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Open Thread: Cracked's "5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women"

Have you seen David Wong's article on Cracked, "5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women"? In it, he posits that men are encouraged to harbor a "frenzied, 'burn the witch!' hatred" toward women that stems from being "told society owes us a hot girl," and thinking women are "conspiring with our boners to ruin us," among other reasons.

While Wong's perspective is interesting—especially on a dudecentric site like Cracked—there's a lot going on in this article that's rubbing me the wrong way. First of all, why is Wong exclusively addressing women in this piece? These points are kind of old news to lots of women. (Oh, men would rather look at my breasts than eulogize their grandmas? Weird example, but I'm not too surprised.) Also, his tone is one of acceptance—sorry ladies, but this is just how it is for guys. Are we really supposed to feel sympathy when Wong says, "we're starving, and all women are various types of food. Only instead of food, it's sex. And we're trying to conduct our everyday business around the fact that we're trying to renew our driver's license with a talking pair of boobs"? How about you stop thinking of women as food because WOMEN AREN'T FOOD?

white man in a hoodie standing against a wall looking bummed out
Bummer. Please don't eat us, though.

The whole thing smacks of evolutionary psychology in the worst way. According to Wong, men are trained to hate women and that sucks, but hey—that's just how men are. I'm not a man so I can't speak to men's internal lives, but I know plenty of men and I don't get the sense that a lava flow of white-hot hate magma is burning inside all of them, just waiting to erupt. Am I missing something or does this piece read kind of like a non-apology apology letter? (Sorry we called you sluts but hey, we think you're sluts.)

Here's Wong's take on men in the co-ed workplace:

A once-great world of heroes and strength and warriors and cigars and crude jokes has been replaced by this world of grumpy female supervisors looming over our cubicle to hand us a memo about sending off-color jokes via email. Yes, that entire narrative is a grossly skewed and self-serving version of how society actually evolved. It doesn't matter.

"It doesn't matter"? Hm.

Of course, Wong leaves out a lot (well, everything) when it comes to intersections of race, class, and sexuality, but then again this is Cracked, where the first story I'm encouraged to read is "You Might Be a Zombie!," so a nuanced critique might be too much to ask for. Still, it's tough to have this conversation and leave out so many crucial elements of intersectionality.

Enough from me though, this is an open thread! And this article has 6,132 comments and counting, and 1.6 million (million!) people have read it since yesterday, so obviously it's striking a chord. What's your take? Is Wong sparking an important conversation about social constructs and sexism, or is he just trying to give sexist straight guys a pass for staring at women's boobs?

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Comments

28 comments have been made. Post a comment.

I'm going with the pass and

I'm going with the pass and the boobs.

I'm going with the pass. And

I'm going with the pass. And the boobs.

Additionally, the stakes are much higher for women. According to this article, men fear women because of their power to crush their precious egos.

Women fear men because of their ability to crush their skulls.

There's a bit of a difference there.

I disagree. His article was

I disagree. His article was giving satirical insight into the way society sets women up to be hated. When he wrote "It doesn't matter," the unwritten (and, frankly, unnecessary) ellipsis was "[to these men who hate you]." Even thought reality is against them, it doesn't matter to the He-Man Woman-Hater; once upon a time, there weren't all these broads in the office and he could walk around making fart jokes and board meetings.

I enjoyed Wong's piece and it was directed at women who very adamantly proclaim "I'm not a feminist." The amount of hatred he's gotten in the comments reminds us how much so many men *do* hate women. He's writing a list of ways and reasons people hate women, not a treatise or a course for correction. That's not what he was aiming for. The first step is to spell it out. People don't do things without it being brought to their attention.

I agree with the above

I agree with the above poster. I read the article earlier today and was rather impressed with the attitude of Wong considering it was being presented on a website that describes itself as being "all about dick jokes." Wong was presenting the situation as he sees it, not so much making excuses for the attitude, and I think he purposely shows the this kind of male psyche in a stark, unflattering light. The reader comments were far less surprising, however.

