I still lived in Austin, Texas in 1999. That summer, against all odds, Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor, new husband, father-to-be, won his first Tour de France in an impressive display of athleticism.
He was a hero, an inspiration. When he returned to Austin, the city held a victory rally, in which park I can’t recall as Austin is loaded with large and picturesque gathering spots. A couple of friends and I went to the rally early to grab a patch of ground close enough to see Armstrong and his miracle-pregnant wife. It wasn’t all about Lance. Austinites need only the flimsiest of reasons to gather outside for a couple of beers. But we did love him. We were so proud of him. Even now, when the whole truth has outed, I can still remember the energy and joy at that rally. And the yellow. Everyone wore yellow.
A few months later, his wife gave birth to their son. The following summer he repeated his Tour victory. Soon, he welcomed twin daughters and claimed another Tour de France victory. Our pride in Armstrong overflowed. He could have done anything.
But then Lance Armstrong took off his hero mask. Sometime after his twins arrived, he left his family. I can’t remember if he already had Sheryl Crow waiting for him. It doesn’t matter really. His marriage didn’t have high conflict, at least not on her part. He might have been cheating or she might have left him due to his doping habit. But in hindsight-enhanced scenarios, he was the culpable party.
My shock at the truth about Lance Armstrong came with the split. I have a few girlfriends who spilled tears over the news. The kind of guy who can abruptly walk away from his wife and his children is capable of almost anything in service of self. So current shock at the truth surprises me. We learned that Lance Armstrong lacked honor back in 2003. The doping simply provides more details and removes any pretense for keeping that scar in the heart of Austin.
Recently, I argued that we like heroines who act like men and so writers construct stories enabling women to physically compete. So what about the female characters that don’t act like men?
If writers don’t have a female character fight for herself and by herself, then we typically ignore them. Sometimes we ridicule them. If given the opportunity, we rewrite them. Then, we complain that there aren’t enough of them. There are many, and the comment thread on the last article mentioned a few. These are my favorite five.
5. Princess Buttercup, The Ignored Heroine
In The Princess Bride, Buttercup lives on a farm and falls in love with a quiet and dedicated farm boy. The boy, Wesley, goes off to seek his fortune so he may marry Buttercup, but his ship is attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Buttercup despairs for Wesley’s death. Years later, the prince of the land choses her as his bride. Powerless to refuse him, she agrees. Soon, Wesley returns and rescues her and the land.
Targeted by an evil prince for her beauty, but with no physical way to resist him — no superpowers — Buttercup relies on her courage and wits to keep the prince and his henchmen at bay until help arrives. With Wesley’s help she escapes and together they save the kingdom from a needless war. But she got rescued and does not physically fight. She engages in elegant verbal sparring, of which I’d provide a video clip, but I can’t find any of those scenes online. They aren’t popular enough that anyone thought to upload them. I’ve rarely seen Buttercup mentioned as a feminist favorite even though The Princess Bride‘s cult following rivals Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s. Strong-willed and spirited she might be, but she’s just not manly enough to merit much attention.
Even while women devour the Twilight books and flock to the recent release of Breaking Dawn 2 most revile the series’ heroine Bella Swan. The savvy modern woman prefers the vampire-slaying Buffy Summers. As a fan of both the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight franchises, I think that we have this partially backward and that the Buffy v. Bella arguments common on the web underscore dangerous assumptions about women. Feminists have co-opted Buffy and the female superheroes for the gender wars in order to perpetuate their illusion of no differences between men and women.
Conventional wisdom tells us that women can do anything men can. With rare exception owing to strength or stature, this is true. But we don’t always want to do what men do, and even if and when we do we have to account for our biology. Sometimes it is the strength and stature deficit, sometimes it is our heavier role in reproduction. The feminist intelligentsia thinks this unfair, so, couching their advice in terms of equality, they tell us to ignore biology. Accordingly, the female heroes who we admire today are the ones who work around reality.
It is great that we have heroes who happen to be women, but we mistake them as role models for womanhood. Five pop culture heroines to illustrate my point:
5. Hermione Granger, The Maligned Hero
Hermione helps Harry Potter figure out how to defeat the evil wizard Voldemort and, at great personal sacrifice, she accompanies Harry on his final quest.
