X vs Y (re. Generations rather than gender/chromosomes, surprisingly)

It is now a commonly accepted fact of life that the Millennials, individuals who were born between the early eighties to mid/late-nineties, are a spoiled, dependent, lazy, selfish and ridiculous bunch.

We complain too much, we pity ourselves too much, and most of all, we expect too much.

Yet we’re also the first generation who is making, and is expected to continue to make, on average, smaller salaries than our parents did and are.. I don’t know whether or not this projection takes inflation into account, but I’d believe it either way, and would also go so far as to say this fact warrants at least a partial amount of our complaints, and our expectations of more. But the criticisms against the Y Generation far exceed concerns related to the economic sector…

We are also over-sensitive, too easily offended, irresponsible, self-important, self-aggrandized, ungrateful, disrespectful and totally removed from reality.

But here’s the thing, the majority of our faults, are not all our fault.

If we are entitled, it is because our parents indulged us.

If we have failed to become hard workers, it is because our parents failed to discipline us.

If we whine and complain, it is because our parents rewarded whining with excessive sympathy and complaints with excessive coddling.

Thus, many of the popular epithets used to describe us are extremely unfair. And yes, I know that by writing such a statement, it may seem as if I’m conforming to the stereotype, but I don’t believe that I am, because yes, I am well aware that ‘life isn’t fair’. But life isn’t what I’m taking issue with here, ‘life’ itself did not produce and propagate these unjust disparagements against Generation Y out of nowhere, our parents did.

To clarify, when I use the words ‘unjust’ and ‘unfair’, I am applying them not to the labels themselves (for yes, the majority of us do have entitled and self-involved attitudes, and succumb to bouts of ‘woe is me’ etcetera etcetera), I apply them to the notion underneath these criticisms that imply the onus for our state of ideological affairs is entirely on us.

For the irony of the injustice lies in the fact that our parents’ favorite complaints are about our complaints, their favorite well of self-pity to draw from is our self-pitying,
that they are never more immature than when addressing our immaturity, or more deluded when discussing our delusions.

If we are lazy, it is because you permitted us to be.

If we have high expectations, it is because our parents bred that in us.

Because if you tell an entire generation that anything is possible as long as they believe in themselves hard enough, how can you be surprised when that group matures to be so immature that they are nicknamed ‘The Peter Pan’ generation, when that group refuses to grow up because they are funnelling so much energy into ‘believing’ rather than ‘doing’….

But before I delve further into the intrinsic hypocrisies of Generation X, and attempt to unpick their baffling, nigh-omnipresent proclivity to evade self-awareness and accountability at all costs, I’ll recount, for context’s sake, the latest encounters I’ve had with texts that blatantly offend, or address the blatant offenses against, myself and my peers.

The first, and most recent, is an article written by someone who sits in the same camp as I, that of ‘A Millennial fed-up with this bullshit’.

The second consists of passages from a recently released novel, written by someone who sits almost as far from me demographically as possible (a white man approaching his seventies).

Radhika Sanghani, the author of the first, had to use the public’s fixation with ‘celebrity’ as a pretext to publish her point- That “the roll call of dismissive labels used to describe my peers shows no sign of slowing down”, and “we must learn to distinguish between the truly gratuitous and the honest”. But of course that message had to be folded into a more Media-and-the-masses-friendly topic: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/reaction-emma-watsons-sulky-day-bed-speaks-volumes/

“This week, we moaning millennials welcomed another to our ranks. Emma Watson, one of the most successful 26-year-olds in Britain, has been called a “poor little luvvie” for “harping on” and “bleating” (read: dare to speak honestly) about her life.”

This, Sanghani goes on to say, is symptomatic of the increasing fad to belittle and dismiss our generation “as ‘Generation Whinge’. Or ‘Generation Snowflake'”.

Sanghani, like myself, admits that we deserve these epithets to an extent, but she doesn’t ask the reader to do anything beyond be more considerate and less eager to attack, when stereotyping our generation in this way.

Her article is also directed to a general audience, anyone who jumps the gun with these descriptors, where as mine is directed more specifically to those who not only perpetuate these stereotypes, but are largely at fault for their existence in the first place- our parents.

And despite the willingness of many of us Millennials to discuss our widespread behavioural faults and supposed ‘predispositions’, and nearly all cross-generational individuals’ enjoyment in vituperating about this new status quo, there are still no mainstream attempts to probe the ‘why’ or ‘how to resolve’ elements of the issue***.

But let me back track slightly and move on on to reference number two to provide an example of the gleeful vituperation I mentioned..

“A strange mood has seized the almost-educated young.” Ian McEwan writes sarcastically in his latest novel, “They’re on the march, angry at times, but mostly needful, longing for authority’s blessing, its validation of their chosen identities. The decline of the West in a new guise perhaps. Or the exaltation and liberation of the self… ‘I’ll feel therefore I’ll be. Let poverty go begging and climate change braise in hell. Social justice can drown in ink. I’ll be an activist of the emotions, a loud campaigning spirit fighting with tears and sighs to shape institutions around my vulnerable self.'”

If we are almost educated, it is because YOU and YOUR peers allowed our schools, along with the whole education system, to deprecate under standardized rubrics and lack of governmental funding.

If we are all not volunteering to conceive and enact plans to clean up the mess our parents and their parents and their parents before them left behind, perhaps it is because you have failed to blaze a clear enough trail for us to follow and do so, or because most of those in charge or in positions to do so, are NOT members of our generation, and have not themselves sufficiently or actively addressed the crippled environment & attempted to prevent further human trespasses against it, nor invested enough effort or money into either tackling the issue or pressing the importance and urgency of it into the public mentality at large.

If we prefer the ink from our pens (or printers) to picket lines in our attempts to promote social change, why are YOU allowed to do just that and not us?

Don’t get me wrong, I actually adore Ian McEwan, just as I adore many of my own relatives who feel exactly the same as he does, I’m just disappointed in them, and the ease with which they’ve all clamoured on to the anti-millennial trend, which frankly, in my opinion, is one big, fat COP OUT.

Because if these patterns in our characters have taken hold of the vast majority of our generation, then isn’t the mathematics pretty simple as to why this happened and where it came from?! If there is a common denominator among all subjects of a defined age bracket, and that being studied (personality) in those subjects (human beings) is essentially composed of some combination of two variables (nature and nurture), and generational parameters are subject entirely to the second variable (nurture- environmental factors), then the answer to the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ should be painfully obvious.

These faults of ours have one main and easily identifiable cause, the very entities that are giving us the most shit for them, our parents. From a biological standpoint, it would be simply impossible for all of these traits, ‘selfishness’ ‘entitlement’, ‘ingratitude’, ‘idleness’, etcetera to be ‘inherent’ in every single member of our generation’s natures. No, those were either learned, or fostered in those with the actual genetic ‘proneness’.

Every individual is a composition of some combination of nature and nurture. The precise percentages vary, and have not yet been standardized because the territory and overlap is so complex and intricate, but the irrefutable fact is we are all some of one and some of the other, and whatever the ratio is, the responsibility of most aspects of our characters rooted in ‘nurture’, lies almost entirely with our parents.

If we are not robust, it is because we were babied far too often and for far too long.

If we can’t get jobs, maybe instead of blaming our work ethics and questioning our qualifications, you could blame the economy and the housing crisis you and your kind, your negligence and stubborn refusal to confront reality, created…

If we don’t understand how easy we have it (compared to you), it is because you never showed us how hard it could be.

[SIDENOTE- and if it makes you and/or your frustration at our lack of appreciation, feel any better, try to bear in mind how hard it’s been threatening to get, and now is finally about to get, for us, by remembering who our president is. And sleep peacefully reminding yourself that our ‘ingratitude’ will be punished all the more severely by these imminent hardships, by the suffering you failed to equip us to deal with. YOUR generations caused the financial crash, YOUR generations voted for Trump, voted for Brexit, ours voted resoundingly against all… No we may not know what it’s like to be spanked, but the world is preparing both literal and figurative bombs to slap, hurt, and destroy us with, for us to experience instead, thanks to the way you ran this planet]

And if we are monsters? It is because you were our Victor Frankensteins, because you were not prepared and/or able to properly raise and nurture what you created, and chose to abandon us and/or our needs, rather than take the more difficult route of adjusting us to the difficult world your arrogance chose to bring us into.

