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The Evolution of Gender Bias

 

Before we get started we should remember something:

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Awful, right?  Have times changed?

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Now we can understand the satire of the second selection of ads (I could not find a direct parody of every one, but I suppose that has more to do with the sheer number of sexist ads from the past), although I wonder what is the point?  Does it really reflect how times have changed, at least a little?  Is it trying to put the past in its place?  Or is this merely a new sort of sexism, re-imagined not as a cure for the social wrongs of the past, but as a smug–oh yeah?  I can be just as much of a scumbag as you!

 

I do not intend to go off on one of those pathetic examples of angry men (or angry white people) making ridiculous statements like “reverse sexism” (or “reverse racism”) are somehow worse than the ill suffering of women throughout most of time.  Men have certainly earned much of their scorn, treating women like chattel, as incubation chambers for their hopefully male offspring.  And even today the way in which so many men treat women is hardly any different than the slap on the ass, “lookin’ good, honey,” catcall whistling intrusions.  These ads are recent:

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The last one is for skin cream.  These habits, I suppose, are very hard to break.

 

But does this give women, today, the right to treat men like shit?  Does it make sense that a black person can be racist with no consequences?  Is this the new reality?  Is this the evolution of bigotry?

 

Now men today, of course, are frequently a bunch of whiny little pussies, worthy of no respect.  And while some of them claim (and some women too) that

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the bored look on her face, the sheer disappointment, as well as the movement slogans representing something far more important than the suggestions at hand, the fact remains that many women, deep down, still desire a man to fulfill certain masculine stereotypes.  And yet the nervous, frustrated, resentful new generation of men is more about

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It is groups of angry men, uncertain how they are supposed to behave towards women, that creates this self-loathing sense of inferiority.  “I don’t know what I’m allowed to say any longer!” the man shrieks like the ancient stereotype of a woman unsure how to please her man

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Somehow the man is trying to convince himself that the crude behaviors of the past are still acceptable and that the fact he is told otherwise is oppression.  The last image, from above, “Feminism is Sexism,” does, however, ask a valid question, at least in the metamorphosis over the years.  Have self-declared feminists become sexist–every bit as sexist as those they condemn?

 

One of the most frequent tactics that people employ to fight against prejudice is equal and opposite prejudice, more imitating the same loutish behavior than seeking to change the world into a better place.  People get angry so easily and are outraged over some things that shouldn’t really bother you.  I mean, want to be offended by something truly awful?  Here:

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But this, this . . . ?

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I mean, how many of us are more interested in the conversation about the mechanics and durability of public transit versus the expensive new things we put on our feet?  I mean sure, the wording may be a little awkward, and the girl asking about shoes comes off as pretty dumb, but check out some of the reactions to this ad:

  • “Nice bit of early morning sexism on the D.C. Metro.”
  • “it’s one of too many ad campaigns that are sexist towards women,”
  • “In a city full of public affairs firms, this is the best messaging they could come up with?”
  • The ad is “sexist, stupid and offensive,” said the group UltraViolet, which advocates for women’s rights and against sexism in popular culture and media.
  • “Metro Forward needs to take these ads down, apologize and plan an advertising campaign that doesn’t play on sexist tropes.”

 

One clever wit posted this, instead, really the only worthwhile reaction to something as vapid as the Metro’s campaign:

“What are the best shoes for walking to work after the Red Line breaks down?”

 

But the outrage, the overheated offense that people take to either stupidity or perhaps failed comedy is a different sort of mirror imaged problem.

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The key word within these advertisements for political action is not ‘hate.’  No, it’s ‘speech.’  No matter how objectionable you may find something somebody else says, or how targeted you feel or even in fact are, there is something else to keep in mind:

 

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In other words, free speech is far more important to a society than countering hurt feelings.  One cannot outlaw the stupid things that all of us at one time or another have to say.  And despite the fact that so many awful things continue to be justified by the words of horrible people–treating a woman like an object, calling people names or offensive terms, telling a man just how worthless they might in fact truly be–all of this, ALL OF IT!–is within our rights.

