"There's nothing wrong with us guys, except everything."
"You guys aren't dumb rednecks like they say?"
Well, with fair and open-minded quotes like the ones above, along with the subtitle "The True and Twisted Mind of the American Man," readers can easily discern just how slanted and biased Charlie LeDuff's account of the direct sex is in US Guys [ http://www.amazon.com/US-Guys-True-Twisted-American/dp/1594201064 ].
His subtitle, were it to be used in the context of women, would be tantamount to a hate crime. The author would never do that though because, as he admits in the Preface,
"I hardly understand women." No doubt he is right but also apparent is his gaudy ignorance of men.
The text is devoid of psychological revelation concerning males, but it does effectively illuminate the pervasive misandry endemic to our culture. Mr. LeDuff possesses as many negative assumptions about men as a Womyn's Studies professor, and he gladly shares them throughout the narrative.
Consider the supposition that time spent brawling with a gang of bikers elucidates the reason "why the American man is so aggressive and angry." It does...assuming one was already convinced of the fact beforehand. The person who is hungry for actual knowledge knows otherwise. Behaviors exhibited by belligerent derelicts cannot be extrapolated to the broader population. After all, deviants are, well, deviant. They are not the norm. The average male neither commits felonies nor scraps on a daily basis.
Yet, in his attempt to depict the soul of the American male, Mr. LeDuff exclusively seeks out the company of freaks. The fallacious menagerie is incorporated by bums in Tulsa, gay rodeo cowboys in Oklahoma City, players on a marginal semi-pro football team in Amarillo, the East Bay Rats motorcycle gang in Oakland, jockeys in Miami, the denizens of the Burning Man festival, and reenactors of the Battle of Little Big Horn. These fellows are no more representative of "US Guys" than my political views are indicative of those held by the average Chicagoan.
The title of this book really should be, "News of the Weird." Of course, that would never sell like one purporting to outline the pathological nature of males. Reports of masculine abomination are precisely the type of thing which fly off the shelves in this country. These essays actually appear to have been created for another purpose altogether. The same topics are covered in episodes from LeDuff's Discovery Channel "Only in America" show. His decision to formally link his experiences to misandry may have been just an afterthought.
US Guys has been dubbed Gonzo journalism which, given the broad confines of the genre, it probably is despite Mr. LeDuff having little in common with Hunter S. Thompson. His travelogue is more in the tradition of Confederates in the Attic as, here too, an intrepid anti-liberal elitist ventures out to our non-Eastern expanses to report back on all the rubes and crackers he came across on the journey.
Mr. LeDuff was a reporter at The New York Times for twelve years and the first person he thanked on the acknowledgments page was its publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. This association goes a long way in explaining the ubiquitous slant of his insight. Like seeing the collected works of Simone de Beauvoir in an associate's bookcase, LeDuff's association with the Gray Lady tells you just about everything you need to know about his ideology.
The following sentence showcases his acceptance of radical feminist dogma: "This was the late seventies when it seemed like every father was packing his bags and walking out the door. The fathers, of course, did not pay their child support and so the mothers dutifully went off to earn the bread." On aggregate, not a word of his statement is true. Today, most fathers pay child support; just as they always have. Furthermore, women, and not men, are the ones who usually initiate divorce in both America and Canada.i
The pretense that American men possess "true and twisted minds" will undoubtedly endear the author to his intended audience as they regard the nefariousness of men as being an undeniable truth (see the oeuvre of Maureen Dowd). I am sure it sold quite well among those who perpetually look down on their fellow citizens-except for reasons relating to the troika of race, sex, and class.
Mr. LeDuff's missive was penned exclusively for the active parishioners of the church of political correctness. Everything they need to reinforce their preexisting superiority and prejudice is here. The words said to him by a pro bull rider-"I just got a phobia about queers, is all"-defy belief and are not in keeping with the conversational style of your average rodeo performer. Only among those with an education contaminated by politics will the canard of homophobia make any sense. Normal people are far too grounded to buy into the notion that one's likes and dislikes are a product of fear.
With gays, LeDuff is somewhat of an aficionado. Perhaps his admiration is due to a need to uniformly support every construct of PC. His own sexual inclinations are rather ambiguous. At one point there is the strange interlude of his smooching a biker ("I kiss him back. Full on the mouth"). He then makes a point of getting dolled up for his bout at the fight club and chooses as his ring name, "Oscar Wilde the faggot."
In light of his outlook, his conclusion regarding the metrosexual phenomenon, "...guys are getting in touch with the girlish alter ego that lurks underneath the mustache of every man," is rather suspicious. The statement may be true of Mr. LeDuff but why indict the rest of us with these feminization fantasies? Just as most men do not shop at Saks and leave with a $500 suede shirt, a linen and Spandex t-shirt, and Polo slacks (as he tells us he did) there is no justification for supposing that all men harbor such inclinations.
His time spent with a minor league football team taught him little about the game but everything "about race." This is unfortunate but entirely expected. To leftists, every habit, every profession, and every human interaction is colored by race-or at least by the way in which it can be used to establish one's moral transcendence over others.
With race, Mr. LeDuff has a carefully trained eye. He can only detect racism when displayed by whites. He interjects himself into a dispute among two teammates and confesses his intention to "stir up the racial witch's brew." Well, isn't that what the political left has habitually been doing for forty years?
While watching a brawl in a fight club, LeDuff cannot see beyond the race of the pugilists: "At the first fight party, I watched Big Mike disassemble the face of a man who outweighed him by thirty pounds - a white man. The crowd lustily crowed, their racial psychosis satisfied in the proof that the black body must defeat the white." I would contend that it is not the crowd that suffers from racial psychosis but Mr. LeDuff himself. The only pathology intrinsic to these circumstances is the narrator's own obsession with superficial human characteristics. Furthermore, Big Mike, the only black man in the club, was also one of its most popular members; a fact which reveals more about black/white relations in America than any of the narrator's asides.
There are many other inappropriate references to race in the text, such as LeDuff describing a stranger as a "typical white guy, pear-shaped." Why would anybody make such a comment? It does not even have the benefit of being true. Admittedly, obesity is a serious problem in our nation, but white children are less likely to become obese than black or Hispanic ones. This was just another throw away line from a person plagued by deep-seated, and highly selective, racial prejudice.
Yes, even among this bizarre collection of characters, LeDuff does not come off well. This conclusion aptly illustrates his mental state: "Some men are strong despite their shortcomings and are able to get on with the dreary business of living." Well, perhaps his perspective is fueled more by self-loathing rather than misandry. Life is not a dreary business for most of us, but it appears to be for the author. Later, he confirms this by informing us that clowns exist to avoid letting people know that "life is horrible."
Like with many other leftists, Mr. LeDuff has projected his own trauma upon the psyches of whites and males. Men are not twisted, but that the word is descriptive of the narrator is open to interpretation.
Bernard Chapin is the author of the recently released, Women: Theory and Practice along with 2006's Escape from Gangsta Island. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.