From Pop to Politics

Shahs of Sunset and the Accidental Revolution

In Kippahs+Keffiyas, Popolitics on December 31, 2013 at 11:59 pm

New Year’s is about new beginnings. But it’s also about the closing of chapters. And with that said, it looks like the played out dirka-dirka-Mohammed-jihad era may finally be coming to an end… Thanks to a hit reality show on Bravo TV.

Currently in its third season, Shahs of Sunset is a sensationally scandalous yet fascinating “portrayal” of a privileged group of friends, all children of Iranian immigrants and refugees. On the surface, it’s a show about living the high life in Tehrangeles, but if you look closer it’s about so much more.

Videocrat shahs

When it first came out, Shahs shook the Iranian-American community like a Bam earthquake. Even West Hollywood’s City Council passed a resolution (a resolution!) in 2012 condemning the show. The uproar was exacting and predictable: It’s foul. It’s negative stereotyping. It’s racist.

I wonder if the critics bothered watching the show beyond the glam-tastic first few episodes. Season 1 started off outrageously enough: Private jets, petty fashion squabbles, way too much alcohol and a Vegas hotel suite situation (butler included) that would make Sheikh Mohammed jealous. And that’s just it: It’s more of an oil-money-Arab-stereotype than a Persian one. Even MJ said it quite brilliantly when describing the opulence of her own strip-club-themed birthday party: “It’s so Persian, it’s Saudi”.

Like a Purrrrsian...

Like a Purrrrsian…

Back to the haters: Shahs is not an ethnographic documentary series about Iranian identity in America. It’s a reality TV show — a format that deliberately blurs the line between fact and fiction in a civilization-eroding, dirty-look-driven formula that has nonetheless proven to be wildly popular across the globe. And I think that viewers are discerning enough to know the difference. Sure, it’s filled with (staged) cat fights and enough gold jewelry to save Greece from its economic woes, but there’s something to be said about all the stuff happening in between. Stuff about us “Middle Easterners” that needs to be addressed: Homosexuality, girl power, interfaith relationships and class.

Most of the cast members come from wealth (especially Golnesa “charge it to daddy’’ Gharachedaghi) except for one key character: Asa Soltani, the self-appointed ‘’Persian Pop Princess”. The only thing that seems to connect her to the others is the fact that she’s Iranian, loves gold and went to Beverly Hills High. Otherwise, she’s a cultural mutt (in LA via Iran and Germany) lives and works out of Venice as a multidisciplinary artist. She also dabbles in music and dresses like an MIA back up dancer. So Asa really doesn’t fit in to the spoiled brat stereotype that critics are up in arms about. In one episode, we see her humble background; a working class family supported by her mother, a full-time nurse. And Asa has repeatedly stated on the show that her top priority is to take care of her folks financially… by way of a magical liquid called ‘’Diamond Water”!

Holy water?

Holy water?

Despite the hippie chic and artistic inclination, Asa’s got some serious entrepreneurial ambition. Throughout the show, we get to witness the inner workings of successully creating a product we have all been waiting for: A luxury bottled water “infused” with the “powerful vibes” of a six-figure diamond, and she says “every single drop has been blessed with my love energy” (a scene to behold in season 2). Sounds ridiculous, right? But this is America, the land of opportunity… And when you think about it, the whole thing is pretty genius from a marketing perspective. Asa’s precious Diamond Water- as well as her Shahs salary- is probably the main reason she agreed to be on the show in the first place.

So with her worldly outlook and penchant for spiritual reinforcement, Asa is a necessary grounding force on the show. She’s rarely at the center of the drama but when she is, she just cuts right through the bullshit: When GG calls her “ghetto” for her unorthodox fashion choices, Asa snaps back: “What’s ghetto to you? “[the fact that] my daddy doesn’t bankroll my life?”. Clash of the classes at it’s finest!

