Monday, May 2, 2011

Five Types of Dudes to Back Away From Slowly

You know what I love? Reading bullet-pointed lists of traits I should or should not possess if I am ever to Get a Man. No, really, I love them. I used to love them because I was a teenage girl mired in self-loathing and desperate for advice on how to get boys to like me (advice to younger self: the answer is "go to college"). Now I love them because, like any self-respecting citizen of the Internet, I revel in reading things that induce delicious, delicious rage.

Some of that rage is at myself, because I used to read lists such as this, admonishing that guys didn't like brainy mouthy know-it-alls, and dumbed myself down considerably in the presence of dudes in whom I was interested (or in whom I thought I should be interested, which, I learned later, are two completely different things.) Unfortunately for me, it worked. Because the dudes you get when you downplay your intelligence and humor and general awesomeness are not the kind of dudes you want to get.

So, I present to you examples of some of these guys, encountered in the field: Five Types of Dudes to Back Away From Slowly.

1) The Power Tripper

He's charismatic, he's gentlemanly, and he's at least two inches taller than you (in heels) (you are wearing the heels, not him). He's also generous - he never lets you pay, he takes you to great restaurants where he pulls your chair out and informs the waiter what the lady will have, and if you stick around a future of small velvet boxes with something tasteful in them is almost assured. But alas, you're not imagining that dirty look he gives you every time you're out with his friends and you crack a joke, or express expertise, or even just try to join in the conversation. Did he throw a fit when you announced you were going back for your MBA? Does he make "make me a sandwich" jokes at inappropriate times in front of inappropriate people? (For me, any time is an inappropriate time for a sandwich joke, but you may be more tolerant.) You, my friend, have got a Power Tripper.

The Power Tripper will treat you right, so long as "right" means "like it's 1959." Alas, too many girls are raised (I was) to mistake this for the right kind of right, then get confused when this ideal manly man is actually a petulant insecure asshole. And he's more sinister than your standard one-upping competitive jerk, because his identity as A Man depends on you as A Woman being lesser than and dependent upon him, and if he senses you're not, the foundations of his whole world are a-tremble and he must put you in your place. This is why you need to watch out for unwanted physicality - picking you up and carrying you around when you've specifically told him not to, tickle fights that go well past you telling him to stop. Very bad signs. Very bad signs in any guy at any time, actually.

You can tell a Power Tripper apart from a standard-issue chivalrous generous guy by offering to pay. If he says "No, I really want to take you out tonight, you get the next one," you're good. If he gets indignant and red in the face and demands to know what kind of namby-pamby you take him for, you have your answer. Stick with him and keep your mouth shut and your bikini line waxed and you could be on the fast track to Trophy Wife Gated Community, if you're into that sort of thing, but keep in mind what happened to Betty Draper. You want to spend the best years of your life lonely and frustrated in your housedress shooting pigeons in the backyard?

2) The Critic

As soon as you hear "She's a seven-and-a-half, tops," you know you've got a Critic. He is the Ukrainian judge in the Sexiness Olympics, and every woman he sees gets a thorough evaluation and a solemn recitation of his final judgment, measured against whatever standard of hotness he's gleaned from the porn mags stuffed under his mental bed. "Now West," I hear you saying, "doesn't every guy do this?" No, every guy does not. I have this from trusted sources on the inside. And of those that do, some of them at least are not that into it, but they do it anyway because it's something guys are supposed to do when they hang out, the same way groups of female friends will fill awkward silences by complimenting each other's outfits. The Critic, on the other hand, means it. And no woman is exempt from evaluation, no matter how inappropriate the person or circumstances.  

And it's not just that he does it in front of you. It's that he expects you to agree with him. What? Your best friend has magnificent tits, don't tell me she doesn't!  And your sister's ass is definitely lacking in perkiness, but he'd do her. "I'd do her" is the highest compliment he can pay to a woman. He doesn't see how this is an offensive thing to say, because he assumes that every woman's ultimate goal is to appear do-able by him.

