Monday’s Maddening Meme 4.4.16

(Yes, I know it is Tuesday, but I was indisposed much of yesterday and unable to finish this post)

Men are simple creatures with few needs, wants, and desires. It shouldn’t be hard for a woman to make a man happy.

Women, on the other hand are complex creatures who have a plethora of needs, wants, and desires. It is hard to make a woman happy because keeping track of everything they want, need, or desire is incredibly time-consuming.

Men- Simple. Easy to deal with.

Women- Complicated. Endlessly needy.

That’s what I’m getting from the above meme, which I stumbled across on Facebook. It reminds me of the 1992 book Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus by author and relationship counselor John Gray. In the book, Gray postulates that there are fundamental psychological differences between the sexes; differences so grand that men and women need instructions on how to understand and communicate with one another (apparently, those in the relationship should have an honest conversation about what they need and want is not sufficient advice; either that or it would be a one page book). And it just so happens that Gray has instructions. You just have to read his book, and you’ll find out all the secrets of the universe. Of course you also have BUY the book, so don’t think this guidance comes free of charge. Just be aware that the advice offered treats men and women as if they’re little more than walking stereotypes and erases the individuality of humanity. Needless to say, the book has faced quite a bit of criticism:

The book has been criticized for placing human psychology into stereotypes. In 2002, author Julia T. Wood published a critical response to the portrayal of the genders in Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. In 2004 a Purdue University communications professor said that based on research she conducted using questionnaires and interviews, men and women are not so different and “books like John Gray’s Men are From Mars and Women are From Venus and Deborah Tannen’s You Just Don’t Understand tell men that being masculine means dismissing feelings and downplaying problems. That isn’t what most men do, and it isn’t good for either men or women.”

Michael Kimmel, a professor of Sociology at Stony Brook University, further supports the assertion that men and women are not fundamentally different, contrary to what Gray suggests in his book. In Kimmel’s 2008 lecture at Middlebury College in Vermont, titled Venus, Mars, or Planet Earth? Women and Men in a New Millennium, Kimmel contends that the perceived differences between men and women are ultimately a social construction, and that socially and politically, men and women want the same things.

A study by Bobbi Carothers and Harry Reis involving over 13,000 individuals claims that men and women generally do not fall into different groups. “Thus, contrary to the assertions of pop psychology titles like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, it is untrue that men and women think about their relationships in qualitatively different ways.”

The Facebook meme reminds me of Gray’s book. It is a bizarre attempt to convey some sort of enlightened perspective on the needs of men and women in a romantic relationship. As with MAFMWAFV, it is wholly dependent upon cultural stereotypes of women *and* men (apparently all the men and women in the US need exactly the same things to be happy in a relationship). Moreover, the meme assumes that these cultural stereotypes are universal, rather than Western-centric. I’m not going to go over every aspect of the meme bc I’d be here til next Monday (err…Tuesday), but I want to touch on a few things.

  • It boggles my mind that anyone would think that A: one could formulate a list of things that could make all men happy and B: that there are *only* five things that would make all men happy.  And that list of things women need from men to be happy? Holy hell, does that look like a bunch of MRAs sat around discussing their highly skewed perception of what women want from a man in a relationship.
  • How does one go about determining how much sex men need in a relationship to be happy?
  • Even if there were a list of things that all men and all women need to be happy in a relationship, there would be a helluva lot of overlap. It wouldn’t be ‘5 things for men’ and ’53 things for women’, bc members of both groups are human beings and share many of the same needs, wants, and desires. I mean, FFS, there are a fuckton of women who like love sex too. Why is that not included among the things they need (‘sexologist’ doesn’t count bc that’s different than saying ‘women need sex’)? What about food? Do women not need to eat (‘chef’ doesn’t count bc that ain’t the same as saying ‘women need to be fed’)?
  • Why are these lists different in terms of what’s being called for? On the male side, it’s “things that a woman needs to DO to make a man happy”, while on the female side it is “things a man needs to BE to make a woman happy”.
  • This meme assumes the only sexuality that exists is heterosexuality. When it comes to a romantic relationship, I daresay gay men don’t need things from women, and lesbians don’t need things from men.
  • Why the ever loving FUCK does a woman need a man who is her friend, brother, father, lover, companion, and (ick) master? I don’t know any woman who wants her boyfriend to be her father or be like her father (replace father with any of the other words). Also, I don’t think the reference to ‘master’ is in the context of BDSM (which, when consensual can involve a master and a slave, if that’s what the participants desire), so what the fuck is it doing there?
  • Given how jealous so many cishet men get when their girlfriend talks about another guy, let alone talks *to* another guy, I find it laughable that this meme doesn’t include ‘not look at other guys’, under the list of things men need.
  • Why does a man need his girlfriend to feed him? Does he not know where the pots and pans are? Is he unable to boil water? Does walking into a supermarket fill him with existential dread? Can he not order takeout? Is he so incompetent that one of the necessities of human existence is not in his wheelhouse? (note: I’m talking here about men who are physically and mentally capable of cooking for themselves. I am fully aware that there are men who are not able to and do not want my comments to be taken as a slight to them)
  • And does ‘feed him’ mean to cook for him, or to sit there and hand feed him grapes while fanning him?
  • How often does a woman need to feed her man? Can she get by with once a month? Can she schedule every 3rd Saturday of the month to feed him?
  • Men don’t need a girlfriend who is sympathetic? Or honest? Or ambitious?
  • What the hell does “To make a woman happy, a man needs to be TRUE” even mean (#41)?

