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Male-Order Brides: Heather Havrilesky on Tucker Max


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Remember Tucker Max? That bro whose books reminisce about every time he got laid blind drunk in a bar and who somehow slimed his way onto the New York Times’ bestseller list for “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell”? Anyway, he has come out with a new book with a self-help flair, “Become the Man Women Want,” written with none other than an EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGIST, which is very perfect, as it is made-up bro-science. Evolutionary psychologists are also surely the most d-baggy sort of psychologist as they often chalk up misogynist behavior to evolution–i.e., they write books titled “A Natural History of Rape,” since, you know, rape is just a natural part of evolution, yo!

Heather Havrilesky writes a hilarious, must-read take-down for Bookforum. The excerpt below.

Some books serve a clear purpose. Other books serve no purpose at all. Still other books serve a clear purpose but not the one indicated in the book’s title. Because Tucker Max’s first book, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, was a compendium of comedic anecdotes about blind-drunk sex and repugnant hijinks that inadvertently became a kind of how-to lifestyle manual for aggressively unlikable douche bags everywhere, it follows that the author would come to pen an actual how-to lifestyle manual for aggressively unlikable douche bags that seems inadvertently poised to take the comedy world by storm.

Mate: Become the Man Women Want (Little, Brown, $27) might be marketed as a super-helpful guide to getting laid on the regular, but its real strength lies in its lushly detailed depictions of the inner struggles of certain men, which apparently resemble a confused Cro-Magnon trying to shake a Snickers bar out of a vending machine without getting crushed underneath it. In fact, a more accurate subtitle for the book might be: Baby Man No Understand Woman But Want Sex-Candy Now!

At least Max and his coauthor, evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller, seem to have a clear grasp of their target demographic. Their notions about who will be reading the book and why haunt every page, slowly forming a spooky portrait of testosterone-addled beasts with clumsy paws like baseball mitts, pouring beers down their gullets until their restless loins signal that it’s Lady Maulin’ Time. The authors know that these urban yetis need very clear, simple instructions: “After she tells you her name, repeat her name to yourself until you remember it.” Next, focus on her unique qualities, but tread carefully! “Caution: If she has huge boobs, saying you especially love her boobs doesn’t make you stand out, because most guys love boobs.” Whoa! one can imagine Tucker Max’s loyal fans thinking about now. Tucker Max sees right through me!

And even though Tucker Max has apparently lied, cheated, and vomited his way into hundreds of pairs of lady pants—an allegation that the author himself has repeated countless times—he still warns against lying to women, presumably because lying is really hard when you aren’t that smart and have very little long-term memory. Plus, telling the truth will get you laid more often, because “honesty is sexy to women.” But don’t be too honest, guys! “By saying, ‘I’m looking to have fun and meet new people,’ you’re NOT saying, ‘I just want to slay as much pussy as possible.’” So don’t say that out loud by accident, dudes—maybe tie a red ribbon on your finger so you don’t forget.

Much of Mate falls into these kinds of semantic traps. Attracting and seducing high-quality ladies depends on demonstrating your high “mate value,” in part by being assertive, but also by showing genuine interest. (“Be legitimately curious about the women you interact with,” Max writes, as if legitimate curiosity could arise from mere urging.) Display your intelligence, but also be solicitous: Take care of children, animals, and old people, because “nothing quickens a woman’s pulse like seeing you help save someone with a weak pulse.” And instead of mansplaining to infinity and beyond, “validate . . . her right to have an opinion.”

If you’re already catching a whiff of toxic subtext implying that man awards and revokes all rights and woman is eternally grateful for his generous permission to assume a role ever so slightly above subhuman half-person, well, rest assured that this subtext is in fact the thrust of the whole book. “Your primal brain expected to find itself in a sexual culture with fun mating rituals and a decent chance of finding a girlfriend after puberty. As it should have,” Max and Miller explain on the book’s first page. “That kind of sexual culture had been the hunter-gatherer norm for hundreds of thousands of years. Unfortunately, you never got any of that good stuff your ancestors got.”

Unfortunate for nostalgic cavemen, perhaps, but more than a little fortunate for the cavewomen they clubbed over the head and dragged back to lives of indentured servitude, nightly rape, etc. But then, to be clear, Max is a man who once described a love interest as “short and Vietnamese but with just enough of the French rapist heritage coursing through her veins that she had that hybrid-vigor hotness that you really only see in mixed races.”

Isn’t it nice that dim-witted humans in search of elaborate rationalizations for their vilest, most violently sociopathic selves can always find an evolutionary psychologist unintelligent enough to back their play? Forget that practitioners of this field of study have an unfortunate habit of analyzing a relative millisecond or two of modern human behavior as if it’d been slowly evolving over hundreds of thousands of years. No, just suspend your disbelief, and evolutionary psychology can explain every anecdotal observation that’s ever tumbled through your thrashing gray matter! Apparently Miller himself can explain “why women love self-deprecating humor, why they value intelligence as a ‘good genes’ trait, and how lap dancers’ ovulatory cycles influence their tip earnings.” Presumably there’s also a gene linked to excessive cell-phone use at the dinner table, an addiction to social media, and a preference for Candy Crush—and beware, bros, because those scary, mysterious, modern cavewomen are selecting mates who don’t have it.