Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mandatory DNA testing?

This post from Robert Franklin has me thinking about the matter of paternity. With paternity fraud being a very real possibility for many man I wonder about DNA testing.

In many states when a child is born about the only time the presumptive father is offered the opportunity to take a DNA test is when he is basking in the joy of the newborn and surrounded by family and of course the mother of the child (assuming he even gets the offer). Kinda seems under handed to ask him if he wants a DNA test in front of everyone right (can't you just hear the "Don't you trust me?" pleas?).

However if years down the road the child's paternity does come under question it is often too late to take action. Usually the court will decide that since you have been in that child's life for this long you are the de facto father and therefore must continue your financial obligations. But if your relationship with the child's mother goes south don't assume that a fair share of custody is going to be ordered up with that support demand.

So basically what happens is a man is duped into becoming the father of a child that is not his. Watch this slight of hand. Often times with this happens all eyes turn to not the mother who deceived him but to him watching to see what he will try to do. If he decides to stay he is congratulated and propped up as "a real father" for "stepping up". If he decides he wants to leave he is demonized as a man that ran out on "his" child and should "man up" and continue to take responsibility (and I'm sure the dreaded word "deadbeat" will come up at some point). You see that? Yes nevermind the fact that the mother of the child lied about the paternity of the child. Its all okay as long as he continues pay (he might not be in the child's life but he better pay up) everything is okay and no crime has been committed.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to say that a duped dad should leave when he finds out. However I won't think any less of a man that decides to back away after the truth comes out. And if DNA testing proves he is not the father then yes I think support should immediately cease and if he owes anything it should be dropped. Frankly I think in the event that he has been paying child support but a future test proves he is not the father he should be fully reimbursed.

So my question is do you think that mandatory DNA testing would help combat paternity fraud?

I would think yes if for no other reason that the test would be mandatory so the man in question doesn't feel any shame about getting a child tested. If its a required procedure then there is no way for the mom to give him the possibly deceptive puppy dog eyes with a side of, "Don't you trust me?".

But on the other hand DNA testing costs money.

What's more important? Setting the record straight or saving money?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is being the norm really a benefit for men?

Read this today at Pelle Billing's place.

Its a post in which Pelle questions the notion that for the male to be the default is a positive for men. I commented over there but I think I need to be a bit more clear.

While on one hand there are ways in which men being considered the default is a positive. When you see scientists in newspaper or on a tv show chances are that scientist will be a man. When you think about the military chances are you think of male soldiers. Certain tasks are regarded as "men's work".

However one thing that is lost in conversation, and I think its good that Pelle is bringing them up and hope it encourages actual men to talk instead of repetition of the same old rhetoric of "men are privileged!" this and "men oppress women!" that, is how these things do serious harm to men. It's high time we started speaking up on how the kyriarchy harms men.

I like what Pelle says here:
The key disadvantage of being the norm is that men are not encouraged to reflect on what it means to be a man, or what the male gender role means for men....Men are simply not raised to articulate men’s issues or to form men’s organizations.
Simply put we as men are socialized to not realize how the system harms us just like with any other group of people. We are raised up to do what we do because "that what real men do". We are told that to not do those things or to question those things is evidence that we are not "real men". We are fed this fucked idea of masculinity in which the only emotions we are allowed are lust and anger, not speak up when harmed, and to be attracted to whatever the various industries tell us we are supposed to be attracted to. By being the default we are taught that to be a certain type of man is the norm and to not abide by the script is trouble.

But what I really like is:
To understand this at an even deeper level we need to ask ourselves why men are the norm in the first place? Why not women, who give birth to the next generation, and whose lives have always been valued more highly than the lives of men? Men are the norm, since every successful society depends on the disposability of men. And one of the best ways to raise men to be disposable is to make the male norm so strong that it is simply “the human norm”.
Now I wouldn't say that women's lives are always valued more highly than men but it does happen often. However other than that I think he is on point about how making men the more makes us disposable.

Think about war for a bit. I found this chart on military deaths in the Middle East between March 19, 2003 and May 3, 2008. How many men have been killed? How many women have been killed? The difference comes from two things. One people (or at least the ones making the decisions) think that women are not suited for combat meaning they are kept out of it and two, which is not usually brought up, people have don't have as much of a problem seeing men die. This is why in articles that cover bombing victims a lot of them usually give the exact numbers of women and children killed, sometimes in the headline itself, and just leave the number of men killed to your math skills. Women and children (and notice how they are thrown in with children to drum up more sympathy?) are delicate beings that must be protected and men are cannon fodder for the machine. Two very sexist practices.

One thing that would really help when it comes to gender relations would be if people equally valued all life instead of using gender as indicator of value.

So in addition to what I said at the original post I have to say that my final answer to Pelle's question ("Do Men Benefit From Being the Norm?") is yes and no.

Yes there are times when it benefits men namely in how it leads to the male opinion becoming the default view point and the opinions and views of women becoming othered but no there are time when it does not benefit men namely in how since the male is the default things that harm men are seen as the norm and not very much concern is raised over it.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A blood oath

So after listening to everyone go nuts over Twilight and being a bit disappointed with the first movie I have managed to borrow the first book. But woe is me if I don't return it. I thought I was gonna have to give ID, bloody fingerprint, DNA sample, mother's maiden name, father's tax records, etc...

What can say? My 10 year old niece is a serious fan. She was laying into me asking when I was gonna be back and everything.

She has the first three books but her copies of books 2 and 3 are a part of one cover design and her copy of book 1 has the cast from the movie on it. So I'm sure she will be happy when I return her books 1 and 4 that match the cover design of her 2 and 3.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

So this is how far we've come with Domestic Violence awareness?

Came across this post by Robert Franklin (where he references The Sexist) earlier this week on the reaction from some Swedish women to the possibility that Elin Nordegren may have attacked her husband Tiger Woods. And its not promising.
Swing it again, Elin!” wrote Jan Helin, editor in chief of Aftonbladet, the country’s biggest newspaper, on his personal blog. One of the paper’s top reporters, Ann Söderlund, proclaimed, “Thank God for girls like Elin. Next time, I hope she uses a bigger club.”

Told you it was not promising. And don't waste time trying to say its okay to laugh at this because its likely he was not abused. That is a shallow excuse and does nothing but live off of the presumption that male victims of violent women don't matter and its okay for women to be violent to men. In the last several decades people have become more aware of the issue of domestic violence. Abuse victims have many more channels of support now than they did 30-40 years ago. Also it is taken more seriously...for the most part.

When people cheer on a woman for possibly abusing her husband I have to wonder how far we have really come. What scares me is that in this day and age when we supposedly take DV seriously people still do things like this and people just laugh (despite it being passed around I don't recall a single other person doing anything other than laugh at it).

While I am very glad to see that women that have been abused by men are getting more help than they had access to decades ago it is still a very serious blight when male victims of female abusers are not taken seriously and are ridiculed.

In fact this kind of reminds of the whole Lorenna/John Wayne Bobbit thing. If you recall when she cut off his penis people openly cheered her on and called her a heroine and even spawned (an albeit small time) spoof film.

So until people get to the point where their reaction to DV ranges from condemnation to applause depending on the genders of the abuser and victim we aren't going to get very far.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I have an idea for a start....

I still have at least one more post about my vacation coming down the pipe (my day in Washington DC) gender discussion is always on and I can't afford to fall behind.

Okay looking back through Feministing at the posts I missed while I was out I found this (via this).

It is an article authored by Patricia Nicholson in which she spoke on a keynote presentation by clinical psychologist Dr. Lori Haskell at Women’s College Hospital as part of a memorial service for the 20th anniversary of the 14 women killed at l’École polytechnique.

Haskell chose to go a different way and instead of talking about women she spoke about men and and some are part of the problem and how how men can be part of the solution. She focused on three points in her article. I want to focus on one, prevention.

Making Prevention a Priority

Haskell used a medical analogy to illustrate how wrong it is to only focus on the current status of victims in hopes of looking for a way to be rid of the problem.
‘We wouldn’t address a pervasive health problem such as lung cancer by focusing exclusively on what the lungs are like once they are diseased. Instead we would develop theories about what causes the cancer, what can we do about it and then address those behaviours or environmental factors that contribute to the cancer. And we would definitely end the conditions that allow it to develop,’

It is vital with any problem to look at how to keep it from happening rather than just how to treat it once it happens. Haskell manages to lightly touch on what I think is one reason prevention is not the priority that it should be when it comes to dealing with the subset of men that commit violence against women.
...So what has been noticeably absent is a sustained parallel focus on understanding the perpetrators...

