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April 27, 2015

Floyd Mayweather is my “Existential Crisis” (TM)

It’s not easy (metaphorically or literally) to stick a knife in your own back… but that’s kind of what I’m doing here. At least I’m doing it with eyes wide open I guess. Because, try as I might, I can’t root for Manny Pacquiao in the upcoming “fight of the century” (all 15 years of it).

Let me clarify, every time I sit down and think it through, intellectually, I’m all in for Manny. it’s an easy decision that I am unwavering on. However, and by contrast, every time I get into an emotional discussion or get hit with my “first gut instinct” for some ridiculous reason, I find myself compelled to root for Mayweather.

It. Is. Infuriating!!!

In case you are not up on boxing and it’s “celebrities,” I’ll let you know why this conundrum exists (for me). Floyd Mayweather is a dick (and I say that with full knowledge that if we ever met in a dark alley… I’m the one not coming out in one piece) who has been convicted of violent crimes (including domestic violence charges multiple times) five times. Manny Pacquiao… well… one time he got his assets frozen for tax evasion… for like a day… until he proved he paid them and all was returned to normal. Other than that, by all reports he’s a stand-up guy as far as I know (including serving as a member of the House of Representatives in the Philippines.

Why?????????

It goes against everything I believe in, everything I preach, everything I believe I am. I’ve ranted about Brock Lesnar and his idiotic “go home and lay on my wife” blurt-o-neanderthal; Ray Rice and the cold awful reality of a man who can stand over his fiancee like that after knocking her out… and so on and so forth. But I just can’t get my inner compass moving away from Mayweather… and I don’t know why.

Except, maybe I do. Maybe it’s because, somewhere inside me I’m a little more “human” than I’d like to believe. Floyd “Money” Mayweather, should he win this fight (not so much should he lose), will go down as one of the all-time greatest boxers in history. His style is a manifestation of everything I try to coach (and emulate) in my sporting life (specifically the importance of mechanics, discipline, defense over offense, technique, etc. etc. etc. … in short fundamentals). And I think in some subconscious way, I want to be a(n ancillary, to be sure) part of that history.

It’s kind of embarrassing if it’s true because it’s something I try to steel myself against. Worse though, it’s scary. If I can’t control my emotions on an issue this obviously in my wheelhouse, what else am I reacting to (without the benefit of intellectual review) and acting upon. I like to think of myself as measured, and (at the risk of sounding braggartly) “good.” By that I mean I try to do the right thing when presented with “good” and “bad” options. But, in this case (at least out of the gate), I’m clearly not… and that vexes me.

I suppose I should be a little pleased that a window for potential personal growth has opened up, and perhaps over time I will be. But for now I’m busy being terrified at the monster that appears to dwell within me. It’s not a full-fledged “chill-while-the-elevator-descends-with-my-knocked-out-girl-friend-lying-at-my-feet” dark overlord of a monster… but it’s not a cute little minion either.

minion

I think most people have existential crisis’s (crisisi??) because they don’t feel like they belong to anything… for most of my life (when) I’ve had them (it’s been) because I felt like I did, and it wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of. Floyd “Money” Mayweather (completely absent of intent, of course) seems to be keeping that streak in tact for me. I react, therefore I am… but I also think and, as such, might not be. or something like that.

I’m certainly not going to watch the fight (and put money into the pocket of a serial domestic violence offender), but I suspect I’ll check out the results (maybe even follow the progress of the fight online) just to figure out who wins the battle-for-Soren’s-soul, and whether, ultimately, I “am,” or “am not” …

March 6, 2015

Why I love “The Dress”

Yeah, I said it. I’m not sick, annoyed, confused, or tired of “The Dress” and it’s blue, orange, white, black, gold… purple, pink, green… whatever… hues. It’s not a waste of time, nor an extravagant distraction of the first world order, and here’s why. Because, to put it simply, it has made people think.

Today I saw this:

Sorry “time wasting” apologists… that is not a frivolous message; and it resonates with just about everyone with an internet connection and a pulse.

Not enough for you, how about science:

“These receptors, called melanopsin, independently gauge the amount of blue or yellow incoming light, and route this information to parts of the brain involved in emotions and the regulation of the circadian rhythm.”

Still not your bag… okay how about some deeper (there-is-no-spoon’ish) introspective thinking:

All is conditioning. All is social construction, thought forms, carefully built identities, established “facts” that aren’t really facts but merely mutually agreed-upon illusions we greedily suck down like wine.

Consciousness swallows all labels, spits them back out as origami ducks nowhere near in a row.

Which leads to this very interesting, contemporary and in some ways ironic discussion on the absence of moral facts (vs opinions) in our children’s perceptions of today’s society.

I could fill countless lines of blog space with links to fascinating and educational conversations about, or uses of, “the dress” (none of which, by the way, spend any time arguing about which color it is; those arguments seem to be being made by the same people who think facebook and twitter are all about pictures of burnt peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and other wayward “this is my lunch” postings).

