Mar 6, 2010

sexual parity, Tucker Max and the deconstruction of the social myth

i have recently become mildly obsessed with gender roles and sexuality. my favorite book to date on the issue: tucker max's i hope they serve beer in hell. definitely a great first-hand account of the male perspective of sexual relationships in the twenty first century.

some explanation of the tucker max character is in order. tucker max bangs chicks. tucker max does not bang the most beautiful chicks (or usually not, from what i can tell). tucker max tries, at all costs, to avoid 'ugly' chicks. tucker max gets drunk a lot. tucker max is known by his friends for his comedic aptitude, typically which is created by being the loudest, most aggressive person involved in a conversation. or yelling match, take your pick. tucker max considers himself to pertain to the top 5% of intellectuals. in the book, no exact numbers are given, but tucker max thinks that tucker max is one smart cookie. (note: this commentary on tucker max's intellectual prowess is not intended to make a judgement or assessment of the actual intellect of tucker max, in fact i would argue that actual intellect is of far less import than the perception of our own intelligence that we hold. merely, i hope only to illustrate the 'mental model', so to speak, of the Mr. Max persona, specifically as he views himself.) from what i can gather, tucker max has a retinue of girls who consider him to be available for 'sexual' adventures whenever.

tucker max would call himself a macho. mysogynist, i don't know. nor do i really care. point is, tucker max is a male who enjoys sex with women.

so it's funny, when he comes to the realization at one point that one of the girls from his regular 'retinue' (my word, not his), could in fact be doing the same thing he does with girls. what does he do when discovers the potential for double dealing with women? what tucker max does: gets drunk. but the drunk mess that tucker max describes in this passage is not the tucker max of reckless abandon, but a man who is struggling to deal with the implications of gender equity. women may use men as much as they use us. it's a fair trade. and this realization, for tucker max, renders him incapable of enjoying it. to quote the man himself: "My worldview was immediately and permanently altered. It was like the first time you turn on a black light in a hotel room and see cum stains covering every surface: for better or for worse, your world is never the same."

this experience officially, from my analysis, marks the creation a jaded being. meaning, specifically, that the pleasure and excitement tucker found in conquering the unknown women he met in bars became less of a pleasure and more of a self-serving habit. not that his previous actions were not in the least self-serving, but they weren't a habit. they were an adventure, a tryst. "[W]omen were doing the same thing to me that I was doing to them, except I didn't even know they were doing it. For the entirety of my life up to that point I thought I had the upper hand, that I was the player and not the playee when in fact, I was possibly just another chump. The illusion of control was shattered." Knowing that he was just in actor in a game, being acted upon as well as acting upon others, took away the mystery of the hunt.

feminine equality destroys the myth of the chase. and as tucker max can attest to, the loss of that "illusion of control" is devastating to the male psyche, at least in matters of sexual games.

is there a road out of this world of equity that is equitable? can we reinstate mystery without reinstating gender roles? were gender roles ever such a thing to be banished in the first place, or was it necessary to deconstruct them before we could have mutual respect at a societal level? or is what tucker max experienced something that every man and woman will eventually have to come to accept?

tucker doesn't seem to think that it should. in the post script to his realization, he urges his fellow male readers not to dwell on this. "Don't think about this for too long fellas. ... Just move on." Not that Tucker can return to his innocence, but he wishes that he can bury it under the rug. [One could argue with Tucker as to the wisdom of sharing this revelation with his readers (why destroy the illusion of others?), but concealing this story would stray from tucker max's tell all philosophy of revealing the gritty details of his life to his audience.] To hear him tell it, it seems that he is recommending we all return to the state of ignorant bliss. But can we ever really return back to a point of unknowing?

the conclusion that i draw from tucker max's experience is that the sexual freedom of women has, via the destruction of the masculine myth of control, increased the occurrence of jadedness in our culture.

we know what pleasure is. we are aware of pain. we are aware that we are only one out of millions, that the women that we pursue (or men) are using us as much as we are using them. thanks to the internet, advances in microbiology, neuroscience, and physics, and the increasing permissiveness of our society, we are slowly destroying the mystery that remains for us to uncover. our destruction of myths, not only in the realms of gender, but in all aspects of our construction of reality.

i keep flashing back to a book i read while in 7th grade about a young brain damaged girl that is transferred into the body of a monkey. (i can't find it on google). rendered a spectator to the fate of her species, she watches as human civilization breaks down and destroys itself. in final acts of desperation, droves of humans would link hands and walk into the sea. eventually, the protagonist's mother joins one of these sea-faring expeditions.

is jaded merely the first stop on our train to societal despair? what kind of extremism becomes permissible when the mystery is gone? what is our quest to destroy mystery and myths doing to our psyche? how does this affect our ability to find satisfaction in our daily lives?

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