Hegemonic Heterosexuality

We’ve talked before about hegemonic masculinity, the constant societal drumbeat of nonsense about what a man is supposed to be. Tall, successful, competitive, into sports, violent, et cetera ad nauseam. What I’ve been thinking about lately is how this fits into another incessant social narrative, one I’m going to call hegemonic heterosexuality, because the alternate name would be the Cult Of Shitty Relationships. I started down this train of thought when I saw a billboard for some godawful by-the-numbers romantic comedy coming out on Valentine’s Day, which makes sense because Valentine’s Day is that holiday when guys do romantic gestures for their girlfriends like taking them out to romantic comedies because men hate romantic comedies and it’s romantic to do things you hate because wait what the fuck everything in this logic chain is both wrong and horrible.

Hegemonic heterosexuality is the model for straight relationships that carries as many damaging, ridiculous, impossible assumptions and requirements as does hegemonic masculinity. Shall we list a few?

Relationships are about finding The One you’ll spend the rest of your life with. Naturally, a jealous and possessive form of monogamy is a strict requirement. It is necessary to hate all of one’s exes, because they were not The One, and one must also be jealous of all one’s partner’s exes, because they touched your property before you even got there.

There is a list of Things Women Like and a list of Things Men Like, and they have minimal overlap. To engage in correct heterosexuality one must do things on the opposite-gender list, to please one’s partner. You will not enjoy these things. Men make sacrifices like pretending to enjoy shopping or theater, because those are what women like. Women make sacrifices like pretending to enjoy sports and action movies, because those are what men like. If one’s partner likes anything on the “wrong” list, that is excitingly transgressive in that they might actually enjoy it, but ultimately it’s kind of weird and makes them not The One.

Men don’t have emotions and women don’t have a sex drive, so relationships consist of a transaction: the performance of sex acts for the performance of emotional intimacy. Men hate emotional intimacy and women hate sex, so this is a fair trade all around. There is a narrow range of “normal” sex acts that are permitted; anything outside those bounds is weird and gross, especially if there’s any hint that it might be driven by some form of female sexual desire, which is by definition perverse. Men sometimes want “extreme” or “kinky” sex acts, which a woman may perform in order to please her man, but if she is not appropriately compensated for this sacrifice, the relationship is unfair.

It goes without saying, of course, that men are primarily valuable for their worldly success and accomplishment, with some secondary value derived from conformation to a standardized concept of physical attractiveness. Women, conversely, are primarily valuable for their conformation to standardized physical attractiveness, with some secondary value derived from worldly success and accomplishment.

At all points and in all ways, the man must take the initiative. He must be the first to approach the woman and ask her out, he must be the first to propose sex, the first to propose each escalation of the relationship, and, obviously, the first to propose marriage. The woman’s role is to get the man to do each of these things in the appropriate order without ever directly asking for any of them. If she expresses a desire out loud, she loses points and may be demoted from The One status. Instead she must silently manipulate the man so that he follows these steps in the right order at the right time as though of his own initiative.

Proposal and marriage must be performed in accordance with a very strict and specific set of rituals and traditions. This constitutes a victory on the woman’s part, as men hate marriage, so his proposal means that she has won. Once married, most married couples hate each other. This is normal.

There’s a lot more weird requirements and assumptions built into this routine, but I’m sure you all recognize it by now. This is the model of straight relationships that informs every article in “men’s magazines” and “women’s magazines”, the model that informs every “battle of the sexes” joke, every half-assed romantic comedy, and for some reason every single episode of Friends I ever saw, no exceptions. Also Ally McBeal. Also… shit, throw a dart at the TV, it’ll hit an example.

One might say that this is just heteronormativity, but I think it’s different; it’s even more restrictive. It’s perfectly possible to say “There’s a million different ways for a man and a woman to love each other!” which is heteronormativity, but not hegemonic heterosexuality. The Cult Of Shitty Relationships defines “normal” down even further, into realms of pointless, purposeless unhappiness.

At its core, it’s based on two ugly stereotypes and one ugly model. The stereotypes can be distilled down to this: Men are stupid and women are crazy. Offensive as hell no matter how you slice it, ain’t it? As to the model, it’s kind of even worse: conflict. Men and women’s interests and goals are at odds with each other, so all we can do is try to come out on top.

