Mr Mom (1983), directed by Stan Dragoti and written by John Hughes
My problem with labels of masculine and feminine in everyday language is not so much a problem of self-consciousness and discomfort with having things that I, myself do being labelled or viewed as feminine by others. God knows, I didn't give all too much of a fuck about such things at 13 and am not too likely to start at 23 (Actually, most people who say they don't care about what other people think are really just bullshitting. Everyone cares, more or less; it's relative to that of others...I just happen to care a tad less)The problem however is that too few allow themselves to think out of the box of conformity and will in their way of acting and conducting their life be directed by social conventions and have faux-pas (do-nots) based on what's masculine and feminine which frankly compromises people as human beings.
In personally rejecting these labels, Im not so much denying that some traits and actions are more common with one of the two sexes than the other (for whatever reason, and reasons there are) as to hold that the other sex would likely be taking part in these occurenecs to a larger extent than it does, had it not felt inhibited by these labels...and people really do. You see it all the time. The framework within which some socieites presupposes that you act and behave as a man is constituted by all things masculine and vice versa. Because these labels set the "standard" for your sex, if you mix and mingle or choose not to comply, you are viewed as or might feel judged as a lesser example of your sex. Now that's fine if you don't care but if you do, well...you're sort of screwed, conformity or non-conformity, it's a lose situation either way. Against the background of this social structure, it's easy to feel that members of my sex as well as the opposite are being deprived the "right" of certain things with the simple and frequent use of these marginalizing labels.
Labels are very effective and can be channelled for good things but that's not the case with these.
Photo: Annie Leibovitz
Ever since I read Alain de Botton's book on the art of travelling, I've found myself every now and then speaking and thinking about the nature of fantasies. Much so recently, having just returned from a pleasurable week in New York. Now New York, like Paris, like London (Im not a fan of the latter) are those quintessential cities of the world of which everyone has a very clear vision or idea, regardless of if they've ever been there or even ever are likely to get there. Highly romanticized they are in people's mind and wouldn't it be strange if they were not, given how subjected we are to images and stories of them that portray them in the very best of light? It's seems actually surprisingly easy to be naïve, even at adult age and think your life will be played out like that of Carrie's if only you could move to New York. To follow would be all those nice attributes like a succesful possy of friends, regular luncheons over low-carb salad and moonlight dates to the opera with subsequent walks through the park. You'd be surprised at the number of people toying with the idea. Luckily cities like New York prove enough foundation to provide you to pick 'n-choose, as to say you can compose and make reality of that little vision in your head...however, with one significant limitation being money (others would include contacts, personal qualities and luck, but let's leave it at money for now) Without it, you might just have to resort to less-favoured versions of the story in your head. Actually I imagine any of these three cities to occasionly have to be real dumps, without the proper means to entertain your vision. Rather it must be quite distressful living amidst having so much of what you want within reach while at the same time being restricted.
Essentially a fantasy is pleasurable and good, at least to the eye of beholder and accordingly the mind will filtrate away from the equation any aspects or possibilities that are not as pleasing. It's a fantasy, that's how it should be...only, some people foolishly are led by fantasies in determening what is likely to be "true" which can render some serious dissappointment and rude awakenings. Booking a trip to a paradise island from having seen only pictures from a catalogue, nobody almost ever counts with the possibility that the very first thing happening upon arrival is getting exploited and ripped off by the taxi driver, that the room that was to have the most pefect view of the ocean ended up instead having cockroaches in the bathtub or that the contental breakfast of the hotel turned out not to be so continental...you know, all these small things that are, well, somewhat likely to actually happen and infringe on your happy shiny fantasy. Think only of sexual fantasies that can constiute the most elaborate of elements that realistically if you had to set up would be a real hassle and prove for some serious akwardness between the people involved, but in one's mind it always runs all smoothly and fastforwards to the "best bits".
Alain Delon & Monica Vitti in Antonioni's L'eclisse
-People shouldn't get to know each other that well if they want to fall in love... but then maybe they shouldn't fall in love at all.
What do you call a visually accomplished work consisting of fine dialogue like this?
