Hip Hop Star/domestic abuser/potential homosexual Chris Brown and his friends dressed up like Arab terrorists for Halloween. Which is fitting, because a picture of Chris Brown is what real terrorists look at when they need a way to justify their actions. Maybe next year he can dress up as Muammar Gaddafi’s corpse, or the Unabomber, or something else topical like that. Chris Brown grew up about 45 minutes away from me in a town called Tappahannok, VA, which for locals is known for having cheap gas, a middling seafood restaurant, and absolutely nothing interesting, including Chris Brown. I’d say it’s the kind of town where if you were driving through and you blinked, you’d miss it, but I can’t because that same seafood restaurant always lobbies to prevent the state from building a goddamned bypass around it. As a result, you’re forced to putter through at 25 mph taking in historical landmarks like Applebees, Wal Mart, and a combined KFC/Taco Bell. Chris Brown’s income probably accounts for 99.8% of Tappahannok’s tax revenue.
Speaking of revenue, financial security is the point at which you’re allowed to stop pretending you give a shit what other people think of you. For most of us, that doesn’t happen until we’re old and retired. Old people are ornery and cranky in part because they’re old, but also because they’re set. You have nothing to threaten them with, no way of jeopardizing their careers, income, or chances of having a family. In fact, if you show me a nice old person, I’ll show you someone who thirty years ago thought mutual funds were just a passing fad. If you’re old and want to call someone a “cuntwaffle”, go ahead. There are basically no consequences because you’re set. Fortunately for us, this usually doesn’t happen until our twilight years, so at worst we have to deal with it for an additional decade or two (less if you just send them to a home). Unfortunately for us, Chris Brown made more money than you will in your entire life by the time he was 20.
Whenever you reach that zenith of financial independence, at that point you’re basically no longer obligated to develop as a human being. If I won the lottery now, at 28, I could only be so much of an asshole because society has spent the last decade browbeating the asshole out of me. I’ve been conditioned to hold my tongue, be considerate of others, and weigh the future consequences of my actions. Chris Brown has had one of that, because one day when he was 16 years old he became an overnight millionaire, and that’s where his development stopped. That’s why when a journalist asks him about the time he bludgeoned another celebrity to within an inch of her life, he thinks you’re the asshole. That’s why, when adults try discourage teenage girls from supporting his music, he spouts gibberish on Twitter about people being “haters”. And that’s why, in 2012, he has no qualms dressing he and his buddies up as 50 Shades of Ethnic Stereotype. He may be in his 20’s and have more money than God, but he’s still a 16 year old asshole.
Are you a guy who uses the services of an online dating site to land chicks? Are you a cheap bastard who uses the free ones, like OKCupid? Are you an idiot who approaches women with the subtlety of a muscle car that’s missing its catalytic converter? If so, you may soon be featured on my latest interview subject’s website, A(n)nals of Online Dating. Whenever someone sends a message that’s creepy, of the canned “PUA” variety, or both, not only does Satan touch himself a little and start clearing space, but there’s a good chance it’ll end up here. I spoke with the proprietor about why guys can’t get through their heads the idea that talking about their genitals is not an effective romantic strategy.
IL: Any theories as to why that is? I mean, in my experience, it’s the men who have to do most of the blind initial messaging, so maybe it’s a law-of-averages thing — with so many messages, some are bound to be creepy.
OB: I think it probably is part a law-of-averages thing and part a cultural thing. Despite increased gender equality, it’s still expected that men do the asking out and the leading when it comes to dating. So men pick who they want to date, and women either accept or reject. And online that’s magnified because you have so many people to choose from and none of the visual cues that help you to differentiate between creeps and not-creeps in the real world.
So you have a lot of guys who are trying really hard to set themselves apart and end up coming off as really weird or creepy, like guys who use pickup-artist techniques online. And then you have guys who say or do things online that they would never do face-to-face, because it would be too awkward— like initiating a conversation with “I would love to put my tongue in your ass.”