McEwan goes on to write in Nutshell-

“My identity will be my precious, my only true possession, my access to the only truth. The world must love, nourish and protect it as I do. If my college does not bless me, validate me and give me what I clearly need, I’ll press my face into the vice chancellor’s lapels and weep. Then demand his resignation.”

If we are precious and protective over our identities, that comes from the lessons our parents gave us.

If we are obsessed with and vocal about our emotions, it is because we know we live in a world with dwindling material resources, and are adjusting our priorities accordingly….

If we demand sensitivity to our emotions, it is because you provided a space of constant sensitivity to them that we were then conditioned to expect to be the norm.

If we can’t control our emotions, it is because you never validated them.

To be clear, this is not at all an attack on my own parents, I love my my mother and father beyond words, and know they did their best, in more than usually challenging circumstances.

This is an appeal to all parents, that have succumbed to one, some or all of the irritating and unfair finger-pointing and blame games that I have laid out here.

An appeal to them to take partial accountability over how I, my siblings, and my peers, have turned out and will turn out. And it is no more and no less of an appeal to my parents as it is to all of the parents of children my age or there abouts that I’ve never met, as well as some specific parents that I have met.

It is an appeal to the parents of one of my bestest of best friends, who refused to acknowledge that her mental health issues and mood disorders were ‘real’, until she was hospitalized for them multiple times. Until then, and sometimes still now, they blamed her issues on ‘self-centredness’ ‘ingratitude’ ‘self-pity’ and ‘laziness’. Because, I suspect, it was easier for them to attribute any negativity in her life to her attributes rather than their own parenting choices, for the sake of their own consciences and self-esteem (are they so feeble they require more nurturing than your kids?). Which is an emerging pattern with many of our parents, but my question to them is: Are these measures of self-worth more important to you than your children’s well-being? Because that is what you are telling us every time you insist unquestionably on shrugging all accountability for our trials, tribulations, and traits, off of your own shoulders and onto ours.

Just as much as it is an appeal to the parents of a once upon a time friend, who had been so ill-equipped and indulged by her divorced parents (at twenty-eight, not only has she never supported herself financially, she also regularly bitched about being made to dip into her trust fund to pay for grad school), that she had developed a shocking lack of self-awareness (despite being adept at reading and understanding others) and become pathologically in love with playing the victim. This ex-friend demonstrated on multiple occasions that holding onto this deluded sense of self was far more important to her than friendship, reason or integrity. Her delusions proved to be more powerful than her compassion (which was usually strong), and ability to treat people with decency and respect… She also was so incapable of coping with conflict, that she had her father email my father to intercede in one of our final disputes… When I discovered this, I was staggered at how reminiscent of grade school the whole debacle had become, and fully sympathetic to the frustrations re. my generation that those older than me voiced- this woman in her late twenties acted more sheltered, spoiled, removed from the real world, and reliant on her parents, than my eleven year old cousin.

This is also an appeal to the parents of another dear friend, who, after throwing money at him for thirty years, refused to loan him the small sum he needed when his job was in jeopardy, after he had been independent for the first extended period of time in his life (and hadn’t asked to borrow money from them for the longest period before that). It was at this time that his parents decided the circumstances were ripe ‘to teach him a lesson’,  to give him a harsh ‘taste of reality’ so he could finally ‘learn how to handle money’. I’m sorry, but they should have been giving him those lessons a decade ago, and gradually. My friend consequently lost the job, and his parents responded by hurling hurtful and insulting allegations against him, when it would have more just and appropriate to take some time to reflect on how his mistakes were more of a reflection of their defective parenting than his inherent personality.

There are a number of other examples I’m tempted to include here, but this text is already far too lengthy, so I’ll save them for another time, and try to start wrapping things up:

To all the parents out there who may or may not be reading this: Just know that every time one of you says out loud something along the lines of; ‘but what did we do wrong? I just can’t think of what we did wrong’, or ‘but what more could we have done?’ you’re not fooling anyone. Though kudos for figuring out this way to appear empathetic and concerned while essentially just bragging about your spotless parenting record. But I suppose that’s appropriate though for the generation obsessed with being the martyr (oh, I’m sorry, does that offend, upset, or hurt you? I guess epithets that recriminate an entire generation aren’t very fair or nice, huh?)

But speaking of martyrs… My final grudge:

If we are too quick to play the victim, it is because our parents taught us to do that by example.

The best evidence for this assertion is the defensiveness our parents display whenever this topic is breached. The readiness of Generation Xers to lose it when confronted with any kind of criticism is, in no small way, astounding.

Our parents also have a habit of looking not only below but also above, to account for practically every single one of their hardships, without hardly ever considering the possibility that they might also need to take some onus for some of the crap in their lives and this world.

And though our parents love criticizing their parents almost as much as they love criticizing us, the plain fact of the matter is, if our parents are indeed ‘better’ than us, the only reasonable explanation for that umbrella demographic superiority would be- they had better parents than we did.

However others have posited that our grandparents are also indirectly responsible for the ‘character defects’ all millennials share (that they too love to point out and disparage, however usually in a fonder way, which I assume is rooted in the lack of insecurity that they are the cause). Many of the baby boomers raised their children with strict rules and disciplinary measures, demands of respect, encouragement of independence, and ideologies of pragmatism, which was a logical consequence of being the children of those who had lived through the great depression and/or WWII. In turn, their children went towards the opposite pole when it came to raising their own kids- with sheltering and incessant praise, demands of friendship, encouragement of ambition, and ideologies of ‘special-ness’….

This, as I’ve noted, is not an original correlation, I’ve read about studies on the second degree repercussions of generational parenting in a couple different places. However I would like to point out that the fact that this material exists indicates that explanations to the shared ‘negative’ commonalities of the previous generation have been sought, with the majority of responsibility being placed squarely on our grandparents. And so, while Millennials are scorned and made to bear the brunt of blame for their personalities, those that preceded us are excused, and the circumstances surrounding the socio-political climate of the years they and their parents grew up in, taken into account instead of aspersions being made on their innate selves.

And look, we know your tried. We know some of you tried really really hard and gave it everything you had. And most of us are extremely grateful. But I’m not saying you didn’t try enough, didn’t do enough. I’m saying there’s a chance you might not have gone about it in the best possible way. And that, it itself, is one hundred percent okay. We are all human, and de facto all susceptible to human error (of which there are infinite possibilities of). What isn’t okay, what I’m getting really freaking tired of, is your refusal to accept any culpability over the negative aspects of the adults you raised us to be, and your taking a lot of your own B.S. out on us.

I’m also not trying to imply that you didn’t raise your kids well, or that you were at all bad parents, what I’m getting at is: You need to own up to the fact that how you raised your kids directly affected who and where they are now (so if you have a problem with that, you need to share a load of that responsibility), and you might do well to think about the ways you could be better parents to your kids now, when we’ve grown up.

Basically, it’s time to admit there were a few things you did wrong, that you were not perfect, because none of us are.

 

***Addendum: I have to eat my words here because just yesterday I happened to catch a ‘recommended’ headline in an email from linkedin- The Brutal Truth about Why Gen Xers Hate Millennials (how did you know linkedin?!)- I was of course prompted to open the link (and prompted to polish and publish my own piece on the subject as quickly as possible)..

The article’s writer, Matthew Jones, is a licensed therapist and has a PHD in clinical psychology- and it was affirming indeed to have a much more technically qualified professional not only back up of some of my own hypotheses, but also go further in his indictment of the demographic I’m challenging here.

The overlap in Jones’ text and mine, are 1) our delineations of the almost bigoted attitudes of Generation X towards Generation Y: “These older individuals perceive a sense of entitlement, difficulty taking feedback, a tendency to ask too many “why” questions, and a lack of work ethic in the younger generation.” (Jones)

2) Our expressions of discontent with the harmful results of that attitude:

“These perspectives prevent Gen-Xers from giving back and may lead them to feel even more isolated from contemporary culture and the youth they raise” (Jones).

