Cleavage or Soul?

What women do we love? Let’s think about that for a minute.

For some time, Esquire—tag line: “Man at His Best”—has featured a section called “Women We Love.” I went online to see some of the women “men at their best” are in love with.

The eight all-time (stretching back to 2002) most loved women are Kate Beckinsale, Megan Fox, Katy Perry, Christina Hendricks, Anna Torv, Angelina Jolie, Beau Garrett, and Monica Bellucci. In the thumbnail preview shots, two of the women appear to be putting at least one finger in their mouths, one is lying in bed seductively, one is wearing a wet T-shirt, and one has her lips parted suggestively. Only Angelina’s image suggests some kind of self-respect.

I click on bustier-clad Katy Perry and skip down to the interview, trying to ignore Ms. Perry in full black lingerie, complete with garter belt. After all, this is about man at his best; there must be something serious here that we all love so much.

Ah, here it is: “I always wanted to suspend from the ceiling in a twirling banana,” Katy tells Esquire.

I’m done. I close the browser window and stare out the window.

Who are the men Esquire‘s talking about? What is it that we love about these women? Their twirling-banana-swing fantasies? Their factory-fresh “breasts”? Their naughty smiles? Are those things truly what men at their best love about women?

When Hanna Rosin wrote about “The End of Men” in The Atlantic, she pointed to the fact that women represent the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history, and that for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. But there is something more basic going on.

In media and culture, men are increasingly caricatured as knuckle-dragging cartoon characters, particularly when it comes to how we view women and sexuality. And by whom? Men, of course. It’s not women running the strip clubs, porn websites, and editing spreads in Esquire. We have an enemy—and the enemy is us.

♦◊♦

The popularity of Esquire’s “Women We Love” section gets down to the very core of what has happened to guys in 2011. We have allowed our manhood, the nuanced truth of who we really are, to be stolen from us. If Rosin is right that men are doomed, it’s for this reason.

Yes, we are the minority in the workplace and at college—but that’s because our motivations and meaning in our lives have been scrambled by popular culture, which mandates that the thing we really should want, the thing that will prove we are the alpha males, has turned out to be hollow, addicting, and spirit-crushing. While we watch football and stare at Megan Fox, women in this country are getting shit done.

Put more bluntly, I am talking about the difference between masturbating and making love. “Women We Love” aims at the former, focusing on naked pictures of improbably shaped, unattainable movie stars who play dumb for our satisfaction. (I suspect that Katy Perry is quite bright, bananas aside. And largely, it’s not the women’s fault they appear so vacuous.)

Most of the guys I know are unfulfilled looking at pictures of women they will never meet (not only are they unmeetable, they don’t actually, technically, exist). They prefer making love with a woman who stirs their passions on more than one level. But we have been conditioned like so many Pavlovian dogs.

 

Jhumpa Lahiri

Yes, good men love women. But we love women in all their complexity, for the things they do, for their intelligence, their wit, their athleticism, their creativity, their power, their force of personality. We seem to have forgotten that along the way, and our brain-numbing intoxication by pornography in all its forms threatens to end us—not because it is morally wrong but just because it distracts us from the truth and scatters our power. It’s one big acid trip fantasy with no connection to improving our lives, being good fathers and husbands, and advancing our careers.

The models I have met in the flesh have all turned out to be quite unattractive. When a supposedly beautiful woman opens her mouth and soulless, empty nonsense tumbles out, the perfect 10 becomes a two in a big hurry. No amount of cleavage can make up for the lack of soul.

My wife is a lawyer turned decorator turned child advocate. Yes, she is hot—but she is also smarter than I am, far more graceful in a crowd, and can convince just about anyone to do just about anything when it comes to helping at-risk children. She is hot not just because she is beautiful, but because she is all those other things, too.

So with no further ado, here is MY list of the women men love, if we actually stopped to think about it. These are women who are fascinating, cool, and lovable. They have it going on—and not because they might (or might not) want to suspend from the ceiling in a twirling banana.

  • Chelsea Handler
  • Melinda Gates
  • Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Kate Middleton
  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Patti Stanger
  • Steffi Graf
  • Lady Gaga
  • Michelle Obama
  • Laura Hillenbrand
  • Portia de Rossi
  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Esquire, how about switching it up and working off my list for a change of pace? And let’s not ask any of these women we love to wear black garter belts for the photo shoot, OK? Let’s focus on what’s really important for once.

♦ ♦ ♦

Tom Matlack, together with James Houghton and Larry Bean, published an anthology of stories about defining moments in men’s lives — The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood. It was how the The Good Men Project first began. Want to buy the book? Click here. Want to learn more? Here you go.

 

 

 

 

 

Cleavage or Soul

About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.

Comments

  1. I agree with Tom in principle– most “women we love” categories are just the more polite & less honest version of a…well a “women I like to objectify!” sort of thing. That being said, I don’t think slamming models is the solution. Putting other people down to get to the end point isn’t required.

    • I don’t think he slammed them. He put the blame solely on the men who make the aesthetic choices, own the magazines, etc. The women are doing a job. Like anyone doing a job, you can’t tell who they are at home from the face they wear at work. The men who run the industry are the ones who create the demands. The women who do the work are just getting paid.

