My favorite U.S. president, Bill Clinton, cheated on his wife and lied. My hometown’s mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, cheated on his wife and lied. All my best friends have, or have had, a boyfriend who cheated on them and lied. My gay male friends had boyfriends who have cheated on them and lied. Call it bitter black woman syndrome, but I am convinced that all men are trifling regardless of race, age, religion, income, education, political affiliation or sexual orientation.

What is the source of this phenomenon? Maybe I missed the memo about the annual International Association of Lying-Ass Men Convention. Or maybe there’s a secret serum injected into baby boys called Triflingosterone. Regardless, there seems to be a pattern of two-timing behavior in men that baffles women around the world.

OK, enough of my man-bashing – for now. Besides, they can’t help it anyway. Everyday, men are bombarded with dozens of articles and advertisements in men’s magazines that not only tell them it’s commendable to be a player, but also give them a playbook for how to do it.

Both my brother and I are magazine junkies. He has subscriptions to men’s magazines like Maxim, Sports Illustrated and Men’s Health. I’m a fan of Essence, Ebony and Cosmopolitan. Each month, there are new tips in my magazines on how to spice up your sex life, deal with your man’s annoying habits or meet “good, single brothas.” Flip the page, and there is a countdown of the top-ten sexiest pieces of lingerie to drive your man wild. Even more annoying are the gift suggestions: $75 engraved pocketknives and diamond-encrusted Movado watches.

If I didn’t know any better, by the time I got to the last page in Cosmo I would want to sprint into Victoria’s Secret, run over to Studio 4 Nightclub, grab the next guy I saw, buy him diamond cufflinks and cater to his every need. Fortunately, I wasn’t born yesterday.

The concept of dating and relationships takes a full 180-degree turn in men’s magazines. After flipping through 76 pages of car advertisements and protruding booties in my brother’s March 2007 edition of Maxim magazine, I finally found an article called “Seduce and Destroy.” This repugnant man’s guide to casual office sex gave men techniques on what game works best on what kind of female employee. It even went as far as labeling the different types of women in the work office as “the aging executive” “the prudish H.R. dame,” “the puppyish intern,” “the girl next cubicle” and “the siren secretary.”

Why is the middle-aged, career-oriented, independent woman who has worked her way to the top considered an aging executive? Do men get together at urinals and laugh at the enthusiastic undergraduates who are “puppyish interns” and “cute and eager to please”? Is “seduce and destroy” really the main objective of corporations? No wonder most women are still staring at the glass ceiling.

There was another article in the issue that “decoded the science of casual sex” so that “the only strings attached in your next one-nighter will run from your wrists to the bedposts.” In Essence, erotic novelist Zane also suggests trying out kinky new sex techniques that might involve strings and bedposts. But even then, women are always restricted to trying it with “their man” and their man only, not Joe the pizza delivery guy.

What pissed me off the most is how Maxim magazine’s gift of the month was a damn pair of knee socks. I’m supposed to buy a guy a Movado watch, and he has the audacity to give me knee socks? I don’t think so.

Maybe this is some kind of subliminal warning to urge men to be cautious of money-hungry, gold-digging women waiting to suck the life from their bank accounts like leeches. If this were the case, I’d probably want to put an electric fence and guard dog around my wallet too. But come on, after dealing with angry e-mails from mysterious girlfriends, bricks thrown through by neglected baby’s mamas car windows and frequent-buyer coupons for Valtrex, women deserve a little more than a $5 pair of socks.

Granted, both parties are guilty of being manipulative, but the double standard is that men are publicly encouraged to act that way. Women are criticized for it. Media sources constantly force women to believe that they have to be attractive, sexually fulfilling, supportive, understanding, motivating and, above all things, loyal in relationships. Meanwhile, according to Maxim, the only concerns men should have are how to get women in bed and how to prevent the relationship from going any further.

I guess this information was dispersed during one of the workshops at the top-secret International Association of Lying-Ass Men Convention. I wonder if I can convince Kwame Kilpatrick to text message me a copy of his notes?

– Shakira Smiler can be reached at stsmiler@umich.edu.

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