Also agree

With some reservations, I liked the article. He said at least once in the article that the explanations don't excuse anything. He consistently portrayed these reasons for hating women as crazy and infantile. Yes, the article didn't offer solutions, but I think there is still value in acknowledging and ridiculing these attitudes.
That being said, such explanations are less than scientific and even the truer ones only apply to a portion of men. You have to take it with a grain of salt, but I thought Wong's intentions were honorable.

Maybe it's because I've read his other articles

To me, at least, his entire premise is "Yes, these are douchey behaviors drilled into us by society, but we can beat this. And if you don't you're an asshole." He's incredibly sarcastic toward the kind of dudes who fall into these traps without examining why, or really even caring. I mean, reading the intro you can see he doesn't think these guys are good or right, or that conditioning gives them a pass. I don't think he offers a solution, because his solution seems to be a little introspection and deciding to not be a jerk. In no way, shape or form do I read approval of any of these behaviors.

I think it was a good piece

I think it was a good piece for his audience. If he were writing for something like Bitch, then yeah, his work would have to be reviewed a little more carefully, but I think the main thing to realize is that a lot--I mean, a LOT-- of men still have these attitudes that he's putting forward; that we DESERVE a woman, that we can't help it if we're overly sexual, etc. I'm not a huge fan of the intermittent evolutionary psychology either, but I think what he's saying is that even if we have some innate desire to "spread our seed", that doesn't justify this sort of attitude a lot of men have.

5 ways men etc

It seems that Wong wants both to be taken seriously AND to be seen as a mammary-obsessed dickhead at the same time. Guys are like that. That's his point. Of course it is apologist for boob-staring. The hatred men have for women has so little to do with women and so much to do with economic challenges and the shift of women into different societal roles. If men were interested in building a better world there would be something to discuss, perhaps, but (in the over generalizing spirit of the article) men enjoy their infantile obsession with lactation, getting laid and being in charge. Men do not believe it is necessary to consider in any meaningful way anything beyond the point of their dickbrains so the entire concept of a dialogue between the genders in order to rachet down the hatred is not an option.

Pass

I didn't expect much from an article on Cracked. I don't go to Cracked for good analyses on misogyny or rape culture. I go to cracked for not entirely scientifically accurate analyses on possible zombie outbreaks. I didn't find the article insightful, and I also didn't find it funny, which is what Cracked articles are ostensibly supposed to be.

My problem with his article was that he placed the blame with amorphous social processes that are neither convincing causes for misogyny, nor are they targets for change. I don't want to get too in depth with a critique because Cracked=Zombie Apocalypse, not articulate social commentary, but I agree that Wong seemed resigned to both the hatred and the causes. Addressing women seemed to me to suggest that the onus for change was on women. "Yes it's crazy that we hate you because we've been raised to believe that you owe it to us to be hot and to have sex with us, but I mean, we were raised this way. So it would just be easier for everyone if you live up to our impossible standards, and then maybe we'll give you a pass."

What a load of crap.

The Cracked piece reads like a eulogy mourning the slow death of white male privilege. Especially the part about the cigars, memos and female supervisors. Oh boo hoo, you have to deal with a woman who has the power to fire you for being an insensitive jackass. Poor baby.

The entire thing also smells strongly of "boys will be boys." In some ways it's a good breakdown of how society trains men into misogyny, but in every instance, it gives men an excuse or an out for their crappy behavior, or a "that's just how it is" line. Talk about a non-apology. There is NO excuse. Is it really that impossible for men to start doing some of the work of looking inside themselves and realizing how shitty these kinds of attitudes are? Are they going to continue perpetually until we somehow force them to change?

Good goddesses. *shakes head*

Boys Will Be Boys

Thankyou!

That's the phrase I was trying to think of when I was reading it: 'boys will be boys' is exactly what Wong is saying. He may have dressed it up a little (so it was 'boys will be dicks' - but he's still trying to excuse dickish behaviour because "that's just what society makes us, baby!")

