Not That There's Anything Wrong With That...
April 9, 2005 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Going on a "Man Date" (NYT link, reg. required). Two (presumably) heterosexual guys who knew each other from college go to the museum and dinner without partners -- and apparently this qualifies as a "man date," although (again presumably) there's no kiss at the end of the night or promises to call the next day. Maybe I'm cranky, but back in my day, we simply called this "spending time with a friend" and didn't plaster a thin veneer of gay panic/defensive het rationalization on it. Is the social behavior of straight males now so circumscribed that a guy having one-on-one time with a male friend outside a bar or sporting merits an article in the NYT?
posted by jscalzi (178 comments total)

 
The author addresses the "used to be called spending time with a friend" idea by arguing that

"Dinner with a friend has not always been so fraught. Before women were considered men's equals, some gender historians say, men routinely confided in and sought advice from one another in ways they did not do with women, even their wives. Then, these scholars say, two things changed during the last century: an increased public awareness of homosexuality created a stigma around male intimacy, and at the same time women began encroaching on traditionally male spheres, causing men to become more defensive about notions of masculinity."

posted by rxrfrx at 7:27 AM on April 9, 2005


Maybe the new term has happen through married couples calling their dates, quality time.
posted by thomcatspike at 7:31 AM on April 9, 2005


who touched my traditionally male spheres?
posted by paul_smatatoes at 7:32 AM on April 9, 2005


I think there's also just a tendency nowadays to have names for "spending time with friends" - reminds me of the whole "playdate" thing between kids. When I was a kid, we just "went over to each other's house" or something...
posted by mdn at 7:33 AM on April 9, 2005


Man date? Thas reminds me, back in my day, we carried this thing called a satchel, now they're called a "man purse".
posted by bobo123 at 7:36 AM on April 9, 2005


This only matters to people who care what people they don’t care about think, right?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:38 AM on April 9, 2005


Back in my day, we didn't even have men. We had to dress up our puppies in "man-suits" and take them to brunch. We called them "dog date afternoons".
posted by taz at 7:40 AM on April 9, 2005 [1 favorite]


It made me think of "playdate," as well. We didn't use that term when I was a kid. And this "man date," stuff just sounds stupid. What was wrong with "hanging out with the guys"?

This could get disturbing. If I take my mom out to dinner, is that a "mom date?"

*shudder*
posted by jonmc at 7:40 AM on April 9, 2005


"The author addresses the 'used to be called spending time with a friend' idea..."

Eh. The author pops up some historical hubbub, but look at the timeframe this author is talking about: "Then, these scholars say, two things changed during the last century..." I mean, jeez, I was having dinner with a male friend in the last six months and not getting all concerned about the cultural and sexual implications.
posted by jscalzi at 7:42 AM on April 9, 2005


Dinner with a friend has not always been so fraught.

...it still isn't you dumb dick. The NYT is so lame anymore it makes me want to expel nutrition (used to be called vomit).
posted by j.p. Hung at 7:43 AM on April 9, 2005


One definition of date at dictionary.com is " An engagement to go out socially with another person, often out of romantic interest."

In other words, a "date," is a night out with the potential for sex. When I go drinking my freinds that's not on the agenda, and I don't think it is for these guys either, so the term is a misnomer. Unless they doth protest too much.
posted by jonmc at 7:43 AM on April 9, 2005


My, oh my, the perils of living an "openly straight lifestyle"!

weapons-grade pandemonium hits the nail on the head: "This only matters to people who care what people they don’t care about think, right?"
posted by ericb at 7:50 AM on April 9, 2005


Am I missing something, or is this quite the most absurd piece of writing that has ever been produced anywhere, by anyone, in the entire expanse of human history?

I mean... WHAT?

Two guys. Right. They're straight. OK. They're supposed to be friends? And they go to an art gallery, or a meal or something... together. Yeah... as friends do, right? And....what? What? Why does this even begin to be an issue? For them, the author or anyone else?

Jesus Christ, my male friends and I do things like this all the time. Whenever I go back to London my best pal and me immediately go out for a meal together. We'll go see a band together. Or a film. When he came to New York we spent a day doing museums. Together. Just the two of us. Because we're friends. Friends like doing things together. Right?

I have no idea what the problem is. No idea at all. I only know that anyone who finds something even slightly surprising about two male friends behaving like friends must be the most monumental prick.
posted by Decani at 7:52 AM on April 9, 2005


Heaven forbid the idea of a Finnish sauna.


posted by ericb at 7:56 AM on April 9, 2005


I *heart* taz. And any date with me is, of course, fraught. Fraught fraught fraught. I'm irresistible to other men. Yes. Yes, I am.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:58 AM on April 9, 2005


Tripe, pure and simple.

I mean, you need a fucking doctor to "urge men to get over their discomfort in socializing one on one because they have much to gain from the emotional support of male friendships"?

wow, breakthrough of social medicine there.
posted by Busithoth at 8:02 AM on April 9, 2005


Reading through the article, I had one thing screaming out at me: urbanites overanalyzing normal situations.

Analyzing the banal certainly leads to some interesting surprises, but in this case I think it's a completely manufactured set of relationships. It's based on the assumption of the author's and the subject's personal experiences. That's an incredibly small set from which to draw data.

That these heterosexual men felt something strange going on baffles me, until I realize it's a fabricated story. It sounds to me like someone took an in-joke to the extreme level of basing a Grey Lady article on it.

I'm a heterosexual male with few male friends. However, one of my two closest friends is male. We live together, we hang out together and we collaborate on a lot of projects. Our stuff within our apartment is shared mostly communally. And sure, to outsiders something might appear queer about that. And sure, people have even jokingly said stuff about that.

The main thing about that is I don't give a shit if I find someone I really enjoy spending time with and they are male. We went out to grab some new compact discs one day and while looking through the racks I said "I'd get this, but we already have it." My friend responded "Can you gay that up a bit?" We had a good laugh about it, but I think that's as far as a personal hangup about it would go.

In fact, I think the only friend who ever says anything about it is a female friend on the queer side of bisexual and she seems a tad obsessed about pointing it out. I think most other people recognize it as real friendship.

Maybe Jeff and Armin haven't experienced a deep friendship in a long time. Most other men I know have close friendships with other men; a friend in Brooklyn with a whole clan of individuals he hangs out with individually, my father, my uncle, an older actor/painter friend, most of the other musicians I know.

Unfortunately, my experience is drawn from a larger, but still small, set than that of the article. However, my experience in no way meshes with what Jennifer 8. presented to me. I think it's quite a stretch.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:03 AM on April 9, 2005


I think the playdate approach is an interesting one. Rather than being a manifestation of some kind of anti-gay hysteria, it's a manifestation of our increasingly structured time. Kids don't play kickball in the park, they play soccer in a league. They don't just go over to their friends houses, they have specifically scheduled playdates.

Adults suffer the same kind of scheduling issues. It's not as easy to just grab a couple of beers on a whim, because schedules don't match up. And when something starts to involve pre-set plans and reservations, it starts to seem like an actual something, that needs a name.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:03 AM on April 9, 2005


As a gay man, I pray that my friends don't find out that last night I went to see a movie with a plot line focused on sports - and with straight people at that! Hope no one saw me entering or exiting the theater - they might get the wrong idea about me.
posted by ericb at 8:11 AM on April 9, 2005


"Those aren't pillows!"

"How about them Mets?"
posted by Fofer at 8:12 AM on April 9, 2005


The author of the NYT's article needs to rent the DVD of The Bronx Boys which chronicles the deep bond of friendship shared by a group of New York men since 1936!
posted by ericb at 8:15 AM on April 9, 2005


gender historians. heh.
posted by quonsar at 8:22 AM on April 9, 2005


I had one thing screaming out at me: urbanites overanalyzing normal situations.

Count me in for being pretty sure this is an urban (read: NYC) thing. Up here in the sticks we don't have mandates, manbags, or even playdates. Here we spend time with friends, carry satchels or briefcases (or even sometimes tote bags), and we 'go up to' a friend's house.

Quit labeling everything and live!
posted by anastasiav at 8:29 AM on April 9, 2005


Filler Article Sparks Enlivened Debate on Non-Issue Like Intended: Film at 11.
posted by unsupervised at 8:29 AM on April 9, 2005


Am I the only homo who wants to reclaim the term man-date? Cause when I pay for a man's dinner I expect he knows what I'm expecting...

