Archive for January, 2012

Thru The Years: Swapping Places And It Feels Good

Now that I’ve settled into life past the 30 year old mark, I realize it’s not as old as it felt when I was sixteen. In fact, thirty has been a pretty good decade so far. Got rid of some carryover (carry-on?) baggage from my twenties and am happier than ever being single. It’s liberating, actually. I’m not sure exactly what it is. Like most things probably a combination of several factors.

First, the general self-esteem you get as you grow up. As your self-worth grows through compound interest and the time value of confidence, you realize not only do you not NEED anyone, but you also don’t want just anyone. This, my friends, is my favorite part of being over thirty.

Second, social pressures seem to ease a little. There are a few different kinds of pressure. Familial pressure (coming from parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and all of THEIR frends) eases if you’ve been alone for awhile. The human brain is incapable of NOT adapting. If you’re alone for awhile, those who used to notice and comment simply stop noticing. Those who have parents whose happiness seems to hinge on their child getting married and having babies? I can’t relate, but empathize. Not sure if that ever goes away unless you pay for them to get therapy, or get remarried to someone else, or find something that will occupy them and make them happy.

The same general eventual adaptation to being alone happens with your friends, of course. But, the friends who were so pushy also start to see how great being single can be as opposed to marrying just anyone. Men complain about nagging, how much work parenting is, and joking (or not) about being single again/choosing better next time. Women are annoyed by filth, lack of intimacy/magic and being only a mom/wife, rather than her own person. While it’s always easy to think the grass is greener, there is often times a gap between the fantasy and reality of marriage and parenting, for both sexes. And on those days, they see how their ingle friends are genuinely happy and not crying themselves to sleep in a puddle of lonely misery.

And, finally, the more of us singles there are out there, and the more divorce numbers climb like STD rates, the more everyone appreciates holding onto your S card. Forever or until it’s right. Ignoring the social norms pushing us all toward marriage is a big relief on many people feeling like failures until they do get married.

Women feel this pressure in their twenties. Our self-worth is large defined by how desired we are by the opposite sex. If we are attached, we are valued, beautiful, respected and complete. If we aren’t courted, we are somehow appraised at a lower value. And through this time, the men are in a position of power. They have the ability to legitimize us as worthy or otherwise. This results in a lot of highs and lows based on a questionable resource.

However, as we move into our late 20s and see the marriages of our friends reach their five and seven year marks (and some fizzle out), we realize how important choosing the right mate is. We are also reaching a stride in our careers and generally are financially able to take are of ourselves, afford luxuries we used to think we needed a man to buy (or split the cost of – like vacations, rent, houses, cars jewelry). And it hits us – we can provide everything we NEED. And furthermore, why would we want to get in a relationship with a guy who could take it all away? Spending our nest egg, making our house smell like feet while hosting his friends very weekend because our place is nicer than his, then cleaning up their mess because he doesn’t gleam, picking up the tab because we earn more, being dragged down by a no-motivation, slacker, likely alcoholic momma’s boy. Yeah, suddenly our standards skyrocket to where they always should have been.

Meanwhile, these guys we used to put up with don’t know how to treat a woman respectfully, don’t know how to put in more work than a post-bar text, and suddenly find themselves alone when this no longer cuts it. They know there are smart, beautiful, interesting women out there, but they can’t seem to get their attention. They dip into the pool of younger girls for awhile. Then become desperate.

This happens generally around their 30th-35th birthday. They realize they’re getting “old” and are alone and the women they’re dating now aren’t as interesting at they used to be. Many of their buddies are married and that’s really how they always saw themselves anyway. They think, “OK, I’m ready.” But the girls of their dreams don’t crawl out of the woodwork like they always imagined. They start to panic. Try to settle with any girl who comes along. But their baggage they picked up in their twenties still follows them: drinking until they’re sloppy and belligerent is ok for a 22 year old, not a 32 year old, their dinky, dirty, grimy bachelor pad apartment near the bar district doesn’t scream sexy, and their inability to look forward in a career or be able to manage finances isn’t exactly quirky and sweet anymore.