So, with apologies to those (very specifically some members of my family) who find “The Dress” to be some sort of productivity succubus bent on destroying the last vestiges of “time well spent;” I’m glad this little debate went viral, I’m glad we are able to recognize – if only briefly – that we all see things through a different lens, and that one view is not necessarily the right or only perspective on things.

We can all learn a something from that little rainbow of a dress.. as long as we don’t waste too much time arguing about it.

September 23, 2014

Which witch is which? Emma Watson and the case for advocacy.

Recently Emma Watson gave a heralded speech to the UN on gender equality and the #HeForShe movement, spearheaded by the UN. #HeForShe is a worthy endeavor attempting to enlist 1 billion men and boys as supporters for gender equality… I am man number 41,039 for what that’s worth…

I have seen several portions of her talk both quoted and gushed about, so I figured I’d do my part in heaping praise toward her effort. Before I begin though, I do have a bit of a bone to pick with the UN and the name of the campaign… so… if you will indulge a short detour (if not just skip the next paragraph)…

One of the oft cited portions of her speech included dipping into the issue of equality from a male perspective. Specifically, talking about how women were not the only victims of gender inequality. Along with many others I found this to be a powerful addition to her words (not unlike President – then candidate – Obama’s speech on race from 2008). The issue is, I find “HeForShe” to be a bit at odds with the overall message (as paraphrased by me: “this effects us all and we are all part of the solution”) I got out of that segment of her speech. I think I would have preferred some sort of “all for one and one for all” type of name (not sure what it would be… but that’s not the point of this post, so I’m not really spending cycles on it right now).

Back to the point…

There was a lot to like in her presentation, but what really resonated with me was this:

“You might be thinking who is this Harry Potter girl? And what is she doing up on stage at the UN. It’s a good question and trust me I have been asking myself the same thing. I don’t know if I am qualified to be here. All I know is that I care about this problem. And I want to make it better.”

And therein lies the rub. Anyone – and everyone – who cares can make a difference (in truth, by the simple act of caring, they already have). This is powerful, powerful stuff. If we all simply ignored the traditional/perceived blockers to the things we want to accomplish or the change we want to see in the world and, instead, acted upon our passions/interests; neither our lives nor our world would have any choice but to change.

In talking with a friend about this he threw out the quote about a journey of a thousand miles beginning with a single step. I agreed, but countered with what I feel is a more empowering, albeit slightly more prescriptive quote from Arthur Ashe:

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Every bit of effort – no matter how small – makes a difference; momentum absolutely matters. You don’t have to be Hermoine Granger to care about equality; and you don’t have to be asked to speak at the UN to make a difference. Every person you interact with is influenced by that experience. Every person who cares about you also cares (to whatever degree) about the things near and dear to you. No matter who you are you have that, and you can use it.

If you’ve ever played the 6 degrees of separation game (or, in terms the younger generations will find easier to relate to… signed up for LinkedIn) you know that no matter who you are, you are not many leaps away from a very large number of people. Shaquille O’Neil, Stanford University’s Provost, and the aforementioned President Obama are all 3rd degree contacts of mine on LinkedIn – meaning someone I know knows someone who knows them. There are literally tens of thousands of people one contact away from me. All I need to do is say the right thing, in the right way (so that it resonates with the right person) and it could explode throughout my personal network, and probably, by extension, yours as well.

So, I’d like to encourage everyone (especially the men reading this) to support the #HeForShe movement… it is important. However, on a bigger canvas, I’d like each of you to take a close look at what is important to you. What change would you like to see (or what do you want to ensure does not get changed)? Whatever that is, start talking about it, because you care and because you want to make it better.

To quote Emma Watson, quoting so many before her… if not you, then who? If not now, then when?

——

If you didn’t get a chance to see her presentation, here it is.

June 4, 2013

There she is… She’s Miss how-you-have-to-look-to-be-acceptable…

Filed under: Conversations,Observations,Values — Tags: , , , , — sbj @ 11:45 pm

This post might seem a touch self-contradictory at best and outright hypocritical at worst… it’s probably a bit of both in reality. Yesterday I saluted a friend for an outstanding blog post on the ills (well, one specific ill, to be fair) of beauty pageants. Today I was called on the carpet by an old friend for doing so. Now, in front of you… I’m going to investigate that. I’m not sure where this is going to end up, because I haven’t really thought much about it… I just opened the “new post” dialog box and started typing…

Let me start by saying I still completely agree with Jeanne’s stance and actions and my subsequent words about them yesterday.

bsuits

The background:

The link (to her piece): http://idahobusinessreview.com/2013/06/03/a-judgment-call/

My comment on her Facebook page:

My Comment on my share of her piece on my Facebook wall:

Needless to say I was supportive… and again, I remain so…

But then I got an email from an old college friend… an excerpt:

Have you really changed this much, or are you pandering? To be blunt, we spent hours talking about physical attraction in school and one of your main tenants was always that beauty should be equal in stature to other qualities you might evaluate about another person – SO LONG AS – it was given equal weight with all of the other qualities of the woman. This seems to be the model in these pageants, so what gives? What has changed? Why are “intelligence,” “sense of humor,” or “compassion” (etc.) valid qualities yet “how well someone takes care of themselves” is not?