Just kidding. It sounds like highschool. I do things with straight friends all the time, and people never mistake us for being a couple. I do have one straight friend who pretends to have hissy fights with me, but people generally get the joke.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:31 AM on April 9, 2005


well, if he sneaks a grab at his man-boobs, or tries to get into his mansiere, or is that a bro?
posted by Eekacat at 8:32 AM on April 9, 2005


A glimpse through an interstice caught,
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room around the stove
late of a winter night, and I unremark'd seated in a corner,
Of a youth who loves me and whom I love, silently approaching and seating himself near, that he may hold me by the hand,
A long while amid the noises of coming and going, of drinking and oath and smutty jest,
There we two, content, happy in being together, speaking little, perhaps not a word.

-- Walt Whitman
posted by digaman at 8:32 AM on April 9, 2005


isn't the NYT notorious for articles about commonplace activities that nobody cares to think about?
posted by angry modem at 8:32 AM on April 9, 2005


The whole thing is explainable by the fact that the NYT article was written by Jennifer 8. Lee. I say no more.
posted by Richard Lawrence Cohen at 8:34 AM on April 9, 2005


On preview, Jacquilynne's point makes perfect sense. There is something unfamiliar and date-like about scheduling time with a friend, but in today's world that's pretty much the only way you see people or do anything interesting.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:37 AM on April 9, 2005


Shakespeare wrote a few good sonnets out of his "man dates" too. One wonders what Ms. Lee would have made out of all that.
posted by digaman at 8:40 AM on April 9, 2005


Two (presumably) heterosexual guys who knew each other from college go to the museum and dinner without partners...

...Maybe I'm cranky, but back in my day, we simply called this "spending time with a friend"...


NEWS FLASH: BEHAVIOR OF THIS SORT IS TRADITIONALLY REFERRED TO AS HANGING OUT.
IT'S THE SOCIALLY LACKING MEMBERS OF THE POPULATION WHO TRY TO READ MORE INTO IT.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:42 AM on April 9, 2005


The whole thing is explainable by the fact that the NYT article was written by Jennifer 8. Lee.

Ha! I was just googling for that same article to post. So now I'll just make a cheap joke instead...

"Why were all the numbers afraid of 7? Because Jennifer 8. Lee!"

Laaaaaaaaaame... =)
posted by idontlikewords at 8:49 AM on April 9, 2005


What about when I go out with a gay friend and then we have dinner? What kind of date is that?
posted by kenko at 9:00 AM on April 9, 2005


You know, anecdotally, I've had few times in my life when I've had good, strong friendships with individual men. I'm not talking about "hangin' out with the boys" (whatever that is, I will probably never know). I'm talking about intimate friends spending one-on-one time talking about our lives, where we're going, how we've strayed. how we've triumphed. Feelings.

It sucks to be without such friendhips, and I understand that some people have to formalize activity in order to make it work. It's not easy to talk about because in American culture, straight men are generally discouraged from acknowledging that they have emotional needs that only other men can meet.

I hate the sound of "man date" as much as all of you, but I know what they're getting at, and so do a lot of you who are taking thes piss here. Open acknowledgement of intimacy is too much for many men. Most men sense the desire for intimacy and they pull back. I want to be clear that this isn't just homophobia, because I've seen plenty of gay men do the same thing. It has to do with isolating ourselves from our own feelings, because feelings are a source of vulnerability.

As a group, western men don't really have it together emotionally. Other cultures do it a lot better. Competition, shame, anger and isolation play a big role in the destructive cycles that thwart us, and, frankly, fuck up a lot of stuff in the world.
posted by squirrel at 9:01 AM on April 9, 2005


Oh God, Jennifer 8. Lee. I learned in journalism school to fear the work of those who adopt pretentious reporter nicknames that call attention to themselves.

I do think that hetero homophobia has made men afraid to show warmth towards fellow men. So we watch old episodes of Star Trek and snicker at the male bonding -- oh, how gay!
posted by inksyndicate at 9:03 AM on April 9, 2005


Bad definition of 'date'. Everyone knows dates must include three components: food, entertainment and affection. The best dates are when the entertainment IS the affection. You can never go without food, tho.

I would write more but I'm late for my career date.
posted by sexymofo at 9:03 AM on April 9, 2005


Dinner with a friend has not always been so fraught. Before women were considered men's equals, some gender historians say, men routinely confided in and sought advice from one another in ways they did not do with women, even their wives. Then, these scholars say, two things changed during the last century: an increased public awareness of homosexuality created a stigma around male intimacy, and at the same time women began encroaching on traditionally male spheres, causing men to become more defensive about notions of masculinity.

Paragraphs like this are why The Times is the weirdest newspaper in the world. Combine the sensibility of Frasier Crane with the requirement to make every subject, no matter how mundane, sound important enough to be reported in the Gray Lady, and you get a simple dinner with two male friends that's pregnant with gay panic.

Here's a nicely insane paragraph from a Times review of a PBS cooking show called Everyday Food:
[Co-host Allie Lewis] demonstrates a forced beginner's pluck, and she reveals a brittleness when she's trying to be soft. When musing over her al dente sautéed snap peas and radishes, she takes a moment to mock her mom's lifelong preference for canned vegetables: "In fact, my mother would probably consider this raw." She later disses her dad's delusions of grandeur as a green thumb, and confesses her struggles to wean herself from butter, a predilection that was hard won at the Cordon Bleu in Paris. (La pauvre!)

posted by rcade at 9:04 AM on April 9, 2005


Most men sense the desire for intimacy and they pull back. I want to be clear that this isn't just homophobia, because I've seen plenty of gay men do the same thing. It has to do with isolating ourselves from our own feelings, because feelings are a source of vulnerability.

I totally agree with you, squirrel. But I also suggest that articles like Ms. Lee's, which treat the notion of two pals going to a museum as an edgy social manuever worthy of a Zeitgeist epiphany, contribute to the problem rather than merely laying it out in the open or helping to solve it.
posted by digaman at 9:05 AM on April 9, 2005


An article about insecure over-educated men in their twenties who don't want to anyone they do or do not know thinking they might or might not be gay unless they get a call from a woman at the last possible moment? Ugh. I thought their turn towards crappy music reviews was as bad as the Times could get, but micro-trends that exist nowhere but in the imagination of an editor desperate for a new story are...are...a good American tradition.
posted by TomSophieIvy at 9:09 AM on April 9, 2005


Is this just another attempt by those liberal same sex kissing hippies at the New York Times to scare the rednecks in the flyover states?

Its probably working.

By the way, its not a "date" if neither party wants to see the other one naked. And that's about the last thing on my mind when I'm hanging out with my pals.
posted by fenriq at 9:14 AM on April 9, 2005


"Simply defined a man date is two heterosexual men socializing without the crutch of business or sports. "

Christ.

I think New York has jumped the shark, man. Is that town any fun at all anymore?
posted by bigdaddy at 9:15 AM on April 9, 2005


Oh crap! I went on a man date last night and I didn't even know it! Now I have so much to worry about than I ever could have imagined!
posted by blendor at 9:19 AM on April 9, 2005


According to Gibson the Roman Empire fell because Roman citizens had become too effeminate, they were soft, outsourcing their duties of civic responsibility (ie. military service) to external barbarian mercenaries, who became so numerous within the Empire, they easily overcame it -- not to conquer it, but they wanted to partake in it.
posted by stbalbach at 9:26 AM on April 9, 2005


"I hate the sound of "man date" as much as all of you, but I know what they're getting at, and so do a lot of you who are taking the piss here."

Squirrel, with all the 'sensitivity' I can muster..."blow me". Just because you want men to announce their feelings and vulnerabilities publicly doesn't validate this piece of crap of a story. The truth is, a lot of men talk with their buddies about life, love and other things (and yeah, sometimes we're not even drunk when we do it). We just don't see the need to grab a megaphone and announce it to the world.

"Most men sense the desire for intimacy and they pull back."

How do you know this? Did you read it in a NYT article? Thanks for your litany of blanket statements that are as pointless as this article.

Sorry dude, but I hate people that just have to validate bullshit journalism like this.
posted by j.p. Hung at 9:26 AM on April 9, 2005


Dear America
Stop trying to label everything

Thanks
M
posted by monkeyJuice at 9:29 AM on April 9, 2005


In other words, a "date," is a night out with the potential for sex. When I go drinking my freinds that's not on the agenda

Surely that depends on how much you drink... *grin*
posted by hardcode at 9:32 AM on April 9, 2005


"an increased public awareness of homosexuality created a stigma around male intimacy"

Well wrap me in a bow and call me a faggot.
Psst... don't tell anybody that I don't watch sports, ok?
posted by 2sheets at 9:33 AM on April 9, 2005


Jesus, Hung, ease off a little. There's plenty of evidence to support Squirell's statements, and I hated this article as much as you did.
posted by digaman at 9:35 AM on April 9, 2005


and at the same time women began encroaching on traditionally male spheres, causing men to become more defensive about notions of masculinity.

