I started writing for the blog a little before I got married. Around the time of my anniversary each year, I’ve written a post about my married experience. For my first anniversary I shared “4 Things I Didn’t Expect” (about marriage) and last year I gave you “4 Reasons Why Marriage is Worth the Risk (Even in the Age of Ashley Madison)“. This year I was thinking about what sort of married life wisdom I could share with you, and the only thing that came to mind was advice that older and wiser people had told me. So, as my third wedding anniversary approaches (next month) I’ve decided to share the three best pieces of advice I’ve received during my marriage.
1. Go to Bed Angry (Sometimes)
I’ve always been a fighter when it comes to my relationships. I think that discussing an issue can allow you to unearth the deeper problem and talking things out can keep you from feeling resentment. By the time I got married I had also heard and/or read one piece of marriage advice over and over again: don’t go to bed angry.
I’m glad someone told me to cast that advice aside.
Instead, they suggested that sometimes we really should go to bed angry. Because sometimes, even the best of us want to strangle our partner for a reason that will seem pretty silly the next day. Often, by postponing that impulse to vent your irritation, you can avoid making an argument out of something that doesn’t really matter.
A teaser for the new James Bond film has hit and I am more than a little excited.
It also makes me feel conflicted because so many aspects of the Bond franchise fly in the face of much of what I strongly believe as a feminist. Below, I’ve outlined a few issues I have with the Bond movies, and below that some reasons why I haven’t given up on the franchise altogether. At this point I’m required to warn you about spoilers, although I seriously doubt I will reveal anything you don’t already know about the films.
1) Women are constantly objectified in Bond films
It’s no secret that the James Bond franchise is all about eye-candy, from the cars and gadgets to virtually every women who steps foot on set. Not only are these women present to demonstrate Bond’s power of seduction, they are also present to be viewed by the movie-goer.
And if near naked ladies aren’t enough for you, they will throw in some naked lady silhouettes in the opening credits.
One of the only women to not be sexualized in her role was Judi Dench, who played M in the last seven Bond films. Unfortunately, although not surprisingly, she was killed off in the last film.
In her post, Kat referenced this quote by actress Zoey Deschanel:
This idea- that women were or are pressured to be “men”- isn’t a new one. Plenty of folks have made the same observation and there is absolutely truth to that. In fact, we’ve even managed to turn it into a trope at this point, the “warrior-princess”. Continue reading →
Earlier today there was a fight outside my apartment.
I say “fight” in the loosest sense of the word. From what I could gather, a woman had given the wrong address to a pizza delivery man, and the gentleman who the pizza had been accidentally delivered to had been sleeping at the time and was more than a little annoyed at being woken up and compelled to give the delivery man directions to the right place. It essentially boiled down to this man and this lady shouting at each other while the poor delivery guy stood awkwardly in between them with no clue as to how to proceed. Apparently the whole ordeal of having to deal with a mix-up between apartment block 2 and apartment block 20 is on par with genocide. Needless to say, seeing two people break down into three-year olds over something so trivial didn’t exactly reinforce any hope for the future of humanity.
But that sad incident isn’t what I’d like to talk about today- at least, not entirely. What first caught my attention when the whole hissy-fit was going down was the shrill screech of the lady that “‘He’ had better not lay a finger on her or he’d be going to jail”.
Now naturally, I don’t know the whole story, but from where I was standing, the gentleman in question hadn’t given any indication of violence- from all I could see, he was just annoyed at being woken up and having to help this delivery guy find the right apartment. It did grab my attention, though- and that’s what I want to address today.
Violence- we have a long standing love affair with it in this country.
We view it as the be-all-end-all solution to our problems. When all else fails, there’s no problem that can’t be solved with a good, old-fashioned butt-kicking. From the cowboys to the noir detectives to comic book superheroes, violence is the answer. For all our advocacy of non-violence, tolerance, empathy, and understanding, we do get a rush out of seeing “justice” dispensed by means of a vicious haymaker.
Just take a look at this video that’s exploded on the internet over the past 48 hours.
