Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.
The Choices of Men: A Novel of Male Power and Sexuality in a Feminist Age
Author: T.S. Tyrone
Publisher: 1st Books Library
The Cover Promises:“For too long, we’ve been hearing a monologue and women have been doing the talking. Choices gives men a voice, too.”
By 2001, the long-oppressed straight American man had had enough. He’d let women get jobs. He’d let them net two-thirds of his income. He’d even adopted the use of “they” as a singular pronoun in cases where he felt uncertain of the antecedent’s gender.
But wouldn’t you know it, some of these uppity gals still don’t put out on demand, even to their husbands!
Such is the dilemma faced by Guy, the hero of The Choices of Men, T.S. Tyrone’s self-published novel about men reclaiming control of their family lives . . . and their wives’ points of entry. Imagine the Promise Keepers, but horny.
Here’ the situation. Guy’s wife Jill won’t sleep with him, even though Guy pays the bills. This spurs Guy to contemplate the economic realities of their relationship.
“She can’t have it both ways. Either she earns the right to a regulated monopoly by providing service to the customer or I damn well am entitled to go out into the free market to get my needs met.”
Maybe he should spend some time with that free market’s invisible hand.
Guy even finds justification outside the entirely made-up science of economics. Here, he considers the historical view:
“‘Despite the fact that the bench and legislature are still largely male-dominated, we have allowed the law to be interpreted so that a husband who pushed himself on his wife can be charged with marital rape! Ten thousand years of male programming wiped out in a generation!'”
Of course, Guy and Tyrone insist that they don’t hate women. Tyrone claims this on the back cover, and Guy declaims it it in the book’s climax. The problem isn’t that women have usurped men’s power. It’s that men like Guy have ceded it to women, a distinction that will certainly cheer her friends when she gabs it on the cordless.
After 200 pages of moaning about her “aesthetic occupation” of their apartment, or how she uses therapy “to drive rule-making deeper into the fabric of the relationship,” Guy presents wife Jill with a three-point manifesto announcing the new terms of their marriage.
“While we share many aspects of our lives, we are each individuals entitled to a space of our own.”
By this he means that men have the right to decorate as they please – and not just the garage and basement.
“I will do my share to support our family but I reclaim the right to experiment with my life.”
This refers to the double standard allowing women to flit from career to career while men must stand firm in jobs they hate to support the family. For Guy specifically, it means the chance to quit his law firm and start “an exotic travel agency” or become “art director for an environmental magazine.”
“I will maintain the relationships that satisfy my needs regardless of your approval or disapproval.”
This covers relationships both sexual and non-. First, Guy will no longer allow Jill to set their social calendar. If she doesn’t want his friends over for dinner, she can hide out in the bedroom.
Second, as he explains, a husband enjoys intimate relationships with mothers, sisters, and daughters, but these women remain unavailable to him sexually. This places “a great, deeply buried strain on an adolescent and on a man,” and the wife becomes the man’s most important intimate relationship. She serves the “the outlet, the safety valve,” and if she will not satisfy him, he should look her in the eye and say, as Guy does:
“Where I sexually fulfill my manhood is your choice. That I will fulfill it is mine. If I am not fulfilling it with you, be sure that I will fulfill it.”
Normally, Jill would interrupt such a rant, because women won’t stop talking, but clever Guy torches a thousand dollars every time she speaks. The book ends with Jill, still silent, crying a single tear.
My copy is signed, incidentally.
Since I got it used, for a dollar, I guess that the admiration wasn’t shared.
Perhaps concerned that the subtleties of his message might be lost on his readers, Tyrone halts the story two-thirds of the way through to address us directly. “Okay, this is a book about men and largely written for for men,” he concedes at the start of a chapter titled “Interlude.” He adds, with dumbass optimism, “Though a lot of women might read it out of curiosity or self-defense.”
From there, he complains that macho and male have taken on negative connotations, as in “That’s typical male behavior.”
Of course, any word we swap into his example suffers from the same connotation:
“That’s typical female behavior.”
“That’s typical pope behavior.”
“That’s typical self-published misogynist behavior.”
In this section he also:
Yes, there’s sex. In a friend’s apartment, Guy exercises his natural rights by hooking up with a college student. Tyrone’s description:
“When the charge fired through the barrel evolution had fashioned for delivery of his furiously swimming seeds, she was ready to meet it with convulsions designed to the precious juices to her own rich, genetic deposit. As biology conspired to complete its reproductive function, technology trapped his genetic grapeshot behind the latex fortification they had installed.”
Odd for him to make such a fuss over men’s need for sex when he doesn’t even seem to enjoy it. Still, Tyrone is not incapable of sensuality, as this reminiscence of Guy’s illustrates:
“‘When I was a kid, my grandfather used to take me to the baths. They were old-world baths. Steam rooms, rubdowns by 200-pound guys, alternate buckets of hot and freezing water thrown across you. No sex. Maybe card games in the TV room. Polish sausages or something in the cafeteria.'”
Your Crap Archivist treasures his own sausage-related nude grandfather memories. We used to caper together in William Howard Taft’s private gymnasium. I’d whip the president with my towel, he’d give me titty-twisters, and then the three of us would pass long afternoons assembling and painting delicate model rockets. Then, as grandpa read aloud from Women in Love, we would feed these, a half-inch at a time, into the garbage disposal. At times, a servant passed through, mopping up the grapeshot.
[The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his on-line Studies for the Voice‘s sister paper, The Pitch.]