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Pass the Beer: In Defense of "Fratire"

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I'll never forget the moment I first heard the word "fratire." I was
on the phone with Warren St. John answering some follow-up questions
for his piece on me and Maddox that was to run in the NY Times Style
Section. I am paraphrasing, but I think the conversation went like
this:

Tucker "So Warren, you going to give our fledging genre a cool new name?"

Warren "Yeah, I was thinking of calling it 'fratire."

Tucker "Great Holy Jesus. Warren, that is awful. First off, I wasn't
in a fraternity. Neither was Maddox. In fact, none of the writers you
are profiling in your article was in a frat. Please, call it anything
else...uh, how about Dick Lit?"

Warren "I don't think the Times will print that. We're going with fratire."

And there it was. I had the chance to kill the fratire name, had I
just come up with something more printable than Dick Lit, but I
failed. Sorry folks.

Slightly inaccurate titles aside, "fratire" is not what the pundits
and bloggers would have you believe. That is why I decided to write
this piece; I was tired of people who hadn't read our writing passing
judgment on it and defining it in a way that served their ideological
interests to the detriment of ours. It is time to set the record
straight.

First off, if you have not read anything written by the two main
players in the "fratire" genre, Maddox and I, then either go read at
least some of our writing, or permanently excuse yourself from the
debate. If you don't want to buy our books, you can get plenty of free
material on our sites. Mine is here, href="http://www.tuckermax.com">www.TuckerMax.com, and Maddox's
is here, href="http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.com">www.thebestpageintheuniverse.
com.

Seems easy enough, the idea that one should actually read what a
person writes before commenting on their work? Well, perhaps not
surprisingly, most of our critics have not bothered with that
meddlesome detail. They spend 30 seconds surfing around, catch a
glimpse of the word "bitch," see some sentence about "drunken sex" or
a rant about Maddox's girlfriend changing the oil, and decide that's
all they need to read, they have completely figured us out, and we are
quite obviously [misogynists/alcoholics/immature/pseudo-frat
boys/vengeful/insert your favorite adjective here].

The problem is that they are all wrong. Fratire is not about misogyny.
Fratire is not about drinking. Fratire is not about acting immature,
or animosity towards women or fraternity life, or
anything of these other things it is accused of being.

It is difficult to claim that, as a group, we are any one
thing. The simple fact is that the fratirists are a set of very different
writers with very different styles and messages. I am single, I like
to have sex with lots of different women, I like to drink with my
friends and have a good time and then write
about it. That's all I do; href="http://www.tuckermax.com/stories.phtml">write true short stories
about my nights
out acting like an average twenty something. Maddox has had the same
girlfriend for five years, rarely drinks, and likes to play computer
games. Instead, he writes satire pieces href="http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=irule">mocking
children's artwork, and
href="http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=sponsor">vegetarians.
Another writer in the genre, Robert Hamburger, has an ingeniously
subversive site and book devoted to href="www.realultimatepower.net">how sweet ninjas are. A fourth,
Frank Rich, writes exclusively
about drinking and alcohol
.

If our voices are so different, why is it that we have been lumped
together under fratire? What is the common bond? It is very simple:
Fratire is, at it's essence, nothing more than men writing about being
men in an honest and authentic way. I know that doesn't seem all that
radical, but sadly, in the PC world that we now live in, it very much
is.

To understand why current culture is at the point where men being men
is considered a radical notion, you need to understand how we got
here. Feminism came in three "waves"; href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-wave_feminism">1st Wave,
which was suffrage
(the right to vote), href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-wave_feminism">2nd Wave,
which was the 60's and 70's sexual and social revolution fought for
inclusion, and href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third-wave_feminism">3rd Wave,
which is what we
have now. It emphasizes freedom of choice for women regardless of what
decision they make, and it endorses everything from porn to girly
culture.

Of course, First Wave feminism was a substantial human advancement.
Aside from universal suffrage, only the rule of law and the scientific
method have done more to advance the human condition. Second Wave
feminism was also necessary at the time it began. It threw off the stifling
societal bonds limiting women's ability to be who they wanted to be
and advance in fields they choose. However, Second Wave feminism went
too far in some ways. While many women did want to take advantage of
the new paths available
to them and become scientists or CEO's, many did not, and they didn't
enjoy feeling like failures simply because they chose to be
stay-at-home moms or strippers or whatever.

The same was true for their sexuality. Because the Second Wave
feminists fought for sexual
equality against a patriarchal system that objectified them, as a
result they sought to hold women to a standard of acting in accord with the
gains they had won. But the Third Wave feminists did not want another
set of rules, they wanted personal freedom, and some of them preferred
the option of alternate sexual mores like bi-sexuality and sluttiness.
This is why Third Wave feminism arose; it was a reaction against the
oppression of the Second Wave. Plainly put, the Second Wave feminists
were Jane Pauley and Gloria Steinem, and the Third Wave feminists were
Britney Spears, Suicide Girls and Margaret Cho.

Why does any of this matter? Because feminism did not evolve in a
vacuum. It interacted with and affected masculinity. Entire books
could be written about this, but in short, men--especially in the
media--reacted to Second Wave feminism by emasculating themselves and
adopting a PC attitude that apologizes for nothing more than men being
men. This attitude peaked in the early 90's (around the same time that
Third Wave feminism started). The idea that men had to pay not only
for the sins of our fathers, but had to suffer for simply being a man
became pervasive in mainstream media.

When any pendulum swings too far to one side, it eventually has to
start coming back. The first major player to refuse to buckle to this
trend was Howard Stern. The demand for such a voice was so strong that
by simply refusing to kowtow to the PC police, he became the "King of
All Media." This is where fratire comes in. While Maddox and I are not
Howard Stern, we do represent some of the first internet players in
this anti-PC revolt, and fratire as a genre represents the non-mainstream
literary reaction to the feminization of masculinity.

Masculinity is starting to slowly coming back in vogue, but the
fight is only beginning. The fact is, at this point in entertainment
history, the Second Wave feminists are the gatekeepers of media. The
women who grew up in the 60's are now in charge, and they quite
literally run shit. By itself that is not a problem, but these
50-year-old women who hold so many positions of power in media
companies have personal preferences that do not reflect many American
attitudes. Fratire exists as a genre because people are hungry for
someone to tell it like it actually is instead of how these women (and
men to some extent) want it to be. There is a large and untapped
segment of the American populace that want men to act like men, but
the MSM, which is run by Second Wave feminists, doesn't get this yet.
They aren't in touch anymore.

(As a slight aside, I would go so far as to say that many feminists,
especially Second Wave feminists, actually HATE women. Not the
minority of women who agree with them, but the majority of actual
women in the world, the ones who wax their legs and wear high heels,
who distance themselves from radical feminism and actually like men.
The hard-core Second Wave feminists think so little of women that they
are compelled to control them, tell them what's acceptable to read or
enjoy or think is funny and dictate whom it's permissible to be
attracted to, i.e. to tell them that they are supposed to hate Maddox
and I because we aren't pussy-whipped sycophants. Well fuck that. It
is not an accident that at 30-40% of our fans are women. Ladies,
unlike the feminist illuminati who disparage your personal choices
when they don't fall into line with their radical views, I will not
ignore and disregard your decisions. I am glad you are reading my work
and I personally welcome you as fans.)

This is not an issue of fratire writers being internet based and thus
disregarded by the mainstream. Ana Marie Cox (Wonkette) got a two book
deal with an advance over $500,000. Jessica Cutler (Washintonienne)
got an advance of $240,000. My advance? $7500. Maddox's? $7500. How
did that turn out for the publishing world?

My book, "I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell"
( href="http://www.ihopetheyservebeerinhell.com">www.ihopetheyservebeerinhell.
com),
just passed 60,000 books sold (in
only six months) and spent two weeks as a NY Times Best Seller (and
that was literally without one single book review in any publication
of note). According to Book Scan, Ana Marie Cox (Dog Days) and Jessica
Cutler (Washingtonienne) have-COMBINED-sold less than half that. And
of course, neither ever hit any best seller list (Maddox's numbers
aren't known, but he debuted at #4 on the NY Times Best Seller List,
so I think we can safely say he will eventually outsell all of us).

What does all this mean? Well, aside from my ranting to get this off
my chest, it means one very simple thing: Don't believe the
anti-fratire hype. If you read my work or Maddox's work or any of
the other fratire authors and dislike our writing on it's merits, that
is fine. Though fratire has a large audience, it's not for everyone.
But don't dis the genre because you think that it's anti-woman or
misogynistic; it is not. At least give us the respect of judging our
work as it is, not as some reactionary who hasn't read it thinks it
is.

Let me be even more clear: The last thing I want to do is define
fratire in opposition to women or to feminism. It is not an accident
that 30-40% of my fans are women. I do not imply that men's
interests run counter to women's, or even that masculinity and
feminism are mutually exclusive. They are not. Nor does fratire hold
that feminism is bad, or that men are "superior" to women in some
unspecified way. In fact, I very much agree with the basic tenet of
feminism--that women are legally and morally equal to men and should
have every opportunity that men do.

True masculinity is not about opposing femininity. In fact, femininity
is essential to masculinity;
it is the yin to our yang. Any real man values and desires women in
his life, but men also want to stop being told that it's not OK to be
a man.

Of course, this begs the question: What does it mean to be a
man?

Honestly, I don't know the answer to that question. I definitely like
to think of myself as a man, but I do not think that I am the model or
definition of manhood that everyone should aspire to. Even though I
cannot define manhood, I do know that we will never define it if we
cannot discuss it openly and freely, without fear of being castigated
or vilified for exploring the boundaries of these issues.

Just like Third Wave feminism arose to enable women to explore and
define the different meanings femininity can have to different people,
so has fratire spawned from the recesses of the internet to allow men
to do the same thing with masculinity. At it's core, fratire is just
that: A literary genre that unapologetically lets men be
men...whatever it is that means.