What Kind of Men We Are

Masculinity and its Discontents (MAID) is the blog of two men, Jamie Berger and Daniel Oppenheimer, who want to discuss what it means to be a man in America in the early years of the 21st century. It’s our thesis (because behind every good man there’s a good thesis) that men, particularly "straight" men, aren’t nearly honest enough with themselves or open enough with each other about all the many-splendored...

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Father-types

In one of the lost posts from our Masculine Dreams days, I proposed that a recurring feature of the blog could be the identification of various male archetypes, or sterotypes. I gave as an example a short preview of a Jason Mraz concert I once wrote, which I titled "Male Archetype #22": In high school, he was the soft-spoken boy who managed to make friends with the good-looking girls. Their boyfriends hoped that he was gay,...

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Wimpy White Guys With Guitars

In response to Dan’s male archetype debut, I offer lyrics from Larry Gallagher’s "Wimpy White Guys With Guitars” (click on track 9) the ultimate tribute to “fags” like Jason Mraz who, via serenade, have always wooed sensitive girls away from more traditional alpha doods: We’re taking over Serious, sensitive and sad There’ll be an open mic on every cornerWe’ll be writing songs about...

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Charles Barkely, Enlightened Male

In our earlier incarnation of this here blog, last spring, I offered the following post: In the car today, on ESPN radio, I heard Charles Barkley, the retired NBA superstar and outspoken (in itself a wonderful thing, as athletes, and – as the esteemed Daniel Oppenheimer puts it – "especially black male athletes, tend to be punished for being outspoken."), talking to perhaps the only two even vaguely introspective...

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Saint Charles the Manly

Might I add this snippet from the Charles, talking about one of his potential deficiencies as a governor, and how he might compensate for it: "I don’t know anything about a lot of things, but I would ask somebody and try to make a fair, honest decision for the majority of the people. Not the rich, not the poor, not the black, not the white," Barkley said. "When you get elected to public office, you’re...

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Johnny Mac

I wanted to throw in this iconic image of John McEnroe and propose him, for your manly consideration, as another masculine model to whom we might give ongoing consideration.

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An Anti-Barkley Intervention

So I was just surfing around the various magazine and newspaper databases, trying to find a way to link Barkley and McEnroe, and I came across this cognitive dissonance-inducing passage from The New Republic: The people who hand out endorsement money are not just culturally neutral but, often, morally neutral. Witness whiner John McEnroe, who routinely berated mild-mannered, low-paid officials, or skinhead linebacker Brian Bosworth,...

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Our Title Has Legs

Just for the hizz-ell of it, I typed "masculinity and its discontents" into Google to see what comes up. The first few hits refer to an essay from The New York Times on Brokeback Mountain by high mediocre film critic Manohla Dargis. She writes: That "Brokeback" is a landmark is a matter of empiricism; its merits as a work of art are a matter of taste. What has gone missing is that this is also that rare American...

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Fugging at its finest

A lovely post from one of the ladies over at Go Fug Yourself, the site which has spawned the greatest number of intra-left internet arguments about the propriety, from a feminist perspective, of criticizing women for dressing badly. In this particular post, we get a deconstruction of the style choices of every single one of "The Pussycat Dolls," which pretends to be a pop band but is actually what happens when you take that...

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Don't you wish your Scion was man like me? Fug, yeah, you do.

On and off for too many years I’ve puzzled over why Volvo’s logo is the universal male symbol and Dan’s “Mraz”-culinity prototype made me think of it once again, in that Jason Mraz, I’d be willing to bet you dollars to donuts (which is about, what 1:1 these days, fyi) based on photos I’ve seen, has surely owned a rusty 1984 240 or two in his day. In the last decade, especially in my former...

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The Effectuality Effect

I struggle sometimes, as all of us masculinists do, to distinguish between anxieties that are heavily inflected by issues of masculinity and those that are just general, human anxieties that I artificially masculinize because that lends them some kind of gravitas (anxiety, y’know, is what pussies feel, but real men are allowed to worry about what it means to be a man).Take for instance today’s noteworthy events in the life...

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Menemies and the Mantheon

With the ongoing canonization of Saint Charles the Barkley, we’ve already begun the project of establishing a kind of Mantheon of hero-men–dudes who we admire for their 21st century, enlightened-but-still-manly brand of masculinity.I’d like to propose a counterpart to the Mantheon– a Menemies List. My argument for said list is twofold: 1. I like the word "menemies," which I just made up this morning...

