Archive | April, 2010

"Hey slut! Put on a sweater."

21 Apr

I spent most of my teenagerhood woefully underprepared for cold weather. Putting on twelve layers of clothes just to walk from the house to the car, then from the car to school, seemed like a whole lot of wasted effort to me, and heavy winter coats were a hassle to drag around all day.

This tradition continued well into my college years, when people began asking me, almost daily and unfailingly in an accusatory fashion, “AREN’T YOU COLD?!!?” At first, I thought these “helpful” folks were expressing genuine concern for my well-being. Further reflection reveals that they were, in fact, merely passing judgment on me and my choice of attire.

There are about five damn good reasons why questions of all types that begin with “aren’t” or “aren’t you” are wrong, wrong wrong:

  1. Firstly, the sentence structure is all wonky. If I remember my English lessons correctly, words like “aren’t” are to be used only as question tags, not openers. So if you want to ask the question properly, you should phrase it thusly: “You are cold, aren’t you?” which leads perfectly into the next point…
  2. “Aren’t you cold?” is a statement disguised as a question. What the person is trying to convey with the query is not gentle concern, but: “YOU ARE COLD! I DEEM IT SO!” They phrase it this way so that it’s seen as innocuous, when it’s really accusatory…
  3. …which immediately puts you, the recipient of such rudeness, on the defensive. When asked such a question, without really knowing why, you suddenly feel compelled to start explaining a behavior which needs no explanation and which the asker has no right to demand from you in the first place.
  4. They aren’t asking, they’re telling — they’re projecting the answer on you already and telling you there is something wrong with you for not being warmly dressed (code for “not wearing a burqa/sweater set/whatever is deemed appropriate female attire that is appealing but not too slutty), or whatever it is with which they’ve taken issue, and are in fact saying…
  5. “You aren’t planning on being cold/covering up those filthy exposed shoulders/Jezebellian cleavage, and I would just like to point out that you’ve no decency, and clearly there is something wrong with you.”

I developed a number of clever responses, ranging from the innocuous, “I’m fine, thanks,” to the “What if I am? Are you going to give me your coat? NO YOU ARE NOT NOW LEAVE ME ALONE.” My favorite lie-response involved making up a story about being from Alaska, and how in Alaska, we all wear t-shirts in sub-zero degree weather. I could then easily parlay the conversation into a diatribe about how much of a sissy the asker was, and how they ought to just tough up and be more like me.

Does this/has this happened to anyone else? What do you say when total strangers ask loaded questions like this one?

20 Apr

Ask me anything

Feminist jokes: Meta, or just hipster bloviation?

10 Apr
I’d like to introduce you to one my favorite photo-strip-comic-blog-things, A Softer World:

The two strips above are one of a few recent strips poking fun at (or with?) feminism, and I’m not too sure how to take it. I’ve been one of many anonymous fans of A Softer World for quite some time now due to the quirky, poignant or true (or all three) things I find there, like this:

The mouse-over text for the strip above reads “I contain a factory for producing my own prison,” which is why I am oh-so-ready to take the first two strips as a joke and not a trivialization of feminism.

That said, I’m still conflicted about them, in that I’m not sure how much feminism-based humor is OK. In the end, it really depends on its origin and the motivation of the joker. For example, a slutty bisexual joke out of the mouth of a gay or straight person would sound different to my ears than a joke about their own orientation. But perhaps I’m wrong — hate speech is hate speech, after all.

Who knows whether Emily Horne and Joey Comeau are feminists making meta jokes, or hipsters disguising their disdain with irony. Certainly I will continue to enjoy their lovely art no matter their motivations. But what do you think, dear intelligent readers? Post your interpretations in the comments!

A Day in the Life According to Granola

7 Apr

I like breakfast just as much as the next person. In fact, I have a borderline unhealthy relationship with breakfast. Sometimes I get so impatient waiting for morning to arrive with its promise of breakfasty goodness that I eat breakfast foods at non-traditional breakfast hours. I have been known to eat French toast for dinner and have mid-afternoon smoothies. I’ve even had eggs Benedict at decidedly un-benedictine times and places.

So it’s with disappointment that I inform you of a deep betrayal by granola. Not just any granola: Granola to fit my daily adventure. As you can see, my approved daily adventure(s) include birdwatching and/or photography, hiking, generic outdoor sporting, hugging small children in parks, and being a mustachioed yachter from the late ’70s.

Since I don’t live in the land of the Permanent Weekend, this granola box, instead of tempting me with larger-than-life representations of Serving Suggestion Onlies, just makes me sad. My daily adventures almost never include sunshine (mostly it rains), outdoor leisure sports or yachting. They certainly don’t include child-hugging in public parks, which would only get me arrested anyway.

