In partnership with the new fiction publishing platform Liberty Island, PJ Lifestyle is going to begin promoting and co-hosting a series of debates and discussions about popular culture. The goal is to figure out what works and what doesn’t so that in the future we can promote and create better fiction and culture of our own. These are public brainstorming sessions for writers and culture advocates interested in developing a more vibrant popular culture. You’re invited to submit your answers to any of these questions — or a related one of your own! — that interests you:
A) in the comments
C) at your blog, then let us know in the comments or via email.
The most interesting answers may be linked, cross-posted, or published at PJ Lifestyle.
Also check out the previous weeks’ writing prompts and email in your thoughts on any questions that strike your fancy: Questions To Figure Out Makes Some Adaptations Succeed and Others Fail, 5 Questions So We Can Figure Out the Cream of the Crop In Popular Music Genres, 5 Geek Questions To Provoke Debates About the Future of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, 5 Controversial Questions To Inspire Spirited Debates About Music.
Last Week’s Pop Culture Debates focused on video games, so it seems only reasonable that this week should go in the opposite direction: so how about a week of discussing the best/worst/over/underrated in romantic movies and books?
Do the 5 movies embedded in this post crack your top 10 list?
Last week I explained that I was in the dating game from 1996 to 2007, and described four mistakes I made (of course, there were others, too) that kept me in the game by taking me on detours that led nowhere.
As I also mentioned, one day in 2007 (it was July) I had a truly successful date, creating a situation that lasts till today. I’m now thinking about what, in the early days of this partnership, were some of the signs that it was promising and headed in the right direction, and what made it different from those other attempts that were ill-starred.
I divorced in 1996, and in 2007 I blessedly struck it rich on a blind date and have been in a stable situation ever since.
Looking back at the eleven years I spent in the dating game (or more accurately, in and out of it), I’m struck by how many pitfalls there are and how many of them I did not manage to avoid. A retrospective review might shed light on how to arrive at a good place without taking all sorts of detours that just lead you right back to the dating game.
I approached Lisa De Pasquale’s new book Finding Mr. Righteous with some trepidation. Ann Coulter referred to it as “a true Christian story disguised as racy chick lit.” The reader reviews on Amazon contained phrases like “gets to the inner workings of the mind of an insecure young woman” and “as [if] she was writing about my loving and sexual past.” Our own David Swindle called it “a time bomb waiting to explode.” I thought, ohhhhhh boy. But when David personally recommended it to me, I figured it must be a good read.
Lisa didn’t disappoint. It seems a little weird to refer to her by her first name, since doing so goes against everything you learn about how you’re supposed to write, but after reading Finding Mr. Righteous and talking to her a little about it on Twitter, I feel like I’ve known her for a long time.
Finding Mr. Righteous jumps in to Lisa’s romantic and sexual life with gusto. She never pulls any punches when it comes to her experiences. Situations get steamy from time to time, but I never felt like I was on the verge of being offended. This is no creepy confessional or salacious tell-all — it’s a memoir of a mature woman telling it like it is, warts and all. More often than not, I’d finish a chapter thinking, so that’s what women think about men.
Lisa is a keen judge of human nature as well. She provides astute glimpses behind the facades of the men she’s dated. She offers plenty of fascinating observations like:
Chris was a cat person. But having one view wasn’t enough for him. He had to denigrate the opposing view. Chris’s cat versus dog views were like his views on religion. It wasn’t enough to just accept that some people are religious and some people are not. You had to be an atheist or true believer. And if you were a true believer, you were ignorant.
David, in your last response in our ongoing dialogue about Lisa De Pasquale’s new book Finding Mr. Righteous, you cited another disturbing passage from the book (shown above) and paired it with some of your own relationship experiences:
Some of the women I dated would shift the foreplay into one disturbing realm or another, either incorporating pain and degradation into how they treated me or requesting I act that way toward them. Never was it just “for fun” or “to be kinky” or to “spice things up”– always behind these outward expressions some inner emotional wounds ached, unhealed by a spiritual practice.
Or rather, as it turns out, the sex and the pain was their substitute for a religion. …The main takeaway that I’ve gotten from Paglia, supplemented by additional reading from books like A History of Sexual Customs and James C. Bennett and Michael Lotus’s America 3.0, is that throughout human history the Judeo-Christian conception of monogamous marriage is actually the “deviant,” unnatural way to live. History shows that the more “normal” way for both men and women to treat each other is the same way animals do in the wild — as disposable meat. Humans’ default setting is not to love just one person forever. When we do we are rising above our nature; do I go too far that Love itself is not natural?
David, I must congratulate you on your epiphany. You have discovered a truth that many in the mainstream Bible-believing sphere have tried to avoid for years: Those who put their faith in the Bible are the cultural deviants. How hilarious is it that a self-proclaimed atheist can state this so clearly? Then again, one of the reasons Paglia has been blacklisted by liberals is that she is so willing to discuss the difference between pagan and Godly behaviors. Liberals, especially the Marxists in the bunch, long ago learned that it’s much easier to behave badly when you do it under the guise of being Godly. In this case, Paglia’s too honest for her own good.
