Nothing I have ever written has caused more controversy than a piece that I thought was pretty obvious and tame: “Cleavage or Soul.” In it I complained about how Esquire had turned their “Women We Love” feature from a thoughtful profile of cool ladies into porn. I quoted a few that sounded like Penthouse and even took a screen shot of the most highly rated from their website. The women are pretty naked. No argument there. I just asked the question whether men might be better served reading about soul than looking at cleavage. Dumb me.
I got attacked by woman who felt I had trampled on their sexual freedom, specially when the piece was posted on Jezebel. More than that I kicked the hornet’s nest of the Men’s Rights Activists over at The Spearhead. They started calling me “mangina” and threatening me with crossbows. I laughed and then I cried and then I did a response piece admitting my magina-nature.
It’s been a while now. I’ve had plenty more exposure to the Jezebel crowd and the MRAs. We devoted 10 days to investigating their claims. This led to a lot of great discussion … and a ton of crazy commenting. MRAs were (and still are) angry at us for being open-minded about women and women were angry at us for taking MRAs seriously. (Cue swarm of angry comments.)
My conclusion from all of this is that our mission at the Good Men Project is indeed critical. The pain and suffering of these men is clear. So is the continued anger by women who see men as the source of every problem. From its founding I had thought GMP could be an open forum for everyone to talk about manhood from whatever point of view you wanted to bring. I was wrong about that. Flinging insults and indulging in gender-conspiracy theories makes a crucial and challenging problem worse.
Yes, we will take on the most controversial topics out there: the sex trade, divorce, prison, war, race, sexual preference. But if we can’t talk about it with some amount of civility and compassion then we might as well skip it. The highlight of the GMPM experience for me has been to listen to the stories of men completely unlike me in every way. They teach me what it’s like to be gay or black or an inmate or a war photographer. I realize that no matter how different our experiences, we are all very much the same in terms of our struggles. It’s that core commonality that binds us together in this mission. Let’s try to focus on that even when discussing the tough stuff. And when it doubt, let’s try to laugh for goodness sake. If seeing me dressed up like the lead singer of KISS doesn’t bring a smile to your face, there’s nothing I can do for you.
Responses to Cleavage or Soul?
I stopped reading Maxim, Esquire, and other “men’s” magazines a few years ago simply because they were uninteresting. Is it athestically pleasing to look 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.
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.
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.)
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.
Pussified manginas like Tom Matlack needs to learn what its like to be a MAN…something this dude no nothing about !!!!
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.
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.
Responses to: Have You Seen My Mangina?
I liked your article about Esquire. It was not as much apologizing to women but saying to men, “wake the fuck up, the women are taking over”. The stats about college education are alarming. Not because women are empowered through education but because men as a gender have fallen behind as far as they have. Your work is a scary mirror to uneducated biased fucks who want to think we are still living in the 1950′s.
Can we make shirts that say “My Mangina is Bigger Than Yours”? I know Tom probably has the nicest one out there, but still. What’s so wrong with having a mangina? I think the bigger question of it all is in finding out when having a mangina became a problem in the first place? Defining masculinity is a difficult task. Defining an individual is a personal task. I like sweater vests and the fact that I can pick out matching clothes and hair clips for my daughter. I delight in knowing what kind of pads or tampons I need to stop by and get on my way home from work. I am thrilled with the fact that I can look at any other woman as just a person because sexy and beautiful to me is defined in my wife.
Tough and brawny don’t make a man. Huge muscles and the ability to kick an ass or two can be achieved by anyone, male or female. I say ‘Viva La Mangina”. Cheers to all the bros who proudly where their gina on their sleeve, a touch of fashion in their wardrobe, and a stick of reality in their pack of gum located in the murse.
In your case, the mangina is the guy who tucks it away when nobody’s around to pretend he’s a chick because he seems to want to be one, or at least to be thought of as one of the gals. He’s always sucking up to the ladies and ripping on other guys. it’s quite obvious that he’s saying what he’s saying to guys because he wants the ladies to hear it and think he’s wonderful. It’s hard to say exactly what motivates this behavior but it’s always disgusting to people with any self-respect. Also, you aren’t fun or funny or even entertaining, just verbose and snotty.
I knew you had a mangina when you talked about loving your kids and your smart, hot wife. What kind of pussy would openly discuss their emotions? Grow a pair, will ya??
I know the type of guy that espouses crossbows and mangina comments. They are the honorless bullies. The ones to whom glory, war and greed are all that matters. And I’d argue that the honorless attitude is what nearly destroyed America during the financial crisis of 2008.
I’d further argue that if we replace glory, war and greed with duty, honor, and country, America would be a better place. (That’s a lot coming from a gay guy quoting MacAuthur!). If anything, the pieces I’ve read of the Good Men Project are about how those more noble concepts fit into today’s word especially with respect to being a good dad.