 

I am not defending anyone or anything.  Those ads that started this piece are horrible, although admit to yourselves–you women especially–that there is a sort of nostalgic hilarity to them.  Looking at the urgently serious cries against the ‘crime’ of ‘hate speech’ (one of them even called it ‘illegal’), perhaps this is finally where we need to focus.  None of this is about equality.  It is about a humorless outlook on the world.  It is an equality of limited freedom, of demands that people fall in line.  It is about turning the whole world into a so-called ‘safe space’ where in fact that inclusive reality becomes a new form of terror, like some product out the the increasingly dire cold war dystopian fantasies that once could make us shudder.  Today it seems that some folks, regardless ultimately of their political sides, see such horror stories as suggestions on how to make the world work.

 

Here are a few quotes from George Orwell:

  • “The aim of a joke is not to degrade the human being, but to remind him that he is already degraded.”
  • “All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.”
  • “Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing.”
  • “Political chaos is connected with the decay of language… one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end.”
  • “There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them.”

 

Now these statements can no doubt be interpreted in various ways, used to justify yourself and your views, or to simply condemn those you disagree with.  But it does not eliminate your own prejudice.  Just remember, after all, hating people who hate others is still bigotry.  Want true equality?  Gender and racial equality?  Acceptance of others for who they are?

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Isn’t this, after all, the essence of our corrupt human nature?

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Do Things Get Better or Worse? A Visual Narrative

 

Once

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–or no, wait!

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This is where we start.

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With innovation

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danger,

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barbarism,

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and the unexplained.

 

Life was hard in those days.

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As far as we can tell everyone died screaming.

 

Cut to a few thousand years in the future and society has drastically changed, those early innovations leading to the building of primitive monuments at the center of a new thing called ‘civilization.’

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It was magnificent.  And yet

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Who built the future?

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It hardly changed over the next four thousand years

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Business and conquest intertwined

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And if you didn’t like it

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Sometimes even the self-loathing humiliation of

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until eventually

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And then things changed again

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But this joyous truth, perhaps the greatest social change in all of human history, led to deep and profound resentment

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And they tried, they tried to change things back to a past they imagined, through the romantic tales of their late ancestors, was the height of civilization

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The savvy politicians realized that they needed to throw the oppressed a bone.

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Of course this did not go over well

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But racial problems are not the only problems

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And we ask ourselves, have things gotten better?

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We convince ourselves that things keep getting worse.

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We scribble rants without understanding where we come from and how far we have gone

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We make it personal too, forgetting how awful things might be for somebody else

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Look, I am not here to defend today, declaring the present a worldwide utopia.  I am not an optimist.  I don’t particularly like people (often myself included).  But it always annoys me when some whiny asshole pretends they are

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or believes they could somehow sink back in time and be happy.

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No, things are not better today.  But they’re not worse either.  Sure, we’ve made progress, socially, economically–even regarding civil rights.  Nothing is equal, however, and we all know that it never will be.  Hatred remains unabated, resentment seems to keep growing, more than just envy and covetousness, but an honest and singularly guided loathing which turns into finger-pointing blame for everything going wrong.

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And even for this we can find someone else to blame, or something, or the way of the world, or just how terrible everything seems to have become.  After all, ancient fears about the end of the world are more plausible today

 

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Of course people say that things can always get worse and of course they can.  But that does not mean things were better in the past, that they were some sort of glory day like back when you were young and you had the greatest time of your life, or the most fun, or were starting to fall in love.  There are timeless moments too, drifting all the way back into the past, to early history, even at the dawn of man.

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The only way that things will keep getting worse is if we continue convincing ourselves this is true.  Otherwise–otherwise?  Everything stays the same, the same fears, the same danger, the same hopes and dreams humanity has always yearned for and struggled with.  Despite the slowly changing times and our rapidly developing technology, and no matter how easy things are made for us and how bored this finally makes us, nothing has really changed all that much since the early days of civilization.  Man has not socially or intellectually evolved, regardless of recorded knowledge.

