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Chick Flick Sick

July 21, 2011

 NOTE: It’s been a long time since I’ve seen most of the films I am about to discuss, so I apologize if my recollections are off.

 

Have you ever seen Win a Date with Tad Hamilton? It’s a romantic comedy starring Kate Bosworth as Rosalee, the world’s most perfect and worthy young woman whom everyone likes, and you can’t even hate her for it because she’s such a wonderful person. She lives in a small town and works in a grocery store with her weedy little supervisor played by that 70’s guy, Topher Grace. Through means I can’t be bothered to remember, she wins a contest to meet uber-delectable Hollywood heartthrob, Josh Duhamel… I mean, uh, Tad Hamilton. Through the magic of movie implausibility, Tad brings all of his manly uber-delectableness to Rosalee’s home town and decides he likes it there. Contrary to movie convention, the hot guy isn’t a total douchebag or straight-up rapist- he’s actually a nice guy who’s sick of the superficiality of LA and finds Rosalee’s world refreshingly unpretentious. He treats her magnificently well, using his wealth to dote on her without trying to buy her affection. He puts more effort into immersing himself in her world than trying to impress her with the excesses of his.

But you see, the needy, insecure grocery store manager has a secret crush on her, and as such, has pretended to be her friend for years. He feels threatened by Tad and Rosalee’s new-found happiness and does everything in his power to sabotage their relationship. That is how we, the audience, know that he is not really her friend- a friend, after all, would be happy for her. Only someone who sees her as an attainable object and not as a person with her own life to live would actively attempt to ruin her happiness without remorse. In the process, however, he accidentally lets slip the Konami-code for getting into the girl’s pants to Tad (some nonsense about “seven smiles”), because, as we all know, the key to unlocking a girl’s affection always lies in some secret “open sesame” password and never in, say, getting to know her and treating her with respect, because, after all, women are things, not people like you and me.

Things take a turn for the truly disturbing when it’s revealed that Rosalee’s own father is in on the plot. He informs Topher, in so many words, that when his daughter says “no,” she probably really means “yes”, and even if she doesn’t, he owns his daughter and can dispose of her sexuality as he sees fit. So Topher should totally go ahead and try to fulfill his own desires with no acknowledgment of hers. When Topher plays his final trump card- telling her he wants her to be happy, even if it’s not with him- Rosalee realizes her moral obligation to fall in love with him, as if he, not she, is the film’s protagonist, for whom everything must work out in the end (actually, he is in fact the film’s protagonist, in the same way that Iago is the protagonist of Othello.). She abandons her own happy ending to become a factor in someone else’s, someone completely unworthy of her, out of what can only be guilt and pity- guilt, despite having done nothing wrong, and pity for the man who spent the entire movie trying to make her miserable.

And thus ends this truly tragic tale, a tale far too familiar for too many girls who have been convinced that men deserve to attain whatever they want as long as they try hard enough, even if their prize comes at the expense of their own futures. All too often, I see incredible women, smart and kind and beautiful, end up with selfish trolls who treat them only as trophies, unworthy of personal fulfillment.

 

But it's totally okay if they're rich.

But enough pre-amble. Have you guessed today’s topic yet?

Of course I’m talking about…

CHICK FLICKS. 

No.

 

Chick flicks are movies targeted directly and exclusively toward women, as opposed to other movies, which are targeted toward people (which apparently only includes men). But have you noticed that most of these films seem to actively hate women?

I’d love to bring studies and evidence and shit into it, but I’m sure there are far more reliable sources for such things, and this isn’t that kind of blog. So, personal anecdote time!

I had this abusive boyfriend whose treatment of me left me with repressed memories and who even ended up trying to kill me once or twice. And for reasons he could never explain, he hated hated HATED Julia Roberts (and for that matter, I think he hated Brad Pitt too). But then this psycho with whom I lived under the constant threat of assault and disembowelment went and saw the movie The Mexican without me, reporting back after the fact that he effing LOOOOOVED it. He wouldn’t shut up about it, and eventually managed to make me sit down and watch it with him.

I’m always amused when film producers try to appeal to both men and women in the same movie (in this case by making a gangster-movie/rom-com), and proving in the process that they understand the mental processes of neither (when the only person I’ve ever met who saw this movie and identified with it turned out to be a complete sociopath, it says something about the film’s producers). Pitt is a gun for hire or something working for the mob, and his live-in girlfriend (Roberts) has the selfish PMS-driven gall to not want to be associated with mobsters (seriously- in a scene in which she breaks up with Pitt after he broke his promise to cut ties with the Mafia, she’s portrayed as a spoiled, hysterical bitch.). So Tyler Durden goes on a quest to steal some legendary gun in Mexico while Pretty Woman gets charmingly kidnapped by Tony Soprano. Laughs aplenty are had at her girly fear of being raped (it’s funny because- spoiler alert- he’s gay!). Anyway, stuff happens, yada yada, Gene Hackman, and finally we get to the moral of the story, in which Erin Brockovich learns that if you love someone to the degree that the script says she loves Mr. Jolie, then you should be willing to put up with anything, even kidnapping, torture, and the threat of rape, just to be by his side no matter what happens. “Enough is never enough”, the film tells us, and breaking up with a man who is bad for you is never, ever justified, no matter how badly he treats you. Did I mention that the only reason I saw this movie is because my abusive boyfriend forced me to? Thus proving my point: making someone watch The Mexican counts as domestic abuse. Oh, and chick flicks suck.

Okay, no, not all of them. But, I would argue that the “chick flicks” that aren’t sexist pieces of trash aren’t chick flicks at all- they’re just character-driven films in which the protagonist happens to have a vagina, like 51% of the population does. In many of these films you could easily substitute male characters for the females, and if you add a touch of unnecessary misogyny, male audiences would eat it up. The Devil Wears Prada is basically just Swimming With Sharks (minus the whole revenge-murder plot), while Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion is essentially a female Revenge of the Nerds (minus the whole “invading the privacy of others is okay if you’re the main character” notion). But the discerning viewer can usually tell the difference between a film that happens to have a female at its center, and a true “chick flick”, aka, the dreaded Romantic Comedy. Which, by the way, I am convinced are totally made for men.

If you’re my age, you grew up with charming John Hughes flicks like Sixteen Candles, in which the handsome douchebag gives Underdog Michael Hall permission to rape his girlfriend. And no, I’m not exaggerating. Since the hot girlfriend’s sexuality belongs to her boyfriend, he has the right to disseminate it as he sees fit. This makes him an asshole not because he’s pro-rape, but because it shows that he has obviously lost interest in his gf in favour of pursuing Molly Ringwald, the object of Anthony’s affection, thus making him Anthony’s romantic rival. Anthony Michael Hall rejects the offer, not because rape is wrong, but because that would be cheating on Molly. I want there to be no misunderstanding here: the very real prospect of rape is introduced into a movie aimed at young people and no one even brings it up as a bad thing. In the eighties, we called this “romance”. And Sixteen Candles is a romantic movie, almost as romantic as Dirty Dancing, a film in which a woman who has an extra-marital affair deserves to be shunned by society as a whore, but the man she slept with (who makes a routine out of sleeping with married women) deserves to live happily ever after with an intelligent, driven young woman whose job it is to save him and give him purpose (what he does for her, besides being generally hot, I have no idea). And that’s another common theme, the idea that a man “needs” the woman he supposedly loves because he’s made his happiness her responsibility, and it’s her job to make him a better person. Because, god forbid she ever prioritize her own life, right?