I invented "swimgerie"

Lilly Ghalichi: Inventor of “swimgerie”

Lilly Ghalichi is another noteworthy outsider. Don’t let her Persian Barbie looks fool you. She may seem like the polar opposite of Asa, but they’re actually more similar to each other than any other cast member: Lilly is a Texan transplant who decided to forgo her law career to launch a swimwear line. She doesn’t drink and is often floored by the rest of the group’s antics. Her “boyfriend” is never on screen and any way – much like Asa – it’s pretty clear she’s only on the show to promote her brand. Ultimately, it’s refreshing to see these beautiful Muslim women setting out in the world on their own and defying family expectations of becoming a doctor/wife/real estate agent. And the best thing is, religion is not part of the conversation! Which brings me to my next point:

Blogger Shana Weiss (from asked: Why don’t they ever discuss religion? The answer is simple: It doesn’t matter. Historically, the Middle East has been a melting pot of religions for millennia. It’s where Jesus, Mohamed and Moses made their world debut! So what ties people together there on the day-to-day is beyond religion. And one thing I love about Shahs is that it’s showing people that faith, for the most part, is not culture. Things like language and food are far more powerful on the social level.

When Mike Shouhed- a Jewish cast member- tells his beloved mother that he’s looking to settle down, she tells him ‘’inshallah’’ – the Muslim expression for “god willing”. Reza, an endless source of salacious one-liners, is the product of an interfaith marriage (Muslim mother, Jewish father). They divorced due to his father’s infidelities and we see Reza try to reconcile with him throughout the show.  In one episode, he invites the crew to New York to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with the Jewish side of his family. It’s so obvious from this meeting that what holds these people together is their Iranian – ahem, sorry Persian- culture. Aside from a couple of kippas and a Hebrew prayer, the get-together looks like any other on the show. And this is how I’ve seen it work in the Middle East and with my own multiconfessional group of friends in the West.

One of the more touching moments on Shahs– and there have been a few- is when Reza talks about how his parents’ divorce affected him. Because his father converted to Islam against his family’s wishes to marry his mom, he believes that the social pressure of the time made it impossible for them to have a fair shot as a couple. In one humanizing moment, Reza goes through old black and white photos of his folks in happier times and tearfully confesses: “I would trade all of it – the BMWs, the Rolexes the houses in Beverly Hills- for that peaceful home with two loving parents.” All that glitters ain’t gold, people. And that’s certainly the case on Shahs of Sunset.

Lately, one captivating storyline on Shahs has bolstered ratings by bringing up something we seldom discuss: While we (born and/or raised in the West) bemoan imposed stereotypes and the critical gaze of the white man in our “adoptive land”, we are also guilty of that very prejudice on our own people. To call someone “Fresh Off The Boat”, and we’ve all done it, is to judge a newcomer as a fumbling immigrant who can’t speak proper English, let alone understand “our culture”. An FOB is not clued in and most certainly is not cool. In this season of Shahs, we see this elitist nastiness in full force. When Reza’s boyfriend introduces him to their new neighbor Sasha- a gorgeous gay refugee from Iran – all hell breaks loose. Reza calls him an FOB, then kicks him out of his apartment. When they cross paths later at a nightclub, Reza loses his shit and calls Sasha and his brother another F-word: “fags”. The irony in all this is: While Sasha- with his toned physique and hip dress sense – fits in perfectly with the West Hollywood crowd, Reza’s retro-Saddam styling makes him look like… a well-fed Middle Eastern dictator.


Sasha Fierce: Who knew they could come off the boat looking this fresh?

The two later reconcile after Reza sees a therapist to delve into his irrational behavior. He realizes that Sasha represents a painful time in his youth -growing up gay in a conservative community – and his disconnection from the motherland. Yes, it’s all so very pop psychology, but it’s an important subject to tackle within the context of a Middle Eastern viewers, and first generation audiences in general. And I commend Reza Farahan for outing himself on so many different levels.

On the cultural sensitivity tip, it’s also worth mentioning that the producers have made an impressive effort to enlighten viewers with some Farsi 101 in inserts like this:

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 4.27.22 PM

Nomar Elmi, the director of community outreach for the National Iranian American Council in Washington, D.C., put it well when he had this to say about the show: “(…) the silver lining for me is that it will get people talking. Usually we are depicted as terrorists from the axis of evil. At least this is another side to the community. It isn’t the most positive or accurate, but it will get the American public talking.”

I doubt that executive producer Ryan Seacrest had any of this in mind when he was first blinded by the bling on this crew, but I think Shahs may be paving the way for alternative representations of Middle Eastern people in Western media: They can be gay and proud, they can be successful, they can be Jewish and Muslim, and they can get drunk together and love each other for who they are as individuals. Caviar vending machines aside, this is the world that I (and other children of immigrants in the West) come from, and it’s refreshing to finally see it (sort of) portrayed on TV. So although I don’t think Shahs of Sunset is essential viewing, to me it’s proof that the pendulum of representation has swung – albeit to the opposite extreme, but that’s the only way for it to eventually strike a balance. And I’m not ashamed to say it: I’m a fan.



