Maureen O’Connor at Gawker: “God, Thomas, You’re Such a Pussy”

Hey Maureen, really?

My NYT column “Man, I need a good cuddle” was actually an attempt to reach across the gender divide and say us guys are really a lot more sensitive than we are sometimes given credit. And that the growing trend of both men and women living alone isn’t all its cracked up to be IMO:

If more people are living alone, in the United States and around the world, I would argue that our humanity is being chipped away by the lack of cuddle. People can do what they want, of course. And I don’t doubt that I am a particularly needy and sometimes neurotic man of a certain ilk. So maybe the cuddle is more important to me than it is to some independent-minded woman.

I certainly am not above parody.  I write plenty myself, I am sure not always without missing the mark on occasion. But for a woman “journalist” to put together this little love letter in essence asking me to grow a pair for saying how much I love holding my wife and kids is the worst form of man-bashing sexism.

Or maybe I’m being too sensitive

If anybody wants to converse with Ms. O’Connor on cuddling, manhood, and Bin Laden (see below) she’s at [email protected]

Gotta make dinner and tuck the kids in so I can go cuddle my wife (what a pussy).

 

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About Tom Matlack

Tom Matlack is the co-founder of The Good Men Project. He has a 18-year-old daughter and 16- and 7-year-old sons. His wife, Elena, is the love of his life. Follow him on Twitter @TMatlack.

Comments

  1. I would like to comment on Maureen’s piece, but her insensible rage at an openly emotional statement made her writing incoherent. I am actually only able to assume she was mocking your piece, Tom, because the random trademarking and and split personalities obscured any points she may have made.

    • Julie Gillis says:

      Yeah, I read that and I just became extremely confused. I hate it when people call each other pussy or dick. Those are nice parts of the body and makes me figure she’s got some kind of issue with men who enjoy emotional connection.

      • wellokaythen says:

        Yeah, calling someone a pussy seems like an odd insult. I’m guessing she was delivered by C-section and therefore fails to appreciate the importance of female genitalia in her own existence.

  2. Justin Cascio says:

    OMG, she’s hating on you for being an out and proud *cuddler*? If we don’t stand up now, no one is safe from her condemnation: next it will be the cheerful morning people, or those who smile at strangers.

  3. Apparently it ‘looks forward to ridiculing her peers on the internet’. So it is a bully.

    Tom, just give it a stout reply.
    Then ignore it

  4. OMG…this is so hilarious! Thanks for making me laugh!

    My husband has an English friend who believes it is his duty to totally rag on everybody and verbally spar with them…it’s like aerobic exercise to him! (Full disclosure: He hated me because I think I would really zing him when we did have to go head to head…or maybe he just didn’t like to be zinged by a woman…I dunno)…

    Thanks for having a sense of humor!

    • Tom Matlack says:

      Leia she is funny alright. Funny like a bit off IMO. But I can take. Been called far worse in the last oh three months.

  5. Peter Houlihan says:

    Were the bits by Maureen supposed to be ironic? If so I don’t get it.

  6. Are we sure this isn’t just a troll-y poking fun? The “soviet cuddlism” line kind of makes me think this is all in good fun.

    Otherwise, um, what? If she thinks the word “cuddle” is too weird, then let’s say “close together”. Because when my husband says something like this to me, it makes me feel so loved and reminds me that we actually do need and want each other, and I’m not just being a clingy housewife. And you, being a guy who is willing to admit that? I think you already have the pair that she suggests you grow.

    Who knows. The interwebs are confusing some days.

    • I wondered if she was trolling or not, as well.

      If not, she doesn’t know what she’s missing. Maybe she needs a good cuddle?

    • Peter Houlihan says:

      I assumed it was either satire or taking the piss… I just couldn’t work out what it was supposed to be satirising or how it was supposed to be funny. It just seems, weirdly aggressive.

  7. Our culture prizes independence too much and fear having our space encroach, this is especially true in adolescents; they can’t wait to move away from mom and dad; also true for a lot of men.

    When females seek romance, I think we’re seen as “clingy” rather than “cuddly”; while most men seek hook-ups, as this allows them to maintain their “independence” via no commitment.