This is why I liked the ending of Bridget Jones’s Diary so much. SPOILER ALERT! When the charmingly befuddled Hugh Grant falls to his knees and begs her to be with him, as only she can save him and turn him into the man he wants to be, she leans in and says “that’s not a good enough reason for me”. You need to understand how vindicated I felt about this ending, as someone who stayed in a horrific relationship for three years because my man would die without me. Sure, he wrote a poem and song or two about me, but they weren’t really about me- they were about shit he made up in order to feel like an artist. I’ve had lots of songs and poems and crap written by people who were inspired by stuff they invented about an imaginary girl, but that girl wasn’t really me. They never took the time to get to know me, to know what I was about, my hopes and fears, my faults and insecurities. No, they just put me up on pedestals of fiction and told me all about their love for me and all the wonderful things they thought about. A man can fill books and books worth of poems and songs about how he feels about you, and that’s all well and good. But the man who really loves you will give you a blank notebook and a pen.

And that’s why, when Colin Firth gave Renee Zellweger that diary, I rejoiced a little inside.

 

Plus, y'know... Colin Firth.

See, my problem with so-called “Chick Flicks” is that they aren’t even made for chicks. Just like Sex and the City convinced us all that we love cosmopolitans and shoes (and The Fast and the Furious made men want to race souped-up cars), any woman I have ever known who relates to a chick flick seems to do so only after having seen said chick flick. Okay, I realize it’s a bit of a correlation/causation, chicken-and-egg affair, but it honestly seems like, instead of films accurately reflecting the lives and thoughts of women, we talk about relationship paradigms using the “all women want to get married“, “men are afraid of commitment” and “he’s just not that into you” cliches that we get from rom-com movie dialogue. We even congratulate ourselves in always going for the “nice guy” who “deserves” us, as if we’re just vehicles for his happiness instead of trying to find our own, just like in the movies. It’s always the male’s story of attaining his prize, or the woman’s story of letting herself be attained (ever notice how often the woman seems to hate the man at first, but he “wears her down” with his “charm”?) Honestly, I could go on and on about film and media’s constant barrage of brainwashing messages directed at women, but I’ll leave it at this: do you really think that these movies are called “date movies” because anybody actually wants to see them? Or do you think it might have more to do with getting the message into a woman’s head what she’s “supposed” to do? That’s right sweetie, I’m such a nice guy, you’re obligated to end up with me, because I’m the protagonist, and you’re just a love interest. So what if you’re not perfect according to my tastes? A quick makeover will fix that!

Remember, girls, always change yourself for the man you love.

So why am I bringing all of this up now?

Duh. Because I saw Bridesmaids.

On opening day.

Of course. 

Lookin’ good, ladies! Rock that “painfully uncomfortable” look!
 
Personally, I really enjoy films like the 40-Year-Old Virgin and Superbad. I find Judd Apatow’s approach to comedy, while not terribly original, both hilarious and endearing. My only issue with these flicks is that they are so vehemently marketed strictly toward males only that I felt a little excluded while watching them. “This is not for you, Breasted One,” the scripts seem to be saying. “You are the Other, the target of our humour. Begone, and laugh not at our jokes, for you are nothing but a machine for the vending of sex and babies!” It kinda ruins the movie watching experience. I can’t tell you how I have longed for a film with that kind of humour that I could actually relate to.

And yet I still haven't seen Baby Mama.

 

When I was a maid-of-honour, there was a lot of bullshit. I love my sister, and I wanted nothing more than for her special day to be as perfect as possible, but I mean seriously, enough is enough. More than a year of my life was devoted to making her happy. Everything I had going on in my own life had to be put aside, and I had a lot going on at the time. It was expected that being Maid of Honour was now my top priority, and that nothing would stand in the way of my duties, whatever those were (honestly, it’s like everyone assumes that women are simply born knowing how to be a bridesmaid. I had no idea what any of the dozens of rituals entailed, and nobody really tells you. You’re just a horrible person if you don’t already know). I was suffering health problems, financial problems, and personal problems, none of which anyone cared about because I wasn’t important enough to be getting married. I was living off of ramen noodles and couldn’t afford to pay my hydro bill, yet was expected to shell out $400 for a dress I was going to wear once without blinking an eye. The day came when I finally had to choose between paying for the bachelorette party and paying rent. So, naturally, I said good-bye to the apartment I loved and moved out. When the medical condition I was suffering from left welts all over my legs, the bride-to-be got royally pissed at me because it would mar how I looked in my knee-length dress. My personal relationships suffered- I wasn’t allowed to bring a date even though she had promised me I could, even though I had already asked my SO to accompany me, even though he was already picking out suits- I had to tell him he couldn’t come after all because it would mess up the head table’s symmetry. I had to (temporarily) drop out of school to make time for wedding planning. And no one ever even acknowledged any of this, or even asked me how I was doing. Because it was expected- as a female, it was my duty to kneel and worship at the altar of matrimony, an institution in which I do not even believe.
 
How the fuck did it take this long for someone to make a comedy out of this?
 
I know that my experience is not unique. Millions of women can relate, and those women went to see Bridesmaids and laughed their yoga-toned asses off. In truth, the trials and tribulations of being a bridesmaid aren’t really the focus of the film- not the nitty gritty details anyway. The central conflict is between the bride’s longtime best friend (played to comic perfection by Kristen Wiig), and the new so-perfect-you-want-to-punch-her-in-the-face bff clearly gunning for the top spot in the wedding party (played by Rose Byrne). The tension leads to an emotional rift between Wiig and the bride (Maya Rudolph), beginning a deterioration of a lifelong friendship. This proves to be the final blow to a woman whose life has been going downhill ever since her business collapsed and her boyfriend left her, leading to an all-too-real exploration of how far a person can be pushed and still maintain her polite smile. It’s not a Rom Com- yes, like all movies, from Pink Flamingoes to Die Hard, there is a romantic sub-plot in which Wiig, who is in an un-satisfying fuck-buddy relationship with Don Draper, unwittingly cultivates the affections of the world’s most adorable traffic cop (played by the IT Crowd’s Chris O’Dowd, who cleans up real nice) after he pulls her over for broken taillights and sends her to his friend Bill Cozbi (no, not him), who will give her a good deal on fixing them…
 

...presumably by use of a "Jump-To-Conclusions" mat...

but that isn’t the focus of the film. The real crux of the story (if you can pick it out from the multitude of hilarious scenes like a terrified Wiig getting drunk on a plane, or the gross-out food poisoning episode) is the relationship between the two friends, the one constant in her life that Wiig needs to get back on her feet.

This is a film for everyone, male and female alike, even though the bullshit that comes with being a bridesmaid is a particularly female experience. Because of this, the director (Paul Feig), writers (Wiig and Annie Mumolo), and stars of this film manage to bring us a film experience that women can truly relate to and identify with without being a brainwashing “chick flick”. It’s a movie made for women, as if they are people like everyone else. And I say, it’s about damn time.

 

Let the trend begin!

 

 Bridesmaids is playing now in Canada and Australia. Go see it!

And stay tuned for Princess T’s response to Death-Rae’s tirade.

 

Getting to the Ring

April 28, 2011

Always a bridesmaid...

Princess T says:

With Kate (oh I’m sorry, I mean “Catherine”) and William having just tied the knot, finally, after eight years of dating, I’m sure it’s got many people thinking ‘how long is too long to play the ‘waity Katy’ game?
There is a lot of advice (probably too much if you ask me) out there on how to get your man to propose.