As a role model for womanhood she is the best of this list. She shouldn’t even appear but for what we like about her. The oft-cited favorite Hermione part in the movies: when she punches Draco Malfoy.
Over eight films loaded with powerful women defying evil—Luna Lovegood, Molly Weasley, Lily Potter, Narcissa Malfoy—that inconsequential punch makes number six of the 50 greatest moments. What was a slap in the book was rewritten as the crowd-pleasing punch because we like it when a woman acts like a man, which is ironic considering the next most overrated heroine, Wonder Woman.
Bridget Jones will write a third diary for a movie. This diary will start 13 years after Bridget Jones, The Edge of Reason. The Telegraph speculates about what this fortysomething diary might involve:
In the first diary, Bridget was in her thirties, so the new material should make her in at least her late forties. We can only speculate then how Bridget’s new diary – or more likely blog – would start: Inappropriate tweets 10, followers 95 (down five following yesterday’s said inappropriateness), hours wasted on match.com 7. 2012′s Bridget would surely be an avid Internet dater, going after the younger men. She’d be sniping about ex-boyfriends – perhaps ex-husbands – not over cocktails, but on Facebook, and debating the trials of parenthood on a Mumsnet forum. Yep, Fielding can have a lot of fun with 4G-enabled Bridget, but you can bet the bits that will stay the same.
Sally Newell has good instincts. While the naive antics and mishaps of this ditzy single woman in her thirties entertained in part because she was only a little bit pathetic, if fortysomething Bridget still hasn’t gotten her act together, then there will be no entertainment, just pity. But Newell’s conclusion caught my eye. Bridget Jones first appeared in a running column in The Independent in 1995. From one of those first columns:
Bridget’s friend Jude said: “We women are only vulnerable because we are a pioneer generation. In 20 years’ time, men won’t even dare start with F***wittage because we will just laugh in their faces.”
Well, here we are, almost 20 years on, and according to the dispatches from the hook up culture, men regularly dare to start not with just sex wittage but straight up propositions. Women don’t laugh at them but sleep with them. Women are still vulnerable, but you are a patronizing jerk if you say so. And according to the feminist orthodoxy, this is progress.
On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 1918, the guns of Europe fell silent. We in the US know of November 11th as Veterans’ Day, a holiday to honor those who have served in our military forces.
Sadly, the day isn’t thought of much outside the military. The President lays a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. As it is not usually a day off of work, most department stores don’t even bother with announcing a sale. A news story about Obama’s plans for Veterans’ Day 2011 sums up the lack of gravitas our culture gives to the day. After quoting the news release that Obama would attend the ceremonies at Arlington and then fly to San Diego to watch a football game with the crew of the USS Carl Vinson, the report concluded:
Will you be tuning in to watch the historic event? If nothing else it will be cool to watch a game on a war machine that can literally wipe out an entire city.
I didn’t know much about Veterans’ Day until we moved to London. From the beginning of November to the 11th or the second Sunday, Remberance Sunday, people wear commemorative poppies on their lapels. The British Legion sells the pins as a fund raiser for wounded veterans. (The American Legion does as well, but on a small scale.) On both days, people observe a moment of silence at 11 am. Why two days? During WWII, the moment of silence was moved to the closest Sunday so as not to interfere with wartime production. After WWII ended, the double observance remained, perhaps as a reminder as to why the ceremony had to move.
PJ Lifestyle is quiet today. We have a grim, nauseous writers block, at least for light pieces. Today we reassess, adjust. I took a walk to clear my head. I’ve been writing about The Killers, so had most of their album in my ‘recently played’ playlist. I had planned a short post at my place about the patriotic anthem, “Battle Born,” but after yesterday I find the song holds more fire than I thought. Whether you like the sound of indie rock or not, read the lyrics:
You lost faith in the human spirit
You walk around like a ghost
Your star-spangled heart
Took a train for the coast
When you shine you’re a hilltop mansion
So how’d you lose the light?
Was it blown by the wind
In the still of the night?