I’ll start by pointing out what is missing from her email… context. Our discussions centered on dating. Specifically, selecting a single person out of the myriad of potential companions in whom one would invest their relationship equity (AKA time). Within that context, I probably hold the same beliefs that I held back then (again, I haven’t given it much thought… I just read her words and started typing). I have long held that 1. it is wrong to judge someone solely based on their looks, body, or other physical attributes and b. that is is also wrong to ignore physical attraction when selecting a potential mate or life partner. I do believe that violating either of these (lets call them) “principles” almost completely precludes success in long-term relationships.

I’m going to assume everyone understands why physical attraction is important to the coupling process, and move on to the meat of the subject (if you are unclear, or think others might be… there is a comments area below… ask and you shall receive).

While physical attributes in a one to one relationship go beyond “fair” and move more toward “critical” in making one’s choices, that does not mean that they should be a key component in a societal view of a particular gender (or any other group of people). What it does (among other things, some of which I intend to talk about some I do not) is detract from peoples ability to find the best match for them. When we, as a society, define the perfect waist, chest, arm, or thigh size; we deprecate the ability of individuals to make decisions on what they personally find attractive. It creates an artificially high weight on the attractiveness factor based on the knowledge of what public opinion is.

In other words, if you know 90% of people like cool-aide and you are selecting a drink, there is a decent chance you will select cool-aide even if you prefer water simply to avoid dealing with comments regarding your choice. If you don’t believe me… order a water the next time you and the guys (I assume it is the same for girls… but I can’t say for sure) go out for a drink and see what happens. There will be comments… I assure you. For many, this is enough pressure to lead them to have a beer or a glass of wine they don’t really want resulting in an evening that isn’t as rewarding as it could have been.

This pressure is over a drink… now imagine how much greater is to for selecting your life partner. Someone you will introduce to your parents, your friends, your co-workers etc. If you KNOW someone you might otherwise like does not measure up to the image society has given you for a successful “hunt” how is that going to effect your actions?

Ignored (but not forgotten) so far in my ramblings is the effect on the folks on the other side of the equation… the ones trying to fit into that norm so that they will be considered attractive. I’ll let a few numbers talk to this point:

  • Of female students surveyed on a typical college campus, 58% felt pressure to be a certain weight
  • Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys nationwide use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives
  • The mortality rate associated with Anorexia Nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old

I’m pretty sure I don’t need to explain or expand on those numbers and what they mean to both individuals and society on the whole. When society establishes a norm and exerts pressure on people to comply with that norm, the health of that society (and the individuals within it) suffers… the end.

Which brings me back to Jeanne’s piece. Pageants are not deciding, in a one-to-one-life-partner way, what is attractive for an individual. Rather, they are setting a standard for an entire society; and it is in this that they are wrong. One of the comments on her article reads:

Another read:

As I read these I couldn’t help but think about a radio interview I had recently heard about a woman who spent time in jail (for civil disobedience in protest of something… can’t remember what right now). The shows host asked her why she didn’t just pay the fine and avoid jail time and she responded that’s what the big corporations that she was protesting did. They built the fines for their unethical actions into their business model and treated them as just another cost of doing business; “right and wrong” were replaced by “profit and loss” as their guiding principle or moral compass. In her view, if it was wrong for them, it was wrong for her as well and so she didn’t just write a check to excuse her behavior, she paid the full price of incarceration.

But enough about other people, what about me.

Have I changed my views? Am I pandering? … No, I don’t think so.

I still believe that when an individual is finding their life partner all things should be considered (including attractiveness). I have a proclivity toward brunettes (sorry blondes… it’s nothing personal)… for whatever reason they simply trip a trigger in me that blondes don’t. As such I tended to gravitate that way when I was dating. Since I (typically, this piece being a bit of an exception) do not advocate or even share that preference, I do not feel badly about it effecting my personal choices.

Pageants do something different, however. They pit one (toned, fit and usually slight) body against another, in a contest to see who’s body is the best. It’s this public judging of one against the other than helps to establish, enhance, and uphold a cultural “norm” that our society – as a whole – embraces… with some pretty awful results.

