Friday, May 31, 2013

Ask-A-Dude: Male Argument Syndrome

A HUUUUUUUGE shout out to our very own Special K, a.k.a. Karen Amanda Hooper, whose second book in the Kindrily series comes out today!! You can read about Amanda here and get your own copy of Taking Back Forever here.

Congratulations, Karen!!!!

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another edition of Ask-a-Dude!

Remember, you can ask your own questions using the submission form on the right!

Today's question is:

Q: What is it with guys not backing down, especially when they're wrong?

A: Excellent question, disembodied voice in my head. The best way to answer this one is to ask that you imagine a male shark. So, I guess a shark with a bad mustache and terrible fashion sense. And a shovel.

You got that image? Now imagine that shark digging, digging, digging. What's it digging for? It's an imaginary mustachioed digging shark, you really want to get into its motivation?

So Digging Shark, because it's a shark, needs to keep moving or it'll die. I don't actually know if that's true, but I've heard it so many times, I believe it as much as I believe the story about the babysitter and the clown statue.

OMG, you haven't heard that one?! The babysitter puts the kids to bed and notices a creepy clown statue in the corner staring back at her. She calls the parents and asks if it's okay to cover the statue with a sheet because it's freaking her out. The parents tell her to take the kids and run because THEY DON'T OWN A CLOWN STATUE!

Of course, you know that story isn't true because who doesn't own a clown statue?
Side note: I am constantly amazed that no matter what nonsensical combination of words I type into Google Image Search, I always find SOMETHING. Stay classy, Internet.

So where were we? Right, sharks with shovels.

So Digging Shark has to keep moving to stay alive. The hole it digs gets deeper and deeper as silt swirls around like a tornado cloud. Sunlight from the surface no longer penetrates the deep trench he's in. If he even thinks to stop and look around, he'll see that his situation has changed, he's no longer in control. Whatever he was digging for is now lost to the washing machine action of the muddy water kicked up by his shovel.

Digging Shark is just like your male friend. And his digging action is the equivalent of not backing down while the silt of reason boils around him. Why do Digging Sharks do what they do? No one knows because I made them up a few paragraphs ago. 

Why do guys do what they do? Why, in the face of mild opposition, authority or concrete evidence, do they fight like Digging Shark, clinging to the belief that if they simply argue more, dig deeper, they're going to. . .what? Hit paydirt? Find some kind of buried factoid that will prove them right and cleanse the dirty water?

I know, I know, it makes no sense whatsoever. And yet, guys can't stop it from happening. We'll hear someone argue an opposing point and, no matter how mildly the opposition is stated, there's this switch that gets flipped in our brains, this sense that our world is being challenged, that our very manhood is being called into question.

A typical argument starts with an innocuous comment like, "You know that babysitter clown story is just an urban legend, right?"

But this is what we hear, "You know your penis is small, right?"

The proper, mature, reasonable response would be, "Oh, that's interesting, tell me more."

Instead we'll say something like, "Your mom's a good kisser."

And the digging begins.

All guys do this! I do this. My male friends do this. I bet Ghandi did this. People would go up to him and be all, "Just TRY these Birkenstocks for, like, a day, your feet are gonna thank you!" And Ghandi was all, "Fuggedaboutit." I'm totes sure that's how Ghandi talked.

Just a reminder, I know more funny names for my junk than I know actual historical facts.
Pictured here is the lead guitarist for Grand Funk Railroad
It's possible that male oppositional defiance is some kind of hereditary trait, a remnant of some behavioral quirk that imparted a survival advantage back on the savanna.

Whelp, only one way to find out if that's true. Let's use my time machine to spy on a prehistoric exchange between two early males. Yeah, I have a time machine. What's that? Can you use it to watch the signing of the Declaration of Independence? Booooring!

Grok and Lightning (he had proto-hippie parents) are discussing something they found in the tall grass: 

Grok: Watch step! That sabertooth poo. 
Lightning: Maybe just stinky mud. 
Grok: Maybe stinky mud inside your skull. 
Lightning: Your mom's a good kisser. 
Well, there you have it. Obviously defiance in the face of mild argument or observable fact seems contra-indicated to survival. The more time early man spent arguing about some pointless fact, the more likely he was to end up as something's dinner.

So how and why did males evolve this inability to back down, to take a gentler path, to stop being douchebags and simply say, "I'm wrong, you're right, let's have makeup sex?"

My theory is that, back in the (prehistoric) day, arguments had bigger consequences. The longer you sat there arguing about whether that shadow on the wall was a cooking fire stain or a sharp-clawed land octopus (totally a real thing), the closer you were to having your brains sucked out through your nose by some vile creature.

Over time, we developed communities and with them came comfort and safety. Now you can waste time arguing and being obstinate because no matter how long you debate which search engine algorithm is "better," there's no modern consequence other than dying a lonely virgin.

In other words, men of today argue every little point viciously and bitterly because the stakes are so low.

What to do?

Newton's First Law of Argument states that a man in a state of argument will remain in that state until acted upon by an outside force. A sledgehammer, for example, or the start of 2-fer-1 happy hour. So the trick is to distract the male brain with liquor or video games. Alternatively, a well-timed, "Hmm, I'll have to think about that," should work also. You are neither agreeing to his ridiculous point that Greedo shot first, nor are you outright challenging him.

Doing this will allow his argument momentum to dissipate. Once the male is thrown off his track, it's possible to move on to a new, less controversial topic. Like what the first letter of the English alphabet is, or the name of the fat guy who delivers Christmas presents. Start off easy and then move into more complex subjects. 

We can all learn a great deal from Digging Shark. If we can get him out of the hole and back to the real world, then perhaps he can lead a long and fulfilling life eating wayward swimmers. That hole is a dark place. And even though guys think they like being there, the truth is it's just not healthy. Ease them out of the hole and everyone will be better for it.

You don't agree?

How dare you! How VERY dare you!

I hear your mom's a good kisser.

Copil hopes that Digging Shark becomes synonymous with inane male arguments. You can argue the likelihood of that happening on Twitter (@Copil).


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