actually a civic duty.

If my guy's story, or this guy's essay, had been told in private, to a therapist, then definitely the author would be deserving of compassion as he tried to learn about himself. But he's not trying to learn about himself, he's trying to get sympathy, and eyeballs, and literary cred, by telling a story about he completely fucked someone over while completely missing that that is actually what the story is about.

Plus, the writing is terrible.
posted by staggering termagant at 10:08 AM on June 29, 2016 [77 favorites]


Starts an article about the downside of framing your writing with too personal a POV with:

..."because it’s disturbing to me that both of his names are first names of major characters in my writing"
posted by humboldt32 at 10:09 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Haha, I just clicked on the link to his blog and noticed it is a narcissistic pun based on his initials: iam.

My ex made much of the fact that his name could be anagrammed to spell "brain."
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 10:09 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I wanted to comment on two other aspects of the story that struck me:

1) My wife and I went through fertility treatment, and our kids were born through IVF. His glib and wife-blaming approach is just so far from what is required regarding such a very very painful process, it's hard to describe. Yes, ok, you can read the part about him going to Burning Man as his wife miscarries, and think he's an asshole, but unless you've been down the path of miscarriage or fertility treatments, I don't think you can realize the full horror of what he's writing. My wife quite literally could not stop crying or get out of bed for two days after her first miscarriage, as was appropriate. The notion that he would have gone on the trip, or that he would have kept driving...it just shows the contempt he must have felt for her and their relationship. The irony that he then goes on to essentially laud himself for his sensitivity to the world, or whatever, is very very cruel irony indeed.

2) When I was a younger man, but older than I should have been, a friend said to me, "maybe you aren't as nice as you think you are, and maybe you shouldn't be." One of the things that bothers me so much about this essay is that it's all written in the service of not making himself uncomfortable, or not giving one iota of a chance for him to doubt himself or feel bad about himself. Even the buffonish Mr. Bennet realizes that he can afford to consider himself wrong once in a while: "No, Lizzy, let me once in my life feel how much I have been to blame. I am not afraid of being overpowered by the impression. It will pass away soon enough.''
posted by OmieWise at 10:10 AM on June 29, 2016 [52 favorites]


I had to do IVF. If either of my partners--well, if either of them acted like that, we wouldn't've been partners. But holy christing shitballs if someone reacted like that to a very serious medical event, I would've launched them into the sun.
posted by XtinaS at 10:11 AM on June 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


xingcat: How does one "speak in poetry and myth," anyway? I mean, I get that you could recite poems to someone, but after a bit, you have to kind of just...talk?

SOKATH, HIS EYES UNCOVERED!
posted by hanov3r at 10:12 AM on June 29, 2016 [25 favorites]


It is so cathartic to read all you wonderful people not falling for this shit. In real life, I'm often sure that I must be living in an alternate reality based on being the only one to call these men out. But lo! Others see these cocksplats for what they are! I am not alone.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:13 AM on June 29, 2016 [21 favorites]


Kittens for Breakfast wrote this: "I think this essay and the reaction to it provide a great service to the world. There is little doubt in my mind that a person like this gaslights the shit out of any woman in his life, and is so committed to a narrative in which he is a great and misunderstood genius that said women often don't know what the hell is happening in their own lives after a while."

And this is exactly what ended up happening with the guy from my above comment.
posted by staggering termagant at 10:14 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm curious: Who's worse, Sad Boner Dude or Angry MRA Dude?

Sad Boner Dude, because he pretends to be on our side. Angry MRA Dude is equally terrible but at least he's not pretending to be an ally while doing... this shit.
posted by palomar at 10:15 AM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


THE BEAST AT TANAGRA
posted by XtinaS at 10:16 AM on June 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


stoneweaver: In real life, I'm often sure that I must be living in an alternate reality based on being the only one to call these men out. But lo! Others see these cocksplats for what they are! I am not alone.

I suspect that most people who recognize the type just quietly have nothing to do with them, because interacting with them is a no-win scenario.
posted by clawsoon at 10:19 AM on June 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


He immediately replied, "I was dating this girl 20 years ago (20 years, see), and she was an aspiring actress. She got the chance to read for a part in a Martin Scorsese film. This would have been It for her, career-wise. She was on the edge of her big break, and after she auditioned, she was just a mess, waiting to find out the results. I thought it would be really funny to call her and leave a message on her answering machine pretending to be the casting agent, so I did. I left this long message telling her that Martin loved her and she'd gotten the part and that we couldn't wait to have her on board. She went around, delirious, telling all of her friends about how she'd been picked for the upcoming film. It was so hilarious! When I finally told her, after about a week, that it was me on that machine, she broke up with me. Can you believe that?"

God I wish I thought this was made up. I really want to travel across America to punch this guy in the face on the theory that not only does he deserve it for then but he's unlikely to have changed much.
posted by Frowner at 10:27 AM on June 29, 2016 [27 favorites]


not-interacting is not always an option people have.
posted by Krom Tatman at 10:28 AM on June 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


Ugh, that blue moon love story makes me hate him even more. Oh, your partner "fled to the arms of another" amid the cracks of your relationship, bruh? Really? Can't even be honest enough in that gross essay aggrandizing your current partner, the Queen of Burning Man, to admit that your partner "fled" after you told her you wanted to open things up because you'd met someone else?

Fuuuuuuuuuuck this asshole.
posted by palomar at 10:28 AM on June 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


Ugh, that blue moon love story makes me hate him even more.

Right? Dude is clearly from Punch Me In The Face, Canada.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:32 AM on June 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


This "childless couple vs passion" idea is likely based on the fact that they were not fucking except on schedule, for years. That her body betrayed her over and over. That fetuses died in her body. That she felt shame. That it is hard to love yourself, let alone open yourself to sex, let alone open yourself to sex with someone who went to Burning Man and cheated on you while you miscarried at home.

I am entirely unsurprised that her period returned to her when she got some distance from him. 0% mysterious.

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by sadmadglad at 10:32 AM on June 29, 2016 [26 favorites]


The sad boner ex I mentioned upthread is now shacked up with a co-worker nearly 20 years his junior, who may or may not be aware that while she was busy attending middle school, her dude was penning scads of heartrending paeans to the most easily manipulable and perilously young women he could find while the mother of his children tried in vain to swat away her lingering doubts about his fidelity.

Oh my god, how many times did we have to hear that he just couldn't help being the way he was, because his wife never really understood him, never even really knew him at all? How much of his recounting did he pivot into the passive, like his own life was just happening around him? How many times did he tell his mistresses that we were hearing secrets no one else had ever heard? There's certainly a strong current of seduction on the surface of such poetry, but inviting it into your life is like biting into an extremely overripe fruit -- you'll taste impossible sweetness for a split second before getting down to the rot inside.

Sad Boner Dude, because he pretends to be on our side. Angry MRA Dude is equally terrible but at least he's not pretending to be an ally while doing... this shit.

YUP. I feel like faux sensitivity and pseudo-feminism are the last refuge of the very lowest scoundrels. It's why H*go Schwyz*r is infinitely more disgusting to me than, like, Paul Elam. A MGTOW is usually quite adamant about it, but a sad boner confessor covers up his rank misogyny with flowery words and odes to the divinity of womanhood. They're like a pile of hot, wet garbage spritzed liberally with Febreeze.
posted by amnesia and magnets at 10:32 AM on June 29, 2016 [33 favorites]


SHAKA, WHEN THE WALLS FELL.

Nobody in this thread will be at all surprised that he's directed a "documentary" entitled Amplify Her, a long fetishization of (hot and young) female DJs with deep painful pasts.
posted by jokeefe at 10:35 AM on June 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


burning man, when the boner fell
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:39 AM on June 29, 2016 [58 favorites]


Ugh. The heterodoxy of the creative set... It's like there's an official uniform and lifestyle for being an artist now.

One of the best lessons I (working artist) ever learned on the Life of a Real, Working Artist: I took a continuing ed class from someone whose work I admired greatly for its edgy weirdness. The guy showed up every week dressed in jeans or chinos, brown lace-up shoes, and some boring shirt. Bland as fuck. Because real working artists don't need affectations to impress anyone.
posted by the_blizz at 10:40 AM on June 29, 2016 [54 favorites]


the link to his website and writing above (which I have no interest in re-linking) tells us that he named it after his initials - Ian Alexander Mackenzie, or IAM. i think, but am not certain, THAT THIS DEFINITELY SUMS HIM UP
posted by gorbichov at 10:42 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nobody in this thread will be at all surprised that he's directed a "documentary" entitled Amplify Her, a long fetishization of (hot and young) female DJs with deep painful pasts.

Right, I believe AppleCat (one of the women featured in said doc) is the Queen of Burning Man that is now his primary partner. So.
posted by palomar at 10:42 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's not actually that hard to ejaculate into a small plastic container.
posted by East14thTaco at 10:43 AM on June 29, 2016 [26 favorites]


THANK YOU! Honestly, the more I think about that, the more I think that him finding that task difficult is the perfect metaphor for his whole damned life.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:45 AM on June 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


he's directed a "documentary" entitled Amplify Her, a long fetishization of (hot and young) female DJs with deep painful pasts.

Everything I find out about this dude just keeps making it better and better. His life reads like someone else is just brutally bad-faith-owning a terrible dude they know.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:46 AM on June 29, 2016 [28 favorites]


Alexandra Erin is a genius. I laughed out loud at "People know where I am" and the "rainbow connection" reference in the poem.
posted by AFABulous at 10:46 AM on June 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


greg no he's gonna read that comment and write a smug tell-all confessing that his entire life to date has actually been performance art of what terrible men are like and it will be all your fault.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:50 AM on June 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


Ugh the most secret secrets EVER, that you then compare notes and that's like Date Five standard with him. PUKE
posted by stoneweaver at 10:50 AM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


We speak in poetry and myth.

Do we know for sure that Ian MacKenzie and/or his lover aren't Tamarian? I mean, let's not be too quick to judge here.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:54 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Awesomely, AppleCat and The Dude are conducting a workshop called Love without Fear. I'm all like LOL girl, hanging with that dude, be afraid -- be very afraid!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:54 AM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


AppleCat is apparently the performance poet Mya in his PuffHo piece.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 10:58 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


The first time he went to Burning Man he ran out on his wife while her aunt was dying of cancer.
I never went back to see Aunt Lily in the hospital. Even though I had had the opportunties, as my wife gathered up her coat and her keys. [Katherine] never asked, but I mentally created excuses just in case: too much work, not enough time… maybe next visit.

I took shelter in my Buddhist worldview that believes life is suffering. Impermanence is the only constant. Nothing remains without change. Aunt Lily lived a long and fruitful life. There is no tragedy here, no regrets. I should have been able to sit quietly in her presence, confident that all was right with the universe.
dude. buddy. pal.
posted by Krom Tatman at 11:00 AM on June 29, 2016 [44 favorites]


I just read his post about going to burning man and finding out that his wife's aunt was dying from cancer. Read isn't the right word because I find his style so awful I was able to get through one a single paragraph before giving up and hitting CTRL-F for "Cancer".
In that essay too he has a moment where he thinks he maybe should go back and support his wife through the crisis, but concludes:
" Yet I know there’s little I could offer besides comfort."

Fucking wow.
posted by asavage at 11:01 AM on June 29, 2016 [62 favorites]


how big a catapult would we need to launch him into the sun
posted by poffin boffin at 11:03 AM on June 29, 2016 [44 favorites]


I've just been listening to a song about this guy.

Who's that sucking all the oxygen out of the place?
posted by Countess Elena at 11:06 AM on June 29, 2016


Well, Frowner, he's probably coming to a town near you soon. I am going to bow out of this thread after this comment because this has unexpectedly brought up all kinds of sad and angry memories for me. But one last story.

I remember, one time, I was sleeping. It was 5am and suddenly he threw open the door of the bedroom, snapped on the overhead light, and screamed, "GET UP!!! OH MY GOD! GET UP GET UP!" He was clapping his hands, stomping his feet, shouting.

I woke up in terror, sure that the house was on fire or ISIS had attacked or something.

I sat up and yelled, "What? What is it? What's happening?"

He became completely calm, with a smirk on his face, and said, "My father used to do that to me, and I hated it as much as you just did."

When I told him that was unacceptable behavior, and what the fuck was he thinking (I was pregnant with our child at the time), he became enraged.

How DARE I yell at him, after all the horrible things he had been through? Didn't I know that he was the victim, the victim of a terrible father and an artistic, sensitive temperament?

It ended with him crying in my lap, me petting his head, reassuring him that it was OK, he was OK, I still loved him, it was all OK.

Fuck that noise. Fuck those guys. Gah. Why call these people out? This is why.

Going to go drink some wine, do some yoga, set something on fire, and hug my kids. Gah.
posted by staggering termagant at 11:06 AM on June 29, 2016 [114 favorites]


how big a catapult would we need to launch him into the sun

Tre-douchet, surely.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:06 AM on June 29, 2016 [62 favorites]


I took shelter in my Buddhist worldview that believes life is suffering.

NO.
YOU HAVE MISSED IT.
NO.

Also, I have been drifting in memories, tempted to wallow in my own past pain, and seeing someone actually DO IT and get called out has reminded me that I was the source of plenty of pain myself, and maybe I should recognize my responsibility in that.

so thanks!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:06 AM on June 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


Tre-douchet, surely.

I'd use a man-gone-l

I promise I'll stop at this and not try to turn another thread into a list of archaic weapon puns
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:10 AM on June 29, 2016 [28 favorites]


Fuck that noise. Fuck those guys. Gah. Why call these people out? This is why.

It is so useful to have a term to apply to all the people who fit this category. Just as "mansplain" and "emotional labor" and "lavaballing" give you a discrete thing to look out for, now I suddenly have a file in my mind for all the Sad Boner Confessors I've ever met in my life.
posted by rorgy at 11:12 AM on June 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


@tallus: "Nah, just unoriginal, he's used that line before. He seems to have a habit of repeating himself. The first time he went to Burning Man he ran out on his wife while her aunt was dying of cancer."
Now, in the desert hundreds of miles away, part of me feels I should be home, aiding my wife through this difficult time. Yet I know there’s little I could offer besides comfort.

I text her words of support and close my phone.

“It’s our turn,” Sean points ahead to the greeter’s gate, one of many set up on the Burning Man playa.
Wwwwwwwwwwwwwwow.
posted by verb at 11:16 AM on June 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


Is Burning Man just the worst? It sounds like the worst.

Actually, what it sounds like is what we would have thought was really cool about two years after grunge, only gentrified and upmarket and ossified. Like, I remember that nineties, where the desert and weird cars and random art and dancing thing would have been attended by broke weirdos. Only Burning Man sounds like it's full of rich people who are pretending so completely to be artists instead of dilettantes that they have even fooled themselves. Like art LARP or something.
posted by Frowner at 11:19 AM on June 29, 2016 [32 favorites]


It ended with him crying in my lap, me petting his head, reassuring him that it was OK, he was OK, I still loved him, it was all OK.

may i never ever again have to spend hours comforting a man who apparently can't stand that he just hurt me.
posted by nadawi at 11:19 AM on June 29, 2016 [151 favorites]


It ended with him crying in my lap, me petting his head, reassuring him that it was OK

Oh my god, this is so familiar. It took me far too long to realize that men acting out then making me apologize and soothe them after they hurt me is emotionally abusive behavior.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 11:19 AM on June 29, 2016 [68 favorites]


Is Burning Man just the worst? It sounds like the worst.

Jenny the Roma from Buffy went around 1995, so it must have been genuinely offbeat at some point. Now, you couldn't pay me to go.
posted by praemunire at 11:22 AM on June 29, 2016


When I told my wife there was an original essay and a parody, she got a good chunk of the way through the real one and asked "Wait a minute, is this the parody?"
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:22 AM on June 29, 2016 [25 favorites]


I'd use a man-gone-l

No, I think this calls for the glib-guys-arm.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:23 AM on June 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


When I told him that was unacceptable behavior, and what the fuck was he thinking (I was pregnant with our child at the time), he became enraged.

I don't think I've ever been so angry that I've had to pause before favouriting a comment in case it was construed as a "enjoyed your comment" rather than the hug it is. Holy fuck.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:24 AM on June 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


it was featured on mtv in the mid 90s and even as a teenager i remember thinking "ah well, it was probably cool a few years ago but it's surely ruined now." i can't believe it still trucks on.
posted by nadawi at 11:25 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Ahem.

What does it mean to be a true ally to the feminine? How long have I abdicated my own masculine power and solidarity with other men? And what would it mean to rest awhile in the trust of my own village, surrendering the belief that I must forge ahead alone?

May these days find you awash in beauty and similarly apprenticed to your soul. Enjoy this month's dispatch from the future.

Ian MacKenzie
Lisbon, Portugal

posted by webwench at 11:25 AM on June 29, 2016


I realize in a moment of clarity that Aunt Lily taught me my truth: my inability to face death. Instead I intellectualize my understanding, hiding behind the belief of impermanence. As Aunt Lily faced the eternal chasm, all she desired was someone to watch with compassion. To sit by her side, without judgement or fear.

And I couldn’t do it.

Aunt Lily’s passing was my lesson, and her final gift to me.


Hm.

You know, I almost think that this type of person is better off without lessons, because then at least they retain a kind of innocence. "What I know about myself: I can't face death, I can't give up personal pleasures, my loyalty to my partner is only for as long as it's fun and I fetishize young women artists" seems....well, I don't know how you keep going when you know that stuff about yourself.

But jeez, no, other people do not exist to "teach you lessons". Other people exist for themselves and if you neglect them while they die you're leaving them to die neglected.
posted by Frowner at 11:29 AM on June 29, 2016 [53 favorites]


may i never ever again have to spend hours comforting a man who apparently can't stand that he just hurt me.

From your lips to the fates' ears.
posted by susiswimmer at 11:30 AM on June 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


Also, wow, between this and the various lessons of Brexit, I feel like the last couple of days have been a journey to the center of "how people can think they're doing just great and still make everything awful". Chilling, disturbing, a call to be better lest we be like them.
posted by Frowner at 11:31 AM on June 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


> It ended with him crying in my lap, me petting his head, reassuring him that it was OK

A friend of mine in university dated a guy like this for much longer than she should have. One night he admitted to cheating on her in front of her and a group of their mutual friends during a party in a way that seemed crafted to humiliate her as much as possible. When she predictably got upset (like, sobbing), he started pouting and went to his room. Eventually went after him, planning to break up with him, and wound up comforting him. It took her two years to break free of this guy's pattern of gaslighting, emotional abuse and manipulation.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:31 AM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


"What I know about myself: I can't face death, I can't give up personal pleasures, my loyalty to my partner is only for as long as it's fun and I fetishize young women artists" seems....well, I don't know how you keep going when you know that stuff about yourself.

These are not all great things to know about yourself, but I don't think any of these things can't be dealt with if faced squarely. But he doesn't do that. He's deluded as hell.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:44 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine in university dated a guy like this for much longer than she should have.

pretty sure a lot of us women have. it's a trope that came up over and over again in the emotional labor thread. one of those things that, until you start talking about it, you feel is some personal hell you've caused in some way because he's just so damn persuasive that you're at fault for him being an asshole.
posted by nadawi at 11:46 AM on June 29, 2016 [43 favorites]


I took shelter in my Buddhist worldview that believes life is suffering. Impermanence is the only constant. Nothing remains without change.

I've met people like this guy, and the sad thing is that it's not a cleverly constructed facade bent on manipulating others into accepting their terrible behaviour. It's more like an evolved facade bent on manipulating themselves into accepting their terrible behaviour. Before they gaslight anyone else, they've gaslit the crap out of themselves.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:47 AM on June 29, 2016 [33 favorites]


Metafilter: I promise I'll stop at this and not try to turn another thread into a list of archaic weapon puns
posted by maryr at 11:47 AM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


“It’s our turn,” Sean points ahead to the greeter’s gate, one of many set up on the Burning Man playa.

The Burning Man... playa? *groooooan* Okay, so, living in Europe and speaking a Romance language or three (I also manage Spanish and Italian), plus knowing people who go to la playa, I always assumed that when y'all mentioned the type of people who brag about going to la playa and partying, that it meant something like Ibiza, which is, you know, on a playa, i.e. beach. A beach, so called because it borders a large body of water. I had to go checking that Burning Man is in fact in a desert in Nevada like I thought, and Wikipedia the Black Rock Desert to be sure I wasn't missing a large body of water, and okay, apparently playa has been reappropriated?! Like, even the Black Rock Desert wiki entry uses an authoritative tone to call "playa" the "alkali flats" when nowhere is that accepted usage but oh hey wink wink nudge nudge we get that you have constructed an imaginary world where words mean whatever you want them to mean?!

And this here Oregon girl thought Burning Man was just for yuppies. (Real hippies don't go there, they migrate to Eugene and surrounds and dress in tie-dye and patchouli and run for Slug Queen. Don't look at me, I have patchouli incense.)

Thankfully that same Eugene experience inured me to these sorts because they were EVERYWHERE omigod. "I am bringing you light! And joy! Why don't you smile for me miss! That's not a smile!! You're not bringing joy to the world!!!" I would be like, so what you're saying is I'm the earth goddess Gaia? By my power alone will the world be saved from distress? They didn't get it. Gaia. World. Hello spiritual dude. Oh okay, I'm NOT a goddess, I just INCARNATE one, but you want me to smile to bring joy to the world when there is only one dude who can see that smile and he's not one I want to talk to? Yeah. Okay. Good luck with that.

note that I did once fall for this type of guy's "opposite", the Very Rational And Sensible Computer Programmer. *headdesk*
posted by fraula at 11:47 AM on June 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


yeah, it's the "realization" without any sort of reflection, remorse, resolve to change--lots of people are bad at coping with death, lots of people are confronted with that fact when a family member is terminally ill--but most people try to compensate for it or overcome it or even try to forget/ignore their flaws, not merely dwell in the satisfaction that they've discovered something about themselves.
posted by Krom Tatman at 11:49 AM on June 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


Oh man. This guy.