I think, as Jeanne points out in her piece, it is wonderful what the Miss X pageants do in the way of community service efforts. For me though, it’s just not enough to offset the damage that being a standard bearer for what is and is not “attractive” in society causes. As Jeanne adroitly points out, with a few tweaks, this could probably work for everyone. However, if I am to blunt – as my friend was with me – as long as there are women parading around in bikini’s and high heals in front of other people judging them on how they look… all of that charitable giving just smacks of “blood money” and the ends simply don’t justify the means…

May 8, 2013

What’s wrong with porn (three numbers to keep you up at night)…

Filed under: Observations — Tags: , , , , , , — sbj @ 12:36 am

When I was younger, I gave subscriptions to Playboy to some friends and even (gasp) family. So, right out of the gate, I want to be sure everyone knows I am not preaching from a pristine pulpit. However, not having a perfect past should not preclude someone from advocating for what is right going forward. I’ve made lots of mistakes in my life, I like to think I learn from them. In fact, I’d like to think we all do…

There will be more than three numbers in this post, but, the three I refer to in the title will be in bold and the others Will simply be supporting figures. This post is not meant to be entertaining, it will be completely bereft of my normal attempts at humor. It will be factual and to the point… what you do with it from there is up to you.

Without further ado, the numbers:

74% of … sex buyers reported that they learned about sex from pornography. Meaning that pornography can be safely viewed as a “gateway drug” to purchasing sex. Okay, so why do we care so much about what some would call a victim-less crime? First of all we probably need some idea of what we might include as a victim. For example, we have statutory rape laws in this nation to protect children from being taken advantage upon by sexual predators. So lets call anyone selling sex under the age of 16 (18 in most places but I’m feeling generous right now) a victim. A survey of 169 women working in prostitution showed that the average age they were first sold for sex was 14 (other data show a starting age of 12-13), I’m going to go out on a limb and call them victims. The following results also came from those same women: “75% reported being abused as children, 58% have been assaulted and an overwhelming 92% of women said they would quit if they could afford to.” Prostitution is not (for the most part) a victim-less crime and the (vast) majority of sex buyers get started with porn.

Sex buyers were more than 7 (seven) times more likely than non-sex buyers to acknowledge that they would rape a woman if they could get away with it and if no one knew about it.. Multiple studies have produced results like this: Of working adult women in the sex trade, 82% have been physically assaulted; 83% have been threatened with a weapon; 68% have been raped while working and 68% of women interviewed in 9 countries met the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). (the 68% PTSD rate is the same as combat veterans and torture victims); or this: nearly a third of the sex buyers told surveyors that the acts they sought out from women in prostitution gradually changed and increased in violence, including more sadomasochistic sex acts (mind you, much like the 7X more likely to rape if they could get away with it, these were the buyers being surveyed, not the prostitutes… it is not much of a stretch to imagine that the percentage would be much higher from the sex workers point of view).

The average life span of a woman being sold in the sex trade is 7 years. Seven years and you are dead. Police have an average mortality rate (number of deaths per 100,000 people) of 16.8; firemen 16.6; loggers 87.4; fishermen (the worst rate I could easily find) 147.2. Prostitutes are estimated to have a ** homicide rate** (not all deaths, but homicides only) of 204. By contrast the highest mortality rate, by state, from Vietnam was 84.1 (West Virginia). Meaning you are 2.43 times more likely to be killed as a prostitute than you were in the Vietnam war (**IF** you were from the state with the highest mortality rate… compared to any other state or the national average that number grows even higher).

To me, those are some pretty staggering numbers. I’m not saying that the Playboy subscription I bought my brothers when they were younger has led directly to the deaths of any sex workers; however, the link is clear and undeniable. Pornography is the market maker for sex workers, and is the “gateway drug” for sex-buyers. The sex industry kills women at a rate that is nearly 3 times that of soldiers in Vietnam and 12.75 times that of the first-responders that we all acknowledge put their lives on the line for us every day. This is the very real price women pay for our sexual pleasure and entertainment… the question you have to ask yourself is… is it worth it?

May 6, 2013

Why stupidity is worse than porn…

Filed under: Observations — Tags: , , , , , — sbj @ 4:53 pm

Actually, stupidity may not be worse than porn, but since I was going to write about some of the evils of porn today and that was usurped by this stupidity, I guess, at least for today, I think that is the case.

Rather than attempt to restate ABC’s news report better than them, I’m just going to include it right here… as they presented it:

First of all, kudos to Josh for being dialed in enough to recognize street-harassment when he see’s it (even from a child’s plaything) and moreover for doing something about it. I’d be happy if most people simply recognized this type of sexualization/commodification, given that so many of us spend our days in some blissful oblivion about being surrounded by it.

After the above, the article goes on to point out how he went back and forth with Lego, and they eventually apologized and have taken steps to remove the product from the market and (more importantly) ensure nothing like it will make its way to store shelves again. Should be the happy(ish) end of the story, right???

Nope…

Here is a clip from the top of the comments section on that story:

Take a moment to note that these are the “Popular now” comments (highlighted in yellow at the top of the image). Not the most recent, not the most distasteful, not the most replied to… no, the most popular. I can only screen capture so many, but let me assure you it goes on (the next one down reads as follows “Wow. dude i think you might want to look around cause I am pretty sure your balls fell off somewhere”).