For a long time now when a man becomes violent (and not just against women but children and other men as well) he is often written off as just a violent man (because violence is very often associated with the male gender) and is dealt with. Thing is a lot of men who become violent were often victims themselves when they were younger. However this gets lost in the short sighted rush to come down on men like a ton of bricks. Often this treatment is for the sake of political brownie points ("Hey I treated this male criminal harshly! That means I'm tough on crime and protect women! Give me your support!) or money ("Hey I have this shelter open for abused women! That means I care about women! Give me your money!). This is a problem.

The problem with this is that these violent men are not having their deep seated issues addressed. As I said above a lot of people who a become violent offenders were often abused themselves thus starting and continuing the cycle of violence that can poison a family for generations. Helping these boys when they were abused would have probably done them a lot of good and could have very have prevented them from becoming violent to the women in their future lives.

However there is a stigma on male victims of abuse. Something to the effect of, "If he was abused then its because he was too weak to protect himself." (If its heterosexual abuse at the hand of a women then it might change to "He's male and all guys want sex with women all the time anyway. He must have wanted and I would not be surprised if he actually raped her." If its homosexual abuse at the hands of another male then it defaults back to the presumption that its his fault because he could not protect himself.) Such presumptions pretty much tell male victims that they are on their own when it comes to being abused and thus they are left to find their own way to overcome it which is not good.

A victim of a crime should never be left without help. When that happens all sorts of things can happen. The victim may internalize it thinking they deserved to be abused. They may very well internalize it thinking they deserved it and keep it in until it gets to a critical mass at which time they can no longer hold inside and lash out. The victim may display a number of reactions to people who match the description of their abuser ranging from avoidance to open hostility. They may conclude that since they were violated they may think that the only way to make things right or reclaim their own power is to do to someone else what was done to them (which may or may not include targeting those that fit the description of their abuser).

If people want to get serious about getting men involved in preventing male against female violence then I think one crucial step is for people to start taking (especially young) male victims more seriously instead of just writing them off because they are the wrong gender to be a victim. No one wants to talk about how (hypothetical) Johnny was abused as a child but when he grows up and abuses his wife all of a sudden everyone wants to talk about his abusive ways but the conversation will rarely if ever go over the abuse he suffered as a child.

But to do so would actually help do something about violence and the ones that profit from it don't want to see their revenue sources dry up.

Until people can think of males in some other capacity other than a violent abuser it will be a hard time trying to get men involved with ending violence.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Finding one's Swagger

If you recall a while back I mentioned I was going to take time to find my Swagger while on vacation. I'm sure you were wondering what that was about. Well I promised to get back to it one day and today is that day.

Okay I know this might be a shock (a bit of comedy to lighten the mood) but I'm am terrible when it comes to talking to women. I'm talking like 40 Year Old Virgin terrible (in fact I'm only 11 years short of that milestone). But seriously one of my biggest problems is that I seem to be oblivious to the advances of a woman.

Case in point one night of my vacation I was at a mall with a friend of mine and his girlfriend looking around and killing time. We headed into an FYE to look at some movies and music and I started to chat up one of the girls working there. And I say girl because after a few minutes of conversation I learned she was still in high school (a senior to be exact). So while I enjoyed the conversation there was no way I would try to pursue someone that young (being a high school senior would make her about 18 to my 29). Now while that may seem all fine and well I managed to miss someone doing the same to me a few minutes later.

When I was at the checkout line was this woman ringing me up. She didn't get straight to ringing me up and we actually chatted for a few minutes about vampires (she was setting up a box of packets of energy drinks that looked like packs of blood). From there we were talking about games (found out she played WoW and told her I played Lord of the Rings Online and tried to nudge me to try WoW out). I payed with a debit card and she asked for my ID and, as best I can tell I was too shocked to react properly, she smelled my ID. I finished the purchase chatted for a few more seconds and I ended by letting her know we had to go because the my friend's girlfriend wanted to hit up Cold Stone and she asked me to bring her some back. And I kinda, in hindsight, just brushed her off.

Okay when the three of us got back in the car to go home the two of them proceeded to basically ask me if I noticed that she was openly flirting with me. Frankly I didn't notice any flirtation and just wrote it off as a woman that is interested in vampires and games and had a weird quirk about smelling IDs (weird quirk? yes that sounded odd to me even as I said it to my friend and his girlfriend later on).

As I said before I am oblivious to the flirtations of women. In fact there is a good chance I've failed to notice quite a few women that were interested in me as well as plenty of romantic opportunities during my days because of this. Looking back on my life I have to say that this is a result of stunted social growth when it comes to talking to and dealing with women. I wasn't the usual young guy that tried to date as many girls/women as possible during my high school and college years (going back to that gender expectation that guys are supposed to be chasing as many women/girls as we can in pursuit of the ultimate prize). It could be some sort of shyness that I have never gotten over. Maybe fear of rejection. It could be the result of simply being emotionally empty (I'll get back to that another day). Really not sure but it is something I have to get over if I ever hope to start dating (yes you read that right, at 29 I have yet to start dating).

Later that week I called up a friend of the friend I was crashing with so that we could go out (it was Friday night and I really did not want to be sitting around playing video games on such a night). She came over and we actually spent about an hour trying to figure out what to do/where to go. We settled on a burger joint called Ray's Hell Burger and we were off. We got a bit lost and ended up parking and walking like 2 miles to the place, which was packed. But we decided to try it anyway. The conversation was much better than the food but what was really interesting was that we got snowed out. Yeah while we were out a snow storm started. She was driving (because remember I'm visiting her city and I am the last person whose sense of direction you want to trust) and thought it might be best to go ahead and call it a night and I agreed. I kinda wish it hadn't snowed but even if it hadn't she had to work the next day and since she was driving she could not drink but all in all I still had a good time. (Funny that the closest thing I've had to a date got snowed out.)

Odd I know. On one hand I missed what seemed to be according to my friend and his girlfriend open flirtation but on the other when I'm not trying to talk to a woman the conversation seems to come naturally.

So back to what Swagger is. It's some mixture of boldness to take a chance, confidence to accept the possibility of rejection, and just enough fear to keep one's ego in check and prevent the boldness and confidence from becoming arrogance. Sex is not the desired end result (at least not for me). The desired end result being able to talk to someone in more than a social manner with people that match our romantic preferences regardless of the outcome. Rejection, one time date, one night stand, long time relationship whatever. Just as long as you try. That's where I want to be one day.

I know this may not be some top level conversation but this is a place for simple thoughts and basic conversation so bear with me.

(PS - Okay I know that this sounds a bit callous or almost mean to be talking about talking to women like its some sort of experiment. As I said I am not an emotionally healthy individual so I tend to get very analytical when emotion may be what's called for.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What's with the mixed messages on male sexuality?

I was sitting in the car about to go into the store yesterday evening when a woman that works in another department at my company was coming out. I'll come right out and say that I think this woman is sexually attractive and under the right circumstances I would indeed have sex with her. Two things crossed my mind. First this woman did not fit the image of what I, as a man, am told is sexy. She is black, doesn't have the so called correct proportions that make a woman sexy (in her case that would mean she doesn't have a big ass and tig ole bitties that "exotic" women of color are associated with), speaks her mind, and does not fall in the age range of the women men are told are attractive (in fact she is nearly twice my age, yes you are reading that right). Secondly while I think this woman is sexually attractive I did not have to fight off the lustful desire to have sex with her by any means necessary that men are stigmatized with. So I began to think about the mixed signals we get about our sexuality.

In one respect men are shown images of scantly clad women showing off almost every part of their body (while leaving the "good parts" to the imagination). These women are usually cut from a very exclusionary mold. Supposedly women are only sexy if they have a certain body shape, are a certain weight (check out Kate Harding on that), are a certain skin color (the exception being that WOC are sexy because they have a foreign and wait for it...."exotic" beauty to them. pay Renee a shout), have no disabilities (I've just recently been thinking about this one so I don't have a source to drop on you), fall in the age range so that she could pass for barely legal (I haven't seen a lot on ageism when it comes to sexual attraction but that doesn't mean its not out there), and only act "feminine" (there are plenty of feminists site to look this one up). Such women are what is presented to men as sexy and that in order to be considered "a real man" one must have such a woman (not just be with but have as in own, control, and treat like property). This is why most of the women you see on calendars, on the runway, and in porn come from this mold.