      • *clap clap*

        He did say he suspects Katy Perry is bright. He didn’t slam models per se, but the men who objectify them. And come to think of it, these women — thanks to the male editors — have helped in keeping many men dumb. Remember Marilyn Monroe? She was a smart woman but used her looks and sexuality to her advantage. She knew she could make fools out of men and she did it pretty well.

        I wish guys like Mr. Matlack reproduce. We need more guys like him.

      • you half-wit. What can be learned about a woman from a picture and a few paragraphs? These magazines have articles like this for superficial appeal. Do you think a guy is gonna go looking for a meaningful relationship with megan fox in esquire? What sense does that make? The situation is limited to superficiality and anyone who reads this has nothing but superficial interest, obviously. What is the difference between megan fox and a sophisticated chick in this context? Megan Fox is prettier. That’s it. Matlack just likes kicking guys around so he goes looking someplace where the superficial is all there is and whines that guys don’t look for more. This whole conversation is absurd. Matlack is so bloody dim that he suggests we look to have fundamentally superficial, meaningless relationships with celebrity women who he finds more appealing. Retarded is too nice a word.

  2. Good to read a guy with sense.
    the interesting thing is that the parallel happens with women; they objectify men in the same sort of way.
    The answer? Not sure, but actually spending time talking with people of the opposite gender through a spectrum of topics might recondition people into trying to see the soul in another body.
    Perhaps also we might like to try and see beautiful people of any gender just as we see works of art: lovely but not real, until relationship creates that bond where you can see more than the exterior.
    Nice article. Thanks

  3. Very well done, Mr. Matlack. I especially liked the “because it scatters our power.” That is certainly true, and may get the attention of some people who otherwise would not understand your point. Thank you.

  4. Gillian Anderson.

  5. I stopped reading Maxim, Esquire, and other “men’s” magazines a few years ago simply because they were uninteresting. Is it athestically pleasing to lok at women half clothed, sure. I’m a dude, I get it. But most of those magazines are for other women or gay men. Look at the ads.

    I agree with your hypothesis but I’m also realistic. Magazines are trying to sell copies, not enrich my soul. Rolling Stone stopped being about music 10 years ago when they featured Britney Spears, who can’t sing, on their cover three times in 18 months, I got it, they wanted to make money, If I wanted to read about Radiohead’s next album, I should go elsewhere.

    My wife will pick up magazines like that every once in a while, flip through them, show me some pictures, and say “there’s nothing in here but Katy Perry’s boobs. we saw those, don’t waste your time reading it.” and saves me a good 15 minutes of my life. I love the complexity of women as well. I concentrate on the one I have at home, the ones I;m raising, and the ones I have as friends. It saves me stress in the long run. That being said…nice pictures, Tom.

    Lance

  6. A more accurate title for the Esquire section would be “Women We Lust After” or “Our Excuse To Show Photos Men Like” or “Our Maxim Moment”.

    That said in agreement, I love my wife, my family, chocolate cake, lite rock, horror movies, my cats, stuffed cabbage, writing, and watching the NFL Playoffs on a DVR. But women like those on your list — to which I’d add Gabrielle Giffords and Cate Blanchett — are women whom I ADMIRE. Attraction shouldn’t even be part of the equation.

  7. What a refreshing experience, to read an article written by a man with such an (excuse me), honest and “evolved” perspective. Women don’t want to think of our men as “knuckle dragging cartoon characters,” even though we are aware that our brains are physiologically different and that you guys think about sex much more than we do, yet that’s the very image that so many men seem to want to perpetuate. Media geared towards and run by men only reinforces this cardboard cut-out image – that really serves no one. Attraction to “beauty” is natural. It’s part of human nature to be drawn to our ideals, so I certainly find no fault in lauding beautiful women. However, reducing beauty to nothing more than an object to be used by men and tossed aside is another matter altogether. If Esquire was as honest as you, Tom, they would call their section: “Women We’d like to F**k,” and be done with it. At least that way, they wouldn’t be tossing the concept of “love” into the same shallow pit.

    • Tom Matlack says:

      Honesty is really I think we as guys can aspire to when thinking about goodness. So yes I kind of like the ring of “Women We’d like to F**k” as a way to reframe what is really going on here. That said, F’ing really doesn’t much help get guys out of the box we find ourselves in right now. Don’t get me wrong, I actually have nothing against sex, nudity, whatever it is that floats your boat. The issue for guys is that the sex industry has taken hold as such a central force in our collective lives (and brains) that we are missing the whole point when it comes to women and to ourselves. So my way of attempting to wake our slumber is to simply ask, if we really think about it, is Megan Fox or Jhumpa Lahiri more attractive? Is going to a strip club or being happily married really more fulfilling? Is going to college and working at a meaningful job (like all those women are doing) or staring at porn more important? If the answer is porn, strip club and Megan Fox more power to you. But at least I made you think about the question.

  8. Kate Middleton may be a princess-in-waiting, but there’s little princess in her attitude. A hottie, not haughty future queen. Good call Tom.

  9. I have a Maxim subscription, but only because it was free and I was curious just how bad it would be. I got my answer when they ran an article titled “How to cheat and get away with it.” Very, very bad.

    I liken the difference between a vacuous supermodel and an average-looking-but-bright-and-pleasant woman to the difference between junk food and a steak dinner. The junk food might taste good but it won’t fill you up. Eat too much junk food and you’ll be sick. But the steak dinner, that will fill you up and will excite your taste buds on a whole different level.