Junebug (2005), directed by Phil Morrison
There exists this common notion where some people are reluctant to acknoweldge the greatness of a film because it may have been disturbing, provoking, confounding or have served them with a well-deserved fat upperlip. This sort of reasoning comes across as very nonsensical to me because clearly there's a distinction to be made here between like-don't like and then good-bad. Your not having being able to appreciate a film because you ultimately prefefed leaving your mind behind at home going to the theatre and awaiting a fare of happy-go-lucky, doesn't necessarily render a film bad. You didn't like it, that I get. Oh...Okay, yes, so I'm one of those who'd give you a cold icy stare for thinking a film is merely a backdrop for conversation and talking throughout the length of one and yes, I stopped watching mindless action films lightyears before Arnold became guvernor and yes, I do believe I have the authority to lecture you on the subject and no, you don't have to go on reading at all.
Having said that, watching a film of any genre I want to be shaken to the very core of my being, I want to be enlightened...Educate me for god's sake! Present me with things of which I have absolutely no idea or with things I foolishly think but cannot really genuinely relate to. Express things I've only thought of and elaborated with in my own my mind but in a delicate and elegant fashion that I'm not capable of myself...puzzle me; frustrate me with a well-executed narrative that has my mind racing thousand miles per hour...trick me, ridicule me for my many intellectual shortcomings...bring out the compassion or disgust in me and make me engage in the lives of fictious characters, leave me with images hard to digest or images so beautiful they stay vivid in my mind long after a viewing, flashes of which I happily welcome to re-appear later in my life. Just don't be bland. Jean-Luc Godard said of the structure of a film that it needs a beginning, middle and an end...just not necessarily in that order. I really do like the idea of that. I think it's genius he said that.
On another note, film critisism amuses me quite the bit and as much as I do occasionly read it, I hardly ever rely on it. I have a distinct taste in the sense that I usually know judging from very little whether or not I will actually come to appreciate a film, not to say I never get disappointed or pleasantly surprised. I'll happily hear other people's judgement on films but take very few people's outlets into real consideration. Random words like "Exuberant" or "Exhilirating" which you will frequently see summarizing a film on promotional material; what do they even freaking mean, right? My point is, unless those were the words that instincitvely popped up onto your mind while watching a film, they really don't amount to all that much. They only bare force when you thought of them and felt them yourself.
All of this brings me to Junebug. It's this little gem portraying the complexity of family ties and relationships which ackowledge that problems within a family don't just get resolved over the course of two hours to provide for a happy ending, rather they go on and people might do their best to live and deal with them. Junebug I will always remember because it was the first film that upon seeing the end made me think and I probably said it to myself as well because I do that sometimes: "Profound". It's not the first profound film I ever saw but it's the first one that made me think it.
I think I will let my Swiss army knife answer to that
Oh law students, you amuse me...you (we) are a rare breed of a very own kind. A fellow law student telling you to go home and relax and that there is more to life than studies while himself leaving a law library late in the evening and seemingly out of concern for you and for your best interest is never really out of sincere concern...at least not for you, sweets. Rather it's really just on the account of this sight unleashing stress and guilt in the other law student about a peer staying and studying while he is not. It happens all the time around me (even between friends) where I'm sitting right now and it cracks me up everytime. When it does happen to me I just feel like ringing somebody's neck. Equally as worse is people asking you how much you studied, as if that would really help them in any way, other than to give some relief in case it turns out you're slacking behind in comparison.
Photo: Mario Testino
Source: The Face
Girl has two fathers giving her away.
How awfully tragic; the saddest thing I think I've likely ever heard of is the notion of the abstinence-only programs that have been enforced in the US, ultimately promoting political policies while depriving adolescents of fundamental knowledge and information about sexual and reproductive health and instead leaving them with the little moral cookie that abstinence until marriage is the only right way to go...marriage here should ring a bell, buzz buzz, as this clearly is discriminating against gay people who heck, can't even get married to begin with last time I checked. Where there's rigid takes on sexuality, there just must be ideological stereotyped gender roles to promote. Take for instance this following little passage from a program curriculum: "The father gives the bride to the groom because he is the one man who has had the responsibility for protecting her throughout her life. He is now giving his daughter away to the only other man who will take over this protective role." Oh, but yes of course! Man as the protector, haven't we heard that one before...? Sadder than the fact that these programs have existed is the load of money that have been spent on them; Im sure the figures are humongous. I don't even think I want to know actually. Having just read this piece on abstinence at the library (10.41 pm) I was reminded of the sight of a little group of American kids in a small-town where the number of churches seemed to be larger than the number of houses and were these girls were wearing abstinence rings and telling the guys to suck their cross. Hillarious, very, but oh the irony of it.
