12. “Real Men” is strangely propulsive, with each piano upswing leading to a tiny crescendo and another downturn, the inverse of the preceding song. Coming from a man this lament for real men would seem self-assured and chiding, but Tori reducing this collection of girls back down to their boyish opponents makes her point better than anything else in the arsenal. She invokes her warring sexes again here, pointing out that this is truly a cold war… with no real casualties but with deep rooted scars that even her friend Time might not heal. Her narration of trading uniforms and places seamlessly ties together her concept of borrowing these pieces from their fathers… girls can play along, and sometimes they can find out what a real man could be to them along the way.
Of course, they are just girls still, young and awkward in all the wrong places, but here they have all opened up these strange spaces in their father’s works where they had left something out, or where they had assumed too much about the girls that they were speaking on the behalf of.