    The celebrity that I find the most attractive is Kari Byron from Mythbusters. She has a nice body, yes, but her head houses a sharp mind, not empty space. (Of course, I find my wife a lot more attractive than Kari, but the article was about celebrities.)

  10. “While we watch football and stare at Megan Fox, women in this country are getting shit done.”

    Yeah, right. If you call (as William Tucker did) an economy based on writing environmental impact statements and pushing people around in wheelchairs “getting shit done.”

  11. scatmaster says:

    Contrary Male said:,/b>

    I say it’s time we treated women as fully-functioning adults, and call them out correctly as gigantic hypocrites.

    golf clap

  12. evilwhitemalempire says:

    “Tom Matlack is just foolish enough to believe he is a decent man.”

    I concur.

    “It’s not women running the strip clubs, porn websites, and editing spreads in Esquire. We have an enemy—and the enemy is us.”

    So it would seem.

  13. Bill Donovan says:

    I like it Tom. Perhaps your comments will spur Esquire to go back to its roots. Anyone who can find a copy of the magazine from the 70s and early 80s will see great writing and topics that really reflect “Man at his Best.”

  14. “In media and culture, men are increasingly caricatured as knuckle-dragging cartoon characters, particularly when it comes to how we view women and sexuality. And by whom? Men, of course. It’s not women running the strip clubs, porn websites, and editing spreads in Esquire. We have an enemy—and the enemy is us

    Women also like porn and strip clubs, maybe not as much but they still do. There is no reason to stereotype all men and why are porn and strip clubs an enemy? Don’t those women also bear some personal responsibility for accepting money and doing what they do?

    As far as caricature’s in the media, it is a good example of pervasive negative stereotypes, aka misandry.

    “for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same”
    It’s getting worse and nobody seems to care about the plight of boys? Why would well-educated and productive women settle for less? There are going to a lot more disappointed women and they should think seriously about the future of their sons and daughters.

    “Yes, good men love women. But we love women in all their complexity, for the things they do, for their intelligence, their wit, their athleticism, their creativity, their power, their force of personality”

    What about honor, integrity, honesty, confidence and equality?

    IMO, both lists are mostly power bitches, princesses and superficial bimbos. I prefer nerdy girls.
    A lieyer eh? Now we know why your balls are in a jar on her desk.

  15. “While we watch football and stare at Megan Fox, women in this country are getting shit done”

    -While women are watching dancing with the stars, orca winfrey, soap operas, reading romance novels, gossiping, crafting, etc… What are men doing?

  16. evilwhitemalempire says:

    “for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same”

    If colleges want to hand out degrees like toilet paper that’s their problem.

    Business and industry will just seek their talent elsewhere. Why do you think more vocational type schools have sprung up over the last few decades?

    • I love how men make up for their shortcomings by insulting women and claiming colleges are just handing the degrees over.

      Business degrees are almost becoming useless. Businesses are hiring more English majors than business majors because businesses can teach English majors the business side a lot faster than they can teach business majors the English side of things. And who are earning more English degrees? Women. Also, the number of people earning pre-med degrees is closing the gap between men and women we’re they are roughly the same, so to say if colleges want to hand out degrees like toiler paper is not only an insult to women, but to men who earn them as well.

      I’m sorry you have a hard time earning a degree, but it actually takes, like, hard work to earn a degree. Sorry you don’t understand that concept.

      • evilwhitemalempire says:

        “Also, the number of people earning pre-med degrees is closing the gap between men and women we’re they are roughly the same, so to say if colleges want to hand out degrees like toiler paper is not only an insult to women, but to men who earn them as well.”

        Yes, men can also insert catheters, take blood pressure, operate x-ray machines, colonoscopes, etc.
        Not dissing them mind you.
        Whenever I need to use expensive medical equipment that I can’t buy they operate it for me. Ain’t that nice of them?

    • Also more vocational type schools have sprung up because post secondary education had become normalized and there in an increased demand for degrees in the general public.

      Your logic is astounding. More women are earning degrees therefore the degrees must be worth less.

      • evilwhitemalempire says:

        “More women are earning degrees therefore the degrees must be worth less.”

        No. More women are being handed degrees therefore most of those degrees are worthless.

  17. I suspect that no matter our age, us men remain back in those high school days when certain things were expected of us if we were to be considered a “man.” Probably, most of us know it for the crock it is but remain afraid to speak out lest we prove ourselves different — and you know what different meant in High School.

  18. I think you missed the point of the article. Mr. Matlack is not saying that all men are stereotypical “knuckle draggers.” He’s not throwing them all in the same pot. Quite the contrary, he’s saying that some men are creating the problem for a lot of others. This is a call to action for all men who don’t fit the stereotype to stand up and be counted rather than give in the pressure of pop culture and Hollywood.

    You on the other hand appear to be fit the knuckle dragger stereotype quite nicely. You may eschew strip clubs, but you have no problem putting all women into a single basket (wait, weren’t you just complaining about that?) I’m a woman who married one of the those “sensitive guys.” He’s intelligent, funny, good with people, and enjoys the theater. He also constantly fights against the stereotypes that Mr. Matlack calls out.

    You say men and women in bars, college campuses, and dance clubs are superficial? Well duh! Try hanging out someplace where sensitivity and intelligence are appreciated. Go skiing. Learn yoga. Join a book club. Men and women hang out at a lot of places in common. Expand your horizons.