In Popolitics on December 18, 2011 at 12:18 am

"The New Iraqi Flag" by Hala Alsalman (2005)

2011 is almost over. While many across the globe believe that Armageddon is just around the corner, the world ended many years ago in Iraq. Unjust bombings, unjust sanctions and an unjust 8 year occupation have resulted in unimaginable death tolls, disease (social and otherwise), and the destruction of hope for at least two generations of Iraqis. While the pretext for war was the attack on the Twin Towers in New York, the car bombings that have mangled and dismembered thousands upon thousands of Iraqi citizens are part of a culture of terrorism that never existed in Iraq before the invasion. Things that we in the West take for granted, like electricity and garbage management, are at atrocious levels.

And so, what was once a beacon of progress and intellectual thought in the Middle East, has now become one of the worst places to live on Earth. As the last of US troops pull out of Iraq this month, lest we forget what the US government has left behind: One of the greatest crimes against humanity of our time.

In 2004, a 23 year-old Egyptian-American filmmaker by the name of Wesam Nassar traveled across Iraq for two months distributing video cameras to Iraqis for a documentary film project. What he saw has marked him to this day. This is an article he wrote upon his return to the United States:


What you see my son is America’s three O’s: Occupation, Oppression, Opportunity.”

Salman Al-Berman (Adthamia, Baghdad)

One month since my return from Baghdad, the dark cloud that loomed over the country still remains in the nightmarish messages of despair electronically sent to me by my now extended family. I have been repeatedly asked by friends, family, and colleagues, why I waited a month to recount the tales of my journey to what many Iraqi’s call a country of destruction? I don’t know why exactly. Except to say that from the moment I flew out of Baghdad into Amman till this very minute, I find myself at times weeping without apparent cause or reason. Where does one begin, when reflections of the past impose the very despair seen in Iraqi eyes upon you?

As I sit here on the computer, I know that the fact of the matter is I am not an expert on international political affairs, a war analyst, or a religious figure. I am just a human being that has witnessed the ramifications of war with every one of my senses, yes including my sense of smell, as the odor of rotting flesh rose from a rooftop in Fallujah one mid-May morning.

I was told they were the remains of a young student who joined the Fallujah brigade, A.K.A. pretty much every able bodied man in Fallujah, and died when a mortar destroyed the rooftop he was posted on. Most of the perished have similar epitaphs of simply defending their loved ones. The only great victory I saw in the destroyed city of Fallujah were the mothers that survived, many of whom lost sons in April and again today.

My last day in Fallujah I ate lunch at the most famous restaurant in all of Iraq, Hajji Hussein’s. Hajji Hussein’s is known from Mosul to Basra and everywhere in between. Some Baghdadi’s make the hour-long drive to Fallujah for lunch to experience the fine dining of Kofta and Kebab. As my guide Keiser and I sat silently eating the juiciest Kebab in the world, I paused to look around. Everyone, every single person in the place was staring at the television, watching Al-Jazeera. But this is normal. In Gaza, Palestinians would be glued to the television 24/7. It makes sense. The thing that made this moment in Iraq a profound one, was that most of the men were either handicapped in wheelchairs or strapped with Kalashnikov’s (Russian Guns). Leaving a bitter taste in my mouth, it was a scene that even the best kebab in all of Iraq couldn’t cure. At that moment, I couldn’t help but think, These men sacrificed their limbs and lives for their families and neighbors, with the only reward being life. I can learn a lot from them.

It was hard to enjoy simple pleasures, for violence penetrated almost every moment of life. In Adthamia, Baghdad, my driver Salman invited me out for ice cream on account of the heat. As we stood together leaning against the ice cream stand eating the Mota ice cream and enjoying the relief of the shade, the mental oasis was interrupted abruptly. A tank and two hummers pulled up across the street and without warning began firing rounds into a house. Salman and I dropped our ice cream, and ran toward the car. Most people were running away from the violence, but some were running towards it with weapons. As we jumped into the car, some kids (undoubtedly under the age of 15) began firing on the Coalition troops from rooftops and the ice cream shop. As we sped off, my side view mirror revealed a hummer on fire, and a firebombed house. Within an hour we found out that a soldier died in the skirmish, as they were looking for an insurgent hiding at home.

