Monthly Archives: November 2011
|November 25, 2011||Filled under Knitting and Sewing|
I have this neighbor that manages the local Christmas market. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Germany, live in Germany, or have unsuspectingly traveled to Leavenworth, Washington during the holidays, but a traditional German Christmas Market is a force to behold.
Roasted chestnuts, hand-made candles, knitwear, carved wooden toys, blown glass, the ever-present scent of sausages, and my personal favorite: Hot spiced wine.
I’m guessing the latter had something to do with my willingness to be part of the Christmas market this year. My neighbor asked me if I wanted a stand there, and in my eagerness to be a part of… everything… I said yes, of course.
I don’t know how to sew.
I learned how to knit on YouTube.
I have a sewing machine I bought at a discount store. It runs on diesel and swearwords.
Any salable skills I possess are likely not appropriate for family atmospheres or carolers.
But somehow I found myself flipping the pages of the calendar and realizing I actually had to MAKE things to display in my little Christmas hut. The kid was more productive than I, which is why I’m mostly selling a collection of toilet-paper-tube robots and crayon pictures of a “Chilala Dog” (Thank you Skippy John Jones).
So B and I put our heads together and made things. Aprons, of course. Kitchen things, like egg warmers and pot holders. I sew and knit at a rate that earns me approximately 12 cents an hour (euro cents, so that might be like three dollars by now). Along the way we learned a few things. Like my sewing machine runs better when oiled. And that, when sat upon, pins can puncture a buttocks like a hot knife through butter. Creative optimists as we are, we considered turning the wound into a piercing but I was concerned that a stud in my left cheek would make my nylons run.
|November 14, 2011||Filled under Androgyny vs. Equality|
I’ve been doing some research on sexuality in traditionally male and female roles. Mostly in the form of browsing GQ for male underwear ads. Believe me, there is a lot to be learned from underwear ads. The other place where I’ve been doing my research is the magazine aisle where every cover proclaims to have the secret sexual wisdom that has long gone unknown and thus defied our orgasms for… centuries. Or at least since the last issue. Most often I discovered that any sexual dissatisfaction on my part was the result of the fact that I had not read the latest Cosmo and was unaware that I wanted roses, the back of my knees massaged, and soft porn. Strangely, there was no mention of Mark Wahlberg (except in the ad for skivvies), which led me to believe these authors are just taking a shot in the dark (or sometimes with the light on for visual stimulation).
I wonder how many of us are reading these things and trying to string together some expectation of our sexuality with which we can identify. All this propaganda has us more sexually confused than Elton John in the Seventies. Here we find ourselves in the 21st Century and we’re still somehow compelled to believe we don’t know how to have good sex. I don’t know a lot of things for sure, but I do know this:
The world population has not reached nearly seven billion as the result of a lot of bad sex.
Nonetheless, we seem to be complicating a relatively banal physical activity with a lot of fluff that is the product of a cultural shift in male and female roles. Oh yeah – and the fact that women appear somehow more demanding now. Or employ sexual bartering to get the dishes done. I’ll whore myself out for a light bulb change or a trash run any day.
In the interest of science, I’ve been wandering the streets for strangers and inviting unsuspecting friends into this conversation for a few weeks: What do we actually want from each other?
The response that I get, across the board, is a resounding “We want men to be masculine and women to be feminine.” Obviously I only crossed paths with straight people because my gay-friend-quota is embarrassingly depleted. (If you are gay and need a friend, or if you are belonging to any minority and need a friend, please apply accordingly because my social palette is currently about as exciting as a Woody Allen movie.) So let’s break this down into something we can work with, because I’m not sure we’re talking just about amount of body hair.
1. pertaining to or characteristic of a man or men: masculine attire.
2. having qualities traditionally ascribed to men, as strength and boldness.
The basics: masculine attire. That’s right, boys, leave the skirts in the closet. And as far as I’m concerned, the whole pink shirt because you’re “comfortable with your masculinity” thing can go too. And here’s a special note for the English guys: For the love of God, stop wearing purple. Strength and boldness. That sums it up for me right there. Men have traditionally been hunters, and then farmers, and then factory workers and other things that demanded brawn and brute muscle (I think I just excited myself with that sentence). Their success in life (i.e. the ability to live long enough to procreate) depended, for the most part, on a physical aggressiveness and mental agility. Now we idolize people that just look the part – see: any Hollywood stud.
Somehow we women manage to give our male counterparts some conflicting messages. We disallow their masculine rituals and roll our eyes when they try to reclaim some connection with their testicles by identifying with sports figures (modern day warriors!). And we appear to reward them when they attempt to emote or sexually connect in a more feminine manner by proudly parading our pussy-whipped men around as equal sharers of household duties and accomplished grocery shoppers. Socially it seems to be what we want, but is it sexually?
There appears to be a certain vitality and vigor that has declined in our male population. It has been replaced with fucking Dr. Phil and Nivea for Men. I want our men back, the way they used to be: Sweaty and worked up from chasing down an antelope, and demanding an urgent lay on a cave floor. Or the laundry room.
