Paging Dr. NerdLove Episode #08: Why Don’t Women Approach and Other Questions

This week, Dr. NerdLove hits the NerdLove Hotline and answers your questions!

Why don’t women approach men more often?

How far is too far to drive for a date?

Are there any tips for women to get more attention in online dating?

…and more!

Got a dating issue that you need Dr. NerdLove’s help with? Call (512) 522-6513 to record a question for the podcast.

Don’t miss a single update! Be sure to subscribe to the podcast via iTunes and RSS

  • Max

    This is only sort of related, but I'd be interested to hear your take on this:

    In short, I think this is why men have such a hard time empathizing with women (and vice-versa).
    (In other news, this site needs a forum section)

    • Dr_NerdLove

      Couple of thoughts.A) Socialization again. Women are taught not to be as aggressive as men, whether it's socially (or else she's a bitch) or sexually (or else she's a slut).B) “WHY WON'T WOMEN VALIDATE ME THE WAY I DESERRRRRRVE!”C) He needs to learn to be self-validating. Relying solely on other people's opinions for one's self-esteem is going to make you miserable.D) Dude doesn't realize that lots of strangers coming up to you and talking about your looks ISN'T FUCKING PLEASANT. Much like the “Hey lady, smile!” issue, it's a case of “Your body is public property for me to comment on and should be pleasing to me at all moments.”And hoo boy do I not have enough hours in the day to moderate a forum. I have my hands full with the blog, podcast and other projects as 'tis.

      • Boat


        what's with the chiding of guys who want external validation? human beings crave intimacy with the opposite sex, and is it really that strange, or a sign of weakness, as you seem to be implying, that a guy might want to learn that he is attractive to women?

        external validation helps us understand what we do good and what we do bad, and the fact that most guys never get any validation whatsoever from the opposite sex can result in a negative spiral of self-criticism and, after failing to attract women after all that self-criticism, resentment and misogyny.

        i've seen so many seemingly attractive guys online who have taken their lack of attention from women as a sign that they somehow don't belong to "that privileged attractive group", and who don't understand that women probably do find them attractive, but that they're male and therefor never really get to know or hear of it.

        its tough being a guy in the dating game unless you are born with that unbreakable male ego that you seem to be chiding guys for not having, and i dont get why you or the women here aren't sympathetic of that.

        • Boat

          also, im not saying that this should be used as an excuse for guys to overlook self-improvement, but i do think that it's hard for men to relate to what it's like receiving unwanted attention when they've never had any attention whatsoever to begin with.

          i know from personal experience how much feeling invisible to the opposite sex can hurt, because it does hurt on a deep and profound level, but i also know from stories my past girlfriends have told me how much being groped in public by a 50 year old man when you're 13 hurts as well.

          the point is that there seems to be a difference in attitude where women are given space to express themselves and have their hardships be heard and understood, while if a guy expresses his hurt from feeling unattractive he's either accused of being weak for seeking external validation, or chided by women who immediately throw in rape statistics, as if that somehow invalidates the pain that guys go through in struggling with affirming their own egos, confidence and attractivity when there are literally no facts, indicators or signs that they could base their sense of attractivity on.

        • Dr_NerdLove

          I've talked about this before, but it's about your locus of control. If you're basing your self-image entirely off of other people's reactions and responses to you, you're putting your entire self-esteem and self-worth in the hands of others. Your need for external validation becomes a never-ending cycle because you're trying to cram things into a hole at your core and every rejection or refusal to validate you becomes a judgement on your worth as a person.By being self-validating, by having that core belief in yourself, you're pulling your locus of control back inside yourself. When you're self-validating, you don't NEED the approval of others for your self-worth. That's a sign of confidence, and something that people find attractive.Nobody said it was EASY. But that doesn't mean it's not IMPORTANT.

          • Boat

            who said anything about basing your entire self-image on validation from others? this is more about guys being conditioned into thinking they're unattractive, because they are learning from the way women behave that they are not worthy as objects of sex or attraction.

            as a guy, i can count on one hand the number of times i've been told by a girlfriend that i'm pretty, while i've lost count of the number of times i've been told that im brave, funny, or that i make her feel safe and appreciated.

            are you saying that it's not a problem that guys rarely, if at all, get to hear that they're attractive?

          • Mel

            How is not being told constantly that you're sexually desired a way of treating you as *un*worthy? That's like saying that because women aren't constantly going around telling you that you're clearly a human being, they must think you're an alien. If the vast majority of women don't make comments like that to men they don't know, then that's just the baseline of normal human behavior. It doesn't say anything about any guy as an individual.

            Also consider that, for many women, being brave, funny, and appreciative are far more important to a guy being attractive to them than him being "sexy" or "hot". So your girlfriends *were* telling you (apparently a lot) that you're attractive to them. Obviously they wouldn't be with you if they found you physically unappealing. The fact that they are dating you is a statement that you're attractive in all the ways they'd want you to be! And if you really need to hear the words, in a good relationship, you should be able to say something like, "Hey, I really enjoy it when you mention things about me you find physically attractive" and your partner will reciprocate.

            If guys were constantly being told they're *un*attractive, yeah, I'd think that's a problem. But I don't see why it's a problem that strangers aren't going out of their way to stoke your ego? Why would that be the expected standard of behavior? Your logic seems to be that because men give unwanted attention to women, it's unfair that women are not giving similar attention to men. Why would women want to treat men in a way that they find uncomfortable themselves? Most of us want it to stop, not to spread it around. The real problem, as DNL is saying, is that apparently some guys take the fact that women aren't randomly complimenting them all the time to mean that there's something wrong with them… instead of realizing this is just normal life, and basing their self-worth on something concrete.

          • Boat

            the point isn't that i think positively of the unwanted attention that females are getting. it has nothing to do with that.

            what i'm trying to say is that men never get to see any signs of being considered attractive, whether explicit or through subtext and non-verbal communication.

            when girls hit 13 or 14 and start wearing make-up and taking over-sexualized pose pictures on facebook, they are beginning to learn that they have sexual value to the opposite sex. there is, however, no counterpart for men, where men may also learn that they are attractive, so from where exactly are men supposed to draw the fact that they have sexual value too, so that they can subsequently embed this into their self-image?

            the answer is: nowhere. that's why this blog exists, and why so many men are pathetically desperate for female attention.

            so again, it has NOTHING to do with the NEGATIVE attention that women get. it has to do with the POSITIVE attention that women get, and how men aren't receiving any whatsoever.

          • Commonly known as X

            Oh rot. I tell my partners they are handsome (my husband has complained I pay more compliments to his backside then his brains), and I've certainly heard other men told good looking by flirtatious women in public. Most good men I've met are certainly aware of it. Maybe its a British thing, but I don't feel that we are that far from the US in other sexual/romantic matters – I'm sure its a case of guys that don't feel attractive filtering this out.

            What men don't get are catcalls, which is completely different to compliments or flirtation. Men who do this are trying to make you feel uncomfortable, not pretty, and they get really aggressive really fast when you object. Men who are just trying to let you know you are pretty aren't going to call you a bitch if you ask them not to, but most catcallers will.

          • Commonly known as X

            Sorry – most good looking men I've met are certainly aware of it.

      • Vic

        "Socialization again. Women are taught not to be as aggressive as men,"

        Nope. Women are not as aggressive as men. At best, this is a case of social norms extending biological truths.

        • Dunbar

          Yeah…you have no idea what you're talking about.

        • <~~~bio major working in a neurology dept

          There is no sex-linked biological factor that determines aggression.
          (And sorry, testosterone is only one biological factor that contributes to, not determines, aggressive behavior. And it's characteristics, within a healthy man, are greatly exaggerated.)

          The male-centric era of sociobiology is drawing to a close and consensus, and even EO Wilson, has retracted much of the initial assertions about the differences in the sexes and proposed (not proven) evolutionary explanations that support them. These things were never facts or truths, merely popular hypotheses too eagerly embraced by a culture hungry for answers.

          Women are fully capable of being just as aggressive as men.
          Men are fully capable of being just as nurturing as women.
          These are human traits that we all need to survive.
          It does our species no service to divide these characteristics between the sexes.

    • Mel

      In addition to DNL's very valid points, this guy is acting as if what happens when random men compliment a woman is they politely say, "Hey, you're really pretty!" and then go on their way. Um, no. The vast majority of the time, they're one of two things:

      -Crude comments that are either treating the woman as a sexual object ("Nice ass/tits") or expressing what the guy would like to do to the woman ("I could show you a good time"). Neither of these generally make women feel attractive–we get the impression that guys who are crude enough to talk to random women like this probably aren't very discriminating in their targets, so we're not hearing "you're beautiful", we're hearing "you are female and I like to have sex with females”.

      -Compliments that come with expectations. "You're pretty… So now give me your attention regardless of whether you find me attractive or whether you had something else you wanted to be doing, while I try to get your phone number/a date/sex out of you." Nicer than the first in theory, but at least with the first type a woman can quickly ignore and move on (usually the crude comments are of the drive/walk by variety). And knowing a guy thinks you're attractive isn't the greatest feeling if it's combined with the sense that he feels his interest in you is far more important than whatever you're already doing (by your choice) and/or your interest in him. You still end up feeling like an object, a thing the guy's only dedicating energy to because of what he thinks he'll get for himself.

      I'd imagine women get compliments from guys that actually make them feel attractive and validated about as often as guys get validating responses from the women around them (flirting, positive responses to approaches, etc.), and for both genders it's relative to how conventionally attractive (physically and in personality) the individual is.

      • Max

        A couple things:

        1. Nowhere did I get the sense that he was saying "Women have a responsibility to complement men more." He was just saying this is a thing that happens (or rather, doesn't happen).

        2. If anyone short of a smelly homeless man said I was attractive, it would totally make my entire day (heck, if he said it nicely enough, he would, too). If it was a cute girl, it would make my entire week. I think a lot of guys would agree with me.

        3. I get that women deal with an annoying abundance of comments about their looks. That's not really what we're talking about here (sounds a bit like WHAT ABOUT TEH WOMENZ).

        My point being, this is the reason us guys have such a hard time wrapping our head around the fact that women are made uncomfortable by the amount of sexual attention they get. That NEVER happens to us, and we almost ALWAYS appreciate it greatly.

        • BritterSweet

          And us girls get headaches from banging on the walls because these particular guys are blissfully unaware (and sometimes even dismissive) of the feeling of potential THREAT. Remember being warned as a child not to go with that man/lady who offers you candy or asks you to help find a lost puppy? As girls grow up into women, the danger continues in the form of the stranger who has you in his sights and wants to "tap that."

          Yeah, *you'd* love it if a random girl called you sexy. You don't see girls as potentially harmful.

          Because of this teaching, women tend to be much more protective of their personal space, and take it worse when someone metaphorically tries to reach into it without a prior invitation.

          • Xenu

            *Yawn* Yet another feminist "threat" post.

            This is the kind of crap that turns guys into REAL threats. When you, the media and religion constantly demonize men for the most innocent of actions, you are only putting them further down and creating more despair. Your victim complexes are almost like a sadistic form of bullying, with you and the media ganging up on men. Men, according to you, aren't "good enough" to approach you, so because they look ugly or are the wrong height or are "creepy" suddenly they're a "threat." Then when the guys who meets YOUR criteria comes along and says Hi, suddenly you aren't afraid of THAT guy.