I also - as a man - refuse to accept any argument which paints men as sex-obsessed boob-staring morons; anyone who has lived in the real world for a while - and therefore actually had a sex life - will quickly realise that we (society? men?) just like to pretend that women don't have the same all-pervasive sex-drive as the other half of humanity.
It doesn't actually hold up in reality.

And also the idea that any of us - man or woman - is genuinely at the mercy of his sex drive is patent nonsense. He may as well have just said "all men are rapists" and left the article at that.

We should be spending less time trying to excuse and explain misogynistic arseholery and more time telling people that it is simply intolerable.

I've actually been pretty

I've actually been pretty impressed with Cracked's non-dudecentricness, though I admit that the bar is pretty low for sites of that ilk. They've had several excellent articles about race (the 'soft' racism against Asians was an interesting analysis) and some good ones about men's screwed up perceptions about women (one about female superhero costumes was particularly interesting). I mean, it's easy to dismiss them because they're satirical and it's hard to think they're not messing with us but they've had some really insightful stuff on there.

That said, I felt similarly to you about this article. It was a bit of a shrug and "that's the way it goes" vibe which bugged me a lot. It actually sparked a long conversation later about whether there really are such significant differences in the amount of time men v. women think about sex and if so, is that actually biological or social. Anyway. The article bugged me but not as much as some, is what I'm saying, and Cracked can be pretty awesome.

I expected better from Cracked

I agree - I actually expected better from Cracked than this, I've seen them post some genuinely interesting and insightful commentary on occasion, particularly the two articles on female superheroes from Luke McKinney and several articles by Christina H on subjects like racism and fat shaming. In comparison, this article was extremely disappointing. I started to feel really uncomfortable reading it when the author started talking about men seeing women as food, or just talking boobs. I'm bothered by arguments that act as though men are so immature and utterly at the mercy of their sex drives that they are incapable of naturally seeing women as human beings - that seems like such a degrading oversimplification of people of all genders.

I read Cracked regularly and

I read Cracked regularly and really enjoy a lot of their content. Some of my favorite pieces are of the less-than "politically correct" variety (I love Seanbaby) but of course I like when Cracked has these weird progressive moments amid the dick jokes, like "6 Things Rich People Need to Stop Saying" (which is also by David Wong) and these two articles on female superheroes by Luke McKinney. 

That said, the one thing about Wong's article that really bothered me was something Kesley has already pointed out: the final point about men only seeing women as talking boobs. It does smack of a sort of evo-psych apologism for sexist behavior. The underlying idea seems to be that men "can't help" seeing women as sexual objects; it's hard-wired into their brains or something. It's actually weirdly reactionary: All men think about is sex? All the time? They're constantly "starving" for it? It sounds like an argument "men's rights" groups might try to make; that women have the "real power" and use their wiles to keep men in line. The very idea perpetuates rape culture by essentializing the kind of attitudes and behaviors that foster an unsafe environment for women, but it also just doesn't give men enough credit. 

The article is intended to be

The article is intended to be funny. (I'm not going to go into whether it actually is or not, you can decide for yourselves.) My abject horror was to the Facebook comments underneath Cracked's link on facebook. The responses were just as violent and hate filled as those cited in Wong's article... and not just targeting one woman but women in general.

I give it a solid "meh"

Yeah, my thoughts on this article seemed to echo many of yours. I was with it up to a point, and then he made the claim that everything created in society was created so women would think men were powerful, which completely erases womens' contributions. I know many people are saying that Wong is often satirical, and I have to say I'm not familiar with his work outside of this article, but I felt that this piece was not written as pure satire. It was an uncomfortable mix of humor and seriousness that left me questioning how much of this ingrained misogyny Wong actively partakes in, how much he may tacitly agree with. The line about women being "food" and a "talking pair of boobs" disturbed me, for example, as it smacks of the old "She was asking for it." Wong actually mentions this phrase, calling it "bullshit," I believe, but then seems to go ahead and defend it: "Well you have BOOBS! What do you EXPECT?"

