(Disclaimer for the literal-minded: This is fiction, cut out of whole cloth. Neither Amanda Marcotte nor Mr. Buscemi did or said any of the things in this scene. “Steve Buscemi” here is intended as a comic amalgamation of some of the characters he’s played.)
Scene: An outdoor café in Austin.
Steve Buscemi: Miguel! Good to see you, glad you could come. Me and Amanda thought we’d sit out here so we could smoke. Hope you don’t mind.
Miguel: No, I don’t mind. That’s one nice thing about Austin. It’s usually pretty nice outside this time of year.
Amanda Marcotte: [Glares at Miguel. Inhales from a cigarette. Blows out plume of smoke.]
Steve Buscemi: So, ah, Miguel. I thought maybe we could just get this whole “nice guys” thing out of the way and…
Miguel: Out of the way?
Steve Buscemi: Well yeah, Miguel. Ya know. Mistakes happen. Amanda got pissed, I’m sure you didn’t mean it. So uh, ya know, I thought maybe a little apology might be in order, and then we could just move on.
Miguel: Apology? I thought we were going to talk about…
Steve Buscemi: Everyone fucks up once in a while, know what I mean? I’m sure you weren’t thinkin’ right when you wrote that “nice guy” thing.
Miguel: Well I thought we were going to talk about that, and why Amanda got so pissed…
Amanda Marcotte: [Rolls eyes.] Jesus Christ. [Stubs out cigarette on table. Gets up and walks into the café to get more beer.]
Steve Buscemi: [sotto voce] Look, Miguel. Women go for the bad boys. I know that. You know that. But Amanda’s pissed. Just give her a goddamn apology and let it go.
Miguel: Well, I thought, you know, we might actually be able to discuss this and…
Steve Buscemi: Discuss it? Discuss this? Look, Amanda’s a nice gal, but if you think you’re going to “discuss this” [does air quotes] with her, then you just bought a one way ticket to negativity town, my friend.
Miguel: Well, what’s her trip with this “nice guys” thing anyway? I mean, if she’d just chill, she’d see I support ninety percent of what she’s saying about sex. But here I make what I think is a pretty obvious observation, and she has a shit fit.
Steve Buscemi: Well why not focus on the positive, Miguel? You two ought to be on the same side here. Take that son-of-a-bitch James O’Keefe, for example…
Miguel: Yeah, or what she was saying about Ross Douthat. I mean, his ideas about sexuality are maddening, and…
Steve Buscemi: I believe her expression was [does air quotes] “maddening shithead”.
Miguel: Yeah, I wouldn’t call him that, ‘cause I’m too nice of a guy, but…
Amanda Marcotte: [Returns holding a Schlitz in her hand.] The reason I got so pissed, Miguel [slams beer can down on table] is because you were talking about a woman getting the shit slapped out of her, and the only fucking thing you [points accusingly at Miguel] were thinking about was how this guy was so goddamn oppressed because she wouldn’t let him stick his dick in her! Because he was such a fucking nice guy! Capesh!?
Steve Buscemi: It’s actually “capisci,” I just said “capesh” is Fargo ‘cause my character was…
Amanda Marcotte: [Glowers at Steve Buscemi.]
Steve Buscemi: [Holds up hands in “I surrender” gesture, then pantomimes locking his mouth shut and throwing away the key.]
Miguel: Look, Amanda, you’re talking about Oscar, the fictional character, right?
Amanda Marcotte: Yeah, that guy. He meets his friend, who’s already told him she’s not interested. And she’s been crying because her boyfriend’s been slapping her around. So what’s the first thing he does? Tells her she’s got nice breasts. Don’t you see how that’s not cool? You think that’s nice?
Miguel: If you read the story, Amanda, or even the excerpt I posted, it’s obvious that Oscar cared about his friend, and wasn’t just trying to fuck her.
Amanda Marcotte: He wasn’t a complete asshole all of the time, no. But that’s not the point. You seem to think that just because you’re not a complete asshole, and don’t beat up women, that that makes you a “nice guy” and women are somehow obligated to jump on your cock.
