Sunday, May 12, 2013

Doing Nothing

Last night around midnight I was getting ready to turn in when I heard some of my neighbors yelling.  At first I figured they were just having a loud party, but it soon became apparent at least one woman was angry.  When I heard her say, "It isn't even loaded, you chicken shit," I knew someone had a gun over there, and I grew concerned.

My neighbors are South Pacific Islanders, and very friendly folks.  My only real beef with them is that they don't get waste service.  Instead, they pile their garbage into the bed of an open pickup until it's full, then haul it to the dump.  Winds prevailing as they are, a lot of candy wrappers and snack packaging get blown onto my lawn.  Although it's mildly annoying, I have never said anything: I just pick it up and mutter to myself.  Their eldest daughter is a stocky, athletic kid who spends hours every day shooting into the neighbor's basketball hoop or cycling in endless circles around the cul de sac.  She's a sweet kid who seems lonely.  It was the knowledge that she was in the house with these raging idiots that made me wonder if I should call the cops.

On the other hand, I didn't want to overreact, or get people in trouble unnecessarily.  Although several adults were yelling at this point, no one seemed to be in pain or extreme fear.  While I dithered thusly in my darkened living room, the cops arrived anyway, and with considerable drama ("Come out with your hands up!"), they arrested both a woman and a man. 

This Mother's Day morning all looked serene across the way, and I ventured out for a pack of smokes.  I have a favorite convenience store I always buy cigarettes from that is run by a Korean couple.  They are rather surly, but the front counter is plastered with pictures of their beagle in various adorable poses.  I've been popping into their store twice a week for ten years, yet they never seem to recognize me.  They never remember the brand I smoke either.  It's a little weird:  Do they really not recognize me?  Do all of us white people look alike?  Or are they just respecting my space?  Either way, I don't mind.  I'm a native of a city that is renowned for both its rain and its social chill, and I kind of like it that way. 

As I was leaving the store, I noticed a rack of t-shirts on display near the door.  One on top caught my eye.  It showed a cartoon man brandishing an unfurled belt above a small terrified face with the caption, "This hurts me worse than it hurts you."   It was so crudely drawn that I wasn't sure if the victim was meant to be a child or a woman.  I had never seen a t-shirt like that before, and I could hardly believe that someone would think of making it, much less selling it.  Was it meant to celebrate or condemn domestic violenceI almost wanted to buy it so that people would believe it was real.  I thought about taking a picture, or asking the owner what it meant to him, but his forbidding expression and lack of English daunted me.  

As I drove away, I thought, "It's time to find a new place to buy cigarettes."

Friday, May 10, 2013

Yellow Fever

This week I showed one of my classes "Seeking Asian Female," a documentary from Independent Lens (PBS) that tells the story of an "Asiaphile," a sixty year old parking lot attendant named Steven, and his efforts to win the affections of his younger Chinese wife, Sandy.   The film is available to watch online through the month, and I recommend it.

My class is composed almost exclusively of Asian international students, about half of whom are Chinese.  I was a little apprehensive about their reactions:  Would they be offended?  Would they be embarrassed?  In fact, they seem to have found it pretty hilarious, especially the scenes in which Sandy upbraids a befuddled Steven in Mandarin. 

In the short class discussion that followed, one of the students, a comely young Chinese girl, asked me, "What's wrong with being attractive to white guys?"  As I delicately waded into language of "fetish" and "objectification," I realized they were already familiar with these concepts via mass exposure to advertising and internet porn.

The students were asked to write a contrastive paragraph about the expectations that Sandy and Steven had before they married, and how these expectations were challenged by reality.  It dovetailed neatly with a unit we had finished on discrimination, racism, and cultural stereotypes.  (I've yet to read their efforts, but will do so this afternoon.)

What I didn't share with them is my own family history with yellow fever.  My uncle married twice, first to a Japanese gal named Yoriko when I was about ten.  She was the wayward daughter of a Shinto priest, and turned out to be -- to my uncle's dismay -- quite a pistol.  When they visited, Yoriko used my underwear drawer to stash her snacks, and my panties reeked of dried squid for a full decade.  Sadly, this was the only reminder of her once vibrant presence, as she soon ran off with her golf instructor and was lost to our family forever.