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Workin' For the Clampdown (aka Say No Go)

I can count on one penis the number of times I’ve walked into a public restroom, spied a fellow fellow at the urinals, stepped up and whipped out my Magic Johnson and let ‘er rip. It was a nice big bathroom, as I recall, in a spiffy hotel. The urinals were many, clean and shiny white. I was drunk and feeling cocky (as it were), perhaps about some new and enchanting companion awaiting me in the cocktail lounge, perhaps...

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Wimpy White Guys With Microsoft Word

I noticed a nice MAID-ish resonance today that I wanted to pass on. Michael Berube, a lit professor I once profiled in the Advocate, refers to Jamie’s singer/songwriter friend Larry Gallagher in a post on his blog today. Berube writes: One year ago today I was having one of the better times of my life. I was in northern California, attending the wedding ceremony of my old friend Larry Gallagher, whom I’d met in college and...

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Self, M.A.I.D. Man

As I iterated in my recent urinary tract, I have a certain psycho-physical condition that may or may not be related to my man-ness, but is certainly related to public-ness with other human beings. In general, I am a pretty hypersocial animal and look to surround myself with people, friends or strangers, as often as possible. As such, I have also always been comfortable in bars (and cafes), a milieu that can be intimidating for many...

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The Woes of Jobfulness

So today my month of joblessness ended. I’ve endured the Time of my Non-Earning with stoicism, strength and courage (the names I gave, hurricane–style, to the three major panic attacks I had) but as the user’s manual for MegaMan 8 says, there is a time for every purpose under heaven, and my time without a paycheck has been served. The College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas needs an associate writer,...

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But I like it too!

I was raised on Irish Spring TV commercials (among other things). The woman who snuck a deep long whiff of the green bar when her man wasn’t looking was really sexy, Irish but with long dark hair, if I remember right. Black Irish, as I came to learn later. But I never really understood. I think it was the "but" in "Manly, yes, but I like it too." Did she like it despite its manliness? Isn’t she supposed...

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Men Behaving Sadly

The website of Aaron Rochlen, a psychology professor at the University of Texas, is chock fulla man-related-program-activities. Rochlen writes about men, about why they don’t seek mental health treatment as much as they should, and what all of that has to do with traditional male gender role stereotypes. In his article “Marketing Mental Health to Men: Theoretical and Practical Considerations,” he writes: Successfully...

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ManPain

I just finished Self-Made Man, the new book by Norah Vincent which Jamie wrote about a few days ago: Self Made Man, which came out earlier this year, recounts journalist Vincent’s 18-months as a man. To clarify, it recounts her year and a half posing as a man. Vincent, a lesbian and happily so, has no interest in becoming a man, but was interested in exploring the male experience, and so she disguised herself and went under the...

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T.O. Gets Redacted

So it appears I was inadvertently timely in my recent post that touched on men’s aversion to seeking help with their psyche and on the NFL’s attempts to “tackle mental health.” If you haven’t heard the news, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens tried to kill himself yesterday. Or at least he did according to the unedited police report. The subsequent, “redacted” police report—I love...

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Men Suffer More Attractively

I liked this paragraph from James Wolcott’s recent review essay, of books about "The Mommy Wars," in The New Republic: Whatever choice a woman makes, or has foisted upon her by necessity and circumstance, ambivalence digs in its spikes. Women–to generalize madly–internalize a far thornier thicket of conflicts and tensions than most men do. Their worries, duties, doubts, regrets, and unfulfilled yearnings...

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OT on TO

Okay, we are NOT not not going to spend a great deal of time talking about sports and jocks and issues relating to sports that only tangentially touch our touchstone, but I’ve been thinking about this whole Terrell Owens thing and I smell many day-old fishies:I’ve been watching and listening and reading and have yet to see a single mention of the possibility that TO and his "publicist" and "friend" (Who...

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Therapy and ME!

I have been a believer-in- and goer-to- therapy on and off for, oh, fifteen years or so. I think of it as one of my most girly and metro- aspects of my man-self (along with yoga and my utter inability to carpent.) I have also been privileged to have had health insurance that paid for all but a fraction of that therapy. Would I have gone if I were paying a hundred bucks a shot or more? No way. Do I experience the epiphanies and...

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Therapy and the OPP

Ah, therapy. It was inevitable that enlightened, sensitive souls such as we would arrive at the couch, and probably sooner rather than later. I’ve been in the Big T for about nine months now. My doctor’s name is Dr. Dickey— I don’t think doctor-patient confidentiality goes both ways, so I should be allowed to reveal that — and yes, he knows how amusing the name is, and yes, he does have a small Sigmund...

