Tuesday, February 14, 2006

John Tierney's Valentine For Us

On a day when even the very sun kisses the foreheads of lovers everywhere, what does the wingnut boy of the New York Times give us? A war plan for men in this war of the sexes, a Mars-and-Venus kind of crap explanation of how men are not hard-wired for emotions, instructions on how to pretend love so that men can get as much pussy as they want. And yes, that was crude writing, but the message of Tierney's little piece is that crude. He does this all while pretending to flog a book by Scott Halzman, another one of those "men-and-women-are-totally-different-species" theories. Some examples of Tierney's Valentine:

You will find these jobs in a handy chart in Haltzman's book, "The Secrets of Happily Married Men," which is a work of marketing genius. Haltzman, a psychiatrist at Brown University, knows that most guys will not buy a self-help book unless it tells them how to make more money or actualize their inner golfer.

So he's aimed this one at women, from the subtitle — "Eight Ways to Win Your Wife's Heart Forever" — to the Herculean lists of husbandly duties. He has been busy inscribing copies for wives who are buying it to give to their husbands on Valentine's Day.

If you get one, do not throw it away. Do not be intimidated by the daily job chart. The genius of this book is that it looks appealing to women shoppers while offering male readers a reassuringly subversive message. It's a book that asks politically incorrect questions about men and women at home — the neglected front in the gender wars.


The standard advice for bungling husbands is to go with their wives to a marriage counselor, but Haltzman disagrees. He's a marriage counselor who advises men to beware of marriage counseling. While other therapists urge men to get in touch with their feelings and empathize with their wives', Haltzman figures this is a losing game because their brains aren't wired for it.

They can't express their emotions or empathize as well as women can. Telling a man to solve his marital problems by talking about his emotions for an hour is like telling a woman to solve her problems at the office by joining the guys for a weekend game of paintball.

Even when men can express their emotions, they run a risk. "Women say they want men to be vulnerable, but I say to men, Take your time," Haltzman advises. "Your wife is looking to feel a certain degree of security and trust in you. Until she feels that way about you, it's precarious to talk about your anger or your fears. Either she loses respect for you or she begins to panic — if you're not in control, where does that leave her?"


Yes, husbands may usually make more money on the work front, but wives still typically make the important decisions on the home front, like where the children go to school or how to spend the family's money. Wives also (and Haltzman presents supporting data here on the gender gap in libido) tend to make the decision on whether to have sex.

Did that last sentence get your attention, gentlemen? Then enough talk. Start working on that list.

You know, if I wrote in the manner of John Tierney but substituted women for men in every sentence, I'd be called truly horrible names by most people. Yet he can get away with it. Such is this world where sex-based hardwiring doesn't have to be proved at all but where every word uttered by a feminist must be double-screened for truthfulness.

To introduce some balance into Tierney's message I confess that I have a lot of trouble analyzing emotions and that I dislike doing it intensely. I have had more boyfriends than I can count who were better at it than I was.

Let's introduce a little more balance by noting that the following verse was written by a man, one Bill Shakespeare:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.