I always saw you as a kind of keeper
A mother to a child
But your boys have grown soft
And your girls have gone wild
From the Blue Ridge to the Black Hills
To the Redwood sky
The season may pass
But the dream doesn’t die
Now don’t you drop the ball
Up against the wall
There’s something dying on the street
When they knock you down
You’re gonna get back on your feet
Cause you can’t stop now
When they break your heart
When they cause your soul to mourn
Remember what I said
Boy, you was battle born
When the night falls on the land
Are you haunted by the sound?
It’s gonna take more than a hand
To turn this thing around
Won’t you lean it on me?
Rescue, set me free
Up against the wall
There’s something dying on the street
When they knock you down
You’re gonna get back on your feet
Cause you can’t stop now
Did they break your heart?
And did they cause your soul to mourn?
Remember what I said
Boy, you was battle born
Cause you can’t stop now
Come on show your face
Come on give us one more spark
Sing a song of fire
Lest we fall into the dark
Cause you can’t stop now
In a recent interview in Sweden, Brandon Flowers, frontman for the band The Killers was ambushed about his faith. Flowers has been dragged into religious or political discussions in the past because he is a Mormon. Now, with fellow Mormon Mitt Romney running for President, interviews with The Killers often focus on religion and politics and occasionally discuss the music.
This time, Flowers was on Skavlan to promote The Killer’s recent album Battle Born. After a few cursory questions about the album, the lead interviewer (it looks like a panel discussion show) started asking Flowers about religion and politics. As one of the panelists put it, people don’t expect to find a religious person fronting a popular rock band and “wearing a leather jacket.” That this might be the result of narrow-minded stereotyping of Christians on her part does not seem to occur to the woman. Flowers dealt with the questions well, explaining that he understands the interest. This is all rather typical for a Brandon Flowers or The Killers interview, but this time, it was just the setup.
Both the Lady Parts and Periods items were pulled within hours of posting, and Julia had launched quite a backlash meme, so one might think that the Obama campaign would be cautious about patronizing women again.
Alas, no. The Obama campaign has plenty more patronizing to do, this time in a plucky commercial. Thursday afternoon the Obama campaign released this spot, “Your First Time.”
In case you are not familiar with the young woman telling voting virgins to have their first time be with Barack Obama, that is Lena Dunham, creator and star of HBO’s Girls. It is Sex in the City for millennials — all the sex and the single girl drama but without the cushy jobs to support the Manolo Blahnik fetishes.
This week Tom Wolfe, iconic American author in the white suit, reenters our cultural scene with his new book, Back to Blood. His return at the same time as Camille Paglia is a happy coincidence. Two of our sharpest culture critics both think that art and literature should mean something. (As they are both atheists, they need art to mean something, but that is one of Paglia’s arguments and so I will address it in my Glittering Images review, hopefully later this month.) Established fans of Wolfe know of his reputation as a cultural critic, but for younger readers for whom Back to Blood is their first knowledge of the author, a brief introduction to Wolfe’s massive influence:
Wolfe started out writing news as stories. He used a narrative, historical fiction style but, since he wrote on current events, he could interview the players and observe the events rather than creatively fill in gaps in the historical record. His first books were news stories about cultural phenomenon such as The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test about the hippie culture and The Right Stuff on NASA culture. He expected that those true stories would inspire related fiction. They didn’t.
So in 1987 he penned an explosive essay for Harpers, “Stalking the Billion Footed Beast.” He argued that if modern American authors insisted on writing novels about nothing, then they would cede American literature to realist authors like himself. His first fiction novel, Bonfire of the Vanities, was his proof. A story about wild New York City financial life in the ’80s, Bonfire was a fabulous success. By the time he published his next novel, A Man in Full, the old guard authors were annoyed — and ready to strike back.
Last night, Obama supporters again proved that they will hear what they want to hear. As the “binders full of women” comment gave Democratic women a hook for their assumption that Romney is bad for women in government, Obama’s comment about horses and bayonets launched an instant meme in which his supporters see what they want to see. This time, however, they are making fools of themselves.
If you were watching football or anything enjoyable last night, Romney was talking about the importance of maintaining our forces and lamented that we now had the smallest navy since 1916. Obama countered that Romney didn’t know much about the military, that this wasn’t a game of Battleship, that we had more than horses and bayonets these days. The left saw this as a zinger. Tweets about the obsoleteness of bayonets and horses started to flow. The left relished the idea that they were more military savvy than Romney. Alas, they were mistaken.