    • Wow. Now you’re just being kind of douchey.

    • Saying that women prefer dating assholes is a tired cliche. It’s also hypocritical considering that you just complained about all men being thrown into one basket.

      I also think it’s important to remember that not all men who think of themselves as sensitive are actually sensitive. Some are just needy. Some are looking to rationalize their lack of success with women. Some are shy. It’s a complex issue.

      Besides, I don’t think most women are looking for a “type” of guy. I think everyone is basically looking for an individual they are attacted to, who they relate to, who they like. That criteria can take a lot of forms

    • "nice" guy says:

      “The tens of mil­lions of intel­li­gent nice guys around the coun­try who can’t find a girl­friend to save their life will rest easy tonight know­ing that you found a husband.”

      I can’t find a girlfriend, and I have definitely noticed that guys I consider to be douchebags have no trouble, but then I realized how flawed my perspective was. I considered most of those guys douchebags because they were confident, and self-confidence is so foreign to me that I couldn’t help but see them as being douchebags. Also, I assumed that I was nice because I thought “I would neve cheat on someone, I would listen to her, blah blah blah” but it was all just theory, and in reality I can’t even talk to women, and when I do, I’m so self-centered I can only think “how can I make her like me?” as opposed to “how can I do the right thing by her?” I totally understand the “nice, sensitive guy” mindset, enough to know it’s bull****. Guys who can’t get a girlfriend but consider themselves to be nice, sensitive, good listeners, etc. are clearly completely clueless, which makes it unsurprising that they are alone.

  19. Uncle Elmer says:

    You chastise men for enjoying nude photography? Criminy, it’s one of the few pleasures a straight male has in this world.

    As if that weren’t bad enough, the magazines you cite were taken over by females years ago and now they try to tell us what we find attractive, which is partly responsible for their precipitous declines. Most of those broads I would not pick out of a whorehouse lineup.

    • David Granger is the Editor in Chief of Esquire
      Joe Levy is the Edito in Chief of Maxim

      When you say things like “those magazine were taken over by females years ago”, it’s important to remember that people can check if that’s actually true.

  20. Yawn. More guilt and shame. Religions have known for years that if you stigmatise something as natural and vital as sexual desire with guilt and shame, you can manipulate people very easily. Feminists have carried on the tradition, simply renaming “lust” to “objectification”, and you’re enabling them.

    I know you didn’t use the word “objectification” yourself, but, as the feminist posters who leapt in to back you up recognised, it’s not far beneath the surface. The lie that men regard the people they desire sexually as inanimate things has been repeated so many times we believe it reflexively – but it is a lie and needs to be rejected forcefully.

    The body is not an object. The body is part of the self. Philosophers and theologians have long argued that the mind is somehow superior to the body, but their arguments are self-serving, and they’ve had the field to themselves because people who live the life of the body, from athletes to lovers to labourers, naturally enough don’t publish elaborate arguments for the body’s superiority to the mind.

    In any case, the notion that the mind and the body are in any way separate has been blown out of the water by neuroscience. The mind is a product of the physiological brain, and is thus part of the body. There is no ghost in the machine.

    And who wants to have sex with an object? I don’t. I’ve never met a man who does. Men want to have sex with a willing, human partner. Sex is a completely, gloriously animate, alive thing.

    I want you to consider the existence of sex toys. Vibrators, dildos and the rest. They are indisputably inanimate objects used for sexual stimulation, and they are primarily used by women.

    As ever when you find one group of people ascribing attitudes to another group that the other group don’t recognise, you have to consider the possibility of projection. Women can and do get themselves off with objects. Men, not so much.

    • This is an excellent and thoughtful response.

    • Well, that was a pretty longwinded and pointless essay that basically boils down to a misunderstanding of the word “objectify” in this context.

    • "nice" guy says:

      I don’t think his problem is with sexuality or displaying beautiful women, it’s with doing while claiming to be “Man at his best” and calling the section “Women we love.” I don’t think that being a porn star, or otherwise being a woman whose only real place in the media is to be stared at by men, is something worthy of disrespect, but if I would make a list of “Women I love,” it would only contain women who have attained a more admirable standard than being beautiful. I’m not saying beautiful women are necessarily not admirable, but the women who earn my greatest respect do things that are universally considered more valuable.

  21. This is great, I can see Beau Garrett’s nipples in the picture at the top.

    “women represent the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history, and that for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same.”

    There is an education gap starting at a very young age. Girls are ahead of boys from the start, the gap gets bigger through high school, and ultimately far fewer boys than girls go to college. You seem to be implying that this is the result of porn. There is already a problem well before boys have any interest in that. Frankly, this article is terrible. It seems to blame all men’s problems on porn and that’s completely childish and idiotic. The writing is also terrible. I’m trying to find something to argue with but there’s almost no substance here. The entire thing can be summarized with this: All men’s problems are because of porn.

  22. I found this article to be a complete joke. The basis is the false assumption that preferring a beautiful women inherently excludes charm, grace, intelligence, and depth from the equation. Additionally, it comes very close to the traditional cry by the rejected in the dating pool which emphasizes other qualities as having a higher value than beauty. Then the author submits an arbitrary list of “desirable women” headed by the queen of late-night skanky pop-culture television. Most of all, I enjoyed the massive airbrushing they did on that picture to make their token Indian appear Caucasian and/or beautiful.