It was hard for me to adjust to the sounds I wasn’t accustom to hearing living in the US. In Iraq, about every 5 minutes one hears some form of gunfire, an aircraft overhead, a crash in the distance, or a siren. I became shocked at myself when by the fifth night in Baghdad, I was able to ignore and sleep through nearby firefights, and parade of bullets passing through the neighborhood (some gunmen perched on nearby rooftops within sight). The unbelievable irony of hearing the morning call to prayer over the sound of tanks driving through the streets, returning to their bases after long nights of fighting.

Or what about driving on the freeway listening to Freedom Radio with DJ Sergeant Jon Clark who decides to play Kool & The Gang’s ‘Celebration’ all the while Salman and I watch as a Black Hawk helicopter fires on a crowded neighborhood. We pulled off the road and sat in awkward silence. What speech do you utter at that point? Except what Salman turned to me and said, “It’s a celebration? Okay then, let me buy you some fish.” We both laughed uncontrollably, masking our tears.

As we drove to the restaurant, I noticed that it became increasingly hard for Salman to hide his frustration, and little did we know that the opportunity would come for him to let it all out. Driving along the street he began to reminisce about the restaurant he was taking me to, saying that he would take his family there all the time on Fridays. “The best seafood in Iraq.” Then HONK!!!! Our car is hit from behind and pushes us to the side of the road. We hear “get the fuck off the road!” as a hummer drives by leading an envoy of tanks and trucks with the label Halliburton emblazoned on the sides. We sat in silence. After a couple of minutes Salman finally turned and looked at me. He said, “You know, we built these roads.”

You felt the occupation in every touch, whether that was the touch of a handshake, a hug, or a shake down. In route to Basra from Baghdad, the Muktada Sadr militia stopped us at a checkpoint. After getting all the details of who we are, where we were going, and checking our car, they invited us for tea. We drank tea. In the short time we stood amongst them, I came to learn that the majority of the men were farmers/laborers and joined the militia simply to defend their family and land. No, this is not an oversimplification; their seemingly simple intentions were devoid of grand illusions of defending the Nation. The moment, Abdel Karim, a fighter in his late fifties shook my hand and hugged me close, I knew that all that these men wanted was a space to love and maintain their families.

Was the encounter with Abdel Karim any different than the one I had the following day with Private Marco, a Philipino American soldier who held me against a fence and searched me? He would proudly talk of his military record, of having served in Grenada, Desert Storm, and Afghanistan. He finished patting me down, and I asked him what makes Iraq different from those other places. He paused and with disdain said that the difference was that ‘I knew my objective everywhere else.’ “After nine months of getting shot at 24/7, we don’t know why we are here anymore. Honestly, all I want to do is get out of this country and get back to my family. Just get my check and get out.” He let my driver and me pass through after he told me he has two kids and a wife waiting for him in New Jersey, and Iraq this would be the last place he would serve.

After two weeks of life in Iraq my eyes were the most abused of all senses. I saw enough violence, destruction, and chaos for ten lifetimes in under a month. And what made it even harder to bear was the constant reminder of my passport: I had the option of leaving. For my new friends and new extended family, Iraq was life. This country that was considered the gem of the world for hundreds of years, where European philosophers, scientists and theologians would come to study, a nation on the verge of being considered a member of the first world, is now reduced to rubble. I was unable to bear the sight of the historic national library, that was rebuilt hundreds of years ago after the Tartars burned it to the ground, returned to ruins, firebombed, looted, and abandoned. More disheartening however, were the nihilistic remarks of hopelessness uttered by children and young adults about the hope of the future.

This is what I smelled, tasted, heard, felt, and saw.

Occupation, Oppression, Opportunity.

Wesam Nassar

November 2004

The End of Manly Men?

In Popolitics on December 14, 2010 at 1:58 am

Once in a while you’ll come across an ad that actually says something to you. I was leafing through an issue of GQ magazine a few months ago when I found this gem:

Here’s the text:

Once upon a time, men wore the pants, and wore them well. Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never crossed the street alone. Men took charge because that’s what they did. But somewhere along the way, the world decided it no longer needed men. Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khakis and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny. But today, there are questions our genderless society has no answers for. The world sits idly by as cities crumble, children misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street. For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes. We need grown-ups. We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the salad bar and untie the world from the tracks of complacency. It’s time to get your hands dirty. It’s time to answer the call of manhood. It’s time to WEAR THE PANTS.