My uncle's second marriage came much later, and was a marriage in name only.  His second wife was a Korean bar girl who had suffered a near-fatal aneurysm in my uncle's Seoul apartment while he was at work.  She was grievously brain damaged as a result, unable to speak (although she could be distressingly vocal) and had an unsteady, lumbering gait.  She required constant supervision and around the clock assistance, so her aging mom and dad were part of the package.  My uncle married her -- or so he claimed -- so that he could get her on his medical insurance plan.  He set her and her folks up in LA for several years, but they hated living in the US, never learned more than a few words in English, and soon were back in Korea, where he continued to support them (and still does, after his death).  I sometimes wonder if my uncle took Jae Nam on, not so much out of compassion, but because he knew she was the one woman who could never leave him.

My uncle was only attracted to women who were extremely young, extremely petite, and otherwise "extremely feminine" in the worst sense of the Asian female cultural stereotype.   His addiction to Asian girls took him on various sex tourism holidays.  One trip to a Thai brothel resulted in his developing both oral gonorrhea and genital herpes simultaneously, the inconvenient details of which he shared freely.  (I learned to carefully sequester my personal linens and towels whenever he dropped in.)   My uncle's "yellow fever" persisted throughout his life even though it was based on a fantasy that his own experiences repeatedly disproved.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Roosh Writes Fiction

For a guy with utter contempt for females, Roosh spends a lot of time fantasizing what it is like to be a girl.  This week on his blog he offers up a short story called "Patricia and Her Smartphone."   Except it's not so short, after all; it is 3500 words long, as he lays out in thudding detail how a young woman's day revolves around the demands of social media.  It is meant, I expect, to be a stinging indictment of how consumerism has destroyed the capacity of women to form relationships with others. 

Roosh often blames feminism for all the ills that plague male/female relationships today, but he seems to conflate feminism with consumerism.  This lack of understanding of what these terms actually mean confounds and annoys me more than just about anything else Roosh does.   

Roosh's literary effort seems to be derived from Bret Easton Ellis yuppie satire, American Psycho.  I heartily disliked both the book and subsequent movie. but in their day they got favorable reviews.  Of course, there are no smartphones in American Psycho, which was published in 1991, but otherwise it's much of a muchness, as my mother used to say..

As someone who spends several hours a day trying to capture the fleeting attention of  "emerging adults," I am all too familiar with how the new technology hinders face-to-face communication and shortens attention spans.  I don't find the addiction to texting and twittering a particularly gendered behavior, however: my male students are equally in thrall to their devices. It also strikes me as a bit hypocritical that Roosh takes young ladies to task for living online, when he and his followers are doing much the same.  Meh, this is hardly breaking news, and many artists and writers have been addressing it.

I did smile at the passage in which Patricia and her friend Madison photograph their lunches before consuming them:  "The food arrived, presented beautifully on large plates with squigglies of unknown sauce going outward like heat rays a child would leave on a drawing of the sun. Both phones were out now, taking pictures from different angles...  From the beginning of their lunch date until the end, a total of 52 photos were taken. Sixteen of those photos would be uploaded to various sites to garner a total of 48 likes, comments, and retweets, including a comment from the restaurant, apologizing for the menu typo."   I (once) shared a meal in Las Vegas with a colleague who actually did this: by the time she was ready to take an actual bite, I was ready for the dessert menu.

Patricia, as Roosh's fictional feminized self, is a very, very Mean Girl who dismisses the men who approach her throughout the day because they aren't handsome or hip enough to meet her standards.   She later meets a fellow for drinks who tries to impress her by "talking about his recent experience in the Peruvian mountains where he took ayahuasca and achieved spiritual enlightenment [and] accumulated a vocabulary of 1,000 words in Quechua to learn important Andean wisdom from wise elders... Now, if that bit of esoterica wouldn't impress a girl, what would?  (Me? I'd be thinking, What a pretentious twit!)

Patricia won't have anything to do with poor Cody, either, because he doesn't believe that access to birth control is a woman's right.  (And rightly so; that attitude should be a complete deal breaker in any woman's playbook.)

The story goes on and on and on.  Roosh took the next day off from blogging, citing exhaustion, and no wonderIf it was as exhausting to write as it is to read, he must be knackered.

