Jul 25, 2011

I know all parents mess their kids up to a degree, but it's not supposed to be this intentional

So I've discovered several things today.

1. The revamp of Beavis and Butthead wherein they pan shows like Jersey Shore, et al, is probably something that I will watch. I don't know why. Raincoat Jed likes to send me links to things that spark my interest, like anything that involves the quote, “If they did this chart long enough, they could find out how herpes began.”

2. I don't know if it's because I'm getting older, but apparently my body hates corn chips like Godzilla movies hate continuity.

3. I noticed that someone posted a link to this gem:

"Two classic fairytales have been re-imagined or “sweetened” rather for today’s tots: , “Rapunzel,” by Sarah Gibb and “Twelve Dancing Princesses” by Brigette Barrager. According to The New York Times, these authors have assumed a “gentler” narrative for these gorgeously-illustrated picture books. Yet, despite tactics to make these stories more kid-accessible, sexist attitudes about women and passivity remain.

Pamela Paul at The Times observes:
'As Gibb would have it, the princesses are passive innocents and unaware of the spell – sleepdancing, as it were. They can be rescued only by the handsome young cobbler, Pip, who toils away mending their worn-out shoes. This ends — can you guess? – in a joyous wedding between Pip and the princess Poppy. “And, of course, they all lived happily ever after.” Very attractively, though inactively, so.'

I find it quite telling that sex and violence have been removed from these tales but stereotypes about women remain a kosher part of storytelling. There may no graphic scenes in these picture books but children learning that “passive” princesses can only be rescued from spells by a “handsome young cobbler” is just as damaging. Revamp indeed. Reads like the same old trajectory to me."

First of all, I’ve read the original “Twelve Dancing Princesses.” It is quite possible that it’s been “softened” because there’s not many parents who want to read a story to their daughters about a bunch of chicks who sneak out to party every night. This does not bespeak sexism.

In fact, it looks an awful lot like:

Yeah, that stamp? It may show up a lot.

As another (female) commenter put it:
“So…you wanted them to actually tell a different story? Should only the aggressive princesses have been saved? Should they have scorned the man, and belittled him, before declaring him worthless and then rescuing themselves? Perhaps the prince should have been nerdy and sensitive and passive to his ball-busting career princess, maybe even changing HIS last name this time around? Don’t you think you’re reaching a little to find the insult in this? What kind of damage does this cause again? Let me get this straight: you believe this encourages little girls to believe that passivity is required in order to win the affections of a handsome man…which is wrong…but you wouldn’t assume that this story teaches little girls that magic spells are real, right?? Why does it teach one concept, but not the other? Why not assume that little girls would learn that dancing is bad because you have to be rescued from it? Why wouldn’t they assume that the story is telling them that dancing is fun, and handsome men are lame for interrupting?? Its just so arbitrary to assume that ALL little girls will discern THAT particular message from a story.
Let’s just re-write all books. That way no one’s feelings will be hurt. Like the Third Reict (sp). Any and all stories and books that portray the women as anything less than demi-gods worthy of only the highest respect must be altered or destroyed, along with the authors. Let’s start with the Bible. Then we’ll move on to Shakespeare. After that we’ll change all the history books.”

Second, I love Grimm Fairytales (the originals) because they're so dark and frankly weird. The original Rapunzel, for instance, has Rapunzel getting knocked up by the prince (mazel tov, it's twins). The witch comes back, throws Rapunzel out and blinds the prince. They're separated for a while, but Rapunzel is the one who finds him later (along with their kids) and restores his sight. Then they live happily ever after.
If there's a moral to that story, it's that you have to go through a lot of bullshit in order to get your share of happiness; and let's face it, if you tell your kids that when they're young, it'll come as much less of a surprise later.

If the author of articles like this and the one at the Times is going to cherrypick just one story here and there that they think depicts a princess or two as too "passive" as being sexist, then it's not just reaching, it's bad reporting. If there's a parent out there who really finds the more modern, sanitized fairy tales to be so offensive, then just read your kids the originals.

By the way, the original Grimm's Brothers version of the Pied Piper has the townspeople refusing to pay the piper after he rids the town of rats. So he plays a different tune and leads all their children dancing away into a mountain, whereupon they are never seen again. Vengeance complete, the piper presumably goes on his merry way while the parents wail in grief.

Now, I'd probably read a toddler something about dancing princesses simply because small children just don't analyze things the way adults do. You know why? 'Cause anything that poops itself and likes Barney is not, I repeat not, going to be lecturing in Oxford about the intricacies of literature any time soon.

But I guess if you prefer fairy tales to teach your kids the fine principles of "an eye for an eye and possibly also a leg just to be thorough," then, you know, you have options. Original fairy tales, Rambo movies, religion.