From Sunday at PJ Lifestyle, Susan L.M. Goldberg responded to my opening in this series with “Religion, Politics & Screaming at the Internet” and concluded thoughtfully:
Why aren’t these women loving these men the way they ought to be loving themselves, with respect and honor?
Perhaps that question is the answer to the many you pose about righteousness in America’s religious and political spheres. When we succumb to idols of any kind we become altruistic in our worship, disrespecting ourselves as much as those with whom we interact. Walter and I do agree on the concept that faith is, first and foremost, a relationship with God that is as mutually satisfying as a marriage. When we lose that context to religious, political, or pop culture opinion, we are forced to become ascetics, because no matter how hard you believe, nor how ardently you defend, you will never win the full favor, attention, or love of the idol you worship. It is a thing, an idea, a person so far removed from you that you are forced to be nothing more than its conquered slave. That is the way Ryan the Preacher treated Lisa, and she responded the way any slave would: “…all I wanted was to be wanted.”
An excerpt from page 23:
Dear Lisa and Susan,
I think among the many accomplishments of Finding Mr. Righteous is its portrayal of Chris the Atheist. The passage from page 23 above highlights a number of intertwined phenomena – a sadomasochistic sexual nature, atheist theology, an inability to control emotions, substance abuse, idolizing women’s bodies, and so often the critical piece at root, the lack of a father figure and the corresponding failure to grow up in a nuclear family. In another passage from the book Chris’s destructive tendencies are made more explicit as he discusses the self-inflicted scars on his arms.
Reading these passages reminded me of my own secular dating time during my undergraduate years – a period I don’t like to dredge out from the memory banks all that often because it’s just still too shameful and embarrassing. The experience from this passage isn’t that uncommon and it shouldn’t necessarily be understood as exclusively a men’s issue. (I certainly don’t believe that men are just innately violent.) It goes the other way too. I dated a number of secular, progressive, and feminist women in college who in some ways resembled Chris. Gender isn’t the issue — beliefs, ideology, and the experiences underlying them are what make people hurt one another.
Some of the women I dated would shift the foreplay into one disturbing realm or another, either incorporating pain and degradation into how they treated me or requesting I act that way toward them. Never was it just “for fun” or “to be kinky” or to “spice things up”– always behind these outward expressions some inner emotional wounds ached, unhealed by a spiritual practice.
Or rather, as it turns out, the sex and the pain was their substitute for a religion. Throughout the story of Chris we see one attempt after another to find something to distract from the unresolved demons inside him. The twin cocktail of sex and violence at the same time, heated up by alcohol and Dionysian emotion, is among the most effective throughout history for annihilating the pain of being an individual. There’s a name for this practice beyond just “atheism” and in my research I think Camille Paglia defines it best in her many books of essays, criticism, and literary analysis, summarized in the lead essay in Vamps and Tramps: A Pagan Theory of Sexuality. From page 45:
“Men who kill the women they love have reverted to Pagan cult. She whom a man cannot live without had become a goddess, an avatar of his half-divinized, half-demonized mother, a magic fountain of cosmic creativity.”
So the position I take: Chris was just being a normal, secular teenage boy, the way mother nature created him. This is just how nature operates…
Last week saw a feminist uproar over comments made by actress Kirsten Dunst in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK. Expressing her personal opinion that men and women have distinct roles within relationships, and that she prefers to live accordingly, Dunst provoked the ire of many proclaimed champions of woman’s rights. US Weekly reports:
The 31-year-old cover girl has a more traditional view when it comes to relationships between men and women.
“I feel like the feminine has been a little undervalued,” she told the magazine. “We all have to get our own jobs and make our own money, but staying at home, nurturing, being the mother, cooking – it’s a valuable thing my mom created.”
“Kirsten Dunst is not paid to write gender theory so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that she’s kind of dumb about it,” Jezebel writer Erin Gloria Ryan wrote.
Gender theory? All Dunst did was express her personal preference. Since when did personal preferences become subject to expert review?
An appeal to authority and ad hominem notwithstanding, Ryan’s response betrays the real objective of her so-called “feminism.” Rather than protect the right of each woman to pursue her individually conceived values, the Jezebel brand of feminism seeks to subjugate women under “gender theory,” whether they individually assent to it or not.
Dunst expressed what makes her happy. But “feminists” like Ryan don’t want women like Dunst to be happy. They’d rather drag their fellow women through a cultural inquisition, hoping to extract the false confession that a man’s love and provision prove somehow exploitative.
David Swindle has entered the ongoing discussion on altruism, religion and politics here at PJLifestyle. In doing so, he’s issued a number of great questions I’ve been wrestling with over the past few weeks. Jumping back in, I’d like to address them one by one, beginning with:
Walter, Susan, Lisa, and anyone else who’d like to join the discussion: am I going too far when I say that for a good number of people “Conservatism” is a form of idolatry?
