Welcome To ManWorld

Repost from the old site.
Alas, women just don’t understand us at all, do they? They think we are clueless fools who don’t know a thing about social and nonverbal communication and who have no sense of intuition, social boors and lobotomized dunces. All-male gatherings are regarded by feminist types will ill-disguised contempt, like gatherings of 13 year boys in men’s bodies, full of hostile humor and crude, inane conversation.
Well, there is something to all of that, of course. But they still don’t understand.
You see, ladies, you don’t have to live in Man World. We do. And what a strange and intuitive world it is, full of cues and eye contact, meanings in handshakes and minor comments.
When socially aware males who don’t know each other well talk to each other, you can see them watching the new people, watching everyone in the conversation, monitoring everything that is said, monitoring everyone’s body language, vocal tone and trying to read eyes and faces.
As the conversation moves along, the monitoring continues, to see how the various comments are going over and how everyone is reacting. Comments are tried out gingerly like a fisherman deftly tossing a line into the water, monitored for reaction, then the conversation moves along.
At various points one will receive messages that a particular area is not the right way for the conversation to go, or a particular comment did not go over well. Interrupting is pretty bad. Take your turn. Use humor when it’s called for, and don’t when it isn’t. Everyone is monitoring everyone else for boredom, discomfort, hostility, or arrogance. Proper distances must be maintained. Everyone should be fairly relaxed.
If someone says something offensive, gets uppity or insulting, or steps beyond the boundaries, there are proper ways to react (with mild disgust, puzzlement or a low snort or tsk). Then the offender is monitored to see if he got the hint.
It’s a tricky little game, almost like a delicate ballet dance.
Groups of males together call for special sets of rules, assuming the males are fairly civilized. First of all, the primary rule of all-male gatherings is to minimize hostility. This is because males have a lot of aggression and when angered, bad things can happen like fights and homicides.
Male aggression is such a potent weapon that the main rule of male socialization is to try to keep this powder keg tampered down as much as possible.
If one man says something offensive and another takes offensive, other males will quickly jump in and try to hose down the fire. “It’s cool, it’s cool. Forget it. Tsk. Sheesh.” Rubbing eyes, looking the other way, wiping the brow. The message: cool down! What looks like insipid male conversation is actually an attempt to keep male hostility, always brimming below, at a minimum.
That’s what is with all the stupid jokes, talk about sports, BS’ing about women, cynical, angry talk about entities not present, etc. Politics can be broached but you have to listen carefully. If the group is conservative, Commies like me kind of turn into Rush Limbaugh for while. No harm done. Or else we are silent, smiling and laughing at all the liberal bashing.
Even hostile humor is a way to keep from actually punching one another out. Better to make insulting “jokes” towards another and let the humor steam off that way than to come to blows.
Some of the toughest, most macho males of all are actually the most socially aware. I include bikers, guys who have been in prison, etc. I understand that in prison conversation and nonverbal communication is extremely important, and to not play the game right can have serious consequences. A guy I know who spent 20 years in San Quentin and is an expert social actor.
Let me give you an example:
****
One day, I pulled into my local coffee shop for my daily cup of coffee. I don’t know why, but I pulled into the parking spot kind of fast. These macho biker types who hang out there and know me (and mostly don’t like me that much) saw that and looked alarmed. For one thing, I pulled in fast next to their bikes.
Now, in Man World, this is called uncool behavior. One doesn’t pull in fast to a parking space, especially in proximity to others, or especially to bikers’ motorcycles. I parked the car and got out. One guy (who seems like he never liked me anyway) gets up and walks parallel to my car, facing me from about 15 feet away. He has an angry, outraged look in his eyes and he’s looking at me, but over my head.
I don’t get the clue. The trick is, he is giving me a message that I pissed him off by pulling in next to the bikes, even though he is looking over my head at something beyond me. Why isn’t he looking directly at me? Because in Man World, that is called excessive hostility. I’m supposed to figure this out. I don’t. I say, “Are you looking at me?”
He looks offended, and says, “No! I’m looking at those women in back of you!” I turn around. Sure enough, there are two women walking back there. Thing is, he’s lying. He’s not looking at the women, because he has no reason to be angry at them. He’s looking over my head, but I’m supposed to figure out that he’s looking at me.
I look puzzled and start walking towards the door. His biker buddies are all sitting around and when I walk past, they laugh and say, “Haha! He wasn’t looking at you! He was looking at the women! You’re paranoid! Hahaha!” Confusing, huh? I walk past and they quit laughing and go back to whatever they were doing and basically ignore me. This is another rule of Man World: end it and move on!
The reason they were laughing at me was because I noticed that he was looking at me when he was looking over my head and remarked on it. I wasn’t supposed to say, “Are you looking at me?” Duh! Of course he was! They were punishing me for not getting it by mocking me.
Instead, maybe I was supposed to say I was sorry for pulling in so fast, or maybe I was just supposed to nod apologetically, wave my hand slightly a couple of times, put my head down, and walk in. Who knows what I was supposed to do?
Then, after I got my coffee and walked out, I’m pretty much supposed to avoid eye contact with them and act like they are not there. I’m not supposed to be mad or even look at them. We’re both supposed to treat each other like we are not there. Why? Because it’s over, that’s why!
*****
Man World has some other rules. Failures of any kind, by you or others present, are not to be discussed. Sadness or often rage is not to be acknowledged. Expression of any kind of deep feelings towards those present is bad form. If you’re depressed, keep it to yourself. If you violate these rules, expect some harsh rebukes. Sooner or later, you will learn the rules of the game.
Women don’t get Man World; few of them seem to have a clue about this place. They rebuke us for being stoical and never crying, but they don’t get it. When we were boys, we cried, at least I did. Some of us did even as men. And we got bashed for it, over and over til we got the point hammered home. Boys don’t cry, much less men. Live and learn.
Control your feelings and don’t get them hurt. Toughen yourself up for everything life will throw at you. We aren’t cold rocks. We are the rational products of our environment, Man World, the land where we were shaped and formed.
I actually think Man World is a trickier place to navigate in than Woman World. In Woman World, feelings tend to hang out and people are not so secretive and mysterious. Women get angry and won’t speak to each other, and everyone holds grudges. There’s not so much talking in code; everything is out there for everyone to see.
Man World has a lot of waters that are pretty hard to navigate, even for someone like me. If it’s hard for me to play the game, my God, what Hell it must be for someone with Asperger Syndrome, or someone with schizophrenia, maybe even if they are medicated!
And women think we are clueless!
I think I may start a Man World series here, with more posts to come pointing out this mysterious land of complex clues, hints and double meanings. Good idea?

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9 thoughts on “Welcome To ManWorld”

  1. Robert,
    Like you, I often miss the cues in Man world. I’m uncomfortable in the company of men because I guess I’m retarded when it comes to social cues. It’s funny because I have a higher then normal IQ. I would enjoy hearing more insights about man-world. Even if you are a freaking commie

  2. “Male aggression is such a potent weapon that the main rule of male socialization is to try to keep this powder keg tampered down as much as possible.”
    I noticed this about male socialization after I got married. My husband always says, “Don’t worry so much about what people say. Watch their body language.”

    1. Yes, males actually have superb people skills and an amazingly intricate Man World full of amazing verbal and nonverbal communication. Males who are good at it can maneuver very well in this world. Males are not really social clods at all, just some.

    2. Women are quite different, you know. Women care about what is said, how it’s said, when it’s said, and so on and on.
      Women can even fixate on what you DIDN’T say.

    3. Yes we know all that. Men don’t really care all that much, but if you think that things get past us, you are often wrong. We tend to blow things off a lot more, but we read and send out messages all right. I don’t know if we care about that stuff so much, but it’s more that there are very strict rules about all that stuff, and penalties for those who do not play the game well.

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