However at the same time media tells men that we are supposed to go for anything with a warm wet hole that can give us pleasure (but with enough homophobia and shame over sex toys to remind us that that warm wet hole must be female genitalia). It says that men are horndogs that will have sex with any woman that is willing and and her not willing is no reason to end the pursuit for the goal. I recall a line from the movie Hackers. Angelina Jolie's character said something to the effect of, "Men have more brains than dogs so they won't go around humping everything in sight." Career, education, friends and even family are not enough to stop us from doing whatever it takes to reach the promised land. And of course these leads to the blanket assertion that men are pigs, dogs, jerks, gigoloes, womanizers, horndogs, perverts, lechers, creeps, etc...

So apparently we are supposed to be extremely picky and selective about the people we find sexually attractive to the point that we exhibit all sorts if -ist behaviors but at the same time we're supposed to be so overcome with lust that we just can't stop ourselves from shoving our cocks in any and every pussy we come across even when our "partner" doesn't want to engage in sexual activity.

Even if my own male sexuality defies both of these signals I still have a problem with them. If for no other reason than once people know that I am male will assume that my sexuality embodies one of those two messages. And I think its worth noting that while these two signals happen at the same time and seem to contradict each other they are both part of why male sexuality is thought to be inherently filthy and vile.

Now despite there being several men who have sexual tastes like mine that don't abide by the established norms there is still a problem with them being established norms. First they undermine men and pigeon hole us into the worst image possible either as -ist hatemongers or rapists waiting to strike. Misandry plain and simple. Next it is extremely sexist towards women as well to imply that in the eyes of men they are expected to conform to a certain image in order to get our attention. These things must be eliminated.

Monday, December 7, 2009

If gay people can't get married here....

then straight people can't get married here either!

I can so hear Margaret Cho saying that. But seriously cacophonies just did a post on a group of Twin City Quakers in St. Paul, Minnesota that have chosen to stop signing marriage certificates for heterosexual couples until the state legalizes gay marriage. I like this idea.

It's a bit shocking that gays are still fighting for something as basic as the right to join in holy matrimony. I mean whats the big deal its not like the bond of marriage is some special and sacred journey that only a select group get to embark on. Seriously?

You mean to tell me that I can offer my hand in marriage (you know that whole, "For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health,..." thing) as the prize of a 20 episode drama fest that is more like high school that "reality" (yes even though these situations have almost NO chance of happening in real life they are "real") in which 10 women each do whatever it takes to convince me to pick her but I can't marry a man that I've met, hooked up with, dated, fallen in love with, and have chosen to spend the rest of my life with? Yes that is one sentence.

I like the way Paul Landskroener, clerk of the Twin Cities Friends Meeting, said it:
"The simplest way to say it is we feel very strongly and very clearly led that in the present time we simply cannot continue to participate in what we believe to be an unjust and inconsistent with our religious testimonies legal marriage procedure," Landskroener said.

I'm not a religious person but if I were (especially if I were a member of the religion that performed marriages for its practitioners) I'd be a bit confused at best and pissed at worst over that. Being expected to unite heterosexual couples that have shared, well absolutely nothing more than bodily fluids and maybe a last name while seeing a loving gay couple that and not being able to unite them.

Now bear in mind that the congregation will still hold heterosexual and homosexual ceremonies and they will go on as they always have, there will just be no signing of marriage certificate. Instead that will have to be done at a justice of the peace. And if this place is holding homosexual and heterosexual ceremonies then that means that only a portion of those people can go to the justice of the peace for the full on marriage license. That is just not right.

A message to my fellow black men....

Only our race matters. Unless you fell into a transdimension warp hole I'm sure you're heard about the mess that Tiger Woods has gotten himself into. Well when it all first started there was an inkling of thought that his injuries were from his wife and not from that accident we all know about. Now while it seems that there is no evidence that he was the victim of DV you notice how there have been pics, skits (hell it only happened on like Tuesday but SNL had a skit ready for Saturday night), videos, and who knows what else making fun of him as a DV victim? Why would it be funny if Tiger were being abused by his wife? Simple, he is a man and men just aren't abused by women and when it happens it is time to make fun of him for no matter what (or by who) if a man is beaten up he deserves it.

In fact have you noticed that the majority of the coverage on this has been either bringing his race into the picture ("because you know that black dick is irresistible" or "this just shows that blacks can't resist the silky goodness of a white woman") or these jokes about him getting beaten up.

I suppose this goes to show that when black men are attacked for race others will come from the woodwork to back us but when the target is our gender we are on our own.

Tip of the Fro to Daisy Deadhead (who graciously linked me in that post as well).

Friday, December 4, 2009

You know what's not okay?


Cross Posted.

I have received this email twice in the last 3 days and I think it's worth talking about because of one simple reason. This goes to show just how people think female against male DV is not just okay but funny.

Yes you can argue that male against female DV happens more often but that does not justify this type of reaction to female against male DV. You can argue that there are more pictures making light of male against female DV but that does not explain why mainstream media ignores female against male DV and such photos can be openly circulated in the workplace with no problem (and while I don't watch any of the late night shows I'm willing to bet that the likes of Leno and Letterman and their audiences had plenty to laugh at on this week).

Time and time again when there is the slightest hint of female against male violence the immediate reactions are to either say he deserved it and make fun of him, assume that she did it in self defense, or simply stay silent about it because male against female DV is the "real" issue that needs to be dealt with because it happens more often . Not very much thought goes into why this type of DV happens, what to do about it, or how to help its victims.

You can't expect to make the world safe for everyone when you base your reaction to DV on the who and not the what (which seems to be a common failing in many a discourse). There is no denying that such treatment of male victims of female abusers is sexist and such treatment is a serious problem. It silences men who are abused in this manner and it creates excuses to justify the actions of abusive women.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Conditioner and Water in a Spray Bottle

Last night I talked about how I'm working on taking better care of my hair and one of my first experiments is a concoction of Conditioner and Water in a Spray Bottle. Just to refresh:

Conditioner and Water in a Spray Bottle
I'm not sure where I got this from but I did see it on a site and decided that its at least a cheap start. Basically I got a bottle of conditioner (Suave Naturals Refreshing Waterfall Mist), a bottle of spring water (I would have preferred distilled but there was none available), and a simple spray bottle. I just mixed the water and conditioner in a mix of 5 parts water and 2 parts conditioner.

I've used it once tonight to get a feel for how it would work and so far I like it. The main purpose of this is to be a daily (or twice daily) spray to apply to my hair so that I can break one of my worst habits, combing my hair while it is bone dry. I've been working on breaking that one for the last few months and I can already tell by way of having way less hair breaks in my afro pick and wide tooth comb.

I think it may be worth explaining the rationale behind using conditioner this way. When I first saw this recipe I thought it was silly. I'll bet some of you read that and thought, "But Danny you are supposed to wash conditioner out of you hair." Yes and I thought so too but when I washed my hair about two days ago I realized that when you put conditioner in your hair and rinse it out there is no way in hell you are washing it all out. Chances are some of that conditioner is left behind in your hair to continue moisturizing it. Well why not just add a small amount to your hair like you would add any other leave in product? That is when this mix made sense to me.

I used it when I first made it last night, this morning when I woke up, and once since I got home this evening. So far I'm happy with the results. My hair already feels softer instead of hard and coarse. And its also fun run my fingers through my hair and not have it break while at the same time it be moist but not have a greasy residue or feel heavy from grease.

I'm going to find that list of 10 things to not put in your hair and put those up next.


Fro and I

Okay as I have said before I rock an afro but have I ever told the story behind it? I don't think so. Sit back for a bit.

I grew up during the 80s (born in 80 to be exact) and pretty much the routine for black boys in my area was to either cut it very close, cut designs into it, or copy whatever the current top rappers were wearing. Having grown up in the country there was no barbershop to go to on Saturday like inner city black guys speak of. What we had was a setup of the traveling barber. Now it wasn't a formal business, just that any guys that knew how to cut hair would go around town cutting hair whenever her could and we would even have occasions where the barber may be at one guy's house and several of us would chill at that person's house waiting for our turn. So in a way I guess you could say it was a barbershop. And that's pretty much how it was. Close cut, high top fade, cut some lightning bolts in the side, close cut, low cut fade, etc... Simple cuts and nothing serious.