In the end of the day kids who vow to abstinence (and I hear it sometimess happens in the form of virgins exchanging rings with their dear fathers who vow to help them remain chaste until the day of marriage) are just like Margaret Talbot writes for The New Yorker; living in the very same world of "Internet porn, celebrity sex scandals, raunchy reality TV, and have the same hormonal urges" like the rest of us. It's just a matter of recognizing reality, really.
Photo: Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin (for H&M)
There are some publications that are just indisposable...They feed me and in regard to them, Im insatiable, mainly because I feel so very enlightened by the all-round writing and coverage. Very few are those publications that will have you reading every page back-to-back without turning the pages and will surprise you as to how on earth the writers and editors managed to make every single subject so interesting. I have no doubt in mind that The New Yorker and Vanity Fair would be able to cover the most mundane of topics in a thoughtprovoking fashion. Adding to the list of indisposables is Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom's Fantastic Man; although not as broad in subject, the reading is every bit as pleasurable. Now the name is quite frankly ridiculous, it does come off sounding like a comic book (no offense to comics, I will have you know I was an avid reader of X-men for quite some time) but it's obviously not. As far as I'm concerened surprisingly enough there exists no character in the world of comics called Fantastic Man (there are however always The Fantastic Four though...)
I found this enlightning little tidbit by Dr. Muffy E. Siegel who is an associate professor of English and linguistics on the usage of the word "like" in the autumn/winter issue of Fantastic Man (#10) "Like"- just another filler word? It seems not.
It's not unusual for older generations to say that whatever young people are doing, they're also runining our language. So it's not surprising that many adults think the word "like" is a bad thing. Some young people themselves dismiss "like" as a filler word, just what they use when they don't know what they're going to say. But that doesn't mean it's an empty filler word. It actually comments on your attitude to what you're saying. When people use "like" it means: "This is what I know, but please don't hold me to it." My favourite story came from a journalist who once interviewed me. As she left, I asked when it would be in the paper and she said, "It'll be, like, Tuesday." And then she understood why she said "like." She didn't want to promise for Tuesday because the editor might pull it, and she didn't want to say "around Tuesday" because that's approximate, but it's not approximate at all because it's scheduled for Tuesday. There really is no other English word for it. Another possible meaning it that I'm afraid to say what I know, as in: "I'm, like, pregnant." Sometimes teenagers use it to show uncertainty, or because they don't know the right wording and it is for the listener to fill in the details. "She's, like, a dentist" means that she could also be a orthodontist...
When linguists started noticing "like" in early 80's, they thought it would go away. Instead, "like" has spread and it's still here. Is there another word like "like"? The answer appears no.
Quite lovely, really.
Given that a good deal of my schoolwork is focused on reproductive rights, a lot of time has been spent this term digging into abortion and contraceptives which has been very worthwhile and rewarding. However, it's both shocking and provoking how backwards the US is in terms of especially abortion where you seriously have a large portion of the country supporting whatever is called a "pro-life" approach...how utterly misleading isn't that expression? You're pro-life but you seemingly don't give a fuck about the pregnant woman not wanting to go through with the pregnancy? Seriously, anti-choice would be a more appropriate term to use for this movement.
What's been happening in the US the last couple of decades is that this movement holds the fetus in the woman's womb as an "unborn child" (defining it in terms of what it is to become rather than what it presently is: a fetus) and personifying it and regarding it as a "person" and thus trying to invest in it qualities and rights that living people have. For instance, it's conteded that the fetus feels pain and that abortion consequently is a procedure felt by the fetus and therefore is cruel and also that women having abortions are merel being convenient and lazy. The focus is more and more being shifted from the true potential victim of an unwanted pregnancy, the woman to compassion for the fetus.