Miguel: Amanda, I don’t remember “women are obligated to jump on my cock” anywhere in my post.
Amanda Marcotte: It’s pretty fucking implicit in what you write, Miguel, that you think women are obligated to fuck you. You don’t come out and say it, but it’s pretty damn clear that’s your attitude.
Miguel: That’s not actually what I think.
Amanda Marcotte: Then what’s your point, Miguel?
Miguel: My point is that young women tend to overvalue aggressive, macho traits in men. And this can make life really difficult for less aggressive men who are basically decent human beings.
Amanda Marcotte: Yeah, and that’s the other thing. You’re saying that women have this masochistic desire to date assholes and get slapped around…
Miguel: That not what I’m saying!
Amanda Marcotte: Then why the hell did you put that little vignette in your post, about “nice guy” Oscar not getting the girl that’s dating the abusive boyfriend?
Miguel: If you actually read my post, I specifically said that women don’t “only want thugs.”
Amanda Marcotte: [Snorts derisively.] So you’re basically saying two things in your post. Your fiction excerpt pretty strongly implies that women want to get slapped around. But then a couple paragraphs later you’re doing some slight of hand and trying to conflate being an abusive asshole with “social dominance,” i.e. “confidence” which, by the way, is attractive to pretty much everyone, and doesn’t have a fucking thing to do with beating up your girlfriend.
Miguel: There’s a correlation, Amanda.
Amanda Marcotte: What the fuck, Miguel? No, actually there are a lot of really nice men out there who are confident, and women like them, and they get laid. And guess what? They’re not assholes and they don’t beat up their girlfriends. And maybe you want to think that confident men are all assholes, if that makes it easier for you to rationalize not getting laid. But if you actually talk to women, Miguel, you might find that your “confident men are assholes” theory is complete bullshit.
Miguel: I never said “women prefer assholes” and I never said “confident men who get laid are assholes.” I said young women overvalue social dominance and an entitled attitude. And overvalue is not the same thing as “only value.” And yeah, sure, all things being equal, a woman is going to prefer a man who’s nice over an asshole. But all things are rarely equal, and when a woman overvalues social dominance…
Amanda Marcotte: Confidence, Miguel, you’re talking about confidence.
Miguel: Actually, I think “social dominance” entails a degree of aggression that goes beyond “confidence”… but if you want to call it “confidence,” fine. If a woman overvalues “confidence,” then she’s going to be more receptive to “assholes” than to genuinely nice men who happen to be a little bit shy. And sure, there are a lot of confident men who are also nice, and if Matt Damon gets to fuck… uh…
Steve Buscemi: Sarah Silberman?
Miguel: Yeah, her. If she’s fucking Matt Damon then bully for him. But there are a lot of other “confident” men who aren’t particularly nice, and…
Amanda Marcotte: But that’s up to her, Miguel. If she wants to make shitty choices in who she dates, and “overvalue” confidence, or “social dominance,” or whatever, that’s her fucking choice.
Steve Buscemi: She’s got a point, Miguel. Her fuckin’ choice.
Amanda Marcotte: And women aren’t obligated to shape their sexual desires to fit your social anxieties.
Miguel: I’m not saying women have that obligation.
Amanda Marcotte: Bullshit. That’s exactly what you’re saying, you just don’t come out and say it explicitly.
Miguel: Okay Amanda, let me ask you this. Do you think men have an obligation to date fat women?
Amanda Marcotte: Nobody has an obligation to be sexual with anyone, Miguel.
Miguel: Okay, so when feminists complain about women being written off because they aren’t thin enough or don’t conform the right body type…
Amanda Marcotte: That is completely fucking different, Miguel! Fat women aren’t asking men to fuck them, they’re asking men to treat them with respect!
Miguel: Really? Being devalued as a sexual person has nothing to do with it? Nothing at all? That’s bullshit, Amanda. When feminists talk about beauty standards, they’re talking about standards women feel they have to meet to be accepted as a sexual partner. Sure, that’s not the only thing, but don’t pretend that being undervalued as a sexual partner has nothing to do with feminist complaints about beauty standards.