You know what's so awesome about being a woman? I am, like, so powerful I can force men to become defensive merely by existing too close. I can also make your wife barren, your cow insane, and your children set fire to your house in the night. Mwah ha ha ha.

Really, why are so many men so crazy about being "manly"? I swear girls I know don't spend half as much time as worrying about being feminine enough.
posted by dame at 9:36 AM on April 9, 2005


> Really, why are so many men so crazy about being "manly"?

Long answer, Dame, that stretches as far back as pre-human struggles for dominance among primates, and as far forward as Ms. Lee's nattering neurotic bullshit.
posted by digaman at 9:40 AM on April 9, 2005


You can make a date to meet with a mate. You can set a date to meet your mate. But unless you entertain potential sharing of bodily fluids, you don't go on a date with your mate. Women and male homosexuals may go on mandates. Het guys do not. It's not quite brain surgery is it?
posted by peacay at 9:45 AM on April 9, 2005


fenriq: I suspect that this is only a New York problem. After all, the definition of a "man date" hinges on the absence of sports, and everybody knows that fine dining, theatre, and art museums simply do not exist outside of New York. Out here in redneck country, a "man date" is stale coffee and fresh donuts sitting at a counter before getting out to the reservoir at the crack of down to do some good fishing. \snark

Ok, if you want to call out a trend, why not point to the fashionable tendency for news groups to engage in their own support of traditional gender roles by making a big deal whenever men take on traditionally feminine crafts along with the ever-popular and reoccuring piece on the house husband (appearing in local papers at least once a year)?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:50 AM on April 9, 2005


Recently at the Alamo Drafthouse (uber-cool Austin movie theater), two guys arrived early and sat down leaving the "we're not gay" seat between them. Even when the theater (almost) filled to capacity, they didn’t close the gap. The movie was "Hitch," which made the whole situation even funnier to me.
posted by found missing at 9:53 AM on April 9, 2005


Didn't Bush say he had a man date last November?
posted by sourwookie at 9:55 AM on April 9, 2005


Pehaps there's a castrative jealously of male intimacy behind Ms. Lee's theory of "man dates". Such interesting things happen when a woman's term is placed on a men's night out.

Intimacy among men is less a problem now (and since the caveman days) than the persistent intent of some women to mess with men's minds.

Somewhere, there's a suspicious group a women snickering at threads like this that arise from their operations.
posted by Como Gomez at 9:57 AM on April 9, 2005


I'm not talking about "hangin' out with the boys" (whatever that is, I will probably never know).

It usually involves large quantities of alcohol, loud music, gawking at unapproachable women and at least one vomiting incident. I'd be happy to be your tour guide, bro.

Really, why are so many men so crazy about being "manly"?


Because it's fun. Doing stupid guy shit like the stuff I mentioned above is an incredible release. And don't worry, girls aren't excluded, there've been plenty of women that I've considered "one of the boys," over the years.
posted by jonmc at 9:58 AM on April 9, 2005


The whole thing is explainable by the fact that the NYT article was written by Jennifer 8. Lee.

Did she name herself after the crappy movie?
posted by kirkaracha at 10:00 AM on April 9, 2005


I do think that hetero homophobia has made men afraid to show warmth towards fellow men.

I don't neccessarily buy that. It's just a different style. The headlock "I love this guy," noogie embrace, high-fiving, Super Bowl style chest bumping, and all that is still an expression of warmth and affection, just macho style.
posted by jonmc at 10:05 AM on April 9, 2005


I'm eagerly awaiting the follow up articles where the NYT discovers that Men and Women can just be friends, and that people #gasp# have sex without love.
posted by drezdn at 10:07 AM on April 9, 2005


Metafilter: Can you gay that up a bit?
posted by briank at 10:09 AM on April 9, 2005


... and that people #gasp# have sex without love.

Most people know that, it's love without sex that people have a hangup about.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:09 AM on April 9, 2005


Indeed, Kirk.
posted by digaman at 10:16 AM on April 9, 2005


Really, why are so many men so crazy about being "manly"? I swear girls I know don't spend half as much time as worrying about being feminine enough.

That's a little hard to believe. How many of them don't wear makeup on a daily basis?
posted by clevershark at 10:17 AM on April 9, 2005


digaman, well, so much for sharing feelings right? Regardless, please present the empirical evidence. I guess I'm just really bent that people like Squirrel are bothered because my feelings aren't some open source app for their enjoyment. It's nobody's business. And to suggest it's somehow responsible for the demise of culture or the world, well...c'mon.

I agree with KirkJobSluder, this is probably only a New York issue but to hear someone make blanket statements about how this effects the state of the globe is just stupid.
posted by j.p. Hung at 10:18 AM on April 9, 2005


Oh God, Jennifer 8. Lee. I learned in journalism school to fear the work of those who adopt pretentious reporter nicknames that call attention to themselves.

It's her legal name
posted by Kattullus at 10:25 AM on April 9, 2005


Hung, you just need to calm down enough to recognize which of your feelings were triggered by the article, which was atrocious, and which were triggered by Squirrel's post. There's a difference.
posted by digaman at 10:32 AM on April 9, 2005


"Man date" is just a label one woman thought up to describe a process which involves only men. I don't really get why it's being given such credence here.
posted by clevershark at 10:34 AM on April 9, 2005


1st) I heart ericb.

2nd) j.p. hung, while I agree with your sentiment, you were awfully rude, there. Squirrel wasn't trying to offend anyone and likely deserves a kinder response than that.

3rd) digaman, there's always "evidence" to support generalizations and stereotypes. That's part of why they're so dangerous. the problem with this article, and I agree with hung's idea if not his delivery, is that it's reinforcing stereotypes.

For instance: to use the quote rxrfrx (r0x0r f0rx? rocks are forks?) supplied:

Dinner with a friend has not always been so fraught. Before women were considered men's equals, some gender historians say, men routinely confided in and sought advice from one another in ways they did not do with women, even their wives.

so, now men never do this? Men only do it on rare occasions? What on earth kind of statement is this?!

Then, these scholars say, two things changed during the last century: an increased public awareness of homosexuality created a stigma around male intimacy,

When you won't quote a historian, it's because you're making shit up and don't have a source. There's a stigma around male intimacy because men have, since before recorded history, associated intimacy with vulnerability and have valued themselves based on their strength and independence. Homosexuality didn't create this notion. Anyone who has ever heard the whiplash sound used on another man can attest to that. What an assinine statement.

and at the same time women began encroaching on traditionally male spheres, causing men to become more defensive about notions of masculinity.

Yes, but this idea doesn't fit in logically with anything else she said. What other spheres of traditional male dominance have they gotten defensive over? Bread winning is one of them. Do they now consider earning an income or providing for their family to be a gay activity? No? Then why would they consider spending time with another man one?

I understand that you hate the article, and weren't defending the article, but squirrel's statements do, unfortunately, reinforce the same kind of nonsense this article reinforces.


4) So what is Jennifer 8 Lee saying? That I don't have to blow every guy I go to the museum with? Ha! Try telling them that!
posted by shmegegge at 10:38 AM on April 9, 2005


Jonmc, you misunderstood. I don't mean hung up on doing "manly" things, but on the question of masculinity.

clevershark: That's a little hard to believe. How many of them don't wear makeup on a daily basis?

Funny you ask. I can think of one girl I know who wears makeup daily. Maybe two. But I don't think girls who do wear makeup wear it because it makes them feel feminine. I think it's because they think it makes them look better (whether it does or not is a much bigger debate).

However, I don't know any women who don't learn to, say, weld or do construction because that isn't "womanly." Nor do they fret when the men in their lives do the cooking or whatever. The more I consider it, the more it seems like this is maybe one of the benefits of general feminism (and the whole Title IX–related blossoming of the female athlete) that men unfortunately missed out on. We got the message that not doing something just because it isn't "girly" doesn't make any sense. Or I could just be making that up. I don't know.

