Saturday, March 31, 2012

Daddy come quick!

Alexis burst into the house from out side, yelling "Daddy! Daddy! Come quick! It's important!". So I got up from folding clothes, slipped on my shoes as fast as possible, and went outside. I don't know what exactly I expected to find, mostly Josie in a heap having fallen off the swing set or something similar. What I got instead was, "Look! We found a worm! It's name is squiggles!". Alexis then explained, in detail, that it might have come up from the ground to escape a predator like a mole or something like that...

Ah what I wouldn't give to see the world with that kind of joy, amazement, and curiosity again, just for one day... 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A baseball bat, now that's funny.

Society: The community of people living in a particular country or region and having shared customs, laws, and organizations. That’s a fairly decent definition for my purposes, but really it can be boiled down a bit further, Society: a set of rules to live by, so we don’t constantly want to hurt each other.

The reasons for some of those rules are not always completely clear. Like why do I have to apologize for my natural bodily functions like burping? It’s not like there is some elite group of humans, that don’t get gas, I should be trying to emulate. Guess what I burped, big deal. Why is it polite to “bless” someone when they sneeze? Is there some deep rooted fear that in that moment of weakness that some demon is going to come possess the person? Or why can’t I wear white after Labor Day? Is it some ploy by the Closet Builders Union to get me to expand my closet space? The world may never know…

Other rules are quite easy to understand, and generally fall under “things I wouldn’t want to have happen to me”. Things like murder, or drunk driving. These things are shunned and punished, and are not seen as humorous. Frequently, if not always, they are moral imperitives, or what is right, verses what is good. It might be good for me to kill you and take all your money, but it is not the right thing to do. As it turns out, when it comes to how we should treat other people, finding these sorts of “moral imperatives” is as simple as child’s play. In fact, I can almost guarantee that as a child you were asked to do this, and that’s simply to put yourself in another person’s shoes.

The reason we should all play this game is as simple as the game itself. It is because you are that other person, in every way. When you are born, you are dealt a hand of cards. Some of those cards you can never get rid of, some of them you can change, and others will be changed for you, but the object of the game is the same for everyone, to make the best hand out of the cards you have. The thing is, the cards you got were simply luck of the draw. If you are reading this, chances are you hold the “born in a first world nation” card, quite the lucky draw. You also hold either “I’m rich enough to afford a device to read this on” or the “I have access to a device and a functional electric grid” cards. Additionally you hold the “I’m literate in at least one language” card, something that over half the world’s population doesn’t have.

So when you honestly put yourself in someone else’s shoes, to the very best of your ability, you have to exchange all those cards you can’t change, to the ones THEY can’t change, the color of your skin, eyes, hair, whether you are male, or female, your sexual orientation, etc. etc. Now imagine what it must be like, with the cards they cannot change, think about what is being done to you, what has been done to you, as that person, or as part of that group of people. Were you subjugated? Segregated? Put down? Berated? Made second class? Assaulted verbally or physically for things like the color of your skin, or your sexual orientation? If it doesn’t feel right to be them in this society, for the things THEY cannot change, then the problem isn’t them, it’s how society views them. If something is being done to that person, that you wouldn’t want done to you in that situation, 99.9% chance it quite simply isn’t the right thing to do. How easy would it have been to have the tables turned on the cards you can’t change, or to have drawn different cards entirely? That is why I say that you are the other person in every way, you may have gotten lucky, but luck has been known to change.

Using that reasoning, some conclusions are pretty easy to come by. You don’t want to be murdered? Me either! How about being hit by a drunk driver? Oh yeah? Amazing! We agree! Those things aren’t the right thing to do, Cheers! In general, when it comes to having physical or mental trauma inflicted on us, we don’t like it. It’s counter intuitive to our own survival. So much so, even implying that trauma has been inflicted isn’t funny, because we would just as much like to avoid the idea, as the actual trauma… “Hey, did you hear Bob was killed in a car accident last night? What? HAHAHA, he’s fine, just joking!” …It’s precisely the reason, and to poke at the ad I’ll get to in a moment, we don’t see ads depicting someone holding a bloody axe with full garbage bags at their feet saying “Belvedere vodka, because you won’t even remember where you buried the bodies”, or a cop leaning in someone’s car window with a caption like, “Belvedere vodka, so smooth the cops can’t smell it on ya!”

