This Is a Man’s Randomly-Generated Sequence of Letters and Numbers!

It’s so hard to be a man these days, right, fellas? Everything in the world is getting so dang….well, I don’t quite want to say girly, but it’s something…. As we all know, manhood is the epitome of strength and courage, yet at the same time it is so fragile that the mere sight of the color pink, let alone an inappropriately long hug between two dudes, might send the entire edifice of manhood crashing down in a cascade of testosterony chaos.

“Femininity is depicted as weakness, the sapping of strength, yet masculinity is so fragile that apparently even the slightest brush with the feminine destroys it.” –Gwen Sharp (via unfocus)

There is hope, though. Consumer culture has made a heroic effort to help us hold on to our fleeting masculinity. We have specially-formulated (I assume) manly calories in our low-carb soft drinks. We have the guyet, a masculine alternative to girly diets. And whatever would we do without brogurt, which is totally a real thing.

At least one huge, glaring hole in our defensive edifices remains, though, and it yawns mockingly before us, almost as though it were laughing at our feeble efforts to kindle the dying embers of our manhood. Obviously, I’m talking about internet password generators, but you need cower in the shadows no more!

Web developer John Polacek, working with the Draftcb Open Source Project, has created Passwords for the Manly Man (h/t Jeff). Its passwords are “so strong and secure they breach the gates of hell.” I tried it, and was in fact able to log on to Hell’s servers. (It was disappointing. The porn was pretty meh.)

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So crack open a Dr. Pepper Ten, help yourself to some brogurt, and enjoy a manly internet experience with a manly password. Just don’t try to hug me, dude.


Confessions of a Recovering D-Bag

8388756753_96e97955f4_zTeenage me, probably around 1992, wrote and publicized the following Valentine’s Day poem, and I will bear that shame for all my days:

Roses are red, violets are blue.
Women are evil, and nice guys get screwed.
I wrote you this poem because I wanted to say
I’m not bitter at all on this Valentine’s Day.

It goes on for several more whiny quatrains, but I think you get the idea. I share this now not in service of the belief that “nice guys get screwed,” but in atonement for ever actually thinking that way. I have been out of the dating pool for a few years now, and it has given me the time and perspective I needed to see just what a d-bag I used to be. If I can use this realization to help even just one person live a more fulfilling life, it will be worth it.

I used to fall victim to the notion that there ought to be a standardized set of procedures for dating. The world of the typical American man has changed from what we imagine was a time when men could meet certain standards and expectations in order to qualify for a mate. Most of these standards involved income or social status, with looks thrown in as (at best) a secondary concern. Factors like charm, personality, and compatibility were near the bottom of the list in this mostly-imagined previous era of courtship. Women, as the idea seems to go, picked a suitor from a panel of applicants based on these attributes. The upshot of this is that men had a uniform set of goals and attributes for which they should strive in order to “succeed” at finding a bride (or hookup, or whatever.)

Very, very few of us have debutante balls like in Downton Abbey, where a young woman can announce her availability to the world. Also, most of this imagined past of following dating instructions set forth in a cultural manual is just that: imagined. Life has always been complicated, I believe, and while the specific norms of relations between the genders (all of them) is in flux, they have always been complicated too.

I could write an entire book or more on everything that I have gotten wrong over the course of my life, but (a) I have stuff to do, and (b) it is an ongoing process of realization. I am not saying this in search of forgiveness, or even just to get a cookie. Rather, I have discovered a wondrous world in which people can coexist and interact without undue concern over gender or identity roles, where a relationship with a woman that culminates in friendship rather than sex is not somehow a failure, where a guy can meet a woman and develop a friendship without feeling pressure to at least try to have sex with her, and where one’s ability to share fully in others’ lives potentially extends to everyone, not just their own gender.

It can be a beautiful place, and I want to share it with others who think the way I once thought.

Whether others want to join in this world is up to them, but this world exists, and it is all around us.

Photo credit: emmstitch [CC BY 2.0], on Flickr.


How the Loss of Male Privilege Affects Men Who Don’t Care About Male Privilege (Short Title: Suck It Up, Dude)

(Originally posted in a Facebook comment thread.)

I used to bristle at being “lumped in with rapists, chauvinists and domineering punks” too. The problem is that, as a society, we are trying to have it both ways, and the only means of achieving equality that I can see is for men to endure a tiny bit of stereotyping (and honestly, who among us men has actually suffered real harm solely by being “lumped in with rapists, chauvinists and domineering punks”? I’m guessing none. Any harm that might seem to result from that is more likely to be based on individual circumstances.)