            That's the problem:

            Some guys = threats,
            Guys you are attracted to = not threats.

            Ask yourself, honestly, which features you find attractive in a guy. Then ask yourself, and be especially honest here, how many of those guys you have turned down in a conversation, called "creepers," or felt afraid of. Really think about it.

            I saw DNL's Facebook question about what ladies find attractive, and the responses were mixed. Some women stated that they never dated guys who were shorter than 6'. Some wanted certain hair styles. Some wanted guys to be "built" or "active." Nearly all wanted a guy who was clean (who doesn't?)

            "Physically: I only date guys with short hair …"
            "As for looks, I'm a sucker for the black hair/blue eyes combination."
            "self-care and good shoes"
            "dark hair with light eyes"
            "I could also never date a guy with hair longer than mine >_> Something about it just creeps me out."
            "Facial hair. Shaved head. Awww yisss. Big plus for hairy manly chests."
            "All physical features are negotiable, but they do have to have symmetrical features."
            "Long, well-kept hair (im talkin shoulder-length), slender build, strong cheekbones"
            "Looks wise I just prefer he be taller than me…"

            "I'm not a fan of the metro sexual look, perfectly groomed or gelled hair, excessive piercings, or someone who looks like they spend too much time at the gym. (however you must be in good enough shape to walk as fast as me because I can't stand slow walkers) Ideally they are average body type as I don't really go for super skinny or lanky guys. Skinny chicken legs freak me out. I also have a thing for well groomed beards." (This one…so they have to be well groomed, but not metrosexual, whatever that means. Fit, but not TOO fit. Can't have piercings, or be too groomed, but have a well-groomed beard. WTF?!?)

            "powerful – physically & financially"

            "I like tall (over 6'0") with long hair, a wide jaw, and scruff."

            "Physical: dark hair; burly, big guys (chubby or muscular)"

            "I do like taller guys (the taller the better)"

            Now granted this was only from maybe 45% of the respondents. A lot of the people on that thread also mentioned things like confidence, motivation, smart, not being uptight, etc. And there were plenty of women who mentioned that personality mattered more than looks. I applaud those women. I doubt that they are walking around waiting for some guy to become a "threat" and are actually open to meeting people who don't fit into some narrow physical mold. Isn't that what this whole blog is about, getting guys who don't fit into the "normal" mold help with finding dates/love/etc.?

          • Dr_NerdLove

            Spot the guy who missed the point.

          • Xenu

            …that some of your female readership harbors unhealthy attitudes against men?

          • Becelec

            Coz YOUR attitude is just SO healthy…

          • Delafina

            Do not feed the troll.

          • Xenu

            It looks like being born without the "tall" genes gets some guys being called "creeps" or "threats." I'm not saying stop being scared of some guys, but be a little less antagonistic towards a gender that is constantly attacked on multiple fronts and forced to live up to a seemingly unending string of demands from all walks of life. If you go by the responses just from the short Facebook friend, you will NEVER be able to attract all of the people on that list. Think about how men are being disqualified by so many women just because they may only measure 5'10", or are a little chubby, or because their hair isn't the right height. Its ridiculous.

            If a guy who is a bit chubbier than your type walks up to you and says hi and has non-threatening non-verbal communication, doesn't creep-stare, etc. is he a threat? Is he a creep? What does a person who is NOT a threat look like to you mentally? You have a mental picture of this guy right now. What does that person look like? Now can you adjust that mental image to cover a broader physical range of guys? Why or why not?

            I wish more women were like this: open to trying relationships with just about anybody. Here's MY requirements for a partner:

            18-50 years old
            has all appendages (and this is negotiable)
            doesn't have AIDS of anything else in the STD realm
            < 350 lbs (I'm cool with nearly all larger women)
            not a complete asshole, Jesus freak, or cult member
            not shallow
            Someone I can relate to either by nerding out over music, games, whatever

          • Dr_NerdLove

            Actually, being taller is a mixed blessing when it comes to dating. On the one hand, on average women often find height attractive. On the other hand, being tall can also intimidate women; tall guys are frequently prone to looming, even when they don't intend to.

          • Xenu

            That makes sense. Its a variable type of thing. Some women will prefer it. Others will be intimidated like you said, just like the responses bared out no "winning" length of hair.

          • Becelec

            FFS a threat is not how someone looks but how someone acts. If I was to close my eyes and think of someone who looks like a threat, I would be picturing in my head real people in my past who have actually threatened me. And you know what? They all look completely different! Shock! Just because a guy is short/tall/fat/thin/ugly/good-looking doesn't mean that they are a threat based simply on their physicality or how attractive I find them – it is in their behaviour towards me. There are plenty of guys out there that I have found unattractive who have hit on me and I DID NOT FIND THEM CREEPY. Because they were prefectly nice people, and not at all threatening.

            Also, in regards to you wisihing that more women would lower their standards, I think some men should raise their standards. Why would a woman want to be with someone who would date just about anyone so long as they have a vagina? That's not appealing at all. Having standards is not a bad thing.

          • Delafina

            Why on earth should we be open to relationships with "just about anybody"? I'm super-selective: there are precisely four guys I've met in my entire life that I would consider dating. I am with one of them, and I adore him. What precisely would I have gained by being less selective?

        • Mel

          I understand that guys have trouble wrapping their heads around why it isn't as great for women as it seems to them, which is why commenters here are trying to explain why to you (and anyone who agrees who's reading). And you don't seem to have considered what I said. Women *don't* have tons of guys simply saying they're attractive, the attention you claim you're talking about. The idea that women are getting all this positive attention that men aren't is a false assumption in the first place. The majority of the attention women get from strangers is not actually flattering or validating, for the reasons I mentioned above.

          And as BritterSweet says, that the dynamic is totally different when a woman's sexually aggressive toward a man vs a man toward a woman. Consider: if other *men* regularly made sexual comments to you and tried to hook up with you, would you feel flattered or uncomfortable? From what I've seen, most (hetero) guys are incredibly bothered by other men hitting on them. Why? It can't be just that they're not attracted to men, because they wouldn't feel that way if a women they didn't find attractive (but wasn't utterly repellant) hit on them. And I don't believe gay men are on average less respectful or well-intentioned when approaching someone they find attractive than the average hetero guy approaching a woman. So what's the problem? Perhaps there's something about the way men may approach their targets of sexual interest that even other men recognize as potentially threatening, when it's directed at them?

          • Boat

            i think what guys are trying to point out is that women generally receive both positive and negative attention while men receive none at all, and that this creates an abundance mentality in women that allows them to be selective, and a scarcity mentality in men where they'll jump any sign of attention from a female like a mangy hyena.

            i think it's hard for guys who feel desperate and inadequate and who have nothing that confirm them as sexual and physically attractive beings to sympathize with the unwanted attention that women are getting.

            i do think its a bit arrogant to not recognize the guy perspective of the dating game, as it seems that both nerdlove and the women on here are quite unsympathetic of this.

          • Mel

            It's hard for me as a woman to feel sympathetic to your complaint that you're not getting enough compliments, when at the same time you're telling me that I should appreciate it when men make unwanted sexual/objectifying/expectation-driven comments to me. Or that getting those comments should boost my ego.

            You know what? Knowing that people want to have sex with you is not really validating when you also know they see you as an object that's only good for looking pretty and having sex with, that they feel your personality and interests and goals don't matter as long as you'll spread your legs. It's only nice to feel sexually appreciated when you feel appreciated as a *person*, not as an interchangeable walking sex toy. Believe me, if men and women's positions were reversed in society, you wouldn't feel validated by it either. You think you want it, and that you're being denied something by not getting it, but if you got it the way that women do, you wouldn't actually find it anywhere near as wonderful as you think. That's what we're trying to tell you. Not that we don't think you deserve to be validated ever, or that you're unworthy, but that the treatment you say you want isn't really that great to get.

            As I said before, when it's normal for women to not hurl sexual comments at men on the street or go up to them looking for sex, then women not doing this to a particular guy shouldn't make him feel inadequate or undesired, because pretty much no one else is getting it either. What do guys who are desired normally get? Women who flirt with them and agree to go on dates with them and to stay in relationships with them. If you are getting that, but you're basing your self-worth on how strangers on the street treat you, then the problem is your self esteem, not the strangers' behavior. And if you're not getting flirting and dates, then the problem is the lack of flirting and dates, not the lack of random sexual comments.

          • Boat

            you are completely missing the point. nowhere did i say that the solution to the problem would be for men to receive more explicitly stated compliments from female strangers, nor am i saying that women should appreciate unwanted sexual attention or being appreciated only for their bodies. i'm saying that there is a dynamic in place where women are more often than not deemed worthy of attention, while men on the other hand must compete for that privilege.

            to be validated by the opposite sex as attractive is to learn that you have sexual value. women learn this early on along with all the negatives that come with it. while men get to enjoy neither the negatives nor the benefits of being considered attractive.

            to live your life as a woman, feeling that the opposite sex is only interested in your body must be a terrible feeling, and this seems to be recognized on this blog time and time again, but as soon as a guy expresses his frustration with receiving zero attention from the opposite sex, it's apparently just a matter of poor confidence from his side, and something that he must work on.

            that's pretty bad in my opinion.

            the point is, guys rarely get flirted with. guys rarely, if ever, get compliments. when a guy goes outdoors, women will avoid his eye contact like the plague. women will rarely explicitly check a guy out. heck, even if a woman is interested in a guy they won't let him find out.

            so from a guy's perspective, they might as well be invisible to women. and that's kind of hard to deal with!

          • Mel

            "As soon as a guy expresses his frustration with receiving zero attention from the opposite sex, it's apparently just a matter of poor confidence from his side, and something that he must work on."

            The problem wasn't that the guy was expressing his frustration at not getting attention. The problem was that he equated "attention" with seeing "men and boys blatantly check out your body from a young age. Men way too old to be looking at you that way saying things they shouldn't be saying." Or did you not read the original post that we're discussing here? Since that's what DNL and other commenters here were arguing against, and you starting disagreeing with us, I think you can understand why we'd assume you agreed with him?

            I don't think that guys receive compliments, eye contact, etc. as seldom as you think. (I can't speak to your particular experience, but I see women flirting with men, smiling at men, complimenting men–maybe not sexually, but on their intelligence, clothes, sense of humor, and other things that make them attractive–quite often.) But I do understand that it's frustrating to usually have to be the assertive one, to put yourself out there and hope the other person responds, and rarely if ever know for sure the person's interested before you start talking to them. A lot of elements of our current dating culture make things hard for both women and men, and that sucks. I totally sympathize with you there.

          • Boat

            "Or did you not read the original post that we're discussing here?"

            i did read the original comment, and what i'm saying is that the shallow notions made in the reddit post points to an underlying problem that seems to go unnoticed. the key point to take away from what the guy said is not "women don't suffer, they have it good". what he was really probably trying to say was "can you women even begin to imagine what it's like to never having received any attention whatsoever throughout the entirety of your life, because that's what it's like being a guy".

            "I don't think that guys receive compliments, eye contact, etc. as seldom as you think. (I can't speak to your particular experience, but I see women flirting with men, smiling at men, complimenting men–maybe not sexually, but on their intelligence, clothes, sense of humor, and other things that make them attractive–quite often.)"