    • “When females seek romance, I think we’re seen as “clingy” rather than “cuddly”; while most men seek hook-ups, as this allows them to maintain their “independence” via no commitment.”

      Incoming generalization alert!

      • All you have to do is check out dating/hook-up sites and there’s one popping up literally, every day. There’s a proliferation of men registered; I would vouch 2/3 men and the rest women. The Internet has made hook-ups easy…less and less men are seeking romance; just fast transactions…babda boom babda bing!

        • @Michelle, plenty of men seek romance but get disheartened by the “friend-zone” and sadly amongst both sexes there are quite a few bad experiences which can turn people off to relationships quite early. So many of these men deep down desire love but may feel it’s hard to get, so in the meantime they can hookup. They can also just be quite satisfied with hooking up and if love pops up then hooray but if it doesn’t then they still get a nice time.

          If so many men are reluctant to date, maybe it’s time for women to start asking themselves why, and asking the men why. From what I hear from some male friends is they feel the young 20-30’s women are clingy and expect a LOT of time from their partners, usually these women (or men sometimes as I hear from female friends) don’t have many friends of their own or hobbies so they make the bf their entire world. I’m not sure how common this is, maybe it’s quite rare although in my circle of friends their luck with women seems to leave a lot to be desired.

          I think we need to be teaching both genders to be happy alone and dating someone doesn’t mean be with them 24/7, or 0/0. Balance is needed but don’t constrict each other nor ignore each other. We all need to feel loved AND to have enough space but this can be quite tricky to balance, I known of couples where the girl feels the guy is too busy with friends and not spending enough time with her even though they live together. The guy feels smothered and feels like he hasn’t got enough space, but she hasn’t got many hobbies and doesn’t have any friends around really except him. It’s unfair to put too much pressure on someone to fulfill all of your social needs and it drives guys away, his feelings matter too!

          Personally I’d like a relationship, love, etc but I could still do the casual sex/FWB stuff. Random hookups though I’m not sure I could really do as I prefer to get to know people.

          • “From what I hear from some male friends is they feel the young 20-30′s women are clingy and expect a LOT of time from their partners, usually these women (or men sometimes as I hear from female friends) don’t have many friends of their own or hobbies so they make the bf their entire world.”

            20-30s, dudes — that’s the prime time in a woman’s life. Does that explain the “clingyness”? They are seeking romance and seeking to settle down and get married; start a new chapter in life. It has nothing to do with not having friends or hobbies. The problem is women are ready to settle down sooner than men in their age group.

            A lot of men these days channel the George Clooney lifestyle and think their bachelor status adds value or increases as they get older, so they live with and move on from one female to the next —with no commitment. Some spend 5 years to 10 years or more with a woman and then break up with her…just leading her on…no intent to marry or have kids — this translates to wasting a woman’s time and her fertile stage, and ultimately keeps her from finding someone who cherishes her and wants to start a family.

            • Sounds like communication early on is needed. The examples I gave were for just SOME women, and yes it was mostly about them having their own issues regarding lack of hobbies, lack of friends, feeling lonely and making their man the center of the universe. It’s sad that some people severely reduce the amount of time they spend with friends and family just to please a partner, do people really need to spend every single day together?

              Women and men need to communicate what they want, but it could very well be that young men do not want to settle down and young women do which would probably mean young women are better off dating older men who are ready (severe generalization alert). I don’t want to settle down and have a family yet, it’d take me at least 5 years probably to even start really thinking about having one. Personally I want to find a stable loving and caring relationship and have a good home, finances in order before having a child. I also want some damn freedom:P and hopefully don’t have the same troubles some of my friends have, I’d never get anything done as I’d have no time!

              Love is a gamble though and I hope people are more honest AND can identify their own feelings, I cut off a relationship because the feelings were not mutual and I could not have someone totally into me when I didn’t feel the same as it’s unfair. She later found love and has been with that person for quite a while.

            • Many men are not upfront…they love sex…drag a dead-end relationship on, and keep distant. But guys, if you find the women in your life “clingy”…do them a favour and tell them so; that way they can move on to someone who appreciates their company and don’t see them as “clingy”. Women need to find men who see romance and love, instead of the negative “clingyness”. Any man who expresses dissatisfaction and bring up clingyness are not ready to settle down or have a serious relationship. They need to find someone with the same mind-set. Communication and Truth people!