The landmark case on the matter in the US: Roe v. Wade acknowledges that the states' have a "compelling interest" to protect prenatal life which just frankly strikes me as a bizarre. Consequently society has, starting from a certain stage in the pregnancy, an interest to protect the fetus from termination and can consequently from thereon legitimately impose burdens on women for the sake of this protection. But really, who protects these fetuses once they turn into children and are actually born into circumstances where they were unwanted for whatever reason, may it be lack of financial capacity or whatever else? Does society's initial "legtimate interest" in having them born (and denying abortion) mean they are also caring for them and supporting them post-birth? Hell no...families have to support their own with very little support from society and in a non welfare-state like this where higher education is immensely expensive and people actually bitch and moan about something so fundamental as a healthcare system, I'd be the first one to tell a pro-life propagandist to eat horseshit for trying to deny my girlfriend an abortion.
To think in terms of abortion, I think it is very hard to think away and undermine the equality aspects of the question. As I see it, the significant and factual difference between the sexes that women give childbirth while men don’t and likely never will (notwithstanding the pleasures and joy of motherhood) adds an "extra weight" to women's burdens in life which is unmatched by that of men's and consequently inequalizes their equal opportunities in life, most notably in their professional career which of course is a way to power and position in society. The traditional gender role of the woman which is discriminatory against women and which is still being enforced by some societies (Italy, take one) is that of her as the key figure in the domestic sphere raising children and thus being dependent on a man as the provider of economical sources. Keeping in mind that there is an inevitable tie between money and power one has to hold that this traditional role of women generally puts them in a weaker relation socially and domestically in regard to men and is as such hazardous for their equality. Limiting access to abortion comes across to me as an enforcement of this gender role per se, whether intentional or not. It feels as though saying: "You got pregnant, for whatever reason, and now you must by all means carry and give birth to this child and act in accordance to your sex just because you can and because it is your responsibility, regardless of your own will."
Notions like parental leave, legally enforced redistribution of the burdens of reproductive sphere through paternal leave, state-subsidized daycare but very importantly as well; birth control, help sorting out this biological inequality. Abortions as well as other methods of birth control like contraceptives give women a possibility to aim at doing the same things men do on the same conditions. Without birth control women in general would either be producing babies en masse as a consequence in order to have sex or resort to not having as much sex as they want. It’s a "lose-lose situation" for everyone, not only women. Some people would argue that there’s no need for abortion when there are contraceptives but that’s unreasonable given that contraceptives can be ineffective or used improperly and therefore still result in conception. When abortion is used it’s likely most of the times a case where other contraceptives have previously been unsuccessfully used and where abortions become a last way out.
Pro-life argue that the woman has an obligation towards the featus in her womb to give birth to it. What gives one member of society the right to tell another what she has to do with her body and something which is essentially a part of her? Now of course a ban on abortion would not be the first or last time society by the practice of legislation directs people what they can and cannot do with their lives (and other people’s lives) but in many and hopefully most of these cases there is a legitimate and universally accepted justification for the imposition on people’s right to decide for themselves which is carefully balanced against conflicting interests. That’s not the case with abortion prohibitions. Equality is a universal value far more acknowledged the worth of protection than that of prenatal life.
Personally for me there just is no way to accept that a featus still only growing inside the womb of a woman has an interest or right of its own to be born which, if it remotely does at all, is more important to protect than the personal interest of the woman carrying it. A living woman is a person with an identity, feelings and will; a featus is not. A woman having to go through with an unwanted pregnancy can perceive the loss of her lack to decide, a featus cannot perceive its loss not to have been worn.
Oh, let's not even try to forget that abortion has always been around, for far longer than any constitution in the world and that women will always continue having them regardless of what stand the law takes on the matter. It might not be old-school-jumping-up-and-down-a-table-to-push-the-fetus-out but there will always be ways. Either it’s a question of resorting to illegal (and often dangerous and unsafe) abortion practice and likely having to go away elsewhere to obtain one (and abortion then becoming a matter of wealth, for those who can afford) or resorting to the "good old metod" of using the lethal coat hanger inside yourself or simply some other distressful solution to "cheat" the prohibition of the law.
Do we seriously want our women to resort once again to the hanger? Eh, no.
Artwork for Fittstim (1999) by Linda Skugge, Belinda Olsson et al.