Anyway, let a thousand mandates bloom.
posted by dame at 10:40 AM on April 9, 2005


Hostility noted, j.p. Hung. Intimate talk between male friends is for you like announing your feelings to the world with a bullhorn. This more than adequately demonstrates my point about the general male fear of intimacy. Well done. I'm also glad to see the tone of the thread changing, from swaggering denouncements to some actual discussion of the issues raised by this rather shallow article.

Also, jonmc, I'll go drinking with you and the boys any time you're in Hanoi. I really shouldn't have suggested that I never do that kind of thing... it's just that I get tired of it because the scene has built-in limits.
posted by squirrel at 10:41 AM on April 9, 2005


Or to put it another way, most of the women I know do things to conform with standard gender roles. For instance, they shave their armpits. But those who choose not to don't have their femininity so heavily doubted as a man who did shave his armpits would have his masculinity doubted. I wonder why that is.
posted by dame at 10:47 AM on April 9, 2005


Really, why are so many men so crazy about being "manly"? I swear girls I know don't spend half as much time as worrying about being feminine enough.

Brilliant thought, Dame. My theory is this: "manliness" contains virtues that are now valued by both sexes, e.g., decisiveness, emotional strength, courage, rationaity, and other forms of personal strength. "femininity" on the other hand, is a relic of sexism that includes "virtues" few care to have these, e.g., submissiveness, faint minded emotionalism, and a disinterest in the central forms of social power, e.g., business.

In a desexualized sense of the term, we all want to be manly now. The dying gasp of "femininity" was big hair. Farrah Fawcet was the last feminine icon.
posted by Como Gomez at 10:48 AM on April 9, 2005


Next week's NYT topic of discussion: every attractive woman has at least one lesbian experience in their lifetime, usually in their early 20s, usually involving alcohol. Discuss.

Articles like this are what happens when sociology students can't find work.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:52 AM on April 9, 2005


Edit: real work.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:54 AM on April 9, 2005


squirrel: Well, to put an academic spin on things, there ore quite a few studies that suggest that men and women (in general) develop similar levels of intimacy in friendship, but do so in different ways. Women (in general) develop intimacy by talking together, while men (in general) develop intimacy by doing shit together.

So how this plays out sometimes is that "talk" can feel like belaboring the obvious or trivial to men. Meanwhile, men are sometimes seen as shallow because they are not expressing themselves through verbose conversation.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:54 AM on April 9, 2005


Also, as far as my reinforcing the positions of the author here, let me say this: I'm my academic career, I've read oceans of claptrap coffeetable gender theory. This wasn't the worst. Nevertheless, I was trying to relate about my personal experiences, using the issues she brought up as a springboard. I see the issues themselves as important, and I think that this discussion is ten times more interesting than the article that started it.

On preview: Como, I trust you're talking about "traditional femininity" that's on the decline, not femaleness in opposition to maleness, per se, which seems to be ever in flux. Being a woman appears to be just as important to today's women as it ever has been, if not moreso. But, again, I think we're saying two parts of the same thing.
posted by squirrel at 10:56 AM on April 9, 2005


Dude, I do all these man-date things with my BROTHER. Roomates, movie mates, dinner mates, grocery shopping mates, etc. So, let me get this straight (pardon the pun)... not only are we gay... we're INCESTUALLY gay? Whoa...
posted by afx114 at 11:00 AM on April 9, 2005


that article is gay.
posted by sdrawkcab at 11:00 AM on April 9, 2005


"femininity" on the other hand, is a relic of sexism that includes "virtues" few care to have

How about sensitivity, gentleness, kindness etc.

I'm not saying that we should return to strict gender roles, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.


Also, jonmc, I'll go drinking with you and the boys any time you're in Hanoi.


Me, drunk in Hanoi? Probably not a good idea. I'd inevitably end up wearing fatigues and shouting "Come out and fight, Charlie!" while holding a water pistol, which would make us all very unpopular.

Jonmc, you misunderstood. I don't mean hung up on doing "manly" things, but on the question of masculinity.

Well, it's the age old question that men have to wrestle with-what does it mean to be a man? Some of masculinity is a societal construct, I'll admit, but some of it is inborn, too. And engaging in traditional "male," behavior is sometimes a way of finding out whether it's part of your personal definition of masculinity.

Of course, there's the larger of question-what does it mean to be human? of which the "man" question is but a subset.
posted by jonmc at 11:00 AM on April 9, 2005


dame: Well, hrm. IME while the script has been changing more dramatically for women than for men, IME many women are still a bit worried when men don't act according to script. And it is still common to assume that men are less that fully competent at certain tasks.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:02 AM on April 9, 2005


Um . . . How about: [This is dumb]?

Chalk it up to yet another nitwittism from Jennifer Lee.

Call me a reactionary, but the spewings of someone who has expended effort to use a number as his or her middle name is deserving of neither respect nor outrage. And certainly not discussion about why we're all normal for not agreeing.

But on preview: this seems to be heading in an interesting direction, now that Ms. Lee is being forgotten.
posted by Absit Invidia at 11:04 AM on April 9, 2005


every attractive woman has at least one lesbian experience in their lifetime, usually in their early 20s, usually involving alcohol. Discuss.

Yes. Yes. Discuss. Discuss.
posted by jonmc at 11:04 AM on April 9, 2005


I hear you, KJS. I like doing stuff with men, too. I understand that it's like apples and oranges. I just miss with most men the chat that I'm able to have with my women friends.

On preview: jonmc is right about the bathwater. As for the squirt gun, you might be surprised at how much the Vietnamese really like us. They did kick our ass, after all, which helps.
posted by squirrel at 11:06 AM on April 9, 2005


But I also suggest that articles like Ms. Lee's, which treat the notion of two pals going to a museum as an edgy social manuever worthy of a Zeitgeist epiphany, contribute to the problem rather than merely laying it out in the open or helping to solve it.

Yeah, I think this is right on. I would also like to point out that a het guy going to a museum with a woman should not automatically be considered a "potential sex date" either...

Most people know that, it's love without sex that people have a hangup about.

exactly. I get along well and enjoy the company of a lot of people. I am sexually interested in a much smaller portion of them. I don't like feeling like I'm misleading people, but if I have a good conversation with someone who seems cool, I'll often agree to go see a band or whatever, without even really considering the implications they may draw from the arrangement, ie, that we're on a romantic outing of some sort. I'd much prefer to end up dating someone who started out as a friend anyway (if there's good sexual tension in the air, may as well let it appreciate a little before cashing in...)

The article is painfully bad, and it is almost unspeakably pathetic that two friends feel so awkward hanging out together, but on the other hand, there does often seem to be a bit too much of a teleological attitude toward social outings these days - ie, first date, hopefully get a kiss; second date, must get a kiss & maybe a bit more; third date, best end up in bed, aha, relationship! 1.5 years until talk of engagement, well then, 3 years later & we're married, so, are we breeders or DINK?... we seem to lose the organic unfolding of human interchange and growth in all these expectations and rules and specifically categorized roles.
posted by mdn at 11:06 AM on April 9, 2005


But those who choose not to don't have their femininity so heavily doubted as a man who did shave his armpits would have his masculinity doubted. I wonder why
The same could be compared with wearing makeup, which may lead you to your question's answer.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:13 AM on April 9, 2005


so this is being posted as the worst of the web's waste of times masquerading as news? or what?
posted by blacklite at 11:14 AM on April 9, 2005


Absit: Call me a reactionary, but the spewings of someone who has expended effort to use a number as his or her middle name is deserving of neither respect nor outrage. And certainly not discussion about why we're all normal for not agreeing.

Well, I agreed with that until I read that it was given by her parents and is something of a Chineese tradition. Still, the article struck me as dumb before I read the byline.

squirrel: I hear you, KJS. I like doing stuff with men, too. I understand that it's like apples and oranges. I just miss with most men the chat that I'm able to have with my women friends.

True, the way this article is framed doesn't help much though. I really do think there is some heterosexism involved in these kinds of situations, in that it seems the two guys involved admit that they don't want to be misread as a gay couple in public.

mdn: Ohh, there is another thing that really bugs me. The "three date rule."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:14 AM on April 9, 2005


As for the squirt gun, you might be surprised at how much the Vietnamese really like us. They did kick our ass, after all, which helps.

[tangent]

We have Vietnamese people in America, too, dude. And we were present in Southeast Asia for an awful long time, so while there's probably plenty of justified anger at Americans, two cultures can't be in that much contact without other feelings being mixed in as well.

