This blog entry is dedicated to all the ladies out there. Clearly, many of you desperately need to read this. I won’t bother with the men, because they already know what I’m about to write here.
I just heard the song, “It’s Different for Girls,” by Dierks Bentley. This little ditty from an artist whom I used to respect is further proof to me that country music is a genre in a state of decline.
But before we get to that, let’s examine the premise of the song by sampling a few of the lyrics:
“She don’t throw any t-shirt on and walk to a bar
She don’t text her friends and say, I gotta get laid tonight
She don’t say, it’s okay, I never loved him anyway
She don’t scroll through her phone just looking for a Band-Aid
It’s different for girls when their hearts get broke
They can’t tape it back together with a whiskey and Coke
They don’t take someone home and act like it’s nothing
They can’t just switch it off every time they feel something
A guy gets drunk with his friends and he might hook up
Fast forward through the pain, pushing back when the tears come on
But it’s different for girls”
The rest of this song continues in the same vein, piling on every cliché and gender-related stereotype in order to paint a picture that girls have it so much harder when it comes to matters of the heart.
I’ve had my share of relationships and break-ups, so I speak with more than a little authority when I call bullshit on this song. What’s more, I think Mr. Bentley knows it’s bullshit. He’s likely a man who’s been hurt by a woman before and he knows what a man’s pain is like. He is also an artist who understands his listener base.
Over the past decade or so, country music has had an increasingly large female audience. This explains the shift in tone from male-centric songs to those in which the emotions of a woman are featured front and center. The reasons aren’t so much a matter of male enlightenment as they are economic. Dierks wants to sell his music, therefore, he wants to give his fans what they want. So, let’s trot out a song that relies on every sexist cliché in the book to boost those sales.
I have no idea who wrote the song and I’m not inclined to spend any energy researching it. It was either a woman who is coming from a place of ignorance where men are concerned, or a man who wanted to spread bullshit like fertilizer in order to put TV dinners in his freezer.
Now, pay attention, ladies. Here’s what you really need to know.
I will start with the caveat that I am only speaking from my own experiences here. The following remarks do contain some generalities. In this age of bathroom wars and gender fluidity, the masculine and feminine concepts seem to be evolving. That said, it still holds true where most modern men are concerned.
When men set foot in the arena of love, they do indeed suffer. They hurt. They bleed. They cry. They carry guilt and regret. They try and fail and often chew on that failure like a well-worn bone in the jaws of a hungry terrier. Where then do women get the idea that men don’t bleed from the prick of love’s needle? The answer is, they get it from men themselves.
When a man breaks up with a woman, he will usually withdraw from her emotionally. The pullback is almost instantaneous. If the man is the one who dumps the woman, he often feels a sense of guilt because he knows he hurt her. If the woman dumps the guy, he feels the pain of rejection; a pain that is deep and real. Either way, he’s not going to be inclined to share his emotions with the person with whom he’s just burned a major emotional bridge.
The reason women operate under the erroneous assumption that men have it easier after a break-up is only because that’s how men want it to look. The song is accurate in that many men often do go out, get drunk, hook up with strangers or casual acquaintances and pretend like everything is alright. But it’s not. Women tend to wear their emotions on their sleeves, while men bury them.
But it’s never as easy as it may seem. Men lie awake at night and struggle with the demons of what might have been. They don’t often go out for coffee with their buddies and maybe cry in public. Instead, they will find someone close who they can trust and they will vent privately. It may be a family member, a close buddy or two or even a gal pal who is an emotional confidant. Whatever the manifestation, guys are far more selective over whom they choose to show their private face of pain to.
Like it or not, ladies, men simply process pain differently than women. Break-ups are very depressing affairs. Women tend to feel sorrow and display it openly. Men tend to feel anger and guilt. Yes, men may go out and bestow their carnal favors on another woman, but it’s usually rebound. Men have an easier time compartmentalizing when it comes to sex. Blame it on biology, or society, or the fact that Mercury is in retrograde. Whatever the reason, men can more easily separate sex from love.
Does that mean they don’t feel love? Hell no! Another harsh fact of life is that men are more selective about whom they fall in love with. Just because many men aren’t as discriminating over their sex partners doesn’t mean they aren’t subject to the most powerful emotion on Earth. Men feel love, but just as it is with the grief over the death of a relationship, so it is with love. Men process it and display it differently.
Several years ago, I was a part of a group of guys. Every so often, we’d hold a guys’ night; beer, cigars, sports, junk food and music. We were comprised of an alpha male jock type, one or two shy, geek types, and one or two more sensitive types. In other words, we were a fair cross-section of manhood.
Inevitably, women would become the focus of conversation. In fact, I’d say women were the main topic more than any other. On the surface, a female eavesdropper would have had her worst stereotypes confirmed. There was much talk of tits, asses, blowjobs, levels of hotness, speculation about moaners versus screamers and more about tits and asses. We would even play a game called, Marry, Fuck or Kill, in which a contestant was given three names, thereby being forced to choose which female he would engage in the three activities sited in the game’s title.
Yes, we were guys being guys and feminism be damned. Yet, if the eavesdropper had listened long enough, she would have heard things come out from beneath the crass surface. Certain women would emerge who would garner a softer approach. Certain names would carry with them a thoughtful pause, followed by a statement such as, “She’s really a sweetheart,” or “I’d take her home to Mom.”
