On Girls at Jezebel and an interview with Flurt magazine

My Genderal Interest column this week looked at this past Sunday’s much-discussed episode of Girls: Age Is Never Just a Number: How Girls Got Older Men/Younger Women Right. Excerpt:

The storyline works because we live in a world where 42 year-old men are taught to find 24 year-old women more appealing than their own female peers. Ask 20-something women on OK Cupid or other dating sites how many they receive from men 15 and 20 years older; ask women in their 40s how many guys their own age seem primarily interested in pursuing much younger romantic partners. The “cougar discourse” doesn’t change the reality that most heterosexual relationships with a substantial age gap still feature an older man and younger woman pairing.

As she so often does, Hannah reverses the stereotype by being the sexual aggressor — and Joshua’s intensely grateful reaction suggests not just surprise at her boldness but also, perhaps a kind of relief that a woman in her mid-20s finds him still desirable. Forget the dick-wringing from male writers about how a hottie like Wilson would never go for a young woman who looks like Dunham. Not only does that woefully underrate the sex appeal of the Girls’ star, it also obscures the reality that having a younger woman walk into your house and make the first move is a classic middle-aged man’s fantasy. Joshua’s eager, bewildered gratitude is only a surprise to those hung up on the spurious hotness differential between Dunham and Wilson. To anyone familiar with the older man/younger woman dynamic, his hungry response is instantly recognizable.

Two weeks ago, I did an interview with Canada’s Flurt Magazine; it ran yesterday: A Different Side to Hugo Schwyzer. I’m grateful to Danielle Paradis for a nice write-up.

An Interview at Lip Magazine

I’ve done a series of interviews with feminist websites in the past year, but I’m not sure if any have been more detailed than the one that runs in today’s Lip Magazine. When one is asked what is essentially the same question over and over again, you either start giving rote answers — or forcing yourself to think more deeply about what it is that folks want to know. Excerpt:

How can society improve while success and power are the foundations of male attractiveness? What motivation do “powerful” men have to change?

We have the motivation to be trusted. To be seen as kind, accessible human beings rather than as remote, inaccessible, predatory men who must be placated. In Margaret Atwood’s famous Handmaid’s Tale, the Commander longs for a woman to kiss him “like she means it.” He has all this power but he’s miserable because he knows he’s feared, not loved. He can’t bring himself to relinquish his power, sadly. The reality is, if we want intimate relationships, if we want to connect, we have to give up this privilege.

Your writing is occasionally centred around a re-telling of your personal experiences, with names changed, but places and experiences unaltered. This has been heavily criticised as exploitative. Why continue to present narratives based on your own experience when it has resulted in a damaged reception of your academic ideas?

I do it because the personal is political – because documenting that men can change, that our lives can be transformed, that sexism and other addictions can be overcome – this is important. I’m not writing for an academic audience; I’m writing for a broader public. Memoir matters. The ethics of memoir centre on protecting people to the best of one’s ability, but also remembering that we have the right to tell the stories of our lives. That right to tell one’s story belongs to all of us. Storytelling is part of what makes us human; it’s perhaps the oldest uniquely human activity. I think it’s central to justice work.

On the Ricki Lake Show

Last month, I taped an episode of the Ricki Lake Show, talking about circumcision. The clip of my appearance aired today:

I’d like to think that the make-up artist made it believable that I could pass for 37,which is how the video title describes me.

IF you’re really interested, there’s a UStream of my appearance today with the “After Ricki” team. Much lower quality, but an interesting discussion.

Part two of my interview with Clarisse Thorn

Part Two of the interview that Clarisse Thorn did with me is up at Role/Reboot. Part One is here. In this second part, we talk consistent-life ethic feminism and what male feminists can do. It concludes:

The world is rightly suspicious of men. Not because we’re bad or defective, and not because we’re any less capable of compassion and love than women. It’s because we’ve hidden the fullness of our humanity behind the “tough guise” of the rules of manhood. We’ve got to live more open lives, more honest lives, less resentment-filled lives. And we’ve got to start pulling our own emotional weight.

I see more and more guys doing just that. It has me very excited.

I’m very grateful to Clarisse for such provocative and interesting questions.

Older Men, Younger Women with Meghan Murphy: podcast up

Is age every really just a number? I tend to say no, and have written quite a bit about the problematic nature of older men/younger women relationships. (See my archive here, this interview with Tracy Clark-Flory here, and this post at the Good Men Project: What Young Women are Really Looking for From Older Men.)

Meghan Murphy of the F Word interviewed me last week for her radio program, and the show — all about older men and younger women — aired today. Here’s the podcast for download and streaming.

Talking Older Men/Younger Women with Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy and I had a spirited series of exchanges here on the blog and at her site. But though we disagree about pornography and the decriminalizing of prostitution, we agree on some other issues — including the general inadvisability of older men/younger women relationships. (Particularly when the “younger woman” is 25 or less and the older man is 10 or more years her senior.)

We taped a lengthy interview last week and it airs tomorrow, Monday, July 18th, at 12 noon Pacific Time. You can listen to it live here. It will be set up to stream on the site not long after air time, and will also appear as a podcast (eventually) here.