When the children hear about Jesus and how lovin' and carin' he was . . . how he gave his all to God's children and how it got him nailed to a tree, it will be amazin' to see whose eyes light up with hope and whose burn with newfound survival instincts.
--Fred MacIntire, Something Positive
Speaking of S*P, Milholland also did this awesome take on Sleeping Beauty. Also, by quoting his characters and linking to stuff he’s done that I think is cool, I’m not saying that he shares any of my opinions or that I actually know him in any way. Do not pester the Randy just ‘cause of this blog, OK thank you.
Though he replied to me once on Twitter and it totally made my day ‘cause he’s awesome.

Note: If anyone gives a crap about what the rapunzel plant is, it’s an old name for Rampion (Campanula rapunculus), which is apparently a sort of salad green.

Jul 11, 2011

And I spake thusly unto the refrigerator: Bring forth much pork and chili and beans, and puddings, and there shalt be A Great Eatening in All The Land

So hello! Today I have a little helping of WTF for you. As opposed to all the other ones dealing with WTF and WTF byproducts. And I have been told recently that my tendency to be longwinded is “cute,” so this post has got to be adorable.

"Do you find yourself attracted again and again to troubled, distant, moody men -- while "nice guys" seem boring?
Do you obsess over men who are emotionally unavailable, addicted to work, hobbies, alcohol, or other women?
Do you neglect your friends and your own interests to be immediately available to him?
Do you feel empty without him, even though being with him is torment?"

This is from the Amazon.com description of a book titled, “Women Who Love Too Much.They recommended this to me, theoretically because they have discovered that I do tend to go for the dark, moody/otherwise stable nice guy type.
Then again, they also used to recommend me vibrators, knives, and books on taxidermy, so clearly they know what I do on Friday nights.*

This is a joke. If you did not think it was a joke, then I weep for you.*

First of all, if you need a book to tell you that your emotionally unavailable work addicted alcoholic cheating boyfriend/husband/whatever should perhaps not cause you to neglect your friends and interests in favor of being around for him all the time and that you are also dangerously emotionally codependent, stop reading.
Go kill yourself.
Do it now.
For Jesus. Because he is disgusted with you.
If Jesus were here right now, he would slap you across the face and call you a dumbass.*

*Blatant lie. Theoretically. I mean, it’s not like he didn’t raise his most holy pimp hand to those little punk money-lenders in the temple. There’s a precedent here.
(Upon reading the draft of this blog, my friend Dustin remarked, “Then they'd fall madly in love with him because there's nothing crazy bitches like more than a husband who beats them.”)

How in the hell are there still women (and men) that do this? I grant you, we all got raised with the Beauty & the Beast archetype, and not the relatively cool one with Ron Perlman.
This guy made fantasy soap operas cool for like 3 years,
which is longer than anyone else has done ever.

But the whole underlying plot of the original Beauty and the Beast is that there’s basically this prince who was a huge prick, so he got turned into a beast--essentially, that whole “now the outside matches the inside, muwhahaha” thing. You’d think that would be sort of a warning to Belle, but noooo. No, she goes through the initial “Oh my God why are you keeping me prisoner here” thing (totally her father’s fault), at which point the Beast makes a couple token attempts to not be a dick.
In the original story, these attempts were not aided by talking cutlery.
Then Belle decides that there’s more to the Beast that she initially thought, and then it becomes this whole episode of her being patient and kind in the hopes that he will change.
Luckily, he does; which theoretically means that he also decided that she didn’t look like a tasty little meat snack, what with him being a beast and all. As a result, he falls madly in love with her and all her patience and kindness is rewarded by him turning into a handsome prince. It is presumed that they lived out the rest of their days in his castle, very much in love and probably traumatizing Chip by doing the freaky in every room.
He’s trying to smile but he’s seen too much and now he's dead inside.

How often does that play out in real life, though? In real life, the guy who is consistently an asshole to you is, provided he’s not just having a streak of consecutive bad days, actually an asshole.
Shocking, I know. Yet there is someone somewhere who decided, much like the other eleven billion self-help book authors like them, that women really can’t figure this out on their own and they need help.

Are enough women really that blind that they need a book?



And if you're feeling really adventurous:

Jul 8, 2011

Sometimes I really hate women. Well, everyone really, but today...

‘Pop stars such as Rihanna and Britney talk about empowering women, but by dressing up in stockings and rubber bodices while dancing provocatively they are pandering to a male fantasy.’
--Louise O’Connell, beauty editor for Glamour UK.

