not exactly

Friday, January 28, 2005

 

masochists and narcissists

No writer escapes the craft without becoming (or maybe he was to begin with?) both masochistic and narcissistic. I'm not talking about staring at himself in the mirror all the time or asking his lover to whip him (though I'm sure plenty of writers are those types as well). It's a bit more subtle than that.

You find it in all kinds of fanfics. Author's notes. Lengthy introductions a la Orson Scott Card. References to "the first author" in textbooks. The beginning of an internet publication with "I know I haven't written in awhile, but..." (see previous post if you don't know what I'm talking about).

See, authors are always a bit crazy. We know we're irrelevant and we know that no one cares how long it's been since we wrote or what kind of great excuse we have. All they care about (if they do) is what we've produced. If it's good, they will read; if it's not, try again.

The writer is both the ultimate extrovert and introvert, all in one package. To the writer, every piece of work is achingly revealing of him; to the reader, every piece of work is either irrelevant or achingly revealing...of the reader. People do not gaze upon a piece of art and say, "I think the artist was trying to tell me that he feels ____." Viewers look and say, "I feel ____. That is what the artist was trying to say"--even if that is the opposite of the truth.

Face it. People don't care enough about others to read in order to learn about other people. We read to learn about ourselves. We both read and write to look in a mirror, to see our own ghastly features reflected back at us. When we write we are forced to understand, and that's the scariest thing about it all. Once you've seen what you really look like, you can't turn back. Even if it hurts.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

 

so apparently homework isn't a myth

(Warning: There are several grammatical mistakes and a general feeling of "that didn't make much sense" in this post. Alas, it's my bed time and I don't care enough to fix it at this point, so slog through it--or don't--and don't criticise.)

Haven't written because, well, as the title says, homework really isn't an urban legend used to scare kids. Some teachers really do assign it, and in some classes you really do have to open your textbook every now and then. I can see that this grasshopper has many things to learn this semester.

Number one thing to learn is probably time management. Number two is how to work too much, take a really wimpy number of classes, get B's, and say cool stuff on this blog.

On the list for the next week: lots of reading for composition, a little stupid assignment for sociology, annotating for composition (which makes me want to kill myself), and listening to my human sexuality teacher tell me approximately 5,374 more times how she has a degree in psychology and we are only students, therefore we know nothing.

I also have this list of things to blog about:



And that's just the stuff I have on my dry-erase board.

For now, I'd just like to know who can answer this question:

What kind of human sexuality teacher would defend the validity of a sex survey done in 1990? I don't mean the validity in general, but the validity now. What do you think the chances are that, given the same survey, a random sampling of Americans would answer it in a much different way? Even VH1 could tell you that American values and views on sex has changed a helluva lot in the last 15 years.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

 

harvard president is a smart, smart man

Lawrence Summers "deeply offends" members of a working lunch during a private economic conferance by (allegedly) inferring that women just aren't as smart as men. Of course, no one can prove what he actually said because Summers didn't allow a taping or any sort of transcript of the discussion to be made.

The second point was that fewer girls than boys have top scores on science and math tests in late high school years. ''I said no one really understands why this is, and it's an area of ferment in social science," Summers said in an interview Saturday. ''Research in behavioral genetics is showing that things people previously attributed to socialization weren't" due to socialization after all.

This was the point that most angered some of the listeners, several of whom said Summers said that women do not have the same ''innate ability" or ''natural ability" as men in some fields.


What, exactly, would be the evolutionary reason for men to understand science and math better than women? How would it help survival of the species for men and women to have a testably large difference in brain make-up, allowing boys to get those better scores? Or is it, after all, socialization that encourages boys--and not just encourages, tells them right out that boys are good at math and science and girls are good at that emotional chick-lit stuff--to explore the more technical subjects, right up until the moment they take the test? It could also be the socialization of learning styles. Every child has a unique combination of ways to learn things, but it's a long-held belief that girls and boys learn inherently different. Something that was easily explained away by biological gender differences could just as easily be explained away by nurture: boys are taught to respond to certain stimulus, to pay attention to certain teaching styles. Science and math are taught with boys in mind; "girly stuff" is taught to girls.

Boys are pushed and shoved towards math and science, while girls are gently but firmly held back, nudged in different directions. It's no wonder that boys do better on the tests.

And then Summer tries to backtrack:

Asked about this, Summers said, ''It's possible I made some reference to innate differences. . . I did say that you have to be careful in attributing things to socialization. . . That's what we would prefer to believe, but these are things that need to be studied."

Summers said cutting-edge research has shown that genetics are more important than previously thought, compared with environment or upbringing. As an example, he mentioned autism, once believed to be a result of parenting but now widely seen to have a genetic basis.


It's possible that he referenced these differences, which is precisely why five people attending the conferance (that's 10% of the attendees, guys, and who knows if all of them were at this lunch) got up and left. That's why many others were "deeply offended" by his comments.

The Autism example is ridiculous. It's nowhere near analogous to the differences between women and men. Autism is not what is considered a standard deviation of the norm. It's very normal--and possibly caused by socialization--when one child learns with his ears while another performs better after learning visually.