Sometimes it's really hard to talk about this kind of thing, like in the Emotional Labour threads or any misogyny threads with any kind of distance. As I say to anyone who'll listen, this shit is personal, it's felt, it's experienced by the person right in front of you, like, oh yeah, me.

There's something about reading both of these pieces, as others have said, that is highly, highly triggering for so many reasons.

Eg: that a relationship begun in my twenties buckled under repeated sexualised enactments when the flow of my funds and attention ebbed from what he needed, to what I needed. Coincidence? Here it is again. Things are going great for the guy when Pussy is Paying Me, and even when Pussy is Free. When Pussy Costs, things go downhill damn quickly. New/ More Pussy Plz.

When he sees his wife waking up to herself, he clings to Mya and dangles the exclusion of his wife in front of her. Seen it, been it.

The infertility journey and his sense of resting everything on her menstrual cycle and therefore leaving her alone, emotionally vacating the situation to ponder his phone camera and barely stifling his giggles. What a fucking man-baby, who can't even summon the barest of presence. I can just imagine his wife emotionally labouring and managing his emotions. It's easier than asking for him to fucking nut up and pay real attention. Can't even go there with the miscarriage scenario. But Burning Man would definitely describe a probable outcome.


Oh, and just for rant-y speculation. Let's say the Dude is the one who knocks up new paramour Mya. Imagine the ponderous, self-involved spruiking of evo-psych that would ensue.
posted by honey-barbara at 11:53 AM on June 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


may i never ever again have to spend hours comforting a man who apparently can't stand that he just hurt me.

Oh yeah. Men who consciously and repeatedly make decisions that make a mess of their own lives LOVE to get all "hey, mistakes were made!" about the whole nine in order to more thoroughly burden women with the responsibility for both the existence of the mess and the clean-up required to fix it/him to his preening, pre-"pride cometh before the fall" glory.

Sad boner ex told me over and over and over that I ruined his life. So many times. He didn't ruin his own life by screwing around on his wife with all the sad-eyed drunk-and-DTF twenty-somethings he could get his hands on, I ruined his life by telling his wife that he was cheating on her. AND I BELIEVED HIM. I believed him and it almost killed me. He knew I would believe him because he knew I believed I was an awful person who could only ever do awful things, and he knew I believed that every time he spoke to me, he was blessing me with a temporary kind of forgiveness that was wholly undeserved. I believed it was my fault that he was broken because I let him convince me that I and I alone had broken him. But not now. Not now, and never again. And now I am going to take the afternoon off and get drunk and listen to Beyonce.

This thread has been incredibly helpful and cathartic for me and I would like to buy each of you a mango margarita. Alexandra Erin, if you're reading this, you get at least five or six, hmu
posted by amnesia and magnets at 11:55 AM on June 29, 2016 [57 favorites]


I took shelter in my Buddhist worldview that believes life is suffering.

As much as I don't actually want to inflict this doucherocket on anyone, I am now kind of playing out a little fantasy wherein he meets an actual Buddhist priest like the ones I know. Holy cow. He'd have so many new ones ripped, his very existence would be a koan by the end of it.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:03 PM on June 29, 2016 [26 favorites]


You know, I'll even grant that, sometimes, it's not the guy but the woman who shows a pattern of emotionally avoidant behavior and a lack of willingness to do emotional labor. Let's just posit it's true for sake of argument. But even so, how can you think your pain over having let your wife go through miscarriage alone so you can go to a festival in the desert amounts to anything remotely like the pain of going through that alone? Ugh. Not like being there offers any guarantee of future happiness, but it should be pretty obvious to anybody who cares about someone that they should be there when that person needs them.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:04 PM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


The thing with the "You should feel bad because you made me feel bad for doing something shitty"... is there a catchy name for that? There should be a name for that. I think most of us are wired to feel bad when we've hurt someone else and we see them feeling bad. That's a good, healthy reaction. But then there are people who take advantage of that wiring by doing an extra flip - you should feel bad because you made me feel bad because you felt bad when I did something shitty - and it can be incredibly effective if you haven't been properly inoculated.
posted by clawsoon at 12:15 PM on June 29, 2016 [19 favorites]


Playa is a pretty widely used term for alkali lakes, dry lakes, and salt flats in the Southwestern US; while this guy is an objectively terrible person and Burning Man is probably terrible, I don't think that using playa to refer to a desert salt flat is an example of that terribleness. We visited and studied playas in Death Valley on geology fieldtrips in undergrad.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:16 PM on June 29, 2016 [36 favorites]


The catchy name is "abuse."
posted by staggering termagant at 12:17 PM on June 29, 2016 [25 favorites]


Ok, I've been chomping at the bit to reply to this one since the original FPP got nuked.

And to preface this, I'm not necessarily saying I think this is true of this guy. It could be, but I don't know him even 1/10th enough to tell.

However, I've known multiple guys like this. Guys who never learned any better. And several of them were in addition to this kind of self centered crap, the "enlightened" variety of boundary crashing predator/rapist kind of guy. Like for years, I made jackoff motions in my head whenever I heard them ramble on about their plights or themselves, or try and spin their dysfunctional relationships and interactions with women in to some grand tale of woe... And then I heard from the other side. And then again.

Guys like this often aren't just tiresome wasted of time that are emotionally destructive. In my experience they often spin a version of the story in which they did nothing wrong, but totally crashed a woman's boundaries to get what they wanted and thought they were entitled to in their own little narrative.

So yea, rereading this, the first time I went through half the time I was rolling my eyes. The second time I was going "oh god, this is soandso in a few years, and I bet there's a lot more to this story from her side... And the other women's perspectives".

I just can't help but wonder how many of the women this ~playboy~ was constantly seducing were coerced, or intoxicated, or trapped in some crappy situation of his own design. The dude honestly sounds creepy as fuck to me, not just lame. Especially considering the communities he's bouncing around in, which are ones I have quite a bit of experience with and are close to home.
posted by emptythought at 12:17 PM on June 29, 2016 [24 favorites]


> Not like being there offers any guarantee of future happiness, but it should be pretty obvious to anybody who cares about someone that they should be there when that person needs them.

Well, he *did* text her "words of support," and Aunt Lily was nice enough to teach him a lesson (*and* give him a gift!) by dying while he was away.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:19 PM on June 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


Also, I fully acknowledge I was once a sad boner piece of shit... But I was also 20 years old when I was in that stupid smug funk. I wish I could go show this to old me and slap myself a whole Buncha times... But there's a bigass difference between being a stupid kid and being a stupid adult and not growing up at all.
posted by emptythought at 12:20 PM on June 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


Further to ChuraChura, it looks from the OED like playa in that general non-beachy salt flat context dates back to the mid 19th C., so, yep, just a long-attested divergence in usage.
posted by cortex at 12:21 PM on June 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


Aunt Lily died to teach him a lesson. Not, because, like, cancer ate away at her internal organs until they could no longer function. Not even because God willed it. Because he, Ian McKenzie needed to be taught a lesson -- the lesson that he is uncomfortable with death, a lesson so trivially obvious that literally the entire fucking world except for Ian McKenzie already knows that about themselves, because who the fuck is comfortable with death, really? -- Aunt Lily simply had to die. And we should be sad about that, her no longer existing on this Earth or being the prat of the lives of the people who loved her, and all, but not as sad as we should be about the fact that Ian McKenzie is now aware that he's uncomfortable with death.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:27 PM on June 29, 2016 [20 favorites]


"a new paradigm media activist crafting conscious memes on behalf of the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible."

OK that's it, no more internet. For this guy, or for anyone, ever again.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 12:33 PM on June 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


The essay should be; My Self Love Can't Tear Her Apart, Anymore, or I Fell For My Mirror.

No no no, 'I fell For My Mirror' is this one which ends quite literally with him in awe of his own reflection:
    I dismount my bike and stand before the largest mirror. Startled, I reveal a self I feel I haven’t seen in eternity: My beard is thick, caked with playa dust. My wings stretch up over my head; my torso sheathed in plastic armour. My hand still clutches the plastic sword, smooth, but strong to the touch. You cannot recognize a Shambhala warrior when you see her or him, for they wear no uniforms or insignia, and they carry no banners. The Shambhala warriors know that the dangers threatening life on Earth are not visited upon us by any extraterrestrial power, satanic deities, or preordained evil fate. They arise from our own decisions, our own lifestyles, and our own relationships. With that wisdom you know that it is not a battle between “good guys” and “bad guys,” because the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart. My eyes are deep, gazing back at me from the vast expanse on the other side of the reflection. I clasp my hands together over my heart, and offer a quiet bow. After a moment, I release my hands, mount my bike, and pedal back to camp. [emphasis mine]

Oh man, I wish I had saved one particular, uh, story? essay? by a guy I used to know, where he wrote about meeting an old woman who turned out to be a Holocaust survivor. And it was aaaaall about him. I can tell you, it's quite something to see memories of the fucking Holocaust feature merely as dramatic spice in a story about a man feeling all the feels! The Story Of Me When I Hear A Holocaust Story. *shudders*
posted by sively at 12:36 PM on June 29, 2016 [24 favorites]


Anyone ever dated a guy from the Iowa Writers Workshop? Almost invariably they are like this fellow; wearing second hand tweed jackets, carrying a half pint (not enough to share) of Jack in the pocket, and insinuating repeatedly how many of the latest poets of recent fame with whom they have "been intimate."
posted by jfwlucy at 12:36 PM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


holy shit sively that excerpt made me break out in a cold sweat. i know plenty of people who go to burning man and while i think they're generally great people for the most part, this guy is EXACTLY who i imagine when i see pictures of white dudes on the playa.

i live for the week or so each year that they're all gone from the bay area. it's absolute heaven
posted by burgerrr at 12:39 PM on June 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


I will never forgive this writer for making me feel compassion towards a man named Chad.
posted by elr at 12:43 PM on June 29, 2016 [25 favorites]


I'm also instantly reminded of this hunk of shit overwrought piece of writing that i swear got an FPP, but not one i can find.

Very similar garbage being sold here, and worth a comparative read.
posted by emptythought at 12:45 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


My eyes are deep, gazing back at me from the vast expanse on the other side of the reflection.

Huh. I didn't know that the myth of Narcissus was a how-to manual.

the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart.

To complete the Solzhenitsyn quote: "And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"
posted by clawsoon at 12:47 PM on June 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


god i keep trying to hate-read that whole burning man piece and honestly it's too painful. i give up. i can't remember the last time i had a reaction this visceral to anything, really
posted by burgerrr at 12:49 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


uggggggh the thought of hanging out in a desert for a week making art sounds SO GEEK-STYLE COOL and now I will never be able to bring myself to check this thing out

are there cool desert parties for people who don't suck that I can get an invite to, maybe
posted by rorgy at 12:50 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart.

If you're gonna steal, steal from the greats.

"cutoff culture"
dr nerdlove, paging dr. nerdlove
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:51 PM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


i found it

"She and I: A Fugue"

Here is a particularly accurate review by a reader. Complete with excerpts. I'm gonna go drink now.

posted by XtinaS at 12:52 PM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


To complete the Solzhenitsyn quote: "And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Uh, Janis Joplin?
posted by octobersurprise at 12:56 PM on June 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


I have a signed copy of She abd I: A Fugue.

Because he sent it to me.

Because he was "courting" me. I was so wildly age inappropriate for him. Oh god.

He followed me on Twitter *today* after I hadn't thought about him in literal years.

I need a fucking shower.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:58 PM on June 29, 2016 [37 favorites]


i wanna go to burning man this year just to fight him
posted by poffin boffin at 12:59 PM on June 29, 2016 [54 favorites]


I can't think about this so early in the week, I have stuff to do. Lemme distance... Orwell's Keep the Aspidistra Flying is an Ur-example of this. Narrator won't be bourgeois and comfortable, isn't successful as an artist, is a unthinking scary jerk to his girlfriend to reassure himself about his social status. The status anxiety is obvious in most summaries of it; the purpose of the jerkitude, not so much (or maybe it goes unsaid).

Orwell is supposed to have been following up George Gissing, but I find Gissing and his male characters a lot fairer to the agency and prospects of his female characters.
posted by clew at 1:04 PM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Your playa carnival float/contraption should be a giant catapult.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 1:06 PM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


I have a signed copy of She abd I: A Fugue.

I had never heard of this book, so looked it up on Amazon.

The reviews are devastating.
posted by maxsparber at 1:06 PM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh sweet crackling oat bran, stoneweaver, I'm so sorry.
posted by XtinaS at 1:11 PM on June 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


> i wanna go to burning man this year just to fight him

Don't do it. That would just lead to essays about what your beatdown taught him.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:12 PM on June 29, 2016 [20 favorites]


I hadn't seen the original, so I read the parody first, laughed and thought she had taken it too far - only to find that not only did she essentially paraphrase him, she left whole swaths out.

I ended up not finishing his piece -- I got as far as the baby being born and his tone-deaf reaction to it, before I noped out. But two things struck me -

They went to Hawaii as a gift from her mother, as a memory of her late father. This is the vacation he brings a book on polyamory to. This vacation, after all the trauma of IVF (and it is trauma, even if he chose not to experience any of it), which for the rest of her family was a celebration of her parents marriage and family, this is the one where he says you know what? You're not enough for me. Fuck him. It's beyond clueless and into heartless.

The other thing, as another person who went through failed IVFs - and as someone whose husband did most of my injections for me when he saw I was struggling with them - I don't think he even understood the process. It really sounds like other than donating his sperm, he wasn't around for the treatments at all. The vague language around why the first procedure was late -- for the woman, who goes in every 3-5 days, there's nothing vague about the timing - if you don't produce enough eggs to in a cycle, you have to wait a month - it's not talking about oh, she ovulated later than we thought. He would have had at least a couple of weeks in advance to know that missing Burning Man was a real possibility and call his brother.

Meanwhile "It failed" reads to me like the embryos didn't implant - that's not miscarriage and bleeding, that's a negative pregnancy test and then your regular period, coupled with all the emotional pain that you went through such an arduous journey only to have the rug pulled out from under you. The second time, they successfully implanted two embryos, and then lost them - that's a miscarriage. That's bleeding and pain and cramps and all the stuff he described as missing while partying at Burning Man. He brags about her pain the time he wasn't there, assuming her suffering which he nobly had to miss, and then elides the time he was actually there into "her cheeks glistening." I doubt he felt the pain of the first loss - I suspect he got her text, texted back "so srry" only more poetic, and didn't think about it again. I'm guessing when it came time to write the essay, he realized he sounded too callous and inserted the bloody horror show part onto the first procedure so he could maintain the illusion about how he suffered twice.

The surprise of this piece isn't that he ended up divorced. The surprise is that she waited so long to do it. Good on her to let him publish this and let him hang himself on it. I just hate thinking there are people out here who don't see through it for what it is.
posted by Mchelly at 1:13 PM on June 29, 2016 [37 favorites]


Omigod, XtinaS, the comments on that review... Ow ow ow.
posted by Lexica at 1:13 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is there a way to pirate She and I: a Fugue? I want to use this for a drinking game, but don't want to give this schmuck money.

though from that linked review, the drinking game might end up being "read three pages, black out"
posted by rorgy at 1:14 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


uggggggh the thought of hanging out in a desert for a week making art sounds SO GEEK-STYLE COOL and now I will never be able to bring myself to check this thing out

I want to give some kind of platitude about how most guys who go aren't like this, and most people who go are pretty ok, but... There's enough? I overall had a really good time, but there are absolutely wankers there. You can avoid them pretty easily by just walking away, but they're... there. And i heard plenty of wanker stories from other people.

It is a cool thing to do if you have a few good friends to go with who you can hang out with a lot of the time, just shake your damn head and walk away from guys like this(you can spot them because they treat it like a ~sacred space of transcendental experiences~)

So, it really isn't just this guy or even mostly this guy, but i don't know if i'd do it again. I'd absolutely do it the first time, though.
posted by emptythought at 1:16 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


rorgy: I'm seriously considering paying the $0.99 so I could share it. Less than a dollar: about what it's worth.

On the other hand, yes, we would die of alcohol poisoning.
posted by XtinaS at 1:18 PM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


(Hilariously, I think I have an ex in common with Mira, the "she" of "she and I". Boston: small goddamn town.)
posted by XtinaS at 1:19 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


XtinaS: I'll chip in 24 cents to that but I'm not buying that fucker a gumball. I think that's the moral stance I'm willing to take here.
posted by rorgy at 1:20 PM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


The best part of that She and I review is when Michael R. Brown shows up in the comments with his rebuttal, which includes the sentence "I constructed an easy puzzle for the online-mockery dolts on Livejournal, of whom you are one." The whole thing reads like a Dr. Doom monologue.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:20 PM on June 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


First one to write one of these from the perspective of Dr. Doom or Namor over Sue Storm wins.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:24 PM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Wait, what do we win?
posted by XtinaS at 1:27 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


At one point the entire thing was available on LJ. Dunno if it still is and I sure as hell am not going to find out.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:27 PM on June 29, 2016


A tredouchet (is what you win)
posted by sio42 at 1:28 PM on June 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


Fuck it. Send me your address and I'll media mail it to you.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:28 PM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


what do we win?

a sad boner man of our very own
posted by rorgy at 1:28 PM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


The status of founder of the newest and most exciting genre of self-published lit since "The Tingler"?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:28 PM on June 29, 2016


If Chuck Tingle makes a parody of either the original essay or Erin's parody, the universe may end.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:31 PM on June 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


poffin boffin, I would be honored to fashion you a cluestick of the finest ash and tenpenny nails.
posted by whuppy at 1:32 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


pounded in the butt by my own sad boner confessional
posted by poffin boffin at 1:33 PM on June 29, 2016 [39 favorites]


I mean, I have an English degree and attended more than a few creative writing workshops. So there's a bit of there but for the grace of God as I read through the thread. Thankfully, people who go through workshops now are mostly over this sort of shit and on a wave where they're trying to figure out how to become third-tier scripters of Batman comic books. It's a new age.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:34 PM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


/hides application to become third tier scripter of Batman comic books.
posted by Artw at 1:38 PM on June 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


Is this the She and I book, uploaded as a PDF on his website? Pasted as text to avoid hotlinking.
www.sheandibook.com/readhalf/she-and-i-half-11-to-159.pdf
posted by nicebookrack at 1:40 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I would murder all of you* in a heartbeat to become a third-tier scripter of Batman comicbooks, but I would write a essay about my subsequent bitter guilt that would be three times as heartfelt as this empty man's sad boner confessional.


*unless you are hiring comicbook scripters, in which case HELLO
posted by nicebookrack at 1:45 PM on June 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


Yes that appears to be it. I want you all to know I skimmed this for you.

And that book is still going in the mail. You can't make me keep it.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:46 PM on June 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


Yes, but in your Third Tier Batman Script, you have to write a letter from Bruce Wayne to Barbara Gordon explaining that the events of The Killing Joke were all about him and that he's learned so much from their partnership and is it okay if he calls Stephanie Brown in for sidekick tryouts, yes, of course it is.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:51 PM on June 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


Michael R. Brown shows up in the comments with his rebuttal, which includes the sentence "I constructed an easy puzzle for the online-mockery dolts on Livejournal, of whom you are one."

Yes, but is he aware of all internet traditions?

(Strangely or not so strangely, I knew someone who wrote a book almost as bad as Brown's (tho without the creepy age difference to his credit). They say these authors are a dime a dozen. I'm looking for the man who's supplying the dimes.)
posted by octobersurprise at 1:54 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


The whole thing reads like a Dr. Doom monologue.

You leave Dr. Doom out of this! What did Dr. Doom ever do to you???
posted by praemunire at 1:55 PM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yes, but in your Third Tier Batman Script, you have to write a letter from Bruce Wayne to Barbara Gordon explaining that the events of The Killing Joke were all about him and that he's learned so much from their partnership and is it okay if he calls Stephanie Brown in for sidekick tryouts, yes, of course it is.

I am pretty sure this doesn't quite work as a parallel because as I recall Steph Brown would prefer to be Barbara's "sidekick" than Bruce's.
posted by phearlez at 2:00 PM on June 29, 2016


I, Dr. Doom, glance at her age: 26. I, Dr. Doom, am ambitious, though four years beyond my own is pushing the boundaries. Gathering courage, I, Dr. Doom, type her a brief introductory message. She responds within a day and we trade further charming missives.

Less than a week later, we speak on the communicators. Her voice is sultry — I, Dr. Doom, suggest she could have been a radio host... or a phone sex operator. Her actual profession is superhero. She arrives at my door with the deafening rumble of her Fantasticar. Cue slow motion helmet removal. Cue long blond hair tumbling down her shoulders. I guess. She was invisible to me, so all I ever saw of her was my own reflection in whatever shiny object she was holding, like the visor of her helmet. Which made her perfect for me.

Her green eyes are shining and vulnerable in my imagination. Behind the presumed flushed cheeks, I, Dr. Doom, sense the legacy of past wounds. Her hesitant visage betrays a silent plea: don’t be a super villain.

We head for libations and the conversation flows easily, punctuated by spy-bots that follow our footsteps as we walk the trails beside the ocean. She asks “When was the last time you cried?” I, Dr. Doom, can count the number on one finger and told her the circumstance. Dr. Doom, when Latveria fell.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:01 PM on June 29, 2016 [47 favorites]


i wanna go to burning man this year just to fight him

careful, he's a Shambhala Warrior
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 2:02 PM on June 29, 2016 [20 favorites]


This is exactly what was wrong with Anomalisa. That flick was a gorgeously constructed, elaborate Sad Boner Confessional.
posted by Gin and Broadband at 2:05 PM on June 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


I am pretty sure this doesn't quite work as a parallel because as I recall Steph Brown would prefer to be Barbara's "sidekick" than Bruce's.

