Monday, December 13, 2010

CNN Blogs on sex: "Should women be more like men?

Sex: Should women be more like men? – The Chart – Blogs

First, a disclaimer: I have always found "
Sex and the City" – both the novel and the TV show – to be vapid, idiotic, unrealistic fluff that is insulting to women. Now on to a response to the question posed in the article.

Now, not all men are assholes and whores. Neither are women. So why women fixate on the less flattering qualities of men to emulate in their quest for balanced gender roles is baffling. I tend to think it's because they're not really searching for equality; rather, they're seeking to rebel from the more sensationally prominent of their existing gender role constraints.

Men are not respected by women when they are players/whores. Why would women think they'd command respect as sluts who objectify themselves, valuing their bodies as nothing more than currency in the same way some men do? Is it an "if you can't beat them, join them" mentality?

Then there are the biological variables as described in the article, and of course the fact that "Sex and the City," the TV show, was helmed and directed by men.
That said, the themes and scenarios and characters in the show did spur greater awareness and serious discourse alongside all the vapid frivolity.

People in general need to stop trying to be like someone else and start being like themselves. We can admire qualities in others, and decide to adopt and shape it as our own, but to attempt taking identities wholesale requires a level of misdirected insecurity and regard for the superficial over the nuances of human and individual identity.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Books and Culture: Japanese Schoolgirls!

"Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential: How Teenage Girls Made a Nation Cool",
by Brian Ashcraft with Shoko Ueda. Kodansha International, 2010. 9784770031150.

The analysis about the impact of the image of the Japanese schoolgirl in Japanese popular culture and technology sounds interesting and still very timely. In America, Japanese schoolgirls has something of a preteen, gamer, and yes, pedophilic, appeal, but there is much more to their popularity, longevity, and impact on pop culture around the world, including Japan. A welcome addition to the growing trove of pop culture analysis.

- Official website -
- Reviews: a blog. chaos tangent (nice layout). the akiba. japanator. popmatters. jap lit.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

On marrying young

Mark Regnerus -- "Freedom to Marry Young" -- The Washington Post

As interesting as it is insulting (not Regnerus being the insulter, but the assumption that people are choosing to push people away as opposed to just not having met anyone yet). That said, I agree with the basic four-word thesis and enjoyed the sociological analysis (I do regret not double-majoring in Sociology instead of just minoring in it), although I'd add that in granting one freedom, we must not revoke or condemn others.

lthough, while the data generally supports the thesis of younger does not equal worse for long-lasting marriages, the data mentioned takes the analysis beyond that original question and into questioning of changing norms re. gender values and worth.

For example, the idea that for women, age is a debit, not a credit. Well sure, if a woman's worth is measured like the value of your bank account and value as a spouse hinges solely on how long your biological clock keeps ticking. Granted, that's a big factor for many people, but is that the only thing that has been studied re. women's worth in a marriage? I think the argument/analysis still could've been made without the tying of worth to reproductive ability.

Feminism aside, though, as one of my colleagues, Kate Schwab, notes, "
it doesn't change the fact that men are hardwired to desire young, sexy, and yup, fertile beauties. Sucks, but it's the truth."

To which I'd respond with the following irreverent and playful rant:
Men have fought their supposed biological predisposition to sow their wild oats and with as many fertile and shapely women trotting out pheromones and eyeliner for a long time in order to settle down into generally monogamous relationships which are the foundation of marriages and all the lovely economic and human affection advantages brought about thereof. Given enough incentive, whether in the form of financial stability, numerous shags, societal pressure, or, hey, affection/love!, men can fight their supposed hardwiring as they choose. Otherwise, more dimwitted women would be knocked up than smart ones. Oh wait... !

On another note, men will "eventually" mature enough to catch up to their long-lasting sperm count, and their age is a credit?! Um, so women are as unsuperficial as they are super-fast to mature?
But moving on, according to Schwab, the biggest trend missing here regarding gender issues is the cougar phenomenon.
Are these women of middle age and decent wealth so rare as to make them statistical outliers? Or is it that young men tend to enjoy, um, playng with them for awhile but show little inclination toward marital commitment in that department? (In which case, a woman's age would appear to outweigh even the benefits of wealth, social advancement and intellectual knowledge.)
Then there is the human factor. Affection, love, religion, social pressures that lean in either direction. And as Sheila C., 24, of A Gift Universe, notes, reverse age-hesitance.
Many people actually do delay marriage, even when they've found a person they believe to be "the one," simply because they think they're too young. Men write off the idea -- "I'm only 28; I'm only 30" -- while the women go along with it be...cause *everyone* tells them they are too young to get married. I have seen that.