            • “Any man who expresses dissatisfaction and bring up clingyness are not ready to settle down or have a serious relationship. ”
              What a load of %*)$. When men say clingy, they mean someone who is WAY too attached where it causes problems. You’re assuming men don’t see romance and love yet many do, and many men who whinge about clingyness actually want love and romance but not to be smothered. There is a difference and any woman who is actually clingy, is NOT ready for a serious relationship because it indicates a pretty major problem. In the case I talked about there are issues that she needs to work out for herself, not just their relationship. It’s not good to make 1 person you’re entire world.

              All humans need space, smothering someone is NOT what makes a good and serious relationship. It sounds like you’re trying to shame men for speaking up about obsessive, possessive, and smothering behaviour by suggesting that it is romantic and what a serious relationship is made of. If that is true then quite frankly, I never ever want that version of a serious relationship because it’s full of problems from the start.

              Spending time together is fine, wanting to be with your partner is fine, romance, cuddling, affection, totally fine. Doing it so much and smothering your partner IS NOT FINE. Do you not understand this or have you misunderstood the term clingy? It’s not a cute description of a girl that wants to spend time with a partner, it’s a negative term that means smothering.

              Any man that dares bring up dissatisfaction in a relationship isn’t ready for a serious one? I truly TRULY hope this is not true because every partner has the right to express their dissatisfaction in a relationship, how else would issues be worked out?

            • Dude, people in love want to be with each other 24/7. When you’re married you’re virtually tied at the hips…you wake up with the same person, you eat dinner with that person, you have sex with that person, you go to sleep with that person — that person is will be sharing the same space and air that you breathe! If you’re dating someone who lives separately from you and you see them a couple times a week and even this encroaches on your space or independence, then you’re not ready for serious relationship and you’re really hoping to date other people — gotta keep your options open right?

              Men’s idea of “clingy” is negative…do you not see that is the opposite of “cuddly”??? Females are looking for reciprocal cuddliness…and they feel they are expressing that when they want to spend time with you and nobody else…they’re still romancing you, don’t you see? I guess romance with men wears off quickly after they get their sexual needs filled…after that females are seen as ‘clingy’. I see too many women wasting their lives in these types of dead-end relationships.

            • Well I’ll hop in and say that you’re separation of what men and women want here, Michelle, is a bit stereotypical. I am a woman and I am one of the least-cuddly people I’ve ever met. I’m also not a fan of clingy partners. So there’s that.

              But as for the idea that ‘clingy’ is just a way for a stereotypical man to find a way out of a committed relationship…well that’s bunk. Spending time with one person and no one else isn’t healthy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite of healthy. If you only spend time with your romantic partner, you’re cutting yourself off from any other social interactions. People need all kinds of social stimuli in order to thrive, not just romantic ones. Your life can’t revolve around one other person…it’s co-dependant.

              I think women are often told that once you find ‘true love’ you’ll want to spend every waking moment together. I mean, just look at all the rubbish in rom-coms. But it’s false, and it’s not how things really work.

            • I can’t help but detect a slight bit of bitterness towards men here?:P
              I can understand your meaning, I know of people that love to be around each other 24/7 and others that like it a little bit. Humans vary, both genders, some love to be together all the time and some don’t. Me personally, I have hobbies and interests which mean I NEED TIME ALONE or she would need to be interested in that hobby.

              Recently did some work on a car with a friend, it took a while but it was important to him but he was feeling extremely smothered because she wanted the weekends together as he worked during the week. They live together and he feels they’re always together, he needed space and as she doesn’t have many or any friends locally and few hobbies she would be bored to death alone. They’ve been together for years but being tied to the hip like that would mean nothing would get done, how are people supposed to keep their friendships up if they can’t get time away from a wife?