I also always bristle at the evolutionary psychology approach--you know, the one that says that ALL women like to cuddle things and cry and hate sex and ALL men like to guffaw and divebomb cleavage and kill stuff, while erasing nonbinary folk in the process. Wong seemed to start out by saying that society breeds misogynist and sexist ideas, but then sort of doubles back and goes, "It's intrinsic. Sorry, ladies." I was also rather taken aback at how heterocentric the article was. Wong is clearly talking about heterosexual men, but seems under the assumption that he doesn't need to clarify this, which raises the problem of assumed heterosexuality. In all, I thought the article was a good idea, but maybe just needed more time to form and some more editing and research because the end product was muddled and confusing.

Like I said, I'm not familiar with Wong's writing, and so I'm willing to allow that this was, perhaps, an orchestrated piece meant to spark this kind of discussion. But honestly, I wouldn't bet on it.

I always bristle when the

I always bristle when the evolutionary psychology approach is characterized as making claims about ALL anything. It does not. It talks about tendencies and percentages. Making a straw man of it does nothing to advance the dialogue.

And I took Wong's repeated use (and implying) of ALL men as a comedic exaggeration. The sort of thing that might trick some young hetero dudes into listening who need to be made aware of how the media is encouraging their worst tendencies, leaving them unhappy and making life more difficult than it needs to be for women.

Some good, some not so much

I thought some of his points were actually pretty good, and some not so much. Over all I didn't think the article excused any behaviors. I think 4 and 5, about how the media treat women are very valid, and I've seen similar complaints on feminists sites (worded differently). 3 is pure blame shifting, but he seems to acknowledge that, and not excuse it. 2 is a critique of what society teaches men about history (and he states that it has nothing to do with actual history). My biggest complaint is that about 2 is I feel cheated out of not having someone to blame for not living in a time when I could give into my little-kid urges. 1 I really, really dislike, but not knowing how men *feel* there is little I can say.

Good Article

I like it as I hated it. It made me angry to read all of those things, knowing somehow that they were mostly true but never having considered the depth with which is was true.

I think the point of the article was to point out the problem, not make excuses for or dismiss that kind of thought and behavior. I know several very well educated and intelligent men who read the article and got angry too; not because they felt accused or wronged but because they felt they had been manipulated most of their lives to act and think in those ways and never even realized it.

The guy is dead-on, sadly. It's just a matter of A.) not putting up with it, and B.) getting it out there so that both men and women recognize and start changing it.

Food for thought?

It seems like the author should have named it "5 ways modern men are trained to hate young attractive women" this seems to be the main focus of the "hatred" he is talking about. What about all the other women in the world? There are quite a majority of women who are not in the 18-30 age group, or who do not conform to the standard of sexual attractiveness that the media so ubiquitously shoves under our noses. Are they off the hook? Or are they just supposed to sit around feeling inadequate?
I found this article really interesting, and also a great opening to conversations on gender relations, because he states obvious problems but reserves judgment. Is he validating this lack of control, excusing it, challenging it? I think he is just bringing it out.
The big concern to me is not this uncontrollable desire, but the lack of cultural backing to the idea of respect for the objects of this desire. Our society is full of instant gratification, not just with sexuality, but with everything, getting something you want without having to do very much to get it. There is an entitlement to this too, as though it is a natural inalienable right, and it seems, to me, to degrade and impoverish our ability to be satisfied.
The other thing this really highlights to me is the idea that for men the purpose of a relationship is to have sex, where for women the purpose of sex is to have a relationship. If women's value in our society is dependent on their sexiness, then "unattractive" women end up feeling unworthy of love, power, and even respect, despite the quality of their character, and "attractive" women feel entitled to love, power and respect despite the quality of their character.

I'm going with he was

I'm going with he was joking.... mostly. The story was totally tongue in check and it sounds like you missed it.