Sad Boner Bruce doesn't really take other people's feelings in to consideration. It's just another burden he has to shoulder since he Became the Night.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:06 PM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


(Victor Von Doom probably last cried when his mother died and was cast into hell despite his every effort to save her, a circumstance which surely taught him many important lessons, and also damned his mom to hell or whatever.)

I am sorry I created this comic book derail. But I feel I've learned so very much f
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:08 PM on June 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


Points off for not having every instance of "I, Dr. Doom" written in all caps.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:13 PM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


And that book is still going in the mail. You can't make me keep it.

I promise you that, when I receive it, I and as many people as I can gather in my house in Philadelphia will stage as appropriate an exorcism as we can devise. (Threaddwellers: I am open to ideas.)
posted by rorgy at 2:13 PM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Amazon insists there is no result for She and I: A Fugue by Solzhenitsyn and I can't even find it by brute force. I wish I could read these reviews, but I think even Amazon wants to forget.

EDIT: Oh, I think I figured out my mistake.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 2:14 PM on June 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


I just hate thinking there are people out here who don't see through it for what it is.

The comments on the post at Medium are pretty gross. Lots of fawning over how beautiful it is, how important it is, how vital it is, how baaaaaaaaaaarf.
posted by palomar at 2:15 PM on June 29, 2016


I was really angry about that garbage fire "cutoff culture" essay that got linked upthread. Just...uuuuuuuuuuuugh.
posted by pxe2000 at 2:16 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is exactly what was wrong with Anomalisa. That flick was a gorgeously constructed, elaborate Sad Boner Confessional.

Oh my fucking god THANK YOU. I am a huge Kaufman fan—Synecdoche, NY is one of my favorite movies of all time—but I saw that movie in its pre-release and walked out of the theater wondering how on earth Charlie Kaufman, of all people, had released a film that managed to be that devoid of self-awareness. I know writing Sad Men is kind of his thing, but usually there seems to more to the art than just Look At This Asshole. Anomalisa was, what, ninety minutes of a sad man being sad, other people being less sad than sad man, the end, no moral? It was literally Synecdoche without all of the genius thingies.

Though when you apply a Sad Boner lens to Kaufman's work, the dude does not come out looking well. Synecdoche, Adaptation, and even Being John Malkovich/Eternal Sunshine lean pretty heavily on the assumption that you care about a man having problems with women. I'm torn between hoping those movies stand up when I eventually go back to them, and kind of wanting them to be the sort of thing you outgrow over time.
posted by rorgy at 2:19 PM on June 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


I was really angry about that garbage fire "cutoff culture" essay that got linked upthread. Just...uuuuuuuuuuuugh.

As you should be. The writer of it wants survivors of abuse who cut their abusers out to welcome them back, for 'growth'. It's absurd. Sometimes excision and pruning are what drives growth.
posted by qcubed at 2:28 PM on June 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


Except I took the whole point of Anomalisa as being that the main character is not a sad lonely hero, but actually just a total asshole. I mean, it isn't subtle about it.
posted by kyrademon at 2:30 PM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Finally I have words for why I don't like a lot of cultural stuff people think I should--Sad Boner Lens! I used to instead say, "Not much in the story line for me, y'know?"
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:31 PM on June 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


staggering termagant, reading those stories about your ex made my stomach churn. I'm so, so sorry you had to actually live through them.
posted by straight at 2:32 PM on June 29, 2016


That is the point, but it takes 90 minutes to make it and doesn't really make any other point (other than the sex scene, which is really well done). It would've worked equally well as a ten-minute short.
posted by rorgy at 2:32 PM on June 29, 2016


My interpretation of Synecdoche, NY (also in my top-ten of films) is different. While Caden Cotard is the protagonist of the film, he isn't the most important character - Millicent Weems is. Though I had to watch the film and read the script to come to that conclusion. The film is edited very subtly from the shooting script but the difference (to me) is striking.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 2:34 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Somewhere, Namor, Prince of Atlantis, is gearing up to kick a lot of asses.

Come to think of it, I'd rather date Namor or Doom or even Reed Richards than this guy.
posted by praemunire at 2:38 PM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]




The comments on the post at Medium are pretty gross. Lots of fawning over how beautiful it is, how important it is, how vital it is, how baaaaaaaaaaarf.


One of the interesting things about Medium is that comments on posts can (and this is a great feature, IMO) be reviewed and approved/canned by the post's author before they go public. In addition, the comments can be made as part of the draft/refining process, when the author forwards a trusted friend a link and they post feedback/annotations on the in-progress work. If the author approves the comments for public viewing, once the original piece is published, they become just like any other comment.

Which means that an interesting number of pieces hit the web with fawning feedback already in place the moment they go live; they're a reflection of the author's initial "can you give this a look before I publish it" bubble, more than anything else.
posted by verb at 3:06 PM on June 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


Is it art if it's not the story of a sad asshole, as told by the asshole?

Also! I am not interested in stories that center on a sad asshole even if there are totally awesome secondary characters. The whole point is that sad assholes have sucked up enough attention, let's hear something new.

I don't even want to read the story of a sad asshole as unreliable narrator to laugh at him because I am thoroughly over reading about sad assholes.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:07 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


at this point I consider Medium exclusively a platform for hate-reading
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:08 PM on June 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


Medium is literally one of the Twitter founders thinking that the problem with Twitter is people don't have enough space to talk about themselves
posted by rorgy at 3:11 PM on June 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


cutoff culture asshole was also the dude who made charts about why he couldn't get a date in seattle. the charts didn't include any sad moping about his much younger ex-girlfriend refusing to fuck him or entertain his bullshit after they broke up.
posted by nadawi at 3:17 PM on June 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


and fuck. it's been a while since i read the cutoff culture piece and i had forgotten this part :
I believe that most domestic violence is the result of men with trauma histories reacting to powerlessness in response to experiences with their ex, friends, or family. Certainly men are responsible for finding nonviolent ways to respond to feeling powerless, but culturally we need to understand the dynamics driving these kinds of situations if we’re to reduce them.

a woman dated him for 4 months after cat sitting for him and making soup together- so he writes this awful thing about how two and half years later he's still crying and moping and sad bonering, and inside of it he gets a so called expert to draw the line between blocking on fb, etc, and an increase in stalking, and then he says this. i once again really hope his ex is safe and sound from him completely.
posted by nadawi at 3:22 PM on June 29, 2016 [21 favorites]


I had to point out to so many otherwise decent people reposting those charts that it was the same gross ass guy ughhhhhhhh
posted by emptythought at 3:22 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Okay, well. I finally finished the review of She and I that XtinaS linked upthread. And this sounds like... the saddest of all possible boners? I'm suddenly urgently interested in how this book is constructed, how it's paced, and what awful details are being left out, because from the sounds of it the narrative seems almost impossibly structured. It reads like an amalgam of the seven or eight worst dates or romantic gestures I've ever been dumb enough to consider, let alone actually make, arranged in such a way that... I can't quite process how I feel about it, even, other than that I'm suddenly thinking way too hard about what an exorcism of such a book would even mean, because this definitely sounds like the kind of occult etching that somebody would use to summon actual demons into the world.

Ian Mack's awful essay was awful in ways I can comprehend and be disgusted by. But the sheer madness of a 35-year-old man quitting his job to be closer to a teenage girl he had admittedly-awful sex with once, her blocking him on ICQ, and his coming back to write about it ten years later as a memoir that also recounts his own sexual abuse and his mother's death from cancer... this is like Lolita by way of reality-aphasia. It's not even just the horribleness of it, it's... how can a mind operate this way? I genuinely can't parse this.

I'm some combination of excited and dread-laden for this book to arrive. Half terrified that I'll see the author's signature and find myself condemned to live out two decades of his life. Or else this.

What have I agreed to.
posted by rorgy at 3:30 PM on June 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


when the book arrives you have to send it to someone else within 7 days or you will die
posted by poffin boffin at 3:32 PM on June 29, 2016 [26 favorites]


no. this evil ends here.
posted by rorgy at 3:34 PM on June 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


when the book arrives you have to send it to someone else within 7 days or you will die

or you will be immortalized in his next book
posted by XtinaS at 3:36 PM on June 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


I don't understand why you all are so mad about Zooey Deschanel's band
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:37 PM on June 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


Ooooohhhh, does anyone have a link to the Seattle charts?
posted by susiswimmer at 3:43 PM on June 29, 2016


are you totally sure you wouldn't just prefer a link to goatse instead
posted by poffin boffin at 3:45 PM on June 29, 2016 [21 favorites]


I'd like a link to the Seattle charts too, please!

Meanwhile, from the author's comments on that incredible review:
You missed all that, and more, because you had a fixed concept of me, which you could not escape. Thus you missed, on a deeper level, that the book contains a new critique of Randian love and sex. Do you actually think an Objectivist would do that? And quote Buddha – twice? And read Zen stories? And show the foolish patience I did?

[...]

I’ve always felt that if there’s anyone I should be caring toward, it is my putative enemies. So there’s some care for you here at the end, right from my heart, strongly moved.

Now go and turn it into shit.
This

I

how can this man have survived to be middle-aged without choking on some applesauce or the like
posted by rorgy at 3:46 PM on June 29, 2016 [22 favorites]


Do you actually think an Objectivist would do that? And quote Buddha – twice? And read Zen stories? And show the foolish patience I did?

OMG that is so "Apes don't read Nietzsche" I can't even
posted by Mchelly at 3:48 PM on June 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


The problem with goatse is surprise goatse. Unasked for goatse.

As for the Seattle charts, I am a fully consenting adult who wants to get her hate read on.
posted by susiswimmer at 3:52 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I mean, I'm down the damn rabbit hole anyways, might as well look around a little bit.
posted by susiswimmer at 3:52 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


please refrain from using the phrase "down the damn rabbit hole" adjacent to goatse mentions if you can help it
posted by rorgy at 3:56 PM on June 29, 2016 [18 favorites]


That's fair- Sorry!
posted by susiswimmer at 3:59 PM on June 29, 2016


"or you will be immortalized in his next book"

I have just contemplated the terrifying thought that I surely am. Back to the shower with me!
posted by stoneweaver at 4:04 PM on June 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


i don't want to put it in a link even though i'm sure this douchecanoe name searches himself - THE CHARTS - http://jeffreifman.com/2014/05/12/youve-got-male-amazons-growth-impacting-seattle-dating-scene/

you'll have to scroll down a bit (and then back up after you look at THE CHARTS so you can see the riveting 2nd part and the summary of media coverage). and, in keeping in the spirit of this thread - a woman wrote a piece mocking chart dude.
posted by nadawi at 4:05 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Thanks- for both the charts link and the antidote.
posted by susiswimmer at 4:06 PM on June 29, 2016


OMG that is so "Apes don't read Nietzsche" I can't even

" Yes they do, Otto. They just don't understand it. Now let me correct you on a couple of things, OK? . . . The central message of Buddhism is not "Every man for himself."

I cannot follow the thought process of this guy. Who leaps from "Well, guess we can't have kids" to "So now I should be able to screw other women"? Who can honestly think that going to Burning Man is in the best interest of his wife because he doesn't want her to feel guilty? Who does this?

There's masturbatory writing, but this fucking used pre-urine sample moist towelette is the prose equivalent of the guy who was caught auto-fellating himself in my college's library.
posted by bibliowench at 4:07 PM on June 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


Oh man, the passive voice in this essay. There should be a Strunk and White footnote that says, "If you are using the passive voice, please consider whether you're attempting to avoid responsibility for your actions."

AKA the Past Exonerative tense.
posted by russm at 4:32 PM on June 29, 2016 [18 favorites]


Not polluting this thread with every noteworthy demon intrusion unusual detail in Michael Brown's back-and-forth with Anita Dalton, but I came across this sentence
You also have not experienced vicious criticism until you have conspiracy theorists and Tao Linterns angry at you.
and was struck by the phrase "Tao Linterns" on multiple levels, partly because (a) Tao Lin had a purported army of interns shitting on random people on the Internet, at one point, so the coining is hilarious, and (b) Lin himself is probably one of the more famous examples of sad bonerdom? One who published a whole entire book about his creeping on a high-school student? (And then was accused of all manner of sexual grotesqueries up to and including rape?)

Which gets particularly weird when you think of Tao Lin's parody of sad bonerman Jonathan Franzen, who at the time was being called the best author of the century because of his book in which a husband and wife cheat on each other (and then the husband's hot coworker/cheatbuddy dies, and the last sentence of the novel details her grave). It's genuine bonerception!

(Then I think about Franzen's buddy David Foster Wallace, who, though idolized by many sad bonermen, was himself the deliverer of maybe the brutalest literary takedown of a boner of all time: John Updike, Champion Literary Phallocrat, Drops One. This part in particular still makes me gasp with joy:
Total number of pages about the Sino-American war -- causes, duration, casualties: 0.75;

Total number of pages about deadly mutant metallobioforms: 1.5;

Total number of pages about flora around Turnbull's home, plus fauna, weather and how his ocean view looks in different seasons: 86;

Total number of pages about Mexico's repossession of the U.S. Southwest: 0.1;

Total number of pages about Ben Turnbull's penis and his various feelings about it: 7.5;

Total number of pages about the prostitute's body, with particular attention to sexual loci: 8.75;

Total number of pages about golf: 15;

Total number of pages of Ben Turnbull saying things like "I want women to be dirty" and "We are condemned, men and women, to symbiosis" and "She was a choice cut of meat and I hoped she held out for a fair price"
and "The sexual parts are fiends, sacrificing everything to that aching point of contact": 36.5.
Followed, of course, by his masterful grand finale:
It's not that Turnbull is stupid -- he can quote Kierkegaard and Pascal on angst and allude to the deaths of Schubert and Mozart and distinguish between a sinistrorse and a dextrorse Polygonum vine, etc. It's that he persists in the bizarre adolescent idea that getting to have sex with whomever one wants whenever one wants is a cure for ontological despair. And so, it appears, does Mr. Updike -- he makes it plain that he views the narrator's impotence as catastrophic, as the ultimate symbol of death itself, and he clearly wants us to mourn it as much as Turnbull does. I'm not especially offended by this attitude; I mostly just don't get it. Erect or flaccid, Ben Turnbull's unhappiness is obvious right from the book's first page. But it never once occurs to him that the reason he's so unhappy is that he's an asshole.
I am not the biggest of DFW fans, but man oh man does that review feel good.)
posted by rorgy at 4:35 PM on June 29, 2016 [42 favorites]


I tend to sympathize with clueless people. But that's when they're talking. This person wrote an essay, which made it through the editorial process, and saw the light of day (of pixels?) after some space of time and effort.

So I must wonder: what could the earlier draft(s) look like? Did the editor sincerely believe in this writing, or have an ulterior motive for moving the writing in a certain direction (if that indeed happened)?

That being said: resonance aplenty. People who treat other people as their mirrors. Those people who wait for you to finish talking so they can continue. I feel so sorry for the people who encounter him and don't figure him out right away.
posted by datawrangler at 4:49 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't find a ton of difference in the quality of the individual between this essay, and the original one which went on to become the book which became the movie 'Wild'. The quality of the writing is starkly better, but the people are pretty similar.
posted by taterpie at 6:21 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't find a ton of difference in the quality of the individual between this essay, and the original one which went on to become the book which became the movie 'Wild'. The quality of the writing is starkly better, but the people are pretty similar.

I think if Wild was the story of how Cheryl's husband had gone on a quest to find himself after repeatedly cheating on her because of the existential angst he felt about her mother dying, this would be a fairer comparison.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:48 PM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


I don't find a ton of difference in the quality of the individual between this essay, and the original one which went on to become the book which became the movie 'Wild'. The quality of the writing is starkly better, but the people are pretty similar.

Huh. Read "Wild" again. I guess?
I really don't know how to help you here.
posted by Floydd at 6:56 PM on June 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


I think if Wild was the story of how Cheryl's husband had gone on a quest to glorify himself after repeatedly cheating on her because of the shit he never gave about her unborn baby dying, this would be a perfect comparison.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:01 PM on June 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


Wait, isn't Strayed the one who cheats in Wild? The first time I cheated on my husband, my mother had been dead for exactly one week...
posted by clawsoon at 7:08 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I only saw the film and have not read the book but the Strayed character sure seems to have a real sense of personal guilt and responsibility for her actions there. So I don't see the comparison to this essay at all.
posted by phearlez at 7:33 PM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Wild is about a woman coming to terms with the fact that she destroyed her marriage and taking personal responsibility for it and for the effect she had on her ex-husband and family, not using the pain of infidelity and destroying a marriage to comment on how interesting and literary she was. She didn't hold up the people she hurt, and the people who hurt her, as mirrors to reflect her ego off of.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:37 PM on June 29, 2016 [32 favorites]


The biggest difference between the two appears to be active versus passive voice: "It happens again: always a different and worthy woman." Compare to: "I fucked. I sucked. Not my husband, but people I hardly knew, and in that I found a glimmer of relief."

They both did shitty things, but Strayed writes as if she did them and is responsible for them, while MacKenzie writes as if they happened to him. MacKenzie has an image of himself as a good person that he's not willing to let go of, and he's constantly reaching for moral justifications and/or depersonalizations to preserve that self-image.

I can understand why someone would see them both in a similar light - how you talk about something afterwards doesn't change the shittiness of what you did - but I would trust Strayed's self-realizations more than MacKenzie's because of her greater willingness to be honest with herself after the fact.
posted by clawsoon at 7:38 PM on June 29, 2016 [22 favorites]


She and I update: dude marries and then his wife dies of cancer, in about half the time he devotes to the story of that time he befriended an Objectivist online and tried to meet her in person post-her divorce but then she stopped participating in the community which he takes as proof that the entire community has betrayed him. And in the middle of that story his mother dies of cancer too, no biggie.

Now he's had a prophetic vision that he'll meet somebody Meaningful, which of course turns out to be a teenage girl commenting on his web guest book, and she says his writing fills her with "expansion and joy", which he takes as a validation of his entire life's worth of philosophy and writing and oh man they are gonna have to fall in love now~

Meanwhile, exorcism update, I found a local priest to help plan and execute this jawn, so that'll be fun. And a lot of people have been chipping in with exorcist ideas, most of which are probably more colorful than are strictly necessary, so I guess we'll just have to see where this thing winds up, huh

posted by rorgy at 8:42 PM on June 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


... Okay there have been a few people who have commented about how men like this get dates.

Can someone please give me a charitable interpretation of that comment? My current one is not very nice, as I seem stuck between two options:

1. This works to get men dates, so it's clearly a valid mating strategy! (there are men in jail who get dates, so getting yourself sent to jail is also a valid dating strategy! There are men who are violent sociopaths who get dates, so clearly that is also a valid dating strategy! Definitely there is some connection between [whatever awful behavior] and people dating it, which is totally the reason people do [awful behavior])

2. What is wrong with all these women dating these men, and why it is their fault they keep dating these people and reinforcing this behavior. (I have never dated this man, or any really awful man, something I am very, very grateful for in a "there but for the grace of God go I" kind of way, because I certainly am aware that emotionally manipulative people can drag you into their terrible webs in a slow insidious fashion you don't notice because at first you're trying to be charitable and nice and interpret them in the best possible light and then later you've bought so thoroughly into their manipulation you don't trust yourself and your own instincts anymore and your entire sense of what is okay and right to expect for yourself has been distorted)

But surely that is not what the people making this comment are trying to say, right? So what are they trying to say?
posted by Cozybee at 8:59 PM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Thanks for linking that DFW Updike review, rorgy. It's fantastic and I haven't seen it in years.

...the bizarre adolescent idea that getting to have sex with whomever one wants whenever one wants is a cure for ontological despair.

Such a perfect, succinct summary of male emotional underdevelopment, and all the damage and lost potential that comes with it.
posted by MillMan at 9:19 PM on June 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


from the article:
I’m not sure I’d call it honest. One tick that he has is using the verb “craft” to describe the act of creating a message: he crafts a love letter, he crafts a confession, he crafts a poem. I think this is a winking admission that, as a self-identified storyteller, he is putting a lot of thought into how the messages he sends come off. Perhaps he feels—as many do—that acknowledging the artifice behind his sentiment makes it a cool creative choice on a level that makes it genuine rather than artificial.

Yes...that artifice, that sentiment. Ugh. Reminds me of my favorite James Baldwin quote: "Sentimentality is the mask of cruelty".

But I'm grateful for the phrase 'Sad Boner Confessional' - I have seen this type of writing - and guy- before and now i have a name for it. And the sweet Emo band name, A Silent Plea-that was so good.

And finally, I'm grateful for this thread's wisdom on the art of writing: go craft another poem, dickwad. I want that to be the theme of my next writer's meetup.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 9:48 PM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


Dude can't just get a blowjob like anybody else; he has to like cross the Rainbow Bridge and shit.

I nominate kittens for breakfast for comment of the month.
posted by iffthen at 9:57 PM on June 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


Oh, I think I know how men like this get dates. (As usual, I blame the patriarchy.) I would bet anything that he gets to women by flattering their work, especially their art.

I've known guys like this. They're full of garbage, but it's garbage that is opposite to the garbage that women artists and musicians get all the time.