            I can't speak for your particular experiences either, but consider this:

            why are guys so overeager in their contact with women, almost to the point of scaring the women off?
            why do guys constantly misinterpret the intentions of women as signs of interests or sexual attraction?
            how come guys have such a hard time letting go once they've gotten in touch with a woman, almost to the point of stalking them or being creepy?
            why do guys always waste time getting stuck in the friend-zone, rather than moving on to other potential mates?
            why do so many guys treat first dates as such a big deal, rather than being laid-back and selective like women are?
            why are guys always on edge around women, and constantly aware of mate-selection?

            the answer is, because guys have a scarcity mentality while women have an abundance mentality.

            where do you think this difference in mentalities stem from, if not from the fact that men lack validation and acceptance from the opposite sex?

          • Mel

            So if what you're saying is true, why do high school girls spend thousands of hours picking apart every glance and gesture the guy they like makes, hoping to find a signal he's interested? Why do so many women stay with men who treat them badly, afraid they'll never find anyone else who cares about them? Why do so many women obsess over what to wear in a first date, or why a particular guy never called them? Why do so many women hang around hoping a guy will change his tune when he's already made it very clear he's not interested romantically or only interested in sex or otherwise attached? Why do so many women spend so much money on make-up and clothes and hair products and sometimes plastic surgery if it's so clear to all of us that all these men want to date us simply for existing?

            If you read any women-focused advice columns, you'll see there are tons and tons of women who don't feel like they can get any man they want, or even pick from several. There are tons of women who feel unnoticed and/or unappealing. And there are also plenty of guys who are able to chat up women without being overeager or assuming the woman's interested when they're not.

            I don't think there's a huge difference in mentality between men and women, in terms of being able to "get" the partner they want. Some women and some men have an easier time, and some women and some men have a harder time.

            I'll give you that in general, woman have more of an abundance of men who'd want to have sex with them, and so could probably find a casual sexual partner more easily than a man. But if most women want an actual relationship with emotions involved other than lust, then that doesn't actually make them feel more successful at dating. Note for example the woman who wrote in just today to DNL, concerned because she can't seem to get guys to treat her as a girlfriend and not just a friend-with-benefits.

          • Boat

            i agree that theres probably a lot of women who suffer from the same issues as i'm describing. i'm not denying that we're all human beings with our own insecurities that are fueled by the media and entertainment business, but i do think there's a huge difference in how men and women perceive themselves in regards to what we've discussed.

            most of the issues you described are issues that women (or men) may experience further down the line when stuck in a relationship with someone, but what im saying is that a lot of men have to struggle with even taking the first few steps down that road. they're missing out on something far more fundamental that is quite important to their self-image, and that's what i think a lot of guys are frustrated about.

            if you keep reading that reddit link, you'll see how shocked some of the guys are to learn that women find guys physically attractive, and that women gossip about normal, familiar, non-celebrity men amongst themselves. i think this alone says a whole lot about what guys are taught by this social dynamic between men and women, and what it means to their self-image and sense of being attractive.

          • Commonly known as X

            "you'll see how shocked some of the guys are to learn that women find guys physically attractive, and that women gossip about normal, familiar, non-celebrity men amongst themselves"

            Which is exactly why more people need to have friends from the other gender, because then we'll realise that we are actually all humans.

          • Delafina

            Evolutionarily speaking, men are limited in their reproductive capacity only by the number of women to whom they have sexual access and their refractory period, and the risk to them is fairly negligible from a survival standpoint (most STIs aren't fatal). Biology requires them to ejaculate, nothing more. Women are limited to roughly one child a year between gestation and nursing, and the risk to them is significant (pregnancy is highly dangerous, and in a more primitive world, so's trying to survive when you have dependent young).

            While I generally don't subscribe to evolutionary psychology because the nuances of human behavior are complex and multifactorial, I do think it's useful in very broad strokes.

            From an evolutionary perspective, women are concerned with long-term survival, finding a mate with quality genes who will stick around and protect them and the kids, etc. While some men might be wired to invest highly in a smaller number of offspring — the quality approach — many men are wired for the quantity approach. They are wired to care more about having sex with as many women as possible than they are about survival, whether the women have good genes, etc. They'll take a woman with good reproductive potential (i.e. a young, beautiful woman) over a woman without it (i.e. a woman who's not beautiful, and therefore is less likely to be young or healthy) if both are available, but if the beautiful, young woman isn't available, they're unlikely to say no to the older/less beautiful one.

            All of your questions boil down to this one: why do guys seem so much more desperate to have sex than women are?

            And the simple answer is: because they want to have sex with any woman that's available far more than women want to have sex with any man that's available.

            It's not attention or validation that drives the abundance/scarcity mentality — it's hard-wired evolutionary prerogatives and choosing quality over quantity.

            This is very broad strokes, of course, but if you want to talk about men and women generally instead of dealing with specific cases, you can only really talk in broad strokes.

          • Boat

            i agree with your explanation in regards to the dynamics of reproduction, but it doesn't really negate what we've been discussing.

            in other words, craving intimacy in a world where you are conditioned, by the behaviors of the opposite sex, into thinking that you stand no chance of gaining much or any of it, is what happens when guys receive no attention.

          • Xenu

            " A lot of elements of our current dating culture make things hard for both women and men, and that sucks. I totally sympathize with you there."

            I agree with this. We seem to have a lot of fucked-up societal norms when it comes to dating that screws with people. I'm from the US, but are there countries (say, India?) where these norms are more bearable for both sexes?

          • Delafina
          • Xenu

            "they see you as an object that's only good for looking pretty and having sex with, that they feel your personality and interests and goals don't matter as long as you'll spread your legs"

            That's YOUR stereotype against men, and its as sexist as if I said "all women are stuck up b*s who only see men as their personal ATM machines." See? I can hurl stereotypes around as well. Doesn't make them true.

            Very FEW men are actually like this. The outliers get amplified in blogs and comments, because they are the outliers. No one mentions the 80+% of men who are going to approach you with a friendly, non-creepy greeting. Yet those guys get the shaft because of hateful stereotypes like the one above. Some guy says "hi" to you, you go "*sigh* here we go again" and blow him off all because of some misconception that if he's saying "hi" to you that he obviously wants you in his chambers.

            Heck, I bet most of those guys who are saying naughty things are just misinformed. I doubt that the majority of guys using those lines are deliberately trying to be jerks, but that they got the wrong advice (PUA) or they never learned how to properly approach a woman. Maybe they'll adjust their behavior if they are blown off, maybe not. Maybe you should tell them firmly "that is NOT acceptable" and tell them how to properly talk to a woman instead of letting them continue their bad behavior.

            Lets talk about the 80%, OK? Stop attacking 100% of men with a stereotype that only applies to a few of that gender.

            Many Republicans also tend to use stereotypes to attack African Americans, Muslims, and anyone who isn't rich, white, Christian, and male. Its not right when they do these things either.

          • Max

            "It's hard for me as a woman to feel sympathetic to your complaint that you're not getting enough compliments"
            That's all you really needed to say.

            For the record, the first time a girl told me that she thought I was really, truly attractive to her(it happened last year, actually), it blew my mind. I had no idea girls thought of average guys that way, and it did wonders for my confidence.

            TL;DR Guys, some girls do find you attractive. They just don't show it like guys do.

          • Boat

            i have to chime in with this feeling.

            starting at a young age, the fact that I never seemed to get any attention from girls whatsoever made me question whether i was attractive or not, and sent me into a self-criticizing pattern where whenever i went into a bathroom, i'd check the mirror, study my face and ask myself "why am I so much uglier than other guys? what is it about my facial features that sets me apart in a negative way? i just don't see it. why am i not receiving any attention from women at all? why won't they give me a flirty look at least every once in a while? or say that I'm pretty? or at least look at me a couple of seconds longer than usual when I pass them in the street? why do i keep reading about how girls give guys an inviting look, and i don't?"

            i was completely obsessed with reading advice columns on how to get women, how to be attractive as a man, how to pick up girls, how to make them like me, how to read their signals and so forth. i spent so much time and money on this that it's crazy. yet, it didn't seem to be doing anything for me at all.

            so imagine my surprise when at the ripe age of 23, i get approached out of the blue by the prettiest girl i could possibly imagine, who pretty much asked me out and became my first long-time girlfriend. her reason? well, apparently every girl at my school wanted me, and she liked me so much that she felt she had to step it up and do something before someone else did.

            when she said this, i became angry, happy and confused at the same time. to think that i had been ignored by women all my life, only to find that some of them actually consider me attractive. it was a huge boulder off my chest, and a very important lesson to take with me.

            so to other guys reading this, just because women never show you any attention it doesn't mean that they don't find you attractive. =)

          • Men are trying to point out that women get both positive and negative attention while guys get none.
            I hear you.
            But us ladies are trying to explain that the "positive attention" we receive is just about unwanted as the negative.

            When I go into an arcade, I do not want attention. Positive or negative. I just want to play a game.
            When I walk down the street to get a slurpee, I do not want any attention. I just want to go about my day.
            But I have the nerve to leave the house with my vagina and breasts still on my person, no matter how unkempt or classy I appear – guaranteed- someone is going to get in my way, demand my attention.

            "Hey beautiful." sounds like a very harmless, benign comment. And, if it were a comment that were made once in a blue moon by a passing stranger without any further agenda – it would be.
            But such comments come with expected reactions. Fail to provide that reaction and you can find yourself in a tense or awkward situation. And these comments, from polite to crude, are a frequent part of every woman's daily routine.

            If women weren't conditioned to think that their only value in society was to "be hot", comments about their appearance could be considered more like feedback and less like a personal evaluation. When a stranger says to a passing lady "You are pretty", it does not mean "You are a pleasant looking individual". It means "You are worthy of leaving your house and I approve of your presence."

            This attention, to women, isn't feedback, like a compliment you might receive on a new coat or a job well-done at work.
            It is a daily obstacle. It is not comparable to the attention that you are asking for because it is not constructive and, often, not genuine.

            The reason you, as a guy, do not have every other person in the world complimenting your appearance is because your value in our society is not measured by your appearance. Even though such compliments would be nice, understand, what women experience is not the same thing as what you are asking for.

          • Boat

            nobody is comparing the pros and cons of belonging to either gender, but what us guys are trying to explain is that women seem to be taking for granted what men are missing out on, as is apparent from the audacity shown in saying that men should be happy with their given role.

            i'd highly recommend that you read the whole reddit thread that Max posted. some of it is stupid and near-sighted, but most of it consists of seemingly normal, sane and confident (yes) men expressing their longing for any kind of indicator that they, as men, can be attractive human beings. it's not just about compliments from a stranger, but also about how women treat men in relationships, and how men view themselves under the bombardment of messages from society and media that states that a man is not to be desired, but that he must compete for the unattainable prize that is women.

          • Becelec

            What exactly are we taking for granted?

            I have absolutely no issue with you highlighting anything that is considered an problem for men, but I do have an issue with framing that as how much better women have it. Honestly if I was given a choice at birth, I would have chosen to be male. Without hesitation.