Here are two posts (in one blog mind) on the very topic

How to get him to propose

The proposal deadline

Reading both articles together is actually quite ridiculous. Tricks to get him to propose, and if he doesn’t fall for them within 6-9 months, dump him.

Obviously it’s all rubbish. But it brings up a few good questions: how do you know if a guy is marriage ready? How long should you wait? How do you know if he will ever commit?

I really like the analogy from Sex and the City that men are a bit like taxis – when they’re ready to get married, their light goes on, and they’ll marry the next woman that flags them down so to speak. Yes, it’s true that a man might make slightly more effort in picking a wife than simply the next available woman once he turns on his light.
But I do think the idea that men have a “marriage light” if you will, is a valid concept.

Whereas women (or I’ll say most women) always seem to have their marriage light lit, and are “waiting for the right man”, men wait for the “right time” to turn on the marriage light. And, if you think about it, it’s kind of wise in a way. When women think about marriage (and again, I’m speaking in general terms), it’s the equivalent of when men think about sex – by that I mean there is very little cognitive reasoning going into the decision, and it is mainly driven by instinct.

Generally, there are some signs that can indicate that a man is lit or is likely to be turning the light on soon.

1. He is within the marrying age. There are countless studies that
indicate an age range in which a man is most likely to get married.
And it seems these vary based on culture and education. But generally
speaking somewhere in the years between 27-35 are what I would call
the marriage years. This does not mean that outside of those ages it’s
hopeless. Everybody, and every relationship, is different.

2. A significant majority if his friends, colleagues, and family
members are married. This boils down to a culture and upbringing thing
and really can be applied to many other issues besides marriage. It’s
basically far more likely for a man who is surrounded by married
couples to decide to take the marriage plunge himself because that is
clearly seen as normal in his world.

3. He is financially stable and has a steady job. Men seem to equate
marriage as requiring a certain level of financial stability, rather than purely

in terms of romance and feelings. I suppose the reasoning is that the
main purpose of marriage is really to raise a family, and if a man
doesn’t feel ready and able to raise a family, he is really not likely
to feel ready to get married. And for a man, being ready and able to
raise a family, generally means being the main bread-winner. Of
course, women work too these days. But this is a relatively new phenom

in evolutionary terms, so man’s instinct to be the provider hasn’t yet
caught up to modern standards.

Of course, a guy can tick all those boxes, and still be completely reluctant or unwilling to get married. Conversely, a man can meet absolutely none of those criteria, and propose after six months. But if we’re talking odds, those would be the exceptional cases.

So, what happens if you’re dating a man you’ve decided is “marriage material”. Is there any magic formula to “getting a man to propose”?

The short answer is ‘no’, because you can never force anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. And, when it comes to marriage, why would you want to? Do you really want to spend your life with a man who was coerced into the marriage just so you can show off your sparkly ring, and tick that off your life’s ‘to-do’ list?

The long answer is no BUT if marriage is something that is important in your life, there are things you can do to make it more likely that you will get married.

The first, of course, is picking the right man. The more time you waste with Mr Wrong, the less time you have to find Mr Right. That means getting rid of this strange fear of being single. Haven’t you ever noticed life’s irony that it’s always the girl who was never
desperate to be in a relationship or in a hurry to get married who ends up marrying “Mr Right”?

Without going into too much detail about why that is, I basically think it’s because that girl was not the type to waste time with a man because having a boyfriend, any boyfriend, was better than being alone. By having the courage not to settle for any man who will stick around, she made herself available to the right type of guy (whatever
the “right” guy might be for that particular girl).

On that point, I refer to the wise words of Mr Rogers (Mr Kenny Rogers that is…):

‘you gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run…’

This is not only true of poker, but of relationships as well. Sometimes, knowing whether or not to walk away from a relationship that appears to be going nowhere, does feel a bit like a gamble. I think it basically comes down to whether you’re happy, truly happy, in the relationship. If you’re only sticking around because this guy is better than nothing, and he’ll probably propose eventually, and you hate being single, and all your friends are in couples, and if you leave him now you’ll never get married… well if those are your best reasons for staying in a relationship, you need to have a good hard look in the mirror!

Which brings me to my second point: don’t commit to any relationship too quickly. This seems counter-intuitive, but it is my personal belief that taking things slow and not diving into a relationship with the first cute guy that comes along can actually increase your chances of finding the right guy. Obviously, there’s no real objectivity to attraction and love, but there is something to be said about thinking with your head and your heart, not just one or the other. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a completely disappointing relationship because you ignored the warning signs and rushed into things, hoping to fast-track your way down the aisle (see above re: wasting time with the wrong guy).

Finally, if you’ve been with someone for a year or more, there’s nothing wrong with talking about it. That doesn’t mean pressuring him, or offering an ultimatum. But expressing that marriage is something that you want in your life eventually is a good thing IF (and only if…) you’re in a serious relationship (because men are not psychic, and they also get nervous talking about feelings and stuff…).

That does not mean you should bring it up on the third date though (or the first, second, fourth… well if you can count the number of dates, it’s too soon)! This relates to my above point of not rushing into any relationship! Stop thinking every guy is “the One”!

If you’re in a serious relationship with someone, it should not be weird discussing the potential for a future together. If a guy makes you feel weird about it, be suspicious. Any man who thinks he can get serious with a woman but not commit is crazy. A man who is with someone he really loves should also be thinking future together, so if you’re not on the same page, it’s probably better to discuss that openly.

So, in summary, there’s no magic trick or potion (or even a chicken!) that will make a man propose. I wouldn’t even bother trying to get him to propose. Talk about it once when things have gotten serious to test the waters. If you get a bad reaction, it’s time reassess the relationship. I believe that you’ll know in your heart when things are right. If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.

Rae Says:

If you watched the Royal Wedding, there’s a good chance that it inspired you to think about what your wedding will be like, assuming you ever have one. It won’t be quite as grand as Will and Kate’s, of course, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t fast-track “marry Prince Charming” on your resolution list. Right?

If marriage is on your plate, then you’d better start planning, examining the qualifications of potential candidates for the role. I can’t think of a more romantic process, especially if you’re hoping to marry your one true love. True love is something you can schedule, right?

Death cannot stop true love... It has a schedule to keep!

I- I mean, a friend of mine… named, um… Miss… X… (*ahem*), had these two boyfriends (no, not at the same time). Their names were… uh… A and B. Their parents weren’t very imaginative.

‘A’ longed for a lady to sit with, fall asleep with and wake up next to in the morning. Someone who would make him feel comfortable, appreciated, and loved. In short, he was lonely. Their friendship became a relationship seemingly by osmosis- X eventually just stopped going home after an evening of movie watching. At no point did he declare his affection for anything about X personally. In fact, there were times when he barely seemed to like or even notice her at all. By his own admission, the only reason he called her on a Friday night instead of someone else was that he knew she’d be available. But he seemed to like having her around. It didn’t make sense, until she realized- he had no real interest in her as a person. X merely filled a girl-shaped hole in his life.

After they broke up, X made a resolution: never again would she settle for someone she was merely “comfortable” with.  She would enforce higher standards for her mates, and to this end, developed a kind of checklist to rate men against. Qualities like kindness, wit, charm, humour, humility, intelligence, talent, physical attractiveness and a downtown apartment all became pre-requisites to gain even the time of day from her. Naturally, this meant being single for a long time.

When X met B, she was floored by her good fortune. He was sweet, smart, and excessively cute. They had enough in common to get along, but were different enough to make it interesting. He was everything she’d been looking for. It seemed to be a perfectly reasonable assumption that she was in love.

