All right. So, what has Mr. Smartypants taught us?
1. Different people have different frameworks for understanding reality.
2. If you can understand those frameworks, you can
a. Fuck with people using those frameworks
b. Get people to do what you want by dismantling those frameworks and replacing them with ones more amenable to your goals.
3. Promising people something they want is a good motivating tool for getting them to do what we want them to do.
Now, let us turn to poor Rachel and try to understand the nonsense going on over there.
Let’s start with a premise we can all agree upon. Miller Lite wants men to buy its beer.
In order to encourage men to buy Miller Lite, Miller Lite has a campaign in place that utilizes a framework of “what it means to be a man” in order to link “being a man” with drinking Miller Lite. If you look at the website, this is incredibly clear.
There are a bunch of “man laws” at the bottom that tell the reader the proper way to be a man. But here’s the deal. All of these laws are based on the assumption that manhood isn’t intrinsic. If manhood were intrinsic, if you were a man, whatever you did would be stuff a man does, by virtue of the fact that you did it.
Instead, manhood is something external to people with penises and people with penises must act like men if they want to be considered real men.
Do you see how this works? Before, we talked about how words, like “man” are a sign that points towards some idea of what a man is. Now, what we’re saying is that there’s also some way in which we also expect individual men to point to some collective idea of what a man is if those individual men want to be considered men.
“Being a man” is not the state of having a penis, but of properly pointing towards our collective idea of what a man is. Look at how Exador inherently knows this. Sarcastro says, “That’s like the difference between wanting some soft and moist female companionship and wanting the dick out of your ass.” and Exador, in order to poke fun at Sarcastro says, “I’ve NEVER brought up your fraternity days. If you choose to, I support you.” In other words, Exador insinuates that Sarcastro has participated in behavior that doesn’t properly point to our collective ideas about what a man is.
It wouldn’t be funny if “manliness” were something inherent in a penised person. If “manliness” were just inherent, Sarcastro could “cut a sexual swath that still astonishes by its sheer brazenness and multiplicity” and fuck whoever he could get his hands on in whatever iteration he could think of. Exador could walk in on Sarcastro dressed in a French maid’s outfit bent over his coffee table while Kleinheider sticks kitchen utensils up his ass and it wouldn’t be unmanly. It’d still be something a real man did, because Sarcastro is a man.
But no, despite Exador’s intentional obtuseness, he gets that there is a gap between being bepenised and being “a man.”
So, if being ” a man” is an idea that we have and not something that just is intrinsic to being bepenised, how do we know what a man is? We don’t, as a culture, say “being a man is having a penis.” So, if we can’t say what being a man is, we start to define a man by what he is not. If you look at Miller Lite’s man laws, you can see this in action.
The basic theme behind all of the laws is don’t act like a girl.
So, now we get to the bullshit going on over at Rachel’s.
Rachel makes a perfectly legitimate point. Beer makers use sex to sell their products–“Hot girls like this like men who drink our beer. Therefore, if you drink our beer…” Miller Lite is using sex roles to sell their product–“Manly men drink our beer.” It’s not crazy to ask whether “You poke it; you own it” in this context doesn’t refer to everything that men poke. Do men not stick their fingers in women anymore? Did y’all decide that while I was away?
But here’s what’s bullshit and here’s what makes me so angry I almost don’t know how to express it. Each person’s framework for understanding the world is his or her own. There are great stretches of that framework which are similar to other people’s–that’s how we have community and agreement–but each is unique and his or hers.
I would argue that everyone could benefit from continually checking over his or her framework, to make sure that it’s still working, that it’s useful, that it’s strong enough to support one’s worldview, and that it matches up with other people’s in ways that are healthy and beneficial for folks.
Though, obviously, you can do what you want.
But what Rachel is doing in her post is checking over our collective framework, looking to see if it’s working and useful and healthy and beneficial. And what she’s found is no some weak girder or rusted out bolts, but just a spot in a column that scratches her when she walks by. So, she asks this question–How come, in order to move men from here (non-Miller Lite buying) to here (Miller Lite buying), we have to use this material that irritates me whenever I walk by? Are other people also finding this irritating? If so, let’s ask Miller Lite to stop using it.
But when Travis09 and Exador and Dr. Richard show up to comment, they don’t just say “Maybe the problem isn’t with the collective framework, but with how you move through it,” which would be a reasonable (though wrong*) response. They say, “There’s something wrong with your internal framework.”–“You hate men”; “You can’t take a joke”; etc.
I guess it pisses me off because, on the one hand, y’all get to toy with collective reality when it suits you and is fun for you, but when it suits you, you also get to pretend that “this is just the way it is; just suck it up because it will never change” as if how you see the world is objective reality.
No. It’s more than that. It starts to feel like you think everything out there is your playground and, when it suits you, everything in here is your playground, regardless of whether that “in here” is actually in you.
Ha, I guess this is about the nerdiest complaint ever–your artifice leaves no room for mine.
*I get to pass judgement because it’s my blog.