Well around freshman year of high school I had dry, itchy, dandruffy scalp something horrible. I mean it was to the point that I was washing my hair every other day and it was not cutting it. Once I got into college I realized something, I no longer had regular access to a barber. Well there were a few guys here and there that cut hair in the dorms (note: If you are reading this and are about to go to college on VALUABLE trade skill is hair cutting. You would be surprised at how many college guys need a barber.) but it felt so impersonal from my younger days of actually knowing the guys that cut my hair. So at this point I decided to do what some of my other male friends had done, just cut it all off. You don't need a barber if you are just cutting all your hair off anyway.

After I left college I still pretty much just cut all my hair off until one day I just decided that I do not look good with all my hair cut off (it has to do with my ears sticking out). (I also think that part of my desire to change was because at the time I was still trying to cope with my mom's death.) Well I didn't want to have to maintain a fade that would require a cut every 2 weeks and I didn't have access to someone that could regularly braid my hair so that is when it hit me, Afro. So over the course of about a year I just let my hair grow and only got edgeups (as in cutting around the edges of your hair to establish your hairline) and Fro was born.

Thankfully no one at work has tried to give me any serious lip about my hairstyle (which still shocks me because out of about 300 employees I'm the only black male) and I've been happy. However throughout the years even after no longer having insane amounts of dandruff there is still one demon that haunts me and my hair. I have some of the most coarse, most rough, most dry hair you have ever seen and I'm desperately trying to find a way to remedy that.

I've spent the last year or so trying out different hair products in hopes of finding one that would help soften my hair. The one good prospect I found was a gel called Daily Flake Control from the Soft Sheen Carson Dandruff Solutions line. The stuff cost about $6 for an 8oz. bottle that would barely last me a month. Shortly after I started to buy it it because very hard to find and after a while I had two choices, a hair store that was 100 miles away (hey I live in the country) or buy off the internet. Well about a month ago I found out that that particular product was discontinued. Yeah the only product out of the whole damn line that I used got canned. Well I picked up two other products and while they work just as well (and cost just as much and are just as hard to get) I've decided that I need another solution for my goal of getting Fro to be softer and more manageable. I'm going to try homemade solutions.

I've been looking for sites that focus on black male hair and have not had much luck beyond copying celebrities and ads for shaving products. Well then realized that at the root black male hair seems to be a lot like black female hair so I figure getting some tips and ideas from there can't hurt. So while a lot of what I'm going to do is going to be borrowed from black women's hair sites I'm going to be applying to my black male hair which may sound odd but I don't think it will be that big a deal. And for something this big I will need a place to document my experience. Well what do you I've got a corner right here where I can do such a thing.

So that is the gist of it. Fro needs help and I'm determined to find a way to provide it. In fact I've already started.

Since my main order of business is to get my hair softer I figure moisturizing will be a good place to start. I need a way to moisturize my hair that is not too expensive while still being effective. My first bit of research has been in the way of essential oils and making my own mixtures however there are startup costs that I'm just not quite ready for (I'm trying to hold onto money for my vacation which starts next Friday) yet so I've gone with a start that is a lot cheaper.

Conditioner and Water in a Spray Bottle
I'm not sure where I got this from but I did see it on a site and decided that its at least a cheap start. Basically I got a bottle of conditioner (Suave Naturals Refreshing Waterfall Mist), a bottle of spring water (I would have preferred distilled but there was none available), and a simple spray bottle. I just mixed the water and conditioner in a mix of 5 parts water and 2 parts conditioner.

I've used it once tonight to get a feel for how it would work and so far I like it. The main purpose of this is to be a daily (or twice daily) spray to apply to my hair so that I can break one of my worst habits, combing my hair while it is bone dry. I've been working on breaking that one for the last few months and I can already tell by way of having way less hair breaks in my afro pick and wide tooth comb.

This is just the start. Hopefully by the time I have my routine down I will no longer be using any store bought products for my hair and will be mixing my own moisturizer and eventually shampoo and conditioner. In fact I think the Suave Naturals conditioner I used in that mix I mentioned above has some of the ingredients I saw on a list of ten things not to put in your hair.

I'll get to that in due time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Men and Sex Toys Revisited

Remember a while back when I talked about men and sex toys? Well I came across this and got thinking about it again.

The picture at the start of those post pretty well describes the current state of affairs when it comes to sex toys and gender (well at least in mainstream American culture). A man that uses sex toys is a loser that is not doing something right and can't get the real thing and is probably a virgin (and this touches on the virgin shaming of women which is another post for another day).

There's a few problems with this expectation that has been cast on men.

First off its not like there is some fail safe in place that actually checks to see if a guy is a virgin before using a sex toy. I'm sure there are plenty of guys out there that have had sex with other people and used sex toys just fine. This part of the expectation comes from the notion that men want sex all the time and are willing to do anything to get it. And with so much effort going into getting as many sex partners as possible for things to end without having one means there has to be something wrong with that guy. Therefore if a guy uses a fleshlight it must be because his best efforts to have sex have failed and he is it as a way to deal with all that uncontrollable animal lust that us males are supposedly born with. This makes him a loser because he can't get a sex partner and has to resort to a sex toy.

Which leads to the idea that a sex toy's only purpose is to provide a pleasure hole for him to dump his dirty seed in (remember male sexuality is supposedly a dirty thing). No room for experimentation. No room for simple curiosity. No room for him being in a relationship and he is in the mood for sex but his partner is not. No room for using it to work on his sexual performance with his partner. No room for being stressed and choosing masturbation as a way to relieve it. Nope if a guy is using a sex toy its because he is overcome with lust and must spill it somewhere, somehow, and fast.

You notice how I've been saying partner this whole time? Well that is because there is often the assumption of heterosexuality when talking about men and sex toys. Back in that paragraph where I talked about a guy using sex toys is assumed to be a loser virgin that just couldn't find a sex partner. That sex partner is assumed to be a woman. The majority of sex toys for male use consists of mimicked vaginal openings. Many of them even have labia (both sets) and and clitoris. Yes there are toys that mimic anal openings but most of those are usually advertised with a picture of a woman who is ready to "take it up the ass". So while there is room to talk about anal sex bear in mind that said anal sex is still assumed to be heterosexual. (But please spare me the theories that men that want to have anal sex with women are secretly gay or bisexual.)

So maybe if we can get away from assuming that men that use sex toys are straight virgins that are so horny they have to bust a nut in something immediately I think we would all be better off.

Damn its not wonder that outside this blog I've only told one person I own sex toys.

Monday, November 30, 2009

So according to Axe...

If a girl doesn't like a guy's hair its okay to liken him to a pig and the only way to remedy it is to style it in a manner that is girl approved.

This ad has been bothering me since I first saw it many months ago but I saw again tonight and I decided to make a post about it.

"And why make a post about it Danny? Its just a hair ad.", you may ask.

The reason is because this is one of those mainstream examples in which the insecurities of males is being played on. It would be one thing if they were just marketing this as a way to prevent greasy hair for guys who don't like their hair that way. No that would be too easy and might not sell as many products. So to make sure the message really gets home they chose to market it by playing to one of the main things on the mind of many teenage boys, girls.

Pretty much the ad is telling young boys that that hair style in and of itself is dirty (hence the pig), girls think its not attractive, girls don't like boys with hair like that, and the only way to get girls to like them is to use that product to make sure their hairstyle is girl approved. Now if this were an ad directed at girls I'm sure it would not be hard to realize this but since were talking about boys its a bit harder to come to terms with this type of advertising.

People for the most part don't want to believe that boys have body image issues. For boys themselves it goes against the years of training to make us think we simply don't have body image issues and to think so is to not be the real man (not to be confused with "being like woman", simply not being a man) we are supposed to be. For girls/women they may be thinking that if the boys/men in their lives are in conflict over this they that it is a sign that they are weak and, going back to what boys/men themselves think, will have nothing to do with a weak man. For those who advocate for girls/women they seem to only want to bring up the issues of boys/men when it suits them and leave them swept under the rug otherwise.

Just like every other walk of life men/boys have their own body image issues to deal with and it is not good to sweep them away and bring them up only when they are convenient to talk about.