And after that, because we’re all liberated and stuff now, he can do the dishes.
|November 2, 2011||Filled under Androgyny vs. Equality|
Once I had a boyfriend who was really sensitive. It was so in Mode at the time I thought I’d landed a real catch. He liked shoes, was interested in cooking utensils, and spent more time heading south than Ernest Shackleton on a British grant. Times were good and I had found, quite possibly, The One. And he was so in tune with himself and his emotions that he went regularly to something he referred to as “coaching” which sounded kind of like therapy for people who don’t have problems. Once I called it counseling and was quickly prompted to correct myself. Enter red flags of insecurity.
What I loved about this guy was that he felt things the way I felt things. It was so great to have conversations of like-mindedness about the frustrations of pre-menstrual hormonal surges. It was great to talk to someone about fear of loss and worrying about not being attractive enough. I thought to myself “Finally! A man who is emotionally evolved!!”
And then he cried.
It wasn’t even a happy-movie-ending-cry (which I regularly tolerate). It was a sympathy cry. I was crying. He cried with me. Then he cried more. And I knew then I could not love this man and that when I told him so, he would cry more. And he did. On the floor of my hallway. Sobbed in a fetal position. For much longer than respectable.
Let’s just set a few gender specific activities straight right now:
- Women are allowed to sob, broken-hearted, on the floor. While men may do this, they should commit harikiri before ever admitting to it publicly.
- During emotional conversations, men may replace words with emotive grunts. This counts as communicating.
Somehow in our society we have misled much of the male population into believing that we want them to be more like women, and if they need to be men, they may do so within the four walls of their Man Cave, at sports events, or when we need a light bulb changed. (By the way, this is a fantastic article on the modern pasty white male reduced to a garage full of phallic symbolism and weak beer.) There are a lot of theories on how this shift has occurred.
My friend, Owen Marcus suggests that it has a lot to do with the men of our day being raised primarily by women. Fathers are off working in offices all day and commuting. The majority of educational professionals at elementary level are women. Marketing campaigns across the globe indicate that sensitive men are loved tenderly (in a bizarre mother-like manner) by women. And let’s not even start with the feminist movement that has replaced one kind of sexism with another.
Last week I was at the airport with my husband. Who may divorce me after this blog. Everything was dandy and we were checking in on those little electronic machines that greatly reduce the personnel costs of airlines and mostly confuse the traveling population with their technical voodoo. (No really, how does it read my passport? It’s just creepy.) The Man tried to check in. He was rejected by the machine. I watched him, from a safe distance, as he turned from Metrosexual Charmer in a suit with a pink dress shirt to a grunting, stomping, angry Neanderthal. He was mad, and that goddamn machine knew it too because he was dancing around it like some sort of primate getting ready to battle to the death for mating rights.
At first I was appalled. Good lord, man, calm yourself down and think rationally about it. I think I even lectured him on articulating frustration to the tune of “When I am angry about something that is out of my control, I just sigh and hope I don’t look too fat.” For the rest of the tour through the airport, I watched him carefully eye innocent bystanders in hopes that they’d pick a fight with him so he’d have a validated reason to pound something to smithereens.
This is masculine physiological emotional processing taking place. Back in the day, things that caused anger and fear required physical reactions: escaping, chasing, battling, and general pummeling, not to mention gratuitous sex rights in primate clans and the evolutionary “because I can” screw. In our fancy modern world of therapists and “coaches” we don’t have any real, human way to express our emotions in a manner that reflects our physiology (see: testosterone). And then we’ve got us pesky women always trying to be “understood” by our men.
I would argue that by disallowing or disproving of masculine emotional response, we’re turning our men into an entire gender of confused and repressed emotions. Instead of us getting closer to our male partners, it drives us further away. They retreat to their man caves, play with their genitalia, and watch porn where women succumb to the all-mighty power of The Cock willingly and without asking them to fold laundry first or cuddle afterward.
Over the years I’ve come to understand that the “emotionally evolved” man is not necessarily a man that embraces and exhibits feminine emotional qualities, but rather a man who is aware of himself, his emotions, others, and their emotions, in their own unique form. It’s a man who embraces a crying me, but is likely thinking about a Sloppy Joe because I burned dinner and the immediate need for food seems paramount to my failures as a housewife. And then he says “I love burned meat. And the woman who makes it.” Because he understands that my tears have manifested themselves from something beyond the petrified meal.
So I pledge to let my man be a man and to encourage his masculine means of emoting. For Christmas I am going to get him a club for bashing things. I am going to stop asking him if he “wants to talk about it” because I know that when he’s processed his emotions into a lexicon of verbs and nouns, he’ll probably share them with me. I will stop expecting him to be as excited as I am about things like imported Saffron and poetry. And I’ll let him know that if he comes out on top of the battle with the automatic check-in machine, I’ll be his boodle.
*** Next on Androgyny vs. Equality: Sex. It’s not a chore.