And 3) our belief that our parents continually translate some of the deficiencies in their parenting into deficiencies in our characters, out of some fundamental resistance to accepting blame:

Blaming Millennials is a great way to make yourself feel better. It makes you feel like you did something “the right way” and they are doing things “the wrong way.” It also helps you feel justified in your actions, giving meaning to your suffering. The more you can deal with an external conflict, the less you have to look in the mirror.” (Jones)

Our paths fork however in our endeavours to define the underlying cause of these attitudes and their adverse impact- where I see ‘insecurity’ and ‘resentment’, Jones sees ‘hatred’ and ‘envy’, where I detect temporally specific and circumstantial causes for the phenomenon, Jones cites the more universal and timeless ‘fear of mortality’ as the explanation…

For those interested, here’s the link to the full article: http://www.inc.com/matthew-jones/the-brutal-truth-about-why-gen-xers-hate-millennials-that-no-one-wants-to-admit.html

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Dear Taylor Swift: Thank You. (Part Two)

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I love Taylor Swift (in case I’ve not made that apparent enough already). And I’ve loved Taylor Swift loudly, proudly, and consistently, since I first became aware of her and her music.

I loved Taylor Swift loudly when it was cool for teenagers my age to love her (Fearless), I loved her loudly when it was cool to hate her (Speak Now), I loved her loudly when it was cool to love her in a ‘guilty pleasure’ way (Red), I even loved her loudly when it had been uncool to love her long enough that it became cool to love her again (1989) [despite every anti- hipster/trend atom and instinct in my body raging against it]. And I love Taylor Swift loudly now, when the pendulum has swung back in the tired direction of yesterday, and people are getting off on hating her once again (Hiddleswift/Kimye).

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But this is me just bragging, I should unravel why I love her, but before I do that I’ll get into why I believe her relentless attackers are full of shit. There are various specific attacks that I could get into. But to save time space and words I’ll only address a few examples pertaining to Taylor Swift’s connections to our society’s problem with women.

Exhibit A. Taylor Swift is not a feminist because she uses feminism as a weapon: Examples being her responses to 1.) Tina Fey/Amy Poehler making fun of her at the Golden Globes, 2.) Nicki Minaj’s tweets reacting to the VMA nominations in which ‘Bad Blood’ was one of the nominees for Video of the Year.

Exhibit B. Taylor Swift is a hypocrite about sexism because 1) she slutshames in her songs (‘Better Than Revenge’), and 2) she doesn’t do enough for non-white/western women….

In regards to A1.

Recap: basically when Vanity Fair asked Taylor Swift to comment on Tina Fey and Amy Poehler making a couple of jokes at Taylor’s expense at the 2013 Golden Globes, Swift quoted Katie Couric and said ‘there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women’. No party was guiltless here in my view. I ADORE Poehler and I ADORE Swift, and I’m fairly sure I would also adore Fey if I knew more about her and her work. But here’s the thing, human error. We’re all susceptible to it.

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One could argue that no, Poehler and Fey were not doing their gender any favors by reducing an artist and businesswoman like Taylor Swift to a favorite patriarchal stereotype (Maneater). But one could easily argue back that Taylor was also doing her entire gender a disservice by resorting to blaming women as opposed to the sociological infrastructure actually responsible for such antics. So what do I suggest we do? Give all involved a break, and remember almost everyone has moments when they forget to think clearly with their moral/activist codes, when under professional duress (Poehler and Fey), or when things get a bit personal (Swift).

Poehler and Fey were under the immense pressure that comes part and parcel of having status as women in the male-dominated business that is comedy, and thus probably did not consider enough how they might be undermining one of their self-proclaimed causes by belittling the achievements of, and the force that is, Taylor Swift, and thereby perpetuating the problem that is sexism.

Swift probably wasn’t conscious enough at the time of the VF interview, of the difficult terrain Poehler and Fey have had to navigate their whole lives– comedy is one of THE most difficult industries for women to be taken seriously in, ironically (see Christopher Hitchen’s infamous Vanity Fair article on how women can’t be funny). Furthermore, it is my own suspicion that the harshness of Taylor’s response to the award show dig was probably a result of an unpleasant emotion most of us are quite familiar with- that awful feeling one gets when one is MADE FUN OF by someone one very much admires and respects. If Taylor hadn’t thought much of Poehler and Fey, I doubt she would have been bothered or insulted enough to claw back.

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In regards to A2.

Recap: After the 2015 VMA nominations are released and Nicki Minaj is snubbed by the award show, Minaj tweets: If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year. Taylor tweets back: I’ve done nothing but love & support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot. A few tweets and days later, all is good between the two artists. Taylor admits to misunderstanding, apologizes, and Minaj accepts her apology. Cool. So two peers got a bit sassy but it didn’t take long for them to resolve the crossed wires. No big deal, right? Wrong.

Because these two artists are famous, because they are women, people feel the need to re-write and extend the narrative. But after the offended party accepted the apology, shouldn’t the matter be put to rest? And shouldn’t those still harping on it accept that it is even less of their business now than it was while the twitter conflict was still active, over a year ago…?

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Now onwards to B1.

Recap: In Swift’s third album Speak Now, there is a song in which Swift wrote and sang some lyrics regarding a woman who is “not a saint, and she’s not what you think she’s an actress/ she’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress”. No, the slant of Swift’s ‘Better Than Revenge’ of a specific ‘she’ (supposedly Camilla Belle) does not sit one hundred percent well with me, moreso because of its women vs women slant rather than its condemnation of promiscuity-

[Sidenote I, personally, do not condone promiscuity (in BOTH sexes mind) either, and though this isn’t a conventionally ‘feminist’ position to take, my feelings on the matter: 1. I’m entitled the right to be both ‘prudish’ and ‘feminist’, and 2. I’d assert many women of our generation have crossed the line from the positive ’embracing of our sexuality’ to the negative (in my opinion) plain old ‘promiscuous’- not because this is in their nature (although there are of course women who do have this in their nature and to them I give my honest commendations, sexuality is a spectrum in both quality/content and quantity/appetite)- but because this is the new status quo. And I for one firmly believe this ever-enhancing pressure on, and trend amongst, young women has been a significant factor in the increasingly diminishing respect in young men for the fairer sex.

Only one generation of Western women has experienced such blatant disrespect, disregard, and disdain from potential romantic partners during the dating/courtship/mating ritual stage of life; ours. And out tolerance is at fault, is what has enabled these low standards to both continue, and continue to depreciate…

Even our parents are so removed from the state of the dating scene today and its ubiquitously disadvantageous bias against women, that most are shocked, appalled, and wildly disapproving of/at how their daughters not only allow themselves to be treated, but also now EXPECT to be treated. Even our mothers understand and remember the meaning of ‘courtship’, and they’d never have tolerated the behavior in suitors and boyfriends (husbands are, of course, a separate matter) that girls now are so tragically used to and accept as the common standard among boys today. And don’t even get me started on how much better our grandmothers had it on the dating scene….

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Sidenote concluded. ]

-FURTHERMORE, who am I to pass judgement on a NINETEEN/TWENTY year-old GIRL for using the resources at her disposable (her art, voice, and platform) to call out someone who wronged her. But let’s break this one down even further-

At the point when this song was released, Taylor was not even close to being a self- proclaimed feminist. She would, in fact, attempt to distance herself from the label about a year later when questioned about the movement- I will gladly attribute to this the youth and ignorance nearly all of us once succumbed to, for the following reason:

I, although an adamant feminist now, was certainly not one at nineteen. I was too preoccupied with myself and my hormones and my self-centred mentality and privileged outlook to even fully understand what feminism was beyond the opaque definition of ‘girl power’… It would take two extra years of higher education, of gaining life experience, for me to even get interested enough in the concept to put in some effort to understand and come to grips with it. It would take a further two years, involving more world exposure, cognitive development, emotional maturity, and a master’s degree, for me to become legitimately informed, actively engaged, and passionately vocal about the issue.

Like me, Taylor would eventually grow up and get her shit together, and go from a girl to a young woman, and publicly align herself with feminism/identify as a feminist. So who the HELL would I be to judge her for things done or said on this topic in the distant past/before she’d fully developed her own conclusion on the issue?!

Now onto the song itself- ‘Better Than Revenge’ is, like almost all of Taytay’s song, extremely catchy and relatable. I personally love the song because it objectifies men (she uses this metaphor to describe the fickle ex-boyfriend the subject of the song seduced: soon she’s gonna find stealing other people’s toys on the playground won’t make you many friends [lolz]) and (full disclosure here) I can be something of a misandrist at times who staunchly supports gender affirmative action (re-balancing the scales for the future requires preferential treatment for the disenfranchised side in the present).

