Thursday, December 24, 2009

What are Feminists so Afraid of?

Apparently me.

Contrary to my persona at times, I love a good, thoughtful debate with people who see the world differently. Stick me in a room where I can hash it out with a smart person who contradicts me on every front and I'm a happy guy. Occasionally, I stumble my way onto a feminist blog and feel I have joined Alice in her rabbit hole and find myself in a world full of amazement, beauty and seemingly backwards logic. They spin a world of fantasy (I don't mean that pejoratively) most captivating, as I suppose only a woman can.

What confounds me is that with their bravado of willingness to confront demanding social topics is coupled with a seeming reticence to actually face someone who feels otherwise. This has happened several times to me, including another quick dismissal on Pink Scare's blog, but most recently at a blog by the blogger whose handle is Armed with Vitriol. In a recent discussion I wished to discuss male and female bedroom relations. I will not offer a defense here, and let the reader decide for themselves if I was out of line; if I was, I am willing to concede the point and assume whatever shame is my due. That said, after giving what I thought was a thoughtful and playful response, I was returned with the rather bombastic response that what I had said was, "all kinds of wrong" and that the blogger would not, "bother with a reply because your comment is so ignorant it doesn't deserve one."

Again, what gets me is that someone with such a bold worldview would be so quick to dismiss anyone who would dare view the world differently. She also claimed I didn't read her response. I maintain that while I didn't give it a thorough reading, to say what I said was ignorant goes a bit too far. In a later reply she said I was "annoying (from a feminist perspective)." I'm not quite sure what she means by "a feminist perspective," but remember that she wouldn't "bother to reply" so I don't really know what is the problem.

So, I am left perplexed. The internet can unfortunately cause communication to become opaque, and what might have been a relatively banal conversation where two people might have found a lot of common ground became something else. Too bad. But what I wrestle with is why are feminist so unwilling to engage others? They want to mold public opinion -- a perfectly fine thing -- but seem unwilling to handle criticism. Why?

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Douche By Any Other Name

Warning: The language below is unsuited for some readers. Also, I had a difficult time formatting this post. If you see any inconsistencies, I may have not been able to fix them.

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The word douche-bag, or the truncated moniker douche, is a word that has been thrown around with unfocused resolve. Douche usage seems to be more and more frequent, with its application becoming less and less sound. What is a douche bag and douchebaggery?

The quest for the elusive proper-use of this term begins in a strange sort of Shire. Its original understandng was a cleansing agent for feminine hygiene. Not even out of Hobbiton, and the journey is already perplexing, since in its pejorative usage, it also describes a bad man. How does an tool used for female washing end up describing a male tool (also a noun that eludes strict definitional precision.) This is reminiscent of a George Carlin joke: in describing one of the seven words you aren't allowed to use on television, "For some reason 'cocksucker' means bad man; it's a good woman."


Before coming to the subject of the douche bag himself, an examination of the accuser may be in order.
In particular, I have read the insult (and similar cold pricklies) at the blog Dating is Miserable. What is most striking is that it is often tied to one of two things: either, is comes as some form of unsolicited dating advice, or a douchy incident had occurred. The first often comes across as patronization; the second, single whinytude. Strangely enough, the d-bomb is almost never uttered from a taken woman's lips.



Both feelings of being patronization and whinytude tend inspire my insolence towards them and never do I feel like I've come away enlightened. Does any single girl in her mid-20s think she can tell me anything I don't already know? Calling a guy you don't like an unqualified douche is often intellectually lazy. It demands nothing of the speaker, whether evaluation of the other person or, God forbid, themselves. What kills me about these girls is their indignation to being hit on by anyone they would rather have just move along. "I just got hit on by this creepy old guy. He was probably over 30 -- eww." When considering women of this species, before appraising their gems of wisdom, I feel it obligatory to ask one question: Is this a judgmental narcissist? This is only fair. A searching single does not a sage make. (As my research revealed to me, there is a term for this kind of person.)

