I asked the students to raise up their free reading books. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell the title said. By some guy named Tucker Max. Hmmm, interesting, I thought. Curious metaphor. If the author does believe in hell, I said, he is tragically misinformed about it. He probably doesn’t.
Over the past few years I’ve encountered the book frequently because many of my students were reading the book for free reading time. Every student has told me that it’s a good read, so I left it at that, content, ignorantly so, in the knowledge that they were at least enjoying reading. I had no clue what was actually in the book, nor did I know who Tucker Max is.
After recently reading The New Dating Game, an article by Charlotte Allen about the hookup culture, and doing a little snooping around, I am no longer confident in my ignorance.
Turns out, the book is basically about Tucker Max and his, umm, “adventures,” mostly involving the opposite sex and certain bedtime activities.
So given the content of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, I was right: Tucker Max doesn’t believe in hell…well, he is still misinformed about hell, though in a different way. But I digress.
I’ve seen the book around enough that I decided to address it in class. Time to pick that fight. Yes, risky. But I’m like that. Still, I approached this cautiously, by asking some questions after I saw a student reading the book in class:
- What ideas are advocated in the book, about the good life, happiness, “liberation,” etc? For those that had trouble with this, I simplified it: fill in the blank–according to Tucker Max, the good life/happiness means _____________. According to Tucker Max, “liberation/freedom” for a woman means _______________.
- Are these ideas true and worthy of embracing?
- For those that saw no point in the discussion: why is thinking about a book in this way important? If you don’t pause to think about what you imbibe for entertainment purposes, who is really controlling the puppet strings?
- Who, really, does this hurt?
“Why go there?” you ask. Simple: first, its not like I came looking for any of this. Students brought the book into my class, and lit brought into my class needs to be addressed. I could just censor the book with no explanation, but the “nothing to see here” line without explanation probably wouldn’t help.
Secondly, the hookup culture is alarmingly common currently. Peruse the nightlife in any college town or any urban area for that matter, and you’ll find scores of twenty, thirty, and even forty somethings of both genders prowling for a hookup. There’s even a new genre of literature that frequently pops up on best seller lists: Pick-up-Artist lit. The male equivalent of chick lit, it actually has a practical application: its goal is to coach men on how to get any chick into bed. There was even a reality show on VH1 that ran for a few years based off this lit, called, somewhat obviously, “The Pickup Artist.”
It gets better. I recently read of an incident at Yale where a frat surrounded a sorrority and shouted, “no means yes! Yes means anal!”
I simply ask, “Should our culture be concerned about this?” Yes, of course.
“But reading a trashy book by Tucker Max and laughing at his adventures is one thing, but boys shouting their mysogyny at the top of their lungs is another. The two have nothing to do with each other.” you say.
False. The two are intimately connected by a culture at large that winks at and even encourages the type of behavior in both scenarios. For one, winking at the Tucker Maxes of the world as having “innocent fun” makes possible the sinister chant of the Yale frat boy. For another, recall the quote: “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” How do you sow your thoughts? Easy: what you imbibe for entertainment.
Thirdly, why should we be shocked at the Yale boys? It is exactly the destiny that we as a culture have wrought. With a thousand “small” things like the Tucker Max book, we pave the way. “We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst…We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” We are a hyper-sexualized culture, and this comes through in countless ways.
Events like the “Yale boys incident” are the culmination of a culture that adopts an attitude about sex that says its merely a bodily function to be enjoyed, no commitment necessary. Its the culmination of a culture that adopts a “boys will be boys” attitude regarding hookups and taking advantage of inebriated girls, who are often all too willing themselves. It is the culmination of a culture that teaches its girls that true “sexual liberation” means giving into one’s worst instincts, and “equality” means the “freedom” to act like a manboy at his absolute lowest. It is the culmination of a culture that insists right and wrong are merely relative personal choices, and one man’s personal choice to do what he thinks is cool is just as good as the next person’s choice. It’s the culmination of a culture that thinks the young cannot resist their urges, so we might as well teach them how to be “responsible” with those urges (once the first lesson is taught, the second is a forgotten afterthought, however. Anyone ever try on the novel thought that we should actually expect the young to keep it in their pants until marriage?), and its the culmination of a culture that says that there is no objective purpose to life and there is no greater cause than the self.
Is it any wonder that adolescents flock to sex to escape their boredom? This is simply the modernist-sexual-revolution rooster coming home to roost. Forgive the pun.
Some might dismiss this, saying that every generation is wild, and this is merely the old generation putting down the new. They are only partly right. Every young generation has its daliances, but one big difference here is the degree…this seems to be “youth gone wild” on steroids.
Spending your teens sneaking out at night going steady with your heart throb, or going out on the town swing dancing and having a few drinks underage is one thing….spending not only your teens, but your twenties and thirties having a split personality where you are a professional during the day, but a raging drunk at night who opens her legs for the hottest looking anonymous alpha male or a male who prowls around looking for one of these gals is a horse of a dif’rent color. Sure, I guess there were some like this back then–we’ve all heard the Fitzgerald-like stories–but the numbers now are of much greater proportion.
You might also balk at me including women in my assessment of blame, but there’s plenty of blame to go around, and some honest soul searching is in order for both genders.
For society at large, for winking at the Tucker Maxes of the world and believing that this is merely a temporary stage with few long-term hangovers.
For the men (dare I call them men?) who have foolishly equated manhood with being a pick up artist. For the dads who’ve left their sons vulnerable to such a lie because they have either been absent or have passively let the culture teach the boys what manhood is. For the male friends that laugh at their buddy’s stories of adventures, as if treating a woman like she’s a condom to be discarded when done with is even remotely ok (“what if that was your daughter?” is a question I always feel like asking, and often do.)
For the women who’ve bought into the rather warped view of liberation of Radical Feminism that I mentioned above…yep, for some academics, today’s “liberated woman” is what they’ve been shooting for. This is simply what you get when you try to remove the stigma of being promiscuous. If you doubt that’s the message of many on the college campus, just check out Yale’s “Sex Week.” There’s many a college sponsoring similar activities. Read something by Naomi Wolf. She’s got lots of little gems for you.
While there may be a student group or two in the mix advocating for chastity, the overwhelming message is clear, and the aforementioned student group is usually seen as kind of an oddity. Definitely not a group worthy of praise.
An aside: it’s ironic, you know. You’d think that they’d advocate for equality by telling men to knock it off, instead of telling women to “go ahead.” Perhaps that’s just me.
There are plenty of “health centers” on college campuses designed to help students avoid things like STD’s when it comes to their sexual choices, whatever those choices are. But where are the centers on campuses designed to help the many who want to live chastely, but who feel pressured by a hypersexualized culture to give in?
Back on topic, here. To a society that insists this is a harmless temporary stage: what, I’m supposed to believe that you can spend your 20’s and part of your 30’s sleeping around, then suddenly flip a switch when you’re 35 and become an honorable husband/wife and father/mother? Such a thought is the height of stupidity.
Purposely delaying marriage to later in life is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. I can understand when people say that most in their 20’s simply aren’t mature enough, but the common solution to that–“have fun now. Marriage is a drag. You can get married later” strikes me as an odd way to bring someone to greater maturity. Protracted adolescence protracts the problem.
“Consent” is as far as this society is willing to go when it comes to moral instruction. That is a tragically low bar.
To a culture that has nothing to offer the young in terms of objective meaning, purpose, and a solid metaphysical ground in which to put down roots: this is really the bottom line. When the self is number one, the empty self is what results.
To the pickup artists: you’re a tool. When you die, your only legacy will be a list of women you’ve slept with, and a list of boys who you have taught to do the same. Perhaps a VH1 show. That’s it. What an utter worthless and banal life.
Even if the fun lasts past the morning, you have gained an orgasm, but lost the source of your strength. You have traded a life well lived for a subjective feeling that’s here today, gone tomorrow. You have no ability to self restrain, and you are sowing habits that erode your ability to sacrifice for a greater good. Plus, when your own daughter or sister falls for one of these predators, just remember: you had it coming. You reap what you sow.
To the passive, feminized dads and the absent fathers (whether in body and/or mind/emotion): you matter. You can put a stop to this. Don’t leave it up to your wife. She is willing and able, but shouldn’t have to do it without you. You must bear the majority of the burden and duty to lead your son into manhood and give your daughter the male attention she craves. If you don’t know what a man is, learn. It is never too late to grab an older male mentor who has character you respect, sit at his feet and learn. Engage your family. Sit them down at the dinner table every night, eat a meal with them, and talk to them. Monday Night Football can wait. If you remain passive, they won’t get it from mom…they will get it from Lil’ Wayne, guys like Tucker Max, or the first predatory alpha male to take them under their wings. The ball is in your hands; you must run to the goal line.
To the ladies: I guess saying “falling for” isn’t the right word, as if it was akin to “tripping,” because many of the women who engage in the hookup scene actively throw themselves at these guys. Check out the following summary of a girl who recently slept with Tucker Max (she posted the story online):
Next to her story she posted a photograph of her with Max that she had a friend take at the bar. The photo shows a rosy-cheeked strawberry blonde who, although no Scarlett Johansson, is no Ugly Betty either (her C-cup bustline, much in evidence both underneath and spilling over her strapless top, doesn’t hurt). She is also grinning from ear to ear, her smile as wide as a cantaloupe slice. Max, mugging for the camera, has his arm draped proprietarily, if not exactly affectionately, around her shoulder as she leans into his chest. No disapproving peers, either. When Courtney left her apartment to meet Max at the bar, her roommates called after her, “Make sure to bring him back.” She and Max rode off to the inn “with everyone at the bar waving and giving the thumbs up.”
Remember: you teach people how to treat you, and you teach the culture how to treat your future daughters. Admittedly, most who get caught up in the hookup culture don’t actively start out that way, but they do end up there by a thousand small steps. Sow a thought, reap a habit…by now you know the rest. My daughter and your future daughter will have to live in the world you help to create. Therefore mind your thoughts and actions.
And lest I leave anyone out, to me: I remember some years ago being so desperate that I actually flirted with buying the e-book of one of these pick up artist fools. How stupid! Those guys’ confidence was paper-thin. Why did I even think of going for that?
And: this is a sober warning to me to love my own daughter by spending time with her. That is how kids spell “love.” T-I-M-E. That is, afterall, how I reacted to the “New Dating Game” article above: I put the article down, and played with my daughter. It all reminded me of the Chris Rock line: “fellas, if your daughter grows up to be a stripper….you failed.”