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But the song has merit beyond my personal preferences as well: the joyous and upbeat energy of the song, I would argue, also puts a positive spin on a negative experience- as so many of her songs’ tunes/melody + lyrics/subject matter do- that of being betrayed by a fellow member of your gender. Swift thus coloured a common adolescent experience with brighter strokes than it would ordinarily be perceived with (‘Taylor Swift was screwed over by another girl too! And she turned it into something fun! It’s not personal, it happens to everyone!’), and thereby might have helped foster less lingering hostility and female rivalry in the long run (the only ‘revenge’ she is actually condoning is not staying silent when screwed over).

The influential value of Taylor promoting this sort of thick skin, through the accessibility of her music and her emotions, should never ever be underestimated, especially in regards to teenage girls and young women. Regardless of whether or not this was intentional (and my honest opinion is it probably wasn’t) the effects remain the same, so the haters need to get over it.. Unless of course, they are keen on being evidence for Taylor’s own thesis that Haters predictably and pathetically continue to hate, hate, hate, hate, hate (no matter what facts or figures prove their allegations and/or reasons for animosity are unfounded).

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I read somewhere something about how ‘Better than Revenge’ ruined Camilla Belle’s career. No offense to the half-Brazilian beauty, but from what I’ve seen of her work, her choices of roles were what ruined her career.

ALSO, Taylor Swift has, what, two or three, specifically ‘anti-women’ songs in her oeuvre, compared to the COUNTLESS anti-men songs? I also use the terms ‘anti-women’ and ‘anti-men’ only to establish my point clearly, not because they are in any way accurate. Taylor Swift is not anti-woman or anti-man, she is ANTI-BULLYING (‘Shake It Off’, ‘Mean’). And just because the public fancies they know the female ‘targets’ of a couple of these songs (‘Bad Blood’), that have virtually the same message as those contained in the majority of her discography: IT’S NOT OKAY TO TREAT PEOPLE POORLY (which yes, usually pertains to romantic partners, BUT ALSO INCLUDES friends, family and/or innocent strangers), they assume the songs are mean-spirited attacks, rather than a general denunciation of unkind behavior.

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Another thing- Swift has said on numerous occasions that, despite enjoying giving her fans hints as to the real life inspirations of her songs, it ultimately remains quite important to her that there are never any confirmations of specific identities, because the anonymity of ‘characters’ in her music is essential (she wants people to listen to the songs and empathize, imagine their friends/boyfriends/enemies/ex-lovers/etc, not hers). Ultimately it does not matter whether the subject that inspired a song is this or that person, a boyfriend a girlfriend an adversary a relative a best friend or a frienemy. Because Taylor never fails to candidly tell us the only thing that really matters about the characters in her songs: if and why they’re an asshole.

Lastly, my thoughts on B2.

Sexism needs to be kept SEPARATE from other areas of bigotry (racism, social prejudice, xenophobia, homophobia etc.) All minorities must prioritize and fight the specific injustices distributed to them and their kin first and foremost, if real and lasting change is to be enacted (of course we should try and want to be involved in as many movements as we can, but separately, as there are always limits to the amount of responsibilities/ political zeal/emotional investment each of us can take on). And yes, many perpetrators of discrimination have blanket intolerances for all of the marginalized, HOWEVER, misogyny, anti-semitism, classism, Islamaphobia, various social stigmas, etc, are all different breeds of injustice that need to be fought as distinct enemies. The plight of the African, the working-class, the mentally disabled, the immigrant, etc. are all unique… And frankly, the oldest and most constant of these various social traditions of denunciation & oppression of entire demographics, has arguably been the subjugation of women- because sexism’s reach has spanned across all religions*, all epochs, all races, all cultures, and nearly all recorded civilizations.

[*obviously, with every major monotheistic religion having a male god at the top of its pecking order]

No, in more recent centuries, women, as a conglomerate, have not gone through nearly the amount of mass-scale cruelty that the Native Americans, the Africans, and the Jewish have, but (please don’t mistake this as AT ALL wanting to minimize the unspeakable horrors and disgusting genocides [spiritual and corporeal] that these groups all fought and only some survived), I’d argue that this does not necessarily translate to women having been less feared, hated, and cruelly dealt with, than these other demographics. At least psychologically and socially, if not physically, and only in widespread terms. By that I mean ‘women’ in general, as pockets of and individual women throughout time and throughout the world, have been and are still, utterly enslaved, despotized, and at regular risk of violent rape and physical abuse (that range from domestic abuse to being publicly stoned to death). But women as a whole, have not been violently targeted, and physically victimized and violated, on a large-scale and all-encompassing basis, as other minorities have.

Because we’re not actually a minority. Not in the technical sense anyways.
That an entire group of women has not (yet) been physically massacred or villified by overt propoganda, is probably largely due to the fact that we compose more than fifty percent of the population , and are pretty damn integral to the reproduction process aka the continue of the human species.

But to bring this tangent back on track, it is ultimately futile and supremely unhelpful to throw these singular populations of victims into a competition. They are each noble and important and worthy in incomparable ways, and the best choice for each of us, right now, to pick up and fight for, is that which touches and relates to ourselves and our loved ones, most profoundly. Because that fight will be the one we are most qualified to enlist in. Because it is that which is subjective and personal that will always, by default, affect us most, and thereby generate the most invested action and the most productive results (this theory is, in a nutshell, essentially the whole premise of the field of phenomenology).

So in conclusion (to this thread at least), let’s try to refrain from castigating Taylor Swift (and everyone else) for not fighting every fight of the disenfranchised, every fight she (or he or they) has less of a personal connection to and comprehension of, than the battle(s) they have chosen, and are better equipped, to join.

And here’s a confession. I am not writing this to actually ‘defend’ Taylor Swift. I am in fact confident the woman is perfectly capable of defending herself.

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[Sidenote: I do not worry about the girl cause guess what? “It’s like [she’s] got this music, in [her] mind, saying it’s gonna be alright !! !! !!” Sorry, I couldn’t help myself, but seriously, that lyric alone, and the message it sends, would secure my undying position of defense for this woman alone.]

I am writing this to ask people to consider some stuff that all of this Hiddleswift and Kimye mania has reminded me of recently- I am writing this to ask people to consider Taylor Swift as a human being, as a woman, and her relation to the feminist problem we STILL desperately need to solve, to consider another prominent female magnet for vile hatred that is largely based on the biases of misogyny** (the consequences of which are far more tangible, urgent, and terrifyingly dangerous, than perhaps any isolated incident of sexism ever has been in recent memory).

[**The ‘dated’ nature of Part Two of this TaySwift series gets most overt right here, in its reference to the recent election that was, when I wrote this, an ‘upcoming’ election (oh happy days of the past how we yearn for you). I chose to keep this ‘no longer relevant’ bit in nonetheless, as it lends a certain ‘all the more tragic’ element to the text, and the state of sexism today, that I want so desperately to make a deep impression on anyone who might read this.]

[sidenote: I would have written a defense for Hillary Clinton too but I could not have researched or said it better than Michael Arnovitz, who coincidentally is A MAN, probably one of top ten most awesome men currently alive, everyone please go to http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/6/11/1537582/-The-most-thorough-profound-and-moving-defense-of-Hillary-Clinton-I-have-ever-seen
and read what he had to say on the matter- and then if you’re so inclined you can read a couple of my thoughts regarding it on the very first post I released on this blog).]

Consider the obstacles, the resistance, the glass ceilings, and the animosity, Taylor has had to overcome, to not just be where she is today, but to be there while having retained full autonomy and creative control over her work, and without ever once compromising her core ideals, or permitting herself to be reduced to a sexual object. Consider Taylor Swift as the symbol of female empowerment that she is, consider the summit of female agency that Taylor Swift embodies incontrovertibly. And then deal with it.

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And one last thing: Consider, everything that I’ve written about T.Swift with the words of the great and beautiful and fortifying Brene Brown:

It is not the critic who counts; not the [wo/]man who points out how the strong [wo/]man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

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Dear Taylor Swift, Thank You (Part One).

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So I wrote a series of articles on Taylor Swift over the summer, and hoped at least one might get published as an op-ed somewhere. Alas, this was not to be. The essays were rejected by about a dozen publications in the U.S. and the U.K.. Probably because, according to my dad, my writing was too zealous, my POV righteous, and my tone too arrogant, to be palatable from a totally non-established anti-establishment ‘unknown’ (and the disclaimer or two injected in lieu of this criticism were apparently insufficient), but I prefer to blame the tame, dull, cautious, and fad-fuelled predictably homogeneous news sources themselves. However the reprehensible timidity and sheep-like mentality of the media is an article for another day (but there will no doubt be one on this blog in due time), and now’s the time to self-publish part one of my piece on one of my favorite personages currently alive.

