Two weeks ago, I wanted to see Channing Tatum’s new movie, Magic Mike. I didn’t want to go alone though, and I don’t have a girlfriend, so, I asked a few of my guy friends if they’d like to go with me.
The following is a paraphrased dialogue of all of those conversations.
Me: “Hey, wanna go see Magic Mike this weekend?”
Friend: “You mean that guy stripper movie?”
Me: “Yeah, it’s getting good reviews. I want to see it.”
Friend: “Yeah, I’ll see it with you.”
Friend: “Yeah, just as soon as I find my vagina and breasts. I think I keep them in my drawer for when you ask me stupid questions that I’m obviously going to say no to. (turns to other friend). Hey, Matt, have you seen my vagina? I don’ remember where I put it, and Harry really wants to see a movie about dude strippers.”
Through these conversations, I learned that not only can men not enjoy many types of entertainment, but also that I have terrible friends.
There really are so many types of entertainment that men can’t enjoy without being lambasted with insults from their friends.
For example, men can’t read People Magazine without irony, men can’t watch most chick-flicks, men can’t buy a Taylor Swift album for themselves even though their commute is really long and her songs are really catchy, and men can’t read romance novels, men can’t call off from work and listen to every Britney Spears album from start to finish, men can’t watch any show on Bravo or E!, and men, most certainly, can’t see Magic Mike with each other.
Unless a movie is chock-full of explosions and car chases, men stigmatize each other from seeing it. The only way it would have been acceptable for me to see Magic Mike alone would have been if Channing Tatum’s penis had exploded mid-dance, and even then it would have been borderline. Maybe if Matthew McConaughey’s penis had also exploded and then he drove through town wildly, smashing cars and buses along the way, I would have been okay.
Underlying this attitude is an incredible self-consciousness that straight men feel about their sexuality. Straight men are constantly in a primal race with other straight men to prove who is manliest. In the most Darwinist sense, men can’t watch 27 Dresses because they fear that if they watch 27 Dresses woman won’t see them as masculine enough and their seed will fail to propagate when, in actuality, the only reason you can’t watch 27 Dresses is that it’s a terrible movie and Katherine Heigl is truly awful.
And the language we use reaffirms these feelings. Think about the way we characterize women who like stereotypically manly things, and men who like stereotypically feminine things.
When entertainment social barriers are crossed, men become women and women become men. When a girl really loves a great action movie or can talk intelligently about some sporting event she’s just, “One of the guys. Just another dude with a vagina.”
On the other hand, when guys talk openly about watching chick-flicks or reading romance novels they’re greeted with outrageous name-calling. “Where’s your dress you little tea kettle. Why don’t you put down your cards and go pick flowers you pansy.”
Of course, changing this would be difficult. These terms, these phrasings, and these attitudes are part of our culture. And culture moves slowly like the stream of an old man at a urinal.
It’s sad though because we shouldn’t put so much pressure on each other. Of course, we can do all of these things. I wanted to go see Magic Mike, I shouldn’t have my manhood questioned. Or more to the point, I shouldn’t be so afraid to have my manhood question that I don’t see a movie.
We need to band together as men. To show support for each other, I’m calling for a march in Times Square where we read Us Weekly while listening to Cher as The Philadelphia Story plays on those big screens. You know, all the things we’ve always wanted to do, but would never let ourselves do.
So, now that we’ve all learned a valuable lesson, I have to go. The Notebook’s on TBS and I never miss a rerun of The Notebook. Ryan Gosling’s eyes! The romance! Oops. I didn’t mean The Notebook. I meant wrestling? Yeah, wrestling. Nothing more manly than a bunch of half-naked men rolling around on top of each other inside a cage.