              The kind of lifestyle you are talking about might work for some but others it would make them miserable as hell

              “Men’s idea of “clingy” is negative…do you not see that is the opposite of “cuddly”??? Females are looking for reciprocal cuddliness…and they feel they are expressing that when they want to spend time with you and nobody else…they’re still romancing you, don’t you see? I guess romance with men wears off quickly after they get their sexual needs filled…after that females are seen as ‘clingy’. I see too many women wasting their lives in these types of dead-end relationships.”

              Why is the female’s version of romance more important than HIS IDEA of romance? You’re sense of entitlement is pretty damn high in this paragraph, it’s exactly the kind of woman that turns me off 100%. WHY do you need to spend all day every day with someone, even if in love? Can you handle if they have to go somewhere for work? Can they see friends or family? Do you know that putting unrealistic demands on a persons time is most likely psychological abuse?

              What makes you assume men don’t want to cuddle? Romantic comedies? Quite frankly romantic comedies are probably doing more harm to women than men are in regards to setting up extremely unrealistic expectations of what romance and love are. What is romance? Romance is being true n faithful to each other if you’re a monogamous couple, spend time together but also balance that with time apart. To be intimate, to love n cherish them, to be there for them when they need you but also to have your own life and not pressure them unfairly.

              This myth of men not being romantic is absolutely stupid, the problem is probably that some women can’t SEE the romance in men or put too much emphasis on fictious stories and popular stereotypes. If romance is smothering a partner than I do not want romance, it’s not romance in my eyes, it’s abusive. Humans are individuals and expecting them all to fit 1 single mold isn’t a good idea, I LOVE TO CUDDLE but I do have limits.

              I got up to goto the kitchen for a drink and had a partner hold my arm and not let go saying “But you might goto the city and leave me” ???? Is that romance? A man can’t even get up from bed to go for a drink without an absolutely insane statement of driving 100km away after sex, when it was my residence? Why on Earth would I ditch someone, especially someone I just slept with? We had cuddled for a bit but I was thirsty, very thirsty, and I’m sorry but water comes first unless you want me dehydrated and sick. That incident turned me off massively to the idea of dating her amongst other problems in the relationship, it’s not cute, it’s scary to have someone literally hold you and not let you go, to say something damn crazy and smother the hell out of you.

              Are humans becoming leeches? Stuck to the skin? Find a mate and you’re bodies fuse and you never again can be alone?? NO THANK-YOU!

            • Peter Houlihan says:

              What gets called “clingy” in women is called “creepy” in men.

              I don’t think men in general are affection-phobes. Theres just a line where too much becomes too much. I don’t think its a gendered thing, I’ve seen both men and women do it.

            • “Any man that dares bring up dissatisfaction in a relationship isn’t ready for a serious one? I truly TRULY hope this is not true because every partner has the right to express their dissatisfaction in a relationship, how else would issues be worked out?”

              Also I’d like to point to what Archy said and back that up. A relationship isn’t all walks on the beach and sidelong glances. It takes work. It’s two (or more) people all living their lives, and choosing to live those lives together. So when one partner is dissatisfied the _mature_ thing to do is to certainly bring it up and try to work it out.

  8. Considering the effects of being touch-starved can be quite bad…it makes me sad that society views cuddling so negatively. Touch is essential yet seemingly rare these days….

    Pretty sad at calling you a pussy for cuddling, she is extremely confusing and is that really meant to be humor on her part? I guess it’s like Saturday Night Live humor….something you need to be extremely high to laugh at:P

  9. wellokaythen says:

    I’m missing something here. Are people saying that if you live alone that means you don’t like cuddling? What?

  10. I couldn’t even read her disgraceful commentary. It’s more of the same reinforcing of the gender binary – the gender binary that is as inhibiting to men as it is to women. Tom, if you need a good cuddle and can admit that you need a good cuddle, I think that makes you particularly manly! So kudos to you for identifying your own needs, breaking free of the gender binary, and perhaps paving the way for other men to feel more comfortable admitting to such basic needs!

  11. Also, I must say, I really resent the idea that female genitalia is offensive enough to use as a term to denigrate a man. Ugh!

    • Female genitalia is beautiful and never ever should be an insult. There is already a term to denote a “pussy”, it’s called a coward.