In correspondence the other day with a dear friend I labelled myself a new-born feminist and added that while I had not always been, issues relating to the equality of the sexes increasingly feel close to heart as Im getting older. Perhaps it's not so much a question of getting older as to becoming more reflected upon life and looking and reacting to things going on around me (i.e not being ignorant and close-minded) which should be a natural consequence of leaving babyhood into adulthood. It's however not very long ago; not more than some 8 years ago that I was first charged to give my take on feminism. Now, the inquirer in question was the very girl who for the mere purpose of making a statement had scribbled on her t-shirt for the graduation photo of elementary school that naturally she was a masturbationist (admittedly, at the time the provocative nature of the stint seemed very bold and came across as somewhat shocking to me...today however, I'd be wildly amused and celebrate a female comrade's express manifest reclamation in such fashion of her sexuality against society's repression). Her views being well-beknowst to me at the time of this incident, I just might have had to expect that one coming. I figure the sidetrack about the t-shirt might serve you with a vision of the highly dictorial tone with which I was was faced during what appeared as an attack.
Are you a feminst? Are you? Well...? You know everyone should be...?
Now I knew I wasn't about to let myself be corned in this way and be pressed into an expected yes for which I could not thoroughly stand but neither did I feel particularly inclined to say no, knowing quite well what was worse. Feminism as a concept was figuratively everywhere in Sweden during this era in time...every other classmate of yours, well at least females would proclaim to feminism and a good number of influential women in the media would voice up about it and and "feminist manifestations" as the raiding of Miss Sweden pageants would generate some not so insignificant coverage and debate. Somewhere along the way it had almost become a dirty, very charged word and the perception of feminism for some people might have been that of unending whine and complaint by and for women. And there was I, not yet fully able to comprehend or articulate the concept...Afterall, there still isn't a uniform approach on feminism and the different takes are far from cohesive. However, in my case I just really couldn't bother enough to even set my mind into trying...ignorance, why yes. I think a lot of guys were generally asking why they should even care, not being women. Today it makes so much sense; I care because I care...for women...and plenty of them for that matter.
Well are you at least an equalist? Do you believe in equality for all?
Now she was speaking in language I easier understood. Finally I said yes and this girl settled with that and backed off. Looking back at it now, the incident did have a great impact on me. I did however initially feel violated by being confronted with my views in this way.
To me as I see it and it feels like Im repeating myself on this point every other day, there's only one significant biological difference between the two sexes and that is obivously that women are able to give childbirth, men cannot...most of the rest, when we speak about differences between men and women just seem to me like gender roles that are enforced on us by society and to which we conform by peer pressure. Given that men and women are essentially the same, it's only natural that they should enjoy the same opportunities in life and not be restricted by sex. That's however not always the case; women don't always get to do the same things as men on the same conditions...we see it all the time; salaries, authoritive positions in society and God certainly knows that the hypocrisy of society don't grant women the right to have sex like men. And again, this just roots back to these same old fucking ancient stereotyped gender roles and perceptions of what men and women are like and supposed to be.
I don't know man, subscribing to feminism just seems like it should be a given to any sane person. And I say this despite generally not being very fond of resorting to labels; I don't like being labelled or labelling myself but needless to say, sometimes a label just is very efficient to express a point of view.
So I was reading on the Internet for survey results, reports and numbers that show in fact that the average American may not know so much about the world outside the US, something that is widely held by many, be it accurately or inaccurately. On one of those question-and-answers pages online I found the take of one single American that, while not published in the New York Times, still felt pretty nuanced and reflected enough to share on this forum. I don't have any idea who the writer of these thoughts is but I'd be inclined to salute him for penning his view on the matter.
Americans -generally- are reared under what I call the "de facto supremacy" model. That is, from the earliest days of education to the sunset years of selecting just the right tombstone (it must be bigger and more expensive than the neighbor who just pased), Americans are inundated with this singular notion that no one -nor any country- on the planet is equivalent to them. It's a sad commentary to say the least.
For me this is a result of failed leadership within every major institution (business, education, government, religion, social services, etc) in that there is no onus -or reward- for speaking truth to power. As such, it becomes an endless dance around the truth ... a tango of half-truths ... a waltz of smoke and mirrors ... an upbeat tempo of illusion (e.g., the American Dream).
