Before Dr. Warren Farrell became one of the key figures of the Men’s Rights Movement, he was the only male board member of NOW (National Organization of Women), and a male feminist. When NOW chapters came out in support of universal custody for women in every divorce case, Farrell left the movement, saying they were anti-father and that, “I do not agree with choices for women when they eliminate choices for men.”
When Farrell began writing about men’s issues, he went from appearing on the Phil Donahue Show and Oprah to being called a “rape-apologist” by the feminists he used to support, and having his speaking engagement shut down by protests.
Warren Farrell has always said his work is about getting the genders to understand one another, communicate well, and live in a way that benefits men and women equally. His seminars frequently featured “role-reversal” exercises, in which men and women had to “walk a mile in the others shoes.” Men took on a women’s role, and women took on a man’s role, to give men and women greater compassion and understanding of the others experience.
The feminists LOVED him for the role reversal experiments he did with men, and HATED him for the role reversal experiments he did with women. After hearing both, it’s not hard to see why.
Role Reversal For Men
To understand the female experience, Warren had men participate in a beauty contest. Male contestants had to present themselves shirtless, and have women vote on who was the most attractive. The men were judged entirely on their physical appearance. (You can watch footage of one of these events here.)
At first, the men loved the attention. However, as men began to get voted off for being less attractive than other contestants, the men became self-conscious. They felt hurt and rejected when they were voted off. The men began to compare themselves to others and wonder, “Am I attractive enough?”
I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t wondered at some point, “Am I pretty enough?” Most women love the attention their beauty gets, and are also deeply insecure about their looks. After the experiment, the men had a greater understanding of the insecurity women experience around their body.
Role Reversal For Women
To understand the male experience, Warren had the women ask men out on a traditional dinner date. Women had to call the man, plan the evening, and initiate every step of the date. The men were told to be entirely passive, putting the burden of the evening on the woman. It was up to the women to risk rejection for any physical or sexual contact she wanted, with the men passively accepting or rejecting the women’s advances.
Many of the women said they were unable to listen to what the man was saying because they were so worried about getting rejected. Instead of connecting with men, the women found themselves constantly thinking “How do I get this guy not to say no?”
Every time I’ve told that anecdote to another man, he’s burst out laughing in recognition. Just as most women worry about their looks, most men worry about getting rejected. In Farrell’s words, men “take 150 risks of rejection from first eye contact with a woman until intercourse.” By taking the leading role, women were better able to understand the risks men take when approaching women.
While the men were willing to do the beauty contest – after all, the male experience involves constantly facing rejection – most of feminists, even after watching the men go through the beauty contest, walked out when it came time to participate in the role-reversal date. Warren’s “role-reversal dates” became one of the final straws that lead to his departure from NOW, and feminism as a whole.
Since Farrell began his exercises, the traditional dinner date has become anachronistic. Most couples now meet through hookup culture. However, men still are still expected to make the majority of sexual advances, with women signalling interest passively and waiting for men to approach them.
What Farrell’s work suggests is that men are not “scared of rejection” as some women like to suggest, as much as that their social role that requires facing constant rejection, and women would be equally if not more scared of rejection if placed in similiar circumstances.
While women’s issues with body image are constantly explored in mass media, very little has been written about men’s issues with rejection that isn’t demeaning or shaming.
Women are told that they are beautiful no matter what their body type is, and men are called creepy for even asking the question “How do I get a girl to have sex with me?” Telling a woman she doesn’t meet your physical standards is considered misogynistic, but if a women dislikes a man’s approach she is entitled to publicly mock him for seeking to connect with her.
Outside the manosphere, the only group that treat’s men’s fear of rejection with anything resembling empathy is the pick up industry. It’s not surprising given the amount of rejection men face, many pick-up products are marketed with bogus claims like “Never get rejected again!” or “Lines so powerful she can’t say no!” These claims mirror the marketing of the billion dollar industries targeting women’s insecurities with claims like “Lose 30 pounds in 5 days!” or “Look ten years younger!”
In recent years, feminists have tried to shame men for their physical preferences. Saying men should accept a woman regardless of her weight, is as absurd as saying women should accept a man regardless of his sexual advances.
Can you imagine if mass media treated men’s rejection issues the way they treated women’s body issues? Men would campaign for “creep-acceptance,” and be proud of their weak game. Rejecting a man’s approach would be considered “shallow,” when men bothered to approach at all. Some lone website for heterosexual feminine women would hold “creep-shaming week” in response to the poorly-dressed awkward losers men were transforming into.
If women expect men to understand their struggles with weight and body image, they should also seek to understand men’s issues with rejection and game.
Most women who criticize men’s pick-up tactics have never tried to approach a stranger, win their trust, and ask them out. Women are less likely to shame men’s attempts to improve their success with women, after experiencing the male role.
Role-reversal can fun. In his book Why Men Are The Way They Are, Warren Farrell talks about going on “role-reversal dates” with women he knows where they exaggerate traditional roles – complete with her bringing flowers and him fighting “very hard against anything overtly sexual on our ‘first date.'” He says the experience is usually “hilarious” and “an amazing turn-on.”
The intention isn’t to give up roles, but simply to understand the others experience better. I love the role I have, I love women who enjoy playing the feminine role, and I wouldn’t want to change either. While a woman might sympathize with a man’s challenges with rejection, she is still going to chose the most confident and appealing partner, the same way a man who understands women’s body issues still prefers the most attractive women.
The way men feel towards ugly women is the way women feel towards men who give them “creepy” approaches. When women understand and care about men, they naturally improve their appearance, the same way men who understand and care about women naturally become more confident and less creepy.
Compassion Means Self-Improvement
Rather than lowering our standards, and promoting something as absurd as fat or creep acceptance, understanding means become the most attractive version of ourselves.
While Warren Farrell suggests men and women might be able to look past such things and solely at their partners capacity for love, unless biology changes, most men are going to continue to prefer attractive women, and most women are going to continue to prefer bold men.
Thankfully, both our weight and game are things we can change. I’ve personally transformed myself in both areas, and much of the writing on this site is about how men can improve both their game and their body.
Understanding is a two-way street. Ladies, if you’d like help dropping weight, I’d be glad to share what’s worked for me. After you’ve worked on your body, you can work on your understanding and compassion by planning an amazing date for us. Pick me up at eight. Bring flowers.
Read More: 5 Reasons To Date A Man With Cancer