So why then is it “socially acceptable”, to depict a man with a shit eating grin, restraining a woman, who is obviously trying to escape, wearing a look of abject terror on her face, with the caption, “Unlike some people Belvedere always goes down smoothly.”, where only implication is that he is going to sexually assault her? When I say socially acceptable, what I mean is: A.) That this is not the first time, nor will it likely be the last anytime soon, that an ad like this has been published. B.) That knowing the corporate world, it wasn’t just one guy thinking he was being funny. This came from a brainstorming session, with likely tons of other ideas on how to sell their product to men. Then it went all the way to production and publication, as being a brand positive idea, cause that's the point of advertising. C.) People, almost entirely men, openly, meaning without anonymity, defend the ad as being “Just a joke” and if you don’t like it, that you should “lighten up” or that you are a part of the “Wussification of America”, the quotes being taken from actual comments about the ad. Here is the actual ad if you haven't already seen it:

So… as a guy I’m supposed to find that shit funny? Really I can’t find a good way of separating someone who defends that as a joke, from someone who would rape and then justify it after the fact with shit like, “she wanted it anyway” or “with the clothes she was wearing, how could I resist”. I know the adage that “guys think with their dicks”. Shit, god knows I don’t exactly control what goes on down there. It doesn’t exactly come with an on/off switch, or if it does, it would have been really fucking nice to have received the instruction manual a long time ago. But between there, and any action someone takes, is a brain capable of reason and logical decision making. It’s one of the very few things that separate us from the rest of the animals. That means acting on what your dick wants, is a fully conscious choice. That means if someone says no, or stop, or isn’t capable of saying those things, you decide not to. It’s really that simple. …So… Oh yeah! As a male, I’m supposed to be finding the rape ad funny, I almost forgot… So he’s going to force himself on her, probably beat her if she resists, possibly get her pregnant, more than likely leave her with PTSD, and why not throw in an STD for good measure? …Fuc. King. HILARIOUS.

Right, right, I just need to relax, I’m being uptight, it was just a joke after all…So… the most recent study I could find, conducted by the government, says that 1 in 5 women in the U.S. have been victims of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime. Personally I am aware of more than a few women in my life who have been raped. I have two daughters, and statistically, unless attitudes change, like say… not making the man the victim, or making it easy and acceptable for the actual victim to come forward and report the crime, or say… not having rapey liquor ads reinforcing the idea that it’s an “O.K.” thing to do, odds are pretty high that one of them will be raped too… So for argument’s sake, let’s say you have a girlfriend or wife, a sister, a mom, and two grandmas, statistically one of them has probably been raped, or had someone try and rape them. Why not try asking one of them why the ad isn’t funny? …Yeah, you’re right… that is kind of an awkward question to ask, and not an easy thing to talk about…

I Know! Why don’t we play my shoes game and put ourselves in the ad? Ok great! …probably need to change it up a bit though… Maybe the guy has a lubed up baseball bat, and is ready to go to town with it. Just imagine the pain that thing is going to cause! That’s pretty funny right? No? …yeah a bat is a bit big. How about a broom handle? That would make for a nice funny rape ad to sell us some vodka! No? …Right, the ad is far more personal than that. Got it, how about we take out the frat boy and make him one of those alpha-male, all I did was work out in prison for the last fifteen years types. He’s got our faces slammed against a cold wall, can’t really move. Can feel his breath on our necks, and all we can smell is the cheap booze coming out of every pore on his body. He’s probably saying something to us like “I know you want it anyway”. Oh, and we can put a cute little caption above our heads to let everyone know it’s just a joke, like “Belvedere, start pounding it after your pounding stops”. Now that’s a funny rape joke between men if I ever saw one! What? Still not funny? That’s odd, because when it was implied that the guy was going trying to rape the woman… Oh, that’s right, it’s not funny when you can actually visualize yourself as the victim. So why should it be acceptable when someone else is?

Shit, next time someone needs to shoot me an article on kite making, or paper mache or something, so I don't get an aneurysm.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The things we do...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Revisions and Society. Part 1 of ???!?!?!?%&#*$WTF

So today's bit started with this short piece about fathers, their daughters, and sexism, "The War On Women Begins With Girls" thanks to my friend Krista.

It’s a nice scratch on the surface of a much larger issue. I probably won’t scratch a whole lot farther today, as currently I’m enjoying a song over the monitor that seems to be entitled “Daddy is a Booty”, as those are the only words to the song. I believe it to be inspired by not allowing my three year old to go ride her bike, AND watch a show before naptime. The ensuing tantrum won her a brief lesson on choices, which was also not well received…. Anywho it’s quite a lovely song, I swear…

So somewhere along the line my “guy brain” broke, assuming I had real one to begin with. And I’m not talking about that I’ve stopped watching football or hockey as much for big hits as for amazing plays, or that I don’t enjoy a good mindless, plot free action flick, but perceptions can change over time. Sometimes that is learned. Sometimes it is knowledge in a box that was just waiting to be opened. Sometimes it’s just that you feel free enough, or no longer care about what other people think enough, to say what you already know is true.

