This is a funny fiction piece by Jesse Eisenberg from McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Terri, the male speaker in this satire, is the archetype of everything that has gone wrong with the feminizing of men.
We don't have to throw out our testicles with the old, worn-out masculinity models - we can be strong, powerful men with tender hearts and emotional integrity. We need not become "Terri" to move beyond the restrictive models of traditional masculinity.
By the way, the image is from The Times of India.
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[Originally published July 21, 2011.]- - -
Hey, how’s it going? Mind if I sidle up? I saw you over here sitting alone and I thought, that’s fine. A woman should be able to self-sustain. In fact a lot of women are choosing to stay alone, what with advances in salary equitability and maternity extensions, and I think it’s an important and compelling trend.
I noticed that you were about to finish your drink and I was wondering if I could possibly watch you purchase another one. And, at the risk of being forward, if you could possibly purchase one for me.
What do you do? And before you answer, I’m not looking for a necessarily work-related response. I don’t think we have to be defined by our industrial pursuits, especially when they’re antiquated and hetero-normative. I curse my mother, who is an otherwise lovely human person, for not buying me an Easy-Bake Oven when I was younger. I grew up idolizing male thugs like Neil Armstrong and Jimmy Carter. And, yes, I work at ESPN, but I spend more time being spiritual and overcoming adversity, for example, than I do working for some faceless corporation. And if I were to find a mate, be it you or someone else here tonight, I would be more than happy to tell the proverbial “man” that I quit so I can raise our offspring with gender-neutral hobbies, while my biologically female partner continues to pursue her interests, be they industrial, recreational or yes, even sexual with another mate.
Crazy news about the first female African head of state and Liberia’s sitting president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, huh? Announcing her candidacy for 2011 so soon! Wow. What do you think of her chances? I think she’s a shoo-in, but I’m admittedly a bit concerned about Prince Johnson making some last minute strides, especially amongst the Gio people in the Nimba region. I’m thinking of launching a letter writing campaign on behalf of EJ-S or at least cold calling potential Nimba voters over Skype.
Oh, how gauche of me! I’ve just been chattering away incessantly like some kind of boy or girl who talks a lot. I haven’t even properly introduced myself. Although, one often gets the uneasy sense that patriarchy dictates a learned and ultimately damaging order of events with men taking an unearned lead. My name is Terri, with a heart over the i, instead of a dot. I have a heart, is what that says, and I’m not afraid to wear it on my sleeve.
So what do you think? Would you like to take me up on my offer for you to buy me that drink?
If you would like to respond, that would be wonderful. Of course, if you would like to continue to sit here silently, staring at me with that powerful gaze, which both breaks gender constructs and also scares me a bit, that would be fine as well.
What’s that? I should go fuck myself? I agree! Men should be more self-generative!
Thank you for your astute assertion. Why should women exclusively have to bear the burden of childbirth, when men are biologically doomed to fear commitment? It’s counter-intuitive and socially degrading.
Ahh, that beer is refreshing! Thank you for throwing it in my face on this warm summer evening.
Okay, okay! I’m leaving!
Thank you for your blunt rejection of me. It takes a lot of courage, which you no doubt have in equal measure to any other human. Now, if you’ll excuse, I’m going to the bathroom where I’ll cry silently in a stall, questioning my body and texting my mom, but for now, I thank you for your time, which was equal to mine.