And that goes both ways as well. The excellent Vietnam Vet writer W.D. Ehrhart wrote about returning to Vietnam after the war, where he learned that aside from his fellow American vets, the only people he could truly talk about the war with were Vietnamese veterans (both ARVN and VC & NVA (I went through a period in high school where I had a bit of an obsession with the history of the Vietnam War)) ot the same conflict.

[/tangent]

it is almost unspeakably pathetic that two friends feel so awkward hanging out together


I found that odd as well, especially for members of our generation, where much has been made of the eschewing of the traditional date-type date for group hanging ut that occasionally broke off into coupling.

But those who choose not to don't have their femininity so heavily doubted as a man who did shave his armpits would have his masculinity doubted

all the smooth-pitted dude would have to say is "chicks dig it," and nobody would give him a hard time. Most men wouldn't go that far to attract a woman, but it's an acceptable motivation for just about anything among most guys I've known.
posted by jonmc at 11:17 AM on April 9, 2005


jonmc: all the smooth-pitted dude would have to say is "chicks dig it," and nobody would give him a hard time. Most men wouldn't go that far to attract a woman, but it's an acceptable motivation for just about anything among most guys I've known.

Yeah, but if the guy does something cosmetic for himself, it's metrosexual foppery or something like that. There is also a bit of a machismo thing in growing a beard in spite of the feminine SO's wishes.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:29 AM on April 9, 2005


"It usually involves large quantities of alcohol, loud music, gawking at unapproachable women and at least one vomiting incident."

Jeez, I was done with that by the time I turned 21.
Well, except for the loud music part.
posted by 2sheets at 11:29 AM on April 9, 2005


Yeah, but if the guy does something cosmetic for himself, it's metrosexual foppery or something like that.

Well, maybe armpit shaving isn't exactly considered normal, but being slick and well groomed is considered masculine: look at James Bond and guys like that. hell, John Gotti used to get manicures every day.So the definition of masculinity keeps changing. It may start out as merely something to attract women but as it becomes common, it gets accepted. Roughneck/slob masculinity is merely one of many (it's my favorite of course, but that's just a matter of taste).


Jeez, I was done with that by the time I turned 21.

come back brother. It's as good as you remember.
posted by jonmc at 11:36 AM on April 9, 2005


One definition of date at dictionary.com is " An engagement to go out socially with another person, often out of romantic interest."

In other words, a "date," is a night out with the potential for sex.


Really, in other words?

Yeah, language can be fluid and trendy and etc., but date does have a common usage in referring to a social appointment in general. It has romantic connotations when used in romantic contexts, and sexual ones when used in sexual contexts. Perhaps the problem is that many of us have dick on the brain all the time, and so will always move right in on the sexual one. It's the reason you can't discuss the concept of tantra without someone giggling because, in other words, you are talking about sportfucking. And saying blow in any innocent context is just asking for trouble.

I'm gay and tend to have more straight friends I hang out with because, ironically, they are less orientation-exclusive socially than gay friends I have had. I often get together with straight male friends, and they get together with each other, in solid non-sexual friendship. I have friends who value good relationships over high-school-level image politics; I think that most people do--the problem is that our cultural products are determined and manufactured by and large by people themselves living a grown-up 90210, and so that's offered to us as a mirror.

As for the article, I just wish we would just leave the straight guy alone. Man date, like metrosexual, is just another element in an agenda to get him in touch with his inner pussy and to question an already bashed masculinity, in this case by manipulating language to recast typical, healthy straight male activity as feminine. I suppose that the fantasy is that he'll be more open-minded about gender roles and sexual identification, but I think the effects are actually more harmful.
posted by troybob at 11:40 AM on April 9, 2005


Count me in for being pretty sure this is an urban (read: NYC) thing. Up here in the sticks we don't have mandates, manbags, or even playdates. Here we spend time with friends, carry satchels or briefcases (or even sometimes tote bags), and we 'go up to' a friend's house.

Quit labeling everything and live!


Anastasiav, despite your certainty, this is not a "NYC thing," but a "NYT thing." I've lived here all my life, and no one I know uses language like this. My husband plays cards with his male friends, goes out for drinks with them, or to a reading or a movie, and it's just as normal and unlabeled as your beautiful surburban get-togethers. Probably eighty percent of my daughter's social life is unscheduled. She meets friends outside the house, in the park, at the bookstore, and we play it by ear. And yes, sometimes we plan ahead to meet friends, but we don't call them "playdates" either.

If you are basing your mastery of the ways of NYC on a Times article, you are laughably out of your element and doing yourself a disservice.

Quit judging everyone and live.
posted by margarita at 11:41 AM on April 9, 2005


troybob: a tangential question, when you're hanging out with other gay male freinds that you're not interested in sexually, is the atmosphere more or less similar to the boys-night-out I described above or is there a different dynamic? I'm honestly curious.
posted by jonmc at 11:44 AM on April 9, 2005


Email sent:

Dear Editor:

Jennifer 8. Lee's article on "man dates" was one of the most overwrought attempts to coin a new buzz-phrase (a la "metrosexual") that I have ever read. One wonders what Ms. Lee would make of the profound and subtle electricity that inspired Shakespeare's sonnets, the poems of Walt Whitman, or the novels of Jack Kerouac. Or rather, one doesn't.


Steve Silberman
posted by digaman at 11:47 AM on April 9, 2005


I'd actually be curious at any gay mefite's answer to the question I asked troybob above. It's not that I've never hung out around gay people before, but I imagine there's a Heisenberg principle thing going on, that perhaps my straight-guyness changes the dynamic.
posted by jonmc at 11:51 AM on April 9, 2005


The writer's middle name is, uh, "8" and she writes for the Times' Fasion section. 'Nuff said.
posted by psmealey at 11:51 AM on April 9, 2005


That is to say: Harvard-educated hipster wannabe trying to coin a David Brooksism to make her daily bread. Nothing to see here, really. The Fashion section of the Times has always been just about good enough for wrapping fish.
posted by psmealey at 11:54 AM on April 9, 2005


KJS: many women are still a bit worried when men don't act according to script. And it is still common to assume that men are less that fully competent at certain tasks.

Huh. I find that the women I know are thrilled & giddy when men don't act according to script. Maybe it's an age thing or just a people I know thing. As for that less-competent thing, I've caught on to the whole "If I'm bad I won't have to do it again" trick and I'm not buying!

TCS: I would respond, but I have no idea what you're trying to say.

jonmc: Well, it's the age old question that men have to wrestle with-what does it mean to be a man?

You're begging the question. I want to know why men seem to feel this is an age-old question in a way that I don't see in women. It's like the neverending spate of books on "coming to terms with my father and manliness." I see it & I just don't get it. To me it seems Como Gomez is on the right track.
posted by dame at 11:54 AM on April 9, 2005


Way to sock it to da man, digaman! You're all, duuude! And they'll be all, whoooa! :^D

I suppose that the fantasy is that he'll be more open-minded about gender roles and sexual identification, but I think the effects are actually more harmful.

Allow me to play devil's advocate: what's the harm?

On preview: jonmc, I had a few gay friends in San Francisco, (where they even have a few Vietnamese) and I heard more than once that my friend found it easier and more rewarding to talk with (evolved) straight men because the element of sexual tension was greatly reduced, allowing for more intimacy. A common complaint was that gay hook-ups have a rather scripted course. The men I knew seemed to enjoy hetero men because they could relax more.
posted by squirrel at 11:58 AM on April 9, 2005


To me it seems Como Gomez is on the right track.

Stop taking the red ones; switch to the blue ones.
posted by squirrel at 12:01 PM on April 9, 2005


It's like the neverending spate of books on "coming to terms with my father and manliness." I see it & I just don't get it.

Well, dame, there's a whole package of expectations that come along with being male in our society, and even you're "not acting according to script," testifies to the fact that those expectations are ever changing. And that's a lot to come to grips with. Especially when it involves a male parent.

Just to give a personal example, my oft-mentioned penchant for hanging with older "old New York," or "man of the world" type older men; many people including me and SO have noticed that this probably has a lot to do with my relationship with my often physically and emotionally absent dad.

I'm sure there's a similar package of expectations that women have to wrestle with, so I'm not trying to claim manhood as some kind of "special case," but there you have it.

Also, read Richard Price's The Wanderers, and Ladies Man. I know I plug him a lot, but he covers a lot of this territory eloquently.

The men I knew seemed to enjoy hetero men because they could relax more.