At first, it's even bracing: in a world full of people who maintain (subtly or otherwise) that you should make yourself smaller and more self-effacing, Sad Boner Man is looking at you with big sincere eyes and declaring that he believes in every dream you have and then some. He respects you and is moved by what you do. He draws you out about your work. He may seem like a pretentious clown on the outside but he really gets it. Of course that doesn't last long, but the hook is set.
posted by phantom powered at 10:02 PM on June 29, 2016 [21 favorites]


I think what caused the biggest brain spasm for me was when Katherine miscarries, and he fucking takes off for Burning Man anyway, AND then his main fucking concern is how sad HE is. That's against like every standard of human decency almost everywhere in the world.

Doesn't anybody care about this guy? Somebody who can take him aside and say, "hey man, this essay? This isn't your ... uh, best side. Maybe go work on yourself some and hey, you should try and write about something else in the meantime."

All the commenters pointing out that this guy is a grade-A dick are of course completely correct, but I'm curious about this too - how has he managed to surround himself with people who care more about trafficking in woo and self-exploration and aren't capable of calling someone on their shit? It's like he lives in this little hermetic bubble of inauthenticity which enables his behaviour. Two thumbs down to both this idiot and these weird communities.
posted by iffthen at 10:19 PM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Now I'm wondering if he ever told his brother about the miscarriage he was blowing off while they were at Burning Man. Surely he kept quiet, right? Because otherwise he either told his brother he was ditching his miscarrying wife to hang out in the desert and the brother was totally fine with it, which means there are two of them, or he told his brother and the brother spent Burning Man week in awkward fremdscham agony. "Jesus, man, you just lost your baby, what are you even doing here?!"
posted by nicebookrack at 10:50 PM on June 29, 2016 [22 favorites]


I sort of expected this to be written by the dude who did the Bliss Dancer art pieces.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:00 PM on June 29, 2016


he probably didn't tell the brother.
posted by sio42 at 11:01 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


- how has he managed to surround himself with people who care more about trafficking in woo and self-exploration and aren't capable of calling someone on their shit?

Because often, narcissists are entertaining and charismatic. And since they often don't have the anxiety and reticence that others do, they become popular and strike folks as natural leaders. In order to come out against them, people have to be willing to sacrifice social position and reflected sparkle, and risk being thought of as assholes. Most folks are reluctant to do that.

It sucks. A lot.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 11:02 PM on June 29, 2016 [27 favorites]


As for the Seattle charts, I am a fully consenting adult who wants to get her hate read on.

Ugh ok, here. It's "reasonable" if you don't know who he is... i guess
posted by emptythought at 11:16 PM on June 29, 2016


Thanks for the "Love of My Life" link y'all, going from that creeping horrors all 400 commenters of us got from that essay to the chest crushing, honestly cleansing sadness of Cheryl Strayed was actually, weirdly, what I needed to get out of the trap of endlessly scrolling through this and flashing back to sad boners of my own.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 11:50 PM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


what is he on about. what is he on.
posted by sio42 at 11:50 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


If anyone wants to get their hate on for a fictional version of this dude, watch Listen Up Philip. The movie understands what a twit this kind of dude is, thankfully.
posted by Axle at 11:52 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


The comments on the post at Medium are pretty gross.
"Ian, this is the best piece I’ve read in a long time, and the kind of writing I wish I found more often on Medium."

"I am amazed at your story. I am amazed at your vulnerability. I am amazed at Katherine for physically manifesting both a lack of fertility with you and later restoring her fertility outside of your relationship.

I think that the baby is in many ways partly yours, as you created the situation that allowed the baby to emerge…"
Then we have this:
Recommended by Ian MacKenzie

Amanda Palmer
Jun 24

i started reading this while fiddling with my phone walking down the street and now i’m a fucking zombie, shivering with soft grief for all the what-has-not-beens in all of our lives. so beautifully written, ian….
I think this is my favourite though:
Enrique López Mañas
Jun 22
Milus Kuldera
Had to Google this because I knew the quote but could not recognise the author. His name is actually Milan Kundera.
posted by pleasebekind at 12:18 AM on June 30, 2016 [7 favorites]


MILUS KULDERA, I CANNOT.

You forgot

Otto Pippenger
3 days ago
The only “quiet love” is between your ex wife and Cam the sexy yoga instructor you gooftroop
posted by moonlight on vermont at 12:26 AM on June 30, 2016 [19 favorites]


i want to comment on his piece


"This is brilliant! You've really captured the narcissism and self-centered focus of these types of predators. This is performance art at its best. How were you able to so completely lose yourself and write as if actually one of these guys? Amazing! I wish I could write such convincing character narratives."
posted by sio42 at 12:49 AM on June 30, 2016 [19 favorites]


Oh sweet googlymoogly, that postscript.
"Mainstream discourse has become so conditioned to collapse all stories into the need to identify who is 'right' and who is 'wrong'. This is a terrible loss of the imagination and the ability to appreciate complexity."
Uh-huh.
posted by phantom powered at 1:08 AM on June 30, 2016 [8 favorites]


Oh, good grief.... More crafting, more someone else's grief presented as a gift. It's garbage fire frosting on a garbage fire cake.
posted by mochapickle at 1:21 AM on June 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


P.S. A few weeks ago, she welcomed her second child into this world.

Congratulations, Katherine.
posted by sukeban at 1:34 AM on June 30, 2016 [22 favorites]


I released the option to filter my sharing in retrospect, which may have made a “better” version of me, but would have been less truthful.

Almost all of the problems I have with this piece are summed up in this string of words.
Of course, I also tend to think that clear writing is clear thinking. And this jumble, "I released the option to filter my sharing in retrospect" is not far from the root to this guy's problem. I don't know what it means, at all. And after fighting with it for a minute, I've decided I'm not going to try to find out.

Ian MacKenzie, I'm going to be the friend you don't have. Whether you listen to this in the crepuscular, vibratory moment of the now or let it sinew past your cerebella on its way out into the ether and nothing of limitless space, Dude pull your fucking head out of your ass. You did a shitty, stupid thing. Happens to all of us. Now act like a man and learn from your mistake, apologize, and move on.

And for the love of god use some of that Patreon money to buy a Strunk and White.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:35 AM on June 30, 2016 [10 favorites]


oh man, I think it was clew's Keep the Aspidistra Flying reference that somehow made the (interwar literary Britain?) connection click for me, but this dude? This dude is Philip Boyes. All these dudes are Philip Boyes. Philip Boyes is the ur-Sad Boner Confessional in my personal literary canon, and I am glad I read Strong Poison et al at an impressionable age, as that vivid fictional depiction of walking red flags may have helped inoculate my foolish romantic sensibilities against This Dude.

(I seem to recall that Boyes was actually a thinly fictionalized version of Sayers' own shitty literary ex, which explains the spot-on portrayal of the type.)
posted by karayel at 1:35 AM on June 30, 2016 [18 favorites]


it never once occurs to him that the reason he's so unhappy is that he's an asshole.

That is so masterful that I want to, like, cross stitch it somewhere.
On Ian MacKenzie's forehead, maybe.
posted by sively at 2:24 AM on June 30, 2016 [20 favorites]


I had this thought after reading the thread: the ability to emotionally invest in an excruciating man is exactly the ability to emotionally invest in croutons.

But it's much more satisfying to have emotions about the feelings of croutons and that sad unanswered letter that's always mashed to the bottom of the drawer and the last half-inch of whatever that's not enough for anything, because they can't tear a life apart. They're poignant and that's it.

Unlike these bog-scrapings of masticated navels. That essay is such a perfect amount of rope that I have to salute Katherine for giving her consent. What an indictment. What an enormous silver platter of lol my ex amirite?

Superb.
posted by E. Whitehall at 2:56 AM on June 30, 2016 [14 favorites]


I think that the baby is in many ways partly yours, as you created the situation that allowed the baby to emerge…"

Wow, I *hope* that this comment is a fake one written by Ian himself because otherwise, God save us, there's someone even worse.
posted by mmoncur at 3:05 AM on June 30, 2016 [18 favorites]


Recommended by Ian MacKenzie

Amanda Palmer
Says it all, really.
posted by pxe2000 at 3:16 AM on June 30, 2016 [18 favorites]


It's easy to fall for these guys when you're young, which is why so many of them keep ditching their partners for younger models. 20+ years ago I was the recipient of many Sad Boner Confessional letters from a dude who was a friend of my partner's; because I was young and naive I would feel sorry for him and try to help him. I used to take the most charitable view of his behaviour, which I know recognise as stalkerish and probably terrifying to the girl who he literally moved a thousand miles away to follow. Years of MeFi wisdom and general crone-attitude-development have made me realise how awful he was.

(Example, paraphrased from memory because I chucked all that shit out: "If a woman has all three of my requirements - beauty, intelligence and personality - I transcend the social niceties and seem to KNOW her, intimately and honestly, at a cellular level..." GAG)
posted by andraste at 3:27 AM on June 30, 2016 [19 favorites]


This is also the dude in Dar Williams' As Cool As I Am.

You look out of the kitchen window and you shake your head and say low
"If I could believe that stuff, I'd say that woman has a halo"
And I look out and say "Yeah, she's really blonde"

posted by andraste at 3:33 AM on June 30, 2016 [20 favorites]


Oh, I'm having a revelation, thanks to this thread! Kind of a creepy revelation, but still.

My father was a 1960s guru-type person at Esalen. My mother was the first of his four wives. I didn't know him until the last years of his life, when I was a grown up. Anyhow, most everything he said or wrote was Sad Boner Confessional. Gosh. I feel weirdly better about it all.
posted by seacats at 3:40 AM on June 30, 2016 [38 favorites]


This is exactly what was wrong with Anomalisa. That flick was a gorgeously constructed, elaborate Sad Boner Confessional.

Oh wow, you really nailed that. My wife and I were all excited to see it, having seen the breathtaking reviews and we just sat there, repeatedly asking each other "What the hell," the lead character was such an asshole. One of the most disappointing movie experiences in recent years, it just totally fell flat. Yet it was heralded as being one of the most moving film experiences of our lifetimes. WTF?!

I've been thinking about the original essay and just can't get over the the part where he goes on a trip with his brother, one that had been planned and seemingly was there first trip together, but the results of one of her tests weren't back yet. So he went anyway.

I keep constructing these elaborate backstories of him and his brother, like how they've been separated at birth, in a war torn country and each thought the other was dead and they just reunited and so this trip means so much, and that's why he HAS to go.

And none of those elaborate back stories justify him going. Not even the one where the brother was kidnapped by aliens and can't even spend much time on Earth, because he's adapted to their home planet's oxygen nitrogen mixture, so staying long on Earth would literally kill him and this is the only time the alien spaceship will revisit Earth in a human lifetime, so either they spend this time together now or never. And EVEN THEN the brother turns to the wrier and says "Dude, WTF, go be with your wife, we'll text."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:45 AM on June 30, 2016 [12 favorites]


I'm female, so I never had a sad boner, but I think I had some of the same misunderstandings as this guy... But when I was like 16, not 30.

I think his biggest problem is mistaking the map for the territory, the symbol for the reality. Like allowing himself to be moved by the temple that symbolizes grief, but not allowing himself to feel actual grief, either on his own behalf or for his wife.

I think a lot of young would-be artists have this problem. There's a saying that "art is how we turn pain into beauty" and that is certainly a very therapeutic effect that art can have. It can give pain some context and meaning, allow the creator or the art-lover to set their pain at some distance, and consider it from other angles.

But when you're young (or very privileged, I guess) and you haven't experienced much real pain yet... You can get distracted by how beautiful the art is. So much more beautiful than raw pain. And you can get fooled into thinking that means it's more important or valuable, in some way. (Unlike raw pain, art actually "signifies" something, so it literally is more "significant.") If you're young or have lived a sheltered life, that can make art seem more worthy of your time and attention than actual, suffering people... whose suffering will, after all, pass... While art can endure indefinitely.

I remember reading some interview with Paul Simon where he was harshly critical of his own early work on these grounds. I was still very young, and also I loved that early work, so I was taken aback. But I can see what he meant, these days. The love and the sadness he was trying to express in some of the songs he wrote when he was young were to an extent just imitations of love and sadness as expressed in other art he admired, rather than an attempt to grapple with his own real feelings.

In fact, pretending to feel this pretty kind of love and this pretty kind of sadness can be a way of of holding the real, snotty, messy, uncomfortable emotions at bay, of never really feeling them in the first place.

But while art may endure longer than a human lifetime, in the end we individually will not. We have one lifetime, and that life is nothing more than a series of experiences. And if you go out of your way to avoid really experiencing life, to avoid feeling real, messy love and real snotty loss, you're cheating yourself out of your real life.

Which okay, it's your life. But you're also probably cheating the people in your life, who want to be supported through their pain, not held at a distance.
posted by OnceUponATime at 5:24 AM on June 30, 2016 [51 favorites]


Regarding charisma and gravitas and the like: Rebecca Traister wrote a thing a month ago about how our cultural perception of "charisma" is a very masculine one. Being able to listen and reciprocate, that's not charismatic; maybe that's decent, but decency's not that thrilling of a buzzword. No, charisma revolves around a person's ability to stand out, to give off the impression of unique importance. It helps you be charismatic if you literally don't care about anybody around you. Charisma is a defining trait of most sociopaths.

As a young, lonely, intellectual theatre geek, I was naturally drawn to all those books about being charismatic, standing out, making an impression, yadda yadda. Some of the books crossed pretty quickly over into sketchy territory (I read one PUA blog that even as an ignorant Young gave me creeps). So much of that kind of thing is about positioning yourself: making an impression that gives you freedom to wiggle around and get away with things you couldn't get away with otherwise. "Get away with", like everything you could ever possibly both want from a person will have to be tricked out of them. Usually the assumption, implicit or declared outright, is that everybody you meet will be actively trying to exploit you right back.

One of my major anxious dude fears is that I'll wake up one day and realize I was the sad boner all along. Because, I like art. I write philosophical essays for fun. I get really enthusiastic about people I like, and even when that's not happening I tend to be a really wordy guy. I'm also young and confused about a lot of things, and keep feeling like I'm genuinely discovering things about myself, and worry about if some of those discoveries are coming at other people's expense.

But all of those qualities mask the core of this particular sort of awful person—at least, this is my perception. None of these things are The Issue. You can write horrible essays and not be the sad boner. You can even be a guy with some sorts of problematic behavior without crossing over into sad boner territory. (I know a guy who gives out much-too-affectionate gifts to women he's just met. This, predictably, sketches them the hell out. But that's a kind of creepy that falls short of the raging asshole who wrote this essay. There are degrees.)

The Issue here is self-centeredness to the point of psychotic delusion. It's not caring about your own feelings: it's not caring about somebody else's. It's wanting to get what you want without compromise, or rather, it's thinking of "compromise" as something arbitrary that you do to keep getting what you want, instead of comprehending other people as people who have wants and needs, hopes and fears. Whether it's genuine sociopathy or just a knock-off brand, the root of the problem is the same.

Sad Boners are what you get when a man like that tries his damnedest to mask that self-centeredness. I think (as I reflect on these) that usually there's an uncanny-valley effect, because these men don't entirely realize that the problem is selflessness or lack thereof. So they affect a kind of sensitive, intelligent caringness, but still don't quite direct it the way that thing is usually directed, i.e. actually CARING about something. Once you've seen it enough it starts to have certain patterns (floral language, to me, is usually a clue) that ensue from the artificial way in which these behaviors are formed.

But this is something that's hard to pick up on when it happens over years instead of minutes, and when there are enough examples of seeming decency that you have an excuse to look the other way when things go wrong. Lots of horrible people are great 80 percent of the time! If they can convince you that the 20 percent is either not their fault, or not going to last forever, or just flat-out worth enduring for the rest of it, then congratulations! You're snagged. (Most of the ways in which people are persuaded to accept the awful bits are rightly classified as emotional abuse. It takes horrifyingly little to fuck with a person's perception of the situation they're in, and it's grossly immoral to do so.)

It's hard to identify the universal identifier of when somebody's faking and when they aren't. If I had to hazard a guess, I think it would be: having the capacity to acknowledge that when you do feel or need or want something that runs counter to what you think somebody else is comfortable with, you both recognize that it's something they will dislike and that their dislike is a reasonable response to how you're behaving. Also, being willing to communicate those things before other people get caught up in the maelstrom, which is hard and emotionally draining and requires you to willfully put yourself in a position where you'll be criticized or be subject to a bad mood, before you've even done a thing. In short, being able to recognize yourself as a force that affects others, being able to predict how others are going to be affected by you, and being willing to reach out to those other people in a way that costs you a lot and rewards you only with the knowledge that you didn't hurt those people like you might have.

My new secret anxiety is that I'm a psychopath who just understands human behavior enough to get as much of what he's looking for out of life as possible without hurting or alienating people or having to deal with the exhausting process of feeling bad about having done things that hurt other people, but my roommate, who I trust, tells me that's not psychopathy so much as it's pathologizing empathy. C'est la vie.
posted by rorgy at 5:39 AM on June 30, 2016 [14 favorites]


I think Katherine dodged an exploding bullet when she couldn't have a baby with Sad Boner. What a terrible father this man would have made. I can't even begin to imagine the nightmare of co-parenting with Sad Boner.

And of course, twenty years later when Offspring cuts him off and goes no-contact, Sad Boner is just the type to write a whiny and self-righteous article about how his child is an ungrateful brat. But at least he'll get some Art and Deep Spiritual Meaning courtesy of said ungrateful brat!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:22 AM on June 30, 2016 [15 favorites]


bog-scrapings of masticated navels.

I didn't know you were Scottish.

posted by AFABulous at 6:24 AM on June 30, 2016


in re Katherine: recall that she married this dude, and seemed to participate in whatever closure ritual he made up. I'd love to hear her side of the story, but I'm not sure it would focus on some of the same things that I.A.M. has been mocked for here.
posted by OmieWise at 6:26 AM on June 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


Rorgy, you keep hitting the nail on the head in this thread...

This in particular was great:

Sad Boners are what you get when a man like that tries his damnedest to mask that self-centeredness. I think (as I reflect on these) that usually there's an uncanny-valley effect, because these men don't entirely realize that the problem is selflessness or lack thereof. So they affect a kind of sensitive, intelligent caringness, but still don't quite direct it the way that thing is usually directed, i.e. actually CARING about something. Once you've seen it enough it starts to have certain patterns (floral language, to me, is usually a clue) that ensue from the artificial way in which these behaviors are formed.


(also, if you're worried about "the exhausting process of feeling bad about having done things that hurt other people", you are pretty much guaranteed to not be a psychopath. They aren't exhausted by and don't feel bad about hurting people. If you'd said "the exhausting process of putting on a display of feeling bad" then maaaaybe, although I think most of them enjoy putting on the display, and the attention it potentially gets them)

(doesn't mean it isn't selfish, but everybody thinks selfish things sometimes.)
posted by Cozybee at 6:29 AM on June 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


mochapickle: Oh, good grief.... More crafting, more someone else's grief presented as a gift.

We offer artisanal sad boners, hand-crafted from curated tears.
posted by clawsoon at 6:33 AM on June 30, 2016 [9 favorites]


sometimes in threads about the background radiation and outright abuse women receive, some of us beg the men who are following along, the men who are aghast that this is our lives, to call the men they know out on their misogyny, their sexism, their privileged way of dealing with women in their lives - and pretty much every time at least one man, often times many men, will say 'but i don't have misogynist men like this in my life! none of my friends do this!' - and yet when we have threads like these, about this type of privileged misogynist man, there are lots of men who say 'oh yeah, i know so many dudes like this.' men - please - don't just sit by and roll your eyes and feel badly for the women who walk into the paths of men like this - help us. call these men out. stop letting them be part of your social circle. we need your help. these men get entrenched partially because other men feel like it's not really their business or place to meddle.
posted by nadawi at 6:56 AM on June 30, 2016 [53 favorites]


Oftentimes those men who are aghast don't see microaggressions and background sexism when it's right in front of them. It has to be big and blatant for them to notice. And people like Ian Mackenzie, and my ex and his libertarian-longevity-Burning Man-LA group of friends are very good at hiding their contempt for women under terms like "radical honesty" and "post-feminism."
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 7:04 AM on June 30, 2016 [20 favorites]


of course - except, when we have threads like this there's always men who know men like this. so they see it - they just don't put it in the same category as street harassment, stalking, coercion, sexual assault, creepshots, etc - i'm asking them to realize (and act on) that missing stairs start out cracked and broken and they could help us a great deal if they recognize that this is part of the radiation we speak about.
posted by nadawi at 7:10 AM on June 30, 2016 [17 favorites]


It's quite possible that the men who speak up in these threads haven't realized how toxic this behavior is in their own friends until discussions like this. I know this thread has changed my perspective on a few things.
posted by tippiedog at 7:18 AM on June 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, this thread has definitely calcified my perspective on dudes like this. They've gone from "well-meaning assholes" to "scummy-scum scum". Not gonna be able to see this kind of behavior anymore without being pretty damn loud about it.
posted by rorgy at 7:22 AM on June 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


yeah - that's exactly what i'm saying - please, take this revelation and move into the world with it and call these assholes out/make the decision to take the social hit of refusing to hang around them. this will make the women in your lives safer.
posted by nadawi at 7:28 AM on June 30, 2016 [13 favorites]


And people like Ian Mackenzie, and my ex and his libertarian-longevity-Burning Man-LA group of friends are very good at hiding their contempt for women under terms like "radical honesty" and "post-feminism."

Of course they do. I'm going to guess they also accuse folks of "virtue signaling" when they're challenged?
posted by zombieflanders at 7:28 AM on June 30, 2016 [12 favorites]


please, take this revelation and move into the world with it and call these assholes out/make the decision to take the social hit of refusing to hang around them.

I actually would love if we could come up with some kind of chant for y'all to use which uses rorgy's "Scummy-scum scum" phrase because it's insanely catchy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:31 AM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


rorgy: usually there's an uncanny-valley effect

I was thinking about the "why does this guy succeed with women?" questions last night.