My daily adventure looks a lot more like this:

I’d be much happier if my breakfast food was less aspirational and more … whatever the opposite of aspirational is. Why don’t dry-cereal shillers try making me feel good about my dreary daily routine for a change? They could, for example, put pictures of bums on the box. That way, I could look at it and think, “Hey, you know what I like about this granola? I got it out of my own cupboard, and I’m eating it in the privacy of my own kitchen. All this time in a windowless office building is paying off after all!”

Except then I’d probably just end up taking the box outside and handing it to a bum. I suppose the granola marketers have hit the magic formula on the head with their cheesy clipart models. I can now happily munch away in the knowledge that I, like their models, am a vaguely outdoorsy, healthy middle- to upper-middle-class type, and most certainly not a bum or a bore in a blazer.

Those interested in this kind of crap will be interested to know that the company that makes this cereal has actually built an entire brand around this slogan. It’s easy for me to make fun of this granola since the marketing isn’t as sophisticated as I’m used to, but the flaws I find here are present in varying degrees in all marketing.What do you think?

Fraternizing With the Enemy

4 Apr

If you can believe the movies, men and women can’t ever just be friends. It’s required by unwritten social law that at least one member of a mixed-gender friendship be all full up with unrequited lust, if not outright L-U-V. Psychology Today said it best when it summed up the media’s role in perpetuating this filthy lie:

“A certain classic film starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal convinced a nation of moviegoers that sex always comes between men and women, making true friendship impossible.”

There is only one socially approved way around this rule: Straight ladies can be friends with gay boys. But beware, het ladies! Those gay boys may only be pretending to be gay in order to grease the path into your pants! The jury’s still out on whether straight boys can be friends with gay ladies, and I’m pretty sure no one’s allowed to be friends with bisexual people (unless that person is Rickie), since they can’t really be trusted with either gender.

Cinematic representations of friendship notwithstanding, the challenges of building strong platonic relationships in a culture that values romantic love above all else are real for everyone. Straight people, at least, have a guidebook for how to interact with their same-sex friends: Women gossip and shop, often commiserating about their boyfriends’ foibles; men watch sports, drink beer, and complain about their girlfriends.

But those with non-standard sexual identities are flying blind. With no guidebook, it’s hard to know with whom you’re supposed to seek kinship — those of your own gender, or those of your own orientation? And what if your gender or orientation is fluid?

Should we create rosters and categories? Choose from List A if you’re in the mood for stein-clinking and rugby-watching, from List B if you need a manicure and a trip to Bloomie’s. But what if you just want to have a potluck? What list do you invite then?

It’s hard enough to build long-lasting friendships in the adult world without all these stupid rules about cross-sex relationships and how they’re supposed to work. In a perfect world, people would just relate to each other as people, not as genders or sexual orientations or Democrats or Republicans or whatever.

Tell me, readers, who are your best friends, and what does your social circle look like? Are they homogeneous or heterogeneous  in their gender and sexual orientation? What about race, class, national origin? What are the challenges you see in relating to people that are unlike yourself?

Related posts: Boys of Facebook, Top 10 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Friends With Me

Vegan Vandalism Pandemic

3 Apr

I found ANOTHER vegan tag. Clear across town, in the Northwest industrial district, stomping ground of the wild, untamed yuppie. I actually stopped so I could photograph this “manchild” tag (imaging the rooftop portraiture possibilities. Go on, imagine!):

I was quite pleasantly surprised when I pulled around the corner of the very same building to come across another pro-vegan (and also pro-anarchy?) missive:

I thought that this dilapidated, graffiti-covered building couldn’t possibly be topped, until I almost slammed into* the back of a car with this rad sticker** on it:

Anyway, happy Friday, everyone! It’s off to the booze-factories for me, starting with this delicious prickly pear martini:

*No, I’m not a careless terrible driver. I just need new brakes.

**I tried taking a picture of the actual sticker, but it just turned out fuzzy and rain-streaked. Google images to the rescue!

Related posts: The Rogue Vegan Strikes Again; Today in Animal Rights

The Rogue Vegan Strikes Again

2 Apr

All ya’ll remember the vegan defacer, right? The city painted over her or his original work a couple weeks ago, but today the word “vegan” has reappeared in the same spot, complete with a versioned naming convention!:

I can’t wait to see if this cycle will continue indefinitely until such time as we see bible-verse sounding phrases like “Vegan:126” scrawled on walls all over dear old Portland.

Related posts: Today in Animal Rights




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