I’ll say this much, you have to appreciate the guy who casually tosses out an offer to put his tongue in a girl’s ass as his official online handshake. Is it efficient? Not at all, but he’s casting a wide net. Next time you’re talking to a friend or coworker who’s a little too pleased with himself and whose breath smells a little “off”, congratulations, because you’re looking at proof of concept personified.
Ah, the much-maligned frat guy: Meatheaded, douchebaggish, and an abuser of alcohol, implied consent, and the word “bro”. Fraternity guys get a bad rap for being the kind of guy you claim you’d never want to be and the kind of guy you’d never want your daughter to get within 50 yards of. On the internet and in popular culture, the frat bro has become a meme of its own. Turn up you collar, throw on some shades with croakies and a pair of boat shoes and post it to facebook: Boom, comedic gold. I guess a lot of more “enlightened” men see frat guys as the unsophisticated types who give manhood a bad reputation. Cool story bro, you can get to Art of Manliness by clicking here. In reality, I think the stigma stems from a whole heap of misunderstanding and just a dash of jealousy.
I suppose I should divulge that I am (or was, I’m not sure how it works after you graduate) a member of a fraternity, and I turned out fine. I loved every minute of it and wouldn’t trade it for a second. Why? Because in those four years I made close, genuine connections that will last a lifetime. It was almost non-stop fun, and when it wasn’t we had a tightly knit support system to help us in times of need. Not every college student can say the same thing. The older guys mentored the younger guys, and as you grew and moved through school you did the same thing for the guys coming up behind you. It was a great environment, especially for young men on their own for the first time without direct parental supervision. Sure, a 22-year-old senior might sound awfully young to us now, but when you’re 18 and away from home there aren’t a whole lot of other sources of advice. On top of all that, what’s better than spending four years in a house with your closest college friends?
A lot of naysayers approach fraternities with the tired insult of “oh, well when I was in college I didn’t have to pay for my friends”. That’s a great way to let everyone around you know you were lame then and still have a chip on your shoulder now. I didn’t “pay” for my friends any more than you pay for yours by paying membership dues to any club or team you might belong to. In fact, I’d wager that fraternal bonds are as (if not more) genuine than those you can form independently. People seem to forget this, but fraternities (at least the good ones) are pretty damned selective. It’s not a situation where you can walk into the house and request to exchange money for brotherhood. Instead, it’s the opposite. During the rush process, existing brothers evaluate each potential new member for fit. Of course, we want to be sure that the kid is someone we’d want to be around for the next four years, but it goes both ways. It’s just as important that a new member decide whether or not the existing brothers are his kind of people. When a bid (a request for a member to pledge a fraternity) is extended, it’s a simple “we want you if you want us” situation. I’ve dealt with military recruiters pushier than that.
Another area where fraternities catch a lot of flak is in the female department, and sadly there’ve been a few high-profile incidents in the last decade that cast Greek life as a whole in a bad light. I will say that instances of sexual misconduct are not exclusive to fraternities, as it seems to be an issue anywhere cohesive groups of alpha-male types are involved (aka sports teams). Most importantly, I hope that young men of all demographics are being educated on the subject and that reforms are being put in place to squash that kind of behavior. It’s disheartening, obviously for those who are victimized but also for the huge majority of fraternity guys who have never and will never be involved in anything of the sort. I cringe whenever someone makes a quip about a girl needing to watch her drinks at a fraternity party. First of all, that’s sound advice for anyone, regardless of gender or venue. Secondly, it makes you sound like a jealous chump. Like it or not, at most colleges there are a lot of girls who prefer to hang out with, date, and yes hook up with frat bros.
In his article “5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women” at cracked.com, David Wong brought up several interesting points, but one section in particular stood out when I was thinking of putting this article together. Growing up, we’re reminded through virtually all forms of media that the hero always, always “gets” the girl. Because we see ourselves as the hero of our own story, if we do the right thing and make the right decisions, we feel almost entitled to the girl of our dreams. Following that, when a kid spends countless hours working to maintain a high GPA and involve himself in extracurriculars, it makes sense for him to fume when the kinds of guys he can’t stand are the ones getting all the female attention.
