Apparently in patriarchy-speak, “Man” = “Total Asshole.”
George Ouzounian, aka “Maddox,” creator of “The Best Page in the Universe” and author of the forthcoming “Alphabet of Manliness,” is making more hay on testosterone than a bull breeder. His Web site, which he started in 1997 while a programmer at a telemarketing company and which trumpets his disregard for authority and political correctness, gets 1 million unique visitors a month. “The Alphabet of Manliness,” a letter-by-letter guide to all things male, macho and masculine, is pumped full of aggression toward the weak, the flabby, the girly men of the world. The book, and its author, have become this season’s publishing phenomenon: When it became available by preorder, Maddox sent a note to his mailing list and, overnight, “Alphabet” shot to the No. 1 spot on Amazon. “Alphabet” is a triumph of word-of-mouth publicity: The book’s publisher, Citadel Press, has done very little to promote it, and Maddox himself has given only a few brief interviews, but it has hovered in the top 70, often in the top 20, for the two months since its initial ascent. All this, and it doesn’t hit shelves until Tuesday, June 6.
There’s something that will not be going on my Amazon list.
Some of Maddox’s over-the-top riffs are funny, but others are tone-deaf and dumb. Warning his readers to be wary when picking up women at bars, he writes: “Listen for a faint whistling noise coming from between her legs, as if wind were passing through a large, hollow cavern. If you hear this sound, your prospective woman may have a condition commonly referred to as ‘whore.'”
Oh, so funny! Especially when you consider that the kind of guy who chuckles at this joke may have a condition commonly referred to as “pencil dick.”
Kidding, kidding. See, just like it’s dumb to make fun of women’s reproductive organs, it’s dumb to make fun of men’s.
My favorite part of the interview, though, is when George tells us his inspiration for this manly manual:
Well, I was reading this book about lesbians, and it had pictures in it. It was almost like a graphic novel. And I was thinking, “Why hasn’t someone done this kind of book, except for guys?” The way I’ve written the book is as a parody of a children’s book and a reference book. And I always wanted to write children’s books, except I hate kids.
So a book about how to be a total guy’s guy was inspired by girls and gays. Ha. But don’t worry, this book is about a new masculinity:
The new masculinity is a muted version of the old masculinity. When I talk about old masculinity I’m talking about guys like my dad. My dad is a really tough guy. He fought in Korea, and if you took a look at this guy’s hands you would see [that they] are big and callused and gnarled and there’s stuff just oozing from them, and I think he has oil stains that are there permanently. And my hands in comparison are not like that. Sometimes he grabs my hands, and he calls me a pussy, and he walks away. To give you an idea what kind of guy he is, we went fishing once and he didn’t have anything to gut and clean the fish, so he bit into its stomach and bit its guts out and spit them on the ground. True story. I was 13 or 14.
So it’s basically about not being a pussy, minus the fish guts. Or something.
I’m not sure the feminist movement accomplished all its goals. People today have a backlash to the feminist movement. The [figure] who is remembered when you think of feminism, by people who haven’t studied it, is the [un]shaved girl burning her bra, standing on campus screaming at everybody. That’s definitely not a positive image. I think the feminist movement went a little too far. But a lot of things have changed for the better from the eras of segregation and huge racism and the civil rights movement.
So the feminist movement didn’t accomplish all of its goals, but it also went too far. Hmm. But he does make the brilliant observation that lots of things have actually gotten better since we ended segregation and stuff. Perhaps he’d like a pat on the back?
But thank God for Rebecca Traister, who nails him with some questions about gender and race (her questions in bold):
I noticed on your site that you seem sensitive to issues of race, in entries like your rant about the term “African-American.” Some of the things about women in your book — for example when you write about the wind whistling through a woman’s cavernous vagina — would you be able to make those kinds of derogatory jokes about, for instance, black people?
No, definitely not. Because first of all, I’m not black. I think if someone makes those types of jokes about racial or ethnic groups, they have to have viewed it themselves. Very few comics are able to do that and get away with it, and the idea is if you understand the trouble or the pain that that stereotype comes from, then it’s OK to laugh at it because you’re laughing at it yourself. As for the writing about women, one interesting statistic is that 40 to 45 percent of my readers are female. The types of women who read my material and don’t get offended and like it are really smart women who get it. They know at end of the day [what the reality is]. I wrote this piece once called “Why change your car’s oil when your girlfriend can do it?” and it was about how I was sitting inside my house on a lazy Saturday playing videogames and my girlfriend was out trying to change my car’s oil and it was this crazy misogynistic piece. [In life] I treat my girlfriend with respect; I don’t expect her to do the dishes or the laundry. The section on owning a woman was written as a parody of a dog-training manual and it originally had a lot more offensive stuff that my publisher made me take out for people who didn’t understand dog manuals. I had stuff about checking her stool for worms before you choose a girlfriend.
But I’m not a misogynist, really! In real life I dno’t even make my girlfriend do laundry!
And the really smart women get it — unlike the dumb feminazis who think that jokes about owning women are boring, played-out, and uncreative.
OK, but back to the part about how you wouldn’t make jokes about black people because you’re not black — you’re also not a woman.