In other words, hegemonic heterosexuality is the vast cultural conspiracy to describe all heterosexual relationships as the unending war between stupid people and crazy people. If that’s really the model of love you want to aspire to, then okay, you have that right. But don’t piss down my neck and tell me it’s raining, and don’t show me toxic relationships and tell me they’re normal.  I reject this model and encourage others to do so as well, and I’m pissed off enough that I’m putting together some more pieces on this. Be prepared for gravity of thought, levity of expression, and swearing.

About noahbrand

Noah Brand is a mysterious figure with a very nice hat.
This entry was posted in hegemonic heterosexuality, noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz, relationships, sexuality and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

77 Responses to Hegemonic Heterosexuality

  1. Schala says:

    Kudos for this post Noah. Gotta say I agree heartily with all of it.

  2. Xakudo says:

    Holy f**k. This post is amazing. Bravo, Noah.

  3. Ted says:

    Yeah I’ve been trying to explain this for a while now, thanks for putting into words something that I’ve been grappling with for a while, see that one post on nice guy syndrome, which is a sub group in this explanation for those who are not hegemonically masculine.

  4. Great post.

    Perhaps a queer author can write Hegemonic Homosexuality? Because a friend of mine spoke of a friend of hers who also suffers through non-conformity to the culturally expected stereotypes of his gender and orientation.

  5. Darque says:

    Good post!

  6. debaser71 says:

    Sorry, but I don’t see this happening anywhere except TV land or if you cherry pick from our culture. The OP’s description is a description of an alternate universe in which I do not reside.

    IMO, dude, lay off the pop culture for a while. Life is not as shallow as they portray it to be.

  7. debaser71, I absolutely see a lot of this in real life. Congrats if your community is different. I know too many guys who honestly think men are crazy, too many girls who honestly think boys are jackasses, and for all I know, their experience truly proves them right. I know too many guys who do things they don’t like just to get sex.

  8. Err, that shoulda read “guys who honestly think WOmen are crazy.”

  9. Jolie says:

    Jordan- maybe more like “emphasised homosexuality”? (in line with RW. Connell’s concepts of “hegemonic masculinity” and “emphasised femininity)” I don’t think that you can think any kind of homosexuality as being “hegemonic” in our culture/sex-gender system.

  10. qwerty says:

    AMEN.

  11. elementary_watson says:

    Great article, but I don’t think women are expected to begrudgingly share their SO’s cultural tastes – I can’t see a (popcultural depiction of a) guy complaining to another guy about his girlfriend never going with him to an action movie without the other guy going, “well, why would you want to watch that movie with a woman, anyway???”

    I’d rather say that the more apt comparison would be that women are expected to begrudgingly go with their men’s tastes when it comes to food rather than entertainment.

  12. The_L says:

    Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

    This idea screwed me so badly, especially when I started to notice that I was kinkier than the guys I was dating.

  13. scrapemind says:

    No, no, geek guys are single because they are holding out for women who hate Things Women Like and love Things Men Like. The problem isn’t that the dream girl who shares all of a nerd’s obscure, obsessive interests isn’t the kind of girl you take home to Mother. The problem is that the dream girl don’t exist.

    Nobody aspires to the transactional model of heterosexuality, they just think it’s the awful truth, and they doubt that disbelieving in it will make it go away.

  14. RocketFrog says:

    Scrapemind:

    In my experience, many geek guys are single because they do not really have much to offer in a relationship.

  15. debaser71 says:

    I think the OP is 35 years old. So it’s not really an age thing. I’m 40, been married over 10 years, and I have three children. What the OP is describing is not my reality or the reality of my peers. Nobody I know thinks in the manner the OP describes, except on tv and in commercials. And maybe it is a community thing. I live in a fairly liberal and mostly secular part of the US. But I have conservative and religious friends who still do not act or think in the manners described in the OP.

  16. Schala says:

    “Scrapemind:

    In my experience, many geek guys are single because they do not really have much to offer in a relationship.”

    Prejudiced much? You think the football quarterback has anything to offer to a relationship at the very base? I don’t. They start equally good or bad. Having “social status by association” shouldn’t be considered a relationship’s perk, or at least not be credited as “something the status person does”. It’s often something bestowed ON the status person, by others, for doing stuff that can be good or bad. It doesn’t originate from the person itself. It ain’t something the person does for the relationship. The way brown hair isn’t something I do for the relationship.

