I have many theories on why straight women enjoy – and even boast about – their friendships with gay men.
For starters, gays are friendly. Hence, the name. This is an entire social class named after a state of joy. You can bet that if they were known as angries, women would not hang out with them at “angry bars” or feel safe moving into “angry neighborhoods” or march alongside them in “angry parades.”
(Who else wants to watch an angry parade right now? Surly laborers running amok … marching bands marching in fear … the angries carjacking those tiny Shriner cars … children crying for lack of candy. No one else? Fine. None of you are invited to my Angry Man Parade, to be held April 15, at the angriest place on earth – SeaWorld San Diego.)
My second theory is that friendship with gay men offers women the illusion of danger – because gays still aren’t accepted in many places – combined with the safety of knowing sex is not an issue. It’s what I call edgy-safe. Other things that are edgy-safe are NFL-related marketing campaigns (“Now you and your friends can get in on the action…”), Mind of Mencia (“I say the things that white America doesn’t want to hear, and my show is successful because white America tunes in to hear me say those things …”) and the musical canon of Nickleback.
My third theory, which rips the other two to shreds, is that any two people in the world can be friends, no matter their race, gender or sexual orientation. I could have shared this theory first, but it would have cost us the image of the Angry Man Parade and subsequent Shamu bloodbath.
Now comes a story on FoxNews.com headlined “Women Prefer Feminine Men for Long-Term Relationships.” Researchers asked 400 men and women to judge digitally-altered pictures of faces made to look more masculine or feminine.
Masculine features were defined as “square jaw, larger nose and small eyes.” In other words, like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Feminine features were defined as “fuller lips, wide eyes and thinner, more curved eyebrows.” In other words, like Panic at the Disco.
The study found that women believe that men with more feminine features are more caring and less likely to cheat, making them better partners. Men with masculine features were believed to be more dominant, less faithful and bad parents, making them worse partners.
The study asked people to judge a book by its cover. If you look like Tom Brady, the name of that book is I Fuck, Then I Leave. If you look like Panic At The Disco, the name of that book is Tender Kitten Cuddle Hearts Forever.
All of this reminds me of a column I wrote a few years ago for Scripps Howard News Service on how Acting Gay Gets You Chicks. In that column I featured the pickup techniques of Alvin, a straight male who acted gay enough to get close to women before sealing the deal. As I have said before, guys this smart should be in charge of the space program.
So what are we to take away from this research? Should manly men be worried? Do we need to send a phalanx of loose women to comfort Tom Selleck? Is that why he’s been so quiet? Am I the only one concerned about Selleck here?
In the interest of finishing this column, I did some research. It turns out there’s no reason to worry, manly men.
According to a story in The Washington Post, what people say they want and what they actually want often are completely different. In a piece called Hot and Cold Emotions Make Us Poor Judges, Post reporter Shankar Vedantam writes about studies that have found an enormous gulf between “cold” and “hot” emotional states. What we say we want and what we actually do in the heat of the moment often are two different things.
Personally, I have found that …
Women say they want a sensitive guy – but they really want a bad ass.
Women say they want a kindergarten teacher who is nice to his mother – but they really want an ex-felon who throws Datsuns at freight trains for fun.
Women say they want flowers and poems and spooning – but they really want a guy who will ride his Harley through their bedroom doors and never apologize for leaving the seat up. Or for choking some guy unconscious with the seat, then leaving it up.
“Just because people say they’re looking for a particular set of characteristics in a mate … doesn’t mean that is what they’ll end up choosing,” Peter M. Todd, of the cognitive science program at Indiana University, told the Associated Press.
A study conducted by Todd backs up the Post’s story. He and his team studied 46 men and women at a speed dating event. They were given seven minutes to chat with a single person of the opposite sex before moving on. Afterwards, participants checked off names of people they wanted to meet again so dates could be arranged between those who had selected each other.
(My column on my rapid dating experience is here.)
Before the event, researchers had the singles fill out a questionnaire on what they were looking for in a mate. They listed categories such as wealth and status, family commitment, physical appearance, healthiness and attractiveness.
To no one’s surprise, men completely bailed on the answers in their questionnaires and went for the hotties. The women’s choices did not reflect their stated preferences either, although they were somewhat pickier than men.
You can look at this two ways.
1. No matter what most people say they want, they chuck it all out the window for a hot piece of ass.
2. Most people do not consciously know what they really want.
The first conclusion is rooted in biology.
The second conclusion is something we don’t talk about. Many people don’t consciously know what they really want.
If I may…
Life is like eating at The Cheesecake Factory. The menu is huge and the choices are many. You order something you think you will enjoy, something safe, something you won’t regret. Then you get your Lemon-Herb Roasted Chicken and you’re not happy. Lemon-chicken is never as good as you think it will be. Pondering this, you see the guy at the table next to you and what he has looks great. And you’re like, “That’s what I wanted. I wanted Avocado Eggrolls. It’s all so clear to me now.”
Then your arm begins to move of its own accord toward his plate and – bam! – fork in the back of the hand. You scream. Blood everywhere. Emergency room. A doctor shakes his head. Gangrene. Life flashing before your eyes. You never got what you really wanted. You never tasted the Chunks of Fresh Avocado, Sun-Dried Tomato, Red Onion and Cilantro, Deep Fried in a Crisp Chinese Wrapper, served with a Tamarind-Cashew Dipping Sauce, which should have been rightfully yours.
And now you’re dead.
Church service. Grieving relatives. Funeral procession. Angry Man Parade. Mayhem. Hearse overturned. Coffin set on fire. Priest crushed by airborne orca. All because you didn’t know yourself well enough to know you wanted Avocado Eggrolls.