When he turned out to be a self-centered emo wannabe with delusions of grandeur and the emotional maturity of a KFC Double Down, X realized that she never really knew him after all. He was ‘good on paper’- marked off all the points on the checklist- but they were never actually real to each other. He treated her like a sacred cow, an idealized, fictional being cast as the love interest in his autobiography, while she tried, and failed, to see him as something other than a fine accessory for her eventual high school reunion. Needless to say, the breakup was messy.

So there she was, single again- to A, she was a cross-out on his life’s to-do list, and B was more of an enticing candidate to her than a person. And that’s when she realized how fucked up the common approach to relationships is.

It was like an explosion in my- I mean, her- mind, a phantasmagoria of enlightenment, the True Path laid out before her in a thousand rumpled bedsheets: HUMAN BEINGS ARE NOT ACCOMPLISHMENTS. Relationships happen because people meet, something goes back and forth between them, and they create and develop their own unique little two-person culture as naturally as apes evolve into Atheists. Did dinosaurs plan to develop feathers? And when they did, did they cry over the loss of their scales?

A relationship is an experience, and a transient, ineffable one at that. You can’t plan to find a soul mate any more than you can plan to have a spiritual revelation, or an existentialist breakdown. Sure, some people try to schedule such things, but even they know that they usually happen when you least expect them.

There are many reasons to get married- money, loneliness, procreation, political alliance, citizenship in a foreign country, etc. But if any of these are your primary motivation, then you should probably just start holding job interviews, or order a husband online (you can do that, right?)

If your goal is to prove the existence of eternal true love by means of finding a mate to pledge himself to you for life, you may as well plan to discover the cure for cancer on the surface of Planet X, the mysterious dark giant supposedly orbiting in the tenth slot in our solar system (*ahem*- I mean ninth. Sorry, Pluto). In other words, you’re structuring your life around a hypothetical miracle. Yeah, good luck with that.

Let me put it to you this way- at some point in my life, I realized that I loved to draw. Just loved it. I could do it all day and not get bored. Now, I’m an artist. I never planned to be one, to devote a part of my life, a part of my very identity, to this activity. It just sort of happened, and I never saw it coming. What can I say? It’s love. And that’s the way love happens.

To me, planning to find a man you want to marry by the end of the year is like planning to suddenly develop a passion for something you never thought twice about before. Sure, you can make an effort to appreciate it, but you’re really just using it to fill a perceived void in your life instead of loving it for the thing it is. If you’re bored, or want a challenge, you might try to develop a hobby, and that’s fine. But when you truly love something, it’s a part of you, and you’re a part of it, even when you don’t particularly want or even are able to be. There are stories of people who go to Law or Med school with dreams of opening up a practice of their own some day, but somewhere along the way, they decide they love juggling. Sure, they’d make more money and be better respected as a doctor or lawyer, and their parents probably wouldn’t disown them, but they quit anyway to devote themselves to their new passion. Because damn it, they just really love juggling.

Love isn’t convenient. It doesn’t wait until you’re ready. It doesn’t happen when you want it to. It doesn’t necessarily even fit into your life.  Love just happens to you- it’s not something you can go out and get. It isn’t something you can achieve. It just happens.

The idea that anyone can list “Find True Love” on their list next to laundry and doing their taxes strikes me as utterly absurd. You might as well write:

TO DO:

  1. Update resume
  2. Go to bank
  3. Walk down the street just before twilight, and there, suddenly, unexpectedly, catching the last glimpse of the sun’s final rays, come to terms with the transient nature of existence, realizing that all things end, but in that end, they are all beautiful.
  4. Don’t forget the milk!

When you set goals for yourself like “be married by the age of 35” (assuming you mean happily married), you’re doing the same thing. It not only cheapens the act of marriage, but it proves that you don’t really understand what love is.

Love is not finding someone with all the positive qualities you’re looking for, and then making that person a part of your life. Love is recognizing someone’s faults, and still wanting to be a part of theirs.

That’s a truly rare thing, one that doesn’t even necessarily lead to marriage. Which, by the way, is perfectly okay.

So please, don’t put “getting him to propose” on your to-do list if you have any intention of marrying for the right reasons. That kind of commitment happens when it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. But it cannot be forced. It cannot be coerced. It cannot be manipulated. And it certainly can’t be planned for.

The Long Walk Home

April 2, 2011

Every damsel finds herself in distress now and then. And what’s better after a long, hard night than the company of a long, hard knight? (ba-DUM!)

It’s finally Spring here in the Big Smoke, and that means one thing: PATIOS! But it also means that the weather is pleasant enough to enjoy a nice walk home after one of the many parties you’ll no doubt soon be attending once everyone comes out of hibernation.

So let’s imagine: it’s after last call, the party’s winding down, the subway isn’t running and you’re too broke for a cab. But that’s okay, because you only live a few blocks away, and you were smart enough to wear the flats tonight. It’s a route you’ve walked so often, that you could navigate with your eyes closed. But then there’s that voice, that little voice you hear, warning you about the big bad dangers lurking in the night. It turns out it’s coming from the guy standing next to you. He’s offering to walk you home. After all, there are dangerous people out there.

Let me make something clear: most men are perfectly nice guys just trying to do the right thing (and most people would rather do the right thing for someone they’d like to get to know better, if you know what I mean.) Most people in modern society truly believe that it isn’t safe for a woman “out there”, and they can hardly be blamed for that. On the whole, there’s nothing wrong with any of this.

But let me change tracks for a moment, if I may.

Another day. You’re standing on the subway platform. It’s quiet- there’s only one other person waiting. You have a bit of time to be alone with your thoughts. You’re thinking about work. You’re thinking about your friends. You’re thinking about art. You’re thinking about your finances. You’re thinking about your favourite sports team, the novel you’re writing, a documentary you watched the night before, or whether Japan will ever recover. You’re just being a person, doing your thing, minding your business, in your world.

Suddenly an announcement breaks over the loudspeakers, interrupting your train of thought. It advertises the “Request Stop Program”, which allows women traveling alone at night on a bus or streetcar to ask the driver to let them out between stops. There are women’s groups who lobbied long and hard for this (because if it ain’t long and hard, it ain’t worth doing. Zing! I’m on fire tonight!). And it’s important for women to have this option. Because, well… you know… I’m not going to say it, but we’re all thinking it.

Well, okay. I am going to say it.

RAPE.

The TTC has helpfully reminded you that on your way home tonight, there’s a good chance that you will be violated in the most indescribably horrific way possible, and your remains, should you be lucky enough not to survive the process, shall be buried in a pig farm. Thank god they broadcast that publicly at all hours, so that children may know what’s in store for them!

You don’t mean to, but you cast a glance down to that other individual down the platform. You’ve just been offered a service that he doesn’t get, because he’s male. So why don’t men get the same treatment? Because they’re not victims- they’re the RAPISTS! Now, the relationship between the two of you has been established whether you like it or not- you are a (potential) victim. And that guy minding his business, listening to his iPod, completely oblivious to your presence, well… HE’S GOING TO RAPE YOU.

I’m not even going to get into the injustice this does to men (1. The implicit accusation that they’re all rapists. 2. A service provided only to women? Isn’t that discrimination? What if he’s being chased by a mugger? Or the mob? Or gay rapists?). I’ll leave that to others. My problem with this program is larger. It is sociological. Anthropological, even. It’s a big deal, is what I’m saying. And it can be summed up like this: the automatic and perpetual victimization of women in society.