No. I’ve had a hard, sad reminder of that through some of the commentary I’ve received on a number of articles in the past few weeks. There are some wonderful, insightful people out there who I’d love to have dinner with some day. And then there’s the passionate base who has time to issue verbose rants: Contradict popular line and you can “F-off”. You know this segment of the population; they are the reason stereotypes exist. But, they also prove the point that there are people out there who worship Conservatism above all else. Ironically, they’re as abusively passionate as those “liberals” they are taught to hate.
Rod Dreher at The American Conservative has a thoughtful analysis of the state of Christianity in the United States as we plunge forward into our brave, new cultural revolution. He explains that historically, the Christian views of sex and marriage were good for the culture and improved the lives of slaves and women:
It is nearly impossible for contemporary Americans to grasp why sex was a central concern of early Christianity. Sarah Ruden, the Yale-trained classics translator, explains the culture into which Christianity appeared in her 2010 book Paul Among The People. Ruden contends that it’s profoundly ignorant to think of the Apostle Paul as a dour proto-Puritan descending upon happy-go-lucky pagan hippies, ordering them to stop having fun.
In fact, Paul’s teachings on sexual purity and marriage were adopted as liberating in the pornographic, sexually exploitive Greco-Roman culture of the time—exploitive especially of slaves and women, whose value to pagan males lay chiefly in their ability to produce children and provide sexual pleasure. Christianity, as articulated by Paul, worked a cultural revolution, restraining and channeling male eros, elevating the status of both women and of the human body, and infusing marriage—and marital sexuality—with love.
Dreher discusses the theories of 1960s sociologist Philip Rieff who said that cultures are defined by what they forbid. They impose moral demands in order to serve communal purposes. Rieff — an unbeliever — wrote that the sexual revolution signaled the imminent demise of Christianity as a “culturally determinative force” in the West.
Rieff, Dreher says, explained that “renouncing the sexual autonomy and sensuality of pagan culture was at the core of Christian culture—a culture that, crucially, did not merely renounce but redirected the erotic instinct.” He said that the West’s rapid “re-paganizing around sensuality and sexual liberation” was a sign of the end of Christianity. According to Dreher,
In the 20th century, casting off restrictive Christian ideals about sexuality became increasingly identified with health. By the 1960s, the conviction that sexual expression was healthy and good—the more of it, the better—and that sexual desire was intrinsic to one’s personal identity culminated in the sexual revolution, the animating spirit of which held that freedom and authenticity were to be found not in sexual withholding (the Christian view) but in sexual expression and assertion. That is how the modern American claims his freedom.
In contrast, Denny Burk argues in his book, What is the Meaning of Sex?, the purposes of sex according to the Bible are consummation of marriage, procreation, the expression of love, and pleasure. But even those ends are subordinate to the “ultimate end of glorifying God.” Burk says that,
“The four subordinate ends are not discreet goods but are inseparably related to one another in the covenant of marriage, which itself exists for the glory of God. The morality of any given action, therefore, must be measured by its conformity to these ends.”
Dreher says that gay marriage is the final triumph of the 1960s Sexual Revolution and the “dethroning of Christianity.” He rightly points out that gay marriage stands in opposition to a core concept of Christian anthropology. “In classical Christian teaching,” says Dreher, ”the divinely sanctioned union of male and female is an icon of the relationship of Christ to His church and ultimately of God to His creation.” He says that Christians lost the debate about gay marriage long before most people imagined that we could go down that road, in part, because Americans had devalued the cosmological meaning of sex and marriage in the post-’60s Sexual Revolution.
Clearly, our culture has floated quite a distance downstream from the goal of “glorifying God” in all areas of life, including sex and marriage. Today’s accepted cultural norms elevate the glory of man over the glory of God.
“The question Western Christians face now is whether or not they are going to lose Christianity altogether in this new dispensation,” says Dreher. He adds that “If the faith does not recover, the historical autopsy will conclude that gay marriage was not a cause but a symptom, the sign that revealed the patient’s terminal condition.”
The MSM’s latest fetish, college girls-turned-porn stars for tuition money, smacks of the rotten legacy of second-wave feminism’s “our bodies, our selves” mantra. Take the story of Belle Knox, a Duke University fresh-girl forced to do porn for the tuition money. While her sleaze-bag of an agent attempts to milk her 15 minutes with stories of a poor girl turned out by multimillionaire parents (a story she later changed when chatting with Piers Morgan), Belle Knox views herself as anything but a victim.
The 18-year-old appeared on front pages across the globe and sat down with Piers Morgan for a CNN interview using only her stage name and claiming that she was not ashamed of what she was doing and, in fact, felt ‘empowered’ by her career.
I’m not being exploited. I love what I’m doing and I’m safe,’ insists the women’s studies major.