We still use bayonets. And horses. Remember when it seemed to take forever before we went into Afghanistan after 9/11? Special Forces had already gone in—on horseback—to ID and paint the targets for our attack. There is a lovely memorial going in at Ground Zero to commemorate these heroes. Bayonets can be seen in stock photos of the Tomb of the Unknown Solider and in the Few, The Proud, The Marines commercials. In Great Britain one can still earn medals for proper use of a bayonet. (h/t @tobyharnden) In contention for the best comment of the night started by a mother of 2 Marines to Mona Charen: “Ambassador Stevens would have loved a horse or a bayonet or a Marine with either one.”
Obama was probably trying to say that in the modern era the number of ships isn’t as important as the kind of ships. If Obama hadn’t been aiming for a petty zinger, he might have been able to articulate that point. He didn’t, and his supporters ran with the horses and bayonets meme which exposes them as not only ignorant, but willfully ignorant of the military.
Throughout this election cycle, ever since that Halftime in America commercial during the Super Bowl, I have worried about how much people, especially women, want to vote for Obama despite their disappointment. They want to believe him. They want to have hope. And they certainly don’t want to be lumped in with those cruel-hearted women of the Right. Giving up on Obama is a potential political Dark Night of the Soul.
In their resistance, I’ve seen and heard much twisted reasoning in the past months. They look for any ray of light in Obama’s abstract musings. They recoil from any concrete good done by Romney. So it is with the “binders full of women” meme. They are punning to avoid a positive fact about Romney: he has a standout record of seeking and appointing women to his Massachusetts administration.
To illustrate: if Romney had said “stacks of applications from women,” there would be no meme. The press and defensive women, afraid of the polling data that women are breaking for Romney, have seized upon the omission of the word “application” and the connotations of “binder”—not just the plastic-ringed notebook but also the notion of restraining—to pretend that a Romney administration bodes ill for women in government.
In truth, the binder meme says the opposite. Romney’s choice of words illustrates a concrete memory. He remembers someone bringing him a binder full of applications from women. Romney went through that binder and appointed many of those women to office. It all happened. It is all part of his record. Not only does he remember the physical binder, but he also remembers the women, not merely the applications on paper. But for silly wordplay, we would be talking about Romney’s impressive record for women in government.
Of course, if we did that, then we might need to talk about Obama’s history of women in government, and that’s complicated. Obama answered Romney’s memory of appointing women to his administration with an abstract and off-point thought about his future hopes for his daughters: may they have the same opportunities as men. Obama often answers in abstracts because the facts are not in his favor. Obama’s record with women in his administration is dark and murky. Just this week, he threw Hillary Clinton under the bus as damage control for the debacle in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack. Last summer, in Ron Suskind’s book Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President, Obama faced criticism that his administration was a hostile work environment for women. When the book came out, the women who were quoted accusing the administration claimed that they were misquoted, and women’s groups, usually quick to pounce upon any allegations of hostile work environment, refused to comment.
Women of the left are so well-trained by the conventional wisdom that they reflexively reject promising evidence on the right and prop up weak evidence on the left. They will believe what they want to believe, regardless of the evidence. Hopefully independent women are more astute.
The quality of discourse for women today is poor. The many and varied reasons for this will make a post for another day, but for the moment, note that the Mommy Wars and hookup culture discussions might be heartfelt but rarely resolve anything.
Notable recent examples of unproductive chattering: Naomi Wolf has created a new range of vagina puns with her anecdotal account of her technicolor orgasms in her latest book Vagina. The Life of Julia is a left-looking faceless cartoon claiming that women need government to take care of them. (I linked to Iowahawk’s parody because the original is too depressing.) Hanna Rosin seeks to convince us that replacing domineering men with domineering women amounts to positive progress. And a fan fiction author addicted to “shouty capitals,” E.L. James, captured the imagination of women across the English-speaking world with a poor specimen of a bondage novel that has since spun off a line of sex toys with little Fifty Shades of Grey logo tags. (British comment threads are always informative. Why pay for trademarked logo pleasure balls when limes work just as well?)