So the next time you see one of those axe ads (and frankly I think the vast majority of them are offensive to boys/men) and want to laugh take a moment and ask yourself would want your hair style to be compared to a dirty pig and told to change your ways just to get girls (or boys) to like you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Here we go again...

If you recall a while back I talked a bit about how critics (namely women and feminists) had already decided that a recently formed group with a focus on men was sexism, misogynistic, and anti-woman. You know the ones that say its not a zero sum were declaring that devoting a little time to helping men in and of itself is a detriment to women.

Well it seems the same thing is happening at Manchester University.
Manchester University has created the first official MENS Society – Masculinity Exploring Networking and Support – despite outrage from critics who claim the existence of such a group undermines women's ability to speak out for equality.
How exactly does men speaking up for themselves undermine women's ability to speak out for equality? Is this men's group actively trying to silence women's groups? Are they attacking women's advocates? Are they trying to speak on behalf of women? Apparently the very act of men speaking for themselves harms women.

If you look at some of the commentary from critics and detractors on this their criticisms undermine their very own messages about equality. Well that is if they think that part of equality is that everyone should have a fair voice. But let's take a look shall we.
Given that men already dominate political and economic life, British society didn't need "much more celebration of masculinity," claimed one critic.
This type knee-jerk reaction is very common among those who have a an anti-male stance on gender relations. Well not anti-male so much as anti-anything that might help the men. The backbone of the argument that men dominate the political and economic arena is assumption that men are a monolithic entity and all of them practice the same masculinity. Therefore since they are all the same and are all at the top there is no need for them to need anymore space. You see how that does not make much sense when you think about it? To presume that all members of any one class are already at the top and none need space is to lump them all together. To conclude that the interests of all the members of that one class are being addressed by those at the top is to assume that they all have the same interests.

I thought the point of equality was for everyone to have a fair voice. Yet some see fit to dictate for other people who already has a fair voice. "We are for equality for all people...but only certain people get to have a say."

Then you have some commentary that seems to answer its own question.
Olivia Bailey, NUS national women's officer, said: "Discrimination against men on the basis of gender is so unusual as to be non-existent, so what exactly will a men's society do? To suggest that men need a specific space to be 'men' is ludicrous, when everywhere you turn you will find male-dominated spaces."
So we have a woman that apparently knows what the real deal on discrimination against men is all about. Mind you this is going on in the UK so what the men over there are dealing with may be a bit different that what men here in the US are dealing with but I'll bet there is a lot in common. Being expected to act, dress, perform, etc. in a certain way in order to be considered a "real man". Child custody. Being silenced when victimized. Assumptions based on appearance. Paternal leave. Birth Control. Oh and people like Olivia here speaking on your experiences despite not being a part of your gender and even if they were their own life experience does not magically nullify the experience of the men that have been wronged in those ways (so please spare me the effort of pulling out a male feminist whose life and reality does not match mine in an effort to "prove" my experiences didn't happen or that they happen so rarely that no effort needs to go into addressing them).

Funny thing is by her asking that question and basically telling men they have no issues that need to be addressed she actually justifies their existence. I guess according to her the only issues men have to deal with is the oppression they impose on women.

And then you have those that just assume the worst of any activity in an effort to shut down anything that they think is a threat.
Caitriona Rylance, chair of Manchester Communist Students, said that while the society now claimed to be about "self-betterment" it's original aims were "Top Gear shows, gadget fairs, beer-drinking marathons and Iron Man competitions".
So what exactly is wrong with those activities in and of themselves? Nothing. I wouldn't dare question a women's group on campus having a beauty day with spas, massages, and shopping. Why? Because in and of themselves such activities are harmless. Yes they are typically associated with a specific gender but does that mean its a bad thing for that gender to indulge in that activity? So what if a woman wants to go to a club to check guys out. BFD if an man goes out to a bar to get a drink and talk to women. Does that suddenly mean they are against the cause? Yes there are things that can go wrong with those activities but that's a problem with those people that take it too far or "go there" not the activity.

If those critics were really interested in equality as they say they are wouldn't they take the time to give them a chance and see if this group is one they want to work with instead of treating it like a threat their eternal victim-hood status?

Kat Wall, the Oxford University's student union vice president for women hopes that he would work with the women's campaign to "facilitate a discussion forum on the issue of masculinity". I wonder if she is going to make the first move or does she have a timer counting down waiting for the time to complain that they aren't trying to work with women if he doesn't make the first move in time.

Just as what happened before with the group at the University of Chicago people are rushing to judgment on a group and basing that judgment solely on the who and not the what (kinda like people who decide whether or not something is sexist solely on the who instead of the what). If those men's groups do act out of line and start doing the things these people are accused of then yes by all means lay into them (which of course they will do with the "See we were right all along!" angle). I just wonder if these critics will be as vocal if groups like this actually do some good and shut down their prejudging statements.

I have to say that this is bit of a tell of the real intentions of some who call themselves advocates, activists, and so on for women. Last I checked the point of activism is to raise the level of consciousness and quality of life of everyone to a fair playing field. But from the words of some of these critics it is apparent that some actually have the goal of elevating some and hold others back (perhaps even the occasional effort to push them further down). Instead of listening to the voices of this subset just assume they are the same as the ones at the top. Instead of asking what concerns they have just assume they have no legitimate concerns because of their gender. Instead of waiting to see what they do just assume the worst from get go. The only people undermining the ability of women to speak out for equality are these women who seem to have a one sided sense of equality.

Other articles about this at the Guardian:
Jennie Agg questions why feminists and women's groups seem to be putting so much energy into shutting groups like this down.
Ben Wild, one of the founding members of the UKs first university MENS society, responds to the criticisms of such groups.

Monday, November 23, 2009

This is what feminism is talking about

Okay so I'm watching Trauma and during one of the last commercial breaks an ad came on about some of the people who have been nominated for the People of Year Award. One of the names that came up was Octomom.

No the announcer speaking on the ad did not say her actual name. In case you have forgetten (and I will admit that I had look it up real quick) her actual name is Nadya Suleman.

This is a problem. Regardless of what your stance is on the morality of her having so many children but to call her Octomon reduces her to her uterus. This is something that women have been having to deal with for ages and this, saga for lack of a better word, does not help with the destruction of that minimizing.

Besides the award is for the person of the year not body part of the year.

I really hope that if she wins the media will at least have the decency to use her real name on the cover of the magazines, newspapers, and websites.

Just to remind you her name is:

Nadya Suleman

Say it with me folks:

Nadya Suleman

So does that make me straight curious as well?

I was looking through my posts and noticed that while I did cross post this at ethcofem a few weeks ago I didn't post it here. So I guess I can't say I cross posted it then. Here goes.

Hey folks this is Danny (aka sanguinedream) from My Corner. I've been invited to become a contributor here and I just could not refuse.

Since Cacophonies seems to be up for a wide range of topics I'm gonna go left field for a bit and talk about sexuality for my introduction.

I'm sure you are more than likely familiar with the term "bi-curious" right? If not it refers to one is generally identifies as heterosexual or homosexual but has curiosities about romantic or sexual activities with people of the same (if you're heterosexual) or opposite (if you're homosexual) gender. So to be curious about romance or sex of the orientation opposite of what you identify with there is the implication that you have never done such things before. So what if you have no sexual or romantic experience?

I've called myself heterosexual for the vast majority of my life. Checking women out. Paying attention to women in porn (but not lesbian porn but that is another story for another day). Fantasizing about women. Par for the course for a heterosexual man (or homosexual woman) right? However about five years ago I opened up to thoughts about homosexuality. Checking men out. Paying attention to men in porn. Fantasizing about men. Par for the course for a homosexual men (or heterosexual woman) right?

Thing is I have no experience in either one.

So based on the fact that I have no experience in heterosexual or homosexual romance/sex does that mean that I'm in some weird limbo in which I'm straight curious and gay curious at the same time? Or can I just call it simply curious since without any experience I'm still at the starting point of discovering my sexuality? Just wondering.

So now my BMI is more important than my GPA?

Okay I can get down with having physical education requirements for graduating school. I agree that physical fitness should be a part of one's education if for no other reason than the fact that there are valuable life lessons that can be picked up on the court/field/etc... and used outside the sports arena. However this is where I draw the line.