Women’s studies major. Good thing she’s in porn, considering her future career choices at this point don’t rise far above McDonald’s worker (and we all know how poorly they’re paid). Seriously, though, paying for your women’s studies degree by doing porn? Has anyone stopped being sucked in by the rich-girl lifestyle to consider that glaring irony? Or the fact that her women’s studies major has justified her career choice?
She told her student newspaper in an interview last week: ‘My entire life, I have, along with millions of other girls, been told that sex is a degrading and shameful act. When I was five-years-old and beginning to discover the wonders of my body, my mother, completely horrified, told me that if I masturbated, my vagina would fall off.
‘The most striking view I was indoctrinated with was that sex is something women “have,” but that they shouldn’t “give it away” too soon -– as though there’s only so much sex in any one woman, and sex is something she does for a man that necessarily requires losing something of herself, and so she should be really careful who she “gives” it to.’
The vapid meanderings of Belle Knox illustrate the very scary impact of the second-wave feminist notion that our bodies really are our selves. Beyond our physicality, we have nothing left, no brain, no feeling, to “lose” or invest in a sexual encounter.
It’s that time of year again. For those of you in brand new relationships with something to prove, it’s called Valentine’s Day. It’s filled with dinner, chocolate and roses. For those of us who have been there, done that with our current partner, it is called February 14th. For those who are unattached, who either became so recently enough for it to still be raw or who have been so for a significant amount of time, it’s called the Day of Bitterness.
When I was single, I never treated it as a day to lash out at friends who were in different stages of their lives. Why? Besides the fact that it’s hard enough for me to retain friends, I did so because it’s extremely unattractive to be hostile to those you love simply because they are happy. Not being in a relationship does not automatically preclude happiness, and despite my being single, I still worked to make sure I was happy.
This year I’ve decided to fight back, on behalf of the couples everywhere. I am not sorry for being married and having a baby. When a friend recently posted a Facebook status complaining that everyone in her high school had been having babies, I responded on behalf of young mothers everywhere (recall how I don’t retain friends easily):
My advice to singles this year is: buck up and enjoy your singledom.
I know, you’re sick of hearing that, but seriously, enjoy this stage in your life. Make a drastic life decision without consulting anyone first. Move, take a new job, make chicken soup instead of tacos on Tuesday. Even though you may feel jealousy pangs, know that your coupled friends are jealous of your ability to be totally spontaneous and go out for drinks with friends on a weeknight just because.
The grass is always greener, yada yada. Buck up, quit complaining, and go get drunk this Friday night. Not a wallowing kind of drunk, but the kind of drunk where you won’t be woken up at 5 a.m. by a hungry infant or dog that needs walking and you’re happy about it kind of drunk. A positive outlook on this year’s Day of Bitterness may help you end up celebrating Valentine’s Day next year.
It took 3.5 seasons, but finally I found something culturally relevant in Girls.
The latest episode, Free Snacks raised barely a blip in the world of Girls criticism, most likely because it played more like a Woody Allen movie than your typical Girls episode rife with awkward sex and lunatic meltdowns. In fact, for the first time ever the few sex scenes featured in this episode were actually relevant to character exposition and development. I’ve thoroughly criticized Dunham for being a sacrificial goddess on the altar of pop culture, but this episode has left me hoping that perhaps Lena Dunham isn’t that kind of girl after all.
The episode opens with Hannah quitting her job at Ray’s coffee shop to become an advertorial writer at GQ. Thrilled after her first day’s success, she arrives home to find that Adam walked out of another audition because he didn’t like the direction he was given. The moment foreshadows the following day, when Hannah is confronted by the fact that her co-workers, who are more accomplished writers than she, turned their backs on their “spiritually fulfilling” writing for corporate jobs with steady salaries, health benefits and perks. Hannah’s nervous breakdown moment is priceless: Dunking her head under the bathroom sink, she walks her wet head into her boss’s office, responding to the compliment “you remind me a lot of myself,” with “I quit.”
When her boss doesn’t fight for her to stay on, Hannah rethinks her decision and asks to stay on. By this point, her boss brushes her off: “Email me when you make a decision.” Later that evening Hannah arrives home to find out that Adam, who stuck to his guns, crushed an audition and is one step closer to fulfilling his career dreams. Now it’s Hannah who has compromised herself for her dreams. “I’m going to write for 3 hours every night, no matter what,” she explains to Adam before passing out on the couch, exhausted.
No meltdowns. No emotional crises. No meandering self-obsession. And Hannah managed to convey a range of emotion without once getting naked. She also confronted a totally relevant issue that every 20-something college graduate is forced to face: The earth-shattering compromise of career dreams with economic realities. This theme resonates with Hannah, who realizes that the joy in paying her bills may come at the price of her personal writing aspirations. Yet, it is also relevant to Shoshanna in an emotional sense when she begins to believe that her ideal mate is a whim to be sacrificed at the altar of “relationship”.