Missing has been someone to show how absurd this all is. We, the most privileged and independent women in history, find those discussions compelling? Sure, the Right has been pointing out the absurdities in such discussions for a while, but we are written off as the bigoted and biased Other. Feminist thought needs some honest criticism from the inside.
Re-enter Camille Paglia, the “pro-sex, pro-porn, pro-art, pro-beauty, pro-pop” sixties feminist and heavily published art and culture critic, quiet for the past few years while writing her latest book due out on October 16th, Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars. Our debates suffered from her absence.
After Hanna Rosin’s glowing praise for promiscuity in her new book The End of Men, articles about the hookup culture are popping up all over the web. Is it really good for women? Do they actually like it? Is replacing forward men with on-the-prowl women really progress?
Intentional or not, many of this summer’s pop rock music releases offer songs about the truth and consequences of the hookup culture. Three of these artists in particular boldly sing about love; as products of their generations, their songs can teach us about the hookup culture. The early songs of Alanis Morissette, P!nk, and Katy Perry provide a window into how these ideas progressed from Gen X women to Millennial women. The rockers’ latest works (Alanis’ havoc and bright lights, P!nk’s The Truth About Love, and Perry’s “Wide Awake”) are about how they are coping, or not, with marriage and, in the case of Alanis and P!nk, motherhood. What truths about love and happiness do their songs tell us?
The results are counterintuitive for the Rosin types who think that the hookup culture empowers women. Surely the eyes-wide-open, independent Millennial Perry is the one who has it all together? According to her songs, she is not. The truth-teller P!nk, perhaps? She is holding together if only because she hates goodbyes. No, it is angry Alanis who seems to have found peace in spite of all the havoc and bright lights. And her relative lack of experience with the hookup culture can explain why.
In yesterday’s Daily Briefing about the dreadful media coverage of the attacks in Benghazi, Erick Erickson coined the term “conventional wisdom machine” to describe the mainstream media. The conventional wisdom machine efficiently turns out flimsy facts, sometimes with a flourish.
Vying for a spot on the list of the top 10 most ill-timed political stories, on September 12, 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, and when he posited, “The greatest threat to national security that we have is obesity,” she said, “Absolutely.” Yes, on the day after the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, when we awoke to learn of our Libyan ambassador’s murder and embassies burning, both reminding us that we continue to face dire national security threats, the first lady appeared on television declaring body fat our #1 concern.
What threat did the first lady imagine? Obese people aren’t accepted into the military. True, insufficient military personnel threatens national security, but the size of our military force means nothing if we do not send them to the right place. It was just such an egregious error that cost Ambassador Stevens his life the previous day.
In addition, the interview contained some inappropriate elements. While the administration twists itself into knots not to offend Islam, the interview is titled “First Lady Michelle Obama’s Health Crusade.” And for a final flourish of cluelessness, Mrs. Obama taught Dr. Oz how to “Dougie,” which, according to the lyrics of the song, is a dance meant to blow off mean “niggas” and attract hook-ups with “bitches.”
Any single one of those items would be cause enough for raised eyebrows. Taken together, they are dumbfounding. And they all come before the substance of the interview, an obesity epidemic. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, we don’t have one.
My children are back in school, and I am able to return to my school day routine of reading The Transom after my older set get on the bus and my twins get dressed and make their beds. Admittedly, I don’t always make it to the end of the newsletter in one sitting, but the end is the best part. After the wonky political and economic news summaries, The Transom has an interesting links section, a slightly more serious version of Debby Witt’s Odd Links at The Corner.
This gem recently greeted me: “In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every President, Who Would Win and Why?” Perhaps because I have an eight-year-old son who took to the discussion like a moth to a flame when I discussed it with his uncle and father over dinner, this struck me as a very promising history lesson plan… one that the PC/we-need-feminized-men guardians would never allow.
This is an excellent example of the type of discussion that would engage young boys (and old ones based on the comment threads) but send experts and some moms into frets of whether it promotes aggression. Boys can’t even talk about theoretical fighting. When the boys get bored, rather than face that boredom is one of aggression’s main fuel sources, we drug them and congratulate ourselves that the little girls are doing so well.
I will grant that a knife fight is a bit harsh for a school lesson, but the game is easily modified to a survival island scenario, like Christ White posted. Both posts and comments are chock full of intriguing — and highly memorable — assertions. Think of the research possibilities!