One guy (the jock type) connected with a woman who was special in his eyes. Yes, we all heard about how impressive her bust size was, but it was clear from his tone of voice that she was more than just a casual conquest. She had taken out real estate in the domain of his heart. Today, he’s living with her. They may make it and they may not. My crystal ball is broken just now. But I will tell you this. If their relationship does meet its demise, he will be the poster boy for the guy in Dierks’ song. He may get drunk with his buddies, smoke a few bowls and bang a few women for comfort. Yet, when he takes a breather from his coping mechanism, she will be waiting for him in the night. No man escapes unscathed.
Another guy in the group (the loveable geek type), was relatively inexperienced in the sexual realm, yet he loved to fixate on a woman’s breasts. This makes him similar to 99.9 percent of men on the planet. He is now in a serious relationship. If it were to fail, he would be devastated. You wouldn’t catch him going to a support group for comfort. He’d just go home and sob into his pillow with a few empty beer cans strewn over his bedroom floor.
Then, there was the smooth-talking salesman type of the group. He was married for a while, but ran into the airplane propeller of divorce a couple of years ago. He chooses to be more open and expressive about his struggles with depression than the rest of us do. Yet, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t go out and get trashed and bang random women from the bar. Some would argue that they are better off divorced. This may be true, but no one can tell me that the parting did not take a major toll on him.
Then, there’s me. I’ve been through too many relationships. I’ve had serious ones in which I was sure I’d get married. I’ve had relationships that were more casual. I’ve had one or two that felt more like prison; when I got out, I drank in the sweet taste of freedom. Some women I’ve dated have been kind and genuine, some were damaged and some were just bat shit crazy. In the sexual arena, I’ve made passionate love to women, I’ve fucked a few women and I’ve been ambiguous when the sun came up the next day. I’ve approached certain partners with honest intentions and I’ve been less than honorable with one or two. I’ve been with women who went home to visit my folks and I’ve been with a few who required me to shower after they were gone in a futile attempt to wash away the shame. I’ve had relationships that ranged in duration from one night to two years. But all of them had an impact that went beyond the sad confines of this country music depiction of the gender gap.
As I write this, I am struck by an irony. Three of my ex girlfriends are getting married this year. One of them is a recent relationship that I terminated after it became obvious that she was using me as a distraction from her regular boyfriend. From her perspective, I’m a heartless prick who suddenly cut off communication with her for no good reason. From my perspective, she was a less-than-stable person who needed a good laugh and who resorted to subterfuge in order to get it. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? God can sort it out later. Until then, I won’t care if I never encounter her again.
The second woman represented a dark time in my life. I won’t trash talk her, save to say that she is a big part of the reason why I left Nebraska and why I took up cigar smoking as a full time vice. We don’t speak anymore and I’m fine with that, but I do wish her well and hope her future husband treats her well.
The third ex girlfriend slated for the altar is one of my closest friends. We dated for two years and they were often tumultuous, but I don’t regret a single day. We have shared much laughter, many tears and a lot of vulnerability. The passionate intensity of our sexual encounters were matched by those of our fights, but we weathered the various storms and have a strong friendship because of it. It will be my honor to watch her get married to a guy who is true, honest and worthy of her.
Sidebar: After our break-up, she dedicated the song, “Insensitive,” by Jann Arden, to me. This song carries more emotional credibility than the Dierks song because it comes from the female perspective after a break-up. She played it for me and I exploded like a virgin getting a tug by a hand other than his own. We talked it over and came to a better understanding about the grief and pain that the other person was experiencing.
These were three separate relationships that garnered three separate reactions. At no time did I ever grieve over any of these women by getting drunk and hooking up with random chicks. Does that make me an abnormal man? Oh well.
But what about the other side of the coin? If the lyrics of this farcical tune are to be believed, women never grieve the loss of their men by drinking and screwing. Again, I call bullshit. I know women who lie, cheat, drink and spread their favors around like promises at a campaign rally. Are they abnormal women? Oh well.
Seriously…haven’t any of you ladies ever reading this ever sat around over a few margaritas and played MFK? Be honest.
You never hear them anymore, but men in the country music genre used to be sad. Their hearts used to break over lost love and what might have been. You don’t even have to go back to the days of Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard to hear men cry over a broken heart. Try some vintage George Strait, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill or Steve Wariner. In my opinion, the ultimate break-up song from the male perspective is, “The Lights are On (But Nobody’s Home)” by Clint Black. It is the perfect illustration of a man who is clearly depressed by a failed relationship, but who hides it behind the façade of normalcy.
I had lunch with a former coworker and I told her I was writing a blog rant about this stupid song. “I love that song!” she said as we pulled into Wendy’s. I smiled to myself. She loves modern country music. I hope she reads this and finds it instructive.
Ladies, if you want to enjoy this song by Dierks Bentley, more power to you. You may crank it up loud, give a great big “huzzah!” to Mother Wicca and go to bed with a smile on your face. But you’re dead wrong. I know Mr. Bentley is offering a musical placebo that eases your pain, anger or frustration through the application of simplicity, but men ain’t that simple. There are men who are honest, noble and who puke after one shot. There are women who lie, cheat and do coke out of a man’s naval. Sleep on that.
I was just about to post this when Rosie walked into the control room. I give her a 7/10 on the hotness scale.
Marty, if you read that, ignore it. I give you 26/10 on the hotness scale.
Folks, while I figure out how to dig myself out of this hole, go YouTube Clint Black.
Several female friends read this and wanted me to clarify that not all women buy into the line of BS that Dierks and company are selling. Consider the point made. Yet, my original argument about the decline of country music stands. The themes have changed over the years, largely due to marketing toward a certain kind of female listener. I’m not saying all women…just some.
This addendum is your wedding gift, Alicia. Congratulations!