In almost any movie that focuses on some kind of love story, the girl (be she the protagonist or simply the hero’s love interest) must choose between two men: the one she’s attracted to (who is attractive), and the one who’s attracted to her (who isn’t). Inevitably, the guy she wants (high school quarterback, dude in a Ferrari, whatever) ends up being a douchebag. If the movie really plays its cards right, he’ll even, at some point, try to rape her. This is when the little nerdy down-on-his-luck underdog steps in and saves the day (or, if he’s George McFly, hires him as the butler). The female thus realizes her moral obligation to return his affections and they live happily ever after.

This teaches us so many lessons, nearly all of which are problematic, but today, I am going to focus on one:

There are two types of men in this world. Protectors or perpetrators. Knights in shining armour… or RAPISTS!

And since the divide is so definitive, it would be impossible for one to be the other, right?

Remember the opening scene in Great Expectations? Pip is on the marshes, when he is approached by a convict who demands he steal food for him. Does the convict convince Pip to obey him by threatening to kill him? Well, yeah, sort of, but remember what really scares Pip: the thought of That Young Man. The convict tells Pip that he has a partner, a young man whose heart is black as an abyss of evil who’d slice the poor boy open in a heartbeat. Hell, the convict is even his savior- if it hadn’t been for his intervention, the Young Man would’ve killed Pip already. So really, the Convict is just protecting him. Right?

Well, no. There is no question that the convict gets his way with Pip by use of the threat of a sinister presence lurking in the shadows. Would you argue that the convict isn’t technically threatening Pip, since the act of violence he suggests would technically come from another? I wouldn’t. Of course he’s threatening Pip. Can you honestly point out the effective difference between “do what I say or I’ll kill you”, and “do what I say or someone else will kill you”? If Pip were a girl, you certainly could.

If a man were to say to a woman, “let me walk you home or I’ll harm you”, there would be no question as to which category (protector or perpetrator) he falls into. But if he says, “let me walk you home or someone else will harm you,” suddenly he’s a gentleman. And they say chivalry is dead.

Before I go further, let me make something absolutely clear: I AM NOT SAYING THAT MEN WHO OFFER TO WALK A WOMAN HOME ARE RAPISTS. Again, they’re probably perfectly nice guys who are just doing what they’ve been taught is the right thing to do. They probably want to spend some time with you, finish up that interesting conversation you were having, or, worst-case scenario, are angling for an invitation upstairs. They are going out of their way to make you feel safe, and even though they may or may not have self-serving ends, any way you cut it, in the end they are being kind. I have no problem with this.

Where it gets bothersome is when you dig into why they believe that this is necessary in the first place. The streets are apparently crawling with rapists after dark, and only they can fend off these dragons with their imaginary swords. You are clearly a damsel in distress, a rape victim waiting to happen. He sees you the same way he’d see you if you were standing on a subway platform during a Request Stop announcement. “Poor girl. She’s already a victim. She just doesn’t know it yet.” Whether he’s interested in you sexually or just being a nice guy, the image of you he has in his head is of a shivering, frightened little girl who just found out her body doesn’t belong to her anymore. The thing is, if you walk around all day thinking of yourself as a victim, you will be one, whether anything ever happens to you or not. You certainly don’t need the company of someone else who thinks that of you, too.

Parents get their children to brush their teeth and eat their vegetables by telling them that, if they don’t, the Boogeyman will get them. In just one of the many ways in which women are condescended to and infantilized by our society, we are told that if we dare to walk the streets alone at night, the Boogeyman will get us, too. Apparently, all rapists are homeless insomniacs with nothing better to do than lurk in alleyways hoping a solo female will stumble into their clever trap. I honestly, truly, wish that were so.

Women are raped by their boyfriends. Their husbands. Their fathers. Their teachers. Their co-workers. Their friends. And sometimes, by the guy who walks them home at night.

I won’t say that it isn’t true that women get raped on the street, but it doesn’t happen nearly as frequently as sexual assault by an acquaintance. Take into account also that, for various reasons, domestic sexual abuse is rarely reported, while the random attacks are sensationalized, and sometimes, aren’t what they seem.

A brief example. During the summer, I was walking down a busy street in the middle of the day when a dude marched right up to me and punched me in the shoulder. Now dislocated, my right arm was useless to me in blocking the following blows (good thing I’m a black belt, because my left arm handled the job quite nicely). His attack was purely violent- he did not attempt to rob me, and he certainly did not engage in anything remotely sexual. Even though he was a total stranger, he had seemed to pick me specifically out of the crowd. Afterward, I racked my brain to figure out what it was that set me apart. This happened in Chinatown- was it because I was white? I’m pretty sure there were other Caucasians around, and besides, if that was his standard reaction to white people, then this guy probably would’ve been put behind bars long ago. It could have been my University of Toronto T-shirt. Maybe he was a York professor. Or perhaps he’s simply a gingerphobe. (Yeah, I’m thinking gingerphobe). Or, maybe, it was because I’m a woman. But there were many other women on the street that day, and he left them all alone, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that. And yet, from the cops to the hospital staff to my own friends who heard the story, what do you suppose they all assumed?

I’ve noticed that in news reports about random violent incidents, the gender of the victim affects how they get presented. A guy gets attacked, and, if it gets reported at all, it’s a violent incident, and maybe drugs or gang warfare are involved. If a woman gets attacked, it’s an attempted rape, and all women should be on alert.

A little while ago an apartment near my campus was broken into at night. As the residents were female, an alert was sent out warning all women to stay indoors. There was no evidence presented that the break-in had anything to do with rape. Maybe they just had a nice tv? Maybe the perp was female? Everyone assumed that it was rape-related because ‘female’ equals ‘sex object’, and when you add violence, you get ‘rape victim’.

You see it in chain emails as well, those fake stories that “totes for real happened to a friend of mine”, urban legends about gas stations and babies crying on doorsteps, warning women to stay indoors where it’s safe, and not go out to claim their part of the big bad world. For their own safety, of course.

This has to stop.

This isn’t about holding doors open or laying down your coat in the rain. This isn’t my way of saying that empowered females can take care of ourselves, thank you very much. When a man offers to walk a woman home at night to protect her from all the rapists out there, then HE is the one victimizing her, by identifying her in that role, defining her as helpless. HE is the one threatening her by bringing up this fictional boogeyman. He is not protector, but perpetrator. In short, whether he knows it or not, he’s being kind of rapey.

When I tell a guy that his assistance isn’t necessary, it isn’t because I’m trying to show how empowered I am. The fact is, I have been through things in my life that would probably make him shit his pants. I’ve been attacked. I’ve been shot at. I’ve been strangled. I’ve been robbed, manipulated, and tortured both physically and mentally. And as for the big R… yes, I’ve been there too. And if you think I’m weak, then think about the guts it takes to admit that on the internet. Inside of me now is a force stronger than any bogeyman- the will and determination to never be a victim again. Not in his eyes, not in yours, not in society’s, and not in my own. I know my streets like the back of my hand, and am the worst insomniac I know. I can hold my liquor and see in the dark, and nothing stops my party. The streets at night belong to me. And they belong to you. They belong to anyone with the guts and gumption to claim them, and you can never have that as long as you identify as a poor little victim. Men come to me to ask if I can walk THEM home, the smart ones anyway, because they know that whoever fucks with me will feel the sum totality of all the rage and power I have stored up inside for just such an occasion. I will tear apart every last shred of that which opposes me before I even feel the impact, and you will know pain. I will destroy you before you touch me. I will fuck you up.