He's good-looking. Erin makes note of that right off the bat in her parody: "People tell me I look like Ryan Gosling." That helps, whether you're a man or a woman. We trust good-looking people more.

He does interesting things and knows interesting people and tells interesting stories. And many of his stories are about how deeply he cares - about tribes in the disappearing rainforest! Above love! About solitary confinement and suicide and extinction! About hope! And he's doing something about it, he's making films that help marginalized voices be heard!

He pays attention. He leans in and listens raptly. When someone reveals themself to him, he is swept away, awestruck. He attempts to create the feeling that you are the most interesting, sexiest person in the world. That's a high that matches the best drugs. (And it's such an attractive, interesting, caring guy who's thinking that about you!)

And with all that calculated pitch-perfect presentation, he still creates an uncanny valley. So he looks for women who are "vulnerable," with a "legacy of past wounds." Women who either have never seen a healthy relationship and thus don't know the red flags, or who see and know the red flags but don't feel they deserve any better.

Women can do all this, too; sometimes they do it for the same reasons he does, and sometimes they have to do it just to survive. There are industries built on desperate women's ability to convince boring men that they - the men - are the most interesting, sexiest men in the world. (And that they're being told so by beautiful, perfect women.)

But the women who do it... I dunno... do they get platforms like this to tell their story on? Do they get lauded for it by circles of admirers? Are they celebrated for their deep spirituality and raw honesty?
posted by clawsoon at 7:37 AM on June 30, 2016 [33 favorites]


please, take this revelation and move into the world with it and call these assholes out/make the decision to take the social hit of refusing to hang around them

When someone is being predatory or creepy, I agree completely. But a lot of what I have seen is more of two people consenting; there are a lot of women who find the sad boner attention and flowery declarations really attractive. It's the romance equivalent of Thomas Kinkaid paintings: terrible art, but people love it.

The author of this essay went beyond the usual sad boner cheesiness and treated his partner very poorly. It might have saved her a lot of grief and bad treatment if someone had been able to intercede at the right time.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:42 AM on June 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


you don't have to care about who is consenting when you remove douchecanoes like this from your life. you can make the line 'i don't accept this behavior from my friends'. a lot of men think 'well, i wouldn't date him - well, she seems to like it i guess - well, who knows what happens behind closed doors' instead of thinking 'what does it say about me that i have friends like this - what do women who have been harmed by guys like this think about me - what do i signal as acceptable by being friends with him - what women aren't coming out tonight because he'll be there?'
posted by nadawi at 7:49 AM on June 30, 2016 [28 favorites]


If all twelve of your ex-girlfriends never understood your genius
If empathy for others makes you glum
If the most important person in your marriage was your penis
It's a guarantee you're scummy-scum-scum
posted by nicebookrack at 7:51 AM on June 30, 2016 [52 favorites]


please, take this revelation and move into the world with it and call these assholes out/make the decision to take the social hit of refusing to hang around them

I think that the guys doing this stuff know to keep as much as possible of it private. Maybe they know it consciously, maybe they know it unconsciously, but they know it. Guys like Ian MacKenzie: "It's sacred, we two are the only two." Guys like the married coworker trying to push boundaries with my uninterested married sister: It's furtive, it's secret, if it gets out then you will be shamed. (She told me that she was going to talk to him privately to get him to stop his boundary-pushing; because of things I've learned from Metafilter, I suggested that doing it privately was the worst thing she could do, since he could say whatever he wanted to about the conversation. Have a witness. Be firm and clear. And since the boss of both of you is a woman, why not have your boss as the witness? Secrets help abusers.)
posted by clawsoon at 8:03 AM on June 30, 2016 [8 favorites]


Of course they do. I'm going to guess they also accuse folks of "virtue signaling" when they're challenged?

Well, the specific sad boner confessor under discussion wrote a poem referring to himself as a white knight, and his efforts to mend the heart of a woman with an absentee father, so.

"You would be a white knight, instead
Knee bent, head bowed
A million nails drawn across your flesh
Penance gladly spilled for the atonement of eternal trespass
A debt left echoing, hungry."

To quote a wise MeFite: bro that's bad
posted by amnesia and magnets at 8:04 AM on June 30, 2016 [9 favorites]


Alexandra Erin's whole piece is pure gold, but this was my favorite line:

For her part, Katherine takes to the whole open marriage thing like a duck I was kind of hoping would be more of a homebody to water I was hoping would not have seemed quite so inviting.

Go Katherine! Be free!
posted by Nibbly Fang at 8:27 AM on June 30, 2016 [22 favorites]


But the women who do it... I dunno... do they get platforms like this to tell their story on? Do they get lauded for it by circles of admirers? Are they celebrated for their deep spirituality and raw honesty?

I wrote and deleted a half-paragraph circling around this, because yes, this is not strictly a male-only thing. But men get away with it, and are culturally lauded for it, significantly more frequently. Women, meanwhile, are accused of being this kind of person even when they're not. I think the tl;dr is emotional abuse is emotional abuse, but when emotional abuse becomes so acceptable that you need to give it a derogatory, mocking classification, then... uh... you need to give it a derogatory, mocking classification. Which happened here, so yay.

I actually would love if we could come up with some kind of chant for y'all to use which uses rorgy's "Scummy-scum scum" phrase because it's insanely catchy.

I think I had Three Little Pigs on my mind when I wrote that, for some reason.
"Woman at Burning Man, circle my drum."

"No, no, no, not a chance, you are scummy scum scum."

"Then I'll write of my plight, of how you made me glum."
posted by rorgy at 8:41 AM on June 30, 2016 [32 favorites]


please, take this revelation and move into the world with it and call these assholes out/make the decision to take the social hit of refusing to hang around them. this will make the women in your lives safer.

Building off of this: in these kinds of threads, we always see men pledging to do this. I would love to hear more stories from men who have actually called out other men in their community, the broken steps in their social groups. It's good to say you'll do it, it's better to actually do it.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 8:51 AM on June 30, 2016 [21 favorites]


But the women who do it... I dunno... do they get platforms like this to tell their story on? Do they get lauded for it by circles of admirers? Are they celebrated for their deep spirituality and raw honesty?

Some certainly do, but their circles are much narrower. Most women are effectively socialized to believe that their desires, as measured against a man's wants and needs, do not matter enough to rise to the level of poetry. A man acting on unrequited desires is devoted, a tragic figure; a woman who does the same is considered at best pathetic, at worst dangerously unhinged. I had Big Emotions about worthless men like this in my time, but everyone in my life was quick to tell me to move on. No one wanted to hear the poetry, nor, on reflection, should they have.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:16 AM on June 30, 2016 [22 favorites]


"I am amazed at Katherine for physically manifesting both a lack of fertility with you and later restoring her fertility outside of your relationship.

JESUS FUCK IS IT 860 AD? ARE WE STILL PRETENDING NOT TO KNOW THAT DUDES CAN SHOOT BLANKS?

Hooooooooooooly balls, I cannot even.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:32 AM on June 30, 2016 [18 favorites]


Building off of this: in these kinds of threads, we always see men pledging to do this. I would love to hear more stories from men who have actually called out other men in their community, the broken steps in their social groups. It's good to say you'll do it, it's better to actually do it.

Meh. I've done it, more than once, but it's always felt like a hollow victory.

In the end your group of friends and possibly the mutuals outside that know. It's not like you can rent billboards. The shitty guy just moves a few social blocks down and keeps being a piece of shit over there. And you don't kno if he's hanging out with people you vaguely know, because you deleted him on social media.

Is this a reason not to do it? Not at all. But besides Matt Hickey level douche-earls, no one gets run out of town on a rail(and even that guy seems to be doing ok, and milking the hell out of the "skeptics" who think it's all made up slander).

I've also had problems with guys who are shit like this or worse where the people they've mistreated or assaulted don't want to be identified by name. So I'll kick them out of my life, and my close friends who knew what was going on will too... But then whenever I try to explain it to anyone outside of that its just "they've acted this way with a bunch of people" "like who? Anyone I know?" "They asked me not to say, but I wouldn't bring this up if I wasn't dead fucking serious". Guys like this thrive on the "suspiciousness" of those kinds of statements. Good people will believe you if they know and trust you, but ~both sides~ types will be inclined to side with the silenced all my life team.

Real life is never all that clean cut, sadly. More often than not it feels like a symbolic victory in which I'm just not watching some guy be a piece of shit, but I know he's still out there in town doing it. The best I can do is warn people every time I ever hear anyone bring any of them up.

And the saddest times are when I do, and they go "oh yea, I that guy seemed kind of sketchy and I had heard stuff like that before. Haven't really hung out with him". For every Ian or Matt, there's like a thousand similar or worse guys who only a select few people know are shit.

It's hard to warn people about a missing stair when you know where the stairway is, but aren't around when they're walking up it and probably won't ever be.

Will I stop? Fuck no, I know I'm doing _some_ good. But the reach feels awful limited.

I also got cornered in a bathroom by one of these guys to talk about "his side of the story" once... Ugh.
posted by emptythought at 9:32 AM on June 30, 2016 [11 favorites]


A man acting on unrequited desires is devoted, a tragic figure; a woman who does the same is considered at best pathetic, at worst dangerously unhinged. I had Big Emotions about worthless men like this in my time, but everyone in my life was quick to tell me to move on. No one wanted to hear the poetry, nor, on reflection, should they have.

I will say that I was definitely told (as a woman) to "turn it into art" whenever I was heartbroken or dramatically emotional about Some Guy. However, it may just be another symptom of my past stupidity that I thought it was a sincere suggestion and not a polite way of saying "oh god, shut the fuck up, shut up shut up."
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:39 AM on June 30, 2016 [11 favorites]


who is this matt hickey you speak of? i know a matt hickey.
posted by sio42 at 9:39 AM on June 30, 2016


Matt Hickey got an FPP. He's a serial rapist from Seattle and the surrounding cities.
posted by emptythought at 9:44 AM on June 30, 2016


ooooh. ok, not the guy i know.
posted by sio42 at 9:44 AM on June 30, 2016


That entire thread mirrors my experiences though. Everyone tells their friends, lots of people kick the shitty guy out even if he's just a creepy sad boner... But he's still "cool" and has no trouble hanging around. Even if he's much much worse than just a sad boner.
posted by emptythought at 9:46 AM on June 30, 2016




"I am amazed at Katherine for physically manifesting both a lack of fertility with you and later restoring her fertility outside of your relationship.

JESUS FUCK IS IT 860 AD? ARE WE STILL PRETENDING NOT TO KNOW THAT DUDES CAN SHOOT BLANKS?


Her body had a way of shutting that whole thing down.
posted by zutalors! at 9:46 AM on June 30, 2016 [21 favorites]


Yeah, her not menstruating is a clearer indication that there was something going on with her biochemistry. It would be interesting to know what triggered the return. IAM doesn't seem to know or care.
posted by trif at 10:00 AM on June 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


I would love to hear more stories from men who have actually called out other men in their community, the broken steps in their social groups. It's good to say you'll do it, it's better to actually do it.

My experience in calling out bullshit like this is similarly underwhelming, though at my point in life (45+) it's less broken step stuff than some garden variety misogyny aimed at the culture rather than people inside our circle. Like the friend who was on about female cosplayers with sexy outfits who expressed a problem with being leered at. This is an otherwise fairly progressive person and it didn't turn into a big woah-woah backpedaling when I have him a "well..." response, but I think the real upshot was maybe 5% giving him something to think about and 95% making him decide he wasn't going to bring this sort of thing up around me.
posted by phearlez at 10:01 AM on June 30, 2016 [8 favorites]


Yeah, her not menstruating is a clearer indication that there was something going on with her biochemistry.

Can say from experience that one real common cause of amenorrhea is stress, like maybe the stress of being in a relationship with an appalling garbage fire of a human.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:06 AM on June 30, 2016 [55 favorites]


even if it feels underwhelming or like you're just passing the problem down the line, there is real value in men standing up to men about what behavior towards and thoughts about women aren't ok. the nature of the beast is that as women we can't wield that social conditioning in the same way. so even if it feels like too little or like a hollow victory, i thank you for making the effort.
posted by nadawi at 10:09 AM on June 30, 2016 [25 favorites]


I just got back from the latest election thread, and it occurs to me that, while Trump is definitely not a Sad Boner, he does share one essential feature with Ian MacKenzie: He loooooooves women. He loves them so much.

Is that a consistent red flag?
posted by clawsoon at 10:18 AM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, don't forget we are asking this of all guys, precisely so that when you freeze a guy out of your circle and he goes on to the next one, then he'll get frozen out of that one too, and then the next, and the next, and the next, and on and on until he realized he isn't welcome anywhere.

(And that'll suck even more because it'll all drawn-out like.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:18 AM on June 30, 2016 [10 favorites]


so even if it feels like too little or like a hollow victory, i thank you for making the effort.

You are welcome, but as I have said in some form in past threads - the real cookie is not being around suck-o behavior and people. I was not so much complaining as I was responding to the "I want to hear about the stories" request up higher. The stories are boring. I think most of us who are prepared to call out shitbirds like IAM aren't the people who are willing to have them in their direct circles. There's nothing in the description of that person's life that makes me wish I was around for any of it, shitty behavior aside. So our encounters with telling truth to power are more "that's kinda ucky, man" and fairly low drama/consequence.

Yeah, it needs to be done and here's hoping it diffuses outwards. But it's not the most interesting tale to tell.

Is that a consistent red flag?

I think in general, the more someone tells you about one of their traits the less likely it is the trait they really think it is. People who go on at length about what straight-shooting truth-tellers really have the trait that they don't care if people hurt. Folks who want to tell you how in touch they are with their feelings just want to shout all their feelings at you all the time and don't give a fuck about yours. Etc. Trump's looooooving women is about loving what they can do for him.
posted by phearlez at 10:22 AM on June 30, 2016 [20 favorites]


But the women who do it... I dunno... do they get platforms like this to tell their story on?

I'm not sure, but my head just kinda exploded because I realized that when sad boner guys write about women who use these techniques to sweep them away, that's when we get Manic Pixie Dream Girls! Manic pixie dream girls, making me grind my teeth and hate men since at least 1986.

He loooooooves women. He loves them so much. Is that a consistent red flag?

I've been saying so since at least the Spike and Buffy shipper wars of (cough a while ago), so yeah.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:27 AM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


"I love women" means mostly "I love pussy and shoring up my fragile male ego."
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:29 AM on June 30, 2016 [16 favorites]


Squeak Attack: I realized that when sad boner guys write about women who use these techniques to sweep them away, that's when we get Manic Pixie Dream Girls!

Huh, you're right.

Wait, is MacKenzie maybe trying to be a Manic Pixie Dream Boy? All the Burning Man, the filmmaking, the Caring, the celebration of the Wild Man and the Wild Woman, the "speaking in poetry and myth", the magical kisses that spontaneously happen?
posted by clawsoon at 10:37 AM on June 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure, but my head just kinda exploded because I realized that when sad boner guys write about women who use these techniques to sweep them away, that's when we get Manic Pixie Dream Girls! Manic pixie dream girls, making me grind my teeth and hate men since at least 1986.
---
Wait, is MacKenzie maybe trying to be a Manic Pixie Dream Boy? All the Burning Man, the filmmaking, the Caring, the celebration of the Wild Man and the Wild Woman, the "speaking in poetry and myth", the magical kisses that spontaneously happen?

The core of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is that her vivaciousness/quirkiness is really just a medium for the male protagonist to go on a journey, not something that is noteworthy or interesting in its own right. You can even see aspects of the archetype in the way Mackenzie writes about women; we're not meant to find the poets and healers and motorcycle riders and DJs interesting in their own right, but only for what they signify about the man pursuing them. To the extent that sad bonermen write MPDGs as selfish and flighty, I think that's less about experiences with real women as a combination of their perceptions of women and maybe a little of an inflated perception of how charming they (the sad boners) come off.
posted by Krom Tatman at 10:47 AM on June 30, 2016 [9 favorites]


I think the that when your adoption of the Manic Pixie persona, male or female, crosses over from the more usual "I attracted my girl/boyfriend by being kind of insufferably silly" into full-blown "the intensity of my spiritual journey caused someone real emotional harm, and you won't believe how beautifully melancholy I am as a result", you lose that magic pixie dust and just become Sad Boner Boy/Girl, forever.
posted by gilrain at 10:51 AM on June 30, 2016 [14 favorites]


I think it's also that women usually have better things to do than onboard men into understanding everything interesting about their life. They're already interesting! They're already invited to the interesting person party! Sorry, boring man, you'll just have to learn how to be less of a drip on your own.
posted by rorgy at 10:52 AM on June 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


manic pixie dream girl is often a thing men put on women, both as a positive and negative trait, and is rarely something a woman is. it's just another way to classify us as something to consume and inspire them instead of having our own desires and internal monologues.
posted by nadawi at 10:54 AM on June 30, 2016 [27 favorites]


I was not so much complaining as I was responding to the "I want to hear about the stories" request up higher. The stories are boring.

Yeah, I don't expect any of them to set the world of fire or whatever. It doesn't have to be a good story. It's just nice to to know that/if men are actively addressing this kind of shit rather than just telling us they will.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 10:57 AM on June 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a description of a poorly-written character. It is not a thing to use to refer to actual human beings.
posted by beerperson at 10:58 AM on June 30, 2016 [16 favorites]


rather than just telling us they will.

or telling us they're sure their social groups are free of men like this. deciding it's the sort of thing you wouldn't put up with so it must not be happening is one way men look the other way, probably without even realizing it.
posted by nadawi at 10:59 AM on June 30, 2016 [7 favorites]


Thanks for all the clarification/correction on the Manic Pixies. Although... he does come off as something of a poorly-written character in his own writing about himself...
posted by clawsoon at 11:01 AM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can't even begin to imagine the nightmare of co-parenting with Sad Boner.

It's pretty great! The highlight was sometime after we fled the house when it occurred to me "why am I doing all the facilitating here? Let's see how long it takes him to ask to see (or even about) his only child." Answer: six full weeks. Not even on her birthday.
posted by Flannery Culp at 11:12 AM on June 30, 2016 [19 favorites]


Like Empress Gallipogos way back upthread, it didn't first register as that horrible upon first read. But then again, I grew up with a narcissistic father who primed me for multiple relationships with serious narcissists. So once again I learned a lot from Mefi about what really pathological behavior looks like when it's trying to present itself as benign, noble even. (my dad does that all the time, and so do Sad Boners). It also strikes me as significant that his wife had once had severe anorexia, which is all about destroying yourself for the approval of others. It also grosses me out when i watched the preview for "Amplify Her" that so many of the women had serious issues. Narcissists love insecure people who need approval, who have self-loathing so that they don't see the red flags. This is another reason why Sad Boners are so damaging is that they seek out needy damaged people to begin with and then fuck them over some more.

thanks again Mefi for the clarity.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 11:12 AM on June 30, 2016 [24 favorites]


I think most of us who are prepared to call out shitbirds like IAM aren't the people who are willing to have them in their direct circles.

I think that's part of it- narcissist art types depend on people being willing to buy into their narrative, and once someone wises up, they tend to cut sad boner dudes out really quickly.

Anyway, I apologized again last night to my wife for introducing her to EG, eighteen years ago. Fortunately she didn't get in a relationship with him, because a couple hours of listening to him constantly talk about himself was enough to develop a loathing that persists to this day.

So why did I introduce him to her? Well, for the longest time I, make that we, all knew that he was a brilliant writer who was going to take us with him to Hollywood. For years we excused his more and more apparent failings as part of his artistic temperament, and knew if he just got a chance he'd be brilliant.

He was incompetent at being an art narcissist, and yet for the longest time the people around him still bought what he was selling, because it gave us a share in the dream. It took years to realize how toxic he was. If he had actually been smoother, he probably would still have friends who defend him.

So now, any time someone with a hobby of those narcissistic traits shows up, I drop them like a hot stone. But beck then we were all naive and desperate for validation from an artist. And, there's always naive people. If EG is still alive, he probably is still using people who just know that he's a brilliant artist and will take them with him to Hollywood.

I think I'm going to forward all this to my niece. I tend to think she's too practical and together to fall for sad boner guy, but a warning can't hurt.
posted by happyroach at 11:16 AM on June 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


The core of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is that her vivaciousness/quirkiness is really just a medium for the male protagonist to go on a journey, not something that is noteworthy or interesting in its own right

This is such a generalizable phenomenon, from this Sad Boner Confessional in which his aunt's death and his wife's miscarriage and the baby she had with another man were somehow all about him, to the way white writers have so commonly written books about/set in Africa or Asia in which the setting and the people who live there are entirely a backdrop against which the white protagonist can explore himself (I was very disappointed that Garth Greenwell's much-lauded novel What Belongs to You, which is about a white American man and his relationship with a Bulgarian rent boy, fell so entirely into this pattern, and disappointed but not surprised by the rapturously uncritical response it's gotten from most arbiters of culture).

In the context of this conversation, I keep trying to find a poem I read a few months ago in which a man is writing about his ex-lovers, all women, and the way he does it shows that he thinks of them as having no continued existence separate from him. I'm going to try one more time to find it...

Ha! It was three years ago [I have a terrible sense of time] and I blogged about it. You can read the blog post or I can just tell you that the poem includes a line that goes, "You were like countries in which my love took place," which is so explicit that it's shocking in its lack of self-awareness. The poem is called "Cherishing What Isn't" and is by Jack Gilbert.

I am currently raising two white cisgendered boys. I feel like I need to remind them, next time I see them, that not everything is about them. I might make them sit in hard-backed chairs while I read a couple of these kinds of things and point out the flaws to them. I need to create a kind of catechism: "What are women?" "People!" How do we treat women?" "With respect! As autonomous subjects who are the central figure in their own lives and not adjuncts to mine!"

