Over the weekend, Julian Assange was generous enough to share what he called a “male secret.” Everyone knows that when the founder of WikiLeaks wants to reveal a secret, you listen up. But when it’s about men? Hoo boy, prepare for a bombshell.
Fuck! Wow. Cat’s really out of the bag, isn’t it. Just goes to show that when you coop a man up in an Ecuadorian embassy with nothing but an unverified Twitter account and a steady diet of red pills for five years, he’s liable to let any sort of sensitive information slip. And while women have been writing about men using feminist bona fides to conceal their misogyny for at least as long as Assange has been ducking rape allegations, could any verify this by being — ahem — a man? Checkmate, ladies.
Still, the fact remains: Women figured out the “secret” of the fake male feminist (and how to recognize him) before the world’s foremost wax replica of your creepy high school art teacher saw fit to clue them in. Which raises the question of whether “male secrets” even exist, especially if you define one as “something men do that women aren’t already aware of and constantly rolling their eyes about.” It’s well-established that we’re picking our noses when we pretend to scratch, and it’s no mystery that we buy the fancy moisturizer but always seem to have dry skin. No woman is fooled by a guy who says David Foster Wallace’s essays are better than his fiction because she knows he hasn’t read either.
Turning Assange’s 280-character dumbassery into a meme gave us other examples:
To satirize the Assange tweet is simply to reinforce its accidental subtext: Men are completely unable to hide the truth from women. If your partner can smell a marriage proposal months in advance, they for damn sure found your hidden weed stash and realize you’re just chilling at the pizza place in gym shorts whenever you claim to be working out. You have no inner life, so how hard can it be to read it from cover to cover?
Only a classic male obliviousness would permit us to imagine there is a side of manhood women don’t have a solid grasp on. Seriously, try to come up with a feature of masculinity capable of surprising the opposite sex. Is it that we secretly love bad country songs? That we all cried at the end of the last Wolverine movie? That we still resent Dad for making us shovel the sidewalk every winter instead of doing it himself, the bastard?
Get real. Your deepest, most unspeakable, can’t-even-admit-it-in-therapy secrets are listed in full on the mental dossier a woman creates five minutes after meeting you. And there’s nothing psychic to it — buddy, you are seen. The best you can hope for is that your supposedly closet-bound skeletons are of a typical shape, with all the normal bones. The single true male secret you have probably involves your frat’s cover-up of a hazing gone wrong, and even that required a woman dean to look the other way.
Nevertheless, we carry on believing that the male psyche presents as a profound enigma to anyone not trapped inside it, perhaps as women have decided they’re better off letting us imagine we’re complicated (or can occasionally get away with something). The male behaviors and slippages that do cry out for explanation — like our inability, with the refrigerator door wide open, to spot the carton of milk right there in front of us — appear to be irreducible glitches that even we don’t understand. So the search for an actual male secret continues, undoubtedly in vain, since the moment we establish it, one of us will want to describe it to a woman in detail. “It’s a guy thing,” he’ll proudly say.