I was 22 when i asked a woman out for the first time. The line I used was "Do you go on dates?" So I was never under the misconception that I am exceedingly masculine.
Because I've lived in cities and worked in the media, and because women who live in cities filled with men who work in the media actually say, "Yes, I do go on dates," my lack of masculinity never caused me much trouble. Then I saw that the July issue of the journal Evolution and Human Behavior had a British study showing that at the peak of their fertility cycle, women like men who are more stereotypically masculine. The most amazing thing about this discovery is that they used the same actor to represent masculine and nonmasculine, with the only difference being the hobbies section of his rsum. The manly one listed rugby, weight lifting and dancing for a male dance troupe; in the less masculine version, he put down playing the flute, designing clothes and dancing for a male ballet company. In England, I would be fighting off herds of ovulating women.
Now that I knew that not being manly was secretly hurting me, I needed to find out precisely how lacking in masculinity I am. My original plan for testing myself involved walking up to women in bars and asking, "Are you at the peak of your fertility cycle? If so, do you go on dates?" When my lovely wife Cassandra vetoed that idea, I decided to use the International Olympic Committee's new system, which involves checking testosterone. But I learned the system involves needles and blood, which scare me.
Then I found out that there are two gender-identification tests used by psychologists: the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) and the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (PAQ), both published in the early 1970s. I figured the tests would feature such questions as "Did you really mean it when you said you wanted to take this test?" and "Where do you see this test and you going in the next couple of years?" But it wasn't like that at all. The BSRI asked me to self-evaluate 60 qualities, none of which were particularly subtle: one of the traits I had to rank was "feminine," and another was "masculine." I felt myself losing points unfairly for "loving children," being "eager to soothe hurt feelings," being "helpful to others" and refraining from using harsh language. Men, I was learning, are total dicks.
My results were not pretty. Actually they were really pretty. RuPaul pretty. I was feminine on the BSRI and androgynous on the PAQ. Which is how about the girliest 10% of all men score themselves. The only way I could have scored worse was if, over each answer, I had drawn pink hearts with a Hello Kitty pen that had been dipped in unicorn estrogen. And this was how I scored after doing three days of boot camp at Fort Knox and going around with UFC fighter Randy Couture for my book Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity. If I had taken the test before that, I imagine the test would have just bought me flowers and tried to kiss me.