  17. RocketFrog says:

    Schala:

    The football quarterback has social status and is likely to be attractive and socially competent.

  18. RocketFrog says:

    Of course, it is entirely possible that a football quarterback would also not really have much to offer, but they seem to often be perceived as having something to offer.

  19. scrapemind says:

    Jolie says:

    I don’t think that you can think any kind of homosexuality as being “hegemonic” in our culture/sex-gender system.

    I heard that society expects young women to be bisexual nowadays.

  20. debaser71: as I mentioned, it IS my reality. It’s great that it’s not yours, and even greater that your circle of friends or perhaps your community is not like that either, but it’s mine.

    And I’d expect that’s the case for most. That women hang out with mostly women and men with mostly men alone suggests this.

  21. Lydia says:

    It’s not the world I live in because of the kinds of people I choose to hang around with, but when I’m talking to classmates or coworkers, I find these dumb attitudes are still really persistent in some circles. “I told my wife I’d go see whatever Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants chick flick romance she wants, as long as we can watch Conan the Barbarian afterwards! She hasn’t taken me up n it.” -a co-worker

  22. Flyingkal says:

    Well, whether or not you have anything to offer, relationship-wise, really depends on what any prospective partner is interested in. Right?

  23. Kaija24 says:

    I have the same “worlds collide” experiences as Lydia describes..within my own inner circle of friends and family, there’s a lot of individual arrangements/relationships and a complete lack of status quo in terms of what Noah aptly describes in the post, but when I venture outside of my home circle, I DO hear a lot of the hegemonic heterosexuality crap. And it makes me cringe.

  24. debaser71 says:

    Ninestraycats, in my reality husbands hang out with their wives and they both hang out with other married couples. Maybe if I were in high school or college or club hopping my perspective would be more in line with the OP’s. And I don’t really have co-workers or classmates so yeah, I am a bit insulated from a lot of stupid bullshit talk. But I learned that very often people talk in a manner that is expected not in a manner that reveals their inner “true-self”. Most people I know have gotten over this though. Men are allowed to knit, women are allowed to like football. And nobody gives them shit about it.

    I’m calling confirmation bias.

  25. Kaija24 says:

    debaser71 has a good point about people talking in a manner that is expected, and not in a manner that reveals their true inner thoughts or inner self. In a positive light, this is sometimes an understandable self-protection; it is rational to not want to expose your vulnerable inner self to everyone. In a more negative light, it’s caving to conformity and fitting in. I’ve heard people I know well “talk the talk” in public and then heard them speak very differently in private, about relationships, sexuality, gender issues, finances, you name it…closing that gap comes with feeling secure enough to be authentic most of the time and debaser71 also has a point that some of that comes with age and lived experience for some, though not all. 🙂

  26. sirgabe says:

    @Jordan:

    To my knowledge, those relationships still can fall under this model because heteronormativity affects relationships with people of the same gender as well. It’s also known as the butch/femme dichotomy in queer spaces. Not only are these couples expected to be butch/femme, they’re supposed to take on gender roles regarding cooking, cleaning, yardwork and so on.

  27. Alicat says:

    Some people never grow out of this. My co-worker (female, cis-gendered, heterosexual in her 50’s) is internet dating . . . . . . and I quote
    “Of course he’s got to be tall”
    “I always get a free meal out of them”
    “I never have a date in this town – what if someone saw us and he was ugly”
    “I’ve met a great man, he’s really rich”

    Me? I’m all of the above (female, cis-gendered, heterosexual in my 50’s) but I date the geek guys – at least they don’t look blank when I mention XKCD

  28. PetroniusArbiter says:

    Well, of course – this makes sense. If you do something The Other likes, it doesn’t count, unless you didn’t like it. If you liked it, no points for you. If it didn’t cost you something, it has no value.
    (just to be clear )
    I don’t know if anyone here likes The Offspring – maybe I should have posted this in the “Kipling effect” post someone put up a while ago, but in any case – this a line from the song “Self Esteem”.
    “The more you suffer, the more it shows you really care. Right? yeah yeah yeah”
    @Debaser71 – I’d agree with you to the extent that this effect is more obvious and blown to caricature proportions by pop culture. However, one, unfortunately pop culture does have an effect on people, particularly young people, and especially young people without good education/other sources of information, and two, that kind of shit, when broadcast continuously and ubiquitously tend to seep under the conscious threshold even for people who ostensibly should know better. I’m glad to hear that most of the people you know have gotten over it, and by inference, that there are groups, or perhaps even whole classes where they would be aware of and immune to that kind of toxic swill, but that does not mean it’s non-existent. It is a mutated idea of romanticism that’s being sold in many ways, particularly to young girls, and unfortunately too many of them internalize it. As for the guys – i think they are less likely to subscribe to it, but for a bad reason – they just seemed to be immunized to it by another toxic meme, specifically, that romance of any kind is Not For Men.