I recently bought Havoc and Bright Lights, Alanis Morissette’s new album. It focuses on motherhood, marriage, and womanhood. Since I write about these topics, this is of great interest to me, especially since I was among the many Gen Xers for whom Jagged Little Pill resonated. I have the new album on loop to analyze the lyrics and write a post about it.
While researching, I keep seeing an irksome comment. Many articles or reviews mention something like “don’t worry because Alanis hasn’t lost her angst.” It’s not just Alanis, either. P!nk has a motherhood- and marriage-inspired album coming in a few weeks as well. From Pop Crush’s review of her single “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)”:
For fans who worried that the singer’s reunion with once-estranged hubby Carey Hart and subsequent birth of daughter Willow Sage had softened the heavily tattooed starlet, fear not. She’s still feisty, she’s still funny and you better believe she’s still vengeful, singing, “You’ll be calling a trick / ‘Cause you no longer sleep / I’ll dress nice / I’ll look good / I’ll go dancing alone / I will laugh / I’ll get drunk / I’ll take somebody home!”
Yeah, that’s what I worry about for a new mother, whether she’s still feisty, funny, and vengeful. We wouldn’t want marriage and motherhood to soften a heart and change some fave music. That’d be horrible.
Why is there such fear of change?
Ann Romney is a valuable asset for the Romney campaign. Not only is she an inspirational wife and mother and apparently a talented speaker, but she’s also a woman who effortlessly draws errors from the Democrats. Last night, Juan Williams felt lukewarm about Ann’s performance and called her a “corporate wife” because her husband has always taken care of her.
To the extent he meant that someone wealthy enough to not have to worry about the price of gas isn’t the most believable person on the plight of the middle class, Williams isn’t way out of line. But after decades of being groomed by feminists not to dismiss women’s opinions, his comment smacks of dismissing the experiences of an entire group of women based on career choice. She hasn’t had to take care of herself financially so her opinion isn’t valuable.
One might think that feminists would come to Ann Romney’s defense, but they beat Williams to the attack months ago. Remember the Ann Romney “hasn’t worked a day in her life” comment from Hilary Rosen back in April? Both comments suggest that unless a woman works for money and accolades outside the home, then she has nothing of value to say.
Not only is the notion insulting, it’s also wrong.
Over the past day, I’ve seen more than a few discussions amongst Christians that we should not have done the Chick-fil-A event on Wednesday. After they ignore, reject, or exclude the free speech element of the event — which I will copy in order to counter their arguments — they have two lines of reasoning. First, this is Dan Cathy’s personal problem and therefore not “a hill to die on.” Second, the left feels like we hate them, and we are wrong to do anything that makes them feel that way. Whether we actually hate them is not the salient point. Both seem to think along the lines of one commenter, that this is a time to “keep our heads down” and practice our faith quietly.
Keep our heads down. I don’t recall such instructions anywhere in the Bible. I recall that we are to loudly proclaim our faith, that we are to offer succor to fellow Christians persecuted for our faith, and that we are to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. As if my resolve to never keep my head down needed a boost, I received the “heads down” comment in my inbox as I walked out of my second viewing of The Dark Knight Rises, which is not exactly a modern morality tale about the “virtue” of keeping one’s head down.
A prominent Christan has been ridiculed and his company banned from certain public venues because of his Christian values. He needs our support, and we are called to give it. The left may feel hatred from our actions, but whether we actually hate is the paramount question. We are judged both by God and by criminal courts of law on our actual intent, not by someone’s perception of our intent.
Furthermore, is this not all backward?
As a Texan, it was my privilege and pleasure to cast my first voting booth ballot in five years for Ted Cruz for Republican candidate to replace retiring Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson in the U.S. Senate. Yesterday, Cruz won the nomination by an absolutely stunning margin. He likely will be the next U.S. Senator from Texas. Due to the nature of his victory, there will be many news stories and reports about Ted in the coming days. I will leave the political observations to others. I have a different story to tell.