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Sorry, Doc, I gotta reschedule, I've got a playoff game tomorrow.

Last bits on jocks and shrinks, for now. Alex Rodriquez is a New York Yankees baseball star (and man) who’s constantly bashed by the New York press, sports talk radio bozos and their bozo callers, especially during his current “off” year (a year that’s really not so far from his stellar career averages, and quite a nice year by most players’ standards). I was curious about why A-Rod gets so much more...

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Men on Women on Men

I’ve been feeling too andro-centric recently, so I thought I would devote today’s post to highlighting some of the work our feminist peers are doing on the masculine condition. At Feministing, which seems to be the place to go for young, hip feminist-blogging, there’s a small item on the new Milwaukee’s Best advertising campaign, which, as the Feministing-ists write, can be summed up as follows: "Accept...

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Welcome M.A.I.D. Virgins!

Masculinity and Its Discontents (M.A.I.D.) is a collaborative effort between two writer men named Daniel Oppenheimer and Jamie Berger. We’ll be commenting on, well, masculinity (in our lives, in celebrities’ lives, in the wide world), but, we hope, without much of that touchy-feely-Robert-Bly-manlib goo (not that there’s anything wrong with that) that’s usually associated with the M word. We hope to be less...

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Peep Show (part two of five)

I discovered Times Square in its LIVE! NUDE! GIRLS! heyday late one night in my freshman year of college after a punk-rock show at Roseland Ballroom. I was walking through midtown with my jaded New Yorker friends (I was a recent arrival from upstate, still wide-eyed, just beginning to discover big-city splendors) when we passed by the peep shows on 42nd Street. I was riveted. Of course, there was no way I was going to admit, let alone...

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What, me biased?

I was recently told by a German friend of mine that a good German is one who feels guilty much of the time. I thought that seemed a little extreme but, if I had to choose, certainly preferable to a German who feels no guilt at all. I feel the same way with men – it’s better to take too much responsibility for injustices done by our male forebears than too little or none at all, and infinitely better still to take that blame...

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White Men Rule

Jamie’s post, in which he writes of his recent encounter with a Hard-Nosed Liberal White Guy Who Won’t Be Mau Mau’ed By The PC Police Anymore (H-NLWGWWBMM’edBTPCPA – asshole, for short), reminds me of perhaps my seminal experience as that guy. I was a grad student at Columbia at the time, working (“working” is an exaggeration) my way toward an MFA in nonfiction writing, and I was one of the...

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Peep Show (part one)

In the Chapter of Norah Vincent’s Self Made Man about her visits, in male disguise, to strip clubs, she writes, in partial explanation of men’s frequenting said clubs: When pure fucking and animal release is what you’re thinking about – and that is what the male sex drive at its basest seems to be all about – you don’t want there to be any witnesses. You don’t want to be a dirty, senseless...

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Peep Show (part three of five)

I’ve never liked fancy strip clubs. I go to peep shows not to relax or to talk to women because I can’t comfortably talk to them elsewhere. I go first and foremost to get off, and that just doesn’t happen at expensive “gentlemen’s” clubs, at least not without a whole lot more money than I’ve got to spend. The fancy clubs are all about tips, and I’ve never had the cash for that, either....

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Peep Show (part four of five)

The day before the dreaded Saturday benefit reading, I had my little passel of sensitive-male poems ready to go, but an unwelcome thought was edging its way into my brain: that I should read “Close,” my museum-guard story, instead. I fought the impulse with all my might, couldn’t believe I was even considering it. But I also wanted to read the best work I had, and despite my fears, the story was, in a sense,...

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The Feminist Family and its Discontents

Before Jamie concludes his serialization of "Peep Show," I just wanted to interject with a brief psychosexual autobiography because a.) it doesn’t seem fair to drop the autobiographical burden entirely on Jamie, and b.) we’re both the products of feminist, liberal households, which have their own not-always-so-obvious psychosexual pathologies (is the vagina dentata above too subtle a symbol?).My parents were not...

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Peep Show (part five of five)

It’s the Saturday of the show, and I feel awful, my stomach tied in a knot. In the afternoon I stop by the Lusty Lady, hoping to relieve my anxiety over reading a story about jerking off to strippers by jerking off to strippers. Sass isn’t here, and I’m not turned on by any of the other women, so I go into a video booth and watch porn, jumping from channel to channel: women’s bodies, a mouth on a cock, cum...

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