            I don't know who you know personally, but out of the people that I know, there's a pretty even split between genders in regards to people treating each other badly in relationships. I also think that society and media do a pretty darn good job at reinforcing to the majority of women that they are not desirable either. I know that they sure as hell do the best they can to make me feel like shit every day.

            So feel free to talk about men's self esteem, there's nothing wrong with that and I am all for men feeling better about themselves. But don't make out like women have it so good and we're taking anything for granted.

          • Boat

            nobody is framing anything to make it sound like women are the winners in every area, but nobody seems to recognize the areas in which men suffer, including nerdlove, who would rather chide men than express his sympathy.

            what i mean is that at best, nerdlove will either state "i know what it's like, i've been there" and at worst he'll make guys out to be bumbling, comedic doofuses, but in either case you can be sure that he'll segue into a closing point that is a combination of how much more women suffer and how guys are entirely responsible for all their shortcomings, wiithout recognizing the systematic ways in which guys are brought up to be pathetically desperate, lonely and emotionally isolated, which i think is a bit hypocritical considering how much he sympathizes with women.

          • Becelec

            I am all for sympathy. For both genders. Love can suck for everyone. But in what area exactly are women winners? What are we, as an entire gender, taking for granted?

          • Boat

            i've just spent a great deal of time explaining how men are brought up, what society teaches them and how it makes mens self image generally differ from womens. i don't think i can make it clearer than that, and again, i'd recommend people to read the whole reddit thread. it was a reminder for me about the hardships that men endure and how painful being a man can be, and hopefully it will be eye-opening for a lot of women.

          • Becelec

            What you have been explaining is how men suffer with their self-esteem. How do women not also suffer with their self-esteem? In what area do we, as a gender, win in terms of self-esteem? Society tells us that our self-worth is based ENTIRELY on our physical appearance, and at the same time reinforces a narrow definition of beauty that the majority of us can never hope to reach, and is fleeting at best. How is that esteem building?

            I've read the whole thread and I don't find it eye opening at all. It just reads to me like a whole bunch of guys who have no idea what it's actually like to be a woman complaining about not getting perks that don't even exist in the first place.

            Plenty of women are never told they attractive. Plenty of men are. When it comes to self-esteem, it just sucks to be a person, regardless of your genitalia.

          • Boat

            as i have already said both genders suffer from self-esteem issues at the result of beauty ideals, but only men are taught that they are not meant to be objects of desire for the sole reason of being men, which is enforced throughout most of their younger years by the fact that they are completely ignored by women in most social contexts, unless the social contact is forced upon the woman such as at a workplace.

            if the reddit-thread and its links to further readings was not eye-opening for you, then i doubt that further discussion will help you see how men experience the situation.

          • Becelec

            OMFG. Dude. It is the exact same shit on opposite ends of the spectrum. Men are taught that are not meant to be objects of desire, women are taught that is all they can be. Plenty of women are then completely ignored by men because they are unattractive, even though they have been taught being attractive is the only thing a woman is worth. Do you think that ugly women don't exist or something? Or are they just invisible to you?

            Ugly women are ignored just as much as ugly men. Good-looking men are fawned all over just like good-looking women. Did YOU read the reddit-thread? Plenty of women are on there saying they receive the exact same treatment of no compliments and being completely ignored. It is not a male gender only scenario.

          • Boat

            like i said, both genders suffer from beauty ideals (i.e. the unattractive people you are referring to), but the male gender is the only one that is collectively dismissed as being unattractive and being required to fight for attention, so it's most definitely not the same thing on the opposite side of the spectrum from men.

            in other words, women are not dismissed because they are women.

            also, in my experience women most certainly do not fawn all over good-looking men. i know that from being fairly good-looking myself, as well as having male friends who are "photo-model-handsome". at best, you have a slim chance of learning indirectly that someone likes you, but thats about it.

          • Becelec

            "Women are not dismissed because they are women."

            You're kidding, right?

          • Boat

            no, i'm not kidding about the idea that women are not dismissed as attractive on the basis of merely being women.

          • Boat

            sorry, i meant unattractive.

          • Becelec

            Dismissed by who? Other men? Coz I can tell you now, an attractive man is definitely not dismissed as being unattractive by heterosexual women. You're not even making sense anymore. Do you even hang around a lot of straight women? I work in an office full of them and they do not shut up about the men they find attractive, not even to their faces. It is pretty much all they talk about.

          • Boat

            an attractive man is not dismissed as unattractive? you've got a whole reddit thread telling you the opposite, and the fact that women tend to be reserved about their intentions and feelings is one of the base axioms that all of these discussions are based on. if they weren't, this blog wouldn't exist.

            as a man, women won't look at you in public spaces, nor will they compliment you, nor will they let you know that they are interested in you except through vague signals if they feel brave or interested enough (or if you are lucky enough to bump into an assertive woman). this is something i think most guys can affirm to be true.

          • Becelec

            The people on that Reddit thread are complaining that THEY are dismissed as unattractive. I dunno, perhaps they ARE unattractive? Unattractive people tend to not get a whole lot of compliments. I'm gonna guess that attractive people who get compliments frequently don't sit around on a Reddit thread complaining about how no one gives them compliments. FFS there are plenty of WOMEN on that thread saying that they don't get complimented either.

            IT IS NOT A MAN VS WOMAN situation. Some men get compliments. Some don't. Some women get compliments. Some don't. I hear men getting compliments every single day. Men I work with. Men I am friends with. Every single morning I tell my boyfriend that he's gorgeous. Just because you aren't personally getting any doesn't mean that no one else is.

            I don't walk around expecting men to look at or compliment me in public spaces. It pretty much only happens when it's someone scary, and it's not a compliment, it's straight up intimidation. They don't come up and tell me I'm beautiful, they tell me that they'd like to have sex with my dead body. How fun! Look at all the esteem I must have!

            Where I live at least, if a woman is interested, she'll let you know. If she doesn't, it's not that she's reserved. She's just not interested.

          • Boat

            like i said before, everyone on this site seems perfectly aware that men are the ones who are supposed to compete for womens attention, that women shy away from men, that men rarely (if ever) get approached, that women rarely initiate any kind of flirting that puts them at risk of rejection, and so forth. but as soon as we bring up what effect this is going to have on the male self-image, it's suddenly dismissed as anecdotal? that's pretty bad.

          • Delafina

            Half the guys I hang around with regularly get told they're hot, adorable, having amazing hair, pick awesome clothes, etc. Those of us that tell them that are generally not single, because we know we can tell them without them assuming that the compliment means that we're willing to sleep with them, but they get told frequently.

            They also get hit on pretty blatantly.

            It happens. The fact that it's not happening to you doesn't mean that your experience is universal.

          • Boat

            my experience is universal because it's supported by the current dynamics of interaction between men and women.

          • Delafina

            Except it isn't — it's supported by your anecdotal experience. You don't seem to be listening to everyone else on this thread who's like, uh, that's not our experience.

          • Boat

            again, my claims aren't supported by my anecdotal experiences, they're supported by the dynamics of interaction between men and women.

            i'll recite what i've said before:

            "like i said before, everyone on this site seems perfectly aware that men are the ones who are supposed to compete for womens attention, that women shy away from men, that men rarely (if ever) get approached, that women rarely initiate any kind of flirting that puts them at risk of rejection, and so forth. but as soon as we bring up what effect this is going to have on the male self-image, it's suddenly dismissed as anecdotal? that's pretty bad."

          • Becelec

            I don't think that everyone is aware of that. I'm not aware of that. Maybe that's how it is in America or something but in other parts of the world women are exceptionally forward, so maybe it's not a gender thing and it's more to do with what your culture dictates is acceptable.

          • Becelec

            Point is, your experience is clearly NOT universal because we are telling you that the people in our lives experience things very differently, and you are completely dismissing that.

            So I'm done. There is no point in debating with you because you absolutely refuse to take in anyone else's point of view. It's a waste of time.

          • Boat

            well, according to normative gender roles men are supposed to do the approaching and be the aggressors. a recurring topic on this site is how this clearly affects the behavior of both men and women on a grand scale, so i think it's a bit strange that you and a couple of others are claiming that these constructs are anecdotal.

          • Delafina

            Men are collectively dismissed as unattractive? *snort* Tell that to male movie stars, male models, and all the other men out there celebrated for their beauty.

          • Boat

            the men you describe are just representations of unattainable ideals, and aren't really indicative of how normal men are treated. in contrast, men put far more energy into appreciating the looks of real women than when say, millions of girls congregate to yearn after rockstars.

            also, even when women do this they still tend to keep it among themselves.

          • Delafina

            Um, and the standards of beauty to which women are held are just as unrealistic. The difference is women don't get actively angry at you when you don't meet them.

          • Boat

            well, like i've said two times already, both men and women hurt from unattainable attraction ideals, but out in the real world men are the ones who generally suffer from lack of attention, whether subtle, implied or explicit. what some of us guys are saying here is that this is having a particular effect on men, and that guys shouldn't be chided for being "insecure" just because they've been conditioned into thinking that they aren't attractive by this structure.

          • Becelec

            You are not a woman, how the hell would you know whether women don't suffer from lack of attention in the 'real world'?

          • Boat

            well, because the abundance of attention, whether innocent or sexually explicit, is one of the many problems that tend to be discussed on this site.

          • Commonly known as X

            I don't think this site is at all chiding people for feeling insecure. Most of the advice on it is how to overcome insecurities. I get the impression that a lot of posters want someone to go "oh, yes, its hard being a man – you deserve sex without having to do anything to overcome the insecurities the modern world has imposed upon you!". That attitude won't help. Male or female, we need to manage our hangups if they are blocking us in our love or sex-life.

          • Delafina

            Two things:

            1) Men aren't taught to be objects of desire because our male-dominated society teaches a mentality wherein being the object desire makes you inferior. It makes you an object. It makes you powerless.

            It's why most straight men have such a visceral negative reaction to being hit on by gay guys. It puts them in the role of object and it freaks them the hell out. That visceral reaction drives a lot of homophobia.

            In addition, our male-dominated society punishes women who express desire by slut-shaming them.

            And you're mad at women for not risking being treated as social pariahs to do something that from our perspective, you might not want anyway?

            2) The mere fact that a woman finds a man attractive *doesn't* necessarily mean that she wants to attract his attention. There are men I enjoy looking at, but most of the time that doesn't change the fact that I have zero desire to interact with them. And once a man — rightly or wrongly — has decided that you've expressed interest in him, good luck getting him to go away.

          • Boat

            "It's why most straight men have such a visceral negative reaction to being hit on by gay guys."

            i think you're reducing men to a stereotype of homophobic hicks who completely conform to your idea of the male gender role. this is far from the truth.

            did you even bother to read the reddit thread? most guys there expressed that their only explicitly stated appreciation had come from either gay guys or elderly ladies, and that it made their day to such an extent that they remembered it for years.

            i've never met a single guy (and ive met guys from all walks of life) who didnt appreciate when a gay guy hit on them. it made them feel appreciated, a feeling that few, if any, women managed to give them.

            "And you're mad at women for not risking being treated as social pariahs to do something that from our perspective, you might not want anyway? "

            no im not MAD AT WOMEN, but it's clear to me that you're mad at men. please re-read this entire discussion thread and realize that us guys are just trying to highlight our side of this experience. nowhere do we state that either gender has it better or worse.

