My elementary school principal, Hal Howington, called me into his office. I’d written a “love letter” of the typical grade-school variety (“I like you. Do you like me, yes or no?”) and responded to my beloved’s rejection by re-sending my note with a not-very-nice pejorative scrawled across the bottom of the page.
“You can’t do that, Terry,” Mr. Howington said. “Just because a girl doesn’t like you doesn’t mean you can call her a bad name. It happens to us all. You’ll see as you grow older.”
He was right. I apologized to her. For the next few years, basically, I gave up on every female who wasn’t in the lingerie section of the Sears catalogs that came to our house.
I grew up. I loved. I lost. I learned. I don’t guess every guy makes that transition relatively unscathed.
The harbinger for me was radio host Tom Leykis. His show in the mid-to-late 1990s was libertarian, bawdy and, frequently, decidedly anti-woman.
Much of his airtime was dedicated to talking about how women take advantage of men who are soft-hearted – or just dumb – and how the court system is no place of refuge. His listeners, mostly loud-mouthed carbon copies of their radio idol, queued up to share their own stories of conniving women and the piles of money lost to feminine manipulations.
I lost track of Leykis and his cohort for years afterward. It was only in recent weeks that I discovered a fresh wave of YouTube and podcast hosts spreading the word to guileless men to beware these scheming temptresses.
First was Kevin Samuels. A friend sent a link to me of a video clip showing a well-dressed Black man berating a woman on her opinions on dating and what she “brought to the table” compared to what she expected of the kind of man she was hoping to meet.
He badgered her over her weight and appearance. I thought to myself, “Who the hell IS this guy? And WHY would anyone subject themselves to this?”
Samuels describes himself as an “image consultant” for regular men who don’t know how to dress and otherwise prepare themselves for the kind of high-end lifestyles they desire. Yahoo called him a “YouTube sensation,” which aligns with the popularity of his diss sessions on the channel – he has more than 950,000 subscribers.
He seemingly aspires to motivate men how to become “high value,” but most of his videos are just verbal attacks on women for being overweight and over ambitious in their dating outlook. (Men don’t get off scot-free; one of his earliest viral videos was his belittling a caller for being overweight, not making enough money and having a small penis. Dude’s really got a thing about weight.)
On the heels of discovering Samuels I found the Fresh and Fit podcast out of Miami. On their YouTube page, the hosts promise to “provide the TRUTH to dating, fitness, social media, finances, and overall male improvement. … (and to) teach you how to fully optimize the dating market by specifying topics that relate to female psychology.”
Sounded interesting on paper, but the clips I watched typically involved the hosts, Myron Gaines and Walter Weekes (a.k.a. Fresh Prince CEO), inviting good-natured party girls onto their show to tell them how useless they are.
The shows typically feature snarky comments submitted by male viewers bashing the women and urging Gaines to “go Frank Castle” (alter-ego of the Punisher comic book character) to forcefully remove female guests who sober up enough to defend themselves.
Then I found Richard Cooper’s Entrepreneurs in Cars. There’s not much more to his clips than Cooper driving around talking to a GoPro, helping men understand “how to make better choices with life, money and women so they don’t make a train wreck in their life.”
For Cooper, a train wreck means marrying a single woman with children or any other way a man gets played for his hard-earned wealth. Yeesh.
After a short survey of this genre, I’ve concluded it is a lot of self-pitying, misogynist nonsense disguised as male empowerment. Maybe my opinion is to be expected from the kind of guy these jokers would call a beta. Or is it delta? I’m not an alpha, certainly not a sigma.
Dating is not for the faint of heart, but it’s not a blood sport. Men and women are not adversaries.
Terry E. Manning lives and works in Savannah, Ga. He is a Clemson graduate and worked for 20 years as a journalist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.