  23. HumbledDad says:

    I’m so confused.

  24. “Only Angelina’s image suggests some kind of self-respect.”

    This seems to presuppose that when a woman is trying to be sexy for men she is suddenly stripped of her self respect.. Given the absurd, not to mention feminist, nature of this assumption I refuse to read any further.

    • Despite the fact that you use “feminist” as a negative, which itself is absurd and fyi, a totally inaccurate way to describe the statement made, I actually agree with your contention. A woman being sexy or trying to be sexy does not indicate a lack of self respect. This comes from some weird notion that sex is dirty, which we all know is not the case. The term self-respect is kind of stupid anyway–we are inherently self-interested and are ALWAYS acting in our own desires, even if it doesn’t seem that way to others.

  25. I cut off my testicles and sent them to Amanda Marcotte, the Duke rape accuser apologist.

    I hope you feel better now, and hate yourself more for being a horrible male.

  26. Yeah, as usual. Women have a problem? it’s men’s fault. Men have a problem? It’s men’s fault.

  27. Also, you know what? Women can have the job market. I’d much rather be a SAHD than deal with the public/employers/employees any day.

    Let them do the forty hours a week 9-5 grind until they’re 65 for the next couple hundred years, see if they still like it.

  28. I am a young man in his early 20’s. I was lied to all my life, told that if I studied hard and become a productive member of society, that I will be able to find a loving woman to make my wife, and have children. I knew as I got older that society – especially my parents – were essentially selling me into slavery as a beast of burden, but I felt it was worth it if I can carry on my legacy (genes) through my children, since a stable nuclear family is the best way to raise them.

    Once I sat out into the real world, reality hit hard. I found out that everything I was taught was the exact opposite of attracting the current crop of western women. Being nice and respectful to them only signals to them you are an “undesirable”, and you can just see the hatred and disgust in their eyes. It’s hard to erase years of programming to be a “nice guy”, so I watch as women go after the thugs and useless men of society, as I got nothing.

    So what else is there for a sex deprived man to do, but turn to porn? And here you are, saying that it’s the problem with society when it’s really a symptom of the true problem: women’s hypermany causes them to only go after the top 20% of the male population, leaving most men with nothing. At best, I get the ‘honor’ of being the target of predatory 30 year old women looking for a “beta provider” to take care of her and her bastard children.

    Want the problem to go away? Look at women, and their biological urges, not men. So many men retreat to porn, because it’s the only sexual outlet they have. Also, remember that there wouldn’t be a porn industry, if women wouldn’t support it by “objectifying” themselves by posing.

    • i’m guessing you also consider yourself to be one of these ‘nice guys’ women hate. let me let you in on a secret – you really don’t seem like a nice guy. frankly, you have a chip on your shoulder the size of a city. and you’re arrogant and condescending. that would be why women would dislike someone like you – you are the douchebag.

      • As a “nice guy” in a long-term relationship with an intelligent, hot woman, I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest you guys are talking out of your asses.

        Also I enjoy how Timothy has resigned himself to a life of persecution and rejection despite being in his early twenties. I didn’t meet my partner until my mid-twenties – stop being such a baby.

      • Actually, I wasn’t one of those quote unquote “nice guys”, who tried to manipulate women by pretending to be nice to them so I can get into their pants. I was actually raised to be… wait for it… a nice person. I treated women with the kindness and respect that I thought they wanted. Turns out, that doesn’t work.

        Also, thanks for the shaming language, wouldn’t be a female response without several. Although you did forget to criticize my penis size.

    • "nice" guy says:

      “women’s hyper­many causes them to only go after the top 20% of the male pop­u­la­tion, leav­ing most men with noth­ing.”

      You accuse women of that while guys have club language for when their friend “takes the fall” by doing what? Sleeping with an ugly or comparatively unattractive girl so his friend can score. I think women are shallow, but it’s ridiculous to say they’re more shallow than men. It’s considered shameful for a man to sleep with an ugly girl. Human beings are shallow, and I don’t doubt that many guys have learned that the hard way, but to completely ignore how men are just as bad? That’s crazy.

  29. How telling that today’s instalment of male self-flagellation on “Good Men Project” clumsily stumbles around the landscape of male sexual objectification of women, but has no difficulty knowing exactly when to make a U-turn when it crosses the border into the much more fertile land of female sexual objectification of men.

    Many men see women as objects of sex, when the man’s physical attraction for a woman is based on her reproductive fitness: youth, red lips, long neck, high cheekbones, curvy body,large breasts, firmness of behind, etc — all secondary indicators of fertility.

    Many women see men as objects of sex, when the woman’s physical attraction for a man is based on his reproductive fitness: wealth, power, success, ambition, dominance, stature, aggressiveness, etc — all secondary indicators of genetic fitness.

    Many men see women as a “fertility fitness object”, and many women see men as a “genetic fitness object.”

    In the end, both see each other as “reproductive fitness objects.”

    The difference is that men know their “bias” while women, for the most part, have not even begun to acknowledge theirs.

  30. Peter-Andrew:Nolan(c) says:

    Tom,
    “We have an enemy—and the enemy is us”

    No Tom. Men like me have an enemy all right. And the enemy is man-hating, white knighting, mangina apologists like you.

    • well said Peter !!

      Pussified manginas like Tom Matlack needs to lear what its like to be a MAN…something this dude no nothing about !!!!

