Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Why are Men Being Dragged to Sephora?

In my PJM column from yesterday, I mentioned that men were being dragged into the make-up retailer, Sephora, by women, looking puzzled and dazed. Ann Althouse is a bit dissatisfied with the pathetic lingering of some of these men:

But I must say, I was in Sephora the other day (to spend $22 for lip balm — "sweet and tart blackcurrant oil cushions the lips with plumping fatty acids"), and the women were in some crazy dream world. One woman raves to another that this cosmetics line is all natural, and the other oohs with excitement and surprise. But some women had in fact dragged men along with them, and way these men looked made me want to slap them back to consciousness and shout at them to get the hell out of there. I'm not saying that men must be very masculine or that there's something wrong with a man who actually wants to go into Sephora and buy something. (They have plenty of men's products, and beautiful salesladies will eagerly help you select great gifts for women.) But these particular men looked as though they had atrophied into mere appendages of women. They were willingly and weakly standing there discussing the women's products. They were placidly accepting their diminished existence. That's how I saw it anyway.

So why are the men standing there looking glassy-eyed? Could it be that society has been catering to women for years now and telling men that their needs don't matter, and many men are resigned to this existence, and therefore, feel disgusted, unappreciated and too whipped to put up a fight? Or am I wrong and it is more like commenter Jim says:

Sometimes men accept a placid and diminished existence now to have a shot at something less placid and undiminished later. Happens all the time.

I hope the reason is the latter.


Blogger SayUncle said...

Nah, they're stopping there on their way to Best Buy/Harley Davidson/Gun Store/Home Depot. After, they're going to Hooters for some overpriced beer and crappy wings where the women will 'accept a placid and diminished existence' for a bit', while they think it was so totally worth it to score $22 lip balm.


4:12 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger JL said...

Not to be dismissive of the observation by Ms. Althouse, but as far as I can remember men have always been glassy-eyed zombies following around their women while shopping in clothing stores/make-up shops/malls in general. We don't enjoy it. It is a waste of money and time in our eyes.

The inverse is the glassy-eyed looks of women following around their men in Home Depot or Lowe's. The door swings both ways on this one :D

I do find it kind of interesting that Ms. Althouse wants to slap the men, whereas when I see a bewildered woman in a hardware store my first reaction is not to want to "shout at them to get the hell out of there". She's a bit unclear as she says both that the men were "dragged in", then goes on to say they wanted to be there.

I'm pretty sure they did not want to be there. And any commentary on make-up was just them being friendly since they were stuck there.

4:16 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Mad William Flint said...

Ok. I'll go on record as having lobbed this one: There are NO men's products in sephora.


"but there's...."


"just because a man wants to take car..."


(And the door may swing both ways, but it sure seems propped open in one direction most of the time.)

4:26 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Wayne said...

Well, I always knew I was weird, but I'm perfectly content to discuss the merits of beauty products if that's the venue I find myself in, either with my wife or by myself to buy something for her. On the other hand, I'll talk computers and electronics, astrophysics, cars and trucks, or just about anything.

This comes down to the Real Man/Macho Front dichotomy. A Real Man is self-possessed and generally not self conscious. They don't see it as emasculating to accompany their mate on "female" excursions, or even to pick up things like feminine hygiene products in the store. The Macho Front feels like such things make him somehow less a man.

I would tell these guys with the glazed-over eyes to MAN UP!, quit feeling sorry for themselves, and spend the time learning something, instead of zoning out and looking like a Retard.

4:29 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Larry J said...

This is the reason why my wife and I have cell phones. She can go shop as she wants and I'll hang out at the book store. Before we had cell phones, we'd simply agree on a time to meet. Our interests are too different to go free-form shopping together. When we shop together, it's for a specific reason such as groceries or specific hardware for a home improvement project.

I've read that men shop to acquire something specific so we look to get what we want as quickly as possible. This is probably an in-born trait. I doubt the cavemen of old were very picky about which mastodon to kill - just get the job done and get the meat home before the game starts. Women shop for sport. In the early days of marriage, my wife would sometimes drag me along as she shopped for something. She was the kind of shopper who would look at every leaf on every plant in a store before making a decision. I could feel my brain turning to mush in the meantime. We now agree to shop separately whenever possible.

My wife is a wonderful woman and I'll buy her just about anything. She just knows better than to expect me to hang around for hours while she selects what she wants.

5:06 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

Uh, we're paying attention to what Althouse thinks men think, why?

5:18 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...


You have just described the typical behavior in this regard for most, if not all, good marriages, my own included.

The only downside is that my pile of books bought while browsing can get out of control, to the point where we're running out of bookshelves at home, and some really great books (whose titles escape me) that I would love to re-read (tho I never do) or use for reference (someday) are being sequestered into boxes in the basement.

Oh well, just gotta go get some more!

5:30 PM, April 02, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:37 PM, April 02, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dragged to Sephora" - that sounds like some kind of terrible exile - like "posted to Aden."

5:37 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Gnomeself Be True said...