See? See what I did there? Yes? No? Maybe so?

When I started writing this, I did so in sort of a free flow, stream of consciousness, thought puke sort of way… I wasn’t thinking directly about what I was writing, and wrote that. When I DID think about it, I took out the “guy brain” paragraph, because it didn’t need to be there. Then I put it back, because there was a much larger point to be made from it.

See, before I went on to the rest of what I was originally going to talk about, my subconscious felt it necessary to defend my “manhood”. Like somehow before writing about anything even slightly “out of the box” or maybe a bit “touchy feely”, I had to let out some fucking Tim the Toolman Taylor grunt to show I am still a “dude” or whatever. So I took the paragraph out, because this has nothing to do with football, or hockey, or mindless plot free action flicks, yet it has EVERTHING to do with those things.

If I do say so myself, and I will, I’m a pretty damn open minded guy. At this point in my life, I am pretty sure I can get more than a few people to attest to that fact. Yet despite that, at least in this case, I still had to THINK about the fact I don’t care about things along the lines of other people’s perceptions of my “manliness”, instead of just instinctually not caring. To me at least, it speaks volumes about how societal ideas seep into our heads, despite that I grew up, and spent my formative years in an environment, and surrounded by people where things like that didn’t matter a lick. So really this is more like a scratch on the surface, of the scratch on the surface the article made, on the subject it was briefly touching on.

People, over time, tend to do one of two things, they either surround themselves with like minded people, or they conform to the ideas of the people around them. If you don’t, you spend your life constantly challenged on your beliefs, and fuck that’s exhausting. I did the former, because it’s far easier to have your own beliefs validated, than it is to change your beliefs into something they are not. Maybe my perceptions of this are skewed by that, but I can hardly remember a single time I've ever heard a mother or woman tell a girl that there was something she could not do… well maybe aside from peeing standing up… and if you are curious about that, I know a guy who found an article… well never mind… However I have heard fathers or men tell girls that only “boys” can do such and such a thing, significantly more times (scientific I know). The short of it is, that the article is right in that fathers should be stepping up to help their daughters. Though with my two girls, I don’t know that I really need to “empower” them. They seem to have all they need and more built right in, all I need to do is make sure that spirit doesn't get dampened or crushed. That’s going to be the hard part…

It’s no secret that the U.S. (not to mention the rest of the world) is a patriarchy, and here that means pretty much everything is run by straight white males. Hey look! That’s me! Yay me for having extra status via birthright! …I mean who cares about merit or skill or anything like that anyway…er something… *puke* But see, in my first rant I mentioned that a parent should want the best for their children, and I do for my girls. So let’s check that out… They are white, and nothing better than getting a leg up based on what wavelengths of light are or aren’t reflected off their skin (no, I’m really not going to touch that right now, beyond my sarcasm). Sexuality? YTBD, which is fine, because as a father, I’m really not ready for dealing with any of that shit with them yet. Male? Nope. But how much does that really matter? Hmmm...

*Knock, Knock.* Who’s there? Glass ceiling. Glass ceiling wh…. Wait weren’t you supposed to be shattered by now? Nope, I’m still here! Nice and solid! …ugh… Well maybe for now I’ll just look around at all the options they have, and we can worry about going up later… Huh, what’s this? It’s like big bars or something, sort of like a cage. I wonder what is on the other side? Oh hey look! It’s all the things that society says a woman can’t or shouldn't be, jobs, activities, ways of thinking... kind of a lot of stuff out there. I wonder what the bars are made out of? Looks like stereotypical gender roles predominantly forwarded by men… go figure.

And that is really the crux of the problem. Just how much of the fact that I like football, hockey, and bad action flicks is learned, instead of just some inborn testosterone thing? Probably most, if not all of it. If society said little boys should like cheesy romance flicks, pairs figure skating, and floor dance routines with ribbons, I'd probably like those things just as much. So I can “empower” my girls until I’m blue in the face, but those bars are all still going to be there. I also can do my best to blow a hole in whatever bars my girls may want. Without other men helping however, even if I manage to make a hole, it might not be big enough for someone else’s girls to get through. Without other fathers teaching the next generation of men that those bars shouldn’t be there in the first place, they will always be there. Who knows, maybe my girls will want to stay comfortably inside the cage. That’s just fine too, I’ll still try and blow as many up as I can. Why you ask? Shit I’m a guy, born in this society, and I love a good explosion! And really, what could possibly be more fun to try and blow up than antiquated world views?