I figured as much. One of my cube-mates at work is very openly gay, but around me and the 2 other straight guys in the cube, he's a total guy in the way he interacts. I just wondered if he was making some kind of adjustment in his personality to accomadate us, which I'd hate to be making im do.
posted by jonmc at 12:04 PM on April 9, 2005


... he's a total guy in the way he interacts.

Is a word missing in there somewhere, or are you implying he's less of a "total guy" for being one of them?
posted by rcade at 12:13 PM on April 9, 2005


troybob: a tangential question, when you're hanging out with other gay male freinds that you're not interested in sexually, is the atmosphere more or less similar to the boys-night-out I described above or is there a different dynamic? I'm honestly curious.

It's just like when you hang with your friends, altho the subjects discussed may be different, and we'll stop and remark on a hot guy nearby, or walking by, etc. : >

The NYT is notorious for these horrible attempts to define normal things as a new cultural trend. They're either ridiculous, like this, or years too late, as with hipsters and things like that.
posted by amberglow at 12:15 PM on April 9, 2005


and jon, we all have to adjust things depending on the situation--i'm sure he realizes that some things wouldn't go over well with you guys, but it would with the women in the office, etc. Does he ever mention a date he's had, or whether he got any over the weekend? Do you guys?
posted by amberglow at 12:17 PM on April 9, 2005


when you're hanging out with other gay male freinds that you're not interested in sexually, is the atmosphere more or less similar to the boys-night-out I described above or is there a different dynamic?

Yes.

I have a tight group of fellow gay men. Some of us are single, some coupled. We eat-out, have dinner parties at each other's homes, go to the Red Sox, take weekend trips and vacations together. There's a lot of drinking, fun, joking and mutual support for "hearing out" each other's problems.

A "boys-night-out" involves hitting a club or two, possibly a house party ... and the usual checking out the "hotties" (and for the single ones in our group often the solo prowl for "love and affection!")

BTW - the thought of one friend "hooking up" with another in our group is actually taboo...and often joked about (in an "ewww" kinda way). We all first met as friends. The idea of sex seems to have been precluded by the circumstances of our meeting and the extension of our group.

To get a sense of what it is like being a gay man with a supportive group of gay friends I highly recommend that you rent the film The Broken Hearts Club.
posted by ericb at 12:22 PM on April 9, 2005


No, I'm not implying that, rcade. I'm just saying that my freind interacts with us in a traditionally male way-playful name-calling and chop-busting and stuff like that, which makes sense because he is a male. My question was basically whether he was adjusting himself out of fear that we'd think differently of him if he didn't, which I'd hate for him to feel like he'd have to do, since I genuinely like the guy.

and jon, we all have to adjust things depending on the situation--i'm sure he realizes that some things wouldn't go over well with you guys

Well, my buddy has introduced me to boyfreinds, and commented on hot guys in front of us, and even told us about coming out to his parents, so I think he realizes that we're not homophobic. I just was womdering if the same chop-busting, shoot-the-crap mentality was prevalent among gay men as with straight guys. And I figured it was. I just wondered whether I was ignorant doofus for thinking so.
posted by jonmc at 12:26 PM on April 9, 2005


jonmc: Come to think of it, the NYTs was also partly responsible for the latest popularization of "metrosexual."

dame: Huh. I find that the women I know are thrilled & giddy when men don't act according to script. Maybe it's an age thing or just a people I know thing. As for that less-competent thing, I've caught on to the whole "If I'm bad I won't have to do it again" trick and I'm not buying!

Perhaps. These people were of my generation, now in their mid-30s for reference. It also depends on which part of the script we are talking about. Cooking, cleaning, and traditionally feminine hobbies are one thing. But a man "without ambition" (not wanting to aggressively fast-track a career) is still a "bum". A man without an overactive sex-drive in a relationship is either sick, cheating, gay and closeted or not that interested in the relationship.

It would be nice if I could just dismiss this as part of an admittedly rocky dating experience, but I just see, hear, and read too many examples of "I'm a feminist but..."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:29 PM on April 9, 2005


KJS: I was definitely thinking more of the former than the latter. Maybe you're right; maybe that's what it is. Though I can't help but wonder if some focus on "ambition" has to do with women still making less/being the ones with more fungible careers should a baby come along.

jonmc, my darling: Well, dame, there's a whole package of expectations that come along with being male in our society, and even you're "not acting according to script," testifies to the fact that those expectations are ever changing. And that's a lot to come to grips with. Especially when it involves a male parent.

Do you think those changes are greater or lesser than those experienced by women? If lesser, then why does it seem that men are more concerned? I certainly think fewer women "come to terms" with their mothers than just thank Jeebus that they have more options and more support for the less popular ones. (Though women who choose traditional paths may have a bit less support than their mothers did.)

Squirrel: To which part of Como Gomez's argument do you object?
posted by dame at 12:55 PM on April 9, 2005



Do you think those changes are greater or lesser than those experienced by women?


Read my comment again, the pressures are nither greater or lesser, just different. And plenty of men thank Jeebus that they have more options open to them besides John Wayne style stoicism (not to knock the Duke, or stoicism, but you catch my drift.)
posted by jonmc at 12:58 PM on April 9, 2005


Just as an anecdote: I was attending a friends wedding and it was the typical all couples affair - except for my "Man-Buddy" and I. We were both single so we went to the wedding together. It really didn't occur to either of us that this was a date of any sort. Towards the end of the reception there was a lot of drunken photography going on. The two of us posed with another couple (who normally I could assume people would read couple as male/female, but suddenly I wonder if I must stipulate the gender in this context.) As the flash went off I could hear the Bride's mother exclaim: "Oh, my, what a cute gay couple!" She rushed over and told us she supported gay marriage and was proud to have gay friends. She was pretty well hammered, so we thought it was hilarious.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:06 PM on April 9, 2005


squirrel:

I was trying to relate about my personal experiences, using the issues she brought up as a springboard. I see the issues themselves as important, and I think that this discussion is ten times more interesting than the article that started it.

Very well. I guess I'll allow you it. You have my permission to go on.

dame:

But those who choose not to don't have their femininity so heavily doubted as a man who did shave his armpits would have his masculinity doubted. I wonder why that is.

Was this said sarcastically? I mean, the question begs this similar one. "Why has feminism made it acceptable for a woman to wear pants without question but not for a man to wear skirts without questioning his sexual orientation?" Men have oppressed each other for as long as they've oppressed women, just not in the same way or with the same tyrannical severity. The idea of saying, for instance, that "a woman should wear a dress," has the effect of also saying "women wear dresses. To wear a dress is to be a woman." When you get to say "Women don't have to wear dresses," it doesn't adress the other side of that issue, necessarily. Some particularly enlightened males will sense that their own restriction should be lifted, but they won't necessarily FEEL that restriction lift. If I'm making any sense, this means to me that one of the greatest stumbling blocks that feminism still encounters is inadequate treatment of how men should treat THEMSELVES, as well as how they should treat women. So long as men continue to define themselves as so ridigly non-feminine they will continue to see femininity as a thing of opposition, not inclusion.
posted by shmegegge at 1:12 PM on April 9, 2005


Of course, it doesn't help that newly grown stubble is itchy as hell, especially in an area that folds and rubs against itself, like the armpit.

When you walk down the street, look for men with their arms practically pinned at their sides with a look of abject loathing on their faces. Those are the poor souls who have experimented with the dread armpit shaving. The poor souls who are experiencing... "The 5 o'clock shadow of DOOM!"
posted by shmegegge at 1:16 PM on April 9, 2005


re: ... he's a total guy in the way he interacts. I wonder if he is adapting to us...

Personally I appreciate the thought, JMC. My guess is it's a difficult question, even for your colleague to answer. I think I do adapt slightly to fit the work environment, though my st8 colleagues are very nice people and accept my partner as my partner.

I also know gay men who are very sports minded, butch and otherwise stereotypically male. I've always wondered what they are like in an all gay crowd.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 1:28 PM on April 9, 2005


"man date" is a coinage invented for this article

Jennifer Lee generally tries too hard in a vapid, sad way. I question the editors who published this laughable tripe.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:28 PM on April 9, 2005


I also know gay men who are very sports minded, butch and otherwise stereotypically male. I've always wondered what they are like in an all gay crowd.

Well, I was once in a gay bar (long story), and I heard two guys who I'll assume were gay talking. For a while, it folowed the usual paramaters, bitching about work and stuff, then one guy was talking about some woman who kept flirting with him. "She dosen't get it," he said "I don't feed the kitty."