Although these essays are no longer directly topical, late is better than never, so here we go:

PART ONE. In Defense of Taylor Swift… Again.

Unfortunately the time has come once again, for an article with this headline to be necessary… But this time, can we please forget the media’s favorite supporting characters, and start talking about what we should be talking about when we talk about Taylor Swift? (Warning: things are about to get quite righteous).

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Taylor Swift may not be our generation’s feminist paragon, but she is without a doubt our generation’s pinnacle of feminism. And the recent backlash against her, is, in my eyes, a far more derogatory indicator of the psychological sexism still permeating our society, than of Taylor Swift herself.

To keep the obligatory background context brief, I’ll go over the latest fracas surrounding Swift, with a quick sweep of some of the recent internet soundbites resulting from the aftermath of Swift’s public break-up with DJ Calvin Harris, her fast-moving relationship with British actor Tom Hiddleston, and further pleas from Kim Kardashian and Kanye West for attention.

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In the last couple weeks, sentiments like:

“Taylor Swift’s reign is crashing down before our eyes and I’m loving every minute of it”,

“Taylor Swift the Feminist (©Taylor Swift) asks not what she can do for feminism, but what feminism can do for her.”,

“Taylor Swift is Cold-Blooded and Calculating”, and

“Tom, I have only one suggestion for you: run!”-

-have flooded cyberspace. Meanwhile, #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty trended on twitter, the comment boxes of Swift’s instagram profile were swarmed with snake emojis, and a woman from Louisiana dragged her religion’s reputation further down the toilet by citing the reason she ‘preach[es] christianity’ to be a comparison of Swift’s hypothetical nether regions to those of her daughters’, using the visual aids of two ham sandwiches. Oh and Taylor discreetly visited a children’s hospital to sing songs with patients. But who cares about that.

Well. I do. Actually. And I’m sick of seeing headlines like “Criticising Taylor Swift Isn’t About Negativity Towards Successful Women, It’s About Vindication”. So I’ve written my own thinkpiece (or thinkpieces rather) in response.

I’ll address the Kim/Kanye feud first, as that is the celebrity drivel most ‘topical’ at the moment, and therefore the most likely to be read. But I’ll be brief.

To recap, basically Kim Kardashian released a chopped up social media video of Kanye speaking on the phone to Taylor, informing Miss Swift of his plans for his latest single ‘Famous’. Taylor’s ‘thank you’ to Kanye for the ‘heads up’ supposedly confirms the celebrity couple’s earlier claim that: Taylor did in fact officially approve the misogynistic lyrics in the song regarding herself (me and Taylor could still have sex/I made that bitch famous), which in turn, supposedly translates to: Taylor is a lying sexist bitch.

I’ll admit Taylor does not come off at her best in the ‘snapchat’ of the phone conversation. But since when is cut and paste a reliable form of evidence? It’s too easy to twist conversations when edited out of context (as the recording in question heavily is), and we have no idea what Kanye was saying to soften, maneuver, and potentially guilt-trip Taylor, before and in-between the clips of the phone call. No, Kanye’s ‘me and Taylor could still have sex’ lyric, that Taylor laughingly called ‘a sort of compliment’, does not send a positive message to women, but Swift would have understood it was West’s prerogative to remain true to his artistic voice and its lifelong chauvinistic style.

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Also, the lyrics Kanye did speciously consult Taylor about, only served to confirm Kanye’s own delusions and bizarre obsession with Taylor, and thus exposed and embarrassed him more than they insulted the songwriter. The line Taylor took issue with after the song was released, ‘I made that bitch famous’, is that which was conveniently left out of the ‘incriminating’ phone conversation, and that which slanted the semantics of the song as unequivocally sexist and degrading, while unequivocally undermining and misappropriating Swift’s achievements. Yet no one else other than Taylor’s die hard fans seem to be giving her the benefit of the doubt.

But really? When it comes to the question of who actually is in it for the fame and publicity in this fiasco, and the characters involved are a woman who became renowned for her skills with the guitar, songwriting, and country music, and a woman who is a celebrity because of an infamous criminal lawyer father, reality TV, and a sex tape… The media and general public have somehow contorted the former into being the calculating attention-whore ??

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What has happened to basic human logic?! The only fame-whore here is the man writing a song entitled ‘Famous’. And why is no one calling out the irony of Kim trying ‘expose’ Taylor as manipulative, when she’s the ones who is proving the conniving nature of her and her husband’s antics, by releasing footage that, in the sheer fact of its existing, strongly suggests this ‘character assassination’ was pre-conceived and planned.

And lastly, even if Taylor did contrive to have the release of Kanye’s song lend a dramatic feminist flare to her Grammy acceptance speech (either immediately upon learning about the planned lyrics, or later upon further consideration), as some have asserted, why are women complaining? It’s a savvy move, taken in the interest of empowering women and their work, and why should Taylor be anything other than fake and disingenuous to someone who literally stole her moment and ruined her triumph the evening she won her first major Grammy, and is still trying to deny the legitimacy of her talent and take credit for the fruits of her labour?

Of course there will always be an appetite for the show that is; the great falling from grace, but why are women tearing apart Taylor Swift too? Why is Kim going after Taylor more than Kanye? Those soundbites I quoted from various new sources earlier in this essay? All but one of them were written by women. And this regurgitation of venom directed towards Swift is made all the troubling by the fact that females are grabbing their pitchforks alongside the men, and all the more symptomatic of the patriarchy that still dominates the modern western world.

This phenomenon is one we need to start discussing more, one that, in my not so humble opinion, is a direct product of the ideological sexism that still reigns as supreme in Hollywood as it does in Wall Street, that tells us all of our fellow women are threats and competition, that forces women to turn against each other because there is only one high profile position in the corporation, only one role in the comedy, allocated for those possessing two X chromosomes. And we women need to take responsibility for some of the culpability, need to stop reinforcing this system by continuing to adhere and comply to it, and start questioning and defying it.

Which brings me to the other, ‘older’, internet-breaking event of: Hiddleswift. Why is our society so uncomfortable with the notion that Taylor Swift has finally found the true love she has been looking for for so long? Why are we so resistant to the idea that Hiddleston might just be an English gentleman who is hopelessly in love and OKAY with letting go of outdated notions of masculinity and conventional gender roles (which, contrary to popular opinion, makes him MORE of a man, not less of one)? Is it because our society refuses to allow America’s ‘Little Miss Perfect’ to have procured the last piece of her puzzle of perfection?

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I think a lot of people look at Swift and see ‘white’, ‘privilege’, and ‘pretty’, and are unable to see much beyond that, to see that Taylor Swift is also part of a minority. Taylor Swift is a woman. A woman who will have worked like a pack mule, and exercised what is undoubtedly a formidable IQ and an incredibly resilient brand of courage, to be where she is now. And although Taylor has accepted plenty of financial payments and prestigious awards and commendations for her music, she is yet to be given the ideological credit she is warranted for her accomplishments as a woman and contributions to feminism.

Because shouldn’t we be applauding, not shaming Swift, for not being precious about her private life in this case (Hiddleston), a case in which, for the first time, Swift has a boyfriend she can be proud of, who in turn, is proud and loud in his unhesitating proclamations of commitment? And isn’t one of the inevitable consequences of Swift’s advertising this newfound whirlwind romance, the normalizing of the still foreign concept of women being as capable and deserving as men to possess more status in the standard heterosexual relationship dynamic? So why then, upon witnessing Tom Hiddleston wearing a goofy ‘I ❤ T.S.’ tank top while celebrating a holiday with his girlfriend, is the common reaction amongst individuals not that of cheering, but of recrimination and mockery?