      • ah yes, being a ‘man’ is all about using capital letters and anti-woman language. i see your emotional growth stunted at the age of thirteen.

  31. Peter-Andrew:Nolan(c) says:

    Hey Tom? Why don’t you do some articles about how ‘good men’ like me get hated on and abused endlessly by so called ‘good women’ for having the termerity to tell our wives that are no longer welcome to steal from the family finances and lie to their husbands?

    And how about you write some articles about how ‘good men’ get 5% of the proceeds of their 25 years of labour while ‘wifey’ gets 95% and how ALL the women support that? How about you write some articles about the crimes being committed in the Family Courts against ‘good men’? How about you tell the young men:

    “5% is the new 50% if you are a man.”

    Here is all the material you might need.

    http://www.peternolan.com/Forums/tabid/420/forumid/14/threadid/606/scope/posts/Default.aspx
    http://www.crimesagainstfathers.com/australia/Home.aspx

    How about you challenge the ‘good men’ to start openly calling western women the liars and hypocrites they have so thoroughly shown themselves to be?

    How about the ‘good men’ start holding women accountable for their actions? As we do men.

    We do all this? THEN we might get somewhere.

  32. Good to see there’s still some respect. The stereotype that so many women see of men is not a positive one. The one thing I’m confused about is why Anna Torv isn’t on the latter list.

  33. Mark Ellis says:

    I’m going to go way out on a limb here and nominate some smart and lovely women that are at the top of my list: Ann Coulter, Mary Katherine Ham, S.E Cupp, Monica Crowley, and Laura Ingraham.

    And here’s one for the libs, Judith Woodruff, a smokin’ hot babe who went to jail to protect a source during the Plame scandal.

    Just saying…

  34. Thoughtful and well done, Tom.

  35. Gregory A. Butler says:

    This article is stupid and full of FAIL on so many different levels.

    Let’s start with the “end of men” nonsense.

    The fact is, we live in a misogynist world ruled by powerful men, and have for the past 5,000 years. Men still control government, the armed forces, corporate America, the business world as a whole and just about every field of endeavor in our society.

    There may be more women college grads, but that’s because a woman needs a college degree to be paid the same salary that a man with a high school diploma would receive (factor in for race and we see Black women college grads making the same salary as White male HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS).

    In other words, women go to college more than men out of sheer economic necessity – and in every field, even predominantly female occupations, the majority of managers are men.

    So no, Tom, women are NOT taking over the world!

    With that out of the way, let’s attack Tom’s main thesis.

    He appears to be saying that it’s wrong for men to be sexually attracted to women for their appearance and it’s wrong for women to enhance their appearance to attract men.

    That seems like a pretty puritan world view, something I’d expect to hear from one of those bible thumping Fundamentalist idiots, not a liberal feminist man.

    Tom, you can do much better than this – I’m really disappointed in you for writing this article.

    • Hi Gregory A Butler –

      So are you saying that it’s actually a better world where women have to work twice as hard then a man just to get the same pay-off for doing the same job? I guess it’s okay as long as women aren’t taking over the world huh? And men can be twice as lazy and get the same jobs while women keep on challengaing themselves to work harder just got a chance at something a man just has to sit back and get just because he is a man? Sure seems like you think that’s a much better world then one where women are actually having true success. Why is that?

      • "nice" guy says:

        Way to completely misinterpret that post. Does it sound like he thinks it’s good that women have to work harder for the same pay? Also, it’s a fact that women aren’t taking over the world. Regardless of whether you think it would be a good or bad thing if they did (I think it wouldn’t make a bit of difference) it doesn’t change the fact that men still have the most control over the course of events in the world.

  36. And what if the “shit that women are getting done” is just as “hollow, addicting, and spirit-crushing” as that that men despair of? Modern capitalist wage slavery is happy to exploit all of us.

  37. “Also I enjoy how Timothy has resigned himself to a life of persecution and rejection despite being in his early twenties. I didn’t meet my partner until my mid-twenties – stop being such a baby.”

    Judging from this, you’re someone in his mid 30’s, early 40’s, who doesn’t know just how worse off young men are nowadays compared to even 10 years ago. Please do not lecture me.

  38. I don’t understand the belligerent attitudes of some of the male posters. They seem sincerely affronted and hurt, as if they are being attacked. However, they are the first to defend such mediums like porn that more times then not, debase women based on the value of their body parts and call then four letter names. So to the men that have become belligerent about this article, why is it okay to get off to material that simplifies and sexualizes women to the degree that it’s okay to call us b*tches or sl*ts but it’s not okay to call men out for the sexual material they promote through their encouragement and viewership?
    One poster mentioned how Maxim had an article about how to cheat on your girlfriend without her knowing. What man here really wants to defend a medium that actually tells you to degrade your life partner in favor of new A$$? What kind of man thinks that’s the judgement of a man that honor and respects his partner? Because I have to tell you Gentlemen, those of you that are defending an industry that makes its money off of , not celebrating true female beauty, but celebrating an over photoshopped or surgically enhanced version that treats women in interchangable garbage, have your priorities JACKED UP . It makes no sense to become belligerent about honest discussions about how much media DOES objectify women and defend this objectification on the back of what men *need* sexually. You’re sexual desires towards women does not mean you get to treat us like we are garbage to use and toss. But that is what every man’s magazine, every porn movie, does. It promotes the images that women are only as good as their surgically enhanced young bodies, and the next new women is around the bend. You want respect? You have to give it first. And too many men want respect but they want to be able to use women how they see fit, when they see fit.

