Dan Abrams wants to make one thing clear: He’s not doing this to get laid.
Abrams, the Mediaite founder, TV legal analyst and man about town, has been out plugging his new book, Man Down, which lays out a case for women’s superiority to men, and he is used to defending his motives. “You’ll hear Joy Behar asking me on The View if I did it to get laid,” he quipped.
These are busy times for Abrams, but he stopped at the offices of Cosmopolitan last week at the invitation of editor in chief Kate White for some more plugging (and a little ribbing from White). The fall of men has been a popular topic in the media this past year, with publications like The Atlantic and Newsweek tackling the issue last summer. For the record, Abrams asserted he was already researching his book when their stories came out. Just saying.
But it’s hard to separate the subject from the author. Much ink has been spilled about Abrams’ model and actress girlfriends (Law and Order actress Elisabeth Röhm, Renée Zellweger and Elle Macpherson, to name a few). When he quoted a study showing that men, despite their many shortcomings—like risky driving—are better at parking than women, White, without skipping a beat, cocked her head at Abrams, saying, “He’s done a lot of parking in his life.”
But back to the Behar question. “I wrote this as a lawyer,” Abrams said, straight-faced. (His father is the famous First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, and he studied law at Columbia but never practiced.) He said he stumbled on the idea for the book after reading an article about gender differences. His researcher turned up study after study showing that in areas from the frivolous (eating contests) to the serious (academics), women come out on top. Women are more effective politicians, less corruptible cops and better hedge-fund managers—this despite the conventional wisdom that men are better at taking risks. “There are a lot of stereotypes that need to be shattered,” he said.
His comments seemed to hit all the right notes with the audience, which listened intently. There were around 50 Cosmo staffers, mostly young women, squeezed into a small conference room on the 37th floor of the Hearst Tower on Eighth Avenue. Abrams spoke for about an hour, and when it was time for questions, several hands shot up. Did he think the “he-cession” would help men get in touch with their feelings? Could women be better risk takers? How does the shift in power toward women affect dating?
“I’m going to say, I’m not a relationship expert,” said Abrams, repeating himself for emphasis. “I am so not a relationship expert.” But he had harsh words for guys who boast about being a slacker or mind being with a woman who out-earns them. “I think it’s sad if a man can’t deal with a woman who makes more money than he does.”
White has been hosting these monthly salons with media personalities and celebrities for 10 of her 12 years as editor in chief. Abrams is the first lawyer among her guests, who have run the gamut from a forensics expert (White is a crime fiction writer on the side) to Dave Salmoni, Animal Planet’s hunky predator expert, who’d previously been honored as one of Cosmo’s Fun, Fearless Males. Salmoni even brought his own baby tiger when he came to the Tower. White said she wanted to ask him back, but “I got a message from Cathie Black: ‘Tell Kate this is not a zoo.’”
White might have a second shot now that Black is gone, having been tapped to run New York City’s public schools.
“I called [Salmoni] and said, ‘I have a new boss,’” White said. “Maybe he’s more of a risk taker.”