The Hottest Thing a Man Can Do Is Not Be a Jerk About Astrology

Hating astrology is a typical straight-guy schtick, but it may be hurting your dating life

August 10, 2020 9:34 am
why do men hate astrology
Leave your toxic masculinity at the door
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Straight men, the internet has a question for you: Why do you hate astrology so much?

Hannah Ewers was among the first to pose the query in a 2018 Vice article, followed by Leah Thomas writing for Cosmopolitan the next year. The answers they found, based on interviews with real, red-blooded, astrology-hating straight men, are more or less what you might expect, because they’re probably ones you yourself have given: It’s “not real,” it’s girl stuff, or, as one particularly charming 20-something told Ewers, “If you try to bring up that shit with me, I’ll think you’re a mindless bimbo.”

In other words, men feel entitled to belittle and denigrate astrology for the same reason they feel entitled to belittle and denigrate anything else society has coded as “feminine” or otherwise related to women: because the very thread that holds a patriarchal society together is the fundamental — if now largely unspoken — belief that womanhood itself is inherently bad. Thus, anything of or related to women must, by extension, be foolish, frivolous, stupid or simply evil.

This attitude has inevitably colored modern man’s response to astrology, despite the fact that the gendering of astrology as categorically “feminine” is a relatively recent development in the practice’s two millennia or so of existence. As former straight male astrology skeptic turned straight male astrologer Samuel F. Reynolds noted in a response to Ewer’s piece, women did not enter the field of astrology in any formal way until the 20th century. Even today, he tells InsideHook, leadership in the field remains largely, if surprisingly, male.

“The people who lead in astrology, who write the books, who are the headliners at conferences, they’re still men,” says Reynolds, explaining that the modern gendering of astrology that relegates the practice strictly to the domain of women is, quite simply, “BS.”

That said, I am not particularly interested in investigating why straight men hate astrology — as you may have noticed, I think I have a pretty good idea already — nor am I interested in trying to change your mind. What I am interested in doing, however, is explaining why it might be in your best interest to, at the very least, stop being a dick about it.

Hating astrology is a turnoff

As society increasingly begins to reckon with the forces of toxic masculinity and the adverse effects it has on people of all genders — including straight, cis men — those who openly deride astrology are beginning to find themselves among a class of “alpha-male” types often characterized by less-than-progressive views and a commitment to dated, arguably unsavory notions of hypermasculinity.

As recent reports on the rise of “wokefishing” — in which online daters boast more progressive views than they actually hold — suggests, even those who proudly position themselves toward the right of the political spectrum know that their views might not be helping their dating lives. And while dissing astrology may be a less egregious offense — more akin to expressing antipathy for veganism than, say, raging against a specific minority community — it can still come off as a red flag.

men and astrology
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“It just feels very closed-minded to me when a guy is immediately very dismissive of astrology, even when he plays it off as a ‘joke,’” says Emma, a 25-year-old who considers herself a moderate astrology fan.

For what it’s worth, however, Reynolds is willing to cut astrology haters a little slack if they’ve been burned by astrological malpractice at the hands of amateur enthusiasts.

“I think it’s also important for women to own some things themselves, right? There’s been some abuse of astrology, especially in this popular moment,” he says, citing the possibility that some men may be turned off by the idea because they’ve been spurned by a would-be lover who rejected them on the basis of astrological incompatibility.

In my own experience, however, this particular trauma does not seem to be the case among the vast majority of men who have allied with the war on astrology.

“He doesn’t have to give me his whole birth chart or anything. I’m not grilling him to see if we’re really ‘compatible,’” says Emma. “But when he won’t even entertain it in good fun it just comes off as stubborn and retrograde.” Pun intended, presumably.

Meanwhile, if astro-intolerance is a red flag, then an affinity or even just a polite acknowledgement of astrology from a man seems to signal the opposite for many prospective partners.

“I think if a guy can acknowledge or appreciate it, it says more about who he is as a person,” says Lena, a 22-year-old who, despite only having a casual interest in astrology herself, sees a man’s response to the subject as potentially reflective of his views on other, more pressing social issues.