So, now we have compounded our sexualization of women with gross gender stereotyping; and this, right here, is why I harp on and on about stereotyping. This is the insidious nature of the beast. Would-be defenders of decency are shamed by idiotic gender bias into silence (or at least that is the attempt). “Take his man card away,” “peed sitting down,” and “shouldn’t he be doing laundry or the dishes” are all comments meant to demean Josh for his stance. Why are they “insulting” because they all mean you are more like a woman than a man, and what could be worse than that?

I have confidence in Josh… I believe his response to that question (“what could be worse than that?”) would be something like “if being a man means berating other people for having the courage to stand up for what’s right, I’m pretty sure I’d rather be more like a woman.” He might also go on to say “however, I don’t think being decent is a hallmark of either sex; rather, I think it is a defining trait of someone with character and integrity.”

The problem is, there are a lot more not-Josh’s than Josh’s out there. People – most of them – are cowed by shame, confrontation, lack of approval and any number of other disabling human interactions. Life can be challenging enough without having insults thrown your way or being treated like a social pariah (I’m looking at you “Kat” and your “American needs a sense of humor” comment). You see, while I didn’t choose to highlight them in the image above, “Kat’s” comment along with “G. Manitley’s” “thicker skin” observation they are just as damaging, perhaps even worse at times.

While many reasonable people are capable of looking at the “peed sitting down” comment and dismissing it as being rude, bigoted, or asinine far fewer are able to take a strong stance against someone saying “have a sense of humor.” No one wants to be the drag, the party pooper, or boring. As such this little “helper” comment gives legs to the more egregious ones, it chips away at the defenses of good people, and it emboldens (and as such empowers) the “Michael P’s” of the world.

A good man (Josh) did a good thing, and has since been pilloried for it. If that is not the poster child for stupidity, I don’t know what is. The result of that stupidity is a foundational furtherance of institutionalized bigotry. So, yeah, I guess I do think stupidity is worse than porn… in fact – as what I believe to be the true root of all evil – it just might be worse than pretty much everything…

April 25, 2013

Go home Ken, you’re drunk.

Filed under: Observations — Tags: , , , , , — sbj @ 9:18 pm

I am sure, all things considered, being a plantation owner can be tough, with its own set of problems to overcome. However, I do not believe that meas that you get equate your issues with those of your slaves. Is this an unfair comparison, am I being too rough on this guy? Perhaps… lets take a look. I’ll describe what went on during slavery, and then we’ll see if we can swap out the word “men” for “slave owners” and the word “women” for “slaves.” If we can, I might be on to something, if not… I owe “Ken” and all of the men of the world an apology, here we go…

Slave owners oppressed, comodified, and degraded (among other things, like raped) their slaves. They build a culture which institutionalized the oppression of slaves while enabling and empowering the socioeconomic and political dominance of slave owners.

Hmmmm…

Although, to be fair, no one is advocating seceding from the union or a civil war based on the feminist movement (yet)… so perhaps I went slightly overboard.

Going further down the “fair” track, I do not believe that “Ken” really wants to equate himself with Barbie. I think he just wants to say “don’t forget about me, things can be tough over here as well. Everyone has issues, even Ken.” And, if he had said that, he’d be right (and I’d have nothing to write about today). But he didn’t… he said “…just as hard…”

With all due respect, “Ken,” no, it’s not. It’s not and – in all likelihood – it never will be. As I have pointed out about myself many times in this blog… white males hold all the cards in our society; every advantage is tilted our way. Can we still fail? Sure. Can we still have miserable lives? Sure. But, is it “just as hard to be Ken as it is to be Barbie?” No, no, and hell no.

Metaphorical Ken oppresses, comodifies, and degrades (among other things, like raping) metaphorical Barbie. He has built a culture which has institutionalized the oppression of metaphorical Barbie and enables and empowers the socioeconomic and political dominance of metaphorical Ken.

This individual Ken (picture above) might not be doing it, but more of the Kens throughout the years have been doing it than not and they have, through their collective efforts, created an entirely uneven playing field. If one side, in general, is running up hill and the other side, in general, is running down hill… guess who is going to win the race?

I’m not mad at ken. I don’t dislike Ken. I certainly don’t think Ken is a bad guy. Fact is, he’s obviously struggling a little, and I really wish there was some way I could help him out, to be honest. However, what cannot come from that is a notion of implied equality between Ken and Barbie.

Ken and Barbie are not equal… that is what the struggle for equal rights is all about. While men can and do suffer, it is not the same, and it is certainly not “just as hard.”

April 17, 2013

If nice guys finish last… it’s because we let them…

So, I was minding my own business this afternoon, lying in bed browsing facebook intending to do nothing productive at all… when this popped up in my timeline:

There goes the neighborhood…

I spent last week attacking some of the stereotypes that plague women… focusing largely on sexpliotation in advertising and in practice. What I didn’t address at all was the sexist humor sub-culture. Because, honestly, I completely forgot all about it… which is part of why it is so insidious.

When someone tells you a joke (or even if you just see it online, to a lesser extent) it tends to be much harder to run contrary to it than some of the more blatant things we have seen recently. I’m sure very few people had trouble being put off by the cologne ad that was in the sexploitation post; but its much harder to respond harshly to a joke.

