2009 MTV Video Music Awards - Show

My friend Leah, after ending a 2-year exclusive relationship, called me, in tears, and asked the following question: “Why are men such idiots?!”

Two days later, another friend, Tracee, called after an exasperating second date and made the following declaration: ” Men are idiots.”

The details of their individual situations don’t really matter as much as the fact that they came to the same conclusion after experiencing vastly different sample sizes. I’ll offer this though: Leah’s guy seemed to be a good dude, but had issues with maturity and committment. Tracee’s guy, well, he IS an idiot.

My initial inclination both times was to say something dismissive like, “Welcome to the world of dating.” Or to give a smart-ass, “Suck it up.” I chose, however, not to offer either of those gems because they both really have come to expect more thoughfulness from me – though I’m not sure why.

What followed was a series of conversations with Leah that, while they didn’t resolve issues of why certain men are idiots, they hopefully shed some light on men’s behavior and left her better equipped as she moved forward trying to get her groove back.

For starters, my dear friend reads too many books on dating. She has all these rules, and expectations that sound great in theory, and even manage to get a few people paid, but none of that stuff really matters.  Most of it isn’t applicable to real life situations.

Here’s the real deal:  women are expected to be bettter people.  They just are. They’re taught from early on to be caring, and compassionate.  Men, on the other hand are allowed to be assholes.  Often, it’s instilled in them.  It’s just a fact.

Think about it. Little girls are taught to be honest, play nicely, and to care for others. And that’s a beautiful thing, really.

Little boys are taught to be rough and tough, and to win at all costs. What do you think sports are all about?  And please, don’t give me any nonsense about girls also playing sports.  It’s not the same.  I recently went to a girls youth-league basketball game and the girls were not allowed to take the ball away from the other team. Huh?!  If that’s not right out of the Stepford Wives starter kit I don’t know what is.

Little girls are given dolls that need to be fed and have their diapers changed.  Boys are given things to play at fighting, making war, or to generally beat someone at something.  Traditionally, young women go into the world idealistically, hoping to make it a better place.  Men, on the other hand, go out into the world seeking to conquer it, or at least some aspect of it.  Women are often as ambitious and accommplished as men, they just go about it differntly.

These differences are reinforced by almost every societal institution we have.  The schools – look at the differences in the approach to athletics; the Church – women are still struggling to gain acceptance in and access to the pulpit; contemporary music – no example necessary (almost any Hip Hop video will do); movies – most still play on the old “damsel in distress”/”night in shining armor” fairytale narrative as they relate to relationships (and also, men are usually in them blowing shit up).

How does this dynamic play out when it comes to relationships?  Most women enter into a new relationship, and early on, are enthusiastic and optomistic, wondering if it could lead to the wonderful life she’s always been told she should want.  She wonders if he could be The One. (We can address her neediness another time.)

Men – we just trying to get the drawers (slight oversimplification, maybe, but true for the most part).

I heard some of the most mysoginistic stuff as a young fella coming of age.  Older male relatives and guys from the neighborhood would often offer up some real doosies.  I don’t know a single guy who didn’t hear things like “Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?” or “Only a poor rat has just one hole.”  And my personal favorite, “The only thing better than pussy is new pussy.”  (No, Chris Rock was not the first person to say that.  It was my Cousin Larry.)

Luckily, some men grow and mature, and are able to overcome the macho baggage we’ve been saddled with.  Some of us can merely suppress it.  That means it’s still there  – lurking just below the surface.

Our little chats didn’t solve my friends dating woes by any means.  Hopefully, it shed some light on men and left her better equipped to deal with the idiots she will likely encounter in the future.