      • I wouldn’t go so far as to say the word should *never* be an insult, but it should at least be a compliment as often as an insult. That sounds fair to me. To my mind, idolizing a body part enough that it can only have positive connotations is really just the flip side of making it always an insult. Some earlobes are very beautiful. Some are not. You could say “that guy’s as dumb as an earlobe.” Why not positive and negative and everything in between?

        Perhaps something along the lines of “putanesca” like in Italian cuisine? The word is meant to be indicative and descriptive without necessarily being insulting or complimentary. If that seems too much like an objectification of women, then how about the word “avocado,” which comes from a native word for “testicle”?

    • Peter Houlihan says:

      I think thats genitalia in general, they’re used as a metaphor for whatever is the worst (supposed) characteristics of that gender.

      Pussy = weak, cowardly, unadventurous etc.
      Dick = Selfish, agressive, inconsiderate etc.

  12. Katie Simpson says:

    What happened to the scientific research that human beings are much healthier when they receive 10+ healthy (re: positive) touches a day?? We need physical contact! (High fives are the best informal form of this!) In fact, we crave it. I find her response really sad. Cuddle away, my friend! Nothing is better than snuggling up next to someone you care about (romantically or otherwise) and I have no idea why this would be any different for men than it is for women.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Sounds like another extravert-centric study.

      The most famous study done on the need for human contact was a study of very young children in a Romanian orphanage. It was determined that babies do need some human contact to become well-adjusted children. The flaw in using that data: this was an orphanage that was guilty of horrendous neglect, on the order of leaving children without any human contact at all for days at a time, without any socialization and often without food or a bed. Somehow that extreme case got worked up into the conclusion that people need lots and lots of touch to be healthy. That’s the study that most people come back to when talking about science proving the need for touch.

  13. Kind of reminds me of the scene in Office Space where the lead character asks his blue collar neighbor if anyone at his work ever says, “I’m having a Monday.” The blue collar guy says, “No, I think you’d probably get your ass kicked if you said that.” As a blue collar guy, I concur.

    It also make me think about this disconnect: Women who want men to be evolved and sensitive, then ridicule them when they use what I will call femme-centric language. You can’t win with some people.

  14. I’m coming up there and I am going to hold you till I die, till we both break down and cry, etc.

  15. i think she was trying to be funny, but she just sounds bitter and hurt. and not very stable. likely needs a good cuddle… among other things.

    tom, you’re a rock star of a man. but i’m pretty sure you don’t need my validation – or anyone else’s. :)

  16. I think she was just trying to parody three internet-commenter types. The one who agrees and then takes your point to the nth degree. The one who disagrees and insults and bullies you in the process. And the one that tries to calm the flames of internet arguments.

    So yeah, I think it was an attempt at humor. Really though, it just came across as trolling.

    • Oh also, my guess is that she doesn’t realize how much cuddling is an unfortunately gendered action in our society. So she plays into it without quite realizing it.

      Or she’s a messed up human being who needs to realize that men have more emotions than sex and anger.

    • I agree with Heather. Maureen seems like she’s parodying the format of the New York Times’ “Room for Debate” and using your article as a base for it. Part of that, I think, is because your article is relatively neutral and hard to disagree with. That way it is easier for her to play around with it by pushing it in one direction or the other.

  17. This is infuriating! Then women wonder why men get so confused as to what we want! One woman says she wants cuddling, another calls you a pussy for it. Furthermore, pussy is degarding for both men and women. Calling a man a pussy implies his weakness and further propogates the idea that women or feminity are weak. These are the type of women who make it difficult for the rest of us women who are trying to make positive change. What a double standard! If Tom called her a
    c*%t or a b!t*h, he would lose his job instantly! But Tom wouldn’t even think to do such a thing!

  18. wellokaythen says:

    Based on what I’m reading elsewhere on the site, Tom, be sure to be in constant communication during the cuddle to make sure that your cuddling partner is maintaining enthusiastic consent to the ongoing cuddle. Perhaps you should negotiate a clear safe word that will mean “end of cuddle now!” You will be in serious trouble if you cuddle while either of you is drunk. Be warned.

  19. wellokaythen says:

    P.S. Almost forgot. Do NOT assume that she has given you the green light to cuddle with her just because she’s your wife. Bastard.

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