Ugh, I really feel like I need to wash after reading this piece of sexist bullshit.


 

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Monday’s Maddening Meme 4.4.16
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12 thoughts on “Monday’s Maddening Meme 4.4.16

  1. 2

    Does walking into a supermarket fill him with existential dread?

    This line made me very happy, so apparently “provide her with adequate snark” should be on the list of things needed to make women happy.

  2. rq
    3

    I’m always boggled by these memes: and a bit disgusted. Firstly, how condescending it is to men to consider them so very simple and superficial – it’s like they’re not even trying to make men into people, just pets of some weird sexual kind. Secondly, how it has become the norm to be proud to be so simple and uncomplicated. 95% percent of the time I see these memes, it’s by proud dudebros trying to show how funny it is to think of themselves as simple beings with simple needs (when they’re so not).
    Anyway, these memes always seem to be laughing at women, about how complicated they are (same with all those diagrams where women’s brains are illustrated with elaborate mazes while men’s brains are simple lines going from point to point), while pointing out the laudable lack of complexity in men. With a lack like that, it’s a wonder men have managed to accomplish anything in this world, since this simplicity and straight-line thinking is no evidence for any kind of creativity, invention and imagination (contrary to what the history of the world would have us believe). So I am forced to conclude that the actual joke, that nobody seems to get, is on men.
    As for women being so complex as to be opaque, well, I suppose that is the challenge, then: be a man interesting enough to hold my attention, and we just might have something going there. And if that requires that you be all those things, and probably a whole ‘secret’ list of things specific to me? Why, sure, I like meself a capable man! Does the list of requirements scare men? Are they really so weak and incompetent? Because that’s what it boils down to: men don’t want to be intelligent or competent or thoughtful or capable, they want to be babied and served. Women, on the other hand, seem to prefer being… well, I would have said the company of well-rounded human beings, but there’s so much bullshit on that list that I have a hard time finding any really good points about it.
    And no, I do not want my husband to be a stand-in for any of my brothers, or a gynecologist (seriously, WTF???), or> some kind of master, and most especially not my father. Thank you very much, that’s kind of disturbing. And patronizing. And disturbing. Ew. Disturbing.

    * Please note that I write this in the context of the heterosexual relationships within which the meme works, because it so conveniently ignores all other forms of partnership out there that don’t need to rely on some weird misconceptions about the other half, but instead seem to work rather well on mutual respect, honest communication, and the desire to have a good time (and good cuddles) with a special someone.

    I could rant about these things all night, but alas…

  3. 6

    I’d recommend, with some trepidation as it’s a deeeep rabbit hole, reading
    http://metafilter/151267/

    It’s a long (2000+ very-well-moderated comments!) discussion of what emotional labor is, why it’s usually invisible to men (hint: it’s usually coded feminine), and, the disastrous results of ignoring it.

    It’s a great antidote to this kind of crap (not your article, Tony, the stupid meme).

  4. 8

    Thank you so much for this.

    From the perspective of a bisexual man, this list is simply stomach-turning in the way it marginalizes male psyche.

    Being biromantic, I still have to struggle against the emotionally and psychologically-marginalizing expectations that are made of masculinity.

  5. 9

    Er, wait… “5. Don’t bother him with his movements?” Wat? I’m not sure what is meant by this. Is there a substantial number of men whose significant others interrupt their poopin’?

    I can at least answer one of your questions: “How often does a woman need to feed her man?”

    It is widely known that men only eat once every few weeks. Their jaws are capable of unhinging, allowing them to devour their meal whole. After swallowing their meal, they will seek out a warm spot to lay and digest their meal over the course of several days. In time, even the bones will be digested by the powerful digestive enzymes in the man’s stomach. If disturbed while digesting, the man may regurgitate the entire meal.

    Wait, I might be thinking of snakes.

  6. rq
    10

    invivoMark
    That theory would actually explain a lot about the meme. Including the bit about movements and not disturbing them.

  7. 12

    How reassuring that the only things I need to do to make Spouse happy are to A) sleep* next to him B) feed him C) ignore him otherwise. Here I thought that if I, you know, listened to what he tells me he needs with the words coming out of his face-hole and acted accordingly within my own capabilities and desires (and vice versa) we could have a successful relationship, but apparently I’m totally off the hook for anything other than sleeping and cooking! Stop talking to me right this second, Spouse. Never call me to troubleshoot or plan your day again. Eat this, go take a nap, I’ll forget you exist until it’s time for your next feeding, and we’ll live happily ever after.

    Men: it’s like having a pet gerbil or a cat. You don’t even have to take them out for exercise! What have I been doing wrong for the past 16 years? Apparently everything!

    How could any guy look at a meme like this and not be completely insulted is beyond me.

    *The list did say sleep and not have sex with, so…

    I’m assuming that by “gynecologist” the meme creator means “know how your wife or girlfriend’s genitals work and what kind of contraception she’s using.” A bridge too far, people! You have to have years of medical school to understand something so complex! Be a good father? Holy shit, nooooooo, it’s soooo haaaaard.

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