Cienna Madrid is on summer break. The following Help Desk was originally published on November 13th, 2015.
Every Friday, Cienna Madrid offers solutions to life’s most vexing literary problems. Do you need a book recommendation to send your worst cousin on her birthday? Is it okay to read erotica on public transit? Cienna can help. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm friends with a man who claims to ironically love the writings of Tucker Max. He seems like a sweet guy, but is he secretly nursing an inner bro? Should I throw an intervention, and if so, how should I do it?
Nathalie, Crown Hill
If your friend "ironically" loves the misogynistic writings of Tucker Max, the man known for "jokes" like: "I know this really sexy move you can do with your mouth. It’s called ‘shutting the fuck up,'" he sounds like the kind of guy who'd "ironically" joke that Bill Cosby was being a gentleman by handing out free drinks to women.
Fortunately, there is hope for people who view women as breasty garbage bags to be alternately fucked and despised, and Max himself is proof of that. Perhaps you weren't aware but he's now happily contributing to what your friend might "jokingly" call the pussification of America. His latest book, Mate, Become the Man Women Want was co-written with evolutionary psychologist Dr. Geoffrey Miller. Parts of it are still problematic (for example, in interviews Max compares dating to knowing your enemy before entering into battle). But it's also got some sound advice and when you consider the enthusiastic audience Max has built up with his previous books, his words become especially important:
Objectifying women isn’t just a moral failure. At the purely practical level of attracting women, it’s stupid. It might temporarily reduce your anxiety about approaching them (about making your pitch), because if you think of them as targets, you can try to trick yourself into thinking that they won’t be judging you when you walk up to them. But they are judging you—and that’s OK, as long as you understand how and why.
Here's the intervention I suggest: Buy Max's latest book, read it, and then give it to your friend. Tell him that you're really eager to discuss it with him and get his thoughts on Max's evolving views on women and relationships. (Also make note of the parts of Max's book that you disagree with and be ready to explain these parts to your friend.)
If your friend is resistant, join our nation's great underground army of literate feminists and their decades-long campaign to sissify our great nation: pull a Cosby and start dosing his drinks with birth control pills. I'm not a doctor – although I'm considering legally changing my first name to "doctor" for the free respect and travel upgrades – but the extra estrogen will probably help. I spent years throwing birth control pills in the open reservoir at Volunteer Park and I'm pretty sure it turned at least a few gay men I know even gayer.
PS. Happy World Vasectomy Day, everyone!