“It’s just a joke!” … “Lighten up!” … “You are no fun!”

Not only do you seldom get a meaningful conversation, but, often, you wind up being the bad guy (and not the good kind of bad guy… if there is such a thing). Speaking of which… there is this one floating around out there as well:

That rings more true, I think, and is far less a part of the problem… here’s why.

The first image nearly begs you to treat a woman poorly. It very clearly indicates that, in order to succeed with women (not be single) you mustn’t treat them nicely. Far and away, the number one reason for being single (read: failing in the dating game) – according to this epiphany filled experts guide to relationship Shangri-La – is treating women nicely.

Culturally, if I do not want to be shunned, I am allowed two reactions to this 1. I can think it is funny and laugh… giving it my tacit approval, or 2. I can attempt to imply empathy or comradeship (i.e. “true story, bro”)… seemingly giving it my explicit approval.

Either way, even if I don’t personally treat women poorly, I am enabling and advancing a society that encourages me (and everyone else) to do so.* A culture that fails by creating kids like the Steubinville football players we all know so well. A lot of things contributed to their depravity, to be sure. Not insignificant in it’s influence, I’m certain, is the cornucopia of exposure points for this type of subtle abuse-empowering messaging.

The fact of the matter is, however, that it isn’t funny or true. You can enhance your chances with women by being confident, assertive, and perhaps even a little brazen, but you cannot enhance them by being an ass (read: by being mean, neglectful or abusive). You may succeed in shaming or intimidating a women into not leaving you… but don’t be mistaken… you have not accomplished or “won” anything.

(For the record, being nice to her and no one else is only one small step in the right direction, and is not victory either. But I really feel the intent behind that “bad boy” is more the confidant, take charge kind of guy who is not by definition the bad kind of bad.)

The old phrase that goes “nice guys finish last” – thankfully – is typically (or at least universally) not true. However, jokes like the pie chart above advance a society that supports that mind set and, subsequently, a culture of abuse. It’s not easy to stand up to the weight of a social situation, especially against something the vast majority of people consider innocuous, and say “hey, that’s not funny (or true)” but if not you, than who?

Because at the end of the day, the only way nice guys (or gals) actually finish last is if we allow them to do so, and I really don’t want to live in that world, do you?

*The effect of this is, by the way, no different than it would be with any ethnic, racial, gay, or other stereotype supporting joke you may hear (or choose to tell), I just happen to be focused on women for whatever reason right now. Probably leftover angst over Steubinville, Halifax, San Jose etc.

April 14, 2013

Sexpliotation, is it really that big a deal… you tell me. (somewhat unsafe for work)

Filed under: Observations,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — sbj @ 5:07 am

“What’s wrong with caring what you look like/wanting to look your best all the time/being pretty.” I have been asked some variation of this question literally dozens of times since I posted “Putting your worst foot forward” on Thursday.

As I stated in my responses to these comments, I don’t have a problem with any of those things. In fact, I think doing your best is an admirable (and, if you want to be successful, mandatory) thing to do. However, as I pointed out to my good friend who has a sister who is (according to her) widely considered the “pretty, smart one” vs. her description of herself as the “helpful, quiet one”…

And there, in the final paragraph, is the rub. Women today are ranked first and foremost by their looks, and if you don’t “get it done” from an attraction standpoint in that area, you are instantly a second class citizen (you aren’t hopeless… but the deck is definitely stacked against you). Further, lets say you do make the grade. Lets say you are attractive… even “hot”… what happens then?

Well, you might be suitable for uncomfortable sex in the front seat of a car (although what you are really doing is selling Axe… for men):

You might be equated to (confused with?) an airbag (for the purpose of selling luxury cars… for men):

Your sexual past might not be considered important enough to eschew you (but **only** if you were hot enough, and you were willing to be used to sell used luxury cars… for men… of course):

If you are super hot and a philanthropist, you could even be a positive force for change in the world (if you were willing to imply indirect sexual conquest/consent… for men):

Orm best yet, you could be afforded the fantastic privilege of spreading ‘em for whoever happens to spray on a touch of Tom Ford cologne (you guessed it… for men):

All of this, mind you, is for the “winners,” for women who are at the top of the ladder in the category most commonly related to their success and closely tied to their value in society… attractiveness and sexuality.

Are there other ways to be successful as a woman? Sure, you could be a tennis player for example:

But two out of the top four Google search results would be about how sexy you were or were not.

You could be a soccer player:

Three out of the top six.

You could even be one of the most powerful people in the world. However, if you decided to not wear makeup and maintain your appearance you would be talked about for having been forgetful, having given up your ambition, or both.

And there you have it. You can, as a woman, reach the the pinnacle of success – Clinton could very easily have been our last president and she was a Senator and our Secretary of State – however, if you elect to go without make-up or contacts, you are news.