Suddenly the tables have turned. Women don’t need men, and men are desperate.

It’s called poetic justice, people. And apparently it’s what your 30s are made of!

Author’s note: While I am cynical, I want to be fair. I know a plenty of women with the same issues I’ve listed freely as men’s issues. And also know just as many men who are great catches. The point is, I’ve noticed the trend of women getting into their thirties and approaching men the way men did in their twenties, and vice versa in men (who act now like we did in our 20s). This is a generalization for illustrative purposes.

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Objectifying Women: Beauty Redefined vs ESPN 700

Does ESPN 700 represent not only the men of today, but worse, predict where men will be when my nieces and nephews grow up? Will my nephews become these men? It breaks my heart, but I’m worried the standard ESPN 700 sets isn’t that far off from the norm of men. And while it’s entertaining watching them resist admitting how disgusting they are, at least they admitted it passively by refusing to talk on air with Beauty Redefined.

But let’s back up. This all started when Beauty Redefined heard about the “Hot or Not” contest ESPN 700 runs. And I’ll be honest, I didn’t even care that much the first time Beauty Redefined posted on one of their contests. I went over and “liked” it out of general agreement, but have never spent much time or energy trying to change anyone. I know people don’t change. And old people are especially resistant to admit they’re wrong. So I figured this is a losing battle. I wasn’t surprised when men stopped commenting as Beauty Redefine posted on that first picture – a sign of fear. Maybe they don’t want to be the first one to be defiant when faced with an emotional dilemma they aren’t sure which side they’re on. Maybe Beauty Redefined was the stick in the mud that made the “game” not as much fun because it suddenly became more than a “man cave event.” Whatever happened, the comments stopped (at least briefly while I watched).  

Then the next week a man or two replied saying they agreed, any many more, now undeterred and certain if ESPN 700 posted another “Hot or Not” obviously didn’t care that women were demanding respect. “So what the hell? If those guys think it’s still cool, it must be cool, right?” I swear I can see the juvenile letter jackets coming together in the locker room. “Let’s circle jerk, guys, and decide what’s cool!”

And now Beauty Redefined has been passively dismissed. Banished to the uncool table, Mean Girls style, circa 7th grade.

It’s sad, really. I think sports radio/TV guys represent the job many men would love to have. Their job is talking about sports, and many times even talking to and being in the presence of sports stars. Hey, I’m a college basketball fan. When I go to games, people say I’ll probably be arrested for my conduct if a player gets close enough. Mostly that’s a joke. Mostly. And I think all of that is natural. Both me, seeing the appeal of these sports guys, refined and excelling at a very competitive, challenging sport. And them seeing women for as much as they know them through the media (which is mostly looks). The thing is, my perspective doesn’t carry over into my real life. Yet, I watch as looks are a central region men choose their partners. (We won’t get into how these men feel about some of the women they choose based only on looks after a few years with them. The women aren’t bad, but how compatible are you with someone you ONLY think is hot?)

The flip side of the coin is I also have closeted friends and know many guys who ONLY see women as sexual objects do that to make themselves appear manly. And as an offshoot because they only see the beauty and sexuality as prescribed by the media. That is the only part they understand because they aren’t attracted beyond the surface (or, even at the surface, but popular media tells them they SHOULD be, so in an effort to “fit in” that’s how they act). I love my closeted friends. But when they pull this stunt, I want to shake them and say, “WE ALL KNOW!” But I’m digressing. Because I’m not using homosexuality to punch the guys at ESPN 700 or their commenters. And I won’t even pretend I have the power to make them stop doing what they’re doing. I just think it’s ironic that they, in an effort to be all tough and manly, are prescribing to a common “in the closet” technique used by guys who aren’t quite ready to admit they’re gay.