  29. PetroniusArbiter says:

    i think i messed up my tags there – that was meant to say “Just to be clear – “

  30. PetroniusArbiter says:

    Sigh, i give up. I just wanted to clarify that the first few lines were meant to be sarcastic.

    Is there an escape character for tags that i can use here?

  31. Aside: Alicat, I really really hate the thing about tallness being preferred in men. However, if you show interest in a shorter man, which I did several times, and you are taller than they are, even if its by only an inch (and I am 5’3″)… they will usually ignore you to find someone even shorter than they are.

    Public service announcement: If you want us to “marry down”–then goddammit, be super-attentive when the better-paid, taller girl, asks you to the movie. Chances are, several did and you didn’t even notice. 😛

    Nice post, Noah. I have noticed that long-married people rarely fetishize Valentines Day, except maybe to have a nice meal out somewhere. We might have a burrito at our favorite Mexican restaurant; after 24 yrs, I already know he likes me. 🙂

    Its obviously a racket to get the younger guys to pony up for chocolates and alla that shit. I really hate that too, almost as much as demanding all men have to be tall.

  32. Excuse me, can’t write:

    “They will look for someone EVEN SHORTER than I am”.

  33. doubletrack says:

    Yay! Great post!

  34. granbee says:

    Bless you, bless you a thousand times over!!!! Originally, heterosexual mating was about procreating and populating the earth. No career, glamour, emotions, class distinctions, etc. need have applied, okay? Of course, there needed to be some sort of home and hearth stability for the benefit of the young, hence monogamy, means of bringing home the food, finding a good cave, etc. Some basic standards of femaleness and maleness exhibited in physical build were of consideration, to ensure healthy offspring and sperm and egg productivity, okay? All the rest is stuff Madison Avenue and the American Bar Association has capitalized on, at least here in the U.S. You just rant and rave on, buddy, I am here for you.

  35. debaser71 says:

    PetroniusArbiter, for the record I have three daughters and I am very aware of what’s out there in pop culture. Sometimes I have to go out of my way to let them learn how it’s almost all bullshit. Not an easy task. And I am not in favor of lecturing…note how I say “allow them to learn” and not “I teach them”. To me, this matters, a lot. But the bottom line is that all my daughters need to do is look to their own family to see how much unlike real life is compared to pop culture. (I know I say this a lot) but I am the stay at home parent. My wife works. I could list all the ways in which my personal life is very different than the one being described in the OP. The OP just seems like it’s trying to talk about me and yet it’s just so very off the mark.

  36. Glove says:

    Geez, debaser71, it ain’t all about you. Your experiences don’t fit the OP’s; that’s cool, we’re glad, but we’re saying that our experiences do match up with the OP’s. We can both be right. You’re really labouring the point, like you want people to pay more attention to your experience than everyone else’s, or the wider picture.

  37. debaser71 says:

    I’m trying to offer a perspective of the wider picture. Something other than just /agree.

