So I’ll be honest, I’m actually frightened that three years later we’re seeing a retread of “And the Not Broke Parents”. That episode marked the last we saw of Deke, Max’s then-boyfriend, and he left with so little fanfare that for months after the fact people came across these reviews by Googling “when did max and deke break up”. Essentially what I’m saying is that I think this might be the end of Rax.
“And the Stalking Dead” is Ed Quinn’s 17th episode playing the incredibly fit Hollywood lawyer, and it’s much to his credit that their on-again, off-again relationship has proven so compelling; his dynamic with Kat Dennings works, even when he’s a face on a phone or tablet. Adding to that is the show’s tendency to push Max after him, her increased vulnerability showcasing a side of her we rarely get to see. If there’s any hope that he’ll be returning it’s that last point, as the 2 Broke Girls writers’ room appears to be really into exploring that facet of her character. Continue reading →
We’re all aware of it, and it seems that almost weekly now we’re presented with yet another account of a mass shooter wreaking havoc among innocent civilians. We talk about gun control. We talk about mental illness. We talk about religious extremism. But we always seem to skirt around the underlying issue. By doing so we often cause harm to more innocent lives.
There’re so many “red herring” distractions to mass shootings, but the real issue lies much deeper in our society. Through our language, the media, our laws, and our acceptance of gendered norms, we manage to allow these massacres to continue and instead place undue pressure on mental illness. Sufferers of mental illness are often the target, although statistics show they are rarely violent people. The issue lies elsewhere: within toxic masculinity and the need to seek control.
Another Mass Shooting, Always One Group to Blame
Mental illness is commonly brought up after a mass shooting. News anchors will emphasize the importance of mental illness awareness, and will suggest laws to evaluate the mental stability of gun owners. It’s an easy target to paint: those that kill others must be crazy.
The word “crazy” is used so loosely in our society, but it’s with this type of language that we perpetuate the stigma around mental illness. Entertainment and television were large perpetrators of spreading harmful stereotypes for a long time, but that is slowly changing in fictional media. News-centered media is still behind the times, however.
It’s taken us a long time to get where we are today in mental illness treatment and care. According to Bradley University’s research about 18% of the American population admits to suffering from some sort of mental illness. Of those 43.6 million people, only 6.7 million sought and received treatment for their varying ailments. Those who did seek treatment found that it was extremely beneficial, but still only a fraction of those suffering seek out the help they need.
Language and negative connotation are one of the main reasons people avoid seeking help. Despite that fact that only 3-5% of violent acts are committed by sufferers of mental illness, the issue is always brought up around cases of murder and shootings. The mental health of the shooter is put into question, and the media is quick to jump on the blame train; to distance themselves from the “crazy” or “unstable” population.
…And for those of you concerned, Evan has mandated a cut-off for these posts. As important as they are, and as many interesting questions as they raise, there’s only so many weeks in a row we can dedicate to beating a dead horse.
I feel first that I should clarify some of my points in my original response. When I was first drafting it, I was concerned that Kat (who had written a rather personal piece) might take it the wrong way- I’m glad that she gave me the benefit of the doubt on it. Truth is, my issue isn’t with Kat (who I think would agree with most of what I’m about to argue) but with the wider implications of Deschanel’s statements (though there were a few points I take issue with in Kat’s response- but we’ll get to that).
Deschanel argued that “we can be powerful in our own way, our own feminine way“. My response was “No, you ****ing can’t”.
Not “no, you *****ing can’t be powerful”, not “no, you can’t be feminine” (whatever “feminine” means), but rather “no, you can’t have your ‘own feminine way.'”
You see, my original post was one of my more personal pieces, where I touched on my struggle with self-acceptance (as a rather sensitive person) in a culture highly influenced by what I described as the warrior-princess/damsel binary.
As a child, I believed that I needed to become emotionless in order to be strong, and masculine in order to be taken seriously. That’s why I find characters who are feminine and strong, like those often played by Zooey Deschanel, an encouraging presence in films and TV shows.
So, you can probably see why, being the sensitive person that I am, Gordon’s closing statement came off as a wee bit hurtful:
Deschanel states that “we can be powerful in our own way, our own feminine way” [emphasis added].
No you ****ing can’t.
From what I know of Gordon, he seems like a pretty good guy, so I’m going to act under the assumption that he was not writing an attack on my personal character, but rather a critique of the concept of feminine strength as represented by Deschanel. That critique is what I will be responding to in the points below. If you don’t watch New Girl, then be aware, there are spoilers below.
1. The Critique Begins with Flawed Logic
I have to thank one of our most faithful commenters, Rosie, for pointing out the “strawman argument” made in Gordon’s critique. In “In Defense of the Warrior-Princess” Gordon describes traditionally feminine characteristics using words like “submissive” and “weak”, words that neither I, nor Deschanel used to describe femininity. Using these sort of terms creates a false dichotomy between my argument and his.
He also claims that Deschanel plays “ditzy, emotional, pathologically neurotic” characters “who don’t need no man to help them”. He includes a crying gif of Jessica Day, the character Deschanel plays in New Girl as evidence.
This isolated gif ignores the wider context of the show, where every single character deals with their day-to-day life in a “ditzy, emotional, pathologically neurotic” sort of way.
It also ignores how New Girl is not at all about being the kind of person “who don’t need no man”. Instead, this show demonstrates how relationships lead to personal growth. It also shows how every person sits somewhere on a spectrum between sensitive and stoic, and how both of these traits are essential to becoming a healthy individual. Continue reading →
Although those fans were also very quick to jump ship when more and more women stepped forward to accuse Ghomeshi.
Recently, another claim of assault has sprung up in the media, and once again, some people seem quite sure that the victim made up his story in order to get attention.
In a recent interview with Dazed magazine, Shia LeBeouf said that during his #IAMSORRY event in February “one woman whipped [his] legs for ten minutes and then stripped [his] clothing and proceeded to rape [him].”
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!