Yes, he is evaluating you at all times, and no, I'm sorry, but you don't measure up. Even if you're a 10 there's someone who's an 11, and the Critic is driven by a nervous itch in his ego to obtain the most empirically attractive woman he can. Mostly these guys are pure douche all the way through, but the saddest cases are the Critics who have some humanity left in them, but it's constantly at war with the hot chick = status impulse. These are the guys who will actually fall in love with an ordinary-looking woman and marry her, but will secretly resent her for not being hot enough and will eventually cheat on her with 22-year-olds who are just in it for the scandal and the fancy hotel rooms.

3) The Autopilot

Again, this guy seems totally great at first. He does all the early-dating stuff with finesse - flowers, dinner, etc. If you've already told him you're allergic to roses or aren't keen on Vietnamese-German fusion, well, he means well, right? He'll remember next time. And that diamond bracelet he got you is gorgeous, except that last week you went off on a rant to him about the blood diamond trade. But maybe he bought it before you had that conversation? Anyone else would be delighted to receive such a nice gift, and what are you going to do, get mad at him for being nice to you?

The Autopilot knows what women like, and he's sticking to it even when confronted with actual women who do not like those things. It's innocent enough at first - small tone-deaf gifts, an inability to remember your movie and food preferences that you chalk up to charming dudely goofiness, etc. But it doesn't get any better as time goes on, and soon you notice that he doesn't remember your coworkers' names either, or your favorite color, or that you love cats and don't want children (or vice versa).  He's confused as to why you're not patient, gregarious, or a good housekeeper when you have never claimed to demonstrate those traits. But by now you may have been roped in by his generic affection, and you can't dump him, because what are you going to do, get rid of him for being nice to you?

The thing is, you may be dating him, but he's not dating you. He's dating a cardboard cutout with "Girlfriend" written on it in Sharpie. Anyone will do so long as they have tits and put up with his bullshit. This guy is why you don't settle; it looks like you're getting your needs met on the surface, but every time his eyes go blank while you're talking a little more of your soul dies. Go ahead and dump him; he'll be totally devastated for all of a week before he's lined up someone else to project nonexistent desires and personality traits onto.

4) The Ironic Misogynist

He makes rape jokes, He loves to describe his gonzo pron viewing to all and sundry, especially if it's making people uncomfortable. He constantly informs ladyfriends and other women nearby to repair to the food preparation area and concoct him a delicious savory treat of some type. When he's bored he goes on Wikipedia and changes Hillary Clinton's title to Secretary of Make Me a Goddamn Sandwich. We get it, dude, just let it go. Oh, and his nickname for you is "bitch." In a middle-aged man this would be disgusting, but in a twentysomething guy it's ironic humor, because he's making fun of people who THINK like that, you know?

Your friends think he's hilarious. So do you. Well, okay, most of the time. Sometimes something he says just gives you this weird sinking feeling in your stomach, especially when he makes you the butt of the joke, but maybe that's just because your comedic taste is not advanced enough for the take-no-prisoners kind of humor this guy spews from every orifice.  You are too cool for this humorless hairy feminist shit, so you roll with it, because if everyone else is laughing, that means it's funny, right? Sometimes you even join in.

And it's totally ironic! Because he actually respects women so much.

1) No it's not.

2) No he doesn't.

(See also "hipster racism.")

The younger you are, the more likely you are to put up with this douche. Call me in ten years, kid. We can sit around the humorless hairy feminist commune and talk asshole ex-boyfriends till the organically-raised cows come home. I'll bring the vegan brownies.

5) Any guy who refers to women as "females"

Are you a primate zoologist? You might be able to get away with it. Every other dude needs to knock it off. Referring to us as if you are watching us dispassionately from the underbrush through binoculars is creepy as hell.

Extra bonus dude!

6) Any guy who says "I love women!"

Yeah, I love Thai food, but that doesn't mean I treat it like a human being.

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