I’ve been a presurgical lesbian for a long time—lusting for women and wearing men’s clothes. I’ve delayed the surgery until such time as I might need a job and required some affirmative action. Tom may have same affliction. I hear he eats croissants and has clean fingernails, two qualities that never attract women who belch loudly.The mouth-breathing knuckle-dragging troglodytes terrified of women who are more than semen receptacles don’t have anything to worry about. Most women will leave them alone, too.
I had been following Tom’s writing for a while, but even though we were in agreement on many topics, over time, my suspicion that Tom might be “tucking” started to grow the same way it would for a father who notices that little Johnny exhibits a real flair for shoes and hangs figure skating posters all over his room. But when Tom announced he was sticking with “The Good Men Project” as the name of his magazine, that’s when I knew without a doubt he kept “Jake the Snake” under wraps. To me, his over-use of the very docile sounding good hinted of “good boys” who always do what they’re told and continue this submissive behavior into adulthood. I guarantee, every unabashed “swinging Richard” out there doesn’t want to thought of in such bland terms as “good.” What red-blooded, American male goes to the vending machine and selects a Hershey’s Goodbar when he can get a PayDay or some other candy bar with nuts and the ability to really “satisfy” (if you know what I mean). I thought Tom could’ve at least toned down his “Emasculation Proclamation” by calling it “The Good Ol’ Men Project,” but going the route he did, made me realize Tom had transformed into his own ironic version of “Tucker Max.” In light of all the recent criticism directed at Tom, I guess it just goes to show that the logic of Kirk Lazarus’s Tropic Thunder advice to Tugg Speedman applies here too. Never go full Mangina.
Do you remember the Wesleyan Psych Professor who claimed to be a lesbian trapped in a man’s body? could he have gotten to you?Wearing stockings on a crazy cold row on the icy connecticut river men in tights is a major cause of Mangina has Pfizer created a treatment yet?
I knew you were a mangina when you argued the validity of Esquire’s list of hot chicks with a list of smart chicks. Here’s the Non-Mangina Equation for that Hot Chicks > Smart Chicks. (Just kidding of course )
Bottom line, it’s hard to be happy, it’s hard to find lasting happiness in a long term relationship, sometimes it’s hard to get laid alot in a LTR. Woman and men are different, and the differences turn me on no end, and drive me crazy, but that’s what makes it fun. Life is much more nuanced than the “Maxim” model would suggest.
I like big tits as much as anybody, but at the end of the day, I know big tits are really meaningless- is that so hard to understand? Why blame the magazines and movies and porn for our “enslavement”- do we have no free will?
And no, I wouldn’t know if Jessica Simpson is sexier than Gwyneth Paltrow until I talked to both of them, because that is where sexiness really lives. DUH!!!
Wow. I feel like the mangina because Joel Stein, a self-proclaimed Nancy, used the word “cunt” and I said “c word.”
Tom isn’t advocating the pussification of America. He’s fighting the douchification of the American man. Pop culture (“the media”) manages to portray men as rods, doofuses and jags. On prime time TV, a number of the comedic characters are hapless men dragged around by their ball-busting wives whom they can’t leave because the husbands have out-punted their coverage in terms of looks. On reality TV, the cool dudes are borderline sociopaths who will do or say anything to drag some club trick back to their smash room. Are all guys really like that?
Esquire is a middle brow magazine who seeks to appeal to the greatest common factor in men. Apparently, it’s boobs. By that calculus, some of us like hot rods, some of us like politics, some of us like video games but all of us like the female body (sorry, 95% of us). And that’s great to beat off to but not someone to actually “love.”
I do disagree with a few of Tom’s stances, for instance, I know a few models who are interesting ladies. And his replacement list isn’t my cup of tea either (I’d rather jam honey up my culo and squat on a fire ant hill than hang out with Millionaire Matchmaker). But I appreciate the sentiment that we’re doing ourselves a disservice by perpetuating the bro-ed out stereotype of being a bunch of walking hard-ons who spend more time chanting “show us your tits” than thinking “how can I leave this shit hole a better place?”
We all know that character (or whatever intangible that you personally dig) goes further than a pretty face and great figure, because eventually you get tired of fucking even the sexiest of bodies.
Esquire is a fine magazine but the question remains, is a “man at his best” just fantasizing about sexing up seemingly vacuous women? Even Playboy interviewed Ayn Rand with the idea that there was more to being a well-rounded man than staring at a broad’s ample front porch.
And, for the record, tucking your junk is pretty hilarious even if you don’t add, “I’d fuck me.”
[Original spelling and punctuation in comments has been preserved.]