Boys will be boys
By ELLEN ANDERSON
Three wise men once claimed to want girls — yeah, all they really wanted was girls. "Girls: To do the dishes, to clean up my room, to do the laundry and in the bathroom ... Girls." Perhaps these men, collectively known as the Beastie Boys, are not to be considered the tell-all experts on the subject of women, but their spunky 1987 hit "Girls" does leave women wondering about one thing: What is it that guys are all about?
The concept of the gender gap is in no way a recent revelation; the differences between the sexes have existed and always will. There seems to have been a resurgence of hard-core machismo in the past few years, however, and its prevalence in the mainstream is overwhelming. Evidence of an overtly misogynistic mentality surrounds women in all forms, perhaps most-blatantly in the current musical industry.
For all it's worth, there is a great deal of talented male artists currently enjoying success in our society. Artists like Korn, Limp Bizkit and Gravity Kills are unquestionably some of the most skilled performers in their trade, yet they endorse a definitively "machista" attitude. In the introduction to "All in the Family," lead Korn singer Jonathan Davis and Fred Durst of Bizkit collectively trade proclamations such as, "My d*** is bigger than yours," and "You look like one of those little dancers in a Hanson video, f***** ho."
Bizkit's latest effort, the wildly popular "Significant Other," introduces us to the concept of gratuitously "doing it all for the nookie." While on tour in support of their "Perversion" album, Jeff Scheel of Gravity Kills introduced his song "Guilty" with the riveting declaration, "Welcome to the Gravity Kills Whorehouse. Are you sick f**** ready to put out?" Gone are the days of out-and-out censorship, which previously prevented lyrics such as these from being publicly presented.
Furthermore, the musical scene is in no way the only one being shaken up by the new societal norms. I well remember a time when a kinder, gentler World Wrestling Federation existed; when the focus of the troupe concentrated more on the outrageous antics of the lovable Hulkster and the flamboyant Macho Man, Randy Savage. The First Lady of Wrestling, Miss Elizabeth, dressed modestly, yet elegantly, and was adored by men and admired by women.
Today, however, the WWF and its prime competition, the World Championship Wrestling, push the statutes of good taste. The WWF boasts a scantily-clad heartbreaker known as Sable, as well as her darker counterpart, the overly-muscular Chyna. The crowd is pumped up by their hero, Road Dogg, a particularly unsavory character who invites the predominantly-drunken audience to join him in proclaiming his raunchy motto, "Suck it!" The depths to which this industry has sunk are appalling, but they seem to be working. Televised professional wrestling is seeing its highest ratings ever, capitalizing on the exploitation of women and, apparently, giving guys what they want.
Granted, television does not always offer a clear reflection of reality. But if the sport of pro wrestling has tapped into the contemporary mainstream, what does that say about the men of the new millennium? Can the mentality of males really be condensed into a love of half-dressed women, beer and blood?
Clearly, the only way through which an accurate perspective of males could feasibly be compiled was for a few of my girlfriends and I to "become male" for a while. This task included doing things that boys typically enjoy: scoping out the bar scene, hanging out in the dorms and kicking root on the couch with a little televised entertainment provided by the mogul of all things trashy, the FX station.
After a quick survey of the Thursday-night bar-life, a co-collaborator and I decided that downtown would probably show the most promise for the night and for our mission. Clearly, we made the right choice, as we entered a popular bar to find it swarming with boys of all types, ranging from students to locals. Placing ourselves squarely in the middle of the dance floor, we surveyed the activity around us and found three distinct prototypes: a) single sex groups dancing amongst themselves; b) couples focused entirely on each other; and c) outsiders trying to infiltrate into larger groups — generally into those in group "a."
Being in group "a" ourselves, we were content to bust out our own moves until we were approached by possible suitors. Before long, we were presented with an attractive pair of Knott Hall boys who seemed to want no more than a friendly dance. Full of liquid confidence, however, "friendly" soon turned into much more, as these boys sloppily attempted to grope us in the public eye.
We tried to give them the benefit of the doubt by politely moving away, but these boys were relentless. After a series of what they undoubtedly considered to be no-fail pick-up lines like, "I can't help it — you're just so sexy" and "Do you think that there's any chance we'll get to see the two of you beautiful girls hook up tonight?" we decided to cut our losses and set out in seek of a new set of (preferably unintoxicated) subjects for the next night.
What better environment in which to begin studying the male species than on the Notre Dame campus on a Friday night, where boys can be found lounging around their beloved halls in their truest element. To conduct my "research," I coerced two of my girlfriends into busting it around the hallowed West Quad. After a bit of discussion as to where to situate ourselves, we agreed on O'Neill Hall, where the residents of the third floor always prove to be in peak "male" form.
When we arrived at our destination, colloquially known as the "Rumpus Room," we were greeted in normal fashion. The guys said their usual hellos, and we were invited inside to get in on a typical "boys' night in." This concept included hanging out in their common room watching the original boy-humor movie, "Austin Powers."
The gender differences in the room quickly became apparent, as the striking Elizabeth Hurley pranced on-screen sporting a tight leather cat suit. As the boys gawked, we girls made small-talk amongst ourselves, feigning oblivion to the on-screen situation. When the movie concluded, the guys decided that it was time for the next phase in the normal night sequence to begin: a little late-night lounge wrestling.
After a quick round of shots to prime themselves, our subjects took off running down the hall, chanting loud war cries to warn off interlopers. From here, the boys pounced on each other, not bothering with standard wrestling moves such as the Figure-Four-Leglock or the Boston Crab, but rather full-out brawling. Entertaining as this was, it told us not much more about normal male activity than we had already gathered from everyday interaction with guys.
Eager to get an untainted male outlook on life, we returned home to check out "The X Show," FX's spin-off of Comedy Central's "Man Show." By the first commercial break, we had seen more than enough. The theme of the episode, as with every episode, centered around beer, automobiles and, of course, shapely girls doing half-hearted aerobics.
"Learn where to buy a car like this ... and where to meet someone like THIS ...," advertised the announcer as an impossibly chested woman came strutting onstage.
Next came "Name That Plastic Surgery," in which three women traipsed onto the catwalk, one boasting cheek implants, one with lip implants and, of course, the one gratuitous woman sporting breast implants. In this vein, "The Man Show" boasts much the same format, labeling itself as "Thirty minutes of beer commercial fun," and assuring that yes, oh, yes, there would be plenty of girls on trampolines for added viewer enjoyment.
Are boys, in the broad and, unfortunately, stereotypical sense necessarily wrong for functioning as they do? Should they be chastised for their actions? The phrase "boys will be boys" comes to mind in especially poignant fashion here. Whatever it is that guys want, and whatever they are all about, clearly remains a mystery. Ex-Soundgarden lead singer Chris Cornell's single "Can't Change Me" states, "She's going to change the world, but she can't change me."
Men, for the most part, cannot be changed and molded into something that they're just not — true. They can, however, change themselves by sporting a little more than a Beastie Boy mentality. What does it mean to be a guy? It means the power to expect a little more out of life than girls on trampolines and a half-hour of "beer commercial fun." Chivalry may be dead, but let's hope that machismo's headed down that same road — fast.
All Scene Stories for Monday, September 27, 1999