It would seem that back in the Fall of 2006 the entering class of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania had a new condition added to their requirements for graduation.
Entering freshmen at Lincoln University have to get their body mass index, or BMI, measured. And if the result comes back above 30, the threshold for obesity, the students have to take a physical education class called "HPR 103 Fitness Walking/ Conditioning" or they can't graduate. Details here.

Now as I said there are most certainly benefits to being fit and you can learn life lessons in sports (like teamwork) but to have your diploma, you know that thing you've spent at least four years working and paying for, depend on having a certain BMI is just another barrier to the badly needed education people need in order to be competitive in the job market. Well yeah they give you an out with that "HPR 103 Fitness Walking/Conditioning" class but this really sounds like its just a class in which you are asked, "You do know that you are unhealthy, overweight, costing healthy people millions in healthcare dollars, and are likely to live a short unhappy life right?"

Damn I just thought that my study habits had to be up to snuff when I went back to college, looks like I will have to be in shape too.

Tip of the Fro to Shakesville.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kyriarchy 101

If you recall last year I did a post on the concept of Kyriarchy. Admittedly I have not touched on it in a while but imagine my surprise when I came across this at Unapologetically Fat (a blog I just happened upon today, go check it out).

This post gives a good breakdown (complete with an example scenario) of how having one privilege does not make ones life golden. You should definitely read up on it and the other material on the blog.

Transgender Day of Rememberance

A day that wish did not exist or at least came to be under different circumstances. This day exists as a time to remember those who dared to defy the gender they were born into. This day exists to remember those who dared to defy the gender they were born into by changing their gender. This day exists to remember those who dared to defy the gender they were born into by changing their gender in a world where such changed is met with death.

Each person that is killed (harassed, abused, assaulted, etc....) is another reason why this day must exist. There is simply no reason that such sparks are being extinguished simply because they are not burning in specific manner determined by society. Every spark is unique and every spark is beautiful.

Transmisogyny and transmisandry are the poison that make this day necessary. They are excuses people use when attacking a person for not performing the gendered body they were born into They are the reason there are activists efforts exist to make this world a safer place for transgender people. Once such evil and hatred is removed perhaps one day this day will no longer be needed to bring attention to live lost. Hopefully one day this world will become a safe place for transgender people.

For those who wish to read up on this day and learn should take a look at these links:

Questioning Transphobia

Womanist Musings

Deeply Problematic


Shapely Prose

Raising My Boychick

Random Babble

The Curvature

The f-word

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Drinking binge + past abuse + female = no time for rape?

41 year old Jenny Lee Mitchell of Sebastopol, Ballarat (in Australia) had sex with two teenage boys during a drinking binge. The incident happened in March last year after Mitchell bought a slab of vodka Cruisers and shared it with a 17-year-old boy, who was staying with her at her unit, and his younger friend. But the worst part of this isn't that she violated the young boy but that fact that she violated him and will not face any jail time for it.

How can this be you ask? Well it would seem that the judge presiding over the trial, Howard Mason, concluded that the abuse that Mitchell has suffered were what made her commit those crimes and thus were a mitigating circumstance and grounds to suspend her entire sentence of 2 years. Mason cited Mitchell's background in which she says she left home at the age of 14 and was held captive for 16 days and was raped* and assaulted by her captured for that period.

“You have been very much a victim,” the judge told Mitchell.

“The incident was spontaneous (and) you were acting out of character.”

Now this is not the first time a rapist has brought up their own abuse in order to explain away why they raped someone. Its very likely true that the things she say are true and she was raped and abused as a young teen but that should not be an excuse for turning around and raping a child herself. Its not acceptable when male rapists try it but as a woman it seems to be a valid defense.

This instance of female sentencing discount a knife in the back of the child she raped essentially telling him that the fact that she is an alcoholic and was raped in the past takes precedence over his own violation.

So much for the "best interests of the children" eh?

* - If you look at the original article you see that the word rape doesn't even come up until they are talking about he past. Apparently she "had sex" with a young boy but she was "raped" when she was a young girl.

Tip of the Fro to Toy Soldier.

Commiting racism to record a documentary on racism?

Filmmaker Günter Wallraff wanted to make a documentary on the experience of black people in Germany today. Now most of time when people want to make a documentary on a subject they go out and talk to the people in question right? Not Wallraff. No no he decided to immerse himself into the project and get a first hand account of what its like to be black and to do so he donned that costume. Yes blackface.

Once again we have someone that either totally missed boat on recognizing that painting one's face to imitate another race is not artistic, funny, or edgy. It's racist. Critics are speaking up on this.

Noah Sow, a black journalist, academic and musician, said in an interview with the news website commented, ""He is using white privileges. He is mimicking suppressed minorities and earning money, attention and even respect."

While I totally agree with Sow's second sentence I think the first one is a bit off base. The fact that Wallraff is white isn't the problem for even if he were Indian, Native American, etc.... he would still be donning blackface in an effort to "understand the black experience". The second sentence is on point though explaining that in his efforts he was mimicking a minimalized experience for profit.

Tahir Della, a spokesman for the Initiative of Black People in Germany (ISD) weighed in by drawing parallels between Wallraff's methods and minstrel shows.
"[Those shows] came about because blacks weren't allowed to perform in clubs and theaters, so whites dressed up to caricature them,"

This taps on my problem with this.

Wallraff could have very easily spoken with 300k to 1/2 million black people that live in Germany today. He could have hired some of them to log/chronicle/record their lives for a period of time. If he wanted to get an idea of the black experience in Germany he could have interacted with actual black people in order to get the info. But instead he decided that he pretending to be a black person was more informative?

Perhaps due to his background as an undercover journalist he has concluded that the best way to experience the life of the subjects of the story is to live himself. Now that sounds like a noble (and dangerous) idea and he probably thought that by doing it himself he was just depending on someone else to tell it to him. Nothing wrong with having the drive to learn for yourself however when that drive leads you to ignore the very people you are trying to report on the experience of you have to wonder how informed you will be from the coverage.

He went undercover as a black person for some limited amount of time. That's fine well and good until you realize that his few months or however long it was it is only a drop in the bucket compared to the life time of people who live it day in day out for the entire lives and will never change. Yeah I could put on whiteface (which for the record is racist like blackface) and straighten my hair and pretend to be white for a few days but its nothing when considering that actual white can't take off their makeup at the end of day. When actual white people apply for jobs they have to actually check that box for their race. When actual white people get into the dating scene they are going to be dating as a white person.

So in his effort to film a documentary about being black in Germany he actually managed to leave out a large chunk of, well, the experience of being black in Germany. And besides even if blackface wasn't racist he would only get one portion of the experience, the black man. There are also black women. And even beyond that there still sexual orientation, religion, gender presentation, etc.... many many things that he as one person cannot hope to account for.

Wallraff I can appreciate your efforts but the next time you want to learn about the experience of a group of people you may want to start by getting some words from actual members of that group.

Monday, November 16, 2009

First, Last, and Only Line of Defense?

So there is this article about a study done 965 men in Uganda that concluded that men with larger foreskins were more likely to contract AIDS virus. It is believed that the "foreskin has many immune cells called dendritic cells, which may provide a route into the body for the virus."

Well par for the course when there is a bit of evidence that the foreskin may increase risk for contracting AIDS they go for the old "chop it off!" solution.

Here's the thing. Did this study by chance evaluate the genital hygiene and sex education of those 965 men? Perhaps they don't realize that keeping their penises clean and being aware of sexually transmitted diseases could decrease the risk as well. But I doubt that. These days it seems like people are just aching for a chance to cut foreskin when they can.

I would really like to see some evidence that proper sexual education and genital hygiene are so incredibly ineffective in preventing the transmission of AIDS to these men that something as serious as circumcision is the only resort (which is how a lot of folks are treating it these days). In most cases of most illnesses the removal of body parts is usually the very last resort when all other options have been exhausted. Except in this case in which circumcision is being touted by some as the first and only resort.

Why is that?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The next day

I just posted a little while ago about the recent flooding in my area. Well I also said I was waiting for my batteries to recharge so I could get pictures today. Well here they are. These are about 28 hours later.

I guess if the media won't talk about it...

One of the biggest drawbacks if living off the beaten path is that when something happens it won't get reported unless its a horrible crime. Its been flooding in Eastern NC for the last few days and hardly anyone is talking about. Mind you nothing major just flooded roads and thankfully no one has been hurt but it kinda makes you feel bad that your hometown is flooded and no one talks about it because you don't live in Beverly Hills (yeah media would get footage of every drop of water if that place was flooded).