Amen! It’s a subject discussed endlessly among my girlfriends. Sometimes male friends bitch about it too. Amy Winehouse whined about it in her song “Stronger Than Me”. And now it seems to have become a major concern for the khaki industry. As far as pop culture goes with reflecting what’s going on in society, it’s officially official: Men are losing their manliness.

I won’t get into a detailed analysis of the print ad itself, but I think it may be worth mentioning that the brains behind this bold campaign is a high-powered American business woman. Jennifer Sey, VP of Marketing at Dockers and self-confessed home-bringer of the bacon, had this to say in her response to the online uproar (from the usual suspects : members of LGBT and feminist circles)

Our culture heralds the “man-baby” – best represented by the leads in beer commercials (he always chooses beer over his girlfriend) or Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover, or Seth Rogen in anything – as a hero. He doesn’t conform. He doesn’t wear a suit. He does his own thing, which is apparently nothing. He loves video games and bongs and he shuns obligations. These pop culture man-babies are unkempt, unfit, have no direction and seemingly no pride. Sure they are funny. I laugh as much as anyone. But our culture has elevated this type of immaturity amongst men to unconscionable heights. Aren’t men insulted by this man-baby phenomenon? We thought they could use a little encouragement.” [link]

Another dimension of the decline of “real men” is due to the post-industrial economy, according to the widely circulated Atlantic Monthly article “The End of Men”. It went into detail about the future of men in Western society, seeing as women outnumbered them as of this year in the job market. The basis of that being the “rise of the robots” if you will: Physical labor, which is traditionally a male-dominated field, is being rendered obsolete thanks to developments in modern technology. Human relations skills are being sought after and apparently, women are innately better at that.

So what exactly is manliness anyway?

Many women I know feel like they’re living in a world overrun by boys- or men who are too metro/girly/gay (I’ll get to that later). To my friend Shahi, manliness simply means “taking care of the situation”. According to my girl Sandra in New York, a real man boils down to “haphazard/disheveled style but clean balls” – which she insists is a metaphor. To many women, a manly man is a guy who takes charge and knows what he wants. He’s a bit rough around the edges and totally comfortable with that. Above all, he’ll take his woman’s hand- not her tweezers- when she needs it most.

But how do men view themselves? My friend Jean-Philippe is a 31 year-old French Canadian and self-described alpha male. When I asked himvia email what his definition of manliness was, this is what I got as a reply:

Jean-Philippe’s always had a way with words, or in this case – pictures. He elaborated in a second email:

“For the Romans, “Virtue” and “Virility” were about the same thing. But today, men are being exponentially transformed into wimps by the combined forces of the welfare state, post-Christian hyper-Christianity and a post-industrial economy. They seek to achieve their ends without considering their own honor, and so end up submitting shamefully to all kinds of powers and doing tons of extremely base things. They compensate for their behavioral indignity by identifying themselves with beautiful abstract discourses about ecology, evil Americans, etc. But the rule of these men cannot last long. Soon, the barbarians will come to fuck their wives and replace them. Then again, maybe robots will be able to protect the first wimp civilization eternally. We’ll see…”

Robot revolutions aside, a common  perception from women and men alike is that a “real man” is a man of integrity and conviction… and that includes his sexual preference. I say this because I and some other friends of mine have been noticing a peculiar trend: Young men experimenting with the same sex for the sake of checking off a list and saying ‘been there, done that”. To me that’s a kind of hijacking of homosexual identity.

Aasif, 31, was among the first in my circle of male friends to broach the subject one summer in Montreal. Aasif is a heterosexual man who is sometimes mistaken for being gay due to his exquisite taste in clothes. He can pull off pea-green slacks like no man or woman I know. Being the fabulous Pakisdandy that he is, Aasif’s look is unique and effortless, but it can be confusing to those with a myopic fashion sense. In his view, the changing male has nothing to do with being gay:

“I believe a man TODAY or the Modern Man first of all is one who is comfortable and confident in the choices he makes, he is also one who understands, or tries to understand the feminine perspective regardless of how disjointed it is ;). He doesn’t make out with other dudes just to see how it feels, he knows what he wants (…) I know some gay dudes that are more a man than I am in traditional terms, until they choose their preference in cola which is diet penis.”


