Ross Butler, who plays Zach in controversial-but-popular Netflix show 13 Reasons Why is being criticised online for patronising comments about the “best way to get to know guys” in an interview with Cosmopolitan.
In a rapid-fire style Q&A, the actor was asked what advice he had for readers keen to get to know a guy, and he responded with:
The way to a guy’s heart is through his hobbies. Find out what he’s passionate about, and if you really love him, get into it too. If I meet a girl who can talk video games, guitar, cooking, or good books, it’s a huge turn-on. And lots of guys like to teach, so if you can get hands-on with learning it, I’m telling you, you’ll get there.
Many online took umbrage with Butler’s advice after Twitter user Sophia Benoit posted a picture of the quote from the magazine’s print issue (though you can read it online, too).
there’s such a huge premium put on women getting into men’s hobbies while I rarely see the opposite pic.twitter.com/4qG1yU7XO9
— Sophia Benoit (@1followernodad) April 21, 2018
For many, it’s not that Butler’s comments were directly offensive, but more that they seemingly betrayed a certain belief about male-female relationships: that women should try and be ‘unlike other girls’ and interested in quote ‘male hobbies’, like video games, “good books” and sport.
There’s a lot of implications to unpack in this small quote – not only that women aren’t interested in these hobbies without a male to impress, but also that men don’t have to reciprocate a sense of interest in their partner’s passions.
“There’s such a huge premium put on women getting into men’s hobbies while I rarely see the opposite,” Benoit tweeted alongside the magazine image.
“How is it that, in the year of someone’s lord two thousand and eighteen, we are still operating under the fallacy that women don’t know how to play video games or guitar unless it’s to turn a guy on,” wrote writer Emily L. Hauser.
how is it that in the year of someone's lord two thousand and eighteen we are still operating under the fallacy that women don't know how to play video games or guitar unless it's to turn a guy on *white guy blinking gif* https://t.co/a44HQQbRPu
— Emily L. Hauser (@emilylhauser) April 22, 2018
“Women have books, but men have ‘good books’. Women only read the 50 Shades trilogy and Twilight,” wrote @Cated73.
No, women have books, but men have “good books”. Women only read the 50 Shades trilogy and Twilight. Our brains aren’t equipped to deal with anything more taxing. And we certainly can’t WRITE good books. The very idea!
— GirlInPinkTrainers (@Cated73) April 21, 2018
For many, the comments seem somewhat hypocritical, ignoring the two-way street of a relationship:
Ladies, we gotta flip this script.
On our first date I took Devin to a life drawing class. If the boy really likes you he’ll try your hobbies too.
Relationships are about ✨sharing experiences✨ https://t.co/yAYbnynNvh
— Emma Broback (@EmmaBroback) April 21, 2018
Reminds me of a girl’s really good argument that if she should HAVE TO get involved in her BF sports interests, he should have to put equal effort into her fashion interests.
Like waking up early to watch runway livestreams commitment.
And I swear the switch flipped. https://t.co/n9pcWb1hnb
— Meredith McClaren (@IniquitousFish) April 22, 2018
man fuck that find me a dude who loves me enough to get his own skincare routine and personally invest in all the petty reasons I don’t like people in the outer reaches of my social circle https://t.co/g3I37kpzlH
— Amanda Mull (@amandamull) April 22, 2018
Butler has responded to the criticism on Twitter, stating that the interview format & layout divorced his comments from the context of his own experiences of taking time for self-growth before dating.
“I don’t advise nor do I think it should be a one-way street,” he wrote. “I believe both people should take time to get to know and love themselves, and when they’re ready, find someone to share their findings with. Sometimes, the circles just aren’t big enough to fit the whole picture.“
— Ross Butler (@RossButler) April 22, 2018
Indeed, the criticism seemed less directed at Butler personally and more at Cosmopolitan for positioning the comments as advice in the first place.
Me sitting here waiting for someone to point me to a men’s magazine article about getting into women’s hobbies for sexiness. pic.twitter.com/stOUbgEeDC
— Erynn Brook (@ErynnBrook) April 21, 2018
Image: David Livingston/Getty Images