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Todd Hartley

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I'm With Stupid: Use Your Noodle to Fight for Men's Rights

Posted: 07/15/11 12:30 PM ET

Gentlemen, we have a problem. It seems that once again our rights have come under attack. What rights, you ask? Why, only the right to be thoughtless, juvenile, unkempt, out-of-shape pigs. The right to ignore our spouses and children for hours at a time in favor of the Internet or the idiot box. The right, in short, to be the men we truly are inside. That's what's at stake here.

In the past, fortunately, we've been able to overcome similar assaults on our masculinity. For example, in the late '80s, just when it seemed bands such as Poison and Motley Crue were going to make it necessary for all men to spend thousands of dollars on makeup and hair-care products, grunge came along and made it OK to wear filthy flannel shirts again. More recently, I'd like to commend you all for helping to counter the metrosexual menace by refusing to trim your eyebrows and ear hair. Well done, gents.

This time around, however, the threat is much more subtle, coming as it does in the form of a column written for Redbook magazine by one Aaron Traister. The very headline of the column -- which I read on Yahoo.com, lest you think I read Redbook -- hints at the scope of the problem: "30 Days to a Better Husband." Yes, you read that right. I imagine by now you're starting to see what we're up against.

The criminally dangerous article chronicles Traister's efforts to transform himself over the course of a month from a man into some kind of subservient lickspittle, determined to measure up to his wife's ideal. He starts off by buying her flowers the way he did when they first started dating. Then he cuts his Internet surfing down to 15 minutes a night of responding to emails so he can be more "present" with his family. Then he starts exercising and dressing like a grown-up. Sad, isn't it? Apparently, there's nothing so lowly and pathetic that Traister won't try it in an effort to win his wife's approval.

Now, if Traister had just made these efforts on his own and kept it to himself, there wouldn't be a problem. If one man insists on emasculating himself in pursuit of spousal acceptance, that's his cross to bear. But when that guy writes a column about it that appears on one of the world's most popular websites, it's no longer just his concern. Clearly, women are going to read that column and think their husbands should do something similar, thereby creating unrealistic expectations for everyone.

Mind you, I'm not saying it's necessarily a bad thing to try to be a better husband. I'm just saying that if you make such an effort, don't go bragging about it. It makes the rest of us look bad, and it sets up the married women of the world for a whole lot of disappointment when their husbands don't likewise try to improve themselves.

So what can we do as men to defuse this ticking time bomb that Traister has dropped on us? Well, the simple answer would be to just try to ignore him and keep on doing what we've been doing, but I'm not sure that will work. My fear is that a number of men will take Traister's advice and raise the bar for husbands everywhere. Thus, it may be necessary to take more drastic measures.

With that as prologue, I would like to extend a special note of commendation to an Austrian man named Niko Alm who is fighting hard for the rights of men everywhere. According to a BBC News story, Alm recently won the right to have his driver's license picture taken while wearing a pasta strainer on his head, which shows that not all men are interested in acting like grown-ups.

Alm claims to belong to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the followers of which call themselves pastafarians, and his actions were a sort of protest over Austria allowing members of other faiths to wear confessional headgear in their driver's license photos, but I think all that is beside the point. The real story, as I see it, is that the guy is wearing a colander for a hat in his driver's license picture. I don't think I could possibly have more respect for somebody.

As for the rest of you, now that you've seen what real men do in the face of adversity, do us all a favor and get out there and do something similarly stupid, just like men are supposed to.


Todd Hartley prefers fettuccine, but he's definitely joining that church. To read more or leave a comment, please visit zerobudget.net.