The New York Times has come to a surprising conclusion. This:
isn’t sexy. Really. It took a feature-length article in the magazine to explain to readers that when men act less like men, heterosexual women want to have sex with them less. Despite women being told that they want men more involved in traditionally female household tasks like cooking, cleaning and childcare, when men actually do so, wives find their husbands considerably less sexy.
Another “surprising” revelation: equality in a marriage, especially in the bedroom, was a major turn-off for women.
A desire for equality, and the lack of desire that equality can create, may make scientific sense, even as it challenges conventional wisdom. As Daniel Bergner has written in his book “What Do Women Want?” and in this magazine, many studies show that women often report fantasies, like those involving submission, that tend to be inconsistent with our notion of progressive relationships.
The word “submission” was used four times in the piece, a radical concept for radical feminists.
Last month Candace Cameron Bure, of Full House fame, set off a firestorm when she suggested while promoting her book that the secret to her marital happiness was the fact that she let her husband take control.
“I am not a passive person, but I chose to fall into a more submissive role in our relationship because I wanted to do everything in my power to make my marriage and family work,” the actress writes in her book.
During a recent interview with The Huffington Post,Cameron Bure explained what she meant.
“The definition I’m using with the word ‘submissive’ is the biblical definition of that,” she said. “So, it is meekness, it is not weakness. It is strength under control, it is bridled strength.”
“And, listen, I love that my man is a leader,” she said. “I want him to lead and be the head of our family. And those major decisions do fall on him. … It doesn’t mean I don’t voice my opinion. It doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion. I absolutely do, but it is very difficult to have two heads of authority.”
“In my marriage we are equal … in our importance, but we are just different in our performances within our marriage,” she said.
For these statements the former child star was lampooned by feminist sites like XO Jane, which mocked the concept of gender roles that Bure and social conservatives defend:
I had the pleasure of listening to Phyllis Schlafly explain how feminism was ruining women: liberation turned women into confused sluts and emasculated men (clutch all of the pearls!). It was, of course, both an all-purpose salve and a blame game: If your marriage wasn’t working, that was your fault for rejecting biblical womanhood. Reject instead secular notions of gender and equality, celebrate your femininity, be submissive, and live happily ever after. And do it, even to the detriment of your family.
Conservatives are lampooned daily for their supposed anti-science views. Now that science has reinforced the importance of traditional gender roles within households, will progressives continue their push for total marital equality? If so, conservatives will have the last laugh… all the way to the bedroom.
This week both critics and fans of Girls and Downton Abbey sounded off on the treatment of women on screen, highlighting the horrifying potential of 21st century feminist groupthink.
It all began on January 9 when TV critic Tim Molloy stepped in hot water by posing the following question to Lena Dunham:
I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show. By you, particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you say no one complains about the nudity on Game of Thrones, but I get why they’re doing it. They’re doing it to be salacious. To titillate people. And your character is often naked at random times for no reason.
Dunham deflected the remark with her usual snotty response that boiled down to nudity is realistic and if you don’t like fat bodies, that’s your problem. Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner, the show’s producers, supported Dunham’s remarks with their own politically correct, vitriolic comments about misogyny and female oppression.
Although Molloy’s question never did receive a direct answer, the exchange generated even more critical angst and bizarre philosophizing. For example, Megan Gibson at Time feels the nudity on Girls has nothing to do with “titillation” and everything to do with comedic value and expressions of non-sexual intimacy. It is questionable whether the primary audience for Girls, those “white dudes over 50,” would agree.
One telling thing critics didn’t bother to notice: All the uproar over Molloy’s question, even from Apatow and Konner themselves, wasn’t to defend Dunham’s honor — but to defend awkward bodies, female sexuality, and women’s rights under the umbrella term of “feminism.” In other words, if Hannah Horvath jumped off a bridge naked, she wouldn’t be a pathetic individual who succumbed to her psychoses, she’d be a mere statement about feminism in the 21st century.
Who has two thumbs and loves Back to the Future? This guy! Replete with such cornball humor, and stimulating the imagination to ponder mysteries of the universe like temporal displacement and women, the ’80s popcorn adventures hold up to this day.
As 2015 nears, boasting a movie release schedule packed with blockbuster franchises – everything from the next Star Wars to Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World – it saddens me to realize we won’t also see a revisiting of the Back to the Future universe. You may recall that 2015 was the year that Doc Brown and Marty McFly traveled to in the second film. That year will also mark the 30th anniversary of the franchise. A second volume of films centering around the disparity between 2015 as we will know it and the one encountered by Marty as a teenager carries a lot of potential. If only screenwriter Bob Gale and director Robert Zemeckis were reading.
Much of the fun in Back to the Future emerges from a clash of generations, how things change over time — and how they stay the same. The second film in the series addresses what might happen if you went back in time and told your younger self how to be successful. Marty McFly plots to take a sports almanac from 2015 back to 1985 so he can place bets on foreseen outcomes. When the book falls into the hands of an elderly and villainous Biff Tannen, he executes the same plan to disastrous effect.