Certainly getting married young shouldn't be a goal. But if you've found the right person, waiting for some magical age or achievement isn't going to get you anywhere, in my opinion.
Of course, it isn't all just about fertility. Since men reach their sexual peak at 17 and women don't hit theirs till about 30, perhaps it's less about sperm count and more about money. Or, instinct, as Sheila adds.
We are shaped by our instincts, for better or worse. From an evolutionary perspective, 50-year-old husbands with half a dozen 14-year-old wives would be fine, whereas our culture has (thank goodness) progressed past that!

Often more conservative/religious people tend to get married younger, and their divorce rate can be predicted to be lower. On the other hand, marriages decided hastily because of pregnancy obviously aren't likely to last long. One thing I never see discussed when people play the divorce-statistics game is what it takes for a couple to get divorced. I mean to say, a very conservative, religious couple might be miserable and choose not to divorce, but a couple that's played the field a lot before marriage and is looking for "the perfect mate" might get divorced even if their problems are solvable, simply because they're expecting something closer to perfection. A big factor in whether a couple gets divorced is whether they believe in divorce in the first place. Another is whether they have kids.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Rocky waters for polar tourism

Cruise ship in peril between the southernmost tip of South America and Antarctica

Why would you go on a CRUISE ship to the Antarctic? Presumably everyone on that ship at least knew it'd be somewhat treacherous down past Cape Horn? At least everyone was safe this time, not like three years ago ( Speaking of past incidents, though, in the last four years, three cruise ships have ...been smacked and crippled by exceedingly powerful waves ('07, '08, '10) during the same week (give or take a few days).

On polar tourism trends:

And that 2008 incident:

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Reaction: Medical Team Murdered in Afghanistan

The Associated Press is reporting that a medical team of six Americans, one German, one Briton and two Afghans, were killed in Afghanistan after completion of a two week mission to provide health care to rural villagers. The Taliban claimed responsibility, stating that the murder were justified because the group consisted of American spies and Christian missionaries.

It's sad when a valid concern, like foreigners attempting to degrade your culture and history through conversion, is twisted so horribly into warped justification for any and all murders, power grabs, and other violent acts that are just as if not more detrimental to a community than that which is being fought against.

RIP to the medical team killed.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Food Review: Fresh Direct meals

Chef Terrance Brennan, of New York's Picholine and Artisanal, is known for emphasizing cheese in his celebrated dishes. So I consider myself lucky to have a nearly cheese-less dish as my first taste of Brennan's culinary expertise. As it happens, my latest foray into gourmet cooking is also more affordable than a reservation would be, and not entirely fresh. Thanks to my temp position at, this week, I found myself faced with not only free hot chocolate, but also a vending machine full of pre-packaged gourmet "4-minute meals" courtesy of Fresh Direct, the online grocery store that delivers to your home (or trailer or wherever you want). On this day, my workday lunch consisted of opening the microwave and popping in Brennan's Parmesan Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms, Asparagus and Peas.

I am not a fan of fast food and have my doubts about how well pre-prepared meals stand up to reconstitution in the microwave or with a little water (from both a taste and nutrition perspective). So I had low expectations, but even accounting for that, the taste, texture and freshness of the ingredients were of pretty good quality. After the designated four minutes in the microwave, a minute to sit, and a quick spoon stir, the risotto came out firm and creamy (it didn't even need water), the mushrooms neither chewy nor raw (that's a good thing in my book and I'm a mushroom fan), the asparagus and peas crispy and well-steamed, and the parmesan an afterthought. For a vending machine meal, this wasn't bad. The portion size was quite decent, too, although I needed the fruit I brought with me from home. If you find yourself stuck in the office facing a deadline or a wintry, blustery day outside, then it's a viable and convenient option I'd certainly recommend.

Total cost: $6.89
Total prep time spent: five minutes
Total taste-worth measurement on a scale of 7 hungry hungry hippos: 5 hungry hungry hippos

Monday, May 10, 2010

Restaurant Review: Ethos-U.N.

One of the most important skills to master as a vegetarian with meat-eating friends is the art of ordering off of a non-veg-friendly menu. True, plant-based diets are more the norm than ever thanks to healthy eating movements and fears about obesity and diabetes risk. And usually, the restaurant’s chef is ready with a backup option available upon request, or is willing – and able – to alter a dish to omit meat. But every once in a while, in conversation with the waiter, you’ll find yourself faced with either an apologetic “sorry” or a resolute “no.”

What to do in situations like this? Why, order off the appetizer and salad menu, of course! (And always check with the restaurant, whether via phone or a peek at their menu online, before leaving the house.) Not only can this help you go easy on the size of your meal, but it often ends up easy on your wallet, too.

I employed this tactic one cool Saturday evening at Ethos – U.N. (905 First Avenue, NYC), a restaurant specializing in Greek cuisine that a close friend had chosen to celebrate her 25th birthday.

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