    • "nice" guy says:

      Porn is not the problem. People have sexual desires, and there are extremely attractive people willing to use their bodies to help people satisfy their sexual desires, and they do this with their bodies. The problem is not with porn, the problem is that that attitude extends far beyond porn. The problem is with Hollywood and the music industry, who would lead us to believe that only beautiful women have talents worthy of our attention. The problems is with a culture that deems it not masculine to admire a women for doing things that are traditionally considered male fields (this is not as bad as it used to be, but is certainly still an issue.) If these problems went away, our distorted view of porn might correct itself. We would understand that people get horny, and people like to look at hot people. Why isn’t it possible of a man to look at porn featuring a woman he’s attracted to and then read an article written by a woman whose intellect he admires?

  39. Most Posters Missed an Important Point says:

    I have no problem with men consuming porn. None at all.

    I do have a problem though… there isn’t a single magazine by & for men… that actually extols the virtues of women for anything except their ass. Not a single lad mag or even ‘higher class’ mag has a single article on a woman who has achieved something that has nothing to do with her tits or ass.

    In fact… the opposite is true. You will find nearly all portrayals of intrepid, intellectual women who fall short of Megan Fox looks will be negative. Name calling and derision is all there will be.

    Contrast this with magazines popular with women… ie. People… which present a much more wide spectrum… men we just wanna sleep with, men we admire, men we respect for their achievements, etc.

    This is what the whole objectification thing is. The one-dimensionality in which men tend to view women. Where ‘hotness’ is a necessity and all other characteristics are a ‘bonus.’

  40. I usually don’t comment, but I found this article fascinating. Your article basically says men are good when they are more masculine, good women make men more masculine and, therefore, good men.

    It also says basically that men get to define what is a good woman. A BAD woman is SEXUAL. even though she is getting paid to be sexual by men, has encouraged to be sexual by men and generally lives the life she does because men think she is attractive. So, men create bad women. GOOD women as defined by you, are not sexual but are hot & kind of act like humans more EXCEPT that they have to legitimize your masculinity.

    So good women legitimizing your masculinity is problematic because: A. good women aren’t sexual and therefore must be sexually passive when combined with your masculinity which you deem as good. (that’s fucked up). B. it’s problematic because it hurts men. masculinity is only a single set of human traits. Defining your human fluid self through a single set of traits completely denies your humanity. Which you seem to sense, because it’s apparently rough being masculine. Or else you wouldn’t have written this.

    BTW, Women in the workforce is not necessarily a great thing for women or a bad thing for men – many women are in the workforce because they have no choice (lower-income women) and often have to raise children while simultaneously working. More women in the workforce also doesn’t hurt men because women aren’t the ones in management, aren’t CEOs. Women have traditionally been used by our economy as temporary, low-income, docile workers and they continue to be. We (women) also make less then men (still) for the same amount of work. So, it really shouldn’t be threatening.

    look into Michael Kimmel if u want

  41. I agree with your basic proposition–that a woman’s soul is more important than her boob size. But your article is badly written and also sexist. You write:

    “In the thumbnail preview shots, two of the women appear to be putting at least one finger in their mouths, one is lying in bed seductively, one is wearing a wet T-shirt, and one has her lips parted suggestively. Only Angelina’s image suggests some kind of self-respect.”

    Since when did posing sexily for a camera mean lack of self-respect? Oh right, when the guy looking at the photo has a madonna-whore complex. Because we all know that women’s self-esteem shouldn’t be based on their talents, accomplishments, etc., but on how much skin they don’t show. Right.

    I read the Katy Perry interview. Yeah, she talks about twirling in a banana. The interviewer also comments on what chords she uses in her songs, asks her what her main musical influences are and where she sees her career going. You would’ve seen that if the sex stuff hadn’t disturbed you so much.

    • My understanding of his issues (in particular the issue of the way that the women have posed for the camera) is simple. The women in those photos demonstrate a lack of self-respect not because they are fully in charge of their sexuality but rather because they are owned by it. If those photos were meant to define those women, as they undoubtedly were, then they come to represent women whose only gifts are sexually charged. Why not a picture of Katy Perry on stage if what they love so dearly about her is her performance? Why not place the most pressing information from the interview earlier so that the banana comment seems off-hand or insignificant? To say that this article is sexist is to imply that the Esquire article does not reduce these women to bare sexuality, which it in fact does. Meanwhile, young women all over the country, just like me, are learning that sexual liberation consists of putting oneself on display for the world and “owning” one’s sexuality. How we go about doing this is to have meaningless and often indiscriminate sex, to actually give men total control over us again by becoming objects for their adolescent fantasies. We give them exactly what they want instead of demanding to be valued and appreciated for who we are instead of who we will sleep with. Men get ideas from porn or celebrities about what they want in women and instead of saying, “That’s unrealistic, that’s not who I am, I am not okay with that!” we learn from a young age that we will need to attempt to measure up to those fantastical standards. We’re not going out in stilettos because it makes us feel good; we go out in them because it garners attention. Unfortunately, it is the only way too many women know to earn any attention and so, once more, they are slaves to the sexual appetites of men, because how else will they be told they are worthwhile? There are ways to be sexy without being objects and there is a difference between having a Madonna-whore complex and recognizing that those women don’t value themselves enough to put their talents before their bodies.