Sure, sending your younger self stock tips or sports scores may be an underhanded way to achieve your best life now. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t less scandalous messages you could send which might produce a better result. Here are 6 warnings I would send my younger self.
I have been focusing on the detriment to society posed by single motherhood in my series found in installments here: Part 1, and Part 2. Today, I want to talk directly to single mothers who truly do want to find someone to complete their family and create stability in the lives of their children. Since it is true that dating poses the biggest threat to the well-being of children parented by a single mom, there are steps that need to be taken before wading into the dating pool. If you don’t want your child to end up like Adrian Peterson’s young son, beaten to death by a live-in boyfriend (allegedly), then please take this seriously.
You are a mother first, not a woman with “needs”. Your children have needs that come before yours and if you don’t want to see them on a cold slab one day you need to see to their needs first. There are good men out there who will be excellent fathers to fatherless children. But you must, as a single mother in your search for love be focused on finding love for your children. Not all men who love you will love your children and most of them, statistically, will hurt your children. So be very, very careful. Your children’s lives depend on you.
A child raised by a single mother is 10 times more likely to be abused by a live-in boyfriend than any child in a home with two biological, married parents. This is a fact. If you as a single mother know that your child is 10 times more likely to be abused by your boyfriend (which now you do because I’ve told you) how far would you go to make sure it never happens to your child?
To start, follow these simple rules to lessen your chances of being on the wrong side of the statistics.
First up, slow and steady wins the race…
I still haven’t seen the latest film version of Les Mis. The promos were enough for me; the shot of Fantine singing “I Dreamed a Dream” while choking back tears as her hair was being shaved from her head was a sickening image that haunted me for days. I will never watch Les Mis for the same reason I will never watch Schindler’s List: When you have a clear understanding of the horror you are confronting, the safety of the fourth wall isn’t enough to keep your insides from shaking loose in rage, horror and sorrow.
Anne Hathaway ended her Oscar acceptance speech with the statement: ”Here’s hoping that someday in the not too distant future the misfortunes of Fantine will only be found in stories and never in real life.” Yet, the Hollywood machine that made her a star has woven the pornographic exploitation of women into contemporary pop culture. In her criticism of the liberal reaction to Lovelace, feminist writer Megan Murphy observed,
“…the only thing that’s really changed since the 70s, when Deep Throat came out, is that porn has successfully woven it’s way into our everyday lives. It’s our fashion, our entertainment, our celebrity culture, it’s in the bars and at the parties we go to. That the foundation for our current reality was built, in part, on the abuse and exploitation of this one woman, Linda Lovelace, is not insignificant.
Linda Lovelace was called the poster girl for the sexual revolution, if that tells you anything about the sexual revolution… Women really got screwed on that one (pun acknowledged). Informed of our liberation, we became free to become the public, rather than just private, sexual playthings of men. What was different now that we were “liberated” was that we had to like it. We had to be turned on by our own objectification and enjoy whatever male culture deemed sexy. Our own “liberation” was used against us, to shame us into subordination — albeit with smiles on our faces, moaning and groaning in feigned ecstasy.”
Clinging to what Murphy has dubbed the “empowerment narrative” many liberal critics panned Lovelace as “pro-family, anti-porn” careful to note that today’s porn industry has resolved many of the problems of its preceding generation. Having covered the disturbing trend of male sexual domination in pop culture, both in HBO’s Girls and presidential-themed romance novels, I can’t help but agree with Murphy’s conclusion: the liberal media willingly turns a blind eye to the disturbing trend of female sexual abuse in pop culture.
A friend sent me a link this morning, with the subject line:
A white Guy in a Keffiyeh places a thinly disguised personal ad in a feminist blog
I’m in a rare generous mood, so I feel compelled to share Matt Graber’s stirring manifesto — is that word “sexist”? — at The Feminist Wire:
Please don’t call me “man” or “dude” any longer. I will not join you in friendship or partnership on a male-supremacist, patriarchal project. I will not condone the view that women are born to provide you with sexual gratification, and to do care work for you.
I will not be your wingman. I will not support your objectification of women’s bodies. Women are not accessories to you, regardless of how much money you have. In social settings such as parties, bars, or clubs, I will not accompany you when you violate the personal space of others. When they refuse to allow you to enter into their personal space, I will not ease or comfort you.
Brace yourselves: There’s more.
But then the comments from the blog’s primary readers — women — take it to the next level of epic.
They aren’t impressed by Matt “Don’t Call Me Dude!” Graber’s epic beta male white-knighting.
This is really cheap, unevolved feminism looking for cookies.
Poor Matt. He must be very confused by this reaction.
He just wants to
violate a little personal space be loved and understood and appreciated.
Now, I know we’re all sick of the #NotTheOnion hashtag, but this op-ed really seems to be… real.