Zack Brown: I've known her since the first grade, you don't fuck someone you met in the first grade.
Delaney: Excuse me, I met my wife in kindergarten, we got married senior year, and she's been the queen of my world ever since.
Zack Brown: But what if you could do it all over again?
Delaney: I would jerk off and live by myself. That woman is the bane of my existence.
~From "Zack and Miri Make a Porno"


Vlogger Bernard Chapin has a wonderful, if not out-of-character, vlog post titled Never Give Up on Women. In it, his logic is simple: women are the only game in town; his advice is likewise as simple: if you want a woman, try harder. I am of two-minds on this. For many people, one of the key struggles in life is the tension between authenticity and acceptance. Speaking as someone who is going to die alone, being true to oneself has its advantages; if nothing else, I say pretty much whatever I want because I have generally accepted my loneliness. The status quo is only one option. Many women are worth falling for but none are worth falling over. My own rule is thus: life is short, the road is long, and anyone who wishes to accompany me along the way is a welcome companion; but, I do not abide people who wish to mold and control me. We are equals or nothing at all.

My shadow's the only one that walks beside me
My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
'Til then I walk alone
Back to finding definitional certitude, douche bag runs the gamut from describing actions to apparel (see picture) to attitude. Here are some various definitions and applications of douche bag.

1. Popped Collars
2. Frequently not wearing a shirt (this one makes me giggle for reasons I can't say here)
3. Tanning
4. Liking Dane Cook
5. Overconfidence
6. Low intelligence
7. Having a certain Jersey Shore metro-esque look
8. Given to clubbing, alcohol, violence and sex
9. Hitting on girls he knows are taken
10. A kind of herd mentality that reinforces douche bag ritualism.


At first blush, d-bag seems to only mean 'boo' to odious behavior. But that is unsatisfying verbicide (the act of "killing" a word by removing any sense of distinctive objectivity about it and using it to merely describe one's subjective feelings towards the thing in question.) This is my main objection. In order for douche to mean anything, it must mean something; more to the point, it must mean something we can all get behind. Even if none of the above characteristics are present, one may still find themselves in douche land. One big criticism I have is that it seem to go along with the typical white person disapproval of anything that deviates from the boring norm. I'm as white bread as they come, but is a man wearing jewelry and Abercrombie and Fitch at 30 a truly bad thing? Dane Cook fans are lapping up the dregs of comedic drivel, but certainly they aren't as bad as the guy who hits on engaged women and whose insecurity starts fights over nonsense. Can we agree that there should be different words denoting bad behavior and bad taste?

This has all left me perplexed. I have searched all over the Mordor of the internet to finally nail down what is a douche bag, and find that I am every more stumped. Will we ever be able to come to a consensus?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Immortalizing Yourself in Porn

My apologies for allowing so many of my posts being about sex, love and relationships. My mind has been preoccupied with other things these days, from politics to existentialism, but my need for catharsis on love having more immediacy. Listening to a Penn Jillette vlog, he discussed an issue that I thought was only in my sex-deprived head. In it, he discusses a conversation with a pornographer who was describing the motivations for the women who are involved in it. Penn rightly isolated this one phrase for women in porn: they wanted to "immortalize their youth."

And here I was brought back to a notion I have had before. I think if I were a beautiful young woman, I would hire a professional photographer and have them take lurid photos of me. I probably wouldn't publish them, I would just like that record. Penn went so far to say that if he could, he would go back to being 18 and perform sexually in front of a camera. I am not so bold; like Mr. Jillette, I have the heart of comedian, but I have no intention to be that humorous.

Which made me think of artists who in various ways (try to) immortalize feminine beauty and what a trip that must be, to be paid to do what every amateur lover longs to go pro at. How do other people feel about immortalizing their youth in such a fashion? Would you like to have a physical record of your sexual apogee?

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Poetry of Philosophy


I came across these poems and felt like they summed up well a philosophical approach to romance.
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UTILITARIAN LOVE POEM

alishahnovin

You are aesthetically pleasing,
the reason for which I first noticed in you.
And later I found your personality equally pleasing.
I also noted your chest to waist ratio is suitable for birthing.
Therefore, I think you should live in my house.

EXISTENTIALIST LOVE POEM


Lilian

I saw a cute boy on the street,
It could have been you,
It doesn't matter much if it still is,
You can approach me if you want to,
It doesn't matter if I'm still interested,
Either way we'll still feel alone.

Nihilist Love Poem

By: Alamir

You looked pleasing like girls often do,
Does it matter why I approached you?
It could have been the weather
or just the way I grew up.
But if our personalities can be tolerated
...And you're on the pill
We should both have sex
Before we both end up dead,
and regret not doing so.