He said it this macho way, the same way a straight guy might say, "I don't play that shit." It struck me as strangely illustrative. or something.
posted by jonmc at 1:32 PM on April 9, 2005


I wasn't being sarcastic, shmeggege, and your response was, I think, what I was looking for to answer my wondering. That makes sense. In addressing the tyranny that was far more obvious, feminism ended up helping to create a situation wherein men seem more preoccupied with their masculinity than women do with their femininity. That's really too bad, but hey, it isn't over yet, right?

Also, armpit and leg hair growing back aren't itchy like beards are supposed to be. At least from what I remember--I gave up on the shaving because I am laaaaazy.
posted by dame at 1:58 PM on April 9, 2005


I gave up on the shaving because I am laaaaazy.

Well, that's the same reason I (and imagine a lot of other men) don't so the whole metrosexual grooming regimen, it's a lotta work, and I have more fun ways to spend my time. It's not sexism/homophobia, it's just sloth.
posted by jonmc at 2:01 PM on April 9, 2005


I am never leaving my apartment again.
posted by eatitlive at 2:08 PM on April 9, 2005


Jon, the sexism argument comes from men thinking sloth is okay for them, but not for the women in their lives. My boy does not happen to think that. But you've met him: he ain't of the sexist sort.
posted by dame at 2:09 PM on April 9, 2005


I guess I'm not either, contrary to popular opinion. I find exaggerated attention to appearance off-putting no matter which gender it emanates from.
posted by jonmc at 2:12 PM on April 9, 2005


Hey, they've reached an agreement. Neither cares if the other one shaves. (I'd prefer it if you both shaved, for god's sake.)
posted by found missing at 2:15 PM on April 9, 2005


*shaves ass*

are you happy now?!
posted by jonmc at 2:19 PM on April 9, 2005


*shaves ass*

are you happy now?!


I would like to ask you out on a man date, jonmc.
posted by Rothko at 2:22 PM on April 9, 2005


I agree that "man date" is just another silly social construct.

Dame, you know I love you and mean absolutely no disrespect, but why do you refer to your boyfriend as a "boy?" He's not still in high school, is he? Please say no.
posted by Juicylicious at 2:24 PM on April 9, 2005


Heh. Pips would have to kick your ass, rothko.

and me and dame have always been on the same team re: shaving.

See?
posted by jonmc at 2:25 PM on April 9, 2005


I thought u2 were just against brazilian waxes and pro big bushes, then again I had quite a few beers and JDs that night so I could be wrong.
posted by Juicylicious at 2:26 PM on April 9, 2005


I'm just anti-heavy duty grooming and the narcissism it portends, I imagine dame's feelings are similar.
posted by jonmc at 2:28 PM on April 9, 2005


Is it considered "gay" to shave each other's asses on a man date? (Just asking--no particular reason.)
posted by found missing at 2:29 PM on April 9, 2005


found missing, I honestly have no idea, having never shaved the forbidden valley, nor met anyone who has. The...limberness required alone leaves me a bit flabbergasted.
posted by jonmc at 2:31 PM on April 9, 2005


found missing and jonmc: the definite answer on all things gay/not gay is to be found here (King Missile's Gay/Not Gay)
posted by Kattullus at 2:34 PM on April 9, 2005


Juicy, I don't know why I call him "the boy," which is the original phrase. Perhaps it's the boyishness he exudes. But yeah, he's older than I am.

Jonmc, why do we always come back to hair? And laziness?
posted by dame at 2:37 PM on April 9, 2005


Just remember, 52% does not constitute a mandate.
posted by psmealey at 2:39 PM on April 9, 2005


we're hairy, lazy bastards, what can I say? It's the tie that binds.
posted by jonmc at 2:40 PM on April 9, 2005


[tangent, explicit bluntness ahead]

And hair is an explicit reminder of our animal nature. I remeber telling someone one that Chaka Khan's vocals vocals on "Tell Me Someting Good," sounded the way wet pubes smell and taste. Which backs up my assertion about visceral respones overruling intellectualization. and that rock and roll is a very sexy thing and that sexuality is an animalistic thing.
posted by jonmc at 2:45 PM on April 9, 2005


Penny Arcade has all the answers.

I know exactly what this lady is talking about. I hate going out with my straight male friends because my homosexuality feels threatened. First you're seeing Sin City together, the next thing you know you're a slave to the man meat, pregnant and barefoot and making him a sandwich!
posted by schroedinger at 2:55 PM on April 9, 2005


OMG is it teh homosexual?

Who cares?
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 2:55 PM on April 9, 2005


Well, I guess construction workers cat call women in order to prove to the other hot, sweaty, muscled men around which they spend 10 hours a day that they are, in fact, not homosexual.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 3:06 PM on April 9, 2005


Maybe I meant wolf whistle.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 3:08 PM on April 9, 2005


I wonder if a cat call or a wolf whistle is more homosexual.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 3:09 PM on April 9, 2005


I think the internet is pretty gay, I mean, just think about it.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 3:09 PM on April 9, 2005


you know, I've never considered the internet's sexuality before
posted by Kattullus at 4:12 PM on April 9, 2005


5 in a row, Mr Mean Bucket? Are you going for a record?
posted by Evstar at 5:05 PM on April 9, 2005


The internet is celibate. Otherwise it's users would spend all their time trying to hit that shit off.
posted by jonmc at 5:07 PM on April 9, 2005


Personally, I think all of you gays and straights have it easy. This is a constant problem for bisexuals. I go out with someone, I take them home, I have hot, sweaty sex with them, and the whole time I'm thinking, "Wait, is this a date? Or are we just hanging out?"
posted by kyrademon at 5:29 PM on April 9, 2005


I wonder if a cat call or a wolf whistle is more homosexual.

I'm sure wolfdaddy has an opinion on this!
posted by ericb at 5:55 PM on April 9, 2005


I go out with someone, I take them home, I have hot, sweaty sex with them, and the whole time I'm thinking, "Wait, is this a date? Or are we just hanging out?"

Dammit, I've been hanging out with all the wrong women.
posted by DaShiv at 6:33 PM on April 9, 2005


Attack of the killer stereotypes.

"the crutch of business or sports"
Which is even worse for me, as I am quite a hetero guy, me loves me some vagina, but have only the vaguest interest in sports. Poof! Stereotype erosion!
posted by Lectrick at 7:19 PM on April 9, 2005


this is easily the dumbest nyt article ever. even for an article published one day into the future.
posted by 3.2.3 at 7:38 PM on April 9, 2005


Here's the answer to the question of why het guys like their "boy's night out." (for those of you who fail to grasp the incredibly obvious):

It's a chance to shoot the breeze without sexual tension. Cause any female (even if we don't find her particularly attractive, even if we're taken) is going to arouse that in most of us. So hanging out with the guys removes that incredibly nervewracking element.
posted by jonmc at 7:44 PM on April 9, 2005


Note: this does not appreciate non-physical factors like wit, intelligence, charisma, and charm in a woman. Those just make her even more sexually attractive. It's really hairraising having a male libido.
posted by jonmc at 7:54 PM on April 9, 2005


add "mean men" between "not" and "appreciate." My keyboard is drunk.
posted by jonmc at 7:55 PM on April 9, 2005


"mean men don't" dammit. I give up.
posted by jonmc at 7:56 PM on April 9, 2005


jonmc, I hear you regarding the value of boys' night out, but I don't find the occasions to be sexual tension free. If by that you mean there's less to no chance of hooking up, then yes. But flower-sniffing poets like me find rowdy, Coors beer commercial type guy time somewhat oppressive in the script conformity aspect.

For example, I remember once having to defend myself for saying that I wouldn't enjoy eating lunch at a strip club. The other guys were like, "dude! When wouldn't you want a pair of ta-tas in your face?" My response, "Well, how about when I'm eating a sandwich?" did not go over well.

To be fair to the breeders, though, I've seen this kind of conformity pressure just as often and even more intense among gay men and lesbians.

Dame, is that you with jonmc in the pro-bush (heh heh) photo? Also, I was just ribbing Como.
posted by squirrel at 7:59 PM on April 9, 2005


But flower-sniffing poets like me find rowdy, Coors beer commercial type guy time somewhat oppressive in the script conformity aspect.

Well, some of us rowdy guys can dig you flower sniffing poets. Hell, some of us rowdy beer-guzzlers are also flower-sniffing poets. It's all in how you dig yourself and others, I guess.