  38. PetroniusArbiter says:

    @Glove
    Giving your own experiences a greater weight is one of the most common cognitive biases, and one that’s very difficult to compensate for, even when you are aware of it.
    @Debaser71
    I’m glad for your daughters, because i believe that having a positive role model in your everyday life is indeed the best antidote against that type of – indoctrination, i guess is the word i can use here. I’m not even against lecturing, as long as it is not presented as the Ultimate Last Word from on high, rather than “here is what i think and why”.
    Too many young people however have either bad, or no role models they can identify with, and thus default to the ones they see in media every day, and when those stereotypes are intertwined (as they usually are) with the outward trappings of success and beauty (i use those in the sense of the Success myth and Beauty myth as previously discussed on this blog), they become even more insidious. I don’t want to harp about “oh noes, the kids are being raised by the TV” because i think it’s very much an oversimplification, but for the purpose of this point, that’s what it comes down to.
    in general, i think that that kind of issues are only a problem when they are left unexamined – so props to this blog and the others like it – but in terms of absolute numbers, i don’t think that the majority of people have the mental tools to examine them in relation to themselves (to clarify, i do NOT mean intelligence or the lack thereof – just the set of ideas and terminology required to even identify such concepts. Language matters). Over the last 15 years i have gone through high school, university, and jobs in academic and technical fields on 2 continents, and even in the most educated and liberal environments I’d be surprised if a significant majority considers those topic consciously, let alone a majority.
    In slightly different vein – those ideas propagated by American media are surprisingly powerful when introduced in other cultures. When seen without context, and combined with the magical aura of “The Promised Land” that clings to the West, and America in particular, even more than 20 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, it’s all too easy to see them as the way things are, and even worse, as the way things should be. I have seen this time and again for people from everywhere in the former Eastern Bloc, and while i cannot vouch first hand, I wouldn’t be surprised if it works in a similar way elsewhere too.

  39. PetroniusArbiter says:

    The last line in the 2nd to last paragraph above should read as “significant minority, let alone a majority”.

  40. L says:

    @debaser: Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that follow this tired narrative. Who do you think subscribes to Cosmo and Maxim?

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  42. debaser71 says:

    People can read Cosmo and watch a lot of bad TV and still not be “hegemonic” assholes about relationships. I’m saying that people are not always as shallows as others make them out to be. I had to learn this. It’s easy to fall into the “I know what your mind is thinking” trap.

  43. Stellar says:

    I know a lot of relationships like this, if the term can be applied. Usually the ones where the girl is ‘in love 4eva’ after a few weeks.
    I am very glad to say me and my chap are nothing like the above. He’s into musical theatre (which, shock horror, I now actually like!), watches Americas next top model, and enjoys being romantic!
    I’m a nerd of fluid sexuality, who doesn’t know which and of an oven is up, much less do I desire to. This does not make me the other hollywood stereotype, the business woman who rules the world.

    When the film industry stop churning out this claptrap, men and women might, you know, get along?

    (oh, and geeks don’t stay single forever waiting for the one. My man is a nerdbot to the core, and gorgeous as hell! Never had much trouble with the laydeez)

  44. I do concur, but are you sure you ever watched Ally? Yes, she finds herself buying into this model, and she is portrayed as an idiot for it. In fact, all across the show there are characters who don’t fit into neatly circumscribed societal roles, either suffering as they try to force themselves or thriving as they find non-“traditional” paths. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the whole point of the series is a dialogue about exactly these issues.

    It’s not always the case that when you see an attitude expressed in the media it’s being held up as a model. Sometimes it’s actually being held up precisely so it can be torn down.

  45. mangecoeur says:

    “There is a list of Things Women Like and a list of Things Men Like, and they have minimal overlap” – hell, there’s whole books that lay this out for you, with titles like “what women want” or “men’s secrets that women should know”

  46. yorksranter says:

    I think a lot of the rom-com guff is simply the power of cliche. It stays that way not because anyone has any real attachment to it, but because doing something else would require originality. Although you could get surprisingly far just by ripping off classic Hollywood rather than last week’s mediocrity…

  47. Linda says:

    You just described my life! I have tried to be clear, not to manipulate and to be honest but sadly this seems to up the stakes on the manipulation/I win game for men. It feels like the Simpsons cartoon dog level of hearing. I say I like my house, the wardrobes are full of clothes I like don’t expect this to lead to you moving in. they hear mwa mwa mwa you moving in? I despair……

  48. JD says:

    This is all a bit obvious and derivative…if anything, the idea that people genuinely act in this way is the only real stereotype here. Also: a little patronising. Some of these behavioural characteristics are typical of any human relationship/interaction in our society – OP: do you really think that you’re outside/above of that?

    Having said that, it’s a pretty neat summation of many bullshit pop-culture representations of relationships. Also; it raises the point that most people seem to believe that OTHERS act in this ‘stereotypical’ way, while they themselves are taking part in a PROPER relationship, not tainted by social constructs of identity etc…

  49. Andrew says:

    I’m thinking debaser71 had never lived in the rural midwest (where I was raised). This describes that environment PERFECTLY.

    Just my perspective. I honestly hope I’m wrong and simply was a bad observer.