But then I realize that I have my own corner of the universe to talk as a please so why not put it to good use. I took some photos and dropped them into a small album yesterday just to show what its looking like.

I would have taken more pics today to show how much worse its gotten but like a silly person I left my camera on all night while hooked to my pc to upload the photos so they are recharging. Once they are charged I'll have another set of photos to share.

And as a bonus I took a small vid clip to show how deep the water is. Yes I was bored enough to add my own music to it:

Edit: Here are pics of what it looks like today.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Finding the positive in masculinity

With the way gender relations are these days its extremely easy to demonize masculinity and only highlight the negative things associated with it (and even try to imply that such negative things are inherent in masculinity).

I'm sure there are those that think misogyny is an integral part of masculinity and what it is to be a man. Some who believe that a man must be the external provider (by that I mean providing by working mostly outside the home whereas women are traditionally expected to work inside the home or an internal provider) is an inherent part of their masculinity. Violence is often associated with being male. And I'm sure the list of negatives could go on.

Anybody care to think of some positive things associated with being male or embracing masculinity? Not quite so easy eh?

Personally I been wondering for a while if anyone else was going to ever take enough time from attacking the male image to ask this and it seems that Courtney E. Martin has gotten around to asking that.

Its real easy to point out the bad things about masculinity in an effort to change them but at the same time current positives must be nurtured and new positives introduced if there are any. And big part of nurturing the positives* is examine the basis behind them. Let's take a look at two such positives.

Protecting people - Now at face value this seems like a good virtue for a man to have right? Yes but think about why the desire to protect people is attached to masculinity. For the most part as men we are expected to protect simply because we are men. In other words because we are men are supposed to protect others, namely women and children. Can you say a given virtue is a good thing to have when it is forcefully imposed upon you simply because of you gender? This is a part of thedisposability of men that dictates that a man's life is worth less than that of a woman or child. It would seem that to men that do take on harm for the sake of others would be doing so because it is the right thing to do rather than a gender imperative based on having one's worth based on gender.

Being an external provider for family - This is somewhat related to the desire to provide protection I mentioned above. As it has been for a very long time providing resources (ie; money) by from working outside the home is extremely demanding and is often dangerous**. So in an effort to protect the women from the demand and danger of being an external provider men have often taken upon themselves to work outside the home. At a quick glance this sounds like a noble deed on the part of such men but if you think about it how many men have taken on this demand, danger, and burden simply because they figured that since they are men it is their gender based duty to so?

These are some of the things that while should be included in a new masculinity, as long they examined to make sure they are included for the right reasons.

So Courtney does bring up what is a crucial part to redefining masculinity and an important goal for the men's movement (which she spends a paragraph attacking and painting feminists be the poor innocent victims that have never done anything wrong).

* - Now after reading these some of you may want to say, "But Danny these are parts of femininity as well." Well that is true but I'm talking about masculinity. On the other hand some of you may say, "But Danny these are parts of being a good person." Well that is true as well but along with being a good person I am also a masculine person and these values are good to have whether one embraces masculinity, femininity, neither, or some of both.

** - Now his is not to say that being an internal provider is free of demand and danger. Just pointing out how demanding and dangerous being an external provider is and quite frankly while the demand can be the same I think it can be safely said that the danger is higher for external providers.

Looks like some people have recovered from the shock

I guess that people are still so shocked that the main suspect in the murder of 8 year old Sandra Cantu is a woman everyone just stopped talking about it. But thankfully the system is still working on it.

A trial date is expected to be set at the next hearing on December 4th with a hearing to suppress evidence is set for February 12th.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why is male sexuality considered dirty?

As you can tell by the title I'm getting straight to the point. For the most part male sexuality is generally regarded as a dirty and disgusting thing and that's a problem. Unlike female sexuality which regarded as a pure and delicate flower (which isn't all sunshine and rose petals either from what I understand) male sexuality is something that is supposed to be rough, ugly, nasty (which is why people refer to a woman that has had sex with a man as "defiled" or "unpure").

As men we are expected to be the dark side of sexuality (with female sexuality being the light side). On that side we are supposed be hungry sex beasts always on the hunt for the next romp under the covers. While some may find this image to be alluring and attractive it can be quite destructive.

What do we usually see in pop culture when it comes to men and sex? "Hot" bodies (hot being defined in very narrow, sexist, and homophobic terms), willing to do anything to get it (even violating and attacking people for it), its the top priority (even over career, friends, and family).

For those men who do try to achieve this they may very well be allowing this image to overwrite their own interpretation of what their sexuality is to them. For those men who do not try to achieve this or try and fail to achieve it it can be much worse. They are constantly called into question. Not wanting to have sex with a woman for, well any reason whatsoever? He must have a problem. Not the type to constantly hit the bar and club scenes looking for sex? Something must be wrong with that man. Not having sex with women because that's not your orientation? That's when the attacks really start. For along with the assumed predatory nature, forcefulness, and other unpleasant things associated with male sexuality there is also an assumption that is heterosexual.

And somehow this is what men are supposed to be striving for in terms of sexuality?

I know this isn't much but my goal here is to get some discussion going on the state of male sexuality. What do you think?

Weekly Mashup Stage 2

Fairly busy week and I saw a few things I didn't get to comment on much so I'll share them here.

Men's Rights Groups have become frighteningly effective: Kathryn Joyce tries to paint MRAs as dishonest lunatics who have power....

The Fact Free message of feminists: ...and Toy Soldier reponds.

Winners and Losers: Meadester somehow goes from The World Series, to small time cops trying crack down on trading sex for tickets, to illegal drug vs. alcohol and tobacco use in one post.

Vampire Hotties: Renee takes the time to admire sexy vampires.

Drop It Like Its's Hot: Renee's own weekly roundup.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hatred of fat men revisitied

Today I came across this article on weight issues in relation to gender.

When feminism talks about weight issues it only makes sense that they will be more focused on the weight issues of women. Nothing wrong with that right? Well seeing as how many feminists say they are interests in making the world a better place for all people it makes sense that they will from time to time talk about men and the things they face. Nothing wrong with that right? Well the article made reference to an old post by Kate Harding:
Not so an obese man. A rather fascinating blog on the subject has been created by Kate Harding who feels that fat men need feminism as much as fat women. She makes the intriguing point that fatphobia directed towards men is steeped in misogyny. That female fatness is considered to be an affront, and fat men are often feminised by society.
I took a bit of a look down memory lane and found what I think is the post he is thinking of.

I commented on that post back then back when I had was naive enough to think that a movement that is supposedly about equality would actually tap on the issues of everyone equally. Looking back on that I can see where I wrong to think that men should have equal footing to women in feminism...however I think there is still something deeply amiss here.

This article and that post of Kate's seems to imply that fat hatred of men is depends on hatred of women when that is not entirely the case.

Yes I've had my share of tit jokes and have been called soft but most of what large men have to deal with is a simple attack on their masculinity. The reason people insult fat men in such a manner is because at the base of it the attacker wants to attack that man's masculinity and feminizing said man is only one weapon in their arsenal and it is not the worst one. The goal of the attack isn't to compare said fat man to a woman but to unman him.

In this post I did a short while ago about making huge men out to be rapist there is much more going on than a hatred of women. This is an example of reducing large men to fat mindless beasts that will violate a person for sex (although I find it odd that fat men can be lazy slobs that aren't intimidating and massive rapists on the prowl that are a threat to people at the same time. I guess it depends on who you ask.)

Remember when I talked about Blob from X-Men Evolution and how he was pretty much a big dumb muscle throughout the entire series? That was about taking the creators of that show pretty much had a large male character and did nothing with him but play to the stereotypes.

While feminism has things to offer fat men when dealing with the things we face I get the feeling that things like this:
And fat men as portrayed in the media can sometimes be exaggerated examples of masculinity (also as portrayed in the media) — meat-eating, sports-watching farting machines. But if somebody wants to be truly nasty or threatening to a fat man, they tend to start by equating them with women.
I get the feeling they are trying to imply that the root of fat based misandry is misogyny.