      What I take issue with in the article is his inclusion of Lady Gaga on the list of women he loves. (And Gwyneth Paltrow, but that’s a personal thing.) If Lady Gaga felt comfortable with her talent, she would not prance around on stage and in public wearing ridiculous costumes. If she felt secure enough that her music alone could earn her the fame and musical freedom that she clearly desires, then that music would be allowed to stand alone, and not to be overshadowed by the pranks and silliness that she pulls on us all. Gaga hides behind her gimmicks and lets her music fall by the wayside. (Which isn’t to say that I think her music is bad; it’s not my cup of tea, but it’s not bad as that genre goes.) I wish she would wash her face and play her piano while wearing some clothing.

      • But, while Lady Gaga is not my cup of tea either (and my following comments may be completely wrong) my impression is that Lady Gaga is not just about music, the same way serious graphic novels or movies are not about just the visuals or just the story or just the audio, but about the synergi of all that makes that medium. Lady Gaga, as far as I have understood it, is essentially Visual Kei with brains: not just brainless music/lyrics, not just flashy and provocative visuals, but a kind of art stemming in the combination of interesting music/lyrics and thought-provoking visuals. Art also never is produced in vacuum, but is heavily dependent on context, elements of which are timeless to seriously varying degrees: The modern audience miss out on a huge chunk of all the references, jokes and puns in Shakespear plays, while a lot of other references and emotions are far less volatile and more timeless. No, I am not implying that Lady Gaga is a modern equivalent of Shakespear, just that the latter is partially overrated and overhyped in part thanks to Sturgeon‘s Law, as well as that he seems classier than he is thanks to most people not getting all the crude and disgusting jokes, making modern examples of artists and authors less classy looking just because the less classier aspects are still obvious to the mainstream.

        That said, I might just be seriously overestimating her. I have only seen/heard six or so music videos of hers, one of which I seriously misunderstood and loathed until I was enlightened about its context (“Telephone” – which to my radio/tv avoiding self at face value looked initially like nothing but a spamtastic attention-whoring 10 minute long commersial music trailer for various services and products. Having avoided mainstream medias for the past decade most definitely have its disadvantages as well as blessings: you misunderstand and fail to get a lot of the in-jokes in society when they touch the less savory aspects you have been avoiding.)

  42. wellokaythen says:

    I’d like to see a different Boolean: how about “Cleavage AND Soul”?

    Esquire’s thumbnails are also not doing any favors for people who may be most attracted to other physical attributes not shown from those angles. Waist-up from the front doesn’t necessarily show what all hetero men find pleasant to look at. Does the magazine assume every man is a “breast man”? I like a good kneecap. Show me a sexy patella.

  43. wellokaythen says:

    Wow, Jhumpa Lahiri is beautiful. Her neck and shoulders are exquisite. Hair up off the back of the neck is very sexy. Excellent choice for a photo. Yay, reform!

  44. Forrest Horn says:

    great article! I’d disagree however with this statement about porn… “not because it is morally wrong but just because it distracts us from the truth and scatters our power. It’s one big acid trip fantasy with no connection to improving our lives, being good fathers and husbands, and advancing our careers.”
    I would say that it is for these reasons precisely that it is indeed morally wrong. It destroys people. This statement seems to say to me that we are afraid of upsetting people in a pluralistic society by assuming that anything is morally wrong. Follow this line of thinking and the Newtown tragedy is also a morally neutral act. Otherwise, love this article and it’s overall point!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Today’s feature, written by project founder Tom Matlack, takes men to task for the objectification of women, offering some insight. […]

  2. […] been plenty of criticism of my recent piece “Cleavage or Soul?” for presenting a supposedly negative deconstruction of masculinity—to wit: “As far as […]

  3. […] been plenty of criticism of my recent piece “Cleavage or Soul?” for presenting a supposedly negative deconstruction of masculinity—to wit: “As far as […]

  4. […] been plenty of debate over Tom’s latest editorials—see here and here—centered on why it’s problematic to vilify smut and its (mostly male) consumers. […]

  5. […] that vein, writer Tom Matlack has skewered Esquire for limiting their list of “Women We Love” to what boils down to a list of “Women […]

  6. […] editorialist care scrie pentru site-ul GoodMenProject.com (Proiectul barbatilor buni) se revolta din cauza unei sectiuni promovate de catre Esquire – cea mai de notorietate […]

  7. […] to Cleavage or Soul? I stopped reading Maxim, Esquire, and other “men’s” magazines a few years ago simply because […]

  8. […] Tom Matlack wrote what I thought was a very thoughtful piece a while back: “Women We Love for the Wrong Reasons.” […]

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  10. […] since criticizing Esquire for objectifying women in their Women We Love Section — a post (“Cleavage or Soul?”) which for a time won me the honor of being the “Mangina of the Month” among Men’s Rights […]

  11. […] as bad as the “Women We Love” section for which I took so much abuse criticizing in, “Cleavage or Soul: Women we Love for the Wrong Reasons” but not sure how watching Ms. Robbie helps us decipher the most pressing issues of […]

  12. […] stand for and a lot of what they have to offer the world.  A recent post of theirs entitled “Cleavage or Soul” does a great job in pointing out the difference between what the media portrays as […]

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