Now chances are, your only complaint after watching that is that the video doesn’t go long enough for you to hear the derisive laughter of all the onlookers as this jerk slinks off with his tail between his legs. Certainly that’ my only issue with it.
Take a look at this video from a few years back.
Now this one isn’t quite so clear cut. Yes, the smaller kid is clearly harassing the chubbier one- even getting violent, but nevertheless the beat-down that ensues is so visceral that I defy you not to feel a little twinge of guilt with your (probable) satisfaction in seeing the bullied kid defend himself.
There are, of course, more clear-cut fights. The video below offers a prime example.
For anyone who might be unclear- the guy with the tray is simply standing there, minding his own business when the other guy walks past and for no apparent reason simply decides to flip the first guy’s tray. No (knowable) provocation, no reason- just sheer, unadulterated spite.I don’t know about you, but I thought the guy falling flat was (1) hilarious and (2) a pretty strong argument for the existence of karma.
When is it ok to hit someone?
“When it’s in self-defense!”, I can hear most of you shouting, and do you know what? They’re right. All but the most hardcore pacifist would probably assert that when someone’s shoving you around, there’s really nothing you can be expected to do other than swing back. Of course, it’s never that’ clear cut.
Did the man in the first video deserve to be hit? He wasn’t presenting a clear and present threat to anyone around, unless you count wet willies as a instrument of destruction. That being understood, did you cry out in indignation when the street performer knocked him down?
Again, probably not.
The street performer was very clearly being harassed by a guy who wrongly thought the street performer would just sit there and take it. But what if it wasn’t the street performer who had punched the guy? In the video, you can pretty clearly hear other people shouting “Leave him alone!”- what if one of them laid some smackdown? Would we be ok with that?Probably.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say we’d all still applaud this guy getting punched, though the fact that justice is dispensed by some outsider rather than by the victim may potentially diminish the poeticism of it.
So what do we have so far?
Violence is acceptable in self-defense, acceptable (in some degree) when being harassed, acceptable when someone else is being harassed- where does it end?
I don’t say that in a disparaging tone- I am simply curious as to where that line of logic takes us. Is it ok for the average man to walk around and step in to defend people from being bullied? Do we accept full-on vigilantism?
It’s not as far-fetched an idea as it might sound. If it’s alright (if not straight-up admirable) to go around attempting to defend others, how do we address the laws that (supposedly) govern our society?
Again, we do have an absolute love of violence in this country, but for all our depictions of this:
And even this:
We rarely ever show the dark side with something like this:
The reason we can all get together and applaud the punching of the guy harassing the street performer is because it appeals to our (almost) universal sense of what is and isn’t acceptable in society, and what is and isn’t a measured response. The moment you drift away from clear cut right and wrong, the waters get very murky very quickly.
And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.
Yeah, the idea of every man, woman, and child declaring “I am the law!” is more than a little unsettling…
…but is it really any worse than what we have now? America and her allies (including Canada, which has only just recently withdrawn from Afghanistan) are engaged in the longest war in recent history with- despite repeated reassurances from the president- no clear end in sight. Do I agree with these wars? Absolutely not. I think the bad guys who actually should be deposed (and we’re talking about everyone from the Burmese junta to the executive boards of BP and Coca-Cola) are getting off clean. You could argue that the role of ensuring justice and security belong exclusively to the police, but what has their track record been?
All that’s to simply point out that you can argue that such an anarchic system means little or no accountability, but how exactly does that differ from what we have now?
I know it sounds surreal, but if right and wrong as so arbitrarily dispensed from on high, is it really that psychotic to suggest that the front line for security and human decency is in fact you?
It’s just a thought- I’m hoping we can actually start of something of a debate in the comment section (something I’d like to see brought up is a discussion of whether or not our society might benefit from the distinct possibility of getting stomped for being a jerk- anyone and everyone who’s ever waited tables knows what I’m talking about).
Now seeing as how this post pretty much escalated to a declaration of “blood in the streets!”, here’s a picture of a baby hippo.