  50. Schala says:

    “You just described my life! I have tried to be clear, not to manipulate and to be honest but sadly this seems to up the stakes on the manipulation/I win game for men. It feels like the Simpsons cartoon dog level of hearing. I say I like my house, the wardrobes are full of clothes I like don’t expect this to lead to you moving in. they hear mwa mwa mwa you moving in? I despair……”

    Well, the problem there is…why say this? If someone is with you, they might try to mind-read into what you said, to find some hidden meaning that they expect you to expect them to know. So they might have it way off…because they feel they HAVE to react.

    Like Homer saying something stupid after Lisa said “it’s better to shut up and look stupid than open your mouth and prove it” – he felt he HAD to say a punch line.

    If they’re like me, they’ll treat it at face value, and if it’s a hint, it will get thrown in my face for NOT taking the hint. That it “was so obvious”. Well, no. It’s not fucking obvious. I’m sincere, I’m honest. I told my boyfriend I liked bondage before we were together, in normal platonic friendly conversation. Very candid you see. So it boosts my “I don’t play mindgames” cred to people, because I obviously don’t. I don’t lie, I don’t manipulate, and I expect it to be mutual. If it’s not, too bad, not a good fit.

  51. mandrill says:

    Marvellous. Thank you for this. If you’d written it a year ago I could have shown it to my, now ex, wife.

  52. Chris says:

    I’m in my twenties, and more than once have had a conversation with a straight female friend about how “no, he does not know what you are thinking, just tell him how you feel already!” and so I think the bit about women expecting and being expected to silently manipulate their partners persists to some degree. I agree its cliche for ‘female lead character’ to storm off stage insisting that she’s “fine!” when what she really wants is for ‘male lead character’ to ask her how she is four more times, there are indeed people who still do this. Not just women, but my anecdotal experience suggests that it may be more prevalent in women than men.

    I think the most important thing my dad ever told me about relationships is that you have to tell the other person how you actually feel. Whether or not Noah’s piece accurately depicts the life of every straight person everywhere (because it seems like some of ya’ll are expecting that) I do think he hit on some important ideas in our culture about what we are expected to keep hidden from the people we love.

  53. L says:

    @JD: Just about every woman in my family acts this way, so yes, there’s truth to the trope. Though I want to say that the women that do this, in my experience, don’t just do it to their male partners, but rather everyone close to them.

  54. erfnompanda says:

    This is great. Keep up the good writing.

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  56. Ginkgo says:

    “Hegemonic heterosexuality is the model for straight relationships that carries as many damaging, ridiculous, impossible assumptions and requirements as does hegemonic masculinity.”

    That’s a good definition but I have to confess somethng quite different came to mind for that term. What I thought of was heterosexual people being hegemonic. Maggie Gallagher for instance. And gay people trying to model their relationships on the toxic straight ones they grew up with.

  57. PJ says:

    It’s funny because straight, monogamous relationship models were never something I ever put much thought into despite the fact that I was practicing that exact thing. Once I started expanding my horizions and started to see what a big ole world it is and that there are way more kinds of relationships than I had ever dreamed, I started to break free from the preset notions of what a relationship *should* be and I started to look for what actually makes me happy. Since I’ve worked on breaking out of the of the “only one person in the world for me and he should never, ever, ever want to have sex with someone other than me because if he does that means he doesn’t want me” thought process that society and my upbringing drummed into me from an early age, I’ve been happier and freerer than I ever thought possible. I have a wonderful, happy, honest and open relationship that would never have been possible if I hadn’t stopped to look around and go “wait, this is horseshit” when it comes to societal norms in relationships.

    And I’m not even sure if that made sense or not… moar coffee…

  58. PJ says:

    freerer? I don’t even know what I was going for there. My apologies.

  59. Daniel Hart says:

    What you are saying here is so sadly subjective – and hateful.

    “Men who don’t like the stuff Men Like simply do not exist. Sure, there are probably a few Sensitive New Age Guys who won’t pressure women into doing it, but they all get off on anal sex secretly. The ones who don’t get points, the way that men who like cunnilingus get points.”

    This is not true in my experience as a man. I’ve never been interested in anal sex, loathe sport and competitive masculinity, and I do prefer to give – do you speak for me, or anyone outside of your caricatured and jaundiced “man-view”?

