The American Scene Advice Column

Today’s question:

You’ve complained about the PUA community, and I agree that they can say some pretty shady stuff, but at least they’re making an argument about what manliness is instead of just going along with a culture where guys gradually lose their whole identity. I don’t think the number of hot women you bed is necessarily the definition of manliness, and I don’t even expect you to be able to give a overall definition for that sort of thing, but at least give us something positive for those of us who want to revel in our identity as men. What kind of shaving cream do you think a real man uses? What should a real man’s approach to sex be if not what guys like Roissy say? Is there anything a real man never does?

I don’t presume to have an infallible, exclusive definition of manliness, but I’ll set forth my own opinions if they’re all that’s standing between you and the self-styled pickup artists.

1) What kind of shaving cream does a real man use?

In my limited experience, a real man buys the biggest container of gel shaving cream on offer to minimize the frequency with which he is forced to shop at the pharmacy, where the clerks are always painfully slow.

A real man nevertheless runs out of shaving cream eventually, and his aversion to banal errands is so great that he winds up using the Skintimate Moisturizing Cream Shave — usually in a pink bottle — which tends for whatever reason to be the brand of choice for various women whose showers he has shared, namely his sister until he moved away from home, a couple roommates, and various girlfriends over the years. These women all complain loudly if he is caught using their razor to shave when his own razor is lost or without its blades, but they seldom if ever catch on to this gradual, victimless pilfering.

2) What should a real man’s approach to sex be if not what guys like Roissy say?

Whole books could be written detailing the shortcomings in the Roissy In DC approach to sex, dating and gender relations, so I’ll just choose a particularly glaring flaw in his worldview — one that casts the anonymous man who writes the blog as a tragic figure. One aspect of Roissy’s worldview is his disdain for women — they are for him shallow, contemptible creatures that men are justified into manipulating into sex. It is difficult to think of a misogynist as sociopathic in the blogosphere.

Even so, Roissy judges the worth of men according to how many women they can attract. For example, he glorifies the alpha male constantly, and defines that category thusly: “The alpha male is defined by the hotness of the women he can attract, the strength of their attraction for him, and the number of them who find him attractive.”

I’d say that a real man should avoid a) relying on the approval of others for his self-worth, b) making something he disdains the object of his desire, and c) a romantic life wherein he never gets to experience the best kind of sex — the kind where your partner is someone you love, lust and respect. That isn’t to say that all three are necessary for enjoyable sex, but a man who knows what’s good for him aspires to that trinity, and if he finds it, he is lucky indeed.

3) Is there anything a real man never does?

Speaking of Roissy — “One time I backhanded my girlfriend across the face. Hard. I won’t get into the details of what led up to the altercation, except to say that the slap was fully deserved.” — a real man never hits a woman, excepting these circumstances only: a) self-defense from serious injury; b) defending an innocent party from serious injury; c) when she is a soldier in an enemy army. Perhaps I am forgetting something, but I think from this you understand the narrow range of defensible exceptions.

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I’ll take the rest.