Amanda Marcotte: Beauty standards and body issues aren’t just about sex! It’s about women accepting their own bodies, and how they feel about themselves, and about being treated with respect!
Miguel: Okay then. Does it ever occur to you that when women insist that men have to be “confident” or “alpha” to be considered as sexual partners that that’s going to affect how a lot of men feel about themselves?
Amanda Marcotte: The difference, Miguel, is that women who are fat or unattractive don’t go around with a sense of entitlement, thinking that men are obligated to have sex with them.
Miguel: Believe it or not, most shy men are not walking around with a huge sense of entitlement. The difference here, Amanda, is that women are allowed to talk about the way men’s standards for beauty can make life difficult for them, but men aren’t allowed to talk about how women’s standards for “confidence” can make life difficult for men…
Amanda Marcotte: It’s not “women’s dating preferences” that are the problem when men have a problem with social anxiety.
Miguel: …without getting exactly the kind of blowback you gave in response to my post. And does it occur to you that the problem can be both social anxiety, on the man’s part, and some pretty fucked up societal standards about what makes a man desirable?
Amanda Marcotte: But if a man has trouble meeting women, he needs to work on whatever problems he has. He can’t just piss and moan about how women are making the wrong choices.
Miguel: I don’t disagree with that, Amanda.
Amanda Marcotte: But the problem with what you’re writing, Miguel, is that it essentially tells men that women are to blame if they can’t get laid. And yes, I know you threw in a couple of caveats about men working on their own issues, or whatever, but the overall picture you’re painting here is that women are to blame.
Miguel: Well, that’s not what I’m trying to say.
Amanda Marcotte: Then why the fuck are you doing your blog? Because, reading what you’ve written, I don’t see a hell of a lot of advice to men on how to work on their issues. So, obviously, the focus of what you’re saying here is that women are fucking men over.
Steve Buscemi: [Lights a joint, takes a puff, and hands it to Miguel.]
Miguel: There’s a difference between saying “women are fucking men over” and saying that women sometimes make choices that make life more difficult for men. [Takes puff from joint, hands to Amanda.]
Amanda Marcotte: That’s basically two ways of saying the same thing, Miguel. [Takes deep puff from joint, holds, squints eyes, and blows out in long stream of smoke.]
Miguel: No, it’s very different. If I say “women are fucking men over” I’m being accusatory and hostile. And look, feminist talk about men’s behavior and men’s choices all the time. Feminists talk about how men pressure women to be thin, or how men pressure women to be agreeable and deferential, and all of that.
Amanda Marcotte: But women have always been under that kind of pressure from men. Almost all women get that kind of pressure. It’s not the same to say that women are “pressuring” men with what you claim is their preference for “socially dominant” partners, because apparently most men seem to survive just fine, and end up finding a partner. [Takes another puff from joint.] I mean, you’re talking about men with social dysfunction and then, you’re saying that all, uh… women need to make special sexual accommodations and that’s… that’s… bull. [Takes puff from joint, coughs violently, turns away from table and spits up some phlegm.]
Steve Buscemi: It’s pretty unnerving when you meet people who think spitting should never be done in public.
Miguel: Who thinks that? You know, women survive “beauty standards” too, if you’re going to argue that.
Steve Buscemi: I’ve heard people say it’s terrible, and I’m like, what the hell, are you from Singapore?
Amanda Marcotte: Beauty standards?
Steve Buscemi: Spitting up phlegm.
Miguel: Oh, yeah, they’ve got all those laws about gum chewing.
Steve Buscemi: Hey, I was thinking we could all go to this costume shop.
Miguel: Oh. The one south of the river?
Amanda Marcotte: I’m an adult.
Miguel: Well, you could still go there. Maybe buy a hat or something.
Steve Buscemi: Good place to buy a hat.
Amanda Marcotte: Well okay, sure.