#2. We Feel Like Manhood Was Stolen from Us at Some Point
You know how every comedy has that stock character of the womanizing, amoral guy who just says what he thinks all the time, and cares only about himself? Joey in Friends, Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men, Sterling Archer in Archer, Gob in Arrested Development, Ashton Kutcher's character in That '70s Show, Michael in our Web series, the title character in my books?
Guys love that character because he's doing what, on some level, we all wish we could do. It's also why you have all of these ad campaigns desperately appealing to males who fear that they've lost their masculinity ("If you use a competitor's product, we're going to have to take away your Man Card!")
See, every single male can remember the first time, when he was 5 or 6 years old, he showed his penis to a stranger and everybody started freaking the hell out. He can remember the first time he got in trouble for hitting somebody, for peeing in public, for trying to jump off some high object or set something on fire. All of the core male urges, all the suggestions whispered to us by Darth Penis, all of it gets us in trouble.
And, when we get nostalgic for the past, we always dress it up in some ridiculous fantasy like 300, where everybody is shirtless and screaming and hacking things with swords. We are fed this idea that at one time, this is how the world was -- all of these impulses that have been getting us grounded and sent to detention from kindergarten on used to be not only allowed, but celebrated.
"No, just hold on. I'm gonna ramp you over that car."
And then at some point, women took it all away.
A once-great world of heroes and strength and warriors and cigars and crude jokes has been replaced by this world of grumpy female supervisors looming over our cubicle to hand us a memo about sending off-color jokes via email. Yes, that entire narrative is a grossly skewed and self-serving version of how society actually evolved. It doesn't matter.
The result is a combination of frustration and humiliation and powerlessness that makes us want to get it back in the only way we know how: with petty, immature acts of meanness.
"Now, maybe next time you'll remember who has the dick in this business."
#1. We Feel Powerless
I don't know what it's like to be a woman, so it's not easy for me to describe what it's like to be a man, because I don't know what you're using for context. I'm going to do my best:
Did you ever watch old cartoons where a character is starving on a desert island, and when another character approaches, he's so hungry that he imagines the other character as a talking piece of food?
Via TV Tropes
Third panel omitted due to graphic content.
It's like that for most men, most of the time. We're starving, and all women are various types of food. Only instead of food, it's sex. And we're trying to conduct our everyday business around the fact that we're trying to renew our driver's license with a talking pair of boobs. So, from about age 13 on, around 90 percent of our energy and discipline is devoted to overcoming this, to behave like civilized human beings and not like stray dogs in a meat market. One where instead of eating the meat, they want to hump it. Again, if you want to experience what it's like, get a testosterone injection.
Right now I'm reading a book from mega-selling fantasy author George R. R. Martin. The following is a passage where he is writing from the point of view of a woman -- always a tough thing for men to do. The girl is on her way to a key confrontation, and the narrator describes it thusly:
"When she went to the stables, she wore faded sandsilk pants and woven grass sandals. Her small breasts moved freely beneath a painted Dothraki vest ..."
That's written from the woman's point of view. Yes, when a male writes a female, he assumes that she spends every moment thinking about the size of her breasts and what they are doing. "Janet walked her boobs across the city square. 'I can see them staring at my boobs,' she thought, boobily." He assumes that women are thinking of themselves the same way we think of them.
Do you see what I'm getting at? Go look outside. See those cars driving by? Every car being driven by a man was designed and built and bought and sold with you in mind. The only reason why small, fuel-efficient or electric cars don't dominate the roads is because we want to look cool in our cars, to impress you.
We also assume you have the taste of a pimp.
Go look at a city skyline. All those skyscrapers? We built those to impress you, too. All those sports you see on TV? All of those guys learned to play purely because in school, playing sports gets you laid. All the music you hear on the radio? All of those guys learned to sing and play guitar because as a teenager, they figured out that absolutely nothing gets women out of their pants faster. It's the same reason all of the actors got into acting.
All those wars we fight? Sure, at the upper levels, in the halls of political power, they have some complicated reasons for wanting some piece of land or access to some resource. But on the ground? Well, let me ask you this -- historically, when an army takes over a city, what happens to the women there?
It's all about you. All of it. All of civilization.
Nope. Can't see a single symbolic thing about this illustration.
So where you see a world in which males dominate the boards of the Fortune 500, and own Congress, and sit at the head of all but a handful of the world's nations, men see themselves as utterly helpless. Because all of those powerful people only became powerful because they heard that women like power.
This is really the heart of it, right here. This is why no amount of male domination will ever be enough, why no level of control or privilege or female submission will ever satisfy us. We can put you under a burqa, we can force you out of the workplace -- it won't matter. You're still all we think about, and that gives you power over us. And we resent you for it.
"Now you squat down and crap your pants, or you never touch these boobs again."
All of the most bitter disputes work like this, by the way: Both sides think they're the powerless party. It's why tipping servers is such a bitter topic among some people -- the server feels like the customer has all of the power (because their entire income comes from tips), and the customer feels like the server has all the power (because they can deny them food and drink and ruin their one night out). It's why the richest people in the world can talk like they're besieged victims, and mean it. It's why the male leaders of the most powerful and richest church in the world can talk like they're being made martyrs due to women asking for birth control. And mean it.
Which brings us back to where we started. If you add all of this together, you get a world where this woman can testify before Congress about her friend suffering from ovarian cysts ...
... and a male political cartoonist will draw her like this:
David Wong is the Senior Editor of Cracked.com and the author of the ridiculous New York Times bestseller This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don't Touch it. Dave's movie about dong monsters starring Paul Giamatti IS AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD NOW ON iTUNES, AMAZON INSTANT VIDEO, YouTube and through any other streaming service you can think of.