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I doubt we ever will.

 

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Updating Political Dialogue, and Other Considerations

 

My name has been made on this blog with a variety of political, social, and historical commentaries, attempting the gauge the influence of the past on the turmoil of the future.  Sometimes fiction is the best attempt to understand a moment, or our moment in time (pieces under the heading of American Fairy Tales).  All of these products are part of the same attempts to understand our singular moment, the motives and oppression of the present-tense.  And yet there is far more to this than simply barking slurs at whichever opposition we find ourselves momentarily set against.  For an update I would like to at first offer a preview of the variety of projects that for here, as well as for the larger work outside I am now consumed with, and which should be coming to both this website and a bookstore near you (I guess that means Amazon) soon.

 

To begin there is a new fairy tale in the works, one occurring in 1963 and dealing not so much with the assassination of a President as with the cultural psychosis that allowed such a horror to be accepted by nearly half of the American population.  Additionally there are the professional projects, the biography, the study of history, the end-of-the-world fantasy that take their ideas from the chaotic beliefs of the present moment.  All of these horrors are relevant to the larger premise I attempt to preach (without either radicalism or religious analogy), and it seems important that I state this prior to going any further.

 

Now I have been busy–very busy–writing and writing and writing on the projects that should either make me quite a bit of money and/or win me some literary prizes.  Yes, this is an arrogant statement, but if nothing else I understand what leads the work of various genres into the dedicated praise of those who anonymously make academic judgment.  But this is merely ambition, the ego of the writer convincing themselves they are a genius.

 

We should get past this.  All this brief commentary is will be a vague self-promotion of anticipation promoting the still incomplete ideas I will soon present for your judgment.  The story is among my favorites within the small-scale project, American Fairy Tales, that I have randomly (and occasionally published) throughout the entirety of my adult life (1992 was the first).  The history book has become a project of vast importance (at least to me), on trying to understand the editorial fractures of my nation.  The biography is the study of an individual who in many ways represents the last serious strain of rebellion in my home, and the novel is a conclusion to everything terrible that I see in the world and the worst case scenarios that might in fact plausibly afflict us.

 

All I want to say, finally, here and now, for those of us who still love our nation (and I am a US citizen, without a nationalist bone, still in love with the idea of my home), is that I suggest you read a book, one that might provide a deeper insight into the trends of both history, and a piercing example of how the same stupidity and horror continues to afflict us generation after generation, humanity never learning from our mistakes.  Here, this is all and this is where I will leave us.  I want to recommend the British historian Richard J. Evans’ trilogy on Nazi Germany, The Rise of the Third ReichThe Third Reich in Power, and The Third Reich at War, each a stunning example of the background of how organized society might fall into the partisan muck of hatred and singular revolutionary instinct based exclusively upon prejudice, dissatisfaction, and conflicted rage.  (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780143034698&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780143037903&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9781594202063&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used).

 

And yes, I know that it is irresponsible to compare any leader, either modern or historical, to the bald genocidal hatred of Adolph Hitler, and that is not what I wish to do.  No, I am talking about us–about all of us, you and me and all the simmering anger outside of our windows.  These studies are not about Hitler, not even about the grotesque ideology of the Nazi Party.  What they discuss is society itself, about what causes such rift, such disdain, what provides struggling and frustrated minds with the need to blame one another for whatever it is we find going wrong with our lives or our nation or the whole wide world.  This is not about a single leader, about a Stalin or Mao or Trump, or any other those varying successful authoritarian figure heads.  What we need to consider–truly, passionately, and without whatever party affliction and smugly cynical blame game we devolve ourselves within more out of Thanksgiving dinner provocation than anything we might truly believe–what we need to acknowledge, truly, in these ticking by moments, is just how much we should blame ourselves and not just the opposition for the diminishing of our values, the dismissal of consideration, and the tragic arc of history that could so easily lead to something no one seems capable of seeing as they go out and vote for people not because they believe in them, but only because it might piss off those they disagree with.