[Autism is caused by m]utations in a gene vital to brain development, say researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism (CPEA).


Autism does not occur in a certain demographic, like Summer implies this "innate ability" does. Autism is a freak accident in fetal development. Come to think of it, being male could be described as that, too.

Chalk this one up to "which president is he talking about again?":

''We are lucky enough to have a president who is capable and willing to have these discussions rather than talk in bureaucratese," Freeman said. ''I predict he will get more things done on women and faculty issues because he's a straight-talking, no-baloney president."


Similar comments have been made about Bush's many mistakes. "At least he's honest"; "he's a strong president"; "at least he's not indecisive"--right, that's great, if he could make the right decisions. Straight-talking, no-baloney only works if what you're talking about is in fact the good and honest truth. If you're spewing propaganda that has been declared not only false but ridiculously sexist in it's basic assumptions about women and men, you're kind of like the KKK, just not hiding behind a sheet.

 

texans sure do know bush!

Blogger ate my post on the whole Harvard president affair. I know I'm supposed to write it somewhere else, and I usually do, but the one time you deviate from your pattern--something goes wrong. Anyway, Amanda answers her home news station's Bush questionairre (she's a Texan, by the way).

24. What does the president consider one of his hidden talents?

Seeing the face of Jesus in imaginary weapons of mass destruction.


You know, that sounds like one for MoH. Or eBay. People see Jesus in a lot of things on both sites.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

 

new study shows viewing ultra-thin models actually increases self esteem

According to either Allure or Seventeen magazine (I flipped through them both idly while waiting for a haircut), a new study shows that viewing images of an unattainable body doesn't actually lower all women's self-esteem. There's a catch, of course: the women who weren't dieting felt that the model's figure was unattainable (probably because it is for most people) and therefore felt "depressed" that they would never look like that. However, the women who were on diets felt that with enough motivation, they could look like the women in the pictures, which led to higher self-esteem because they "knew" they, too, could attain that level of (supposed) attractiveness.

Is it just me or is that one of the most insane things you've heard lately?

Of course the magazine I read didn't have a good source for this study, which might explain why the "study" refutes hundreds of past studies that show a) the body of the average model is not attainable for the average woman and b) being bombarded with these images does make women have lower self-esteem. It's not that hard to figure out why, if you don't already know. Let's look at a model. Take Giselle, for example. Giselle is a beautiful woman. Giselle is toned and flat and got a boob job to look more womanly. Giselle has long, flowing, perfectly highlighted hair. She has a sporty yet feminine look, kind of a "I can kick your ass on PS2 and make you come in your pants while I do it" attitude.

Giselle's look is also representative of less than 2% of the women in the world. That's not in America (supposedly the fattest country in the world). That's not in Giselle's native Brazil. That's the entire world. 98 out of 100 healthy women simply do not look like that.

Now, imagine a woman looking at Giselle, knowing that she is what is considered beautiful in America. Giselle is not just one version of beauty (which would imply that there are others); she is beauty. If you do not look like her or one of her equally-anorexic, unattainable coworkers in the modeling industry, you are not good enough. You are not beautiful.

Is your self-esteem up a couple points yet? Because mine isn't.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

 

new template

I'm working on this really awesome template (and by that I mean, I found it on a web design site, offered for free, and am altering it for it to look like what I want). I'm sure this whole process would be much easier if I knew more about coding than what I learn from looking at coding and doing fun little trial-and-error experiments with default layouts.

My inspiration for wanting a design such as the one I'm about to have comes from Lauren, as she usually has great pinup-girl templates. That she makes herself.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to something other than what Blogger can come up with.

Monday, January 17, 2005

 

late night movies

It's 1 in the morning, I'm an insomniac, so what am I to do? Flip between two versions of "I love the 90's," of course. Version number one is VH1's "I love '91" and version number two is this cute little number from 1995, a movie about gay man.

Cue ogling a tight-shorted crotch at the gym. Cue shopping, an older faggot (isn't that the guy from Star Trek?), a really weird proposition, references to AIDS, and, of course, the fact that gay people don't have relationships; we just have sex.

And all of this in the first 10 minutes.

The writer deserves an award for fitting that many stereotypes into such a short amount of time. It's just too bad I had to run downstairs to write about it instead of seeing what he had in store for the next hour and a half.

(By the way, an appearance by Mother Theresa was also shoved into the first eight minutes, but I'm not sure what that has to do with gay stereotypes.)

 

domestic violence on dr. phil

Let me say, first of all, that Dr. Phil is an asshole. I'm not sure what school of psychiatry he went to, but I have yet to see anything on his show that demonstrates he actually knows anything about psychology and/or therapy. Mostly he just plays the blame game, and in this instance it's the tried-and-true "blame the victim" game.

Granted, I only watched about five seconds of the show before I was too disgusted to keep watching, so maybe he's going to reveal something Shocking to make the things he says ok, but I doubt it.