Unless a sarcastic guy (or even a very clever woman) wrote this pitch-perfect parody of campus-speak circa 1994, then arranged for the ideal “Che!” headshot to go with it, and got it all accepted as legit by the gatekeepers at The Feminist Wire.
In which case, I salute you, Sir/Madam.
For the rest of us: Palette cleanser, stat!
These days, most pop music consists of style over substance. Regardless of talent, today’s top stars like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber are largely more concerned with dance moves and video poses than songwriting chops – which makes the appearance of a delicate ballad like “Oh Sweet Lorraine” by Green Shoe Studio featuring Jacob Colgan and Fred Stobaugh in the iTunes Top Ten (#10 as of this writing) a pleasant surprise.
What’s even more astounding is the story behind the song. Stobaugh, the songwriter, is a 96-year old Illinois man who wrote “Oh Sweet Lorraine” in memory of his wife of nearly 73 years who passed away in April.
On a whim, the widower entered a songwriting contest that he saw advertised in a local paper with a love song he’d written for his bride.
Green Shoe Studio, the company running the contest, couldn’t accept his handwritten entry (the competition was digital-only), but they were so touched by his story that they decided to produce his song — and a short documentary about it — anyway. That video, which was posted in July, recently went viral, and the exposure has sent “Oh Sweet Lorraine” soaring up the charts.
What sounds like a cute little consolation prize of a story turns out to be a touching tribute to lifelong love.
“After she passed away, I was just sitting in the front room one evening by myself, and it just came right to me,” he says of his song. “I just kept humming it and singing it. That’s how I came to write it. It just fit her.”
The resulting song is simple, but that’s the beauty of it. “Oh sweet Lorraine,” the chorus begins, “I wish we could do all the good times over again.” The song continues, “Life only goes around once, but never again.”
The resulting song is one of the sweetest, most beautiful songs you’ll ever hear. The folks at Green Shoe Studio deserve kudos for taking a chance on a lovely and deeply personal lyric, and Mr. Fred Stobaugh has every right to be proud of his song. No doubt Sweet Lorraine is smiling down from heaven at the tribute.
Here’s the documentary. (Warning: you’ll need a tissue or two.)
The last few months have been a roller coaster for the Grammy-winning acoustic folk-country-pop duo The Civil Wars. In November, they announced a temporary hiatus due to “internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition.” Though they recorded a second album, members Joy Williams and John Paul White are currently not on speaking terms. That second, self-titled album debuted at number one on The Billboard 200 album chart.
While White is also not speaking to the media, Williams sat down with the Huffington Post, where she talked about the duo’s relationship, her own family, and what music means to her. Interviewer Mike Ragogna asked her point blank about the band’s hiatus, which Williams addressed carefully:
It was a true bump and it was a series of difficult situations that John Paul and I kept trying to make the best out of and then, at a certain point, the reality is that we’ve always really worked well together professionally. But you spend a lot of time on the road and those hours get long and you’re in close quarters, and friction and tension is bound to happen. It’s as age-old as time, bands having disagreements and finding themselves not on the same page all the time. The reality is we are working with some very real tension and a bit of a breakdown at the moment–and I say “at the moment” intentionally–and it’s something that we’re navigating. …I still hold out hope that there’s a possibility that John Paul and I could mend our fences and come back even stronger as a duo.
Williams talked about how proud she is of the new album and how the pain brought about more honest music:
It was born out of some strife and pain, but I feel like in the midst of all of that, it made for an even more raw and, in my opinion, moving body of work than we even did on Barton Hollow… That’s maybe some of the good that comes out of the difficulty that John Paul and I have found ourselves in as of late.
There is a story in the Jatakas about the time a mad elephant, released by the Buddha’s enemies, charged down the street toward the Buddha. People are screaming and running, the elephant is tearing up shopkeepers’ displays and smashing things, and Buddha’s disciple Ananda tried to drag him out of the way. Buddha said “Relax, Ananda, I got this,” and stood in the elephant’s path. The elephant was used to people screaming and running, and here’s this guy in an orange bath sheet just smiling at him. Uncertain, confused, the elephant — his name is Nalagiri, by the way — Nalagiri hesitated, and the Buddha walked closer, confidently, like the king of mahouts. He gestured, and Nalagiri knelt, his madness gone, and presented his head to be scratched.
You might as well remember Nalagiri, he’s one of my favorite characters and I’m sure he’ll be back again.
One of the first things that attracted me to Buddhism was that it treats animals as first-class citizens. I’m one of those people who never met an animal he didn’t like (although I’m a little jittery about spiders) and I never really got why the pastor said my dog didn’t have a soul but the obnoxious kid sitting behind me in Sunday School did. I had also learned, even at eleven, that someone who treated animals badly usually didn’t treat people very well either. But it wasn’t until much later — really, it wasn’t until the months after 9/11 — that I understood how important that feeling toward animals is.
Being over twenty and a virgin in NYC is enough of a radical act that a woman turned it into a one-woman show and built an entire comedy routine on it.