That’s a very good observation. And the women who read my writing, who read these misogynistic observations, understand that I have in fact studied, and I do in fact live the opposite way. My dad is probably [more] traditional and he thinks women have their role in society and that role is to take care of children and to cook and to clean. At the end of the day the reason I write this stuff is because guys like it, and the majority of my audience is men. It’s so out there; it’s so wrong; and I think I’m going after some easy targets here.
Didn’t he just say that almost half of his audience is female? So, sure, he’s still technically correct in saying that the majority of his audience is male — but not by much.
And what’s his point here? “I write awful, misogynist things, but I don’t actually live like that, and plus guys like it, so it’s ok”? Replace the word “misogynist” with “racist” and see if that still works.
But why are women an easier target than a racial minority?
Well, that’s a really tough question but probably the difference is in the scope of the suffering. Talking about not being able to vote versus picking cotton in the field … I don’t know, it just seems the civil rights movement for blacks in this country was against a much stronger evil. Teasing women about not being able to vote is different than teasing a black person about the history of slavery. I’d have to think about it more. [Institutionalized racism] is a much more extreme version of discrimination; there’s a lot more pain and suffering associated with the civil rights movement.
Yes, we can all agree that slavery was certainly a whole lot worse than not being able to vote. No argument there. But I think it’s a little more complicated than that, isn’t it?
But can I be a humorless feminist for a moment by suggesting that the lesson here seems to be that women are a group it’s still OK — and funny! — to say mean and derogatory things about?
Publicist K. Darryl Pierce: I was just going to say that. The bottom line is, you can say these things about women. We’re not saying you guys don’t have a point!
(In a follow-up e-mail, Maddox clarified that “my jabs at women, taken in context, are not serious, which is why it’s okay. At the end of the day, I’m writing these things in a book where I also write about lesbian robots, boners, Cyclopses, and pirates, so people know I’m not serious, which is why I can get away with it.”)
Ok. So as long as it isn’t serious, and it’s accompanying writing about lesbian robots and boners, it’s all right to say really offensive things? Would it be ok then to write a book on Whiteness that employed racism the same way that this author employs sexism — so long as it also had jokes about cyclopses and pirates?
Let me be clear here that I’m not trying to argue that racism is universally unacceptable and therefore doesn’t exist. Racism is widespread and common. However, it’s usually levelled in more insidious ways, under the guise of “welfare politics” or “immigration” or “the war on terror.” And while racist books often do quite well (think “The Bell Curve”), I suspect that if someone wrote a book about the Alphabet of Whiteness, which essentially involved stereotyping and talking about owning Blacks, it would not go over quite so well.
I shudder to think what our kids are going to be like. Is the next generation going to continue to be totally puss-onified? I think I just coined that! But are they going to continue the trend toward being pussies? I don’t know. It’s kind of unsettling. But when I talk about women within their roles, I mean it nostalgically. I don’t mean it in the way that people do when they want to plot some nefarious scheme to keep women down. I mean it in the nostalgic sense. When I came home it was a nice feeling to know that my mom was baking cookies. It was just a nice feeling. It’s not an intentional conspiracy to keep women down.
I don’t think anyone said it was a conspiracy; we’re just saying that you’re an ass. As for this “nostalgically” shit, you’re clearly priviliging traditional female roles above modern ones, and overtly arguing that women should return to them. It may not be “an intentional conspiracy to keep women down,” but it sure is sexist crap.
Well, some people might compare you to [Ann Coulter]. You say things that are controversial and un-p.c. and I don’t think you believe a lot of what you say.
The difference is when I joke about a woman going to make me a sandwich, people will shrug it off. But there are significant numbers of people out there who take her word as gospel. I have a lot of pull with my fans; I have credibility; and I haven’t made money on ads. So my fans trust me, and I if I attack someone I have to be very careful … There was a guy in Atlanta who plagiarized me and I wrote about it and my fans went nuts. Finally he read an on-air apology. I didn’t want the guy to lose his job. So there’s a lot of responsibility you have to have when you have a voice. People listen to you. My fans, a lot of them are really smart, but some really aren’t. And they take some of the things I say at face value. It’s almost a fight-club mentality. I’ve even received e-mails from people in militias, saying “Hey Maddox, we have 20 soldiers around the country waiting for your orders.” It’s kinda scary. But better that someone like me can command these people not to do anything rather than someone who’s really nuts or more nuts than I am. So back to Ann Coulter: She’s a good example of someone who has a voice but isn’t acting responsibly with it.
Is he even following his own train of thought here? “The awful things that I say are ok because no one listens to me, but I have to be careful because I have all these fans and they’ll do whatever I tell them to, but Ann Coulter is bad because she has fans and she says bad stuff.” Gotcha.
Beyond being just bizarre, this interview really does shed some light on how narrow gender roles are harmful to both men and women. The men who fall for this kind of stuff — who believe that they have to be tougher than the next guy, that they have to control “their” women, that their hands have to be calloused and that they shouldn’t have real feelings to empathy — are inevitably hurt by it. No man will ever be the epitome of Manliness, and the more that standard is held up as the singular ideal for young men, the more men suffer. And here is where men could really benefit from a feminim that rejects traditional gender roles and emphasizes individuality and self-actualization. A man could play football, work as a receptionist, build a deck, sleep crading his baby, watch Chuck Norris movies and bake himself cupcakes with no culturally-enforced contradictions there. I could do the same.
What would be so bad about a world like that?
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