In this piece, he's talking to a couple. The husband, Aaron, abuses the wife, Michelle. Again, the tried-and-true excuses of "she just likes to push my buttons" and "I don't think it's that bad." Michelle is a very standard and predictable victim, saying that she wishes she would know that he was going to hit her every day instead of living with the anxiety of anticipating when, or what she might do to trigger him. She also says that the best times in the relationship are directly after he has beaten her--the honey moon phase. This is the part where he apologizes profusely and makes her feel guilty for even thinking about leaving, because, after all, she was being a stupid bitch and deserved it, so if she would just not act like that he wouldn't have to hit her. She says that she also likes this time because she knows he won't hit her again so soon afterwards.

Dr. Phil's transition to commercial: "Next, we'll hear from Aaron's point of view."

I may not have a Ph.D. and I may not be a wife-beater and I don't exactly belong to the Good Ol' Boys club that Dr. Phil subscribes to, but in my world, there is no "Aaron's point of view." Aaron is an abuser. Aaron is a violent man who thinks the proper response to being annoyed is to hit someone. Aaron is an animal and doesn't deserve to voice his "views," because we all know that the only thing coming out of his mouth is going to be more excuses and more blaming his wife.

Look, this is what it comes down to, and it's very simple: No matter what people say to you, no matter how much they "push your buttons," no matter how irritating they are, you don't hit them. The only time it is acceptable and not animalistic to hit someone (or otherwise physically attack them) is in your own defense--and that's only if they have physically attacked you. Someone attacking you with words does not grant you using physical force.

When are we, as a culture and a society, going to stop granting the abuser the right to make excuses for his actions? When are we going to finally force him (or her, as it happens less often) to take responsibility for his actions, and, essentially, grow the fuck up?

When will we as a culture see guys like "Dr." Phil parading around their ignorace and hurtful attitudes on television and...not give him our money? "Dr." Laura's show was thrown off television because of the pure bigotry and stupidity she tended to spew; Phil's may be more subtle, but because of that it is more dangerous. And it has to stop.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

 

sex must always be a power play

If everything I know I learned from porn, that is.

I haven't seen any heterosexual porn and, frankly, not much homosexual porn, so I may be completely off-base here. It seems that most pornographic pieces, whether they be visual or written, are based on the idea that sex is some sort of power struggle. And it can be: between men and women, between men and men, and less often between women and women. That doesn't mean it always is, however.

In porn, the man on the receiving end of anal sex (the "bottom") is always in that position because a) he is owned by his partner or b) he is acting selflessly to grant his partner pleasure. It is very rarely the more obvious option--that he likes it that way (I'll get back to that later).

Being the bottom implies that he is weaker, more womanly than his partner. His partner has the brawn and the penis, while he has metaphorical girl parts, the ones that make women so detestable in the first place. Why is it that so many attacks on gay men are because of their supposed femininity? Even within the gay culture, it's made very clear that while some men are gay and remain men, some are submissive. Just like women. Some sacrifice their own pleasure and comfort for their partners, just like women. And, just like women, some of them are disgusting whores who actually like to be fucked.

Sometimes, if the top is feeling generous, he will trade places and allow the bottom to enjoy sex for once. This is not because he actually is generous or selfless or even a nice guy, but because it's even more demeaning to allow the bottom an orgasm. Sloppy seconds.

On this one I'm not sure if it's porn that reflects real life or if porn can be blamed for originally spreading this idea (after all, who says that most producers of gay porn actually know anything about gay sex, other than there's a pretty big market for it?). Or if, again, it's option C: a larger misogynist (oh, shit, that word) and homophobic culture is to blame. If you hate women, what would be more insulting to a man than to be called a woman?

(Amanda and--again--Hugo's comments on Amanda's blog are partly to blame for this post.)

 

thought as a luxury

While debating circumcision with a friend (inspired by this post), he commented (unedited):

but i dont have the luxury of spendig time thinking about the religious or non religous reasons for body alteration


The luxury of spending time thinking. This, as I told him, brings up another interesting debate: if thought is a "luxury," and only the intelligent, prepared, organized, thoughtful individuals really make it in life, then isn't that just another way it's impossible for those in poverty to ever escape their current state?

No matter how ridiculous I thought his not-quite-sentence was, it gave me a moment to be a conspiracy theorist. There are plenty of reasons given for generational poverty, but maybe the truth is that thought (and therefore intelligence) really is a luxury afforded only to the rich who have more time for that kind of hobby.

Or maybe it's just another instance of a "stupid is the new smart" culture telling us that thought and knowledge are irrelevant. As another boy told me (again, unedited):

u think being smart matters?! this iz 2005!!

 

guilty as charged

Being a feminist is often an accusation. Thanks to the perpetrators of the myth (Rush Limbaugh being one of them, but you know they are everywhere), a feminist is not simply someone who believes in equality between everyone and is specifically fighting for equality between the sexes. No, a feminist is a radical--a Nazi, even. Feminists are looking to castrate all men and take over the world with their butch haircuts and baby-killing ways.

If you are lucky enough to be a male feminist, you are full of self-loathing. You hate yourself because you believe that women are not below you. You might as well get a sex reassignment surgery and start working in Real Estate.

All right, so I'm guilty. I'm a feminist. There are lots of us, sure, but there are lots of "them," too. What else would we fight against?

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