Own the night. Own the streets. Know your way home and be able to get there in the dark. Never rely on others for your own security. Be secure. Be a survivor. Be your own goddamn knight.

Rape is never the victim’s fault for falling into the Boogeyman’s trap. It can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere. There are dangerous people everywhere, and you can’t hide from all of them. But you can know them when you see them, and have the capacity to deal with them.

There are dangerous people out there.

Be the worst one.

Note: If you’re in Toronto, join me and countless others in the Slut Walk, a march to take back the streets and wear whatever we want without being accused of inciting sexual assault by “dressing like sluts”. Meet tomorrow (April 3rd), at 1:30pm on the south side of Queen’s Park.

Also, read my other blog, where I talk more in-depth on this crucially important subject.

Smart Women, Stupid Choices

February 17, 2011

She must be marriage material!

I am astonished to still be reading articles about how smarter women are less likely to get married. Are we still buying into this theory?!

I sometimes think articles like these are designed to scare young women into marriage “before it’s too late”. Let’s not even talk about the fact that the studies that support this theory are based on people who were born in the 1920s and, therefore, are sorely out of date. Nobody even mentions the fact that the premise assumes that marriage is a good thing, and these stupid women have won the prize, leaving the smarter women out in the cold.

Let us presume, for the purposes of this discussion, that marriage is a goal for all women, and that statistics are actually an accurate reflection on reality, more recent statistics show that, while women in their 20s are more likely to marry if they have a lower IQ, the reverse is true for single women in their 30s.

What’s the point? The point is we need to stop listening to all these stupid statistics! Because for every study that supports one theory, there is an equally compelling study to support another theory. And at the end of the day, you are more than just a percentile number. You (and everybody) are an actual person with a real life that, at times, may not conform to statistical norms.

But, it got me thinking about the way that women still buy into this theory, and feel they need to “dumb things down” in order to find a mate. This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!

Why it is not a good idea to pretend to be dumb to get a boyfriend:

  1. It is not true that all men (even smart successful men) prefer stupid women. It is true that some insecure, controlling, douche-bags prefer stupid women who will be submissive and with whom they can pretty much get away with bloody murder. But why would you want to be with a man like that?
  2. By acting dumber than you are, you will be attracting inappropriate men, and by inappropriate, I mean someone who is not well suited to you. Not all men can be lumped into a single category. Like women, men are all different (remember: men are people too!). Some men may be attracted to dumb women (read above… and run away if you find one), but that’s not true of all men. If a man is intimidated/turned off by who you are, brains and all, they clearly are not a good match for you so don’t give it another thought.
  3. By acting like a dumb bimbo, you may actually be driving away men who would otherwise be attracted to a smart, capable, successful woman. Just like some men prefer skinny girls, and some men prefer curves, there will be many men out there who will appreciate and seek out intelligent women. But, those men will not seek you out if all you are projecting is “I’m just a silly girl with no brains… but my hair is pretty!”

Of course, if an intelligent woman tries to hide her intelligence and acts like a dumb barbie, she will attract the wrong type of man. Her intelligence will then come bubbling to the surface (because, in case you haven’t noticed, you can’t actually make yourself dumber – no matter how many episodes of Jersey Shore you watch – you can only pretend… and that only lasts so long) and one of two things will happen: the man, who, let’s say for argument’s sake, is a shallow, insecure bastard, gets turned off by the fact that this girl can actually think for herself… OR, the guy is genuinely a nice, albeit simple, man, who does not begrudge a woman’s intelligence, however, the brainy gal quickly gets bored of this man because they don’t have anything in common.

Instead, let’s say that the intelligent woman grew a pair of &@(($ and refused to let a few rejections from clearly inappropriate men get her down, she would attract a man who appreciates and enjoys her company because she is smart (like him).

The thing is that, unfortunately (or actually, maybe fortunately…) the majority of the population is average, or below average, on the scale of intelligence (this is necessarily the case because average represents the norm into which most people would fall). I also believe that people are generally attracted to others of similar intelligence. Which means, for those who fall into the minority of above average intelligence, it may feel like the pool of potential dates is significantly smaller.

Guess what: men feel this way too! So many men I have met tell me that they find it so hard to meet a beautiful smart girl, and that they are so bored with stupid bimbos. In fact, I had a man tell me recently that he had once gone on a date with a woman who was a doctor, thinking finally he had found someone who must (surely) have some brains. He was very disappointed that she was completely stupid. Now, was she actually stupid, or was she just “dumbing it down”? I never met her, but she’s a DOCTOR. Obviously, she has some measure of intelligence, so my guess would be she was “dumbing it down”. And guess what, she never got that second date with the amazing, tall, handsome, sweet, romantic INTELLIGENT man…

So the moral of the story is that, instead of trying to be something you are not, start loving and appreciating yourself for exactly who you are and focus on attracting a man who will also love and appreciate exactly who you are. Stop believing that all men want dumb girls, because that’s all you’ll attract. And stop trying to “trick” a guy into falling for you by acting dumb, because that strategy will never work!

That’s how T sees it

 

V-Day: The Aftermath

February 16, 2011

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but I feel that we here at Love n’ War can’t let it go unacknowledged.

Since that very first February in grade school when it seemed everyone was drowning in glittery cards and heart-shaped chocolates but you, you’ve probably had what could generously be described as a love-hate relationship with Valentine’s Day (and more accurately described as an annual dilemma over whether to slit your wrists quickly or drink yourself to death slowly). And while there must be some die-hard V-Day enthusiasts out there (who are probably the same people who adorn their houses in millions of twinkly Christmas lights as early as All Saint’s Day), I myself have never met one. Personally, I have always maintained that February 14th is just another day on the calendar, distinctly marked only by the sadistic taunting caused by the parade of other people’s happiness. I hated everything about it, and did everything I could to combat its insipid evil and prove that its manufactured Hallmark kind of plastic love was something I could do without, thank you very much.

Then I started seeing someone.

The first thing to understand about me when it comes to relationships is that I don’t do them. That is, I don’t do “girlfriend” (unless my sassy best friend is addressing me with her hard-learned street wisdom while snapping her fingers with that weird “question mark“ movement that I can never seem to get right). And yet, I’ve been seeing this fella for over a two and a half years, and we love each other. We had a lovely, low-key fun time yesterday, and were super shmoopy about it. And it’s right about now that all my still-single girlfriends call me a traitor and promptly stop following me on Twitter.
So what gives? Am I a hypocrite? Didn’t all we singletons make an unspoken pact to disregard this holiday as the pointless commercialized nonsense it is? If that were so, we’d all be traitors, because in our hearts, we know it ain’t pointless and empty at all. After all, if it were, would we really get so worked up over it? We’re suckers for special days, if only to break the monotony, but a day isn’t special if the thing that it celebrates doesn’t apply to you. The fact that we go to such lengths to prove that Feb. 14 doesn’t affect us in turn proves that it does.