In the Middle East, where I’ve spent half my life, social constructs in terms of gender politics are still very much stuck in the 70s. An Arab man is expected to be dominant in the traditional sense of manliness. He has:

1. Authority / decisiveness

2. Financial power / agency

3. Sexual prowess: He beds countless women or claims to (but his woman has to be a virgin or at least “virgin-like”)

4. Possessiveness that can lead to violence in defense of his woman’s “honor” (ie. this)

And last but not least, his chivalry is as natural as is bountiful chest hair – and that’s what seems to be disappearing on this side of the world (the chivalry, not the chest hair) (no, come to think of it the chest hair too).

Effeminate men are largely frowned upon in the Middle East. In fact, being gay is unfortunately still a crime. But notions of manliness seem to be changing there too, especially with the upper-class.  However, it should be noted that in some Arab cultures, mainly in the Gulf, a man is only considered (to himself and his peers) homosexual if he’s a bottom. By that I mean that his so-called ‘manhood’ remains intact regardless of the amount of pretty young boys he sticks his kabab into. I blame this phenomenon on strict gender segregation.

In more liberal places like Lebanon, it’s a different story. During my summer stay in Beirut this year, I befriended a cosmopolitan young man of half Arab, half-European descent. We’ll call him D. At dinner one evening, D. and I got to talking about gender politics and dating. He told me about his experiences with women around the world, and despite my doubts about his sexual orientation (I’d detected a mildly camp side to him early on) there was no guy-on-guy action to report. Or at least he didn’t mention it. I could contain my curiosity no longer:

Me: “ So uh… Have you ever done anything with a guy?”

Him: “ You know… I’ve been in situations where the opportunity presented itself… but unfortunately, no.”

Me: “ … Unfortunately?”

Him: “ Well it’s just that I wish I was liberal enough to say that I’d been intimate with a man before, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.”

As if his exclusive heterosexuality were an embarrassing shortcoming. I put it down to his European upbringing, but upon another night out with his rowdy male friends, I was proven wrong. I met one of his closest compadres, a burly, bearded guy with a hefty dose of masculinity who was raised in the Middle East. He’s a wonderful guy known to show affection to his buddies in a tough guy kind of way. I found out later that he was also known for public make-out sessions with his male friends in the Beirut bar scene. And no, he’s not gay. My suspicions were further raised on another night out with said burly man when he looked at me disapprovingly for not ‘swinging both ways’. I wonder: When did choosing a sexual orientation and sticking with it become uncool?


Retrosexual: Mad Men's womanizer extraordinaire Don Draper

There’s also something to be said about the castrative effect of institutionalized feminist discourse in the post-feminist era. Earlier this year, the world’s first Foundation for Male Studies was launched in New York.  A consortium of scholars and academics from across the globe gathered to deliver an opening address via a web video that was broadcast in over 65 countries. Dr. Summers, a female professor (and one the few women on the panel) put it bluntly: “Somewhere along the line conventional masculinity became politically incorrect. In some circles it’s treated as a pathology in need of a cure. I mean there are gender experts at our universities who teach that masculinity and femininity are social constructs…”

My friend Aasif echoed Dr.Summer’s view in his email response. He thinks manliness is changing but it’s also becoming confusing thanks to modern women’s expectations:

“Our generation is definitely different than our fathers’. Regardless of where they are from they did things different back then. The biggest factor is the role of women in society. Since women have been empowered (…) they are influencing how men are adapting since their opinion of Mr. Right is being voiced, and that loud shrieking annoying sound is being fucking heard and echoed around the world….correction, Free World. Women want a man who still remains confident and a pillar of support when times are tough or the rag is red, but they still want a guy who understands them. Men are embracing fashion and grooming products because in the end this is what the ladies want, they want a guy with up-keep. The cowboy is dead. The dude ranch was the last stand. In the end women aren’t forced to be with a man or stay with a man and thus, the competition to stay Mr. Right is a battle within oneself.”

It’s an extreme point of view, but that’s how some men out there feel. Personally, I don’t think what women like me look for in a man is that complicated. Sure, we’re independent but we don’t mind our man taking charge. Afterall, are clean balls and haphazard/disheveled style too much to ask for?