Behind the Masc

21 Mar

OK, I’ve been a bad blogger.  It’s been almost a month since my last post here. But I haven’t been that bad. You see, I’ve been posting away over at Masc Magazine, a new blog that looks at MASCulinity in politics, popular culture and everyday life. So far I’ve blogged about Yiddishisms, Barack Obama, Ken dolls, and now Steve Harvey, which I’ll paste below since it hasn’t gone live yet. I’ll make an effort to post future pieces here as well, but make sure you check out the site itself. The other contributors have a lot of important things to say about “who’s the man?” and what the even means. My latest post after the jump…

Have you heard of Steve Harvey? He’s the comedian turned self-help guru who has been making the T.V. talk show rounds lately, promoting his book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Harvey gives dating advice to single women. He promises to reveal “men’s secret playbook” and teach women how to “win the game.”

I stumbled upon Harvey’s apperance on Oprah a couple of weeks ago and at first I was impressed. He’s funny and self-deprecating, with a mischievous teddy bear charm. Harvey urges women to set their standards high and to delay sex until they find out what men really want from them– whether they’re “subsistence fishermen,” or merely “sports fishermen.” He preaches that men essentially need three things from women– support, loyalty and “the cookie,” which is his cutesy, network-friendly euphemism for sex. “Slow down ladies,” he says. “We can’t hold your hand unless you let us.” All reasonably sound –if simplistic–advice.

But then Harvey lapses into cliche. On relationships, he insists that “the woman controls everything,” that they have “all the power.” He says that “a man has to mark his territory” and that every women should adhere to a 90-day probationary period before granting her partners his “benefits package”– another cutesy euphemism for sex.

Wait a minute. I’m all for empowering women, but why should they have “all the power”? Isn’t a relationship about sharing and compromise, a constant negotiation based on trust and communication and not some 90-day money-back guarantee?

A relationship is not a zero-sum game; It should be a partnership, not a power struggle. Instead of telling women how to “win the game,” perhaps Harvey can teach couples how to move beyond it.

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