It’s not just procrastinators- everybody at some point needs a deadline to get them to do whatever it is that they need to do. If Valentine’s Day didn’t come around to remind us to let our loved ones know how much we care, chances are we never would. The old adage “you shouldn’t need a special day to tell someone you love them” is true enough, but sadly, unrealistic. If we really didn’t need this day, we would’ve stopped celebrating it years ago. You know, like All Saint’s Day.
But this doesn’t mean that I’ve turned. I still agree that Valentine’s Day, while nice in sentiment, comes off as tacky and insincere, and has the added benefit of making lonely people downright suicidal (the fact that it’s in fucking February probably doesn’t help). But like cinnamon hearts and romantic movies, maybe it’s a guilty pleasure harmless in indulging in moderation. Hell, I’ve been a hater for so long, maybe it’s time to give love a try.
With that in mind, I propose that what we hate isn’t the day on the calendar, nor is it the general idea of love. It’s the forced superficial sentiment- chocolate and flowers as symbols of only one kind of love, the coupled, monogamous love that is apparently the only kind that is valid. But whether or not you are in a relationship, my guess is that you still have love in your life.
You love your friends. You love your family. You love your passions, whatever they may be. You love your favourite movie, favourite song, favourite ice cream flavour. You love your hometown, your childhood memories, the look of the lake at sunset. You love being single, being out there, being alive.
Whatever you love, go ahead and celebrate it. And if what you love is hate, well then, by all means, be a hater. And those who love you will celebrate that, too.
It doesn’t matter what other people are celebrating, and it doesn’t matter if you fit into the accepted norm of what we think of as “love.” Use this reminder on the calendar to be good to whatever or whomever it is that you love. And above all, remember to love yourself.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

Tanya says:

I have a confession to make:

I secretly have always disliked Valentine’s Day!

Let me explain: I do not dislike Valentine’s Day in the usual way people do, out of some misplaced unhappiness about being single. Even when single, I have never felt that Valentine’s Day brings into sharp focus my unhappiness or my desire for a relationship. I never felt jealous or spiteful of all the happy couples. I was always happy for them – like a cheerleader for love!

I dislike Valentine’s Day because it encourages this notion that you need a special occasion to do something thoughtful for your loved one.

I accept my Rae’s point in relation to the natural procrastination that will stem from a lack of any structured deadline. I understand that doing something nice ‘just because’ can often be seen as not necessary, and, therefore, it get relegated to the ‘list of things I will do as soon as I have some free time’, which, of course, means it will always get done ‘tomorrow’ and never today.

But then cue Valentine’s Day – flowers and chocolates are bought, and all the complacency of the past 12 months is suddenly forgiven and forgotten.

Not only that, but, often, the gestures that do come out at Valentine’s Day are forced by the pressure that surrounds the day.

I prefer to deal with Valentine’s Day by expecting nothing, and being pleasantly surprised if I do get something nice from someone I’m seeing. That way, there’s no pressure, and I feel any gift is motivated out of genuine feeling, rather than fear of upsetting me if no acknowledgement is made.

That is what happened this year, and yes I am still smiling about having been surprised with a Valentine. But my point is it wouldn’t have been the same if I had made a big deal about Valentine’s Day and made him feel like he was obligated to do something. I don’t want presents out of obligation, because, for me, it’s not about the present, it truly is about the thought.

And I, for one, do not want that thought to be ‘shit I better get her something or I will be sleeping outside with the dog…’

 

Question: The Last Minute Texter

December 14, 2010

Dear Rae and T,

I recently started seeing a new guy and I really like him. Our first date lated two and a half days! We just had this amazing connection right from the start.

Since our first date, he’s asked me out, a couple of times, but always at the last minute. At first I thought this was very exciting and spontaneous, but now I’m sort of getting tired of it. I know it’s only been a couple of weeks, but I would very much like him to ask me out on a proper date ahead of time, instead of texting me and asking to see me later that day.
What should I do?
Sincerely,
Lea
 

Goddamnit! I'm already in my jammies!

Tanya’s side:
Dear Lea,
Thank you for your question. Don’t worry, this is not an uncommon problem, and one I think can be easily fixed.
The thing is, some guys are just lazy (and by some, I mean most). They will always try to get away with achieving the maximum results with the minimum effort. With this guy,you have been giving in to his last-minute date texts, so why should he try harder? He’s not going to wake up one day and just decide to make that extra effort to make plans with you ahead of time for no reason.
Don’t get me wrong: this does not make him a bad guy. The upside is that he clearly likes you. And it is quite possible that he is the type of person who just doesn’t like to have plans ahead of time. Some people prefer to keep their schedules open, giving them that flexibility to do whatever they want on a whim (ie he doesn’t want to be tied to plans with you Saturday night if his mate suddenly scores tickets to *insert cool band here*). But that doesn’t make this kind of treatment towards you ok, especially since you clearly feel uncomfortable with it.
The other upside is that when a guy likes a girl, he will generally WANT to please her.The amount of effort he will exert in his pleasing her is in direct proportion to how much he likes her. What does this mean for you? Well, it means that you have to demonstrate to him that the way to please you is to make plans with you ahead of time, at least once in a while. And I say demonstrate because men are creatures of action, and do not respond well to being told how to act.
The way to demonstrate this to him is to stop accepting his last-minute dates. Make like you are a very busy girl (which you should be because you’re fabulous!) and your schedule just gets booked up in advance. Also make sure you emphasize how disappointed you are that you can’t join him for his last-minute request, but you already have plans that you just can’t break. If he likes you (and has an IQ above a vegetable), he’ll make plans with you ahead of time after a few failures to get your attention with last-minute plans.
If he can’t even do that, I would say he’s either not very interested in you, or completely selfish and unthoughtful. Either way, it’s better to let him go. You clearly want someone who is going to treat you a certain way, and you’ll save yourself (and him) a lot of frustration and hurt feelings by not trying to force him to treat you that way if he is incapable of rising to the challenge of his own accord.
Good luck!
T
Rae’s side:
I actually don’t disagree with Tanya’s advice, Lea (if that is your real name). Well, not entirely. See, she insists on treating human relationships as some sort of elaborate game because, in her world, it’s always fourth grade. But she brings up an important point – do you really not have anything better to do on a given night that rush out to meet some guy who calls you at the last-minute, despite resenting him for it? If not, then get yourself a hobby!
Seriously, I agree that his behaviour suggests a certain lack of respect for your time. It also suggests a spirit of spontaneity. Or Attention Deficit Disorder. Or maybe he has to take a girl out at irregular intervals with no warning otherwise Parliament explodes. The point is,the only way to know why he doesn’t plan in advance is to ask him. Tell him it annoys you,and, if he doesn’t have a good reason, ask him to be more thoughtful. While I have absolute faith in Princess T’s skills at reading the mind of a person she’s never met, you are doing him just as big a disservice by assuming that he’s lazy and refusing to see him out of spite.You must communicate. You must. Repeat that into a mirror a few times if you have to.
In the meantime, let me ask you this: when he calls and invites you to something, do you actually want to go? If so, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. If not, then there’s no reason why you should. It comes down to that. An example: recently, my man called me about an hour before I was to meet him for dinner to tell me he’d just scored tickets to the Gourmet Wine and Food Expo. Did I refuse to go in order to make a point about his respecting my desire to choose where to eat? Hell no! We had a great time, despite not having planned for it, and all because I chose to go with the flow. I guess I’m just adventurous like that.
When a boy calls you, he’s offering you a fun time. Unless you’d have even more fun without him, there’s no harm in going along. But it sounds like you aren’t having fun, so I suggest this: find something that you DO enjoy doing to fill your time. Go dancing.  Start a reading group. Drink alone. Whatever. And then when he calls, you’ll have to decide whether to cancel that thing or not. When you choose not to (and you will), then maybe he’ll realize that your world doesn’t revolve around him, and maybe he won’t. But either way, you won’t care, because you’ll be having your own fun. And maybe, if you’re feeling especially friendly, you might even invite him along.
Rock on.
-R

We have spoken.