The simple fact is that women today are evaluated by how good looking they are… their waist, bust and hip measurements… how they dress and present themselves… and how they interact with men. If we are being honest – and speaking in general terms – that’s pretty much it. Certainly there are exceptions, but again, taken on the whole this is the state of our society.

So I say again, while I have no issues with the attributes of “pretty,” “beautiful,” or even “hot” in and of themselves, and I certainly appreciate attractive people and things… I do have an issue with those being the primary tools for evaluating another human being. Collectively, we need to get over judging our women by their covers. If that starts by letting our guard down a little regarding how we present ourselves on a regular basis, so be it.

April 11, 2013

Putting your worst foot forward

Filed under: Make the world better,Observations — Tags: , , , — sbj @ 3:27 pm

Yesterday I posted a kind of ranty, kind or preachy, pseudo call to action piece. The theme (at least at the end during the “call to action” part) had to do with the exploitation of women, particularly their sexuality, in today’s society. In response to this (one of a few interesting responses I received) I got an email with the simple subject “practice what you preach!” and this link:

Bad Picture Monday

For those not inclined to follow the link, it suggests – in short – that people post a bad picture of themselves each Monday in order to reject the idea that ones value is based on your appearance. Don’t hide the real you behind a wall of flattering posed pictures taken at just the right angle in just the right light… show the real you.

My instant, admittedly thoughtless, response was (and I quote) “Love it… I’m in… you?” And the fact is, I do (love it) and I am (in). It feeds fantastically into what I have said (or want to say) over and over again. To borrow and build upon (which is not meant to imply improving upon… simply acknowledging that I am adding additional words to his quote) a little from Dr King… people should be judged by the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin, the shape of their bodies, the clarity of their skin, or the bone structure of their faces.

It also reminded me of my crusade against(ish) make-up. I’ve never been a fan and I’ve yet to encounter a time when I think it has been an improvement to a persons appearance. I acknowledge that it can *change* a persons appearance, which is something someone might want to do (like changing the color or design of a shirt, jacket or whatever they are wearing); but that is not the same as improving. In my mind makeup is a facade placed over how someone really looks. Which, is fine, if they are doing it because they want to look different (much like one might get a tattoo if you want your arm, back, leg, whatever, to look a certain way). However, all too often make-up is worn because the person feels they “need it” to look better (or even acceptable), and that is where this here rubber meets that thar road and I take umbrage. No one should feel forced to change their appearance to fit a norm or a standard.

But I digress (I do that a lot)…

In short, it’s what’s inside that counts. Anything that lends credence or support to that idea is “top of the list” stuff to me. To me, this “bad picture Monday” idea is right in the wheelhouse.

But then I gave it a bit more thought on the way into work today, and, frankly, I’m not as enthused as I was. I still like the idea just as much… the problem is this: I already post bad pictures of myself… a couple of random examples (with varying -increasing, I think – degrees of “bad”):

It turns out that it is no big deal to me to post unflattering pictures. This is probably mostly due to the fact that I am tall, employed, relatively fit and healthy, white, and male… with a good family… in America. What, really, do I have to be insecure about? In fact, when I post those pictures it is typically to get a laugh at my own expense.

Which got me to thinking… have I, in the past, been positive/secure/confident and mentally healthy in posting these… or have I been an oblivious participant in an oppressive culture? Am I, without my own knowledge, poking fun at people who are insecure with their appearance, mocking those who do not have the time or resources to make themselves “presentable?” Am I, in fact, part of the problem rather than my objective of being part of the solution? I’m not sure what the answers to these questions are (I’m game to hear from anyone with ideas).

More to the point, a woman rejecting the idea she needs conform to a certain image in order to have value makes sense because that addresses what is broken in society. For a man it is different, typically we are judged by something like our earning potential… so perhaps I should start there. This train of thought reminds me of this image I saw a while back (which I’ve been saving for a blog of it’s own… which may still happen). It paints about as clear a picture as I’ve seen of how society values the respective genders:

study

It is something I’ll have to ponder and explore a bit more. For now I’m going forward with the plan to post bad pictures on Monday’s; however, I am reserving the right to pull back after re-evaluation. Perhaps, given who I am and the position of privilege fate has given me… there is something more appropriate for me to be doing that assaults some other stereotype.

However, until I figure that all out… viva la mala imagen!!!

August 17, 2012

Pigskin Feminism??? Not in New York (or Sunnyvale, CA)

So I read this today, and I’m not sure that I came away from it with the same thing everyone else did.

The article, in short for those not interested in reading it, talks about LSU’s “Honey Badger” (Tyrann Mathieu), his dismissal from the football program and a former LSU players attempts to mentor (and later, even reach) him in an effort to help him get his life together.

The article turned, for me, when LaRon Landry (the former Tiger and currently playing for the NFL’s New York Jets describe his feelings for being ignored as follows:

“Don’t treat me like a female.”

Clearly, this is not what I (or, I suspect, most of my regular readers) would call “good form.” Connotatively speaking, denotatively speaking… any old “atively” speaking this is offensive, unevolved and (depending on the intent of the speaker) entering into the realm of misogyny.