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Election Day, 2019

 

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So I just returned from voting and I have to admit that I am disappointed.  Now where I live, while pretty densely populated, is a political nowhere zone, and in an election year where literally everything is local you find enthusiasm very limited.  Many people do not bother to vote.  What I noticed was that most of the crowd was elderly (and their caretakers, whether family or professional, the family members asking idiotic questions as though their mother or father had completely lost their mind, thus probably making them ineligible to vote, or merely under the influence of somebody else, incapable of making up their own mind).

 

Anyway, other than a specific question that I cannot imagine a single person voting no on, (it is meant to protect children from violence), these were the only categories I had to choose from: 2 Judges of Superior Court, 4 Judges on the Court of Common Pleas, 3 City Council members (which it alerts the voter to the fact that this is a four year term), a local district attorney, the 6-year term of a Magisterial District Judge, 5 School Directors of the district that my children attend, 2 Councilors at-Large and then, running unopposed, there is something vaguely referred to as ‘Council,’ an Auditor and the Constable.  If some of these political titles are confusing or mean nothing to you you are not alone.

 

I arrived at the polling place, and as is always the case I was set upon by Republicans and Democrats, shoving sample ballots and specific propaganda for candidates they represent, each side begging me to vote for a “Strong Republican” or “All Democratic” ticket.  The opposing sides seemed on the most part friendly, although all of them clearly believed one another to be imbeciles.  To one of the partisans I handed the other partisan’s paperwork and he laughed, presuming that I was on his side.

 

I repeat that such a minor local election is traditionally under attended, but this is a terrible mistake on the part of those living in a community.  Sure, the categories are unexciting and the news made is pretty minor, larger cities having elections for Mayor and other higher profile positions.  But you know the cliche:

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Or, to put it more purposefully,

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Your local school board, the judges that interpret the laws or impose the customs for holidays and celebrations, those city councilors that make wild decisions based on the paranoid ranting of a neighbor who supported them, all of this matters.  These people form the attitude of a whole community, whether pro or con, be it way too enthusiastic or crushingly and hopelessly cynical.  Such attitudes bleed directly into the larger statewide and national elections once they come around, mostly independent people inspired one way or the other by they support or loathing of one of these otherwise meaningless individuals with impressive sounding jobs.

 

It does not matter specifically who I voted for, at least in disclosure in a piece such as this, but I voted in every category.  I also made the first write-in vote of my life, challenging one of the unopposed candidates who lives up the street from me and whom I cannot stand, and scribbling in–and this is absolutely true–‘Satan.’  It makes me wonder if the indifferent polling place might find zero people voting in the unchallenged election and finding the Dark Lord winning.  I wonder if he might come up from Hell to serve in office, perhaps doing at least no worse than anyone before him.  Although I do not believe he is a resident of this district (or even the state), so I doubt he is eligible for office.

 

And so to end I wish to once more state that every election matters, no matter what meaningless asshole is running for a seat you have neither an interest in nor an understanding of what that person is supposed to do and why it matters to anyone.  It is about the feeling of the community, about an understanding of where exactly it is that you live.  This is why all of this is important.  Now watch the news this evening, see whatever nonsense they focus on (switch around and see the various biases on display), and then get ready for 2020, which might just be the most vicious election in the history of our nation.

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Uncategorized

I Want I Want I Want

 

I want, I want to talk about a few things but fear that none of this is relevant.  For a long time now I have been swirling and ranting and playing games with words and the world as it is not just to articulate reality, but as the sort of self-therapy that many writers use language to understand themselves.  There is nothing so special about my life, about who I am and what I intend to be, and yet the very idea of this, of this blog, creates the sort of self-absorbed nonsense that everything else that I write seems to condemn.  I try not to write about myself, to display my personal anxieties and fear, and yet sometimes there is nothing else worth saying (at least as far as a self-absorbed writer is concerned) than whatever it is that has gone wrong with my life.