For Love or Money

November 17, 2010

Rae’s Side:

I have no personal problem with prostitutes. They’re trying to make a living, and I understand that. I also have no real problem with johns- as long as they’re only taking what the hooker is offering and promptly paying up, then I can’t blame them for patronizing a service that caters to their desires. I suppose that what I have a problem with is the fact that such a profession can exist at all.

A “commodity” is a “good or service traded or exchanged for monetary currency.” Now, let us consider the supposedly oldest traded commodity in the world: Sex.

You’re alone together. The energy in the room is aromatic and palpable. You glance at each other. The glance becomes a look, a stare. You take in every detail of the other, every sight and sound evoking smells, feelings. You wonder if his lips taste as sweet and full as they look, the way you can already feel on your tongue. Your flesh tingles to touch his, and you allow yourself to give in to the impulse. He responds, he caresses your hands, no words are necessary, you both know what to do. You kiss. The kiss you share occurs of its own volition, and neither of you fight it, you’re carried by the inertia of the moment. Your arms move around each other, his muscles taut beneath his skin. You recline, your hands explore his body as his does yours. Clothing is cumbersome, and is swiftly removed, shamelessly, without hesitation. One thing leads to another, which leads to a condom, which leads you to an ATM machine in the hopes that you have enough cash in your account to complete this transaction, despite the $2 service fee.

A very famous person once said that his ultimate sexual fantasy involved two people sitting on either end of a room, fully clothed, unrestrained, and silent. Looking at each other. Touching neither themselves nor the other, merely staring. And climaxing- bringing each other to orgasm by eye contact alone. Mutual, pure, and no money changes hands.

Sex is an experience. Something that occurs organically between two consenting adults wishing to give each other mutual pleasure. People who want to share themselves with another, becoming intimate, experiencing the rapture that only affection and hormones can bring. Two people, intoxicated by their attraction toward each other, following the momentum of the oldest, most natural instincts in our bodies. I’m not sure you can put a price on that.

There are those among us, however, who believe that sex is something that can be bought, or earned, or rewarded to one person by another. You’ll hear them measure out dates, phone calls, expenditures, compliments- itemized accounting tallied up according to which sex acts they can be bartered for. “I won’t sleep with a guy on the first date. Not before the fourth date, in fact, unless on the second date he pays for dinner and it’s really expensive, and he calls the next day. After all, he has to work for it.”

The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t take into account one of the most crucial factors in the to-fuck-or-not-to-fuck decision: your own desire.

True story: “Mae” dated a guy for three months. Let’s call him “the Blue Beetle”, which wasn’t his name, as that would be too amazing to be true. He was attentive, good-looking, had a decent job, and a car. They had similar interests, and he always paid for dates and drove her home. And they never, ever had sex.

Another true story: One day, Mae randomly met a guy (I’m gonna go with “Goldfinger”). She saw him randomly once or twice during a particularly adventurous summer, and when she went back to his place, she promptly fucked his brains out. And they never, ever dated.

It’s not that Blue Beetle didn’t want to have sex (he did), or that Goldfinger didn’t want to just hang out once in a while (he did too). The fact is that, while she was with Blue, she just never really felt it. The chemistry wasn’t there. She just didn’t feel like doing it, so she didn’t. But with Gold, on the other hand, it was the right mood, the right moment, and it was exactly what she felt like doing at the time. It was like eating a street meat hot dog: you know it’s not wholesome, but sometimes it’s just what you want. And you don’t owe anybody any excuses.

Now, the Princess T school of thought would probably argue that Bluey had put in his time and “earned” it, while Mae “gave it up too easily” for Goldie. I submit, however, that she didn’t “give up” anything, because she just did what she wanted. She signed no contract with Blue binding her to sexual acts in exchange for his generous company. There was no transaction taking place. And if the Beetle was treating her well not out of respect or affection but to buy his way into her pants, then he was treating her like a whore (and was therefore a douchebag). In other words, you don’t owe anybody intimacy- that’s something that just happens.

Whatever you do for a living is none of my business, but don’t take your work home with you, and don’t treat yourself like a prostitute in your personal life. Sex is something you should want to experience with your partner- it isn’t a commodity to be bought, traded, won, or earned. Your sexuality is not a treasure to be dispensed among the worthy; you are a person, with your own agency and in control of your own body and your own desires. It’s not wrong to put those first.

Nice fig leaf.

Tanya’s Side:

Money is power. Sex is power. Therefore, getting money for sex is simply an exchange of power.”

I agree with Rae that sex is not, per say, a commodity that ought to be bartered for and exchanged with goods and services.

However, the idea that, to women, sex equals power does not equate to prostitution. It is perfectly natural for women to control the sexual relationship. Biology has hard-wired women to be more cautious with engaging in sexual relations. Men, on the other hand, are hard-wired to spread it around, so to speak.

Obviously, this is no longer necessary in today’s world of easy, safe and reliable contraception. Following the introduction of the birth control pill in the 1960s, a pendulum affect occurred where sex before marriage was no longer taboo. Fast forward 40 odd years and it’s now considered conservative to wait until the 3rd or 4th date before having sex.

But what has this really done to advance our relationships?

In my humble opinion, this free-loving attitude has only caused more problems. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not some bible pushing no sex before marriage prude. Hardly!

I think it’s great that women are liberated enough in today’s world to be able to have a fling, use men for sex, and not think twice about it.

BUT (disclaimer: double standard approaching, read with caution), when it comes time to finding a quality relationship, women have to rein in the sex kitten attitude and take a step back to the 1950s.

WHY? Quite simply because not having sex with a man is the single most effective way of weeding out the “undesirables” when it comes to a serious relationship.

Having sex too soon creates the sex haze. Your hormones are flying and frazzled, and you can’t see straight. You justify and excuse bad behaviour and then suddenly you find yourself shacking up with some loser who spends every evening out with the boys drinking beers at the local. You wonder to yourself why he never does anything special or thoughtful for you. You question what happened to the romance?

I’ll tell you what happened to the romance: It never existed. Because chances are that, while he may have been charming or sexy, he probably lacked the real enduring thoughtful romantic character to bring you flowers for no reason and cook you dinner just because.

The only way to really discover if a man has that character and/or is willing to put in the effort is to NOT have sex with him. Most men who are lazy and/or only mildly interested in you will give up courting after a few weeks, once they find some easier piece of tail to chase. Only a man who is truly in love with you and is truly a good catch will continue to court you for months without the promise of sex. Not having sex with a man is like a litmus test for the future of your relationship.

Plus, there is the unfortunate reality that men classify women as “sluts” or “wives”. Yes, it’s an unfair, misogynistic double standard, I know! The problem is, there’s no fighting it. It’s how they think. If  you want a quality relationship (note: quality, not just any relationship. Sure, one-night-stands can turn into relationships, but they’re the relationships where 5 years down the track the woman is trying to pressure the man to propose and the man is having an affair with his secretary…) you have to play by the rules.

This is in no way similar to prostitution! Prostitutes will use sex for money. They do not reserve sex for someone they truly have feelings for – it is a simple business transaction. Don’t think you can act like a prostitute and find a great boyfriend or husband. At least the prostitute knows what it’s about and isn’t kidding herself. And she ends up with a wad of cash at the end of the night. The slut has neither the man nor the cash. The only difference between a slut and a prostitute is that the slut forgot to charge.

So just think about that next time you meet a truly luscious man, and the sparks begin to fly. At the very least, you should reevaluate your priorities before jumping into bed with him.