Anyway it’s been a very long day, and it’s only taken about eleven hours to squeeze in the time to write less than two pages. Shoot I’m not even going to proof any of this before I post it, maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. Now, I’m going to sit back, relax, and enjoy a nice glass of Belvedere vodka, because you know what they say... Belvedere, when you are too drunk to rape the woman, Belvedere makes it better... (more after the ad.)

WTF?!?!?! Ok, so even if I actually drank alcohol anymore, it wouldn't be this. But rapey vodka ads will have to wait until tomorrow, because I need to do something before bed that wont make by blood boil. At least now we can share sweet dreams about how people could possibly think this was one of those good "brand building" ads that the world should see.

New post coming shortly after bedtime... in the meantime, in a stroller far far away.

Monday, March 26, 2012

"Easter Egg Hunt Canceled Due To Aggressive Parents" ... aggressive seems too kind of a word. (A swear saturated rant)

This stuff makes me ill... link goes to the story on NPR. 

"'It just seems to be the mindset. People just want the best for their kids,' Rexford said."

...If anyone can enlighten me on how wanting the best for their kids, equates to getting to be a giant A-hole, I would love hear it. It seems to me that not allowing your children to be independent of person and mind, whatever that may be, is about the biggest disservice that you could do them. Someday, some time, you won’t be there to hand hold them, and when they inevitably fall, they won’t know how to pick themselves back up…

Here is the deal, I know your two year old can’t compete with the older kids, and you want to help… there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting the best for your children. In fact, that is what you SHOULD want for your children. If you don’t, I would suggest seeking professional help. However, as an adult, charging onto a field to take cheap plastic eggs from other children, probably made in China by children far less fortunate than yours, filled with processed sugar that is only going to piss you off later when they are begging for it, or crashing from it, doesn’t help them AT ALL. Your children are always watching you, learning from you, and being THAT person is just showing them that being an asshole is peachy fucking keen. Great job! In this case, being that asshole means that no one’s children get shitty little eggs, because the organizers couldn’t stand that so many “adults” were being such assholes to each other, and each other’s kids, at an event FOR KIDS, that they canceled the whole works. Mind you I couldn’t care less about the eggs, or the event, or what they represent here. All I care about is what you are teaching your kids…

Yeah, if your kid comes back empty handed, they’ll be crushed, and probably crying. That sucks, because it makes you hurt inside too, and preventing that pain was the whole idea behind charging out onto the field in the first place. Now however comes the beautiful part, you actually GET to be a parent. You get to hold and comfort them. Speak to them as an adult, as it is an adult situation. Trust me, even your two year old will understand. In my experience, talking to my children as an adult, as an equal, seems to help them deal with the hard parts of life just that much better, because well, they don’t feel like such a child. Wants, needs, desires, we all have them, and just because, for them, the desire is a candy filled egg, instead of say, a better job, or a new car, or whatever, doesn’t make it any easier for them to deal with. Teach them that not having shitty little plastic eggs is not the end of the world. Teach them that next time they can, and probably should, be a bit more assertive for themselves. Shit, teach them anything but how to become an asshole… well almost anything, you know what I mean. Afterwards, do something nice for and/or with them to SHOW them it’s not the end of the world …and I don’t mean go buy them their own shitty plastic eggs to make up for the ones they didn’t get. That just says to them that if they whine and cry enough they’ll get what they want, that’s no good either. Now look what’s happening! Your kid is learning that they can’t always get what they want, and it sucks, but life goes on, and it gets better, even in this cold, cruel, eggless world. Also they are learning that you’ll be there for them whenever you can, even if you can’t always give them what they want either. Fuck! That’s pretty awesome!

On the flip side, if you happen to have an older child, events like these are your opportunity to yell to your kid on the field to help out the kid with no eggs. Or if they came back with a haul, to have them share with the kid crying in their parent(s)’ arms. Let your child see how good that makes them feel, because unless you’ve forgotten, helping other people can give you as much joy as it does them. Some of the greatest gifts you can give your children are to be kind, helping, and sharing, and you should give them at every opportunity. If your child should ever be the recipient of such generosity from another child, not only should your kid thank them, but you should look that little person in the eye, and thank them as well. Then, you go and thank that kid’s parent(s) for raising them that way. A little positive reinforcement can go a long way. The world would be a much better fucking place, if everyone just put in that one, tiny, extra, ounce of effort, that it takes to do things like be kind, supportive, and actually BE a parent. One asshole in the world is more than enough, we don’t all have to go around growing new teat sucking douchewads.