How do I accomplish this, you ask? Why, through the use of the nigh-superhuman skills I have honed over the years, including paying attention to someone’s gender presentation, name, and preferred pronoun. “He,” is the pronoun that men use! Just a little bit of expert man-knowledge for you there. Tell your friends.
So, when I first heard of Esquire’s much-discussed cover story, “What is a Man?” I naturally assumed it had little to teach me. After all, I am pretty sure of what men are. (Candice Bergen, Angela Merkel, a peanut butter sandwich, and John Deere tractors, for example, are not men – the tractors are confusing, because they are all named “John!” Nevertheless, they are tractors.) Then I read it.
Oh! My goodness! There is so much I did not know about men! For example:
1. MEN HAVE PSYCHIC POWERS, AND CAN DOG-WHISPER. “A man can speak to dogs… A man can look you up and down and figure some things out. Before you say a word, he makes you. From your suitcase, from your watch, from your posture.” Yes, men are magical creatures. Never cross a man, for he can read your mind and sic his army of talking dogs upon you! You may think this an unlikely scenario, but I assure you: according to infallible news source Esquire, all men everywhere have an army of dogs, and psychic powers with which to sic them.
2. MEN NEVER GET FIRED. “A man is good at his job… It doesn’t matter what his job is, because if a man doesn’t like his job, he gets a new one.” Yes, not only are men always employed and always competent, they all love the jobs to which they apply their manly competence. I suppose I could have guessed this one, based on the radiant joy on the face of the guy who just fixed my toilet.
3. MEN ARE ALL HETEROSEXUAL; ALSO, REALLY CREEPY. “ A man knows how to sneak a look at cleavage and doesn’t care if he gets busted once in a while… A man loves the human body, the revelation of nakedness. He loves the sight of the pale breast… He is thrilled by the snatch… When his woman bends to pick up her underwear, he feels that thrum that only a man can feel.” No word on whether “his woman” is the person whose bathroom window he is currently peering into with a high-powered telescope whilst masturbating furiously. One simply assumes. Whoever she is, we know that she’s a white lady! No leering at non-pale breasts for men, no sir. Men are all also, apparently, white and racist.
4. ANGIE AND EMILY DICKINSON ARE BOTH MEN. “This is the state policeman. This is the poet. Men, both of them.” Also men: Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Lucille Clifton, Anne Carson, Anna Akhmatova, Audre Lorde, Diane DiPrima, Marina Tsvetaeva, Margaret Atwood, and Adrienne Rich, along with everyone ever employed by a police force. Now, some of these men will try to fool you, with their poems about their uteruses and breast cancer and motherhood and feminist perspectives and such, but ask yourself: how could they possibly write poems if they were not dudes? Yeah, I thought so.
5. MEN ARE KIND OF DUMB. “He does not rely on rationalizations or explanations. He doesn’t winnow, winnow, winnow until truths can be humbly categorized, or intellectualized… A man does not know everything. He doesn’t try.” This is sad, because I thought I knew some very smart men. Turns out they were not men at all, but androids sent to destroy the planet! Explaining things, understanding things, learning things: that’s just not what men are about.
6. THERE ARE NO MEN IN ANY POLITICAL PARTY; IF THERE WERE, THEY WOULD ALL BE REPUBLICAN. “He doesn’t see himself lost in some great maw of humanity, some grand sweep. That’s the liberal thread; it’s why men won’t line up as liberals… men won’t forever line up with conservatives, either.” Joe Biden is a lady! You heard it here first!
7. FINALLY, “THE MAN IS LIKE A ZOO ANIMAL: BOTH CAPTIVE AND FREE.” That’s funny, because the entire article reminded me of this: