What’s Your Problem?

By Jeffrey Goldberg

First The Atlantic tells us that it’s the “end of men.” Goodbye, men. Then we get a cover story about the benefits for women of staying single—that they don’t even need men. My question is not why The Atlantic has become so seriously feminized. My question is, how can you, as a male writer, stand it?

B.P., Baltimore, Md.

Dear B.P.,

Actually, I stand it just fine. It turns out that men don’t need testicles for very much at all. And emasculation has various benefits. For instance, you should hear the Atlantic All-Male Castrati Chorus in action! Our interpretation of Handel’s Giulio Cesare was the talk of the NOW convention, and we’ve just been invited to be the opening act for a special run of The Vagina Monologues at Caesars Palace. And by the way, it’s not as if we’ve given up our testicles permanently: Human Resources keeps them in a humidor upstairs, and they promise to return them to us if we move on to jobs at other, more masculine magazines, such as Cosmo.

I recently published a cover story in a major national magazine extolling the merits of singledom—and now I’m getting deluged with marriage proposals from male readers. Should I accept?

K.B., New York, N.Y.

Dear K.B.,

Let me try to explain the economics of the journalism racket. You wrote a cover story for a “major national magazine” extolling the merits of single life for women. This marks the last time you will be able to write a cover story extolling the merits of single life for women. This is not good for your bottom line. But if you change your mind and decide to get married, you’ll get a whole new cover story in a major national magazine. You will also get a husband, and husbands, like magazine cover stories, can provide you with ephemeral ego satisfaction—plus they shovel snow and kill bugs. Some husbands have also been known to provide sexual services, such as intercourse, for their wives. Please try to avoid marrying someone who works at an overly feminized magazine, however, as he will not be able to execute certain of these male duties.

Back in my day, I was a campus radical. Now my son, who is an Ivy League graduate but mostly unemployed, wants to get more involved in Occupy Wall Street. Based on my history, it’s hard for me to tell him this is a bad idea, but I’m not impressed with this movement’s lack of focus and I think he would better serve his future by getting a job and moving out of our home. I know what I sound like, but I think that since my wife and I still support him financially, he should take what I have to say into consideration. Am I wrong?

H.L., Los Angeles, Calif.

Dear H.L.,

Your son’s desire raises several problems, not least of which is that he already lives in a socialist paradise—namely, your house—and so maybe he should stop complaining about the unfairness of life. I’m not critiquing his wish to see the world bettered for others, but might I make a couple of suggestions? Most Ivy League graduates are unaccustomed to pepper spray; perhaps he should spray himself in the face once or twice, to test his tolerance. He should also resist the urge to bring high-end camping equipment to protests—this will make him look fey and elitist.

Which is more spiteful: giving a gift that you know the recipient will hate, or accepting such a gift and pretending to love it, out of spite?

G.R., Corning, N.Y.

Dear G.R.,

I can just picture Christmas morning in your living room: the tree all lit up; the kids, still in their pajamas, gleefully opening their presents; the adults, sipping coffee and stabbing each other in the kidneys with the just-opened set of Williams-Sonoma fondue forks. Delightful! I’m not an advocate of the spiteful gesture—I prefer sullenness punctuated by bouts of glowering—but it is true that there is nothing more maddening to angry people than the sangfroid of those they are trying to infuriate.

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This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/01/whats-your-problem/308850/