The reason people hate on fat men is because in their warped sense fat men are not "real men". That's it. For some reason we have not met some part of the ideal image of what a man is supposed to be and for that deserve to be attacked. Yes feminizing is a tool for this but removing that tool will not remove the problem that fat men are still seen as not worthy of the mantle of manhood. That's why we have the Homer Simpsons, Peter Griffins, and so on who seem to have an inverse proportion of size and intelligence (i.e the larger they are the dumber they are). That's why almost any medical drama you can think of has an episode (or subplot of an episode) that deals with an overweight man and people go straight to his diet and lack of exercise (which is why I smiled at the House episode "Que Que Sera" when the overweight man's problems turned out to be cancer after about 40min. of being told it must be his weight). That's why fictional characters of our size are usually brainless muscle.

Add that to the fact that (at least to me) feminists tend to only bring up the issues of my reality when it suits them (and sometimes not accurately) and you have why I'm not clamoring to join them. Not saying they are a movement of man-haters but frankly they don't speak to my reality.

Now I'm sure there are people that would go straight to saying I'm crying "what about teh menz?" in this post. Did I say that feminism should turn its main focus to the plights of men? No. I am saying that feminists can at least do me the pleasure of speaking accurately when they see fit to speak on my reality (or at least ask, I'll more than likely tell).

A primer on quoting

ballgame over at Feminist Critics has provided a primer on quoting people in blog discussions.

I kinda mess up on quoting every once in a while so I guess it can't hurt to share this with anyone else who might want to freshen up.

Thankfully it seems to be already gone but...

Saw this today at Feministing.

Yes there is (or at least was because now that I'm home trying to find the group I've had no luck so maybe its already been taken down) a group out there called "Not Getting Raped by a Huge Black Guy". There are four major problems with that title. Now I'm sure most of the posts people do in this on this are going to talk about the "Rape" and "Black" and maybe touch on "Guy" a bit so I'll take on "Huge" and since its gendered I'll touch more on "Guy".

When talking about large men its not uncommon to stereotype us as angry and violent. Hell I still remember taunts about not making the fat kid angry because he'll sit on them. It's bad enough that men are typed to be violent angry and predatorial but it gets even worse when they guy has a few extra pounds.

I've had plenty of experiences in which women see me and switch to the other side of the street of make eye contact with me to size up my intent or things to decide if the fat black guy is going to attack them. Yeah there may be other reasons they are looking a me but I'm not silly enough to think that my size has never been one as well. A black man has enough to deal with when it comes to be cast as a sexual predator looking for the next woman to violate adding the weight doesn't not help.

Well at least the group seems to have already been dealt with and taken down but in my looking I did find another group called Not getting anal raped by a big white guy. They may not have it the same as us but changing the race to white does not erase all the problems of such an offensive name and it also has a picture of another WWE wrestler named The Big Show. And hell doing more searching turned up Getting Raped by a Huge Black Guy with a picture of who I think is a former WWE wrestler.

There's so much going on here that I'm burning out. Just a bunch of bullshit.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Am I weird for making such an association?

This past weekend I went to a small fetish party. Nothing too big just someone giving massages, a bit of electroplay, and of course spanking while tied to a St. Andrew's cross. But nevermind that my thoughts are about something else.

This was also a costume party (by the way I'm seriously thinking about dressing up as the Clown with Tear Away Face from Nightmare Before Christmas next year) and since there was some fetish stuff going on there were quite a few couples dressed in sub(missive)/dom(imant) gear, including the two friends I went with. One thing that nearly all of them had in common was that the sub wore a collar with a leash attached that was held by the dom.

I know how crazy this may sound but there is just something about a collar (even in a consensual context) that just makes me think of how African slave were sold and displayed in market places as if they were possessions. Now don't get me wrong I'm not trying to start a crusade to end the use of collars. It just kinda weirds me out when I see other people wearing them.

In the context of slavery there is no doubt that the use of collars and rope to bind people was not consensual whereas the subs among fetishists are clearly consenting to their dom's use of such things. But somewhere in their I'm either missing something or adding something that should not be there. Yet to make it even more odd when it comes to binding hands and tying people up I have no problems with it and in fact I personally enjoy having my hands tied. But one thing I firmly put my foot down on is no collars which if I even did form a relationship with a dom I don't think it would be a problem (assuming they are a proper dom).

Even though it is clear that the dom is in control the relationship between sub and dom is one of trust and respect. The dom may be giving the directions and orders but at the heart of the relationship the dom knows there are boundaries that are not to be crossed and there are things that the sub just will not do. To even attempt to make the sub do things they have stated are outside the realm of what they are willing to do is a violation of the trust and the sign of a dom that needs to be avoided.

And I doubt I'm the only one that made the connection. While I was there that night I was talking to someone (black guy) and he was talking about how the spanking reminded him of slavery.

So I guess I'm wonder if seeing a person wearing a collar triggers thoughts a slavery with me, while the site of a person being tied up and spanked doesn't, does that make me weird or something?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How about you "Man up" these OK?

Yeah I know that's an aggressive title but I'll also add that no matter who you are feel free to substitute "these" for whatever body parts you want. Testicles, ovaries, breasts, hell your two middle fingers if you want to go classic. Point is I think that "Man up." needs to be removed from the vocabulary just like using the word dick to describe an unlikable person or pussy to describe a coward.

Tonight I read this post at Renee's place. She does a good job of critiquing an Onion story about boys are forced into specific gender roles via Halloween costumes (a phenomenon that is rarely touched on) and also touches on how males that don't perform these roles properly are rendered invisible. Go check it out. My purpose here is about a phrase she used in her post.
It takes the form of telling a child not to cry, or to man up in the face of fear, even withholding of affection. (emphasis courtesy of me)

Oh how I've grown to despise that phrase. Now just to be clear Renee isn't telling those boys they need to man up by conforming to someone else's image of being a boy/man but is pointing out how that shaming language like that is used to make boys and men do things they would normally not do or to not do things they would normally do.

That line invokes fear. Fear that can be used to cause shame. Shame that can be used to take power over males.

This fear can override a boy's better judgment. Want a boy to do an insane stunt that he knows will likely severely injure him if not kill him. Tell him to man up and do the damn stunt anyway. This shame can be used to cause a man to go against his personality. Want a man to think that he is not aggressive enough with the woman in his life (and if that partner is not a woman...well that's a post all its own)? Tell him to man up and put her in her place (most of the time this would not include the escalation to violence but it can). This power can lead a man beyond what he has set as his reasonable limits. Want a man to perform a sex act that he would normally not do? Tell him to man up and don't be scared to slap and choke her if she says she wants him to.

Now I know a lot of people would just say that its his responsibility because he did those things and that the problem is that he gave in to that shame and fear which granted his teaser those powers over him. True but at the same time there is the very real problem of people using these tactics for they are proof that people have their idea of what it is to be a man and they are willing to impose this image on men and boys in order to get what they want. And for those of us who don't dance the dance they want us to dance and dance it to their tune this can be very problematic.

Take my fingernails for instance

Yes that is a picture of my left hand about a month ago. Part of the male gender role is that we are supposed to be dirty and not care about things like taking care of our fingernails. That's for women in salons for 3 hours every two weeks right? So you can imagine the time I've had with the fact that I actually put some effort into taking care of them. Over the years I've had commentary ranging from, "Men aren't supposed to have long nails". to "Those are an instant hysterectomy. Cut 'em!" to "I'm gonna hold you down and cut them for you." and my personal favorite, "How are you supposed to get pussy with nails like that?"

So by simply not obeying one rule of manhood I'm effectively declared to be not a man. This is a big problem. For people to try to label my gender (and in some cases question my sexuality) based on a single act stinks of trying to get me to conform to their idea of what a man is supposed to be. And I can only imagine that it is only worse for men that go outside the norm even farther than I do. A lisp in the voice? The occasional dangling wrist? A fondness for skirts and makeup? Wearing an angel costume for Halloween? Having sex with men? The list goes on. Pushed out of the man camp and used as a target for ridicule, insults, and abuse in an effort to protect their precious image of what a man should be.

One thing I've learned about being a man is that you have be a man on your own terms. If for you that means hunting deer at 6am then knitting at 6pm then dammit do it. If for you that means having sex with your boyfriend at 8pm then playing video games together at midnight then dammit do it. If you wear flannel, jeans, and boots for your day job then wear heels, hot pants, and a halter top at the club at night then dammit do it. There doesn't have to be a set script for being a man and frankly I'm tired of playing by it.

(Edit: Found a nice post at Good Men Project that I think fits nicely here.)