I'm always saying, during TV and movies, "This is not an OK way to treat a woman," and they're always like, "Mom, as if." But it's subtle! We have to learn to see when men are doing it, and men have to learn to see that they're doing it. People have to be taught to recognize these patterns. It's why consciousness-raising existed as a thing.

This has been my favorite Metafilter thread in a long time. Such a wonderful mix of, as I told my oldest kid, horror and hilarity.
posted by not that girl at 11:26 AM on June 30, 2016 [40 favorites]


Wait, is MacKenzie maybe trying to be a Manic Pixie Dream Boy?

I think in the past I've argued that the Bad Boy is the essential (but not exact) equivalent of the MPDG for female protagonists of fiction. Both would be vehicles for learning more about your wild, free, unconventional, true self. Whatevs.

This has been my favorite Metafilter thread in a long time.

Me too! Thank you, everyone!
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:35 AM on June 30, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm just glad I wrote all my emo mawing online when no one was paying attention. I shudder to think how my younger self would have gone over if it got on HuffPo or such. Then again, I was just talking about my feelings, not publicly expecting a Booker Prize for writing about my serial infidelity and terrible life choices.
posted by solistrato at 11:40 AM on June 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is such a generalizable phenomenon, from this Sad Boner Confessional in which his aunt's death and his wife's miscarriage and the baby she had with another man were somehow all about him, to the way white writers have so commonly written books about/set in Africa or Asia in which the setting and the people who live there are entirely a backdrop against which the white protagonist can explore himself

History is, as they say, written by the Sad Boners.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:41 AM on June 30, 2016 [7 favorites]


Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a description of a poorly-written character. It is not a thing to use to refer to actual human beings.

I think there is an interesting/weird/distressing phenomena where women react to how we're objectified almost everywhere by objectifying ourselves and trying to fit within these sorts of archetypes, though. One of the effects of sexism is that the mirror held up to women is often distorted by male power and the male gaze. This can, and I think does, lead to women distorting ourselves to try to fit into the roles we're told we're supposed to (and keep in mind, we're maybe two generations into women in the US having the actual capability in general to not be dependent on men for survival; when these sorts of distortions are backed by 'and if you diverge too much you won't eat' they carry significant power).

One of the things I've really enjoyed about Beyoncé's Lemonade is that it offered up a new narrative for betrayal and reunification from a woman's point of view in the context of women having strong and supportive relationships with other women. The narrative which serves men in the context of betrayal is one where the women in question focus on the other woman - and interestingly, a lot of Bey's fans and the media did exactly this! - but the narrative Lemonade brings is that "the other woman" is welcome to him, Beyoncé is out. She also included the rage of women in the narrative, which is often occluded or left out entirely - both the gleeful destruction of Hold Up and the burn the world down and salt the earth of Don't Hurt Yourself and 6 Inch.

We need these new stories, driven by women feeling our way out of distortion to wholeness.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:58 AM on June 30, 2016 [34 favorites]


It's pretty great! The highlight was sometime after we fled the house when it occurred to me "why am I doing all the facilitating here? Let's see how long it takes him to ask to see (or even about) his only child." Answer: six full weeks. Not even on her birthday.
posted by Flannery Culp at 2:12 PM on June 30
That's when you took out the croquet mallet, right?
posted by rorgy at 12:01 PM on June 30, 2016 [6 favorites]


When there were only one set of footprints in the sand, that was because I had already dropped your sorry ass.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:12 PM on June 30, 2016 [50 favorites]


The Writing Men Want You To Know They've Been Very, Very Bad Boys

This piece is really only relevant to the thread because it surprised me by not being about Ian MacKenzie at all despite this being from the opening:

we’ve taken a keen interest in how men choose to write about themselves on the internet. Mostly, they are bad at it, and an exercise that is supposed to bring self-improvement through the unpacking and critical examination of feelings instead becomes a practice of crafting vague hypotheticals and stringing them together. Perhaps this is because most men’s lives are inherently uninteresting, or maybe it is because they consider their problems to be too precious and heavy to be addressed head-on.

Then later:

But there is that passage, a piece of bad writing—not bad because it is a bit purple or self-absorbed, but because it is dishonest and obscurantist. It uses the forms of confession and introspection to do the opposite, to gesture vaguely at something even as it labors to conceal it.

(On top of that, there's swipes at David Brooks at the end, so this piece has a whole lot going for it.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:12 PM on June 30, 2016 [9 favorites]


@MCMikeNamara -- I generally like Brian Phillips' writing, but I really home he doesn't crawl up his own ass because of whatever personal problems he's been doing through. Though such is the way of The Talented Introverted Writer.
posted by solistrato at 12:23 PM on June 30, 2016


I think the that when your adoption of the Manic Pixie persona, male or female, crosses over from the more usual "I attracted my girl/boyfriend by being kind of insufferably silly" into full-blown "the intensity of my spiritual journey caused someone real emotional harm, and you won't believe how beautifully melancholy I am as a result", you lose that magic pixie dust and just become Sad Boner Boy/Girl, forever.

A Manic Pixie Dream Churl
posted by emptythought at 12:25 PM on June 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm always saying, during TV and movies, "This is not an OK way to treat a woman," and they're always like, "Mom, as if." But it's subtle! We have to learn to see when men are doing it, and men have to learn to see that they're doing it. People have to be taught to recognize these patterns. It's why consciousness-raising existed as a thing.

For what it's worth, my mom did this(a lot! with all kinds of music and art!) and also made me read stuff like the gift of fear in middle school. It was TREMENDOUSLY helpful, and you are doing a great fucking thing here. Something that helped me and made me think critically for the rest of my life so far.

This is a big component of The Right Path to teach more dudes to move away from toxic masculinity, as far as i'm concerned. You gotta start early.
posted by emptythought at 12:32 PM on June 30, 2016 [14 favorites]


Okay, the first comment in response to the link MCMikeNamara posted is a spoof of the genre, and is GENIUS:
In the early days of my Adirondacks stay I’d rise with the loons just before the sun spilled over the mountains. I took my time. Every thought and movement had a purpose and, in the chrysalis of that cabin, I learned that I could spread cream cheese on a bagel with my small, but agile penis. In the loon-threaded silence, I found out that I could do five push-ups in a row. When I was outside the screaming city where I left all my bad times, I could finally do what it was that made me consistently happy - covering a bowling ball in flammable tar, lighting that thing on fire, and rolling the ball of flame down the hill toward the road. I loved those bowling balls and they never caused an accident. I realized that I was the bowling ball on fire. I was the cream cheese penis. And I was free.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:11 PM on June 30, 2016 [24 favorites]


MCMikeNamara: The Writing Men Want You To Know They've Been Very, Very Bad Boys

Something is bothering me about that article, and the Jezebel article it links to. Women's personal essays on the Internet are better because they're more detailed and direct, both articles say. And there's truth in that. However, it immediately makes me think of the way that Scientologists are alleged to record new converts confessing all their lurid sins in great detail. The confessional is perfect blackmail material. It gives the receiver of the confession considerable power over the confessor. I think that a different lesson you could take from the difference between the confessional essays written by men and women on the Internet is that men are allowed to join the Insightful Confessional club without revealing any details, while women are forced to give up considerable privacy and power if they want in.

It's more complicated than that - there's often value in sharing hidden things, putting them out in the open and finding like minds - but that part of it is bothering me.
posted by clawsoon at 1:13 PM on June 30, 2016 [15 favorites]


I think that relates to the essay posted here a few days ago about the investigative journalist whose reporting undercover from North Korea was turned into "a memoir." Women's writing that is widely shared on the internet is confessional, lurid, and personal in very specific ways. There is a lot of power in claiming the specifics of your experiences and owning those experiences and the effects they had on you, but there's something exploitative about the way a lot of acclaimed writing from women details horrible things. I worry that this collapses the ways the rest of the world engages with writing about women's experiences outside of sexual assault/harassment/abuse/infidelity/addiction/body image. It seems like there's a lot more space for unapologetic asshole men to write about interesting, and boring, and mundane things than for women, and that's frustrating in a lot of ways.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:46 PM on June 30, 2016 [26 favorites]


He loooooooves women. He loves them so much.

Oh, hell yeah, that's a type. Been trying to figure out where to tell this story (both here and in life): I (briefly, thank goodness) dated one of these. He was so aware and gender-bending and feminist and activist, and by golly, he just really loved women. He was also, let's say, consent-impaired. I wouldn't go so far as to use the R-word regarding my personal experience, but things got to a point where I burst out crying and didn't understand why. Later I realized it was because us, doing things together, was in no way about me; my feelings weren't something he cared to notice unless he really had to.

Anyway, I later shared this story with two woman friends, and each of them told me about someone else who'd had a similar experience (one of whom said he did rape her). So that makes several women who know this guy is rotten, and none of us knows how to call him out for it.

The closest I've seen him come to showing his true colors in public was when he posted some editorial by a rape apologist in the wake of the recent-ish Columbia University rape case (which in court had naturally turned into a total he-said she-said character assassination of the woman)—the article was about how maybe it wasn't really rape, not really. I rage-commented on the post, but I still didn't know how to say "This. Is. You."
posted by the_blizz at 3:37 PM on June 30, 2016 [15 favorites]


Women's writing that is widely shared on the internet is confessional, lurid, and personal in very specific ways. There is a lot of power in claiming the specifics of your experiences and owning those experiences and the effects they had on you, but there's something exploitative about the way a lot of acclaimed writing from women details horrible things.

Yes--I was immediately reminded of a slate.com article on this linked by this earlier FPP [TW: linked article begins with a couple lines describing an act of incest], and the author quote at the end:

"Shortly after her essay was published, feeling emboldened by its success, Chenier pitched Jezebel another piece. It wasn’t about sex or abuse or her dad—it was an op-ed about the portrayal of women in Mad Max. This time, she got no reply.

No one could blame an editor for turning down such a pitch in a landscape already swarming with Mad Max think pieces. Still, it gave Chenier a nagging feeling that if she wanted to be a writer who didn’t want to write about sleeping with her dad, the scales weren’t tipped in her favor. “All I’d said in that first pitch was, I’ve experienced this trauma, and the editor was like, ‘You’re in,’ ” Chenier says. “They didn’t know who I was; they didn’t know if I was a good writer. They just knew I’d experienced something terrible.” Chenier remembers being so sure that she wanted to write that piece. She’d felt so strongly that it was worth the risk. “But when I step back and think about everything I put on the line …” She pauses and takes a breath. “It’s just—wow. It’s a lot. It’s everything.”

posted by blue suede stockings at 3:54 PM on June 30, 2016 [11 favorites]


i have turned down chances to bare my shit in that way because it does seem like people just want to gawk at the details. i've even pulled back in the way i discuss especially my childhood abuse here because sometimes the waters around those stories feel very dark indeed.
posted by nadawi at 4:01 PM on June 30, 2016 [12 favorites]


I'm enjoying karayel's recommendation of Strong Poison. It's out of copyright here in Canada, which means that it's freely available on gutenberg.ca.
posted by clawsoon at 4:43 PM on June 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


Are there any confessionals out there from men that are actually good and introspective and would be worth my time reading? aka NOT a sad boner?
posted by pleasebekind at 4:44 PM on June 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


I enjoyed Half a Life by Darrin Strauss, about his experience of accidentally killing a classmate when he was in high school. I.A.M.'s essay about his sad boner drips with more wangst and desperate need for meaning than another guy's story about killing someone.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:43 PM on June 30, 2016


David Carr has written several good books about his journey back from drug addiction, including looking at his abusive behavior towards his wife. As painful as some of his stories were, he was able to recognize the harm he'd done and worked on making himself better.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:56 PM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Shitty essay by unsuccessful writer gets posted on HuffPo: "let's all make fun of the loser!"

I know I'm coming at this comment kind of late but I was really delighted to see so many people making fun of the loser.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:58 PM on June 30, 2016 [24 favorites]


I first read this when it was just a medium post that someone reposted with #modernlove and I read it and was like, HORRIFIED, I cannot tell you, by

-- Being all proud of himself for dating someone older, like what a hero
-- Phone sex operator comment
-- Making fun of her for doing those injections (I have done similar things and thank god no one was filming/laughing wtf even)

and then

-- Going to Burning Man while she was waiting on the expensive, emotional IVF results

and then

-- Cheating on her

and then

-- Cheating more, oh, with "worthy" women

and the rest, well documented here.

And then the comments on medium were all thanks for this great honest story. I looked up and was like WTF?? Guys? Did I miss something huge? Where are my people who would HATE THIS and duh, on Metafilter.

I don't even know why any part of this is about writers or how guys get dates - any person who has that level of indifference over a woman going through infertility and IVF and miscarriage and cheating and still makes it all about them is just a clueless terrible monster, end of. And judging by what he's chosen to respond to online he has no idea.
posted by zutalors! at 7:08 PM on June 30, 2016 [17 favorites]


his experience of accidentally killing a classmate
his journey back from drug addiction

Those seem like a different kind of "confessional" to me...

On a lighter note, Nick Hornby basically writes parodies of this kind of "How I screwed up my relationships" thing. Of course, it's clearly himself he's mocking, so maybe be some people's standards they still count as sad boner confessionals, because he's still writing about his own bad behavior and self-absorption and pretentiousness, and you still end up feeling sorry for the girlfriends in the books (though I don't think any of the Hornby alter-egos behaves THIS badly.)

But Hornby's characters, unlike this guy, are aware that they're acting like jerks, and they are trying to be better, though often failing in bleakly humorous ways. Kinda like Louis C.K., but without the gross-out jokes. The books are better than most of the movie adaptations because you get more sense of that self-awareness. (I do think the John Cusack version of the character in High Fidelty does justice to the book pretty well, though...)

For that matter Louis C.K. is another guy who writes in the "how I screwed up my relationships" genre, but with enough self awareness to save him from being a sad boner, though he writes for TV.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:20 PM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, and David Sedaris. Who does not write about how he screwed up his relationships with women (because he's gay), but does write about how screwed up he himself is, and how the screwed up world deserves him. More or less.
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:25 PM on June 30, 2016


With the caveat that Sedaris is known to play fast and loose with biographical facts when it makes a better story.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:34 PM on June 30, 2016


the sad boner w/ louis ck is the that he apparently refuses to keep it in his pants around women who don't want to see it.
posted by nadawi at 7:53 PM on June 30, 2016 [8 favorites]


Sedaris is known to play fast and loose with biographical facts

Well, yeah. "Fictionalized autobiography" probably covers all three to about the same extent, I guess, though Hornby emphasizes the "fictional" more and Sedaris emohasizes the "autobiography" more. Maybe writing well about failed relationships requires to fig leaf of fiction to preserve the dignity of the parties involved. And it probably requires a sense of humor, to keep from being totally obnoxious.
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:04 PM on June 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


The two things Sedaris does that are hard to find elsewhere: 1) he writes about blood relatives more than romantic 2) he writes a lot about brief moments between strangers, which is a really satisfying genre but is infrequently-covered territory.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:43 PM on June 30, 2016 [9 favorites]


You know, I just reread Nancy Milford's biography of Zelda Fitzgerald, and, well-- Scott Fitzgerald. Scott Fitzgerald had a lot of Sad Bonerman tendencies, didn't he? And Tender is the Night can be read as a Sad Boner's cri de cœur.

I mean, obviously there are oceans of differences between Ian Mackenzie and F. Scott Fitzgerald, but damn-- there are also lots and lots of similarities.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:15 PM on June 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


You know if he finds this thread and reads this, he's going to add something to his bio like, "Often called the F. Scott Fitzgerald of the new millennium."
posted by mochapickle at 10:19 PM on June 30, 2016 [21 favorites]


Oh, crap. He totally is. Boner Mackenzie, if you're reading this, please know and understand that, even with all his faults, you are to F. Scott Fitzgerald what Insane Clown Posse's "Miracles" is to-- I mean, what Duck Dynasty is to-- I mean, what Yahoo Answers is to--

GOD DAMN IT, THERE IS LITERALLY NOTHING ON EARTH WITH WHICH A PERSON LIKE THIS COULD NOT AGGRANDIZE HIMSELF.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:49 PM on June 30, 2016 [7 favorites]


You know if he finds this thread and reads this,

I bet he's gonna think it's about him, wont he won't he won't he
posted by happyroach at 11:25 PM on June 30, 2016 [16 favorites]


I have that stuck in my head now, happyroach. Curse/bless you.

yoooooou're so vaaaaain...
posted by E. Whitehall at 11:45 PM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


This is like a progressive version of People of Walmart where no one realizes they are punching down.

This guy bought a freestanding house in Vancouver, which means he had ~$2.5 million kicking around. I don't think you can make that much by being a "new paradigm media activist".
posted by metaman livingblog at 1:35 AM on July 1, 2016 [20 favorites]


I specifically brought up David Carr because he's written about domestic abuse and the way his drug-addicted behavior affected his relationships with his daughters. (I mentioned this in the previous comment.) In his obit thread here he came under scrutiny because he had been so frank about his domestic abuse, and that criticism got some pushback because he also wrote about how he recognized his abusive behavior and turned it around for himself and his family. You could make the argument that he was as much of a Sad Bonerman as anyone, but he actively worked on being a better man.
posted by pxe2000 at 3:10 AM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oy, I've been Sad Boner Girl, and I hope I've gotten better, but I still have to work on it. Being single for the last 3 or so years has been good for this (especially after the last relationship with a narcissist who was less Sad Boner and more Everything Is Someone Else's Fault and once claimed post-breakup that I was holding her back. From what exactly, I don't know).

I too missed the rottenness of the original on first read, though I did think he was kinda smarmy and could understand why some people I know (of) say "I'm non-monogamous but not poly" because holy hell PolyTM people can be obnoxious sometimes. I did appreciate his thoughts of the ends of relationships not being terrible, thinking about a different relationship where that was the case, and someone I know shared the original with positive words so I figure I'd give the guy the benefit of the doubt. (Also somehow I totally glossed over details like the IVF injections being recorded for humour.)

Then I read the parody and OMG I KNEW THAT FELT SMARMY FOR A REASON. And this thread has been so helpful in contextualizing a lot of these behaviours for myself and in others, so thank you so much for speaking up.

This whole conversation makes me think of a guy friend I have who treats his late girlfriend* (she died some time ago of a terminal illness) as a Goddess who has Teachings for him. I called him out on it because I thought the way he was approaching her/her memory was hella creepy, but I wish I had the Sad Boner article to show him because that would have been a better way to explain my perspective. Around this time is the anniversary of her death, so I'm loathe to link him to his, but omg I wish he reads it at some point and recognizes that's him.

* I think this chick was his first and only girlfriend, though they did date quite a long time. The guy used to have a crush on me but I turned him down, and found her soon after. The girl already kinda looks and acts like me, but what was especially weird was when she introduced herself to me with "Oh!! You're the girl [Guy] keeps talking about!" and I had the odd feeling that he was comparing us both.
posted by divabat at 3:41 AM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


Divabat, I was thisclose to telling you "fuck it, send the dude this essay anyway", but then I got to that last paragaph and now I think "ew, no, don't because he'll just spin that into 'omigod she is thinking about me and wants to heal me MAYBE THERE IS A CHANCE'."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:49 AM on July 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


in re Katherine: recall that she married this dude, and seemed to participate in whatever closure ritual he made up. I'd love to hear her side of the story, but I'm not sure it would focus on some of the same things that I.A.M. has been mocked for here.

Agreed. Although part of me loved Erin's parody, I was a little uncomfortable with the way it (like some comments here) projected a bunch of opinions and motives onto Katherine for which there was limited or no evidence.

Speculating about MacKenzie's motivations is fine for the reasons others have listed (he published voluntarily, he solicited donations, his article is widely-read and praised, he is... post-Brexit UK politics in human form), but Katherine never asked for her behavour during a traumatic time to be analysed and it feels intrusive to me.

The speculation ascribes admirable motives and insight to her, slowly transforming her into the hero of a collective retelling of the relationship story. While I know that is done with good intentions, I feel it feeds into the 'perfect victim' narrative as if this is about apportioning blame between MacKenzie and Katherine; the better she is, the worse he is. If it turns out that she was complicit in some of their issues, the narrative becomes tarnished.

Of course, that's nonsense. It doesn't matter whether she was naive or flawed or complicit, MacKenzie still treated her terribly. And there are lots of people in relationships treating each other badly, we're talking about this one because in his retelling, he is a gloriously unreliable narrator who brilliantly illustrates a despressingly common approach a certain type of man takes to relationships, art and his actions.

Maybe I'm over-reacting, but I feel that any focus on the partner gives MacKenzie-types an out. One classic defence from this sort of knobhead is to focus on the other person's behaviour and so the less anyone calling them out talks about it, the better. MacKenzie wanted this to be all about him and that's precisely what it should be.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 5:11 AM on July 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


I was a little uncomfortable with the way it (like some comments here) projected a bunch of opinions and motives onto Katherine for which there was limited or no evidence.

I would welcome an unlimited number of parodies which offer endless versions of Katherine's motives and experiences, because part of what makes the original so obscene is that he self-indulgently burns down his wife's world and yet it is ALL ABOUT HIM. She is a complete cipher, she is literally just a mirror for him to use to reflect on his own endless specialness. He is baffled when she speaks or acts. He cannot comprehend her alterity.

For me, a lot of the value in the parody is that it foregrounds his refusal to ever consider the idea that she has interiority at all. It isn't suggesting that this is what Katherine really thought, but it points out that she must have experienced SOMETHING, and that his refusal to engage with that even once is part of what makes his original piece so uniquely obscene.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:16 AM on July 1, 2016 [53 favorites]


Perfectly put, fiendish thingy. As I said, I loved the parody and the reasons you give were definitely part of it. I still can't shake a slight ickiness at the construction of imaginary perfect Katherine, but that might be my problem.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 6:38 AM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


But Hornby's characters, unlike this guy, are aware that they're acting like jerks, and they are trying to be better, though often failing in bleakly humorous ways.

