I have had my ups an downs with Dan Savage’s Savage Love column, and the particular letter that was pointed out in my comments the other day fits nicely somewhere in the middle. Specifically, the first half is an up, and the last paragraph is a down.
While Dan’s opening is indeed quite Savage, it’s also sadly true; the easiest way to stop being mistaken for a homosexual is to stop “acting” like one. Of course, the harder way to stop being mistaken for a homosexual is to only cultivate friendships with people that avoid such idle and generic stereotyping based on shopping, cooking, and Madonna. I enjoy shopping because i’ve had to shop with my mother my entire life, i enjoy cooking because i think it’s one of the sexiest things you can do with another person, and i enjoy Madonna because i’ve always loved music and she’s always been good. So, if those traits (and others) make me “gay,” then… well, then i’ll take the dictionary definition, thank you very much.
Savage hits the melancholy nail right on the head with his second paragraph… that most women would love to meet men like myself or the writer of the letter, but that they would love to meet them so that they could have them as friends. Witness this exact reaction in my friend Lisa, who refers to me as her sassy gay friend. When it comes right down to it, she doesn’t really care whether or not i’m gay — she’s just in it for the sass. The point that was brought to light that i never thought about is that women do want to think they’re bringing out the sensitive side in their men, and so a pre-sensitized guy can seem like sort of a letdown. Of course, not all women subscribe to both of these rules (thank god); some girls like a guy who’s a little bit ambiguous, perhaps for the exact reason that they bring out the guy in him rather than the sensitivity.
The down about this particular column’s closing is, for once, not one i have with its author. The letter writer in question is so superficial of a skirt-chaser that he’s “cultivated” the traits in question, and so Dan dismisses him by telling him to “[B]utch it up a little bit. Shop a little less, care a little less, and listen to Madonna a little less.” I would say the same thing to the man in question, maybe even adding “And try being yourself for once.” I’m sure he was thinking it, though. The down, for me, is that Savage isn’t really addressing the question in my mind, which is “What about if that is yourself?” I can surely be blamed for any sexual ambiguity i present in the form of lap-dances and suggestive commentary, but Savage is essentially endorsing that artificially touchy-feely men should drop the pretense, so i’d assume he’d similarly endorse laying off the pretense of being more of a guy’s guy as well.
So, what’s a girl’s guy to do? In my opinion, not a whole lot — other than believing in the things that make you yourself. No, most girls don’t find sensitive men overwhelmingly attractive (unless they’re fronting decent emo bands, and then it’s open for discussion). However, the girls that do tend to fall for the softer sort of guy are more confident about themselves, i think … enough so that that don’t need a alpha male to lead them around by the arm. This doesn’t mean they’re perfect, or self-confident, or what you’re looking for … but they are probably free from playing the more typical parts of the daily boy-girl game most people subject themselves to.
Mention Madonna a little less? Maybe. Give fewer lapdances to “Queer?” For sure. Change? Never.