I went to the return watching party last night. Polls closed at 7. When the early voting totals came in, there was optimistic talk of an early night. And so it was. About 8:30, I was in the room with Ted, his wife Heidi, and campaign VIP’s when one of the managers came in with his cell phone held high. He asked for silence and then announced that the AP had called the race for Cruz. As exuberant cheers filled the room, I looked to Cruz, who stood about 5 feet in front of me.
He kissed his wife. It wasn’t a peck or passionate lip lock. Sometimes, when your spouse has finished a long job or traveling schedule, when it is over you get a brief moment to acknowledge some peace and relief before things like excited children and life administration intervene. It was that kiss. When Ted Cruz found out that his 18 month journey for the U.S. Senate nomination had succeeded, his first reaction was to share that brief moment with his wife.
Yesterday, the news of Robsten’s implosion rocked some areas of the web. I commented that the cause of the implosion, Kristen Stewart’s infidelity, was not the result of anything wrong in her and Robert Pattinson’s relationship, but fueled by cultural dictates proclaiming that our early 20s are too soon to settle down. In short, our modern norms create the very immaturity that culture uses as evidence of immaturity. Yesterday, I discussed how that that happens for women. Today, I want to look at what this dynamic does to men.
It turns them into the hardened misogynists we are trying to eradicate.
Every man who does not start out as the sex-seeking, alpha male jerk has a girl in his past who did the “I’m not ready for a commitment,” also known as the “it’s not you, it’s me,” breakup. Well, every man might be an exaggeration, but not by much. These young men loved their girlfriends, offered them their strength, support, and protection — all things that many women claim to want in a husband and father in about 10-15 years. In short, these young men make themselves vulnerable to women, but the women aren’t ready yet, often because we tell them they aren’t ready yet. Whether these young and naive women unceremoniously dump their dedicated beau or humiliate him through cuckoldry, he walks away devastated. He trusted and was betrayed.
Typically, two things happen simultaneously, one internal and one cultural. Internally, the young men retreat into themselves. Having made themselves so vulnerable, they vow to not make that mistake again. Culturally, we often tell a man to get over a girl by sleeping with every willing girl he can find. To see how fun that might be, go watch Forgetting Sarah Marshall, specifically the post breakup sex montage, including such passionate moments as “Are you crying?” “Hi,” and “I think I have an STD.”
Notice, that this is the only point that what we tell young women and what we tell young men, syncs. First the men are ready for commitment but the women aren’t. Later, when the women are ready, the men aren’t. In the middle, we tell the young women to get experience, that is sleep around, and tell young men to drown their heartache in lots of sex. This is why 20somethings spend so much time rutting about. They don’t have out of control libidos so much as we tell them to sleep around–and here is the best part. We tell them this so they can make better choices when the time is right. It doesn’t work out that way.
Today the Hollywood-gossip and 20-something-fan-girl sets are reeling over revelations that Kristen Stewart cheated on longtime boyfriend Robert Pattinson with the married director of her latest movie Snow White and the Huntsman. There are many snarky comments about how Stewart was so bold as to cheat on one of the most sought-after hunks in Hollywood. The fans and gossips are combing through old interviews and appearances looking for explanations. The whys won’t be found in such details — they’re in our society, in what we teach young women and men about love and commitment.
These days, we tell teens that their 20s are for living their life, doing their own thing, experimenting, experiencing. So if a girl meets Mr. Wonderful in her early 20s, when things turn to serious talks about marriage and children, she freaks out. Her friends, her sisters, sometimes her mother — they have told her it is too soon. If she goes so far as to get engaged, we women stage interventions. Granted, sometimes marriage is too soon. Other times the couple isn’t a good match. But we don’t typically weigh the relationships with a little discounting of the judgment of a younger woman. We take her youth as the decisive factor.
In so doing, we create the very immaturity we use as evidence of their immaturity.
The incoming CEO of Yahoo, Melissa Mayer, announced her pregnancy, which has provoked another round of the Having It All Olympics. Joanne Bamberger, a mother of teens who has already medaled in these events, has 6 tips for Mayer. You can read them here at HuffPost Parents. Tips 1-5 offer sound advice, but number 6:
Don’t listen to me. I know I’ve just given you all this advice, but don’t listen to me or other critics. Don’t listen to anything but your inner voice. If working through your maternity leave makes you feel energized and seems like the right path for you, go for it. But just promise me you’ll listen to that voice and take heed of what your inner self is telling you to do when it comes to being a professional and a working mother. Because we’re all tired of having the debate over how women should manage their lives and their parenting.