Beyond all of this, the thing that infuriates me most is this objectification of women likely translates into their real life. It’s tough to do something consistently and not have it turn into normal thought. Have you seen how Westboro Church brainwashes their children? After awhile the “God hates the military” crap comes naturally. The same is true with any mindset you adopt, even casually at first. I’ve watched it happen with my guy friends who start out joking about a woman’s looks, then eventually see woman as ONLY looks. After awhile, they become intimidated by women who actually have a brain and challenge this behavior. This is what happened today. Beauty Redefined called into ESPN 700 when they were told they could defend their stance on the “Hot or Not” debate. After holding, not only did they “dismiss” them, saying Hot or Not wasn’t sports related, but they also mocked them on the air, saying something flippant about objectifying their show and how if they objectified women, they wouldn’t put Ricky Lake up. And then laughed and said they weren’t letting them talk. What are you guys? Emotional wife abusers? Sheesh.

First, Ricky Lake, if you’re out there, you’re beautiful! Not that you should care what anyone thinks of your looks. People still say, “You go, girl!” And I still laugh and think of your show. You started a talk show revolution! And then kicked some ass on Dancing With the Stars. Get it.

Second, why have someone call in just to dismiss them? Obviously it was a power move. They used their position of power (the person who could or couldn’t deny airtime) to backed Beauty Redefined into a corner. And then laughed. Is this the 7th grade lunchroom? Grow up. Wherever your moms are, they have to be embarrassed. And hopefully you guys don’t ever have daughters, because they will be raised to believe they’re worthless, will have no ambition, and will sleep around with men just like you looking for unconditional affection daughters need. Oh and they’ll never find it and will live their life unhappy. “Thanks, Dad.” I’ve seen this with girls whose dads are objectifying pigs. Their poor daughters have no self-esteem. And never expect men to respect them for who they are. It’s sad.

If for no other reason, I want this crap to stop. Because it’s not fair to bring your daughters into this mess.

I know men are scared of women like those who created and run Beauty Redefined. They’re scared of women finally saying, “ENOUGH! I’m more than how I look!” They know we’re smart, powerful, motivated and care about people. That’s all you need to be successful and have a fulfilling life.

Are you guys popular? Sure, you’re “famous” as dictated by a very small segment of the world. And you’re using that fame to feel powerful. Probably because you think power equals happiness. But the truth is you’re small-minded men who have no real respect for anyone around you. Living a shallow life is un-fulfilling and is probably over-compensating for what you’re lacking emotionally, mentally and physically. And to be intimidated by women who are realizing their worth in this world is pretty pathetic. Meanwhile, you’ll continue to use this defense mechanism to lead what is probably an unimportant, uninspired life. At some point, if you haven’t already and are just hiding it, you will realize there’s more to life than this. Sure you can all gather round the radio, scratching your balls, guffawing about who’s hot and who’s not to feel superior. But at the end of the day you’re lonely, sad and pathetic. And will never have a real relationship with anyone until you realize people, men and women, are more than surface.

And you guys are too, ESPN 700. Even though someone in your life has obviously hurt you, you deserve to be treated better than you’re treating others. I’m sorry on behalf of whoever hurt you, causing you to shut off the part of your soul that would welcome a fulfilling, enjoyable life. Just because one woman hurts you doesn’t mean all women are bad. And just because you’re unhappy right now doesn’t mean you have to compound the unhappiness by getting in the first punch. You are important. And you can live lives that are bigger than the way you are acting. And if you did, you’d find real happiness.

But in the meantime, continue objectifying women and bonding over manly laughter. And continue telling women they’re worthless beyond their looks, or worthless BECAUSE of their looks. And don’t worry, we’ll continue on, realizing that even though you’re outwardly hurtful, you’re inwardly unhappy. And we will seek out men who aren’t asshats, leaving you guys to squander in your own mess (literally). In the end, you lose. Not that it’s a competition.

OK, let’s be real. You’re sports talk guys. You know everything’s a competition.

Update (1/19/12): Beauty Redefine posted about this event, too. They’re much less emotional and much more factual than I am. It’s a good read. I recommend it!