          • Delafina

            I'm not mad at men. I love men. I'm irritated by *you.* Stop generalizing your particular circumstances to all men.

          • Boat

            well you shouldn't be irritated, because nobody is dismissing anything that has to do with women. we are expressing what social dynamics are doing to guys. i don't understand how that could possibly anger anyone, nor do i understand how you manage to twist this into the kind of arguments you've tried to counter.

          • Becelec

            But you are dismissing! You keep saying men have it worse. Women take how good they have it for granted. Etc, etc.

            I am absolutely all for men voicing their problems and their concerns. Go that. All for making everyone feel better about themselves. What I am not for is blaming women (I'm not saying you are mad at them, but you absolutely ARE blaming them for your personal lack of self esteem) or assuming that these are problems that only concern men. It is not women's job to make men feel better about themselves, or vice versa. If you are in a relationship with someone, that is a different story. If your girlfriend doesn't say anything nice to you, get a new girlfriend.

            I will say it one more time and I am done. These are problems that effect some men AND women. These are also problems that do not effect some men and women. It is not a gender segregated issue and it is NOT universal. It effects some people, but not everyone.

          • Boat

            i have no idea from where you and delafina are getting that i am blaming women, or that i am mad at them.

            what i am saying is that these social constructs are going to have different effects on both genders since there are different, contrasting expectations put on either gender and that one of these effects seems to go largely unrecognized as nerdlove and others appear to be chiding guys for suffering from it.

          • Delafina

            "nobody is comparing the pros and cons of belonging to either gender,"

            Except that you are: women get all this validation on their appearances from men, and men don't get the same amount from women.

            And what we are saying is that our experiences are not comparable. You're assuming that women want the same things that you do.

            You're basically saying, "We keep patting you on the back so you owe us back-pats in return." And we're saying, "We didn't ask to be patted on the back, and in fact we don't like being touched by most people, and keep asking you to stop, so no, we don't owe you something we don't want, don't want to do and which will encourage you to keep doing something we don't like."

          • Boat

            no, we are not comparing the pros and cons. stop treating this like a battle.

            we are highlighting an aspect that us guys are missing out on that women aren't even aware that they are taking for granted, and how it generally affects our self-image and sense of abundance in the dating world.

            put down your gun and stop being so antagonizing. your comments reek of hate.

          • Delafina

            Ok, we're done here.

          • Paul Rivers

            " From what I've seen, most (hetero) guys are incredibly bothered by other men hitting on them. Why? It can't be just that they're not attracted to men, because they wouldn't feel that way if a women they didn't find attractive (but wasn't utterly repellant) hit on them. And I don't believe gay men are on average less respectful or well-intentioned when approaching someone they find attractive than the average hetero guy approaching a woman. So what's the problem? Perhaps there's something about the way men may approach their targets of sexual interest that even other men recognize as potentially threatening, when it's directed at them?"

            Your example sounds to me exactly like a description about how it's NOT threatening behavior. Just as you said, do the straight guys physically find the gay guys a threat? No. Are they innundated with constant worries about being attacked? No. So if they still find it threatening, it must be something else, something that's not related to "THREAT THREAT THREAT".

            I do believe that a big chunk of creepiness is about threat, but it's also about something else. Otherwise your example wouldn't happen – guys wouldn't be creeped out by gay guys hitting on them, they just wouldn't care.

    • Becelec

      I tell my boyfriend that he's pretty every single day.

      • Boat

        you are cool and awesome. keep doing that. =)

      • Xenu


    • Trooper6

      I get compliments from women regularly. Of course, this is because I make an effort to look nice. I groom my handlebar mustache, I'll wear a natty bowtie or a funky shirt or cool hat. I pick some interesting patterns or colors. In short, I put in effort–not dissimilar to the efforts women put in.

      The result? I get complimented by women all the time. Just the other day I was at the cafe and the barista told me I had an awesome mustache.

      I'm going to tell a story. I was in the Army. One day, one of my buddies was complaining that women never wanted to date him because all women were Golddiggers who would only date a guy who had money or a car. I asked him, "When you go out to the bar to hit on women, do you dress the way you do right now?" His respone? "Yeah." And that was his problem. He looked like he put no effort in. He had his cut off camo shorts, sneakers, baseball cap, Metallica T-Shirt…and scruffiness. I told him: shave, wear a shirt with buttons, wear some leather shoes and a belt, ditch the baseball hat. When you are going out, notice how much effort the women put into being attractive to you…do the same. He took my advice and it all worked out.

      Second note, I knew some women in the Army who would sexually objectify men all the time (what many guys think of as "complimenting")–and guess what? the guys on the receiving end of the objectifying ogling didn't like it. It didn't make them feel validated. It made them feel like an object, a hunk of meat.

      Anyhow, women do compliment men…me just have to put some effort in.
      Some women also objectify men (go to a strip club with male strippers and female clients to see this in action), and men don't like it…because objectification is not a compliment it is dehumanizing.

      • Delafina

        Of course they don't like it: our society teaches that being the subject, not the object, is the position of power and therefore the rightful place of men. Desire doesn't take into consideration the wishes of the object.

        (There is, of course, the inconvenient truth that desiring something can give the object power over you, which is why beautiful women are demonized as much as they are valorized (this Cracked article has a great section on that:… — see Section #3: "We think you're conspiring with our boners to ruin us".))

        To be a subject is to exercise power over the object. To be a man is to exercise power over those around you (masculinity = dominance). Foucault for everyone!

        • trooper6

          Hm…tasty, tasty Foucault. Yummy! (Though, full disclosure, while I have a lot of affinity for late postmodern theory and use it a lot in my work, identity based movements–Civil Rights, 2nd Wave Feminism, etc–are very important to me and means that I am not comfortable abandoning the subject completely…I'm more somewhere in between modernism and postmodernism: i.e. I have not rejected the idea of the subject, but I have rejected the idea of the hegemonic subject)

          That cracked article is also one of my favorites! When I first read it I thought…since when did Cracked, which used to be just a knock off of Mad Magazine back in the day, get to be so awesome in its politics?!

          Anyhow, right now I'm working on an article about a form of masculinity in the 1920s that was about men being aware of themselves as the object of and courting the female gaze. But then the backlash hit in the early thirties and we went back to the manliness narrative in order to feed the war effort. Boo!

          • Delafina

            Dude, I think I'm in love. 😉

            I don't subscribe to Foucault wholesale, and I don't think we want to lose our connection to identity-based movements, but I do find him useful in chunks, just like I find Lacan useful for a few concepts here and there. His discussion of the invisibility of power, especially in terms of men's clothing, is something I find very relevant — which leads me to the best part of your post: alternate models of masculinity!

            When did our concept of masculinity get so drab, anyway?

            We've made some strong gains in feminism, but not as much as I feel like we should have (watching Mad Men can be a painful experience when you realize how little the workplace has changed), and I feel like we're backsliding at the moment. And honestly I feel that that backlash is as much due to what feminism didn't offer as to the tenacity of patriarchy. Feminism doesn't offer any attractive alternate model of masculinity to compete with what patriarchy offers.

            I think we can all agree that patriarchy harms men as well as women. But as harmful as the masculinity-as-dominance model can be, it's also very seductive, and what do we offer in contrast? The Sensitive 90s Guy? The Slacker Manchild 2000s Guy? The Metrosexual Guy? None of these are terribly compelling, especially since they cede grounds traditionally the province of men to women without really gaining anything in return. Femininity can now be strong and assertive and kickass *as well* as being beautiful and nurturing and compassionate and empathetic and having good communication skills. What's left for the guys? What does it mean to be masculine in a world where you're not allowed to equate that with control and dominance?

            It's probably no wonder that we've had so many movies/tv shows come out lately featuring guys who are basically losers at life, paired with women who bring home the bread, keep the household moving, organize social and business events and look amazing doing it, while their significant others sit around playing fantasy football. I think it represents the fears of both men ("what do we even have to offer women any more?") and women ("do we have to do EVERYTHING now? is this really better than being taken care of?") about where we're headed as we as a culture deal with the fact that women are more educated than men, have more of the job skills needed for the sectors where there's job growth, and generally don't need a husband to lead a successful life anymore. I remember reading about 10 years back about the suitable husband material shortage faced by black women, and it looks like they were the canaries in the coal mine as life for white women is following in the same direction. (Unwed mothers now account for 40% of births.)

            Which is why I'm so fascinated by alternate historical models of masculinity. I'm not familiar with your 1920s model, but I'm personally fascinated by the model of masculinity provided by some European Jewish communities, in which to be masculine meant to be learned. Women managed the household finances and worked when it was economically possible, because it left the men free to study. (A neat inversion of, say, the 1950s American model, where *women* only worked when the family couldn't afford to have them stay home.) Mental prowess, gentleness, wisdom, and care for the community as masculinity.

            Gendered qualities can be fluid, and maybe examining older alternative models for what it means to be a man can allow us to deal with the present and near future without trying to force women to conform to models that we've already largely discarded, while providing men with an active, positive model instead of leaving them feeling that they have no model that society will find acceptable. But these models are largely the province of academics — hopefully with all the looking backward going on in pop culture right now they can get better airtime.

            And Cracked is one of the best things on the internet. Savvy, learned, surprisingly insightful *and* funny, plus fart jokes.

          • trooper6

            Delafinaaaa! (note: whenever I see your screen name, in my mind I sing it to the title tune from the musical Serafina)

            I'm back from under a ton of writing. I'm still a bit behind on my writing goals…but I just needed a bit of visiting on the internet time!

            I think Lacan is okay, though I tend to prefer him filtered through feminist theorists like Irigaray rather than on his own. Though…I have to say, generally, I tend to be a greater fan of dramaturgical/performance theory stuff. I really like sociologist Erving Goffman's work. Mainly because, I can't ever really know someone's inner world (intentional fallacy!), but I can know how they act towards others. So I often tend to work through how people manifest things and what that means for the groups they are manifesting for/with/against/etc than a psychoanalysis of my projection of their inner world. I am generally very suspicious of narratives of false consciousness or anything that smacks of some privileged person telling someone else they know who they are better than they do, you know?

            As for feminism failing to give men alternate models to combat what the patriarchy offers…I want to break that down a bit. The statement basically equates feminism with women and asks why women haven't worked to give men alternate models of masculinity. I say this because if feminism in this phrase included men, then those men would be the alternate model. I don't think it is women's responsibility to provide alternate models of masculinity for men. Women came up with alternate models of femininity through a process of consciousness raising and lots of self-work. Men need to take responsibility and do that work for themselves. Women can be allies, and can give positive reinforcement if they so choose, but men have to step up as well. Women can't be expected to do all the work.

            And there have been continuous alternative models of masculinity throughout time and space. The Metrosexual, is just a modern manifestation of a recurring cosmopolitan type, a type that has often been praised and valorized for ages by women. The problem is that this type (which generally is marked by a lack of nationalist bellicosity) is threatening to kyriarchy, and the kyriarchy works hard to suppress it–but that is a man on man problem generally. If men want to hold on to alternatives to the patriarchal construct, they have to fight for their right to fall into something other than the bourgeois model of rugged manliness that emerged starting in the mid 18th Century and that is still going strong. They need to stand up to other men. Forcing women to always be in the role of caretaker and educator only furthers the oppression of women and allows men to shirk their own responsibility for who want to be in the world.

            Next topic! I think it is important to resist the narrative of the man shortage. Black women, due to the incarceration rates of black men under white supremacy, are dealing with very different situations than white women and I wouldn't generalize their situation outwards (I'd also like to challenge the implicit assumption that black women are only going to date black men). But, for all this talk that women are doing so well and men are doing so poorly, those numbers look really different when you control for race (hint: white men are doing quite well–surprise, surprise). Are women higher percentages of college students compared to men? Yes. However, men with high school degrees still earn more than women with BAs. So women are going to college just to be able to compete with male high school graduates…they are doing this so they have a better chance of adding cracks to the glass ceiling, not to overtake. For all this talk of women's educational dominance, look to see how many college professors are women…how many women get tenure…women's tenure rates are not good. Women are going to college, but they aren't dominating the professoriate, or the Fortune 500, or congress. They are still only making 77 cents to a male dollar.

            There are men who are suffering, but they are often suffering not because they are men, but because of some other vector of oppression–usually race or class. And the men I know who are most vocal about their Iron John men's movement BS? The guys who complain that men no longer work with their hands or fight in the military or get to dominate women, so whatever will they do? They are usually straight white guys who aren't working class. None of the guys I was in the Army with (because there are lots of guys who still do join the military, and surprise they don't find killing people all that ennobling) talked this way at all. Similarly, this lament of "oh how sad it is that we men aren't working the land any more" is coming from guys who, due to class privilege, would never have been working the land in the first place. As a person who came from the working class, I have very little patience for that sort of romanticizing of the volk from people who aren't the volk.

            Long story short: I love you Delafina!!!

    • I have a minute to further comment on the article itself.
      It really fails to grasp the female perspective on objectification and beauty standards and dives right into some pretty weak assumptions about why they, the author, feel undesired by women.

      Media makes note of attractive men pretty often…but those men have other valuable traits other than being good looking. So risque photo shoots aren't the go-to method of PR. And since their skills sell, they are rarely hypersexualized to make ratings or ticket sales go up. And, when they do get sexy, it isn't a huge scandal, they aren't called whores, and a million people aren't critiquing their failures to represent the perfection of their gender.

      That doesn't mean men cannot be attractive.
      I mean, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake – really?
      No one ever, never, ever, never calls men attractive? Men cannot be desirable? Women are not really attracted to men?

      This is blowing my mind.

      I am compelled to somehow copy and paste an online conversation from a month ago in which a few lady friends and I took an unoffical consensus on the make-out-ability of John Goodman, whether or not our opinions of him were heavily swayed by his role in Roseanne and our desire to make out with John Goodman circa Raising Arizona vs Big Lebowski.
      (Its true. Many ladies think John Goodman is a babe.)

      And I haven't even mentioned our discussions about Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynold's abs, or how Jonah Hill looks like a babe in uniform.
      And that is just idle chit chat about celebrities that we otherwise don't give a crap about because they don't enter into our lives.

      Our tendency to oogle joggers in the park is no different than that of men drooling over women from afar. Difference being: we do not cat call. In passing we may make eye contact, smile, say hello or awkwardly pretend to not stare. But we try not to interfere with their day because we know how much that sucks! We also aren't pressured by our culture to constantly prove our sexuality by imposing it onto anyone that inadvertently stirs our libido. (And many ladies are pressured to avoid drawing attention to themselves anyway.)

      That doesn't mean we ladies lack a sex drive or find men's bodies appalling.

      In appropriate social settings, we compliment men when we feel comfortable enough with him or, at least, safe in that environment to approach a strange man. Sadly, enough guys will take an idle or sincere compliment to be an invitation to have their way with us. So even us assertive ladies are selective about who we approach, even though the room may be full of men that we are physically attracted to.

      I'm getting a bit carried away, and I could go on some more, but the truth is – (assuming the heteronormative) women desire men.
      Oh good friggin lordy, do we desire dude-babes!! So. Much.

      But we don't treat them the way women are treated.
      And you don't want us to. It's crappy.

      Reading this article, the author hasn't asserted a truth. He has expressed a personal frustration, not a cultural standard that men are subjected to for the benefit of women. Saying that we, women, take all our unwanted attention for granted is a failure to understand the difference between a passing compliment and fulfilled obligation.

      The anecdotes listed on reddit, namely feeling unappreciated in a relationship, are not evidence of a cultural stigma. Rather, a collection of people who were in crappy relationships with crappy people with crappy communication.

      Understandably, if a partner never gives you feedback about you or your relationship, you are going to have no frame of reference to gauge your development during or after the relationship. That isn't because women, as a whole, and society refuse to comment on you. It is because you dated a broken person who had nothing to offer. And wouldn't it be nice if a stranger came around the corner and gave you some personal input to work with?
      And, hey, that sucks but it does not hold up as an equivalent or trade off to the cultural objectification of women.
      Not even comparable.

      Again, what women have to deal with and what this author is asking for are two entirely different things.

      • Boat

        the fact that women like to gossip about ryan goslings abs doesn't really negate what i've been talking about, becuase it doesn't validate normal, mortal men as sexual or otherwise attractive beings, nor does it change the fact that men are taught that as males, they are not to be considered attractive. they are supposed to compete for attention.

        the reddit thread as well as my comments aren't anecdotal. they're highlighting the effects on men that is caused by a social dynamic that everyone here on this blog is aware of. it's strange to me how everyone on one hand is fully aware that men must be the ones to fight for womens attention, yet, as soon as we bring up the negative effects that this is going to have on the male self-image, suddenly this is not the case anymore?

        • It isn't gossip.
          It is verbally communicating the attractive qualities presented in a person that happens to be male.
          Ergo, we live in a society that DOES find men attractive.

          And no, you aren't raised to "have to be attractive".
          Congratulations, society values men as skillful humans, not pet trophies.
          Do you really want to have tools taken away from you and placed on a pedestal to be constantly critiqued for the shape of your ass? Your weight? The contour of your torso?
          Those are not compliments.

          That reddit article stated:
          "Women don't tell us we're attractive out of the blue. Women don't stare at us. And the media tells us that without P90X we'll forever remain unattractive. And we don't receive any contrary experiences. Girlfriends and lovers tell us we're attractive because that's what we want to hear, not because it's true."

          And that is so much "woe is me" crap.
          Are men pursued as much as women are? No.
          Because we are taught that women are sex-things for men and men must chase after/pursue/conquer them.
          Being the "desired" role in this dynamic is not flattering. It is constantly having to play defense with very few opportunities in which it is safe to approach the men we are interested in.
          You aren't being told that you are unattractive. You are told that you don't HAVE TO BE attractive. You have to be useful and "manly".
          That doesn't mean (assuming the heteronormative) that women are not attracted to men. It means that fussing over "attractiveness" is a feminine things to do, because females are sex-things and men are not.

          This blog is more or less directed towards men who are trying to navigate the obstacles our culture puts in the way of communication between men and women. As well as advice for personal hang ups.

          Because women do not chase men down the street, impose sex on men, or shower them with compliments is not because we were taught that men are "unattractive"…it is because we were taught giving men compliments obligates us to sex that we aren't sure we really want (yet).

          But we do, we absolutely do, HAVE compliments to give to men. We swoon, we drool, we oggle, we stare, we fantasize, we think about sex. We watch men in our vicinity and try to gauge if it is safe to approach them. We listen to the things they say and attitudes they convey before we open our mouths.

          Your struggle, as a guy, is not that the world thinks you are ugly. Your struggle is convincing women that it is safe to approach you.

          My own anecdotal experience: My bf is conventionally handsome and is just vain enough to be well groomed.
          He is also very friendly, good at talking to people and knows how to make them feel comfortable. He is not dominating or mopey. Ladies (and also men) are quick to fawn over him. Women approach him often because his "safe vibe" is pretty apparent. Even if they are not interested in sex or do not want to intrude in our relationship, they enjoy being around him and shower him with flirtation and compliments.
          It can actually become a bit distracting at times.
          And yes, I swoon over him too.

          As for women who do not compliment the men they date? That is just odd.
          And sounds like a problem with the relationship or the people in it.

          • Boat

            we have heard over and over why the gender dynamics look the way they do, but the problem with sentiments like yours is that they don't take into account how they are affecting mens' self-image and feelings in regards to relationships, and that you seem to be completely unwilling to acknowledge it in favor of discussing the plight of women.

            you somehow seem to believe that the existence of male gender ideals somehow means that the majority of men are going to be representative of this role, and also that they're not going to have any emotional qualms about the hardships that this dynamic is going to create. do i really have to point out that this is not the case?

        • Delafina

          Ugh, ok, look — I'm trying to get past my irritation with your false equivalence here, so here you go:

          You want to be told you're attractive? You need external validation for your self esteem? Start asking the opinions of your female friends on your clothes, hair and whatever. Once they realize that you care about your appearance, they'll start trying to give you positive feedback when you look good.

          If you have a girlfriend, talk to her about how it makes you feel good when she expresses desire for you. Communicate what you need from the relationship.

          But don't expect women on the street to ogle you or catcall or whatever. If you need that in your life, take a job where the context is acceptable for them to do that, such as working at bachelorette parties. Don't expect it to happen with strangers outside of those sort of contexts — the risks are too high for most women to feel comfortable doing that.

          • Boat

            the fact that you still think that our comments are about men not getting cat-called shows that you haven't taken to heart what we've been trying to explain. it seems to me that you're more interested in hating on people than trying to understand the feelings of hte people beloning to the opposite side of the spectrum.

            you're either trolling, or you're really, really mad at us for merely explaining how the situation is affecting mens' self-image, which is also quite wrong, because nothing we says negates anything that the women on this site have been saying.

          • Boat

            some spelling errors there but you'll hopefully get the point. =)

          • Commonly known as X

            If your comments are not about being cat-called what are you talking about then. That some men, including you, have not been told you are handsome in non-confrontational ways? I think you have a point, but its not as clear cut as that. My male friends and work colleagues don't comment on my looks – it would be really inappropriate and uncomfortable. My female friends only do occasionally, and then following a specific request for their opinion on the fit of my clothes etc. Most women will tell a sexual partner if they find them physically attractive, that happens all the time.

            People are more likely to compliment those who have dressed up or made an effort, as it seems less personal than commenting directly on their bodies. I see this happening to younger guys a lot, because younger men (like 30 and under) seem much more comfortable about playing around with their appearance and wearing flash clothes. I do think seeming to care too much about your appearance was something men were judged for much more before, as it was considered effeminate, and I can see how that would have lead to mens appearance being less complimented. Which is another reason why sexism hurts both sexes, people!

      • Max

        While I'd agree that the original post is somewhat problematic in its assumptions about women's experiences, he is totally correct about men's experiences (and yes, obviously there are exceptions). I'm a guy. I know. What I'm seeing in a lot of the female responses above and below are the very same things that get men's comments downvoted and called out on: a lack of empathy, a lack of any attempt of understanding, a lot of "I've never seen it, so it's probably not true," and some "but we also have problems!" You aren't men. We are. We know what's like to be a dude.

        All those things you just listed? You do them in secret. Men don't see you do them. A lot of us have no idea you do them. "Oh good friggin lordy, do we desire dude-babes!! So. Much." I only discovered this recently. I had no idea women thought of men this way before.

        So I guess the overall point is this: while I completely understand why women wouldn't do this, it would be great if women were a little more open about their feelings towards men?

        I can't speak for all guys, but I, for one, promise not to be a creepy asshole about it if you are (I was already not being a creepy asshole, but I promise to continue not doing so).

        • Delafina

          Until you can create a society where it's safe for us to do that, I don't think you have a right to "call us out" for not doing it.

          • Max

            I think you misunderstood me? The "calling out" bit was in reference to comments on this site. Not what you're talking about. Actually, I'm not really sure what you mean by "do that," and "doing it."

            (for the record, I don't really have a big "create society" button. No guy does. I don't think even the President has one of those.)

        • Becelec

          1. There is a difference between saying "I've never seen it, so it's probably not true" and "I've witnessed this with my own eyes, every single day of my life, so saying it does not happen based on a reddit thread is not correct."
          2. "But we also have problems" should be rectified to "you are saying this is not a problem for us, and actually, it is"
          3. How on earth could you have only just realised that heterosexual women are attracted to men? Do you live under a rock with your eyes shut and your fingers in your ears? Do you not consume any form of media? Do you not talk with women or overhear their conversations? The only way you could not see this is if you aren't paying any attention to anything that we're saying in the first place.

          • Max

            1. I don't doubt that you've seen it happen to people you know, occasionally. Your friends aren't really representative of all men everywhere. I have a whole Reddit thread (they aren't all making it up), plus my friends experiences, plus my personal experience as a guy (which you don't have, by the way) saying that this is a real thing that guys deal with. Maybe your friends don't tell you that they've experienced this. Ask them.
            2. Nobody here has said that, or implied it (well, maybe Xenu, but I skipped his comments because they were awful and wrong). I feel like you want us to all be mysoginistic assholes so you can dismiss out opinions, but we aren't. Your experiences are valid, and I'm not trying to dismiss them.
            3. It's almost as if you aren't a guy, and therefore don't inherently know what it's like to be a guy? I admit I was exaggerating a bit; what I meant was "I didn't know women were physically attracted to non-model regular guys like me in a similar way to how I was attracted to non-model women."

  • Dunbar

    In a perfect world, women would feel just as comfortable and in-sync with their sexualities as many men do such that yes, there would be way more women flirting with men in the kinds of direct ways men are socialized to flirt with women.

    You know what else this perfect world would be like?

    It would be a world where women could go out in public and make their sexuality JUST as invisible and submerged as men get to without anyone calling them whatever the man-version of cunts or bitches would be (don't bother to figure out what those are, there aren't any). And let's be clear: that's a thing we, as men, GET to do. Nobody expects a man to have a six-pack or an even, bronze tan to be presentable at the MOST basic level in public. That's the raw deal women have that guys don't get when discussions of street harassment: the socialization paradox for women is that they, to varying degrees, are expected to look pretty and enticing even when they don't want to be pretty for, or entice anyone in particular. There's waaaaaaay more I could say about this issue, but this particular gender politics debate is one that can go for rounds and rounds until the sun explodes.

    I don't mean to sound like I don't get the pain a guy feels when he realizes he's rarely, if ever, been told he's good looking. I'm a guy and I've BEEN there. Hell, in some ways, I'm STILL there. You know what else I've realized? That The Doc is right the idea of where you're locating your locus of control because when I've had my lowest moments of "nobody is attracted to me", I was doing dick to actually put myself out there and additionally, did not have much going on in my life. (On a personal aside, these days, I acknowledge I'm not looking for anybody right now, because I've got bigger fish to fry in my own life).

    • Boat

      the problem is that as a guy, even when you are putting yourself out there, society as a whole will tell you that you are unattractive. for women this is counter-balanced by the fact that they are desired by men, but for men there is no such counterweight, as they are mostly ignored by women.

      i've spoken to women who have stated that the female physique is more beautiful than the male physique, or that the female genitals are prettier while the penis is kind of a gross appendage. that just goes to show what a messed up standard we have for beauty, where men by default are considered less attractive than women.

      so again, how about we stop bringing up the whole self-confidence/locus of control/rape statistics/blaming guys for not putting themselves out there as soon as a guy expresses that they cannot find a way to confirm that they are attractive to women? because it doesn't help when some relationship guru (nerdlove et al) tells you to "just be confident because women like that" when you've spent the past 5, 10 or 20 years trying everything to get noticed by women and not seeing any signs that they could possibly be into you.

      you need to actually EXPERIENCE what it's like to be desired before you can actually start internalizing that you are attractive as a man, or at least see for yourself that women actually do think men are hot. a lot of men don't get to experience this, and that's a big issue in the dating game.

      • Robert

        If you don't think you're attractive, why should anyone else?

        If you do think you're attractive, why should you let a bunch of other people's opinions of your attractiveness get to you?

        • Boat

          what i'm trying to say is that people seem to be very sensitive in regards to social dynamics that play out negatively for women, but as soon as a guy expresses his frustration with having received zero attention from the opposite sex throughout his life, generally feeling like he belongs to an unattractive gender, or being bitter about having to play the assertive role, he's suddenly an entitled crybaby worthy of nothing more than a mean-spirited one-liner by doc nerdlove, and a never-ending flow of comments from female readers wishing to educate the guy on the plight of women.

          as if guys don't already have a hard enough time having their feelings heard and understood, nerdlove will tell the guy that he's ridiculous, urging him to suck it up, fake some confidence and get back up on that horse. to me, that's perpetuating gender roles if anything.

          • Delafina

            Being treated as if your looks are the only valuable thing about you, and simultaneously being treated as if being pretty is something wrong that you are *doing to ruin men* AND paradoxically as if not dressing up and acting as if you care about whether men find you pretty is something you are *doing to offend men* AND being treated as a slut if you express interest in men AND being treated as if you're playing "hard to get" if you don't is a hell of a lot worse than not being told that you're physically attractive when physical attractiveness isn't even the top thing the people you're looking to date is interested in anyway.

            It's a tradeoff.

          • Boat

            a tradeoff? nobody is comparing the pros and cons of being either a man or a woman.

            i also don't think you should tell men that they should be okay with being ignored, just because their value isn't determined primarily by looks. what women like in men is irrelevant. this is about how a lot of men feel unappreciated. simple as that.

          • Robert

            Personally, I'm not a huge fan of expressing frustration about anything, regardless of what sex you are, unless you are also doing one of the following:

            a) trying to solve the problem
            b) asking for help with a), including asking others to make a specified active contribution to the solution (though not without any contribution from yourself)
            c) letting off steam to make it easier for you to do a)
            d) accepting that there's nothing you can do about it

            If a guy expresses his frustration with having never received attention from women, feeling like he belongs to an unattractive gender, or having to play the assertive role, I want to know what that guy is going to do about it. I want to know whether he's going to do option a, b, c or d. If he answers e) none of the above, then frankly he is an entitled crybaby worthy of nothing more than a mean-spirited one-liner by the doc and a never-ending flow of comments from female readers wishing to educate the guy on the plight of women.

            I apply the same rules to women complaining about the social dynamics that affect them negatively, and from what I've seen, in the process of expressing frustration, they are almost all doing a combination of option a and option b. Theirs is a problem that requires the combined efforts of practically everyone on the planet (if not absolutely everyone on the planet), which is why even talking about the problem can count as option a, while option b is necessary for the completion of option a. Yours is a problem that requires the effort of the person who has the problem in the first place and (if any) those who he asks to help make him more attractive. The most any venting can achieve in solving that problem is option c, and the way you (and several others in the past) put it makes it sound like you're choosing option e.

            The supposed double-standard with regards to expressing frustration? There's my rationale behind it. Other people might have different rationales for it (and of course they are free to do so).

          • Boat

            i fail to see how being a man and expressing the effects of being largely ignored by the opposite sex is any better or worse than a woman expressing her frustration with contemporary gender roles, here on this website. just like men are being taught a lot what being a woman is like, i think its obvious that a lot of women on here need to understand where men are coming from as well.

      • Mel

        Boat, I want to say first that, as I said before, I do sympathize with anyone who's struggled with confidence and feeling uncertain about approaching the opposite sex. I don't think anyone here is trying to shame you or other men for having insecurities.

        I get the impression you're frustrated because you feel no one's really listening to you. We sort of got off on the wrong foot because I was thinking of the reddit post in question while replying to you, and your focus turned out to be somewhat different (and less offensive), so I'd like to make another attempt at breaking down why you're getting the responses you're getting in this discussion. Because there are a couple things going on here.

        One is that not everyone fully agrees with the basic premises of your arguments, but I think that's already been covered and we can agree to disagree, yeah?

        Another, and I think possibly the more important factor, is how this conversation started in the first place. This is a 25 minute podcast in which DNL spent about five minutes answering a question about why women don't approach men more, and giving some reasons why it's harder for them to approach than for men. The other 20 minutes are on totally different topics. Almost immediately, a guy posted a comment about why having the confidence to approach women is really hard for men too.

        This happens every time DNL posts anything about women's perspectives and ways in which guy's behavior can hurt their chances with women. The conversation quickly devolves into all the ways women are just as much (or more) at fault as guys. You even get commenters complain that DNL is all about shaming guys and elevating women now. I like to have facts to back me up, so I checked the last three months of posts here. Only *4* out of 35 posts have been about giving the woman's perspective. At least 12 are topics specifically focused on men (e.g., Group Dynamics, the First Dates/Places to Meet Women posts–and I'm not counting a few of the podcasts that I haven't listened to but are most likely guy-centric like "Convention Hook-Ups"), and all the others could apply to both men and women but usually have more guy examples. That's totally fine, because the blog started out focused on helping geek guys, though it's shifting focus to embrace women geeks too. But there shouldn't be anything offensive about DNL occasionally addressing things from women's POVs.

        Technically, that first comment here was a derail. "But it's hard for men too." No one said it isn't! And most of DNL's posts are focused on the things that are hard for men, and how men can overcome those things. There was no reason for the comment to be made on this post when it really had nothing to do with any of the topics in the podcast, and the commenter could easily have emailed the link privately to DNL if he was hoping DNL would give the post its own topic. Well, there was no reason except that apparently it's really important that any time any difficulty women have is mentioned, it's really important to point out that men have difficulties too. (You'll notice that women don't generally comment in the guy-centric posts trying to change the subject to women's issues, even though there are clearly lots of women who read and comment on this blog.)

        (continued below…)

        • Boat

          mel your response is too long and in my opinion off on a tangent, so im just going to rephrase my point.

          i dont think guys are being sympathized with at all. as is shown in the podcast, a guy expresses his frustration, and it is immediately insinuated that when a guy is upset with having to play the assertive role and wondering why women arent doing their part, he's lazy and unwilling to step out of his comfort zone.

          i dont think a lot of women understand that guys are highly sensitive to mate selection, more so than women as studies have shown, and in addition to this are largely completely ignored by the opposite sex. add to that a high sex drive that is triggered by the mere sight of a bit of skin, and you've got a recipe for a scarcity mentality that i dont think most women could relate to in an way.

          so my point is, just because most of nerdlove's articles cater to men, it doesnt mean that they sympathize with men. if anything, they're just technical guidelines, and as soon as any man expresses his frustration with what feels like carrying the whole world on your shoulders, everybody's ready to chide him, including nerdlove, who more than often seems to make fun of this, calling it lazy and childish and whatnot.

          it's not right.

      • Mel

        (continued from above)

        You've said a few times that you feel like guys are frequently being blamed or dismissed here on this blog when they mention they feel unattractive, and that DNL isn't giving any advice other than making it guys' fault. But if you look through the past articles here, DNL has actually given advice on *how* to overcome insecurities and build confidence several times. See the following as the best (but not only) examples:… (Which actually specifically points out that women find men of a variety of body types attractive

        So some of us, when we see the derailing happen yet again, get frustrated ourselves. Why does every post have to be about men, and if it's not about men already (or not completely about men–5 minutes out of 25!), why does it have to be brought back to how hard men have it? It's not that we're not sympathetic to the fact that men have problems, we're just bothered by the fact that men seem to bring the subject back to their problems even on the few occasions when the post is about something else. So you get frustrated responses by people who aren't feeling sympathetic, because the fact that this topic is being discussed in the comments on this post *in the first place* is an example of men placing their interests and needs above women's.

        Obviously you weren't the one who started the derailing, but you contributed to it (quite possibly without realizing), and that immediately made this discussion about more than just the concerns you're stating in your comments. If you'd commented about this in a post about men having insecurities about their attractiveness, then I think you'd have gotten–maybe not a positive response, but less negative, more understanding ones.

        • Becelec

          I'm going to weigh in on this now as well. Completely agree with everything Mel says above, it's like every time DNL mentions anything from a female perspective straight away we get the "What about the men?" derailment come out, and it's very frustrating. No one is saying men don't have problems, but it is very frustrating reading comments about how easy everything is for women or how good we have it.

          One argument on here that is particularly frustrating to me is how all women know how they are super desirable to men and therefore they must have such awesome self-confidence and an abundance mentality.

          Bull. Fucking. Shit.

          • Becelec


            There is an ENORMOUS societal pressure on women to conform to a single stereotype of beauty that the majority of us will never fit into. We have this drilled into us from the earliest points of memory in our childhood. We also repeatedly get told that being beautiful is the most important achievement we can reach in our lives, and if we don't, it doesn't matter what else we do or accomplish because if we aren't good-looking no one else is ever going to give two shits. It is the one thing we are judged on our whole lives before anything else.

            I consider myself to be fairly progressive as a female member of society. I'm not into traditionally feminine things, and I try to focus as much as possible on being a better person rather than concentrating on my appearance etc. That being said, I still leave the house every day with a face full of makeup on. If I don't for some reason, I feel like everyone is staring at me and laughing at my dirty ugly face. I wear makeup to blend in, not to stand out.

          • Becelec


            I am pretty sure that I am not actually ugly. I know that my boyfriend loves me, I know that he finds me attractive, and I know that other people have too. But do you know how often I look at myself and think that I'm attractive? Pretty much never. To me, I will never be good enough. I will always have a long list of things about my face and body that I hate. I look in the mirror every day and I am disgusted with what I see to the point where I try to avoid seeing myself in the mirror as much as possible. The thought of having my photo taken fills me with terror.

            And I am fully aware of how twisted and unhealthy that is. But it's almost like the older I get, the worse it gets. I constantly feel like every time I leave my house, the world is judging everything that is physically wrong with me. So I can't even imagine how bad it must be for all the women who are much worse off than me in the looks department. Coz my paranoia is bad enough.

          • Becelec


            What I'm getting at is I've received compliments about my looks, both good and bad, from strangers and from people I know and people I love. I sure as hell don't feel any better about myself or more confident as a result. I'm all for men being complimented physically if it makes them feel better, but I don't think it's fair to say women go around feeling validated and confident from all the compliments they get. Most women I know, myself included, are insecure as all hell when it comes to their looks, much more than most of the guys I know.

        • Max

          As the poster of the original post, I'd like to say that I'm sorry for the misunderstanding. I posted that here more as a "I wonder what the community thinks of this," and I wasn't trying to derail the conversation (these podcast comment sections are usually pretty empty, anyway, and I thought it was at least sort of related). Hence why I suggested having a forum for the site.

          On the flipside, though, I do think that both men's issues and women's issues are very much intertwined, much more than we like to admit (Men give women too much attention. Women start giving men less attention. Men try to work harder to get attention from men. Repeat). A lot of this is due to an extreme lack of empathy on both sides. I was trying to present a viewpoint that I hadn't seen anywhere else before.

          (also, did no one read the comments to that post? They're way more interesting and insightful than the original post, and also less problematic)

          • BritterSweet

            I did read a lot of the comments, not all though. Some that really stuck out to me said things about "The Fallacy of the Golden Rule" and "drowning vs being thirsty." That may be the cause of the discrepancy, and the anger at each other (which, yes, even I felt as evidenced by an earlier comment).

            Men may think that by commenting on a woman's body, they're showing her admiration, which they themselves want. But to a woman, it's objectifying/dehumanizing. On the other hand, women may think that by *not* commenting on a man's body, they think they're showing him respect as a person (which *they* want). But to men, this makes them feel rejected/undesired.

            ^This is not meant to generalize the genders, assume everybody has only the purest of intentions, or reflect my own personal opinion. I only intend to explain what the quoted phrases meant.

            The problem with treating others the way you want to be treated, is that others may not want to be treated like you do. That's also kind of why in my first comment, I was a little upset at Max saying, "I'd actually love it if a girl complimented me."

          • BritterSweet

            Whoops sorry, I forgot that *you* are Max as I was typing that…

      • Commonly known as X

        "i've spoken to women who have stated that the female physique is more beautiful than the male physique, or that the female genitals are prettier while the penis is kind of a gross appendage. that just goes to show what a messed up standard we have for beauty, where men by default are considered less attractive than women"

        Ok, so my first thought was why are you talking to lesbians if you want compliments on your penis, but you know, I don't know anything about the specific woman you were talking too and why she would be insulting parts of your body ("gross appendage" indeed) while talking to you. Some guy told me that vaginas look like alien face-snatchers, and I told him to go fuck himself – I don't think you should let some random weirdo make you feel bad about having normal human body parts. Penises and vaginas can look a bit odd out of context, but attached to a naked person who is really into you they are both quite splendid.

    • Max

      Imagine how you'd feel if I said something like "so what if American women have to deal with some sexual harassment, at least they don't live in the Middle East." That's how comments like yours make me feel.

      The fact that other people have it worse than you does not automatically negate your own problems.

  • TheTruth

    it would be very nice for a change for the women to approach us men that are seriously looking to meet a good woman today and have a relationship, since many of them seem to reject us.

    • eselle28

      I can understand men wanting women to approach them more, but that's a bit unrealistic. After all, we don't know you're looking to have a relationship until we start talking to you, so more proactive women will also be approaching other kinds of guys as well as those who are relationship-oriented.

      • Joy

        Yeah, it's not like people come wearing labels that say "already dating the love of my life" or "just looking for a good time" or "wanted: marriage, kids, and medium sized dog" or "open to whatever, but I don't want children."

      • TheTruth

        well i am one of many men that would love to have a woman approach me, since i have approached many women that were very nasty to me. women are so much more unfriendly nowadays, and there are many of us men that want very much to meet a good woman to share our life with. that is why i really hate going out since it is like a game that many women are playing, and many of them still really need to grow up. i was married at one time which i had thought that i have finally met the love of my life, and i really was hoping to have a family which i never did since she cheated on me. going out is a real joke, and dealing with this mess all over again makes it worse since most of the women out there today are a real drama queen. or so they think that they are. i am in my late fifties, and many very fortunate men that were very blessed to have met the right woman for them should go to church to pray and thank God for having a love life with their families that many of us men would have wanted too.

    • The issue with approaching men is several-fold.

      Right off the bat, guys aren't very good at giving "signals." I'm sure you've read dozens of articles on the subtle signs women give off if they're interested; most of them have a grain of truth to them. Guys, however, are not taught these skills, and are also not very good at picking up who is checking them out. One of the things that makes women so successful at GETTING hit on is that they know who is already looking at them, and so who to throw interest to. Guys, lacking this skill, seem to just revert to staring at the hottest girl in the room and hoping she has the guts to do what he obviously doesn't.

      Second problem is, guys aren't used to getting approached, and so aren't very smooth at turning women down. Yes, you run into jerky girls who are awful to the men who hit on them…. but by and large, women are a lot better at letting a guy down gently or without further ego damage. Guys lack the practice, and so let the shock and terror of an undesirable girl hitting on them show a little *too* obviously. ("Oh God, are you serious?" is one such response I have gotten, and I have LOTS of examples.)

      Third problem ties into this. Since guys aren't used to getting hit on, AND aren't used to letting girls down gently, they sometimes encourage the girl…. going so far as to sleep with her…before they finally tell her they aren't into her. Hitting on a guy seems to really inflate and stroke his ego (since again, it's a less usual occurrence), and thus seems to handicap him from actually being able to judge the girl and his attraction to her on its own merits.

      I'll use myself as an example. 5 out of 6 boyfriends I have had, I approached/hit on. All 5 of those dated me for 6 months or more. All 5 of those…. actually didn't like me much. They just liked the attention and ego gratification they got from me. If I hadn't hit on them, they would have NEVER dated me (as in, never pursued me.) It's happened so freaking often that I think I should apply for federal funding.

      Honestly, I don't think guys would enjoy being hit on as much as they imagine.

      • Jenn

        I agree, I think men feel flattered when a woman shows interest, but it doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be interested back just because she made the first move. I had to learn that lesson the hard way, after continuing to pursue guys for many years in my early twenties. It never, ever worked out well for me. I never seem to get the guys I want, so I gave up on trying.

  • Skada

    I'm a straight woman. Here are some reasons for why I don't approach….

    1. I might be sussing out the situation. I see somebody who catches my attention, and he's in a group. Is that woman over there a partner of his, or part of the group? Is my gaydar going off? Is the guy smoking or dipping (major turn-off)? In the time that I'm sussing out whether he's wearing a green sticker*, he may move on another woman, or I may find out something about him that is a stop sign, or the group may leave. If that happens, oh well.

    2. I'm in my late 30s now. People generally tend to think I'm younger than that…but I'm in my late 30s. I may look at you and think, HELLO, but I'm not going to go chat up somebody who I think is 25. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you, that's just my taste. (Frankly I can't wait until I'm in the age group where I can chase after silver foxes without people asking me if I have daddy issues.)

    3. Some days, I am not in the mood to talk to anybody. I may be out in public and still not want to talk to anybody.

    4. Some days, I just don't have my game on and I know it. If I have a greater-than-average Foot In Mouth count that day, I'm not going to add to the tally.

    5. Some days, I'm the wingman and I know it. If I'm the wingman, the goal is to help a friend of mine out, not go looking for myself.

    6. If we're at work? Or in a situation where there isn't some kind of built in social circle (e.g. coffeeshop, public transit, on the street)? Nope. I generally assume you didn't go to the coffeeshop to get hit on….just like I didn't go to the coffeeshop to get hit on. If we're in a situation where whoever I'm approaching cannot get away–like the city bus–I don't approach.

    In other words, I am not approaching men for totally normal reasons that would apply equally to any other person in a similar situation.