And why, even if Hiddleswift does turn out to be a stunt, would that turn of events be such a detrimental smear on Swift’s character? As a fan of ‘meta’ I would personally find it brilliant if the whole relationship was all an experimental elaborate hoax art project (a la Joaquin Pheonix/‘I’m Not There’), commenting on the double standards of public opinion/the media, and the mirages that can be presented to the paparazzi in the interest of protecting privacy. At the end of the day, the ‘answer’ to the quagmire that is ‘Hiddleswift’ does not interest me beyond its service as a barometer of sexism in today’s day and age. Would this or that explanation make me think any more or less of Taylor? No. Because I love Taylor Swift for who she is as a female artist, not who she is as a female on the dating marketplace, or the choices she has to make as a celebrity and businesswoman (that I will never be able to judge her for or understand as I will never know what it’s like to have grown up in the limelight, to even just be in the limelight, and to negotiate every hurdle that that limelight hurls at one). Because I do not care about dissecting her current personal life and/or master plan because I’ve respected the results of almost everything she has done up until this point, so I trust her.

Because I care about outcomes, I care about facts, I care about the fact that, whether intended or not, Taylor Swift is helping all women by simply being Taylor Swift. I care about the fact that Taylor is the lead writer of all of her lyrics and the lead composer of all of her songs. I care about the fact that to me, and to many, her music is delectably catchy, invaluably relatable, and unbelievably easy to dance to. Most of all, I care about the fact that Taylor Swift has reached her levels of success without ever once exploiting her sexuality, or allowing others to exploit her sexuality, as a female pop star, as someone enmeshed in perhaps the most sexuality-saturated profession for women that exists. I also care about the fact that Taylor Swift earned more money than any other celebrity alive, male or female, last year, without ever marketing herself as a desirable sexual object (another recent headline that seems to have been forgotten in lieu of ‘worthier news’). I care about the fact that, in spite of all the negative press Taylor has had to cope with throughout her career, since being a teenager, she has not only dealt with continually being the beacon for all slutshamers and bitter keyboard warriers to hurl their hurt at from the comfort of their anonymity, she has continually continued to create. And that, I imagine, takes a tremendous amount of fortitude and integrity, and warrants an enormous amount of merit and respect.

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So THANK YOU Taylor, for keeping at it, for never depriving your fans and the world of your art, for having enough strength and self-esteem to be able to disregard the vast number and types of people constantly trying to tear you down (something ALL girls and women alike need more of, and thereby need in a role model), by making music out of your experiences with hate, by never failing to transmute the destructive into the constructive. I for one, will always be grateful, and aware.

Females For Feminism.

After reading the previously discussed article, ‘Trolls For Trump’ in The New Yorker, I couldn’t stop thinking about how evocative a barometer these book best-seller lists were, so I did some research on my own, and looked up the latest updates of the Amazon kindle list (if The New Yorker considers it a reasonable standard of measuring public opinion, then it’s good enough for me).

Fittingly, I was confronted with an example of #everydaysexism before I even glanced at the first title… The sub-sections on Amazon’s gender studies page are : 1. General 2. Men, and, can you guess who has last place? Probably not entirely.. Because 3? Is Women in History. Because apparently women can’t just stand alone, and the word ‘women’ is not enough in itself, it has to be attached to some verified subject of ‘study’ to warrant a genre of its own. Welcome to the western world.

But moving on, for those interested- Number one on Amazon at the moment is:

1. Boys Adrift: Factors Driving the Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men. by Leonard Sax.

Without knowing or reading anything about this text, let me give my own initial thoughts on the factors ‘driving’ (influencing) this ‘epidemic’ (#firstworldboredboyproblems). Boys and young men are unmotivated because THEY ARE RAISED TO THINK THEY DON’T HAVE TO TRY AS HARD AS THEIR GENDER COUNTERPARTS TO GET THE SAME RESULTS- and nothing exemplifies this quite so well as college admissions in the U.S.A.

I wanted some statistics to back up what my common sense has told me since first being aware of the US college admission process a decade ago- that unofficial affirmative action now quietly favors the white male because their mean of academic achievements/preparation is below that of women’s, and would thus skew the gender balance at universities too far for comfort if they were to admit prospective students on credentials alone– but it was surprisingly difficult to get my hands on many articles, let alone data. Almost everything legitimate that I did manage to find backed up my original suppositions though.

Rob Mank, a pretty cool dude, summed it up aptly in this pretty nifty article which you can read here: (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/men-far-more-likely-to-benefit-from-affirmative-action-in-college-admissions/), when he wrote:

“Male applicants of all races are far more likely to benefit from affirmative action-like policies than female applicants” and, “At public 4-year colleges.. almost one-in-five, 18 percent, are so hungry for male students, admissions directors report admitting men with lower academic credentials.”

And this is just what admissions directors choose to disclose…

Mank’s conclusions are based on the findings of a survey of admissions directors conducted by Inside Higher Ed in 2015, one of the few publications that has made studies on this topic. Scott Jaschick, the editor of Inside Higher Ed, commented on the taboo nature of the subject that I’d already noticed, stating:

“While a lot of people don’t like to talk about it, a lot of colleges are basically doing affirmative action for men… Men are being admitted with lower grades and test scores.”

All of this always seemed obvious to me, but, as another pretty cool guy called Chris Seck pointed out in this article: http://hlrecord.org/2012/10/affirmative-action-benefits-white-people/, there has always existed an “unchallenged assumption that boys must be “proportionately” represented” and not talking about or analysing this phenomena has surely done a lot to keep the unfair ‘balancing’ uncontested. Seck went on to note that,

“Although girls frequently outperform boys in high school, affirmative action and “diversity” goals in college, admission often favor boys [to suit the patriarchy’s unwritten law] that boys [should] represent approximately half the student body. As a result, girls are limited to a slight majority of seats that hovers around 60-plus percent at best, even if the girls’ higher grades, higher SAT scores, and extracurricular achievements would warrant greater female representation. For instance, Washington Post journalist Valerie Strauss points out that female applicants to the College of William and Mary outnumber male applicants by almost 2-to-1. Moreover, female applicants are admitted at a much lower rate than males.”

I’m sorry but if institutions can’t accept students based purely on merit and qualification (at least, in regards those who are the opposite of under-privileged, yet are still given this extra privilege/leeway) simply because a 20/80 or 30/70 gender distribution would make too many people too uncomfortable- why are people always telling me sexism is beat? Why is their still such a stigma attached to feminism?

Why are titles like- The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills and Manners for the Modern Man (by Brett McKay) and Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – and Why It Matters (by Helen Smith) -still dominating the top 5 of ‘gender studies’ best sellers lists? Ranked number four, and three respectively, Brett McKay’s book is fairly standard, sadly. But Helen Smith’s work is more troubling, because it speaks to that common reoccurring thread that’s reminiscent of another recently discussed bona-fide chauvinist. Do we remember the “theory of white-male identity politics: men [are] oppressed by feminism” that Arantz (the author of ‘Trolls for Trump’) perhaps mistakenly credits Mike Cernovich (our Attention Manwhore) for ‘develop[ing]’?

So Helen Smith’s book baffled me- how could a woman be jumping on this ludicrous bandwagon? So I read the description of the book Amazon provided, hoping there might be a #heforshe kind of feminist slant to the text. Alas, this was not to be. The summarizing caption was as follows:

American society has become anti-male. Men are sensing the backlash and are consciously and unconsciously going “on strike.” They are dropping out of college, leaving the workforce and avoiding marriage and fatherhood at alarming rates. The trend is so pronounced that a number of books have been written about this “man-child” phenomenon, concluding that men have taken a vacation from responsibility simply because they can. But why should men participate in a system that seems to be increasingly stacked against them?

 

Ex-cuse-me? What world do these people live in? How on earth was this written by a female (I suspect the answer is similar to that of another question that’s been plaguing my nerves recently- how on earth did Trump win the white women vote?!) What the hell is the patriarchy drugging our water supply with?! THE MEN THAT ARE DROPPING OUT OF COLLEGE CONSIST MAINLY OF THOSE WHO WEREN’T QUALIFIED ENOUGH TO DESERVE THE PLACE THEY WERE GIVEN IN THE FIRST PLACE, BECAUSE THEY CAN’T KEEP UP WITH MOST OF THEIR FEMALE PEERS AND THUS FEEL CONFUSED AND INFERIOR AND THUS GET PETULANT- NO IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT AND YES IT IS SOCIETY’S, BUT HELL NO IS IT SOCIETY’S RESPONSIBILITY TO PLACATE THEIR EGOS AND DO MORE TO EXCUSE THEIR DEFICIENCIES AND FACILITATE THEIR FLAWS AND MAKE THIS AN EVEN MORE PRO-MAN WORLD. For christ’s sake. Yes I concur men are sensing the backlash and yes I concur they are acting like children because of it, but no I disagree that we’re supposed to REWARD this behavior…

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But initial disbelieving fury aside, let’s break this down, and go back to our pretty cool dudes (and another new one) to supply Smith with the explanations I highly doubt she included in her text.