    “The funny thing about Stuff Men Like is that proving it wrong only requires about five seconds of thought. If I consciously think “hey, men all like anal sex,” my brain will instantly crowd with counterexamples, namely, every man I’ve ever slept with.”

    This is abhorrent sexism, equally vile if reversed. You’re a very bitter person if you believe this. I feel sorry for you.

    “Men are stupid and women are crazy. Offensive as hell no matter how you slice it, ain’t it?”

    If you slice it that way, yes – if you are a resentful misandrist and misogynist.

    “Men make sacrifices like pretending to enjoy shopping or theater, because those are what women like.”

    Are you just intent on riling people? Anyone who has ever had a loving relationship, gay or straight, will not recognise the nasty, cynical, hateful tone you take – and it’s your loss.

  60. noahbrand says:

    @Daniel Hart: Um. I think a closer reading will reveal that Ozy and I are not, in fact, advocating the positions to which you object. In fact, we object to them in the strongest possible terms. That’s kind of the point.

  61. Daniel Hart says:

    I tried to read irony into it, imagining it as some Brooker-esque kind of rant, but all I saw in your writing was unfunny, stupid and extremely sexist judgement about people that bore no relation to anyone I have ever known or indeed could recognise. A closer reading does not make your opinion any smarter. That’s kind of my point.

  62. noahbrand says:

    @Daniel Hart: Er… what do you believe that opinion to be?

  63. Daniel Hart says:

    I don’t know if you are male or female; gay or straight. I’m guessing male given your name! But I don’t so much care where your politics lie or what your actual opinion is; it is so swathed in chauvinistic irony the actual sentiment isn’t clear. So it is more about how you come across – which is offensive, sexist, crass and judgemental.

  64. PetroniusArbiter says:

    @Daniel Hart
    The actual sentiment seemed to be clear for the vast majority of the participants in this discussion. Also i’m kinda curious what makes the (yes, very palpable) irony chauvinistic.
    Now obviously you did not consider it clear enough, but I’d say that if you gave even a cursory look to the rest of the comments, you’d find that making the point you are trying to make is simply unnecessary. Noone else read it the way you seem to have.

  65. Daniel Hart says:

    So let it be that no-one else feels the same way – your blog has so few readers. I disagree with you, but who else gives a fuck? G’night.

  66. Ed Sparrow says:

    Aaaaaand that’s the satirist’s dilemma, right there: if you throw in a nudge and a wink, it ceases to be funny; if you don’t, people think you really do want the Irish to eat their children.

  67. noahbrand says:

    @Ed: …does “I reject this model” count as a nudge and a wink? Do the adjectives “shitty”, “ugly”, “offensive”, “wrong”, “horrible”, “damaging”, “ridiculous”, and “impossible” count as a nudge and a wink? Because they strike me more as a large blunt object to the head. Possibly people nudge harder where Mr. Hart comes from.

    I’m not going to deny that I can be accused of many sins as a writer, but I’m going to go ahead and say that oversubtlety is not one of them.

  68. Ed Sparrow says:

    @ Noah,

    My comment was tongue-in-cheek, but yes, it’s not exactly A Modest Proposal.

  69. Xon says:

    This is a very nice synopsis of the chain of stereotypes that absolutely *do* pressure and mold people trying to make their way nowadays. Thanks for it!

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  71. Birdman says:

    At last, an intelligent discussion. I for one have been convinced of the effect of the media on the definition of especially heteronormative. The images of John Wayne, Cary Grant etc. One individual has likes and dislikes yet most are unexamined for how they came to be. Yet then are so judgmental about what is normal or not. I believe in the normal of one. There is a range of acceptability that as long as no one hurts anybody else then what anyone does is or should be considered normal.

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  73. Yes! Ghaa, this drives me crazy! I have friends stuck in this pattern of entering pre-scripted relationships that don’t suit them, that pit the “partners” against each other in some sort of competitive zero-sum pantomime of a relationship, and then break up and wonder what could possibly have gone wrong because they followed all the right steps. These same people will, embarrassingly, give me and my gentleman friend well-meant warnings about how we’re doing it wrong because I proposed, because we’ve never bothered to celebrate anniversaries, and because I’d throttle him if he spent our money on something as useless as flowers (chocolates are okay, though).

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  75. Pingback: Reflections « The Feminist Gadfly

  76. Pingback: I HATE hating Valentine’s Day — The Good Men Project

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