Alexis Lambright was a confirmed virgin in NYC for 10 years. Determined to hold on to her innocence, the Catholic schoolgirl was committed to a life of celibacy — until marriage. But when she realized that dating in the most superficial city in the world wasn’t virgin-friendly, the 28-year-old funnywoman living in Sunnyside, Queens, turned to comedy as therapy: She created the one-woman show “The Alexis Lambright Tell-A-Thon: Combating Adult Virginity,” which is running at the New York International Fringe Festival on select dates from Saturday to Aug. 24.
It used to be perfectly normal to be a virgin till marriage, at least for women. In fact, in most societies it was the expected thing. The pivotal turning point in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice comes when one daughter, Lydia, elopes and lives with a man who has no intention of marrying her.
Even during my own upbringing, which, granted, took place in Portugal where things were twenty years behind the times, while virginity before marriage was no longer universal, girls at least still pretended to be holding out.
But I’d heard from Scandinavian friends that in their lands it was considered strange and indicative of something wrong with you if you were a virgin much past puberty – and that culture seems now to be here too.
To be sure, we always knew it was coming, since movies like Splendor in the Grass made it sound like not having sex could send an otherwise sane woman clean off her rocker. In a way it is a logical consequence of safe and reliable contraception. Whether you believe that women are naturally as sex-crazed as men, or that women would have as much consequence-free sex as men given the chance, the fact remains that all of us, men and women, are in fact social animals.
When the society we live in decides that “normal” people are all rutting like deer in fall, and that if you don’t do it there’s something wrong with you, those who don’t fit the model will at least try to pretend they do.
Under those circumstances, holding on to your chastity becomes an act of radical defiance.
Submit your questions to PJMBadAdvice@gmail.com or leave a question in the comments section, and I’ll answer it in Bad Advice!
Dear Bad Advice,
My friend is a hot mess. We’ve been friends for a long time, and she wasn’t always like this, so I kept hoping it was just a phase, and waiting for her to emerge from the other side. But this has been going on for over a year now. Basically, she just creates drama. She goes out with a bunch of new friends who gossip about each other all the time, so whenever we hang out she just barrages me with endless stories about who’s which girl’s enemy now, and who cheated with who’s boyfriend, and all this other stuff that’s just stupid. And she’s gotten into this pattern where she’ll see a guy for a couple of weeks, and then pull away and go on and on about how clingy and annoying he is for still pursuing her; or, if the opposite happens, she’ll turn it into this huge drama about how she’s going to get him back. I don’t think she even knows any of these guys enough to care as much as she sounds like she does. She doesn’t want to do any of the stuff we used to do together, like go to the movies, and I think it’s because there isn’t enough gossipping and backstabbing in it. I miss her as a friend, though, and she wasn’t always like this — she used to be sweet and fun to be with and non-dramatic. I don’t know where all this came from and I don’t know how to tell her to try and straighten it all out. I just want her to know I think her decisions are destructive and I’m worried about her as a friend.
- Drama Disinfectant
This is going to sound like bad advice, but if you don’t want drama, you don’t want to be with this friend.
Check out the first nine installments of Susan L.M. Goldberg’s ongoing series dissecting HBO’s Girls:
July 28: Girls: Best Friends Forever-ish
Dustin Rowles writing at Salon recently accused Lena Dunham of “reducing men to walking hard-ons.” His observation is as hysterical as it is true. It is also unsurprising given the huge goddess feminist influence on the show. After all, if women are nothing more than physical objects valued for their sexuality and fertility, men must necessarily be just as flat and lifeless, except for their phallus, of course.
But Dunham’s commentary on men isn’t as simple as all that. Her straight male characters, Adam, Ray and Charlie play off of one another providing a running commentary on the state of the Millennial male psyche. Rewarded with the lead male role, Adam is the goddess feminist’s male archetype embodying all of the alpha-male characteristics goddess feminists have been taught to both lust after and loathe. In the background are Charlie and Ray, symbolizing love and intellect. Having reduced both themselves and their men to nothing more than sexual objects, goddess feminists have no time for emotion, let alone intellect. Therefore, Charlie’s undying love is spurned in favor of Booth Jonathan’s sexual prowess, and Ray the unfulfilled scholar tearfully contemplates his lack of purpose and motivation with an unwanted dog at his side.
Critical of the show’s male characters, Colin Horgan commented: “Put more bluntly, faced with the women, they just don’t know what to do with them. So, they debase and dismiss, categorizing as if browsing videos in a porno shop.” For Horgan, the male/female relationships on Girls are so disturbingly confusing because they’re solely sexual; after all, this isn’t the cast of Friends who happen to date each other once in a while. Yet, instead of encouraging more non-sexually based relationships among the characters, Horgan caves to goddess feminist critique: women aren’t empathetic to men because their need to be controlled is what makes them desirable. That does nothing to address the issue and everything to justify it. It’s as if to say, “Well, we’re all just sexual beasts and that’s the way life is.”