Roosh writes competently; I'd be thrilled if my students could string that many grammatical sentences together.  Functional literacy does not, alas, good writing make.  Unfortunately, like pretty much everyone in the manosphere, he is incapable of nuance, subtlety or levity.  Despite his efforts to be witty and satirical, the resulting prose is heavy, turgid and excruciating, and about as much fun as watching someone stack bricks. 
I don't think this is the sort of thing his fan base wants to read, either.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Monday, May 6, 2013

The End of Roosh

Roosh is exhausted.  Anyone who reads his blog between the lines can sense he nearing the the end.  He is trying to prepare his fan base for the inevitable End of Roosh:

"When I first got to Eastern Europe, my standards were lower than what the market provided. I bought all the product available, a binge that coincided with doctor visits and antibiotic treatments. But each new notch increased my standards by just a tiny amount, until one day, standing in a plentiful, fully-stocked market, I did not make a purchase. The reason is that my standards overshot the local markets I found myself in."

In other words, he found himself, in a veritable "poosy paradise," to be impotent.

"I tried to drug myself with alcohol to make the market more appealing. It used to work in the past, but no longer. Even after many drinks, my brain knows true beauty. Only when my boner supplants my brain, when I walk around the market with a priapismatic [sic] erection that is not stimulated by the external, can I proceed with a transaction."

Let's reword this, shall we?  "Especially after many drinks, I am unaroused despite the abundance of attractive young women in my view."

"Please tell me how to go back to when my standards were lower, when I was not a machine for detecting aesthetic flaws in women, of spotting misshapen thighs, an extra dollop of adipose tissue over the stomach, eyebrows that weren’t properly groomed or even a voice one half octave too deep."

Gosh, I wish I could help here.  Perhaps you need to entertain the notion that while sex without emotional connection can be fun, as a daily diet it is lacking essential nutrients.  You have dedicated your entire identity, your life's very purpose, to detecting and exposing the flaws in women.  This is the End of Your Game: no one real can now meet your standards, and the sexual act has become about as meaningful as gorging on a bag of potato chips.

When I look in the mirror, I see a physically flawed specimen, so why have I come to seek perfection? My brain demands it, and it is defeating my boner, putting me on the path of one day seeing sex as a biological nuisance instead of a pleasurable necessity.

Ah, my love!  You are beginning to see the light: Sex is BOTH "a biological nuisance' AND "a pleasurable necessity."  Is Little Roosh beginning to grow up?

Almost all women I’ve had sex with in the past I would have sex with today, but only on one condition: I wouldn’t have to put in a stroke of work. They would have come to me, touch me, disrobe, and then let me play with their bodies as I see fit. I would not put 10% of the original effort that allowed me to have sex with them in the first place. This must be the end of the player, when the development of his brain defeats the evolutionary demands of his penis, or is it the natural order of man, with the hyper-sexed player and his demands of never ending variety being the anomaly, the freak of nature?

Let's not get carried away here.  You write as though you have actually had sex with a huge number of women, but we all know, don't we, that this is not exactly the case.  You also write as though "the penis" makes "evolutionary demands" as part of the "natural order of man."  In other words, your entire life philosophy needs a major overhaul.  And I don't know whether that will sit very well with your readers.
The club is horrible and I want to leave. I pick the most beautiful girl in the venue, one who my brain liked, but she rejects me, not so softly. I can’t leave after having done just one approach—I can leave after two. I go through the motions on the girl next to me, cute but not extraordinary, just slightly above the mean of what I’ve had in the past. She likes me. She’s touching me, complimenting me. She is ready to do the work that I don’t want to do and so my brain allows me to proceed and I will have sex with her three days from now. Unless it’s easy or unless the girl in the top 0.01% of women I’ve seen in 25 countries and counting, I can’t seem to be bothered.

OK, OK -- you've convinced me!  Sex addiction is a Real Thing.

Roosh is trying to tell his readership that he has had enough.  Little Roosh Wants To Come Home.  Don't make him keep trying to fuck strange women in strange countries!  It's starting to tear at his very soul.

But what else can Roosh do?  Sans the porno, does anyone care what Roosh does or says or writes?  It looks like he will soon find out.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Smotherin' Mothers

Over at ROK there is a review ("How to Build a Beta Male") of a short 2007 Danish film called "Dennis" (link to the film here).  It depicts an evening in the life of a stolid, hypertrophied body builder who lives with his clingy, emotionally incestuous single mother.  He asks a girl from his fitness club out for pizza.  The evening doesn't end well, as the girl's friends make fun of him and he runs back to his mama's bed (literally).  A little disturbing, a little sad, but I like to think that this was only Dennis' first attempts to strike out on his own(In fact, the director Mads Mathiesen took Dennis on an extended and more upbeat adventure to Thailand in a feature length 2012 film called "Teddy Bear").