If Mayer’s inner voice were giving her sound advice then she wouldn’t need Bamberger’s and we wouldn’t be having another round of this tiring debate. Following our inner voices is the sort of thing that got us into our postmodern mess. When we tossed standards, when we stopped listening to voices of experience, we became naive enough to think, among other things, that having it all was just a matter of good time management.
But the voices of experience say — we know — otherwise. Bamberger’s advice should command respect and consideration simply because she’s already been there. Mayer doesn’t have to follow the advice, of course. She might have extenuating circumstances that outweigh the sage advice. Those are the things only Mayer can judge. But Bamberger tells her to discount her voice of experience. This is folly.
Ironically, it will probably be the bit of advice that Mayer does follow. Inner truths are essential to the modern world view. Respect for the past and lessons from elders are two of those things that give conservatives reputations as backward thinking dolts. So, following the last bit of advice, Mayer will make most or all of the mistakes Bamberger warned her about. She will learn the same lessons. And in about 15 years, she will write an advice column to some rising female star in which she laments her weariness in the Have It All Olympics. Perhaps she won’t undercut her own advice with some platitude about inner voices.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
5 Reasons We Can’t Have It All by John Hawkins
Recently, Kathy Shaidle posted about whether women talk too much and kill relationships. She concluded that it isn’t that women talk too much or are too smart, but that they are often too critical. True enough, but that isn’t what caught my attention.
- You’re a Bitch: How defensiveness and anger can hide behind a tough, take-charge exterior, and why being nice is never a sign of weakness.
- You’re a Liar: How to stop lying to men—and get honest with yourself—about the kind of relationship you really want. It’s the only way.
- You’re Shallow: Being a woman who insists on a tall guy is no different from being a man who demands big boobs. Learn why you should let go of trying to get what you think you should have and focus on getting what you need.
- You’re Selfish: The big secret about marriage: It’s about giving something, not getting it. The other big secret: You will have to go first.
Shaidle compares McMillian’s book to other advice books of the past, one of which I devoured in my 20‘s, Advice to a Young Wife from an Old Mistress. I am struck by the differences in the advice. The old advice focused on how to be a good woman. The new advice, however, focuses on how not to be a bad person.
The really short summary of Advice to a Young Wife: have a life and don’t nag. More eloquently, Advice to a Young Wife maintains, “One is born female, but being a woman is a personal accomplishment.”
Doctors have developed a way for women with premature menopause, either due to cancer treatment or natural causes, to have babies post menopause. At least, those are the women for whom the treatment — doctors take a piece of active ovary, preserve it, and then re-implant the piece when the woman wants to have a child — was designed. Now, however, Dr. Sherman Silber is touting the procedure as a way for career women to delay motherhood:
Dr Silber has previously claimed ovary transplants could be a solution to the increase in fertility problems caused by career women putting off having children.
In 2008 he predicted women who had an ovary frozen in their 20s could look forward to the best of all worlds.
‘A young ovary can be transplanted back at any time and it will extend fertility and delay the menopause. You could even wait until you were 47,’ he said.
The best of all worlds, huh? Does the “best” include health and comfort for the mother? Women discuss pregnancies and deliveries often. The typical consensus: those of us delivering in our 30s had a much harder time than our 20-something counterparts and usually required a c-section. We had it far easier, however, than our friends who tried for children around 40. They typically had difficulty conceiving, had more miscarriages, and had the most sluggish recoveries of all of us. (A woman’s body snaps back from delivery at 25 in a way that is uncommon for a 35 year old and lost to a 40 year old without surgical intervention.)
After delivery, of course, come the sleepless nights, which we did for fun in our early 20s. Functioning on four hours sleep is less fun later on.
And that’s just the mothers. Does the “best” count children who are more likely to have older, less active, and more over-protective mothers Additionally what about the grandparent math? If a mom waits until she is 40 to have a child, and that child waits until 40 to have a child, then the mom will not be a grandmother until she is 80. Both grandmother and grandchild — and society — could miss the benefits of an important relationship.
Society would be wise to consider this another lesson in “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”