Basically, they go in hopes of getting laid later...or of at least avoiding a butt kicking.
Mostly the second thing.

5:38 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Francis W. Porretto said...

"So why are the men standing there looking glassy-eyed?"

This is an oldie. It was a canard from the beginning. Men shop very purposefully and focusedly...well, with the exception of hardware and auto-parts stores. Women shop discursively. They meander around, trying out this and that that they'd never dream of purchasing, comparing completely dissimilar products -- if you've never been in a women's shoe store, this might be a revelation to you -- and chatting with other shoppers and the sales personnel as if they were old friends.

But quite a lot of women want their menfolk with them. It might be for security. It might be for reassurance. It might be for purchasing power. Or perhaps the next stop is Victoria's Secret, and what she'll be trying on there is intended for his eyes as much or more as for her flesh. The reason is ultimately irrelevant. He faces a cruel choice: go along to get along, or stay at home and endure "the deep freeze" until she decides she wants something else from him.

Inter-gender dynamics aren't always pleasant to contemplate, but they're not always quasi-theological mysteries, either.

5:42 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Larry J said...

But quite a lot of women want their menfolk with them. It might be for security. It might be for reassurance. It might be for purchasing power. Or perhaps the next stop is Victoria's Secret, and what she'll be trying on there is intended for his eyes as much or more as for her flesh. The reason is ultimately irrelevant. He faces a cruel choice: go along to get along, or stay at home and endure "the deep freeze" until she decides she wants something else from him.

Another possibility that you didn't mention is that it might be a form of passive-aggressive manipulation. She's knowingly forcing him to do something he hates and doesn't care what he thinks. Or, she may be oblivious to his opinion on the matter. She enjoys it and just assumes that he must enjoy it, too.

5:57 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Zaplito said...

I've been married to the same woman for 35 years. We have three daughters. They all enjoy my company. I learned a long, long time ago to take a good book with me and just follow them around the stores reading. I'm there if they need me to weigh in on a purchase and for some nice incidental conversations as well. I recommend our system to anyone.

6:01 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Peregrine John said...

I rather enjoy Sephora, actually, though in doses of maybe 15 min. or so. It has a long wall of men's fragrances (cologne, et al), a raft of beautiful staff, and a clientele who are there specifically to become more attractive. Stand upright, boys, and straighten those shoulders! A mote of inventiveness could make it quite a bit of fun. After all, you have to ask someone if this cologne or that smells better on you.

6:49 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Jason said...

Men shop very purposefully and focusedly...well, with the exception of hardware and auto-parts stores.
...and gun stores, and electronics stores, and anything else they actually want to buy. Men love shopping just as much as women. They just shop for different stuff.

7:08 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Earnest Iconoclast said...

Following a woman around when she is shopping (or doing something else you find boring) is normal... as others have said, there will hopefully be some kind of reciprocation later (either shopping somewhere else or something else).

When I'm with my wife and somewhere that I have no interest in, I zone out and go glassy eyed as my mind wanders off somewhere more interesting.

Though we also use the cell-phone divide-and-conquer plan, too.

7:24 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger LissaKay said...

Just a lot of hooha over nothing. Lots of couple shop together because they enjoy each other's company. I know we do. Sometimes it's at Lowe's and I'm glazed over while he's drooling over the hand tools, other times it's the shoe store or clothing department that has him rocking on his toes and staring at the ceiling. But most of all, we just like walking around together, holding hands and enjoying each other's company. But get us in the bookstore or computer/electronics store and neither one of us is coming out for a very long time!

7:55 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger John Doe said...

Hmm. I seem to be the last man alive who doesn't know what on earth is Sephora. A quick Google later and now I know but all I can think is "damn, there go another few million brain cells". Sigh.

8:02 PM, April 02, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I make sure I go to Sephora alone - no hubby, no kids - and most of the time with no girlfriends! LOL
That is one store I enjoy just getting lost in! Great post!

8:13 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

I must admit, I didn't know what Sephora was either. I guess I don't go to the mall much.

9:40 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

$22 for lip balm?! And I thought Burt's Bees was expensive at $3!

9:55 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Trust said...

Dennis Prager debuted his weekly "Male/Female Hour" on his radio show today. Today, he explained why the issue is so important. Mostly, he believes that a generation has been taught a lot of nonsense.

It was an interesting show on male/female differences. It may actually save a few marriages. May have helped some of the people this article talks about. Link below for those who are interested.

11:42 PM, April 02, 2008  
Blogger Windonfish said...

My girlfriend and I have limited time together, primarily due to my work obligations. Because of that, we're both loathe to let weekend time pass apart if we can avoid it.

The result is that I go shopping with her a fair amount. Without explicit discussion, we've settled on an MO that works just fine: I'll sit in Ann Taylor for a couple hours, but (1) I bring a book, mail, work, etc. to work on while she browses,(2) if she asks my opinion, she's gets it unvarnished, period, and (3) if things drag on too long, I say "I can't do this another hour" and go somewhere else.