Hornsby isn't really my thing, but what I recall distinctly about the High Fidelity novel is the sizable amount of observation about the ways in which his girlfriend was unhappy and the ways he was a part of that. She gets dialog to that effect - about just being too tired to not be with him during her time of tragedy, with the clear indication that being with him sucks balls too - and he observes it himself, when he notes her seeing him screwing around with yet another mix tape near the end. She as a person with feelings - even if those feelings are all shit ones he caused - gets air time.
posted by phearlez at 7:01 AM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


Not to defend this guy, but for all we know Katherine was fine with him being gone while she had a miscarriage. The "blood and tears in a toilet" line is his, not hers (and is a confusing image; do Canadians use "toilet" the way English people do, where an American would say "bathroom"?). I wouldn't want a SNAG like him in the house if I were going through anything difficult.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:45 AM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Turns out at least one of the DJs portrayed in Iam MackDaddy's film AmplifyHer feels exploited. Oh, what a shock.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 8:06 AM on July 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


But Hornby's characters, unlike this guy, are aware that they're acting like jerks, and they are trying to be better, though often failing in bleakly humorous ways.

This is true. It's true of Carr's "Night of the Gun" as well.

That being said, I think it's a remarkable aspect of our society that the guys who would be the villains in another person's story get to be the flawed heroes in their own. In the same way I am sick of comedies about juvenile adult men who must be dragged into adulthood by spoilsport girlfriends, I'm also sick of awful men being the narrator of the lives they have screwed up.

I'd say I'd like to get these stories from the women's perspective, but, honestly, I personally don't really need any more stories about awful or immature men.
posted by maxsparber at 8:07 AM on July 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


In the same way I am sick of comedies about juvenile adult men who must be dragged into adulthood by spoilsport girlfriends

I wish there was an entire thread dedicated to mocking those, also. And a pithy, contemptuous title for those narratives a la sad boner confessional.

... I hate them so much.
posted by Cozybee at 8:20 AM on July 1, 2016 [14 favorites]


But that would mean hating the entire TV advertising industry!
posted by Artw at 8:25 AM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


But that would mean hating the entire TV advertising industry!

All except the Minnesota commercial that used to run very late at night for a barbecue joint (Market Barbecue, I think) that involved a man dressed as a pig dancing onstage and singing "I'm a Yankee Doodle Piggy."

I hated that for other reasons.
posted by maxsparber at 8:30 AM on July 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


Ugh, read that link about the DJ from AmplifyHer. It's really depressing.

Apparently, in one of the trailers for the doc, this one woman DJ is set up as sort of the "bad" kind of female DJ because she is conventionally beautiful and dresses in revealing clothes, and she is positioned as if she has no skills. She wasn't interviewed in the documentary and she did not give permission for the use of the footage. The women who are interviewed in the film are positioned as "good" because they dress and act differently. The first DJ feels like this negative portrayal is actually going to impact her ability to book work, because it suggests that she's not good at what she does and only gets jobs because of her looks.

Sad Boner pops into the thread to make a comment about how they "misunderstood" how he is "deconstructing" the good girl/bad girl dichotomy and how it wasn't the main trailer anyway.

One of the other commenters in the thread says this, which is very good:

Regardless, this discussion isn’t just about “women and sexuality”, it’s about women and our entire lives. Or specifically, our lives as DJs. Sexuality isn’t necessarily as big a part of our lives as DJs as men like yourself might like it to be. Why be so focused on sexuality in this respect in a doc that’s supposed to be focused on DJs? Is it because sex sells, and you need to pay rent?

Pretty sad and gross on the whole. Also, I bet that ol' Sad Boner couldn't DJ to save his life. DJing is...IM very limited E of DJing, if you have any kind of knack, you can practice and do well enough for a fun dance party, but to really distinguish yourself is very difficult, and no matter what anyone wears, they're not going to succeed if they can't do a well above average job. It's not just sexist to suggest that someone has their career because of their looks and clothes, it's also obviously, patently untrue if you know anything about the process of DJing.
posted by Frowner at 8:38 AM on July 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


Whether DJing is hard or not, it sounds like this guy is character assassinating women who had the gall to not consent to be in his film. Or at least one woman. That's not very cool. And I also have to wonder about someone who skates the periphery of a scene that he himself is not a creative part of -- he's basically a fanboy -- making a documentary that gives him some unearned measure of ownership and control over it. Do people really not see what this dude is about? It's disappointing to think maybe they don't.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:53 AM on July 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


All except the Minnesota commercial that used to run very late at night for a barbecue joint (Market Barbecue, I think) that involved a man dressed as a pig dancing onstage and singing "I'm a Yankee Doodle Piggy."

I call that Must See TV.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:58 AM on July 1, 2016 [9 favorites]


a pithy, contemptuous title for those narratives a la sad boner confessional

Clueless Manchild Nightmare Boy?
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 9:02 AM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'd say I'd like to get these stories from the women's perspective, but, honestly, I personally don't really need any more stories about awful or immature men.

"Failed relationship stories" is definitely a genre, and it's probably more common (but less "respectable") in women's writing, likely to get labeled "chick lit." Like Nancy Mitford's "The Pursuit of Love" or Carrie Fisher's "Surrender the Pink." (Which is supposedly about her relationship with Paul Simon, since I mentioned him above... I have to say he comes off better than she does in that book.)

It's the nature of the genre that someone, and often both parties, is going to end up looking like a jerk (though again, not usually THIS much of a jerk. Not partying-while-your-wife-miscarries level of jerk.) Otherwise they'd still be in the relationship, and it would be a sweet romance story instead. In the female version of these stories, the woman is often the immature and badly behaved one. (Carrie Fisher's alter ego does NOT behave well in "Surrender the Pink". She's basically a stalker. But again it's very clear that Carrie Fisher the author knows this and is in fact mocking herself.)

But the more I think of it, the more I realize that every single example of this genre that I actually like at all is comedy. And the characters, while flawed don't actually act as shitty and creepy as this guy.

(Anna Karenina? The Great Gatsby? Wuthering Heights? Okay, I guess like those all right, and they have flawed characters acting even creepier than this I guess, but in each case they are punished for it... I'm not sure those books would be as successful with different endings... )
posted by OnceUponATime at 9:03 AM on July 1, 2016


That being said, I think it's a remarkable aspect of our society that the guys who would be the villains in another person's story get to be the flawed heroes in their own.

This is one of those things that, in a vacuum, would be a good thing. Human reductive tendencies to boil everyone down into hero or villain are harmful to understanding and improvement. Absent a serious mental illness, nobody thinks they're the baddie. The reason it sucks is that only manbabies get this privilege of getting to be the hero no matter their actions. You can probably rattle off a dozen sitcom examples of men behaving the way the lead does in The Mindy Project... and it got relegated to Hulu-only.
posted by phearlez at 9:09 AM on July 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


Whether DJing is hard or not, it sounds like this guy is character assassinating women who had the gall to not consent to be in his film.

Oh, absolutely. It just particularly pushes my buttons when people assume that someone can get well-paying DJ gigs based on their looks and no talent because I have DJed a little for actual events. It's one of those things, like graphic design, where everyone who doesn't do it thinks they can because it must just be using, like, a computer program, right? When I hear someone run down a reasonably successful DJ in this manner, I assume that they don't know what they're talking about.

I think it's not so much character assassinating because someone wouldn't be in his film as the very typical fake-feminist guy thing of being utterly unable to imagine that women can be friends and support each other even if they have different personal styles, body types, etc, or can have professional interests in common, or even can dislike each other for personal reasons not for fashion/beauty reasons. It's like the "women are always competing/catfight!" thing but for dudes who want to think they are feminists - of course all women DJs who aren't this woman must be locked in a death struggle with her because she is conventionally attractive.

It's like "women must be locked in a death struggle with each other over the only thing that really matters, beauty/fuckability-by-men....because otherwise that would mean that women might be locked in a death struggle with....patriarchy and that would mean that maybe men should take a step back instead of making documentaries all the fucking time".

It's a way of centering himself as arbiter of who is a "good" woman, because he thinks that women can't figure out their interrelationships themselves.
posted by Frowner at 9:10 AM on July 1, 2016 [19 favorites]


Waitasecond...IIRC, isn't one if the subjects of his "documentary" his current girlfriend?

In which case, I can't decide if it's skeevy and a major conflict of interest, or just really skeevy.
posted by happyroach at 9:27 AM on July 1, 2016


In the same way I am sick of comedies about juvenile adult men who must be dragged into adulthood by spoilsport girlfriends

Or, Why I Stopped Seeing Judd Apatow Movies After Knocked Up.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:36 AM on July 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


He responded in the comments, saying that he set up the good girl/bad girl trope in the teaser only to "transcend" and "deconstruct" it in the documentary:
I believe once you see it, you will recognize Amplify Her as my sincere offering to be an ally to women in accelerating a new culture that respects and honours the full creative and sexual realm of the feminine.
He's willing to have sex with good girls and bad girls. He transcends old-culture distinctions.

I've noticed an essentialism in a bunch of things he's written. He's exploring his Wild Man masculinity so that you can explore your Wild Woman femininity. He's not so much a feminist as a femininist.
posted by clawsoon at 10:04 AM on July 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


sexual realm of the feminine

well of course a documentary about women in a creative profession is going to be sexual, I mean if there's women involved it's de facto sexual right

[barf_sounds.wav, looped forever]
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:07 AM on July 1, 2016 [30 favorites]


I've noticed an essentialism in a bunch of things he's written. He's exploring his Wild Man masculinity so that you can explore your Wild Woman femininity

In this gag-inducing, congratulatory story on him from Mantalks, a website that looks at first glance like it's trying to be a Good Man Project sort of thing, but I dunno, MacKenzie calls himself "The Indiana Jones of the New Story" and recommends as the best book for any man to read, and I quote, “Iron John” by Robert Bly. This seminal book kickstarted the previous wave that became known as the Men’s Movement, and remains just as relevant today."

Nope, not disingenuously essentialist machismo at all.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 10:11 AM on July 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


He probably thinks the book Wild Animus is a work of genius.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 10:13 AM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


MacKenzie calls himself "The Indiana Jones of the New Story" and recommends as the best book for any man to read, and I quote, “Iron John” by Robert Bly.

Okay wait are we sure this isn't some elaborate performance art piece
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:19 AM on July 1, 2016 [14 favorites]


He'd probably cop to that so long as the ladies are into it.
posted by mochapickle at 10:29 AM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


Kittens, I read that Indiana Jones comment and immediately thought the same thing. "Wait, this can't be real, this has got to be some kind of elaborate Phoenixian hoax meant to comment on something something something." I think he might be pulling all our legs, here.
posted by staggering termagant at 10:52 AM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


If he's living his entire life as performance art designed to showcase hidden toxic masculinity, he's a genius at making it look like he really means it.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 10:57 AM on July 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


And "Mantalk"? Really?
posted by staggering termagant at 10:59 AM on July 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think it's a remarkable aspect of our society that the guys who would be the villains in another person's story get to be the flawed heroes in their own.

... Don Quixote. Achilles. Genji. Whatsisname from Keep the Aspidistra Flying. More mid-20th-c Serious Literary Novels About Adultery than I can keep straight. "Our society", thousands of years of patriarchy, ok, checks out.
posted by clew at 11:59 AM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Our society", thousands of years of patriarchy, ok, checks out.

Those aren't mutually exclusive.
posted by Krom Tatman at 12:14 PM on July 1, 2016


Mantalks sounds like the name of an old gay porn magazine I would have bought in a plastic-wrapped 3-for-1 sale in an adult book store in 1997. It'd be the one in the middle that you couldn't see until you opened it after purchase and would have like one hot picture of a mustachioed leather dude or a too-blond muscle guy on the cover and then nothing but recycled bad erotica inside.

So fitting I guess, in it's own way.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:32 PM on July 1, 2016 [13 favorites]


He's exploring his Wild Man masculinity so that you can explore your Wild Woman femininity.

ew, hard pass
posted by palomar at 12:49 PM on July 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


Here is Mantalks' mission statement:

We believe the group is stronger than the lone wolf and together, we can make an impact the world will forever remember. We believe being a man is not only about speaking your truth, but living it every day. We believe being a man isn’t always about being the strongest, smartest or best looking, it is about being the best possible version of YOU. It’s about owning who you are and knowing how you can, and do, impact the world around you. It’s about BEING your own man.

We know what it’s like to feel stuck in life. To feel as though there is some invisible wall or block that seems impossible to break through.

We also know that in order to succeed, in order to reach our full potential as men, leaders, husbands, fathers, brothers and sons, we must surround ourselves with people who also believe in an unlimited capacity for growth, expansion and possibility.

And that’s why we exist.
To Grow. To Support. To Thrive.

Our sole purpose, indeed our soul, is to connect men to one another so they can be challenged, grow, excel and break through their own perceived limitations. To connect Men with Mentors. To build a community of men who want to leave behind more than just an impeccable bank account, they want to leave an impeccable legacy.


Here is a listicle they published that is rehashed John Gray Mars/Venus essentialist BS. It seems like just from briefly perusing the site, the attitude is that they want to still differentiate themselves from women and have a "masculine" identity, yet they want to be liked by feminist women too. There are certain things that are, in their view, specifically only masculine needs and not needs all humans have. They couch it all in the language of being allies and trying to get rid of toxic masculinity. But they don't see that a masculinity that defines itself as "those qualities that are categorically and intrinsically different from femininity" is toxic in and of itself. Even if those qualities are positive. As a woman, I too have a fragile ego. I too need respect in a relationship. I too feel intimate after sex. I too need space.

And then there is a link to the "equivalent list" for women. (Jordan Gray? Is he John's son?) In its tone-deaf opener, it tells men they can have the "tools" to "more fully penetrate your woman." Their listicle of what women supposedly need is pretty much what any human needs in a relationship -- except for one glaringly objectionable one, #4: "Just as masculine energy has the need to protect, feminine energy has the desire to nurture."

Nope. I do NOT need to perform all the emotional labor in a relationship. Nor do I want to. This is not an inherent need in women.

I think Mantalks is just another essentialist wolf in sheep's clothing like IAM.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 12:55 PM on July 1, 2016 [19 favorites]


Love that this thread is still going; I think part of its relevance is that it's not just about Ian MacKenzie but a whole approach to art & life. Alexandra Erin got it on the money with a couple of lines:

I have a protagonists' classic features
I can't cry yet, the time is not yet right...I finally wept.
Nailed it.


I'd like to blame reality TV for this kind of thing but I think we can blame literature. Someone asked way back 'why does everything have to be someone's journey?" And I think we can blame Joseph Campbell and "the Hero's journey" and Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Charles Bukowski, the Beats, "By Grand Central Station". etc. I love how a book about the women in the Beat movement was called "Minor Characters" because that just nails this whole tendency of living-as-writing and using everyone and everything as material is so fucking toxic, exploitative and wrong. Of course the writer is the protagonist and everyone else is just a vehicle for the story to progress because they're on a Hero's Journey, dammit.

In SF in the 80s & 90s there was a Beat revival and in the poetry renaissance I saw a lot of bad poetry like this. I think the whole 'lifestyle' writing, where you have 'adventures' to write about is so problematic because everyone is a minor character, everyone is material, so it's inherently exploitative. That's how you can have a 'scene' in which MacKenzie films his wife's injections for laughs. And I don't think only men are susceptible; I had a film major roomate, female, who used to intrude into people's lives with her camera and try to film them without consent for a "verite" kind of thing just to get a good moment. While toxic masculinity and fake SNAGs are a real thing, I think this kind of insidious exploitative approach to art is just as much to blame.

As Erin said "this was the woman about whom I would write a dramatic arc of our relationship". It's entrenched in a lot of literature and it's very problematic. When I was aspiring to write when younger, this thing was all the rage in SF and it nauseated me. I had my own moment of it and I felt sickened by my participation. Since you're taught to 'write what you know', it becomes nearly reflexive. And at the time, it was taken as a legitimate tradition, and I'm so glad to see Erin poke holes in that exploitative, hypocritical sanctimonous crap.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 12:59 PM on July 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


I should add that I really mean living for material; of course, in writing you're going to draw from life. But I think the problem comes from when you can't seperate your living from your art and you are literally living for your art, you're hamming it up for that great scene and you are not genuinely living and then reflecting upon it later. And you're also playing upon people's vulnerabilities to create dramatic tension, to create an event.
posted by GospelofWesleyWillis at 1:02 PM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


Of all the things I have thought while hate-reading this piece multiple times, the one that always circles back into my brain is:

How did he manage to go through selecting, purchasing, and hiding a book about open marriages in his luggage for their Let's Contemplate Our Childless Future / Let's Gloss Over Your Cheating For Now Because You're Still My Best Chance to Have Kids Vacation without ONCE thinking "you know, I feel like there must be a more humane way to address this topic".

I mean, ok, you ruminate, you browse Amazon, you get the book. But surely as you are packing for your Hawaiian vacation, there should be a moment, book in hand, wondering which swim trunks to hide it inside, that you think "My wife deserves better than this."
posted by nakedmolerats at 1:25 PM on July 1, 2016 [23 favorites]


nakedmolerats: But surely as you are packing for your Hawaiian vacation, there should be a moment, book in hand, wondering which swim trunks to hide it inside, that you think "My wife deserves better than this."

I'm pretty sure the book just happened to be in his luggage. He didn't put it there. Things just happen sometimes, you know? A lot of things just happened to him.
posted by clawsoon at 1:29 PM on July 1, 2016 [26 favorites]


This thread has been great, thanks all of you. I've sent it to a few friends and we've decided we need to start a hate read book club because you can only communicate so much shock and vitriol over whatsapp.
posted by Ned G at 1:31 PM on July 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


I think all this essentialism hiding behind being an ally is a form of bargaining. It's like, "can we please not have to be like women in any way, and in return we'll pretend that all the 'feminine' qualities we disavow because we think they indicate weakness are things that we appreciate in women. Just don't make us share protectiveness, providing, ego-stroking, and respect with you laydeeeezz! And we'll say we like feminism and speak out against rape and learn the language of emotional labor even though we sound kind of uncanny valley trying to speak it--just don't make us be nurturing or ever want to be protected, especially by da wimminz!"
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 1:33 PM on July 1, 2016 [19 favorites]


clawsoon: "the book somehow found my suitcase, as the velvety lips of my mythopoetic goddess found mine that sultry, incandescent night."
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 1:34 PM on July 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


He's willing to have sex with good girls and bad girls. He transcends old-culture distinctions.

Wanting to bang both the Madonna and the whore does not make a person enlightened.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:47 PM on July 1, 2016 [9 favorites]


just don't make us be nurturing or ever want to be protected, especially by da wimminz!"

"And don't ask us to be, y'know, actually present, or supportive, or take time out from our important self-enlightenment activities, OK?"
posted by happyroach at 2:03 PM on July 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


Beethoven's Sith: "...just don't make us be nurturing or ever want to be protected, especially by da wimminz!"

I make fun of this guy because it's too easy, but I know that I'm nowhere near done digging through all the layers of messages I've internalized about things that would automatically make me unattractive.
posted by clawsoon at 2:28 PM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've been contemplating the question of how these men get dates. Because what's obvious to me now was very not obvious to me when I was younger. The kind of attention you get when someone is casting you as a character in their journey is *almost* right.

If you have been feeling unseen and unheard, here's someone who will appear to see and hear you. I mean, they're not. But the character they've cast you as is close enough to the actual you that it can take awhile to notice that it's all about them. They're telling you how important and special you are, and if you've never had someone actually think you're important and special? You don't have a measuring stick to know what that's supposed to feel like. Being slathered with attention is hella flattering. It does make you feel special. It can take a long time before you notice how exploitative the attention actually is. How you don't exist with an interior life. How you are a prop. How being revered as a goddess robs you of humanity. How being a Muse for someone's art robs you of agency.

They get dates and girlfriends and wives because society negs women. We get torn down at every pass. So if just the right factors come together, we've been primed for this brand of asshole. We don't aspire to be protagonists, so being a muse seems awesome and great. Because at least we'll be IN the great art, even if we aren't creating it.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:08 PM on July 1, 2016 [36 favorites]


It's also really hard to understand how communication or empathy or compromise ideally work in a relationship, and the more you understand that relationships do take hard work, the more difficult it gets. There is no objective measurement of an unhealthy relationship; it can be really anxiety-inducing to admit to yourself that you need more out of one, or that you have the right to find something about yours seriously unpleasant. I've let myself be in relationships that people I trusted told me to run the fuck away from, en masse, and I should've, but I didn't. Because I was am young and anxious, and scared of wanting things from people, and generally still overcoming the fear that I'm going to live and die alone. So half-formed relationships, or relationships with serious columns of Blissful and Shit, felt better than the alternative. I'm trying really hard right now to break that habit, and it's working so far, but (as I half-jokingly tell my roomie) I'm probably still a half-step away from getting involved in a really dumb situation if I don't watch it. He's permitted to smack me if I do.

As I've been through this, though, I've watched the women in my life put up with drastically worse. The friend whose boyfriend asked her to be his alarm clock, then called her a bitch whenever she woke him up. The multiple close friends who dealt with men who abused them and worse, because those men showed them some affection, or were some kind of smart or funny or whatever else have you. I know really smart people who can run Judith Butler circles around me who still get wrapped up in godawful circumstances, because they genuinely don't know where to draw the line.