Be sure to check in tomorrow for Evan’s Shame-Day (yes, we’re switching up the order again- just roll with it), and understand that not leaving a comment will be taken as silent agreement on your part of everything I’ve written!
GORDON: Moved by your incessant letters, as well as tearful pleas from more than one head of state, yours truly has returned for this and only this installment of Evan and Gordon Talk
You’re welcome, America.
EVAN: Truly, you are too gracious. [Also, we cater to an international readership].
This week the two of us will be discussing men and manliness [or masculinity]. Which makes perfect sense since we are, after all, men.
GORDON: MANLY men. We once made an axe using nothing but things we found in the woods. On the very same day, we built a grave for a drowned beaver.
EVAN: He is not lying. But, moving forward, one of the reasons I brought up this topic is because it’s loaded with possibilities. There’s the idea of the, for lack of a better term, the “Barney Stinson,” the fratbro who watches Spike TV day in and day and out, and this recent ad that appeared in The Times of India due to the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman [click on the image to visit an article on it].
GORDON: Well, let’s narrow down some the of core qualities that make a man a man. Or at least, commonalities in all cultures and subcultures of what “manliness” is.
EVAN: How about- the ability to provide for one’s family.
GORDON: We’ll take it. Ability to defend oneself, with either words or deeds?
EVAN: I think we could expand that to simply being physically able. Physicality means both being able to defend oneself and loved ones as well as attack others for whatever reason you might have.
GORDON: Assertiveness- that’s it. Not taking guff from any of these swine.
EVAN: Who exactly “these swine” are aside, I’d also like to suggest that, in essentially every culture out there, manliness is directly associated with heterosexuality.
GORDON: The Spartans, actually, were unbelievably gay. Heck, the entire basis of western civilization is pretty gay. I want to strike that one from the record; highly sexual would probably be a better statement.
EVAN: I’m gonna have to stick by it. The majority of cultures out there use the term homosexual derogatorily, I think it’s hard to look past it.
GORDON: I guess I’ll allow it. Tough. A man is tough. Stoic. Potentially emotionless.
EVAN: That sounds pretty good to me. Want to total them up? Really just list ’em all out for us.
GORDON: [AND THEN GORDON LISTEN THEM ALL]
A man is tough.
A man provides for his family [loved ones].
A man doesn’t take **** from anyone.
A man gets it on.
Scratch that last one and you have the stereotype of a black woman.
EVAN: Okay, now rate yourself by that list of qualities.
GORDON: I realize that there are billions of people out there who have hellish existences, but taking in what I’ve dealt with in my own life, I’d say I’m pretty tough.
EVAN: You’re definitely pretty emotionless.
GORDON: I don’t have a family, but I certain provide for myself, proud proletarian that I am.
I’ve yet to be in a situation I’ve been unable to diffuse diplomatically, but I certainly have my limits and lines that I will not allow to be crossed.
And I view my sexuality as my own business. I ain’t exactly good with the ladies (see the emotionless bit), but I also think anyone who judges a man’s worth by his sexual activity isn’t worth the time of day anyhow (see the “no taking crap from anyone” bit).
Yeah, I’m a man. Or a woman. It kinda falls apart.
EVAN: A man is tough: I’m a pretty emotional dude. I distinctly remember crying after I saw A Walk To Remember. I was also 13, but I guess that’s neither here nor there.
A man provides for his family: Like you, I don’t have a family. I live with my granddad, though to be fair I do take care of him, so I’m good in that area.
A man don’t take none: I am not a confrontational person. I also can’t say I’ve been in a fight-or-flight situation, though, This remains to be seen, I guess.
A man get it on: Since I live by a certain religious standard, I have not yet gotten it on. See my post on virginity. I am a virgin.
A man don’t take none: I am not a confrontational person. I also can’t say I’ve been in a fight-or-flight situation, though, This remains to be seen, I guess.
So how do we stack up as men by most cultural standards?
GORDON: I think we stack up well, all things considered.