Similar principles apply in reverse (e.g., she can pull the plug on my work functions and say, "I can't do this; we need to be out of here in ten minutes.").

This works great for us, has been an absolute pleasure and builds meaningful intimacy.

Hat tip to caplight777; good system.

Agreement with oligonacella.

12:07 AM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger LZ said...

This is not a problem for savers like myself. If I'm along for the shopping, then I ask lots of helpful questions:
"do you really need that?"
"isn't it too expensive?"
"why don't you wait for a sale?"
"why do you want that?"
"everything in this store makes you look fat."

10:21 AM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Serket said...

I have not heard of Sephora either outside of this blog. I just looked up some information on it. They partnered with JC Penny. Apparently there is a store in Riverdale, Utah which is probably about 10-15 miles north of where I live. The name comes from the spelling of Moses' wife in Exodus. The store originated in France.

2:03 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Ann Althouse said...

"Nah, they're stopping there on their way to Best Buy/Harley Davidson/Gun Store/Home Depot."

LOL. I was at a Sephora in SoHo in NYC. These were so not those guys.

2:20 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Jack Steiner said...

I carry a BlackBerry for moments just like that.

2:25 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Peter V. Bella said...

22 Bucks for lip balm? Buy her a Chapstick and take her to a nice- I mean rally nice- restraunt for dinner.

4:41 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Joe said...

Shopping with women is hell. Shopping with my wife is the first level of hell. There is no level of hell that describes shopping with my oldest daughter and she's been that way since before she learned the word "shopping"--even my wife hates shopping with her.

Now my youngest daughter is one of the bright exceptions. Doesn't care about clothes and dislikes shopping. If my wife didn't insist on it, her hair would be a mess every day. (The contrasts between my two girls doesn't end there--they are two extremes.)

4:57 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

well, given the number of computer stores my longsuffering bride has endured over the years, this particular inhabitant of glass houses is not inclined to pick up any stones. ;)

7:02 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger B. Durbin said...

I am a woman, and I hate shopping. (Except for books.) I don't think that's really my fault, though. I finally figured out my problem a handful of years ago— my bodily proportions are just odd enough that nothing fits right, though a lot of things look as though they should. And as a result of the second part, I get all sorts of "helpful" advice that is actually counterproductive, because the advice givers are working off an incorrect series of assumptions.

Men, think of it as having a specific goal in mind and being unable to meet it. Women, think of it as browsing all day for the perfect ANYTHING and finding literally nothing* day after day after day.

My next trick is to find a tailor. That might work.

*Yes, I do have clothes. Some of them even look pretty decent on me. The sad part is that none of them look decent in the manner they were designed to.

9:26 PM, April 03, 2008  
Blogger Robert the Biker said...

The last time I went into one of these places was to buy a lipstick.
Exact shade of red I wanted for the paintwork on my Harley.
Did get a few looks.

4:34 AM, April 04, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

Here is what I have learned over the years, if you want to look good the mall may not be the place to search for answers. It is better to have a healthy size 4 body than all the clothes and make-up money can buy. You can get more color on your face by eating brightly colored vegetables and proteins than painting it on with expensive make-up. The up side to this is that you won't have to waste your time hunting and pecking at the stores. The down side is that you get to spend an enormous time working out and preparing food.

7:13 AM, April 04, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

cham --

Very much agree. Women with healthy skin are far more attractive than any makeup can do for them.

9:24 AM, April 04, 2008  
Blogger Serket said...

Joe: (The contrasts between my two girls doesn't end there--they are two extremes.)

I am a lot different from my two siblings. I am an introvert and they are more extroverted. I like to keep a conservative appearance and they are more extravagant. Although my brother might be more of a center between me and my sister. I even overheard my dad saying if you didn't know I was related, you would think I was from a different family. My mom's family and dad's family are very different. It has been interesting being exposed to the different lifestyles and I think I am more tolerant because of it.

1:04 PM, April 04, 2008  
Blogger Derve Swanson said...

I think the person who said the man was along to keep the woman from getting out of control on her shopping impulses probably hit the nail on the head. Is that sexist to say that? Sure hope not. Maybe she, indeed, asked him to go along for just that reason. (To ask her, "Do you really need that? I like your lips without so much crap on them, sweetie! And for $3, you can get a deluxe chapstick and put a few more gallons in the tank." Sometimes it's good to bring along the voice of reality, especially when there's a family budget involved... Just sayin'.

5:50 PM, April 04, 2008  

I think that is good that there are a few men left that can set aside some time for their wives, what man truly wants to be there? My wife will shop with me when I have buying car parts or computer parts, she doesn't know what she is even looking at on computer parts and I shop with her. Too many times spouses don't want to be involved in the other's lives. Then there is men that will go but they will complain the whole time, I don't feel they should go then.


1:03 PM, April 06, 2008  
Blogger Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

I dunno, I always figured Sephora was pretty hot...

(Incidentally, RIP Moses)

3:13 PM, April 08, 2008  
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