Meet the drama kings

Dalma Heyn's new book explains why "drama kings" are afraid of smart women.

Published November 29, 2005 5:34PM (EST)

There's been a lot of talk around these parts lately about whether smart, strong women are threatening to men. So Broadsheet decided to check in with Dalma Heyn, whose new book, "Drama Kings: The Men Who Drive Strong Women Crazy" (Rodale), takes on this very subject.

What is a drama king, and why don't they like strong women?

Drama kings prevent strong women from finding love. They devour their time, energy and goodwill because they want to hook up and hang out and not much more. In theater terms they hog the spotlight and can't share center stage; they're solo acts. They're 20th century guys in a world of 21st century women. They still feel they should be operating in a man-centric universe. They don't have the skills to be intimate with women and don't want to develop them. And for the first time, women are saying that they don't have time to do all the work in relationships. Drama kings woo women well. And for some weird reason they are attracted to strong women, but they always disappoint them.

What made you decide to tackle this subject?

The most successful and fun and funny women I knew were telling me they were exhausted by their relationships, and I wanted to find out who was exhausting them and why. The other thing these women were saying was that they were lonely in their relationships. If you're exhausted and lonely, and you feel like you're beating your head against the wall when you try to be intimate, then you're probably with a drama king. When women leave a drama king they say that being alone is better then being lonely in a relationship.

Are you worried that people will accuse you of male-bashing?

The first thing Charles Gibson asked me on "Good Morning America" was, "Is this another 'Men aren't necessary' book?" I usually answer that by pointing out that women are called drama queens all the time and no one says it's a form of women-bashing. There's all this talk about how difficult it is for women who are ready to commit to find men. My point is, so don't pick a [drama king] who isn't willing to commit. Pick him if you just want to hook up and hang out ... but then move on. Most men aren't drama kings. I'm just trying to offer a shortcut to identifying those who are, because those men aren't available.

You interviewed 100 middle-class women for this book. Can you really characterize a whole subset of men based on the experiences of only 100 women?

This is not a study. I'm not saying that a certain percentage of men are drama kings. All I'm saying is that among the 100 or so women I talked to for this book, all I heard about were men who disappointed them, made them feel lonely and made them feel exhausted.

What do you think is going on right now, culturally, that's making things so fraught between the sexes?

Men blame feminism and the women they date for the idea that their power is being usurped. And you know what? They're right. But instead of sitting down and talking about this, men are scared -- rightly -- because they're uncertain about their roles. Middle-class men are feeling threatened right now because women don't need men to have a life. That doesn't mean they don't want them. It just means they can walk away from bad relationships and they can ask for what they couldn't ask for when men were supporting them -- intimacy. The threat these men feel in this culture is because women are so much stronger than they ever have been. But instead of acknowledging that, men say women are ball-busters, and women say men are scared of them.

By Lori Leibovich

Lori Leibovich is a contributing editor at Salon and the former editor of the Life section.

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