Fun with Fratire

24Oct06

For better or for worse, I spent half of my undergraduate career in a committed relationship with my frat guy of choice. Throughout our courtship, I couldn’t help but be turned off by the vibe at his house and ultimately by him, as he both embraced and embodied what the New York Times recently coined “fratire.” Although I loved spending time at the house and not all the brothers made me feel as uncomfortable as my own boyfriend did – in fact, some of my best friends in college belonged to the same fraternity – there was always an underlying misogyny among my boyfriend’s clique that I could feel, but could never fully articulate. There was something about the celebration of male mediocrity that felt somewhat offensive to me, personally. The eternal question to my boyfriend: how can you watch The Man Show, laugh at the objectification of women and jokes made at our expense and then tell me to lighten up? And THEN expect me to find you even mildly attractive? Ok, fine, I can see the humor in almost anything. What I can not see, however, is the appeal of defining yourself in accordance with a culture that promulgates backward ideas spawned from the twisted imaginations of weak, self-indulgent and insecure men. For instance, in the show PR material featured here — is that the fratire dream girl? The hot chick who will unquestioningly bear it all for these losers? Who will tattoo the show logo on her breast (the symbolism of which I won’t even touch)? Or, wait, is that … did they actually … BRAND HER? LIKE CATTLE? I digress. Suffice it to say that the frat guy and I are no longer dating (as a side note, he was a really great guy – smart, funny, and most of the time, he treated me very well – but unfortunately, he just loved this shit too much for my taste).

 

Anyway, just this evening, I was fortunate enough to come across an excerpt from an article that perfectly articulates my gripe:

 

“At the Huffington Post, Melissa Lafsky breaks down the new glut of chest-beating, woman-baiting pop culture; over at Salon, Rebecca Traister interviews one purveryor of this ‘fratire’ (leave it to the New York Times to coin a catchy pet name), George Ouzounian, author of The Alphabet of Manliness. Says Lafsky: ‘The “frat-lit” scribes are generally white middle-class men with banal day jobs (Ouzounian is a former computer programmer, Times-profiled chauvinist “Tucker Max” a former lawyer) who awoke one day to realize that current waves of anti-feminist backlash could be finagled into a lucrative business. Their writing predominantly appeals to a similar male audience teeming with resentment against the current social order. It’s the era of revenge for the “persecuted white male,” and the frat-lit crew consequently relies on bulldozing lines of political correctness to win the admiration of “pussified” men nationwide. Women present the last easy target; attacks on racial or ethnic groups would hardly be accepted with such a welcoming “boys should return to being boys” attitude. While it’s still not “cool” to be racist, “frat-lit” has become a frontier for acceptable female-bashing under the guise of humor.”

A side note confronting a tangentially related issue: my current beau is ambitious. He loves sports, beer, and sex. Most importantly, he loves strong women. I fail to see the logic, both practically and theoretically speaking, of placing strong, ambitious women in an antipodal position relative, if not completely inimical, to manly men. Is a man with a strong woman on his arm really emasculated? No, he’s not. In fact, he is both manly and lucky. Bottom line: strong, ambitious men and strong, ambitious women are not mutually exclusive. Nor is this a zero-sum between the genders.

So with all of this anxiety about changing gender roles, how do we deal? Well, let’s not go blowing up any abortion clinics just yet. Sure, more guys can stay at home. I recently visited a law firm and was surrounded, perhaps in a calculated move by firm recruiters, by women married to house husbands. But before all you men passive-aggressively jump on the stay-at-home-dad bandwagon, DO NOT DARE to underestimate the work involved in childcare and household chores. More importantly, at least to me, another question comes to mind: why is it that some men find it prudent to define themselves contrary to all things sophisticated, ambitious, and refined, alienating damn good women in the process? Maybe we should deal with that.

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4 Responses to “Fun with Fratire”

  1. 1 Casie

    Another aspect of the Man Show dream girl that struck me is that she does not have a face, such as to say that her personal identity is obsolete. She is not a person, but a mere plaything whose sole existence is that for the entertainment of these “men”.

  2. 2 VOODOO

    wow


  1. 1 The New World Order « Queen Samantha’s Weblog
  2. 2 Girls Rule, Part Trois « Queen Samantha’s Weblog

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