 

There are a handful of pieces where I have talked about depression, about the mental qualms and illness that somehow overtake so many people.  I suppose I am among this crowd, this bleak, pretend class of people who are so caught up in whatever fantasy they convince themselves is the truth that they can no longer function and find themselves wondering what purpose there is to bother go on living.

 

I am not suicidal–long ago, in the darkest phases of my life, I convinced myself that I was far too arrogant (and deep down way too impressed with myself) to ever bother wondering if the world would be better off without me.  This is not the issue, and I want to get such things out of the way.  Sure, I am mentally ill (there have been far too many doctors confirming this, regardless of second and third and fourth opinions, to doubt such meaninglessness any longer), and there are plenty of doubts that overwhelm me to bother reconsidering the lax optimism that is a vague afterthought.  I have no idea why I am exposing this to whatever public is left to bother wondering anything about whatever I have to say (since dropping the cost of advertising I have discovered that most of my so-called followers were shams, random algorithms based in foreign lands that pretended to follow me and which have been proven false, the readerless toxins that allow folks such as me, and most of you as well, to believe that the world is taking notice and that more than the handful of actual readers and followers are paying attention to the random thoughts all of us consider in those momentary times when whatever we believe might somehow influence the world).

 

I am frankly not quite so arrogant (my arrogance trends in different directions, more self-satisfaction with the idea that I understand things than the messianic belief that if I state something I might alert the world to its problems).  No, this whole blog has been about articulating ideas that fall into the outside pieces which I write professionally, those longer term stories that should actually reach a small audience.  I understand that plenty of people are merely seeking answers to the horrible questions that oppress them and this is the bog I try to function within and swim desperately to the shore of; this dank sewer of misery and mistrust that consumes so much of the larger world.

 

I do not wish to bitch and moan about whatever is wrong with me, about whichever concerns obsess me from moment to moment, nor about my biases, or ideas, or political fixations and social concerns.  All of that is ultimately bullshit and no matter how self-righteously we rant about what is right and what is wrong I hope that all of us can recognize this.  There are plenty of words we can offer to condemn whichever opposition oppresses us, and there is much more we can mock and condemn, seeing the damnation of the others before whichever morality we ascribe to ourselves.  All of this is finally meaningless, this disrupted world, where everything and everyone is at war with itself and the fabric of society has been corrupted so deeply that whatever view we choose to promote is not so much reality as it is something to destroy, some insane ideology where the flaws are so clearly on display that there is no point in even considering them (should you ascribe to a slightly different philosophy).

 

God, religion, political parties, and all of those vaguely organized systems are part of the cruel wrong we have imposed upon ourselves.  It is what makes people so uncertain, so horrible, so consumed by either guilt or superiority that everything, from everyone, comes across as a different sort of insanity.  Yes, we are all insane, at least on a smaller scale.  I know that I admit to my own admonishment, to my own uncertainty and confusion as my otherwise confident arrogance rants on and on and on.  I truly believe whatever it is that I have to say, at least in the provocative moment.  I just hope that the bulk of you realize, that whatever issue you raise to the faith of divinity, I hope that you might understand that all of us are doomed, condemned to whatever minor idea we consider to be the meaning of life.  There is no meaning to life, other than eating and shitting and reproducing, the concepts that otherwise consume us more a distraction than biological necessity.  I wonder how we finally compare to let us say the tube worm, an utterly mindless creature capable of surviving deep inside the magma (or even the outer core) of our planet.  We should realize, finally, for all the complaints and arguments we have to offer that make our lives so angry and misplaced, I wonder if we can realize that this grotesque creature living deep inside our planet and mocking our ideas of a soul is only interested in eating, fucking, dividing itself into immortality and finally dying without realizing it was ever alive.  I wonder if such primordial existence is actually more evolved than the miserable creatures we have decided that we are.  I wonder if we should even bother.  I wonder.  I wonder . . .