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?


This.

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.

Later.

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.