This piece might turn, for you, with what I am about to say… because while I don’t hold harmless LaRon Landry, I choose to focus my attention and disappointment on Yahoo Sports and the articles author Eric Adelson.

I can completely see where, why and how that comment could come out of Mr Landry’s mouth. Fact of the matter is, I’m a bit (pleasantly) surprised the last word was what it was. Again, that is not to condone it. If I were to send a message directly to LaRon it would be along the lines of:

“clean up your own back yard before you worry about that of your neighbor. If you can’t be bothered to speak respectfully about half the world… I’m pretty sure I don’t want you trying to influence *ANYONE* let alone someone who is already clearly struggling with his role in society.”

… but that doesn’t prevent me from understanding the world he lives in and how there might not be an automatic filter that says “oh wait… I shouldn’t say that” let alone a base mind set the precludes even having the thought.

Yahoo and Mr. Adelson enjoy no such quarter from me. They not only should know better, they not only have staff editors etc. that should also know better (an entire system built around massaging their message to the point that it is maximized for profit), but they are, as members of a mass media outlet, a big part of the reason we have these types of stereotypes in the first place.

I spent a good part of this year traveling back and forth to Wickenberg Arizona where a family member was an in-patient resident of a eating disorder treatment center. Why? Partly because our society… our media… shapes the images our children have of themselves and the people around them.

What does “Don’t treat me like a female” say, if not, “I am a man and therefore deserve better treatment” “this would be fine if I were an inferior woman, but i’m not and therefore it is not” etc. etc. etc. Once more, I do not believe Landry meant it that way (or at least to that degree), but that’s still what it says (and if you read the article, and it didn’t cause you a moments pause, congratulations… you too have been indoctrinated into societies little game).

Back to Yahoo, Eric and the article. I have read it about three times now in full (more after to pull out the quote etc.) and what is abundantly clear to me is that while saying that may have added meaning and aided understanding regarding Mr Landry’s position during the interview process… it added nothing of value to the article. go back and read it again (or for the first time), omitting that sentence/paragraph. Guess what…nothing about the article changes…other than its (un?)witting assault on women.

Yet, they, the fine literary minds at Yahoo, elected to keep it in there, and kick that can just a little further down the road. Inexcusable.

It might not be a hate crime, but for a professional media outlet I would hope there would be a higher bar than “not outright misogyny.”

July 12, 2012

Girls, Girls, Girls!!! (Part 1)

Filed under: Just life,Observations — Tags: , , , — sbj @ 5:09 pm

I have two things I want to write about on this topic, and I can’t decide which to do, so I’m just going to do them both separately, in no particular order.

This one is shorter, so it goes first.

I saw this picture today on Pinterest:

It had the caption “Fact: Bella Swan is not a role model for girls.”

Now, based on my limited exposure to the Twilight saga, I kind of agree with the caption. However, given the context of the picture, I do not think I agree or support what they are trying to say.

First of all, while I have nothing MORE against a woman leading an army, fighting a dark lord, or starting a rebellion than I do a guy doing these things, I do question whether any of them (or any male counterparts out there) are really the kind of role models I want my children to emulate. These are things that a person, in the wrong place at the wrong time, might do out of necessity; but there’s nothing there that I would want for my children in a peaceful, civilized world.

Perhaps if they had chosen Elizabeth Blackwell, Harriet Tubman, or Marie Curie (I could go on, but you get the idea, real women that did real things in the face or real adversity) I’d be more inspired.

My bigger point, though, is that there is nothing wrong with getting married… in fact its quite cool. It’s cool for men, it’s cool for women, its cool for everyone (if you’re into that sort of thing… if not, being single is just as cool for you). There is absolutely nothing wrong with “winding up married.”

I’d be a “house husband” in a New York minute, and be damn proud of what I did day in and day out. I cannot imagine anything more important than crafting members of the next generation. Frankly, I think if more people prioritized that and stopped imagining themselves leading fictional rebellions the world would be a better place.

I agree that a world where women are relegated to marriage, child rearing, etc. alone is an affront to women, a massive disservice to humanity, and a backsliding continuation of a horrifically misguided past; and I absolutely love seeing (at least parts of) humanity (all to slowly) moving toward more a more balanced society with women as CEO’s, legitimate Presidential candidates, and occupying any other role previously thought of a mans position. However, a future culture that disparages marriage and cast a pall of failure on someone (of either gender) simply because the (very early) return on their life’s effort is a wedding is, in my opinion, a culture that has failed.

There is little in the world that I respect or admire more than a couple celebrating 40, 50, or 60 years of marriage. In fact, if you put two 80 year old people in front of me and one said “I was CEO of a fortune 500 company for 50 years” and the other said “I have been happily married for 50 fantastic years” I wouldn’t waste a minute calling the second person the greater success.

There is no shame in marriage, some of my greatest personal role models are people who have been doing it for decades… I’d be willing to bet some of yours have as well.

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