Rob Mank: “Women have comprised a majority of students in higher education since 1979…. And that trend is accelerating. The National Center for Education Statistics projects that women’s enrollment will increase 16 percent by 2020, compared to 8 percent for men.”

Scott Jaschick: “Many people think that is not good for the educational needs of the country – that you don’t want men left behind” (LOLZ these ‘people’ should get together with those #whitelivesmatter folks)

David Hawkins (director of public policy and research at National Association for College Admissions Counseling): “A major reason for the gender gap is higher academic achievement by girls. …It’s not surprising…Women are on average are performing better than young men coming out of high school.”

Okay, so the experts are all in agreement; this is just another example of sexism that the patriarchy pushes under the carpet…. But do people really expect me to feel sympathy for the plight of the white male? Oh, I’m sorry, do you feel oppressed? Join the fucking club- full of members you’ve oppressed since virtually the dawn of civilisation. Taste some of your own delightful medicine. Or not, because society appears to still be unequivocally on your side

Rob Mank: “What’s behind the aggressive push for male students is the decades-long trend of more women on campus…. Many colleges have sought to remedy that imbalance by admitting more men, especially among undergraduates, forcing schools to reach deeper into the applicant pool. . At public 4-year colleges.. almost one-in-five, 18 percent, are so hungry for male students admissions directors report admitting men with lower academic credentials.”

David Hawkins: “There’s no one formula for institutions to deal with the gender gap. Some schools tailor their marketing to men, while others have invested in sports programs or majors that might appeal to men. And some are admitting less-qualified males.”

So let’s get this straight, we’re already doing a lot to help men feel better about themselves and going out of our way to try and entice them to become more contributing and valuable members of society…. Right. So answer me this Helen, why are you writing literature on what more we can do? Why are there hundreds more books being written (or maybe just read/bought) and saturating the ‘gender studies’ category of the book market right now, and case studies/surveys being made on the plight of the white male, instead of that of the women and the countless other minorities that have a thousand more obstacles between them and success?

As Mank corroborates, “various studies have documented how the recent recession – the so-called “Mancession” – has disproportionally hurt men. And while men have regained some ground during the recovery, the unemployment rate remains higher for men than for women (8.9 percent versus 8 percent).”

Why not let each incoming year at colleges and universities be mostly women if the women are the ones who’ve earned it? And then let the women get all of the jobs and RULE the majority of this god forsaken world IF THEY’RE THE ONLY ONES SHOWING THE GUMPTION, WORK ETHIC, INTELLIGENCE, AND TALENT TO DO SO. Maybe the world might become a better place. The men sure have done civilisation nonstop good these last few millennia that they’e been in charge.. (this is sarcasm by the way, for those who find not-so-subtle subtext beyond them)…. But also, though this suggestion’s extreme, it’s also not the only possible outcome of taking extreme measures to stop this ridiculous trend of giving allowances, excuses, and benefits to sore white men. Couldn’t competition with the opposite sex motivate men to be better, work harder, and develop faster, too? I believe it could, if only the treatment and perspective of the two genders was re-adjusted to reality. For as long as we keep re-appropriating every symptom of misogyny as a reason to restore men’s confidence and motivation, so we ensure sexism will always be the status quo, to the detriment of not only women, but also men, and also society at large.

Granted this is rhetoric, and thus a bit harsh, but I’m pretty sure hyperbole and extremism was a colossal factor in the travesty that was our recent election, so it’s worth a shot, because apparently what we’ve been doing hasn’t been working out so well. As the fabulous 2015 film ‘Suffragette’ put it, “We break things. We burn windows. Because war’s the only language men listen to” (writer cred goes out to Abi Morgan).

But I will just say, that I don’t really want to devalue the struggles white men experience (suffering is suffering after all) just for the sake of getting my point across the unfathomably colossal trench separating us (the feminists and/or liberals and/or lovers and/or Dumbledore’s Army) and them (the sexists and/or conservatives and/or haters and/or Death Eaters).. What I really want is for them, the boys, to take ACCOUNTABILITY for their current situation, and to ACKNOWLEDGE the objectively severer plights of those who are not white males. And if the rest of society does this too that’d also be grand. Because I genuinely believe that recognising the entitlement and ideologies that have led to men’s current not-as-privileged-as-before-so-let’s-throw-a-tantrum state of affairs, would assist in rectifying their ‘endemic’.

#ImWithHer

 

In the last few months, according to The New Yorker, Amazon’s best sellers list in the non-fiction ‘gender studies’ category had two contradictory titles competing for the number one position.

1. Why Everyone Should Be a Feminist, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (a quick consultation with google has informed me that this text has now dropped to 7th place).
2. Gorilla Mindset (essentially a How-to guide on being an ‘alpha male’), by a man whose name it pains me to write (for fear of giving credence and adding grist to his revolting ploys for publicity, but I need to for necessity’s sake), Mike Cernovich. [Sidenote: I’m proud to say I needed to find the ripped pages of The New Yorker article to not only figure out how to spell the rodent’s name, but remember it at all- selective memory and amnesia can be wonderfully convenient sometimes].

The average ignoramus might deduce that this ‘fun fact’ indicates that, although feminism might not be winning against sexism, the battle is at least going strong, and is at least somewhat equal, even if the results are negligible. Alas, this is not the case. Firstly, one must analyze the content of both books to form any such conclusion with certainty, but if one were to take the liberty of making assumptions from the titles and descriptions of these books alone- those should provide evidence that the opposite deduction- sexism is still the victor and we have a long way to go before we even start tipping the balance of the scales in our favor- is far closer to the truth.

Sexism is winning, because blatant and abhorrent sexism is still permitted to be flagrantly advertised and self-congratulatory, it’s a damn bestseller. And the fact that a book called ‘Why Everyone Should Be a Feminist’ even needs to be written, in the twenty-first century, is a joke in itself. It should be dead obvious why everyone should be a feminist, and it’s a testament to our age of anti-intellectualism (which I personally feel this epoch should be named by future historians, if humanity even makes it to another epoch) that certain imbeciles still need the reasons to be spelled out for them. The simple fact that there still exist individuals who need to be convinced of the ‘merits’ (or, more accurately, the ‘human rights component’) of feminism for both genders, is a sad and telling tale about the western community in which we reside, and a terrible indictment on the status quo most of us readily and unquestioningly accept.

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This topic, however, was not what ‘Trolls for Trump’, The New Yorker article that relayed these tidbits to me, was mainly about. Which is not to say that Andrew Marantz (a writer far subtler and calmer than I- hence his being employed by arguably the best and most important magazine in the U.S. and my typing this on my couch while finally succumbing to the blogosphere/social media/online-presence thing, in a double-barrelled attempt to stave off the ‘real job’ search and self-publish to maintain my self-ordained title as a ‘writer’), was not also making a vastly imperative and urgent point himself. And his subject matter; “the alt-right-a loose online affiliation of white nationalists… masculinists, conspiracists, belligerent nihilists, and social-media trolls” doing what they can for Trump’s campaign, and mine; the patriarchy has been getting away with too much for too long , are intertwined on practically every level- as the current election and state of the union speaks volumes on the universally atrophied state of gender equality (but for some reason, this amplification appears to be occurring at a wavelength imperceptible to human ears).

While reading Marantz’s piece, I experienced more moments of outrage and disbelief in twenty minutes than I had done in the last twenty days. The amount of underground cults and cretins spewing (and somehow selling) appalling sexist bullshit is as astonishing as the twisted character (or rather, caricature-like paradigm of the alt-right) Marantz chose to center his story around, Gorilla Mindset’s author.

[sidenote: I really wanted to post this without mentioning the Attention Manwhore by name (Attention Manwhore is how I shall refer to him from hereon out), because it nauseates me to think that I could in any way contribute to fulfilling his life objective of being noticed by as many people as possible (this is why parents need to pay attention to their kids, and also instil within them how important it is not to bully ‘losers’, as some of those losers will transform into entities as pitiful and ridiculous and dangerous as the Attention Manwhore).. But then I remembered human curiosity, and the fact that a google search of the title of his glorified toilet paper would be just as bad, so I highly encourage anyone who might read this, to please take my lead and refrain from googling his name, or god forbid, giving him, his websites and ‘products’, and anything remotely affiliated with him and his abhorrent peers, further hits/attention. I believe this piece I am writing now supplies enough links and information for the vigorous fact checker and/or researcher (both types are of course, extremely commendable) to generate better and more creative methods of learning more about this despicable example of the black side of humanity..]