My experience with shitty men and with the women they attract is that most people have at least a fairly diverse swath of population they attract, regardless of the specifics of their shitty ways. Over time you can make out a scatter plot of the kinds of people who'll put up with each kind of awful. And I bet those shitty people know it, too, better than their victims (let's call them what they are) do, because those men see it happen a dozen times more than the women they target, and can see who'll put up with them right off the bat.

(This isn't just true of predators. I know both my type and the people who think I'm theirs, and I've watched both evolve over time, and seen the overlaps shift. But I think this definition of "type" includes positive, negative, and neutral traits all in one. Types aren't always good.)

Yet another human behavior that I think is amplified by the simultaneous message to men that women are meant to be "pursued" or "won", and that sex is the end goal of a romantic relationship, no more and no less, while women are meanwhile belittled or condescended to or taught to accept men's fault or their own passivity or jesus, if I try writing them all down I'll be here forever and my takeout will grow cold. But yeah. Human nature plus fucked-up society. Gotta love it!
posted by rorgy at 4:48 PM on July 1, 2016 [14 favorites]


I make fun of this guy because it's too easy, but I know that I'm nowhere near done digging through all the layers of messages I've internalized about things that would automatically make me unattractive.

I just had a thought - there's a huge movement in women's romance/porn for the "beta male" style hero, which is a hero who is loving, nurturing, gentle, and caring. An enormous part of even the "bad boy" style of romance is that the "bad boy" is nice TO HER (us) even if he's mean to everyone else.

I wonder if, for men, this is just another way that the 'women aren't the opponent, they are the ball' plays out in heterosexual relationships - where women would actually prefer something men would consider "unmanly" but since men are judging themselves based on their homosocial relationships instead of their heterosocial relationships they miss it entirely. I think it might also be a part of the 'pussy whipped / wife as ball and chain' dynamic, where acting to please a woman, even the woman one ostensibly loves, is seen as making oneself unmanly and unattractive. This is illogical if the person doing the judgement is the woman in the equation, so it seems to me as if there must be another dynamic playing out.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:14 PM on July 1, 2016 [17 favorites]


It is so weird that affection and vulnerability are seen as unmanly. What's more badass than Indiana Jonesing into the weird, inarticulable parts of your psyche, and coming back up with eloquent treasures of insight that'll enrich the plundering manor of your mind?

(The part where you like somebody so much you giggle and clap your hands a bunch, that is probably unmanly. I like to think of it as the emotional equivalent of a really killer guitar fill: somewhere a solo will happen and the passion or whatever will overwhelm the fuck out of you, but other times you just fill in the tiny spaces with happy crunchy bits and everything's a-okay.)
posted by rorgy at 5:19 PM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


rorgy: ...vulnerability are seen as unmanly. What's more badass...

I dunno about the whole "vulnerability" thing as it has been presented to me. I've read, "I love a man who's strong and vulnerable," a bunch of times (and men saying, "Women love a man who's strong and vulnerable"), and it makes my head explode a little bit. Those two words are contradictions. Someone who's "strong and emotionally open, strong and emotionally available" - sure, that makes sense. Those are not contradictions. Flexible, emotionally aware strength instead of brittle strength; that makes sense. Strong and nurturing, sure. But when you're vulnerable is when you don't have the flexibility, you don't have the strength, you don't have the emotional tools. When you need somebody to protect you.

Someone (I forget where) talked about the curated vulnerability that modern men are learning to display. You learn to be emotionally open in just the right way, to just the right degree, and if you do it right you can indeed continue to be badass and strong and manly.

But that's not vulnerability. Beethoven's Sith's comment above - especially the word "protected" - really brought that home for me.

Deoridhe: where women would actually prefer something men would consider "unmanly" but since men are judging themselves based on their homosocial relationships instead of their heterosocial relationships they miss it entirely.

For those of you who are interested in fish sex, Evolution's Rainbow talks about this in fish. An experiment was done on a species in which males fight with each other for mates and provide care for young. When males were prevented from fighting for dominance and females were allowed to choose, they inevitable chose the better fathers over the better fighters. When males were allowed to fight, the females went for the males with the better territories, which meant they went for the better fighters.

There are many interesting things one could read into that if one chose to be so vulgar as to make baseless speculations.
posted by clawsoon at 6:01 PM on July 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


i think a lot of pulling from animal biology stuff to explain relationships between humans ends up being very gender essentialist and often not germane at all. it becomes another way to say 'men are this and women are that,' with all the awful that those conclusions have pushed forward.
posted by nadawi at 7:02 PM on July 1, 2016 [29 favorites]


Biology is important, but as humans we get to filter all that through our cultural norms. It's very challenging (well, basically futile) to apply research on our closest relatives - bonobos and chimpanzees - to humans in a simple "Male chimps do X because X, therefore male humans do X!" kind of thing, especially because male chimpanzees will do X and male bonobos will do A and what male humans do is different from both, even though we're equally closely related. Move out to fish and what looks like a simple comparison between Males and Females of one species, and Males and Females of another becomes incredibly challenging. You have to think about things like differences in gamete size, parental investment, environments in which research is occurring, captive vs. wild experiments, etc. etc. etc. etc. At any rate, I think those sorts of biological underpinnings of our behavior are so layered under culture in modern humans as to make any comparison of fish courtship behavior to understanding men being assholes in the context of a putatively monogamous marriage in the United States basically meaningless.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:37 PM on July 1, 2016 [26 favorites]


There are many interesting things one could read into that if one chose to be so vulgar as to make baseless speculations.

this is a real weird thing to say to cap off something that reads like a complete non-sequitur if you're not intending people to draw these connections.
posted by Krom Tatman at 8:41 PM on July 1, 2016 [6 favorites]




Amanda fucking Palmer.
posted by rorgy at 5:57 AM on July 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


Aye, all your criticisms are fair, it was something of a non-sequitur, and my final sentence gave it the worst possible framing.

This particular fish story came to mind because I watch a lot of nature documentaries where, even in the excellent stuff by people like David Attenborough, the language is always some variation of, "The winning male claims his right." Always. It's just casually there, part of the furniture of talking about sex in nature. Evolution's Rainbow points out how that language imposes Victorian patriarchal norms onto nature and then turns around and imposes them back onto humans because they're "natural".

To use Deoridhe's language, the focus is always on the homosocial relationships of males in any species where conflict between males is possible, with the assumption that the preference of females will automatically fall in line. These fish are a nice clear experimental counter-example to "how nature always works".

If I came across as, "Here's how humans are wired, just like this obscure fish species!" - and I probably did - then I spoke wrong. Humans are wired to have huge behavioural flexibility. If you can find a behaviour in nature, there's a chance you'll find at least a loose parallel in some person in some culture at some point in time, because we have that flexibility.

The behavioural flexibility of humans is probably not news to any of you, but "what's natural" is in the background of the cultural conversation about what's masculine and manly and attractive to women, and it's always nice to have examples from nature that go against the standard nature documentary narrative.
posted by clawsoon at 6:26 AM on July 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


dammit, now I'm going to be spending my day looking for examples of sad boner fish
posted by clawsoon at 6:55 AM on July 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


Is being attractive to women really the main reason that fake allies and their more blatant MRA brothers want to preserve gender stereotypes? It doesn't seem like they want to attract women so much as they want to assert superiority over them. They just seem like selfish boy-bullies who don't want to share their toys (in this case, power, privilege, and status) and that makes them tremendously unattractive but they don't seem to care.

The pseudo-sensitive guys try to fool us that they're not really holding us back, by taking on the disguise of allies, all the while subtly putting forth ancient ideas like "men are the big strong logical protectors. Women are just the nurturing feelers." They seem to think that they can strike a bargain: "Don't ask for my privileges and in return I'll protect and take care of you."

Don't they understand that it's not really fun, fulfilling, or interesting to be protected and taken care of beyond childhood, for any person? Being protected and stopped from growing and having adventures and a sense of competence and mastery sucks. Being stunted as a logical and critical thinker sucks. Having to do all the nurturing, i.e. emotional labor in a relationship, may suck most of all. (But of course, women who express thoughts like that are disconnected from their true femininity and terribly misguided, amirite?)

It's almost like they think we don't have complex thoughts or feelings of our own and don't want us to. Maybe it's because of the economy, at least in part. Are we taking "their" jobs? Is that what this is all about, resource competition?
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 6:57 AM on July 2, 2016 [14 favorites]


This guy's response to DJ Rhiannon (i apologize for the misunderstanding. I believe once you see it, you will recognize Amplify Her as my sincere offering to be an ally to women in accelerating a new culture that respects and honours the full creative and sexual realm of the feminine.) is a great example of why I immediately distrust anyone who self-identifies as an ally.
posted by ITheCosmos at 7:02 AM on July 2, 2016 [16 favorites]


Rereading "A Room of One's Own," posted above, and it is still so good and so relevant.
posted by lauranesson at 7:03 AM on July 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


the full creative and sexual realm of the feminine

Because your career isn't about having a good business sense and earning a living, it's all about being someone I want to fuck and view as a sex goddess/earth mother because that is YOUR realm, and not mine, and don't you dare cross that line.

Hurling.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 7:19 AM on July 2, 2016 [13 favorites]


Beethoven's Sith: It doesn't seem like they want to attract women so much as they want to assert superiority over them.

Hmm. Why not both?

I really liked stoneweaver's comment, and I think the dynamic she talks about touches on how attraction can be used as a tool to create relationships where superiority is asserted. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, that's one of the pillars of PUA culture.
posted by clawsoon at 7:25 AM on July 2, 2016


I think for those guys getting a woman's attraction IS a form of asserting superiority because the woman (muse) is an accessory to the man (artist) and therefore he's a real artist and that confers social status. And stoneweaver is right that sometimes it's close enough to real mutual respect, especially at first, to fool the recipient. Especially if you haven't seen mutual respect modeled.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 7:34 AM on July 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


This bit from A Room of One's Own is a bit long, but it speaks to exactly what's at hand, I think (I've added paragraph breaks for ease of internet reading):

Coleridge certainly did not mean, when he said that a great mind is androgynous, that it is a mind that has any special sympathy with women; a mind that takes up their cause or devotes itself to their interpretation. Perhaps the androgynous mind is less apt to make these distinctions than the single-sexed mind. He meant, perhaps, that the androgynous mind is resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment; that it is naturally creative, incandescent and undivided. In fact one goes back to Shakespeare's mind as the type of the androgynous, of the man-womanly mind, though it would be impossible to say what Shakespeare thought of women.

And if it be true that it is one of the tokens of the fully developed mind that it does not think specially or separately of sex, how much harder it is to attain that condition now than ever before. Here I came to the books by living writers, and there paused and wondered if this fact were not at the root of something that had long puzzled me. No age can ever have been as stridently sex-conscious as our own; those innumerable books by men about women in the British Museum are a proof of it. The Suffrage campaign was no doubt to blame. It must have roused in men an extraordinary desire for self-assertion; it must have made them lay an emphasis upon their own sex and its characteristics which they would not have troubled to think about had they not been challenged. And when one is challenged, even by a few women in black bonnets, one retaliates, if one has never been challenged before, rather excessively.

That perhaps accounts for some of the characteristics that I remember to have found here, I thought, taking down a new novel by Mr A, who is in the prime of life and very well thought of, apparently, by the reviewers. I opened it. Indeed, it was delightful to read a man's writing again. It was so direct, so straightforward after the writing of women. It indicated such freedom of mind, such liberty of person, such confidence in himself. One had a sense of physical well-being in the presence of this well-nourished, well-educated, free mind, which had never been thwarted or opposed, but had had full liberty from birth to stretch itself in whatever way it liked. All this was admirable.

But after reading a chapter or two a shadow seemed to lie across the page. It was a straight dark bar, a shadow shaped something like the letter 'I'. One began dodging this way and that to catch a glimpse of the landscape behind it. Whether that was indeed a tree or a woman walking I was not quite sure. Back one was always hailed to the letter 'I'. One began to be tired of 'I'. Not but what this 'I' was a most respectable 'I'; honest and logical; as hard as a nut, and polished for centuries by good teaching and good feeding. I respect and admire that 'I' from the bottom of my heart. But--here I turned a page or two, looking for something or other--the worst of it is that in the shadow of the letter 'I' all is shapeless as mist. Is that a tree? No, it is a woman. But...she has not a bone in her body, I thought, watching Phoebe, for that was her name, coming across the beach. Then Alan got up and the shadow of Alan at once obliterated Phoebe. For Alan had views and Phoebe was quenched in the flood of his views. And then Alan, I thought, has passions; and here I turned page after page very fast, feeling that the crisis was approaching, and so it was. It took place on the beach under the sun. It was done very openly. It was done very vigorously. Nothing could have been more indecent.

But...I had said 'but' too often. One cannot go on saying 'but'. One must finish the sentence somehow, I rebuked myself. Shall I finish it, 'But--I am bored!' But why was I bored? Partly because of the dominance of the letter 'I' and the aridity, which, like the giant beech tree, it casts within its shade. Nothing will grow there. And partly for some more obscure reason. There seemed to be some obstacle, some impediment in Mr A's mind which blocked the fountain of creative energy and shored it within narrow limits. And remembering the lunch party at Oxbridge, and the cigarette ash and the Manx cat and Tennyson and Christina Rossetti all in a bunch, it seemed possible that the impediment lay there. As he no longer hums under his breath, 'There has fallen a splendid tear from the passion-flower at the gate', when Phoebe crosses the beach, and she no longer replies, 'My heart is like a singing bird whose nest is in a water'd shoot', when Alan approaches what can he do?

Being honest as the day and logical as the sun, there is only one thing he can do. And that he does, to do him justice, over and over (I said turning the pages) and over again. And that, I added, aware of the awful nature of the confession, seems somehow dull. Shakespeare's indecency uproots a thousand other things in one's mind, and is far from being dull. But Shakespeare does it for pleasure; Mr A, as the nurses say, does it on purpose. He does it in protest. He is protesting against the equality of the other sex by asserting his own superiority. He is therefore impeded and inhibited and self-conscious as Shakespeare might have been if he too had known Miss Clough and Miss Davies. Doubtless Elizabethan literature would have been very different from what it is if the women's movement had begun in the sixteenth century and not in the nineteenth.

What, then, it amounts to, if this theory of the two sides of the mind holds good, is that virility has now become self-conscious--men, that is to say, are now writing only with the male side of their brains. It is a mistake for a woman to read them, for she will inevitably look for something that she will not find. It is the power of suggestion that one most misses, I thought, taking Mr B the critic in my hand and reading, very carefully and very dutifully, his remarks upon the art of poetry. Very able they were, acute and full of learning; but the trouble was that his feelings no longer communicated; his mind seemed separated into different chambers; not a sound carried from one to the other. Thus, when one takes a sentence of Mr B into the mind it falls plump to the ground--dead; but when one takes a sentence of Coleridge into the mind, it explodes and gives birth to all kinds of other ideas, and that is the only sort of writing of which one can say that it has the secret of perpetual life.

posted by lauranesson at 9:06 AM on July 2, 2016 [14 favorites]


He's exploring his Wild Man masculinity so that you can explore your Wild Woman femininity.

we must drive him into the sea
posted by poffin boffin at 10:32 AM on July 2, 2016 [25 favorites]


PUAs aren't actually interested in the respect or opinions of women; the whole culture is about competing with/getting status from other men, and women are just a means to that end.
posted by Krom Tatman at 11:02 AM on July 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


PUAs aren't actually interested in the respect or opinions of women; the whole culture is about competing with/getting status from other men, and women are just a means to that end.

Hence the obsession with rating women as numbers. What they're aiming to "score" is points.
posted by Cozybee at 11:04 AM on July 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's interesting to me that the John Wayne-style toxic masculinity that the PUA types embody dictates that it's weak to care what others think, but is really all about getting status, which is all about what other people think.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 11:25 AM on July 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


yeah, the idea that it's about getting women to love them/fuck them/be around them - like they just really wanted a dating guide and bumbled into a group that hates women even more than the general culture - is blown clean apart when you start reading threads in various places of the manosphere about their daughters. it's entirely disheartening.
posted by nadawi at 11:41 AM on July 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


OMG nadawi, you are right. I won't link it here but if you google the words manosphere daughters the first result is a forum full of hate speech where devotees of one of the PUA gurus are on about how much they don't want daughters.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 11:50 AM on July 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


and then when they have daughters they discuss them in the exact same terms they discuss women they do or don't want to date. it becomes obvious very quickly that their world view isn't about finding sexual partners/mates, but about controlling women.
posted by nadawi at 12:11 PM on July 2, 2016 [12 favorites]


Beethoven's Sith: It's interesting to me that the John Wayne-style toxic masculinity that the PUA types embody dictates that it's weak to care what others think, but is really all about getting status, which is all about what other people think.

One line that stuck with me from the Waking Life story (previously) was, "If anything, they said, it was Jared who wasn’t able to take the sex casually." He had put tremendous effort - with some success, according to women who dated him - into constructing a persona who was "a refreshing example of no-drama casual sex". Outside: Doesn't care what people think, it's all a fun romp. Inside: A colour-coded spreadsheet to keep track of how good he should feel about himself based on how many women he had slept with.
posted by clawsoon at 12:40 PM on July 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


the women he victimized include some of our members so can we all be careful with how we introduce that topic here?
posted by nadawi at 12:58 PM on July 2, 2016 [13 favorites]


Honestly, though, Mackenzie doesn't seem to be anything like a PUA. I don't like PUAs, even if I totally get how they happen -- toxic masculinity is toxic for men, too, and I think the game is one of those "lifehacks" that can seem appealing to (mostly young) men who just are not given many clues as to how to be good, responsible people in positive relationships and who really, really want to have sex. Mackenzie is not that guy at all. He thinks he's figured out how to spin using women for sex into being a "good man." If he's a PUA, he's some kind of second level PUA jedi. ...Except that his "game" also cost him his marriage, so I guess its success rate is a little subjective.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:21 PM on July 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


oh yeah, i totally don't think he's a pua (although i think the general manosphere skews higher than young man). just, they share that obvious distain/feeling of superiority over women and use evo psych to justify it.

and i bet he doesn't think it "cost" him his marriage because he doesn't seem to have valued his marriage or wife at all (if anything i guess he valued the idea of marriage above his flesh and blood wife which is why he tried to see himself as not cheating with 'damaged' 'worthy' women).
posted by nadawi at 4:44 PM on July 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


I looked around for the AmplifyHer teaser trailer called out by DJ Rhiannon, and didn't find it-- I would imagine Mr. I AM would have pulled it down by now-- but I did end up watching the official trailer again, and would like to point out that in the first voice-over ("Female sexual energy is so powerful it's like scary for a lot of people. It's like a bottomless abyss of creativity") the phrase "bottomless abyss" is accompanied by film of a black woman on stage twerking. Classy.
posted by jokeefe at 4:44 PM on July 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


Not a PUA but definitely using feminism to gain sexual access to women. As Alexandra Erin pointed out, he's like Hugo Schwyzer.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 5:45 PM on July 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


nadawi: oh yeah, i totally don't think he's a pua (although i think the general manosphere skews higher than young man). just, they share that obvious distain/feeling of superiority over women and use evo psych to justify it.

I see the parallels, too, and I know of at least a couple of PUA types who think of themselves as good men who are bringing the joy of sexual freedom to women. They're not common, but they're definitely a type. The difference I see between them and MacKenzie (and I'm not suggesting it's the only difference, it's just my limited view) is that they tend to be pseudo-scientific while he's pseudo-spiritual.
posted by clawsoon at 5:46 PM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Men like this thrive on co-opting women to be their "muses," which is shorthand for emotional labor and drudgery on steroids, as well as mining them for creative inspiration. By keeping the women unhappy, self-doubting, and off-balance, men like this get a constant supply of attention, energy, support, patience, caring, and inspiration, not to mention someone to handle the boring details of grocery shopping, bill-paying, floor-mopping, and doing laundry.

They also are kings of doing just enough to keep their wives and girlfriends hooked. Just as she's wondering if he's really worth the trouble, he picks up that special drink she likes and brings it to her at work, or remembers that she mentioned running her stockings, so gets her a pair (and it's the right brand and size, and everything), or clears the table, while simultaneously writing a sonnet about it. She then is confused, because he is such a fantastic and caring guy - of course, he is - and how could she think of leaving him?

It really only changes after the women start seeing through the mystique, and realizes that her own creative and emotional life is tanking, and she is giving far, far, far more than she is getting back. The minute she starts believing that she deserves more, it's over. The guy immediately loses interest, and starts casting about for another victim, err, replacement, err, girlfriend to seduce.
posted by dancing_angel at 6:18 PM on July 2, 2016 [33 favorites]


I've just realised this is why I can't stand art that's just a series of images of sad-faced women or their torsos. Sad Boner Paintings, Sad Boner Photography. Look at my muse! She looks so sad and beautiful and mysterious! Why? I dunno, that's just how woman are, innit?
posted by harriet vane at 2:35 AM on July 4, 2016 [13 favorites]


The PUA tangent inspired me to write a short Field Guide to the PUA. I argue that the Burning Man Spiritual Polyamorist is closest in inspiration to the Creepy PUA, a type which had its heyday in the 1980s. They both claim to offer women something higher and better and purer than sex (romance for the Creep, art and spirituality for the Burner). They both "really get to know a woman, deeply, the way she truly is", while never quite seeing the actual woman in front of them.
posted by clawsoon at 8:33 AM on July 4, 2016 [9 favorites]


I love y'all's comments so much. This thread has been very satisfying, especially since I seem to be a magnet for this sort of douchetruck. They tend to mistake me fir someone younger, and hooo boy do they dislike being directly called on their bullshit.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:28 PM on July 4, 2016 [9 favorites]


« Older The Spherical Droste Effect, with added twist and...   |   Seeking paradise: The image and reality of truck... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments