All Men Are Pigs, and Other Popular Myths

Men are pigs. They just want to get laid. And then they just want to watch sports. We women have to dress up for them all the time, but they only want the really hot, young ones. Or so the story goes.

(image source here)

I grew up in Suburban New Jersey. I went to college in NJ and grad school in Manhattan, and now I’m living on the Upper West Side. I’ve read a lot about gender, and about current events, and about politics. And it’s clear to me that often, men are absolutely awful. They commit the huge majority of violent crimes. Something like 95%. They commit nearly all sexual crimes. When I see a group of them on the street, I feel wary. Once I was harassed by a group of them on the beach. For being a Jew. And for being a woman.

They write offensive messages to my friends on dating sites. They write offensive comments on the articles I publish in the Huffington Post. They seem to revel in anonymity, and they seem to be really angry about a lot of things.

But the truth is, I’ve come across a lot of men, and most of them are very nice. Even the Ukrainian bodyguard with the scarred face I dated whose friends were all in jail and who spoke softly into his cellphone at random times about “the business,” and mysterious “jobs” that he was always coordinating, despite never appearing to work himself. Even he was actually very nice. I’m not kidding, he actually had a scar through one eyebrow from a knife fight. But he cooked me dinner and dumped a generous helping of hotsauce on it, and served me. And he muttered things about how lovely I was. And when I broke up with him for saying that God hated gay people, and screamed into his face that he was “despicably, unforgivably ignorant and worthless” he just sat there and took it, his placid expression with the half-closed eyes never changing.

And for all the emphasis placed on being attractive for men, the guys I know seem to find women beautiful. Not a particular type of women with exact measurements and a certain hair length and perfectly straight teeth. But most women. It’s still kind of a secret. Men are supposed to like women who look a certain way, and women are supposed to try really, really hard to look that way. And of course, there are plenty of guys who valiantly strive to live up to the expectations of bad movies and pop psychology and who seek those women out in bars and on dating sites and at parties, ignoring the girls standing next to them who are a little heavier, or who have slightly crooked teeth. But for the most part, it seems to me that people like other people. And they don’t mind being surprised by someone they didn’t expect to be attracted to, or someone who doesn’t fit whatever standard people are trying to fit, but who has their own, fantastic charm.

I’ve heard from a friend that when he’d mention a girl he thought no one else would be attracted to to his friends, the other guys would always say, “Oh, she’s really hot.”

We are really hot.

When my grandmother read the piece I wrote about beauty and aging, she said, “You know, I don’t think I was that worried about it. I would’ve been, but your Pop Pop loved me so much it didn’t matter.” For her, it was pretty simple. He thought she was beautiful. She knew it. And that was that.

I come from a long line of women who were thought to be extremely beautiful by the men who loved them. Sometimes I see a picture, and nothing really stands out about the woman. She usually has a big nose, like me. And maybe she spent some time in front of a mirror, like me, wondering why her nose had to be so prominent. But it definitely didn’t stop her from being confident, proud, sought-after and adored.

I’ve known so many guys who were madly in love with women who didn’t fit any obvious standard. I’ve dated guys who didn’t fit any obvious standard either. But I didn’t go around telling everyone how sexy they were. Yet I’ve listened to a guy friend describe how gorgeous his girlfriend is to everyone around him, even though she obviously doesn’t fit the general implications of that term. After a point, I start to think, “Who am I to say she isn’t gorgeous?”

So men. They can go a lot of ways. As a gender, they do some of the worst things in the world. As individuals, they’re just, well, people. What a shock.

(image source here)

Maybe science can explain this. *ahem* “There’s a gene for extreme aggression. It’s exacerbated in men with specific qualities. If exposed to alcohol or peace they will turn into raving monster lunatic killing machines. Also true for the less severe but intensely problematic ‘douche’ gene. Do not expose males who carry the ‘douche’ gene to other males. They will immediately begin posturing and making uncreative sexual advances at passing women, teenagers, and even the occasional preteen girl.” Ah, science. It’s always going around explaining the things that we wonder about the most.

But whatever it is that causes that dramatic divide between what some men prove themselves capable of and how the men in my world behave, I want to acknowledge what I see right here in front of me. It isn’t as simple as “stop blaming men for your body image issues, it’s your own fault!” or “without men there wouldn’t be an oppressive concept of beauty.” It isn’t ever simple, period. But it’s the complicatedness and complexity that give me hope. People are never any one thing, and that’s what gives them the potential for absolutely anything. Sometimes that anything is pretty amazing. Sometimes it’s terrible. And sometimes it’s just plain nice.

And if a bunch of guys want to find me stunningly beautiful, then more power to them. And to me.

*   *  *  *

Thoughts on men? Kinda big topic, I know.

Un-Roast: Today I love how much I love color. That’s why I love to paint. I love my ability to get inspired by something really basic like that. And I love how my toenails look with the chipping, sloppy red nail polish. I’m still just as bad at putting it on as when I was twelve, but now I get to walk around this city of perfectly pedicured women, being proud to be different. Back then it wasn’t as fun.

What do you love about yourself today?

Yesterday’s un-roasts:

Wei-Wei: Today, I love my eyebrows. Me and my sister went to sneakily do a facial+back massage at “trial price”, and I got my eyebrows done. They used to be rather nasty and wild before, but now they’re nicely shaped. I think a lot of my unroasts have to do with grooming, but grooming makes me feel pretty.

Justine: I think I’m lucky that I’ve known since I was a very small child that I was going to be an artist of some kind. Even though I strayed from the path a little when I thought I might want to be an actress or something, I always knew exactly what I wanted—to make art. It feels good to know how securely I still know what I want and how much I love it, and I think I’m pretty good at it too.

Cindy: Yesterday, I turned a tube top sweater I knitted into a skirt and it rocked! Made my day!

Carly: today i love my eyebrows. they seem a little darker than they should be and they make my eyes look mysterious

Anna: My farmer’s tan. Yep. that tanline that stops mid-bicep and mid-thigh. Why do I like it? Because it’s a reflection of my love of the outdoors. I run, I hike, I walk, I bike, I farm. Pale shoulders and upper thighs be damned.

Zoe: i like the way my legs look in my shorts today: strong! and i realized the other day my thighs don’t chaffe together anymore like they used to and the “jiggle” comes from pure muscle as oppose to “fat”. i got me some toned legs!

Kristen: Today I love my legs. They are very muscular and defined for a woman, and they make me feel strong and powerful. Sometimes they can even make me feel sexy

Gaby: I can unroast today! I love the way I look in sparkly green eyeshadow. I hardly ever wear make up, especially not in bright colors. But I went into the mac store the other day and put on a bunch of samples and went a little crazy with their colors and it actually looked good! I immediately felt self conscious once I walked out, but I think it probably made me look fun, bright and happy!

Gaby, that makes me want to try makeup again. It’s been a while… :)

*   *  * *  *

(image source here)

P.S. Aren’t pigs supposed to be smart and sweet? Someone should come up with a better insult for disgusting guys. “Men are stonefly nymphs.” Have you seen those things? They crawl out of your drain when you’re brushing your teeth. Creepiest thing ever. I guess the word “nymph” doesn’t sound very masculine…Look, I’m working on it, Ok? It’s not like I can just sit around all day coming up with the appropriately analogous animal for the fifty-year-old guy who hit on me at his mother’s funeral. Is there even an animal for that?

28 Responses to “All Men Are Pigs, and Other Popular Myths”

  1. zoe responded on 07 Jul 2010 at 1:54 pm #

    kate this was exactly what i needed to read first thing in the morning, especially when i woke up teetering on the edge of sinking into a negative whirlpool. this is why i love your blog! you are so thoughtful and your writing is so eloquent. it makes me think. and today was no different. i’m struggling with intense confidence issues as of late (well, who isn’t?) and reading this will keep me positive today. women ARE beautiful. it’s a shame everyone else can see a woman’s beauty but her.

    unroast: my ability to laugh at myself in any situation is pretty kick ass. not too many people know and practice humility.

  2. Erika @ Health and Happiness in LA responded on 07 Jul 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    I definitely agree that men are attracted to all sorts of women and don’t care about all the little things we think they do — especially thinness. Most men I’ve met like all sorts of girls – skinny, healthy, curvy. They’re better at finding the beauty in us than we are. And my ex-boyfriend of 5 years never even seemed to notice if I went up or down in weight, he just always thought I was beautiful.

    Unroast: I have very nice hands. They’re soft and nicely shaped. People always like to hold my hand because they say it’s like holding a kid’s hand. And everyone knows how nice that is!

  3. Mo responded on 07 Jul 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    My teacher in high school used to say that in every piece of writing if it’s good and it has impact then there will be that one line that stands out… that resonates within you. This line resonated:

    “People are never any one thing, and that’s what gives them the potential for absolutely anything.”

    unroast: I love my lips. I chew on them constantly, but i’ve recently given them a break and now i just find them beautiful.

  4. Rob (R.M. Levitt) responded on 07 Jul 2010 at 6:19 pm #

    Great post, Kate. I wish I could be as optimistic about people as you are. As someone who is under-socialized, I tend to stereotype most people and lump them into broad categories. I have to remind myself that not all men aspire to be pimp/gangsta hustler types and not all women aspire to be the Kardashians. Yet there is such a declining standard of decency today for sexual ethics, especially among young people. Their attitudes and the way they (mis-)behave themselves are truly appalling sometimes. Those douche/diva genes are permeating the population way too fast.

    I’ve had a lot of trouble with the idea of seeing myself as “man” because so much of what men do is ugly and cruel. The word “man” seems more like a brand name than a sex anymore. I’m no longer a boy, but I don’t want to be a MAN™ Unit and I don’t like being around MAN™ Units because their attitudes and the way they carry on make me feel slimy and dirty inside, and apparently they like feeling that way or think it makes them cool. It doesn’t. Usually I just think of myself as a “guy” or a “fellow” because it feels right where “man” feels icky.

    By the same token, I am repulsed by WOMAN™ Units and especially the way so many of them accept that the path to gender equality and “girl power” means behaving the same way immature adolescent boys do. Yes, there’s a double-standard when it comes to sexuality. MAN™ is supposed to throw his virginity away on the first female that will take it, while girls are either looked down upon for being sluts or mocked for being prudes. But why must a single, abysmally low standard be adopted by everyone to remedy this?

    It’s never boys who have to learn to act more like women do, is it? It’s always girls who have to learn to be more like MAN™ Units: promiscuous and able to disconnect sex from love emotionally. The dogmatic feminists who say that girls should lower themselves to that level in order to have power equal to MAN™ Units are not feminists at all. They’re apologists for horny teenage boys who won’t grow up. They give those boys power by telling girls they should just lower their expectations already and compete with the chauvinist douche bags on their own turf.

    If people tossed wedding rings around as “casually” as they have sex today, marriage would be meaningless too. It’s already heading in that direction. One day wedding rings will be made out of plastic and sold with condoms, or found in Cracker Jack boxes. People will have drawers full of them, lose them, and throw away the embarrassing ones the morning after. I want to get down on one knee and propose to a special woman (not a WOMAN™ Unit) one day and not have it be a silly joke. I know I’m old-fashioned, and I’m proud of it.

    I don’t want the fact that I hold certain things to be sacred and above the banality of everyday life to appear naive and absurd amidst a world of callous, jaded women and men who waste their most intimate moments on people who don’t love them, just for a fun time or a professional opportunity. I never used to see myself as a proponent of “traditional values” or an ally of those who do, but I suppose times like these demand that we reinvent ourselves or else be guilty of the same ugliness as the rest of the world.

  5. t responded on 07 Jul 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    And this is why, if you haven’t already written or are not currently writing a book, you need to be.

  6. Maya responded on 07 Jul 2010 at 7:13 pm #

    Just here to agree with “t.” I would buy it in negative .5 seconds.

  7. Kate responded on 07 Jul 2010 at 7:15 pm #

    @t and Maya
    Ok, can you two contact publishers for me, please? :)

  8. ahu responded on 07 Jul 2010 at 8:12 pm #

    love this post Kate! bravo.

  9. What Men Think About Your Body. (Otherwise Known as the Most Women’s Magazine Coverline-Worthy Post Title I’ve Ever Written.) « Beauty Schooled responded on 07 Jul 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    [...] head over to the always fabulous Eat the Damn Cake, where Kate has a great piece up called “All Men Are Pigs, and Other Popular Myths.” My favorite part: And for all the emphasis placed on being attractive for men, the guys I [...]

  10. bobbie responded on 07 Jul 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    Very interesting blog. I think men are driven by the need to conquer [that means to have sex]. They insult and be-little to make themselves feel better about themselves. So, the women that turn them down or make them feel “smal” or dis them, get called nasty mean names. Of course there are some great men out there, but put them in a group, and a lot of the time the individuality gets lost and it can get little scary and gross. I’m 48 and a group of 20 year old guys and a group of 48 year old’s sound very much a like.

  11. Wei-Wei responded on 08 Jul 2010 at 4:01 am #

    I love this: ” Men are supposed to like women who look a certain way, and women are supposed to try really, really hard to look that way.” SO damn true, it’s even a little bit scary. Societal norms are too big of an influence on ALL of us, and men are not excluded. Not at all… and as there are stereotypes about women, there are about men, too. I don’t think ALL men are jerks, but a lot of (immature) boys my age are jerks. Really big jerks. But I guess they’ll get better. Hopefully.

    Today, I love my fingers. I painted my nails red and they look really good. And they are the delivery system of the salt I’m supposed to be eating WITH my boiled egg… Yeah. I eat salt straight. No. I don’t worry about sodium.

    Wei-Wei

  12. Wei-Wei responded on 08 Jul 2010 at 4:02 am #

    PS: I have cake pictures :D

  13. MH responded on 08 Jul 2010 at 7:35 am #

    What a great way to start my morning! Thank you for this post Kate.

    And Rob, I hear you. I really do.

  14. Justine responded on 08 Jul 2010 at 10:43 am #

    I think so often when women talk about feeling oppressed and having to live up to standards, it’s always assumed that they’re talking about the standards set by men, but I’ve always thought if it were up to men a lot of those standards wouldn’t exists. I think a lot of it is the fashion industry, which means there are a lot of women involved too.

    Cosmo (guilty beach pleasure) had this section last month on outfits picked out by men, and it’s hysterical because they’re all really ugly, but also really tight and short. Men like to see women’s bodies—of all shapes and sizes. I think men can be a lot more accepting of flaws then women can be sometimes, but we hold everyone up to these crazy “ideals” that put pressure on both men and women, and it doesn’t help anyone.

  15. Kate responded on 08 Jul 2010 at 10:57 am #

    @Justine
    I’ve only read it a few times, but Cosmo always cracks me up, because it’s always trying to tell women what “men” want. I wonder who these men are, who Cosmo has constant access to. Anyway, now I want to see those outfits, because it sounds like a funny concept.

    @Wei-Wei
    SEND ME THE PICTURES!!! :)

  16. Kate responded on 08 Jul 2010 at 11:04 am #

    @Rob
    Very brave. You’re definitely not the first guy I know who has tried to distance himself with the concept of “man.” It’s a loaded gun. Sometimes literally. But there are also men reclaiming the terms, and men refusing to fit some ridiculous, oppressive standard of masculinity. And then there are plenty of guys who fit some standards, but completely disobey others. I think there’s more wiggle room than we sometimes fear or imagine.

    Your point about feeling more traditional resonated with me. I’m the same way. I used to think I’d never be “traditional,” but there are plenty of things that I consider sacred that society in general doesn’t.

    And I also agree that the whole idea of girls being liberated by not caring about their sexuality is harmful. Not in the case of every girl, of course, but I’ve heard from plenty of them that they feel pressure to be cool by being very sexually available. The whole idea of feminism, and of gender equality, should be that people get to make their own decisions.

  17. caronae responded on 08 Jul 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    This post gives me a lot of confidence. I am 20 years old and have never been in a relationship. Gone on a few dates, had a few uncomfortable (and a few nice) make-out sessions. But have never felt loved, been in love, had sex, felt emotionally intimate with a man. It often makes me feel like there is something wrong with me. But your thoughts here remind me that there are many types of beauty and, as you so eloquently put it, different people find different people attractive. I am waiting for someone who is physically, emotionally suited to me. I know deep down that I am beautiful, if slightly unconventionally, and that some day (hopefully soon) there might be a man who finds me stunning.

    I feel like this post just raised me self-esteem a few notches. Confidence is beautiful and sexy; thank you for reminding me to be a confident woman.

    Unroast: I have pretty awesome breasts. Yes, they are larger and sometimes get in the way while running, but they’re pretty damn sexy and can give some great cleavage without being too much. I like the angle at which they slope down towards the center.

  18. Whiskas responded on 08 Jul 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    My boo loves me bc I am all curves and I have a really unique look (read: Jewish). He’s all blonde, fair, tall and WASPy and we look like we are different races. I love our contrast. My little brother (rad, identified feminist dude) LOVES girls w. big, interesting noses.

  19. Cat responded on 08 Jul 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    I agree! I’m certainly not conventionally beautiful and the best compliments I’ve ever received have been from men and about things that I’m very insecure about. People can be quite sexist towards men when it comes to this. Making generalizations of men is repressive.

    Un-roast: Today, I love my hair for being surprising, big, curly, and short compared to every woman I know.

  20. Charlotte responded on 08 Jul 2010 at 7:19 pm #

    Hi Kate!

    I love your writing!

    On men…

    It’s true that their standards of beauty are far-ranging and vary across cultures, and that what women tend to consider an objective standard of beauty is in fact propagated more by the media than by MAN. (holla bobbi!)

    But to me, the fundamental issue is that of “beauty” as an ideal. Sure, it can have many different definitions and even applications – one can have a “beautiful” voice or a “beautiful” character. But I find that generally when people (both males and females alike) characterize a woman, all of her intelligence, personality, humor, will, creativity – in short, every wonderful thing that she has to offer – is ultimately reduced to a simple question of whether she is beautiful or not. So although the scope of female beauty is nearly infinite, it’s still an ideal that every woman strives to realize, not even knowing what that ideal entails. This is problematic in itself.

    On the other hand, when girlfriends gather ’round to discuss a male, the characterization of “handsome” is not prized above all others – in fact, it sounds pretty silly to reduce a man’s multifaceted-ness to a question of “handsome or not?” Why? Because it’s objectifying and narrow-minded.

    I’m not sure if I’m even making sense anymore, and I don’t mean to point out that men are the root of all evil. Like you, some of the most thoughtful, sensitive, and caring people I am lucky to have in my life are males. But I do feel that females are socialized to believe that to be beautiful is what is right, and thus stems a lot of our, er…problems.

    Looking forward to getting to know you better!

    -Charlotte

  21. DaliSalvadorAde responded on 10 Jul 2010 at 1:23 am #

    @Rob, your comment is what I’ve been telling so many of my friends for YEARS, but many have failed to grasp it, or (maybe I have done a poor job in explaining it correctly). It is very true though, many of today’s feminist ideals are continuing a false notion that a woman’s success has to be compared to a man’s to see if it is really worth praising. Did that make sense?
    Why must we women constantly be compared to men so that others can say that we are “accomplishing” something in life? This was very interesting food for thought!

  22. Shyra responded on 11 Jul 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    I think men are great. @Kate – I hope one day u will settle into ur beauty. I’m used to people telling me what a pretty face I have. I’m overweight and thought no1 wonderful would ever appreciate the extra pounds. Well my bf helped me settle into my beauty. He loves my huge thighs and his voices goes up 3 octaves when I bring up plastic surgery. Give it some time. I only got to this point after a baby and a great bf. But one day you will wake up and u will realize that ur amazing not in despite of ur big nose, but because of ur big nose. I’m fabulous bc of my thighs and tummy not bc I don’t have those things. I wonder if women who have perfect bodies are amazing?

  23. Gem responded on 15 Jul 2010 at 10:42 pm #

    WELL SAID!!! Love your stuff. Love love love it.

  24. MWN responded on 20 Jul 2010 at 3:05 am #

    This was a GREAT post.

    I like to think of men as “allies” although I inherited my mother’s paranoia so I tend to be very suspicious of them. And it’s so important to remember that there are a lot of great guys out there, and that maybe beauty standards (assuming we’re trying to impress the men anyway) don’t have to be so rigid. I love the secret you revealed in this post and I want to remember it every day.

  25. Link Love | The Demoiselles responded on 26 Jul 2010 at 9:03 am #

    [...] More Eat The Damn Cake for your enjoyment: All Men Are Pigs, And Other Popular Misconceptions. [...]

  26. Amy Everhart responded on 21 Aug 2010 at 9:51 am #

    I’m a blog author who’s been on a search to prove that all the good ones aren’t gone. My Facebook page as of late (Good Ones Are Gone) has devolved into a bitch session about men. Yesterday a couple of girls made the “men are pigs” comment, and I needed something to perk them up. That’s where you came in! I posted your blog entry — thanks for it!

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