This charade begins in the public school system where the teaching of "facts" is secondary to the teaching of American Supremacy. The teaching of World History is second -or nonexistant- to the teaching of American History (over and over again). The teaching of a Global perspective is second to the indoctrination of an American perspective. The teaching of assessment, analysis, reflection, and thinking beyond the "self" is second to accepting, acquiescing, repeating, and honoring the propaganda of "America the Greatest" that is the daily staple.
So, to a degree, it's not the fault of our children, our students ... it's truly the fault of weak-kneed, ineffective, and compliant adults who, as much as they really do know better, refuse to "speak truth to power" and effect enough cultural change to shift America from a country of self-proclaimed independence (falsely applied) to a country that can see it's position -interdependently- with the 200-plus other nations and states of the world and come to know that 6.7 billion people occupy the one planet we all share in common -and that America's de facto supremacy (of 304 million people; less than 5% of the world's total population) is an outdated, ineffective concept.
What could he do?
Should have been a rock star.
But he didn't have the money for a guitar.
What could he do?
Should have been a politician.
But he never had a proper education.
What could he do?
Should have been a father.
But he never even made it to his twenties.
What a waste
Ooh what a waste
Photo: Guy Bourdin
Female sexuality is represssed. Comparatively it is, whatwith this taboo and darkness that surrounds it. Some would probably speak in terms of the mysteries of female sexuality which clearly just is a testiment of how the issue has always been treated; hushed that is. There's nothing mysterious about men and dicks. Everyone knows everything about it. The vagina on the other hand is like the Bermuda Triangle, no one ever reports back from there. Ask Eve Ensler, she had a whole book published about it. As surprising as this should be, it's not at all, as I learnt speaking to two of my female comrades over a drink of whatever. And how the hell could it, when this "taboolization" starts as early as during kiddy stage at kindergarten. The very root of evil in this case you see is the absense of viable expressions for referring to the female private parts. While there are probably several child-friendly words used by boys as well as girls and teachers for that matter about the penis, equivalents lack of the vagina. The result is quite naturally that the act of speaking about the vagina is very postponed and I say naturally because how is one to speak about something that barely has no name? Breaking the silence surely doesn't get all that much easier later in life. Eve Ensler wrote about the word "vagina": "It sounds like an infection at best, maybe a medical instrument:..Doesn't matter how many times you say it, it never sounds like a word you want to say." If vagina is too clinical, then surely all women will not be inclined to make use of the considered dirtier alternatives "pussy" or "cunt". All things considered I'm starting to understand Eve Ensler's great worry about the vagina; what it is called and not called.
Sometime ago I dropped a line about the genius that was the writing of Sex and the City. Surely its original, witty and spot-on writing and sensational use of word play was part of what made it so good in the first place but looking back at the show, I would assume it worked wonders on reclaiming female sexuality and helped "legitimiziing" speaking about it in everyday life. And what is so genius about it, is that it all just happened without our ever reflecting upon it. The daytime re-runs of the show just goes to prove that.
More or less
It's just a change in me
Something in my liberty
Oh, my, my
Coming and going
I watch you look at me
Watch my fever growing
I know just where I am
But how many corners do I have to turn?
How many times do I have to learn
All the love I have is in my mind?
Well, I'm a lucky man
With fire in my hands
Something in my own place
I'm standing naked
Smiling, I feel no disgrace
With who I am
The Verve- Lucky Man
Photo: Anton Corbijn on Michael Stipe of REM
Liv Ullman as Elisabeth Vogler in Ingmar Bergman's Persona
Along with other documents on my desk there is the following protocol; Perspectives on Friendships: U.S American and Constrasting Vviewpoints.
Contrasting: A friend is someone with whom one is very close.
U.S American; Friends are often limited to an area of common interest, such as work, school or recreation.
Contrasting: A friendship embraces a whole person.
U.S American: Friends gather to enjoy an activity together.
Contrasting; Friends gather just to be together.
U.S American: If someone has a problem it is acceptable to go to a professional (i.e. counselor) for help.
Contrasting: Someone who has a problem goes to a family member or friend at any time.
U.S American: Friends may be dropped if they do not live up to our expectations or our behavior.
Contrasting: One tolerates a lot from one who is a friend.
U.S American: One schedules time to see friends.
Contrasting: Friends are available at any time.
U.S American: Americans act informally and friendly with almost everyone.
Contrasting: People who don't know each other maintain a formal relationship.