Gender Issues

Pardon Your Manhood

« May 2008 »

Memo to Esquire Magazine: YOU ARE DUMB.

On the grand tedium scale, few things rank, and rankle, as highly as men's manly pontificating on their male manliness. From the Dangerous Book for Boys to the legions obsessing over social "feminization", men trying to free their inner Iron John piss off my inner Oscar Wilde to no end.

Case in point, Esquire, which as far as I can tell is the ideal magazine for men who want to read Maxim, but don't want anyone walking by to know they're reading Maxim. Esquire recently published Tom Chiarella's list of the 75 skills every man should master, which is exactly what you'd predict from the title: a mix of gender-neutral competencies, selections from the Neanderthal skill set, and pseudo-psychological stupid shit. For example:

#4. Score a baseball game.

By which he means mastering the arcane shorthand of scribbles that allows someone sitting in the stands to compile a record of everything that happened, and who did it, over the course of the game. Information that you could then do nothing with for the rest of human existence, because absolutely nobody gives a fuck. Ever. Not even fifty-year-old baseball nerds clutching at their Stratomatic boxes like a life preserver in the sea of the modern world.

#15. Calculate square footage.

No, seriously. And he doesn't mean do the math in your head, he means realize that you multiply the width and length. I know this because he felt the need to explain to Esquire's readership how it's done, because apparently they're third-grade dropouts. Apparently men only deal with rectangles.

#19. Approach a woman out of your league.

The best part? Chiarella avoids any discussion of this topic, which is, essentially, irritating women with unwanted attention by telling men to act like, I shit you not, a confident shoe-shiner. I'm sure his follow-up article will examine pickup lines via the example of the whimsical chimney-sweep. Or perhaps first-date strategies from a charming and insightful street musician.

#29. Understand quantum physics well enough that he accepts that a quarter might, at some point, pass straight through the table when dropped.

He'd have saved us both a lot of typing if #29 had been "Don't Understand Quantum Physics."

#45. Tell a woman's dress size.

Or, you know, recognize that women's clothes sizing is inconsistent and capricious, and even if you ask her for it before you buy her a dress, keep the fucking receipt. This one's so disconnected from reality I can't even tell what kind of fantasy lifestyle he's trying to sell his audience on. Impressing a woman at a bar by nipping out to Macy's and returning with a red sleeveless number that fits her perfectly? She'll just think you've broken into her house and checked the tags in her closet, you stalky perv freak.

#53. Sometimes, kick some ass.

Oh, fuck off already, will you?

#60. Be brand loyal to at least one product.

Where to begin? First, not a skill, fuckface. Second, brand loyalty is never actually helpful, asswad. Thirdly, what you actually describe - liking Hellman's mayonnaise and Genessee beer, isn't brand loyalty, it's nostalgia-tinged, and slightly disgusting, personal taste. Brand loyalty would be buying a Hellman's car because you liked their mayo so much. Which would, like you, be profoundly stupid.

Men, listen up. The sooner you stop reading Esquire, stop obsessing over how best to live up to the imagined expectations of your genitalia, and start living your own individual life free of chromosomal stereotyping, the sooner you can trade in your fake, pleather happiness for the real thing. And more importantly, you'll stop pissing me off.

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