The character Dennis, and his enmeshed relationship with his tiny terrifying mother, seems to have struck a chord even with Roosh, and the discussion on ROK focuses on "beta/omega" males and how women create them.  The whole concept of alpha vs. beta men is rubbish, of course, which is why the manosphere spends huge amounts of time just trying to define what these distinctions are.  However, that there are a lot of lonely single men out there with undeveloped social skills is self-evident by the very existence of a PUA/game industry.   

I hate to admit I recognize the Evil Mother in this film, but sadly I do.  I know a few mothers, both married and single, who have turned their sons into their proxy "boyfriends," and it ain't pretty.  Very close to home is my partner's ex, who has been undergoing a kind of emotional meltdown as their son (now nineteen) begins to flex his wings.  The youth, whom I'll call Kirk, is still living at home, still cooking and cleaning for mom, still accompanying her on holidays, still tucking her in to bed when she's polished off the nightly bottle of wine

I see hope on the horizon though.  Unlike "Dennis," Kirk has great social skills.  As a result, he has a lot of close friends, both male and female.  In fact, he has recently acquired a girlfriend whom he texts constantly, much to his mom's dismay.  He has a part time customer service job that he is good at and he goes to school part time.  

Kirk and his dad (my partner) spend regular time together, sailing, attending musicals, cooking, building stuff, flirting outrageously with everyone they meetBoth are the gregarious sort for whom the expression "He never met a stranger" was coined.  Kirk also seems to have inherited his dad's sunny resilience and unflappable self-confidence.   From his father (a M2F transsexual), he has developed a spirit of tolerance and all-embracing compassion.  It seems a bit ironic that it is his transgender parent's qualities that already make Kirk his own man. 

I'm not really worried about Kirk even though I am sympathetic with the prolonged and often painful separation process he is undergoing.  I stay on the sidelines, of course.  We encourage his growing autonomy, but never disparage the attachment with his mom.  He's going to be fine (and eventually, I hope his mother will be too).

Friday, May 3, 2013

Erasing Hate

A few months ago, I decided to have my tattoo removed.  It is on my forearm, so it's quite visible during the warmer months, and I was tired of dealing with other people's reactions to it.  When I had it done, almost thirty years ago, it seemed a beautiful and daring form of self-expression, and I enjoyed the attention it got.  Now I am older, in many ways a different persona person who no longer wants to wear her heart, literally, on her sleeve.

I underwent three laser sessions at a total cost of nearly $1000.  Laser treatment is so excruciating that I cracked a molar gritting my teeth.  The only mercy is that it doesn't take long.  Unfortunately, although the outline faded a bit, the image didn't budge.  The doctor told me I was wasting my money to continueBecause the ink had probably been adulterated with silicone, it was impervious to the laser.  I was disappointed, but not surprised.  In truth, I was relieved that I didn't have to undergo the pain or expense anymore. So me and my tattoowe're pretty much stuck with each other, at least until the technology advances.

That's partly why "Erasing Hate," which depicts a former skinhead's odyssey back into Society, moved me on a visceral level.  When Bryan Widner is offered a chance to have his racist facial, neck and hand tattoos removed courtesy of the SPLC, he undergoes eighteen months of literal torture.  (Although he is under general anesthesia for each session, it is still an extremely painful process.) 

The transformation is jaw-dropping, as Widner goes from menacing freak to an ordinarily handsome man. 

The long, slow process: Byron Widner was determined to erase the traces of his skinhead past by removing all of the facial tattoos that he had accumulated

What the documentary fails to explain is exactly why Widner, once known as "The Pitbull" of the Vinlanders Social Club, decided to let go of his racist identity.  He credits his new responsibilities and joys as a husband and father.  His wife, a former white nationalist herself, suggests the couple became disillusioned by the violent misogyny of the white supremacist subculture.  The family is shown attending a Baptist church, but there doesn't seem to have been any one great spiritual epiphany.

I am left with the impression that the Widners just got tired of pretending that they believed in something they no longer believed in.  Like many of us, they got smarter as they got older, and were hungry to live with greater integrity, and in greater harmony with the rest of their species.

Hate takes a lot out of a person without much return.

It's understandable that estranged adolescents will be attracted to hate groups, cults, and radical political activism, which seem to offer all the answers and solutions to Why Life Sucks.  What I would like to know more about is how former members like the Widners manage to walk away.  That question is not really explored in any satisfying depth in "Erasing Hate," but the story of one family's "redemption" makes this the ultimate "feel good" movie.