What Men Dare Do! "O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do!"

10Oct/114

Buying Drinks

It's been quite a while since I've posted on this blog, and hopefully I'll be getting back into it.  As some of you may know, I've been taking an LSAT prep course post-midwest trip, and that sucked up a lot of my time.  Hopefully, I'll be blogging more soon!

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I recently came back from a trip, and saw an interesting interaction that I think is ripe for some feminist and male feminist analysis.

They're pretty common interactions, I think, so let me just describe what I observed specifically first.  To set the scene: we're in a bar.  I'm in a group of similar twenty-somethings, men and women.  One of the women, who is in a relationship (more or less) with a man, announces that she wants a free drink.  She meanders over to the bar, focuses her attention on a man probably in his mid-40's or older, begins talking to him, flirting.  He buys her a drink.  She continues talking for maybe five to the minutes and then leaves, drink in hand.

Now, I can't speak to the man's intentions or his thinking, but I can speak to the girl's, since she said them.  She had no intention of really engaging in much of an interaction with this man: she wanted a drink, she flirted, got her drink, made some perfunctory conversation and left.

I think this is interesting, because it's illustrative of something that I observe in a lot of MRA arguments.  The MRAs and their types, feel that their purchasing of a drink for a girl constitutes some sort of signaling or intent of the woman to form a relationship, sexual or otherwise.  That is, they expect some sort of genuine interaction, and not simply being "used" for their free drink.

Before I delve into that, I should say that there's obviously there's some fucked up societal expectations there that I'll spell out before I continue: buying women things does not constitute permission for romantic/sexual/any interactions.  Also the age difference certainly has a skeezy feel to it.  That aside, the man's in a kind of crappy position.  Regardless of whether or not his intentions in buying the drink followed that patriarchal narrative, he's just been used.  He wasn't there to give out free drinks.  I think it's certainly understandable that such a guy is pissed when this happens.  I also don't think it's feminist to support that: getting free drinks from guys with whom you don't intend to have any sort of interactions doesn't push forward the cause.

So, why do I find this all so interesting?  Well, as I've written about before, I think feminism needs to reach your "mainstream" men better, men who are benefiting from the heteronormative patriarchy.  The MRA types who are pissed that a girl got a free drink, because he was expecting to get laid off of it isn't the kind of anger I'm sympathetic too, but I wonder if we can somehow re-channel that thinking from a "I'm pissed I paid money and didn't get laid," to some sort of analysis of that interaction.  This leads into the whole "beta male" theory that some MRAs have, which I'll paraphrase a bit tongue-in-cheek: men who don't conform to societal expectations of "real men" don't get laid.  They have to resort to buying drinks and other PUA type tactics.  There has to be some way of steering the kind of anger and emotions that come from these (typical, I think) interactions that men can have away from MRA arguments towards more feminist.

I don't know that I have in-hand a good set of talking points.  Perhaps one is to have men examine how that's a shitty situation and how both men's and women's understanding of societal roles construct that narrative, much like one of my other favorite examples to use: the woman crossing to the other side of the street as she approaches a man walking towards her on her side.  Reaching MRAs certainly doesn't seem to be easy, though people like ManBoobz really analyze the phenomena well.  I'm convinced there's some number of them that we can reach.

So, if any of y'all still actually read this thing, what do you think?

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