EVAN: Okay, I just remembered why I wanted to discuss this topic in the first place, and it pertains to the last manly attribute on our list [the one that we both happened to fail]:
Click on the image to read it in a new tab.
GORDON: . . .
How exactly does one respond to that?
EVAN: I’d say an ellipsis sums it up pretty well.
GORDON: Yeah, I’m going to call BS on that. I couldn’t begin to list the number of men who were celibate and achieved more in their lives than this guy ever will.
EVAN: Which I agree with completely. It is pretty messed up, though, how many people [guys] live by this rule of thumb.
GORDON: I think the point remains that this isn’t any reasonable way to spend one’s existence. Nikola Tesla accomplished more than a week than I imagine this guy fishing on Omegle will in his lifetime.
EVAN: To take a line from your book, touché.
GORDON: Going back to the original list, the issue is that most of this could just as easily be said of a woman. I work with people who are in pretty rough situations. Many of the women I work with a single mothers, living below the poverty line, struggling to provide for their families. Pride is really the only thing they have left. They don’t take crap from anyone, and they can’t allow themselves to be dragged down by their circumstances. Are they “manly” woman?
EVAN: I’d say that they fit three of the four categories, but it depends largely on how you want to view the word “tough.” I felt like we sort of defined it as having to do with emotions, which, and I don’t think I’m spouting insanity right now, are something that women seem to be pretty in touch with. Which would then put them at 2/4, or half the qualities.
GORDON: Certainly we can agree that these women quietly endure crap that would have most white-collar executives curled up in the shower weeping.
Barring the issue of promiscuity, everything we’ve covered would be- by our standards today and most standards the world over- “womanly” characteristics.
EVAN: Including the predilection towards physicality and violence towards others?
GORDON: You ever fought a woman?
EVAN: You know neither of us have ever fought anyone.
GORDON: Speak for yourself. I studied Judo for five years, and I had my share of matches against female opponents.
EVAN: We’re talking actual fights, though. Not martial arts matches with set rules and moves without the added chaos of scratching and biting [which I would probably carry out with gusto].
GORDON: Believe me, I got my butt handed to me plenty of times. There’s nothing but prejudice keeping women from being just as effective at fighting as men.
EVAN: Right, but that’s not a cultural expectation, is it?
GORDON: Not in this culture, no, but in other cultures this does exist. I’d point to the high numbers of women in the militaries of countries affected by leftist ideology- Nepal, for example
EVAN: We are talking the majority of cultures, though. Just as I don’t think I’d
equate homosexuality with “manliness” because the Spartans [who were very manly] engaged in it, I’m likewise not willing to accept that most societies placed women in that physically aggressive role.
GORDON: Point taken.
EVAN: But I get what you’re saying.
A number of the key qualities we defined as being “manly” are, in general, key qualities of being successful human beings.
My entire issue with contemporary feminism is that it tries spin traditionally “feminine” (i.e. submissive, weak, emotional) traits as being equally as healthy- if not more so- than traditionally “masculine” traits rather than trying to divorce itself from the old “feminine” trait set entirely.
I like my women like I like my men: self-assured, tough, and independent. That probably didn’t come out quite the way I intended.
EVAN: Don’t worry, I took it at face value.
And, since we’ve successfully transitioned away from a discussion on masculinity towards more of one discussing feminism, I’m forced to admit that we are well past our time limit.
GORDON: That we can agree on.
Until we get internet, it’s radio silence on my end.
EVAN: So I suppose you’ll have to say good-bye to these nice people until then, while I scramble to maybe find a replacement writer for the next little while.
GORDON: For whenever I get back, I’d recommend that we talk about our generation’s greatest strength or victory, as we spoke a while ago about our generation’s greatest failing.
EVAN: And I am going to recommend . . . okay, this is ridiculous, but our ideal girl. Just because I know your answer is something everyone wants to read.
That is all for today, folks. I’d like to thank Gordon [who left before this conversation could end] for heading over to his grandparents’ and getting online for this, he’s a real champ. Thanks for reading!