The above quote is from an article on Yahoo! Lifestyle titled, “Why I’m a feminist.
Now, I don’t wholly disagree with the article. It’s true that once in a while, you will run up against some incredibly awful attitudes based entirely around your gender. It’s also true that women in the US can do nearly everything and anything they like, which is good. However, attempting to explain away looking like a prat with the excuse of “I’m empowered” is a cop out.
It also makes women look stupid. So thanks a lot, all you pop-tarts out there.

Being judged according to different ideals according to gender is nothing new. This happens to both (or all three, if you like) genders. However, part of the “dirty connotation” in the word “feminist” is due entirely to the effects of radical feminism, the winding tentacles of which are why we still have those unusually irritating self-proclaimed feminists who react to what are basically normal relationship dynamics like demons to holy water thrown by the Winchester brothers.

❦In every society, there are groups that are reviled.

In the LBGT community, Transgender individuals may not be as accepted. In the straight community, they may be ostracized. In both, they may be viewed as novelties or as living sex toys.

In areas of countries like Afghanistan or India, the practice of child brides is still in heavy swing. Often, these girls may experience severe injuries from being raped by their new husbands on their wedding nights, or even death from ruptured organs. They may be as young as 5 in some cases.

Most cases of domestic abuse involve battered women and children. A whopping 40% involves battered men, shattering the idea that only men are the aggressors in abuse. Yet women are pretty likely to get away with it if they are the abusers simply because they’re female and society views them as basically harmless, or at least more docile and therefore more likely to be a victim.

Women and children lead in statistics for being victims of rape. However, it is a myth that men do not also get raped, but this is a fact that is largely ignored.

❦The article poses this question: ‘Do you believe men and women are equal?’

For the most part, yes. But I don’t think that they’re interchangeable. The fact is, you can’t claim that men have a monopoly on oppression when women will do the same thing. For instance, you can’t claim that men are inherently more likely to harm their children when “women—who commit less than 13 percent of all violent crimes in the United States—commit about 50 percent of all parental murders.” In addition, “women who kill their children in this country are disproportionately hospitalized or treated, while men who do so are disproportionately jailed, even executed.”
I could make a reference to the Casey Anthony trial here, but frankly, I’m sick of that idiot.

Point being, believing that men are women are equal does make you a feminist, but only by definition. The basic feminist ideology that started with the Suffrage movement (of which my great-grandmother, when she was my age, worked tirelessly to promote and had the great honor of seeing come to fruition in her lifetime) is usually misused. Modern, or radical feminism, is a political ideology rather than a personal one. It is not usually based in reality. And further, it often deals with paper tigers rather than actual issues. For instance, it’s perfectly fine for radical feminists to rant about how women get stared at or catcalled or groped on the street, but female circumcision* in another country? Honor killings? Forced prostitution? Human trafficking? They don’t often care, usually because complaining about it would mean that we, the big bad West, were being inconsiderate and not understanding another culture.
*I know Wikipedia is a crap source, but they have a lot of links in that one--and besides, it summarizes.

If you want to be a true feminist, you have to champion causes for both genders. You can’t judge the man who cheats on his wife more harshly than the woman who cheats on her husband. You can’t execute the father who killed his kid while the mother who committed the same crime only gets treatment. You can’t react to women being liberated from the Taliban by sending mostly makeup. You can’t ignore male victims of abuse and rape simply because they’re male. You can’t claim that abortion is only a woman’s issue when it involves both genders.
Welcome to equality.

❦I was going to include this in a different blog, but something that caught my eye recently was an article someone posted on Facebook, which unfortunately I did not bookmark and I’m refusing to go looking for out of stubbornness. The article involves the author talking about how, if women were not oppressed, the terms “femme” or “girly” would not be applied in a pejorative term to boys. The author then went on to say that the reason these terms were used is because society believes that being female is inherently “wrong” and lesser than being male.

Now, I don’t disagree that human sexuality is extremely diverse and is more difficult to classify for some people than others (ie, the gender binary may not apply to everyone, though it applies to me). I certainly don’t disagree with the idea that men naturally have a feminine side and women naturally have a male side--and both of these may come out in interests, mannerisms, etc. Considering that I’m typing this with my legs crossed like a man (ankle on knee) and had my hair cut short for years out of stubbornness (I’ve only recently grown it past my shoulders again), I’m no exception.

However, the idea that calling a boy “girly” means that being a girl is wrong would make more sense if the terms “butch” or “bull dyke” didn’t exist. Implying that a woman is unfeminine carries the connotation that male qualities are undesirable in women, essentially the old “I don’t like peas to touch my mashed potatoes” argument, but applied to gender and behavior.
Things overlap to a degree. They always have, and they always will.

Plus, some guys really do look like girls. And my God, have you ever seen Helen Thomas?