“It’s kind of similar to guys who can acknowledge that women still experience sexism,” she continues. “I don’t need a guy to get worked up about it, but when he knows it happens to us, it’s comforting, because at least then I know he is aware of other people besides himself. I feel like acknowledging astrology is similar.”

A tale as old as toxic masculinity

While the leap from astrology to sexism may seem questionable, Reynolds actually sees modern male antipathy for astrology as deeply rooted in patriarchal structures, suggesting a more insidious mindset may underlie casual astro-shaming as well as much darker manifestations of toxic masculinity today.

This link between astrology hating and misogyny is apparent in more overt ways, specifically the mere act of men belittling a woman’s interest in something in the first place. As Reynolds wrote in his response to Ewers’s Vice article, “If he belittles you because you’re into astrology, fuck him. (And I don’t mean literally.) You don’t need to look up his Mercury sign to know he’s a jerk.”

But according to Reynolds, there’s more to it than the obvious red flag of a guy being rude to a woman.

“There’s something that I think is deep in the male psyche that we need to talk about,” he tells InsideHook. “Men associate who they are, as men in relationships, with how they shape and define the other person’s personhood. Their sense of identity is that fragile, and that has really powerful implications — not just in terms of how he’s dealing with you in a particular conversation on the first date about astrology, but in more bizarre and horrendous ways, like why are there more men who do murder-suicides?”

Obviously, not all men who hate astrology are killers, but Reynolds’ argument seeks to highlight the insidious through line that unites seemingly casual displays of sexism and machismo to their horrific extremes — and it doesn’t just begin with the modern masculinity crisis as we know it today.

Reynolds sees the gendering of astrology toward the feminine as reflective of a broader shift among men toward literalism — science, empiricism, physical pursuits — and away from creative and abstract modes of thought and expression, a trend he traces all the way back to the Enlightenment era. Something darker that was also catching a lot of men’s interest around that time? Imperialism.

“It’s always struck me as interesting that advances in science also came at the same moment when Europe felt like, ‘Well, we can go conquer people and take their lands and people and resources and claim them for ourselves,’” says Reynolds, adding that while the age of empire and enlightenment may be long over, a residual sense of materialism and entitlement seems to have ossified over the intervening centuries, resulting in a masculine tendency toward “the external rather than anything related to the eternal or internal,” such as astrology.

Meanwhile, such male privileging of the empirical over the abstract may very well still carry some darker undertones from its Enlightenment-era origins, which could be behind some of the seemingly unrelated displays of toxic masculinity we recognize today. “There’s no etymological root between imperialism and empiricism,” says Reynolds, “but I always laugh about how ‘empiricism’ seems to have the word ‘empire’ in it.”

If you still hate astrology, it’s not exactly your fault

Look, it’s not your fault that you’ve internalized a lot of toxic masculinity and misogyny and that it seeps out of you in weird ways, like getting annoyed that people might find some fleeting sense of purpose or comfort in the stars. We’ve all internalized a lot of toxic masculinity and misogyny — women too — and it oozes out of us in ugly, uncomfortable (but, unfortunately, often totally normalized) ways from time to time, even when we aren’t aware of it.

I recognize that if you’re a man who rolls his eyes when your date asks what your sign is or gets annoyed when a coworker suggests Mercury retrograde is to blame for that lost email, chances are you’re probably not some kind of raging misogynist. I do, however, think it can be helpful and important to sometimes take a step back and analyze why we feel the way we do about certain things, especially when those feelings seem to be gendered or otherwise biased against a particular group of people.

Obviously, there are much bigger issues at hand when it comes to matters of injustice and intolerance right now. Men hating astrology is but a small, largely insignificant symptom of a much larger cultural illness. But that also makes it a great place to start unpacking some of those larger issues.

I’m not saying you have to become a certified astrologer or even an avid fan; a little respect and openness is really all we ask. If you want to take it a step further, learn your sun sign, and if you really want to impress a date, figure out your moon sign as well. It won’t kill you, and ultimately you’ll seem like a kinder, chiller, more generally pleasant person than the guy who rolls his eyes and climbs atop his anti-astrology soapbox in the middle of a first date. And, hey, you might even like it.

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