Flabbergasted doesn’t even begin to describe my emotions upon reading ‘Trolls for Trump’, and discovering there are followings for websites that promote articles entitled ‘Would You Rather Have Feminism or Cancer?’ and so many misogynistic organisations that there actually exists one specific enough to launch ‘a vicious campaign against feminists in the video-game industry’ (could the motives of the members of these sorts of movements be any more transparent or pathetic?!). But all jokes (which they hand over to us ready-made) aside, how is this crap even allowed in our day and age? Why are these progress-reactionary movements, which Breitbart.com apparently encapsulates, not being compared to their counterparts of the past, like the Ku Klax Klan for instance? Are figurative attempts to lynch an entire demographic and their champions, not as mind-boggling, evil and shameful as literal ones (not to mention more threatening, for they remain distanced from legal condemnation and punishment, and are thereby infecting ideologies all the more successfully). And yes of course the parallels between Trump and Hitler have been drawn on countless, horrifying occasions, but can we please start talking about, and doing something about, all of the present-day nazi-equivalents, that have enabled the likes of the neo-Hitler Trump coming dangerously close to power?

A particularly harrowing (yet darkly humorous) moment in the text occurs when the Attention Manwhore, who peddles instructions on how to manipulate people and reconstruct reality to fit their own fantasies and feed their fragile egos, decries the “hoaxing media” that “has lost so much legitimacy” and claims he can’t be considered a “pure troll” because “pure trolls are amoral“.

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It is just as rich as when Trump himself engages in this exact kind of obnoxious self-hypocrisy (see the numerous clips of the Republican nominee citing the right-slanted media favours Hillary and is plotting against his bloated white male self- when it’s estimated that the media has given the Trump camp three billion dollars in free advertising).

And those traits aren’t the only two similarities these two embarrassments to the human race share- the Attention Manwhore has also been accused of rape, is unapologetically deluded, and proudly accepts the mantle of poster boy for the All-American uneducated disenfranchised white males of this country.
And then there are the incredible amounts of unbelievable hypocrisies riddled throughout everything these demented people and their minions say and do- the Attention Manwhore for instance, amusingly has a resounding chip on his shoulder due to his working-class background. And somehow he thinks he has the right to resent class-oppression (which he describes as applying to anyone who hasn’t had any of the magical ingredients for success of “East Coast, Harvard, trust fund, nepotism”), while simultaneously being an active and leading proponent of another kind of widespread oppression?!

Marantz concisely explains the baffling mockery the Attention Manwhore makes of himself when he quotes from the pig’s own blog- “logic is pointless”. Yes, this much is clear Attention Manwhore, this much is abundantly clear. But it’s not only funny in its absurdity, it’s terrifying. For the Attention Manwhore and his compatriots are precisely the kind of parasites that thrive in the current anti-intellectual climate. They are predators of the self-satisfied, ignorant, pitchfork-happy masses, and reminiscent of the cockroaches and rats that will survive us all by gluttonously sating themselves on our decay.

The one gratifying aspect of the article though, is the Attention Manwhore’s backstory- my own inchoate psychoanalytical skills could have outlined the past that created this creature, with more or less efficient accuracy. His history is so cliched it’s as if he literally wrote it for our benefit (the women’s, the feminists’), to supply evidence for our cause. In fact it is one of the few things the Attention Manwhore has not invented. He grew up in the rural midwest, his first wife passed the bar test immediately after graduating law school while it took the Attention Manwhore nine years to gain admittance, it was only after his wife rejected him that he “reinvented himself as an alpha male”, and Marantz suspects that the seven-figure divorce settlement “seems to have been, and might still be, his primary source of funds.” So let’s get this straight, the Attention Manwhore’s probably living off the woman life demonstrated to him in no uncertain terms he was inferior to, to assert his and his sex’s superiority over women? First off: lolz. Secondly, this tragicomic tale literally has the compound of ‘WHITE MALE ENTITLEMENT’ & ‘INFERIORITY COMPLEX’ permeating every cubic millimeter of it. What else could be expected from an attention manwhore rejected by institutions and women, except embarking on a subsequent crusade against institutions and women (to soothe his wounded self-esteem and preserve the ego society inflated in him by default of the colour of his skin and the questionably sized appendage on his groin)?

I have about eighteen more books worth of thoughts, opinions, fury, and righteousness to share on this subject, but I’m going to stop (for now) and sum it up in one sentence. Moral of the story- Vote for Hillary. #Imwithher

This election, and what it says about the continuing and triumphant reign of misogyny.

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/6/11/1537582/-The-most-thorough profound-and-moving-defense-of-Hillary-Clinton-I-have-ever-seen

An oldie but goodie. Spot on. And more relevant than ever.

Disclaimer: the following was written awhile ago, when the Bernie supporters were at their most vocal and ubiquitous, so please excuse some of the overdone vitriol and the oft unfair generalisations towards him and his supporters.
From what I can tell, from what I’ve encountered, from the pool of people I know and things I’ve seen firsthand on social media, the Majority of Hillary bashers (I say bashers, not Bernie supporters, because I’m addressing those who spend more time vocally spewing and advertising vile hate against Hillary than promoting their positive support for their own candidate) are male, and those that are female happen to be women that have already demonstrated themselves to be blind trend-following bandwagon-hoppers, devoid of the ability to think for themselves, and/or just generally ignorant. (One female Bernie meme propagator that comes to mind is someone I have heard make racist comments multiple times, she thinks it’s funny, she thinks it makes her a ‘cool girl’/’one of the lads’). go away. Actually no. Stay. Listen. Read this. Read the article written above. That was written by a MAN. Be ashamed. Read some Mary Wollstonecraft (she published Vindication two hundred and twenty four years ago. Be ashamed) then read some Elizabeth Robins, Simone de Beauvoir, Laura Mulvey, John Berger, Naomi Wolf, etc… Then go out and make ’em proud. The enduring power of sexism and the atrophied state of feminism is as much on us as it is on them (the men).
But back to the point: Awhile back I conceded to a friend (male of course, white also, and thoroughly upper class in the traditional sense of the word) somewhat hastily that I’d probably rather be pals with Bernie than Hillary, but I would absolutely vote for Hillary as she was the most qualified, most realistic, and the most capable presidential candidate. I rescind that one hundred percent now, and am frankly embarrassed that I allowed hollow vehemence from my peers and media sensationalism cloud my judgment when I was less politically informed, back when Trump was still more of a joke than a danger… I have lost a tremendous amount of respect for Bernie in recent weeks. Before it was because he has not only fostered a group of downright haters who are hindering the course of progressive change they claim to support rather than help, he has hypocritically supported their negative anti-hillary claim. Now it is because his stubborn insistence to remain in the race exposes either his selfish motives or deluded ego- with a complete … of his party and the agenda he claims to believe in, that is again, either shameful or idiotic. Dividing the democratic party is more dangerous than ever, for reasons that shouldn’t need to be mentioned- the threat of Trump is like a real-life nightmare- how could any human being in their right mind, how could any human being with a concern for human wellfare, continue this partisan fight for a lost cause, when it comes at such a terrifying and potentially devastating cost? I am genuinely dumbstruck that we are where we are.

This is a DEFENSE against an ATTACK, which is a very different animal from HATE or PROPOGANDA . I express my own disappointment in Bernie, and welcome naysayers to explain to me the logic of his remaining in the election- if there are somehow pros that i have considered that outweigh the cons, if there is another option for his motives beyond the binary: ‘moron’ or ‘dickhead’, I will happily admit to prematurely and unfairly bashing him. However I have yet to hear an even vaguely convincing argument on this front.

*Addendum, this paragraph is now pretty irrelevant, as it’s just Hillary vs. Trump now. Rebuttals are fine of course but I’m no longer interested really in considering them at this point. Perhaps in three days, if this country chooses to not sign the death warrant for the entire planet, I will once again be intrigued in the opposite (liberal) side and once again desire to comprehend this quagmire fully. Fingers crossed eh?