Back to my original point about having it both ways, just to give one example, a common trope with regard (trigger warning) to sexual assault is that women need to be more watchful and mindful, while at the same time men get offended when a woman acts as though he might be a potential rapist. Those two ideas cannot coexist. I hope that we can one day live in a world where avoiding sexual assault is 100% the purview of the potential assailant, but we are not there yet by a long shot. Until that time, so long as any men in our society continue to act as though their loss of male privilege somehow constitutes actual oppression, the rest of us have to live with that tiny bit of stigma.

Two conclusions I draw from this: (1) let’s focus our efforts on rooting out the male behavior at the core, rather than criticizing the largely-female-held opinions that are merely the result; and (2) we’re men, so according to our own folklore, we can handle a bit of criticism, right? (BTW, the opinions I am referencing are by no means limited exclusively to men, women, or any gender in between or elsewhere.)


A quick thought on privilege

(This was a comment a made on a Facebook thread centered around this article, to which someone added this video, which ended up bringing in race, religion, and LGBTQ issues–in other words, a normal Friday morning for me. I figured I’d cut and paste my comments here for an inexpensive blog update! This is all verbatim what I wrote, except that I corrected a few spelling and grammar errors inherent to the Facebook commenting format.)

This will be a condensed treatment of the concept of privilege, but here goes: I’m a white, heterosexual, educated, affluent, originally-raised-Episcopalian, reasonably attractive and healthy American male. In other words, I am about as high up on the privilege ladder as you can get. About the only “minority” status I have is that of atheist, and people who don’t know me can’t exactly tell that just from looking at me. If I may borrow Stephanie for a second, if I were to tell Stephanie that sexism does not exist in America because I have never experienced it, or because her own stories of encountering sexism just don’t make sense to me, Stephanie would be within her rights to give me an epic rhetorical beatdown. As a guy, I have privilege in this society to ignore some pretty pervasive sexism. If I don’t want to see it or deal with it, it can be invisible to me. The same can be true for me about LGBTQ issues (no one has yet complained that, by advertising my engagement on my FB page, I am rubbing my sexuality in their faces. LGBTQ people don’t get that kind of deference from the whole freaking world). Christians can claim “persecution” when in reality they are just having to share the public sphere with others. Guys can claim unfair advantages for women when women haven’t even achieved parity. My actual point, though, is about the “race card.” When a person of color “plays the race card,” it is pretty much assumed that the sole purpose is to be divisive or to distract from something else, and that is a load of crap. There is racism all around us all the time, but most white (or white-identified) people do not have to deal with it as a daily fact of life. Just one example: I drove by four police cars yesterday, and in two instances I was going about 5 miles over the speed limit, but no one pulled me over. I have never been pulled over without verifiable evidence of speeding or making an illegal right turn on red, and I have never had my car searched for drugs “just in case.” For many if not most people of color in America, though, the simple act of driving a car down the street requires taking on more risk than my privileged ass can comprehend. I’m not claiming any greater knowledge of the reality of life in America, just that I get that there is much of daily life for others that I do not “get.” Claiming that a context-free allegation of racism is playing the “race card” is a cowardly refusal to even consider that the person might be correct. Note also that privilege is not limited specifically to white heterosexual males. The default setting of society is “white heterosexual male,” so nearly anything that unthinkingly falls into one of those categories can have the effect of propping up privilege, without awareness of how it might hurt others.

None of this means that I don’t get to have a say in issues pertaining to other groups. It just means that I need to listen for a change. It is really amazing how little privileged people actually listen to people without their same privilege. Google “mansplaining” if you want to have a sad chuckle.


Men are from Earth, Women are also from Earth. Duh.

Imagine traveling into the mind of a sub-par mid-1980’s standup comedian who is trying out new material on how men & women are different. It might be a bit like the board game “Battle of the Sexes.” This is a great game if you want to feel kind of sad. I had the great privilege of playing last night with a group of friends, for about 30 minutes, until we were overwhelmed by a sense of how far humanity has progressed over the past few decades despite the existence of games like this.

From the product page:

The Battle of the Sexes Game is about defending your gender tooth and nail. It’s the perfect game for couples, or groups of couples, who want to have fun and watch the hormones fly while they’re at it. As a proponent of your sex, you must test your knowledge of the opposite sex by answering questions from a series of gender-based question cards. Some questions appear terribly easy, until you realize that the opposite sex must answer them. For instance, how easy would it be for a woman to answer the following: “What is Grolsch?” Answer: beer. “What does a Zamboni do?” Answer: resurfaces the ice on hockey rinks. And, what about a man answering these: “Which member of the bridal party usually throws the bridal shower?” Answer: the maid/matron of honor. “How many birth control pills come in a single pack?” Answer: 28. And then there are wild cards for each gender that are good lines of defense against the opposite sex. Examples: “Make her carry your golf clubs? Go back three.” “You offer to be his designated driver, again? Move ahead one.”

I’ll just leave it at that.