It makes sense, but it’s not the frat guy’s fault. I don’t care if he’s on track to graduate Suma Cum Laude with a double major, I’ve got speakers mounted in my ceiling, a handle of Burnett’s vanilla vodka, and an awesome new playlist that she totally needs to come check out. Fraternity guys have figured out that, for whatever reason, many 18-22 year old girls are into guys who are arrogant, rebellious, and just a little shady. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not all about sloppy drunken hookups at parties with girls whose names you can’t bother to remember. Plenty of fraternities find themselves building connections with sororities that have similar personalities and tastes, leading to some great friendships and real, committed relationships. A couple of my brothers have been with the same sorority girls they started dating their freshmen years. I happened to marry one this fall myself.
Fraternity guys take a lot of heat, and to be fair it really we bring it on ourselves. I mean, it’s tough being thought of as so good-looking and popular, so naturally we expect the criticism. In all seriousness though, the real benefit of joining a fraternity extends well beyond your hazy college years. It’s about the friendships you make and the network you build. I have brothers spread all over the country, and it’s comforting to know that should I ever need a job, there’s a chance the guy hiring is someone with whom I spent several late-night hours hurling empty beer bottles off of a fire escape.
My alma matter’s homecoming is this weekend, and I fully intend to muster up the energy and liver function to frat as hard as I did when I was 20. My body would probably rather sleep in and take it easy, but I’m not about to miss out on the chance to build more memories with the same guys I’ve been building memories with for the last decade.
Update: Now published on BroBible.com! Really!
This may come as a surprise, but for reasons unbeknownst to even me I don’t write every article that appears on AskMen.com (just the best ones). I can’t say I’m a huge fan of all of the site’s content, but it’s usually compelling enough and sometimes there are some real gems produced by other freelance authors. For example, if you have a little extra time, take a look at this beautifully written (if not exhaustive) expose on America’s favorite insult, “douchebag”
One can only admire the art and agility with which “douchebag” tiptoes through the gender minefield. Never directly referencing the female sex organs the way that “pussy” or “twat” do, it manages, nevertheless, to taint by a subtle whiff of association. It is an equal-opportunity insult, avoiding the allusions to race and class that have characterized so many of its ilk. Douchebags can be rich or poor, straight or gay, black, white, Samoan, or Icelandic (though Europeans do seem to be a tad over-represented). Somewhere, at this very moment, a little person is no doubt standing in front of a mirror, practicing his pickup lines and admiring his freshly waxed chest. There are douchebags playing in the NBA, running for Congress and hosting the nightly news. Anyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from, can be a douchebag.
Though I can’t profess to ever having waxed my chest (ok fine I have shaved the hair around the nipple region before, but who wouldn’t?) or practiced pickup lines anywhere other than on actual women, I have at various times (both recently and in college, where I probably deserved it) been called a douchebag by someone who meant it. And I think Robbie Dillon hit the nail right on the head. It’s a beautiful insult for many reasons. The way it rolls off the tongue is more eloquent than a good “fffffuck you” yet no less stinging. It can be said in mixed company without raising eyebrows.
Most importantly, it’s that rare breed of insult that can be damning and aggrandizing at the same time. Depending on who calls you a douchebag, it’s either a signal to reign yourself in or puff your chest out even further. I know that in college, after dominating a team on the beer pong table via both skill and a slew of creative slurs and insults, being called a douchebag by some lame GDI was the highest of high praise. My initial reaction to what was at the time such a flaccid insult was to remove my shirt, shotgun a beer, shout “come at me bro” to the next team of victims and continue to accuse my female partner of flirting in an attempt to “seal the deal” later that night as we enjoyed the spoils of beer pong superstardom.
I certainly don’t miss those days and admittedly find them at times cringeworthy, but nevertheless I remember them fondly. Still, I can’t help but be impressed by “douchebag’s” continued endurance and relevance in a time where internet memes are considered passé before your mom even has a chance to forward them to you.