Mediocre but Promising

I'll spare myself looking at the comments on the cracked article, but I read it and I have to say that while it makes some good points, it is weakened by the supposedly scientific evidence that men are ruled by their boners/unable to control their sex drive. That's sexist silliness.
On the other hand, it gives me hope to see an article like that on such a site of dudeliness as cracked (which writes very much to a heterosexual male reader, even the articles written by their token female columnist). Even a gesture as simple as "maybe we should think about our own misogyny and where it comes from culturally" is a breakthrough in the current cultural climate, even when it's followed up with "...but it's not really our fault; we're trained to hate women".
I think that finally after the last decade of horrors we might actually be seeing a swing back to holding individuals responsible for their oppressive behaviors and *isms, and might finally be moving away from "hipster" or "ironic" misogyny and racism.

I wouldn't dismiss it entirely...

I read cracked.com from time to time and remember reading this article but not necessarily disliking it. When I saw this open thread I decided to re-read the article to see how I overlooked the “that sucks, but hey—that's just how men are.” excuse that Kelsey has seen in the article. And then I scroll down to the comments and see that others have associated Wong with perpetuating the phrase “boys will be boys.” However, after reading the article a second time I still stand by my first instinct. David is not excusing or apologizing for male behavior nor is he saying it is right. In fact, multiple times throughout the article he talks about how these are problems. If he felt that this was just “boys being boys” then he wouldn’t see it as problematic. Problems have solutions and though David did not provide his 'solution;' I don't believe social commentary requires a plan of action. Its purpose often is to make people aware and spark discussion, both catalysts for change. It is also important to keep in mind that Cracked.com is first and foremost a humor website and that much of this article is satire. This does not mean that David is himself perpetuating misogyny, but showing how it is internalized by men through the messages they get while living in our society. It is something to be taken with a grain of salt, but not entirely dismissed.

Every feminist should love this article.

Wong is arguing the radical idea that women are actually intelligent humans. His article has a hint of satire, but he is blatantly stating that women are more than a party favor. More than that, in his lead he actually expressing his disgust with misogyny--

"If you're not the type to keep up with ugly, soul-killing political controversies, let me catch you up: A while back, hugely popular political commentator Rush Limbaugh lost a bunch of advertisers because he publicly called a college girl a slut and a prostitute after she suggested that health insurance plans should cover birth control."

This is a feminist article, and Bitch Magazine should have been able to pick up on that and praise Wong, not bash his pro-women-as-intellects attitude.

Megan Harrigfeld, Boise ID

Sparks fly

Is Wong sparking an important conversation about social constructs and sexism, or is he just trying to give sexist straight guys a pass for staring at women's boobs??

Judging from the 10,000+ comments generated thus far (with comments still happening in august. the article was written in march) I would say he is sparking an important and revealing conversation about social constructs and sexism.

I give Wong props

As a regular reader of Cracked I read Wong's so-called apologetic comments as absolutely dripping with sarcasm - in keeping with the tone of all of the other articles I have read on Cracked.

He made some valid points and did so in such a way that the douche-bags who need to hear it most might actually pick up on them. Wong is a hero!

I'm posting his article to my facebook, and resisting the urge to tag anyone.

I agree with all your

I agree with all your criticism. But:

I read feminist blogs because I care about the problem way women are treated, I didn't used to understand that it was a real issue. I used to make kitchen jokes, I used to tell my girlfriend how to dress, I used to call women slurs when they made me mad. I don't do that anymore and that kind of thing makes me sick. In the past few months I have changed more than I did in the previous 5 years.
And I attribute a lot of that to the day I read this article and realized exactly how I was being a misogynist idiot while considering myself the model of virtue. That led me to SRS and shrub and understanding how I'm not just going to default into being a good person by ignoring everyone else's problems. But I never would have read any of these things if I hadn't read this article written for nerdy white men who think they're smart.

I agree with what you said, but I thought that was worth noting that this article changed my life for the better.

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