And yeah, that's dame next to yours truly in that pic.

For example, I remember once having to defend myself for saying that I wouldn't enjoy eating lunch at a strip club. The other guys were like, "dude! When wouldn't you want a pair of ta-tas in your face?" My response, "Well, how about when I'm eating a sandwich?" did not go over well

I actually had an idea for part of a novel, where a strip club has to start serving food because of some zoning regulation, so they hire a chef, and then the food he serves is so tasty that people start frequenting the joint just for the food. It tied into other plots along the same line about people finding salvation in the most absurd places-another character provides background music in a strip mall, and people begin hanging out there just for the tunes. It's all based on certain observations I've made in my life. But I'm babbling.
posted by jonmc at 8:06 PM on April 9, 2005


Or maybe it's just that beer guzzling rowdy guys can somehow be poetic in their dionysian zest for life. Poetry and rowdiness can combine quite nicely: look at Hemingway, Ken Kesy, Neal Cassady, Richard Price, etc.
posted by jonmc at 8:14 PM on April 9, 2005


Take Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly in the awful movie "High Society". He's cool, rich, in control, and taking everything with a grain of salt. She's an unpredictable nut, trying to marry for money (again). These are the sexist steroetypes of masculinity and feminity.

But strictly speaking, 'masculine' and 'feminine' mean peculiar to the male or female, respectively. In this sense, being a lesbian is feminine because it something only a female can be. In a weaker sense, being relatively stong physically is a masculine trait since men tend to be stronger physically.

In saying that the dying gasp of femininity was big hair, I mean 'feminity' in the former sense, which has more to do with a sexist division of virtues than logic.

For me these observations point the way out of sexist thinking. For sexes should cultivate virtues that are in themselves good, rather than good relative to the sex that has them.

But that's como.
posted by Como Gomez at 9:27 PM on April 9, 2005


The NY Times, 50 years ago it wasn't a bad paper.
posted by HTuttle at 9:37 PM on April 9, 2005


This whole discussion is so gay.
posted by jonson at 9:54 PM on April 9, 2005


Okay...

First: If you've never been to Songfight.org, you should know that this past week's set of challenge titles (the voting's already closed for last week, but some good songs still available for listening) included "Man Date".

Second: I believe it was Ray Romano who had a great joke about walking through a neighborhood with a guy friend of his, and two guys walking together pass in the opposite direction. His friend says, "They're gay." Ray says, "What? How can you tell?" and his friend answers "in this neighborhood, whenever you see two guys walking together, they're gay." To which Ray replies, "But we're walking together." (I'm sure I butchered that joke, sorry Ray)

Third: I went out for a margarita and burrito lunch with three male coworkers on Friday. Not only did that probably violate some workplace rule, but evidentally I was itchin' for a foursome. Thanks for putting that idea in my head, NY Times.
posted by davejay at 11:30 PM on April 9, 2005


I saw *160 comments* and thought "wow...this must be some helluva thread", only to discover that at least half of it was jonmc protesting too hard about his closet issues ;P
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:35 PM on April 9, 2005


I actually had an idea for part of a novel, where a strip club has to start serving food because of some zoning regulation

That would be this place, right?
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:38 PM on April 9, 2005


But strictly speaking, 'masculine' and 'feminine' mean peculiar to the male or female, respectively.

I guess it depends on by whose strict definitions you mean, Como, and in what time. As I understand it, 'masculine' and 'feminine' currently are understood as gender assignments, which are constructed and undergo continuous negotiation; 'male' and 'female', by contrast, refers only to the biological sex of a person. Pre-1950, gender and sex were commonly considered to be one in the same. Scholars have since developed enough nuance to recognize that what 'masculine' means is not a constant, while what a man is biologically remains comparatively fixed.

I think you would agree with this; I just wanted to clarify.
posted by squirrel at 12:42 AM on April 10, 2005


If one of my male friends referred to our time together as a 'man date', I would really wonder if they were hoping for a reacharound.

The dudes in this article are just heroically insecure. I've eaten in fantastic restaurants with male friends. You know what it was? DELICIOUS.
posted by mosch at 1:43 AM on April 10, 2005


I'm sure wolfdaddy has an opinion on this!

Yes, I do. (nsfw text, e2 self-link) Well, actually, King Missile does.
posted by WolfDaddy at 6:01 AM on April 10, 2005


In all seriousness, as you age, articles like this become even more ridiculous. You just don't care what other people think of you and your life. You have your family and your friends, you are secure in the mutual love you share with them, no matter your gender or the gender of those you love and/or partner with, and it just doesn't matter.
posted by WolfDaddy at 6:07 AM on April 10, 2005


You are so right, WD.
posted by digaman at 9:17 AM on April 10, 2005


This article is so pathetic. In my day I could hang out with a buddy, even a "100% straight" one, and sexual tension or lack of it was not an issue. It was more important to figure out where to have lunch or what movie to see. "Man date" my eye, it was "meeting a friend for [something]."

We would say "There's two kinds of men who have to insist they're '100% straight': closet cases and latent homos." Now I'll have to make it three: morons who are "heroically insecure". (Thanks for that phrase, mosch. I promise I'll steal it sometime when nobody's looking too.)

Another offhand question: who says two "100% Gay" men can't go to a sports bar to watch the game and drink beer on a real gay date? It's almost like having to keep showing people that real gay men are more likely to look like a latter-day Freddy Mercury than Rupaul: short neat hair, trimmed moustache, killer abs, careful posture -- "If you want I'll take you down to the Gay Ghetto and show you." When you see a guy in a T-shirt and jeans with hair to his waist in line at McDonalds, odds are he's a straight hippie, especially if you think he should pay more attention to his grooming.
posted by davy at 10:51 AM on April 10, 2005


Now that I've finally seen a picture of jonmc, I'm amazed how he's both incredibly close to how I imagined him, and incredible different.
posted by drezdn at 1:17 PM on April 10, 2005


As far as "masculine" and "feminine" go, I agree that sex and gender may well be disconnected. This is why I'm opposed to "sex-change" operations and consider "transexualism" to be a bunch of hooey: there's nothing wrong with being a masculine woman or a feminine man, so there's no need to mutilate yourself.
posted by davy at 2:29 PM on April 10, 2005


I don't if I'd go that far davy, since from everything I've ever read on the subject it seems like transexuals don't just feel ill at ease in their clothing or mannerisms (which would fall under "gender"), they feel ill at ease in their own bodies (which would fall under "sex," I'm not usually one for linguistic delicacy, but in this instance it's very important.

I will grant you this, if transgenderism is inborn, then it's probably neurological, and right now it's easier to change the body (or at least the genitalia) than it is the brain. Maybe decades from now things will be different. But that also opens up all kinds of ethical questions: if it is a neurological glitch of some kind, is it better to repair the glitch so that the person feels at home in their body, or to change the body to respect the integrity of the mind, (or whatever, I phrased that clumsily but couldn't think of a better way).
posted by jonmc at 3:05 PM on April 10, 2005


What jonmc said. I actually know a transexual and he... I mean she... one told me with great passion about how being "in" a man's body felt wrong on such a fundamental level he didn't feel fully real. He felt like a lucid dreamer in someone else's body. When she was a he, you would not have suspected any of this. There were no easy signs some more ill-informed people might imagine would be there. No overt "gayness", no fussiness with clothes... in fact he was a bit of a scruff, if anything. Deeply unfashionable. Liked to go mountaineering and off-road racing. Got married. Had a kid. And so on. And then one day....

People are very interesting.
posted by Decani at 3:14 PM on April 10, 2005


mandate?

i say it's an edict.

or a dictum.
posted by soi-disant at 4:06 AM on April 11, 2005


p.s. i win.

and i hate being late.
posted by soi-disant at 5:58 AM on April 11, 2005


A Man is an old map
charted in sharp lines and lies;
where north is up and west is left
where puff-cheeked faces blow and fume
where grim Atlas crouches at the bottom;
bearing up his legend - the half-truth map
where mountains have no height
where water is not wet
and past its paper edges
there be monsters.
posted by sciurus at 6:11 AM on April 11, 2005


I saw this coming in college when I went to see a movie with 2 other guys - and they sat 1 seat away from me and each other to be sure we couldn't possibly construed as being "together".

Then again, we were watching Fantasia 2000.
posted by cinderful at 12:24 PM on April 12, 2005


I just like the arm rests.
posted by squirrel at 11:11 PM on April 12, 2005


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