"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Musings on Modern Sex-Roles

In spite of what you might think from teen-empowerment rhetoric for young women to resist the pressure to have sex when their skeeevy-ass boyfriends ask them to "proove their love" (does this even happen anymore? feels to 1950s...) it's a lot less socially acceptible for men to decline the opportunity than it is for women.

The stereotypical sexual dynamic we grow up with is that men are the always ready and eager to get down, and women decide rather like old hellenic godesses when to drop manna (nanna) from heaven upon us. Thus it's expected that women decline, while men are assumed to be ever-hungry. Perhaps this is another sign of my outlandish nature, but I generally don't think my experience matches this template.

Within my social world (which is admittedly liberal, not to mention artsy-fartsy), there's little traditional male sexual aggression. By aggression I mean really initative-taking, and one might use the term "romantic advances," but I think aggression is a better word because it's dirtier, more direct, and cuts closer to the power-dynamics that actually come into play.

Something else I find interesting -- and feel is somehow related -- is the surging presence of perfume and beauty products for men. People are often quick to lump this in with the "Metrosexual" trend, but if you actually look at what's being pitched and how, it's Maxim-style (or literally Maxim-branded) products. The demographic is clearly young men, but the manner of the pitch plays directly into the docile male role.

For instance, the new Right Guard Extreme ends with a dazed skydiver being led off by a couple of cheerleaders, with obvious innuendo. The Axe Effect is even more direct, suggesting its users will be the subject of uncontrolable female lust in the elevator at work, a modern role-reversal of ancent "she wants it" quasi-rape fantasies.

Which is not to say that these fantasies are not attractive, because they are. For young men who grew up in places and times where women's rights and respect for women are a foregone conclusion, the scenario in which she takes you seems the least complecated way to get laid. You could chalk this appeal up to sheer laziness, but I think there's something much more complex at work.

Outside the world of mainstream hip-hop, which still celebrates male sexual power (sometimes to the point of misogyny), you don't see many cultural representations presenting the virtue of taking the initiative. There's no model for how this is supposed to go, and in a liberal world where power is a dirty word, inaction and hesitency are the rule.

I don't know whether this is bad or good (it's probably not as simple as that), but I do think that it's something which deserves further inquiry.

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I Can't Wait For November 3rd

Confession: I wish the election were yesterday rather than six weeks ahead. While I'm looking forward to the bit of political theater we call "The Debates," this campaign has become (to quote our Secretary of Defense) a long hard slog. There's very little excitement or surprise, and no fun whatsoever these days. Barring major unforseen developments, there's nothing likely to change the dynamic in the next six weeks. Fuck it; why not pull the trigger now?

There are logistical and of cource legal reasons, but I don't find them all that personally compelling. You might call it an attitude problem on my part -- problem because it's a mindset that can prevent me from making major breakthroughs in my work -- but I'm not going to pretend it doesn't exist. For all intents and purposes my life is on hold, has been on hold for some time, for this event, and I want it over with. The feeling I have now is honestly one of watching the clock in grade school, and in the mean time there are things I'm lacking.

New clothes? Wait until after the election. Romance (or even unhurried coitus)? Wait until after the election. Quality time with friends and family? Wait until after the election. Rekindling the creative process? Decorating my room? Yoga clases? Vacation? Fun? Wait until after the election.

No one's imposing this on me but myself, of course, and no one can fix it for me, but that doesn't make the situation any less intolerable.

It struck me out of the blue this afternoon: I'm bored! I haven't felt bored for the better part of a year. Lonely, yes. Depressed, yes. Exhausted beyond imagination, many times; but not in recent memory have I felt the listless and unfocused malaise that is my childhood nemesis.

You see, before the engine of adolesence gave me angst and pathos to tussle with -- and even after -- I was bored out of my mind a lot of the time. Thinking back, I believe the crushing weight of boredom did not begin to receed until my latter teen years, when I discovered good friends, advanced placement classes, acting, the school newspaper, drugs/alcohol/partying and then moved to New York City (where the only way to be bored is to be braindead or broke) in relatively short order.

I was thinking earlier today how stressed out I am, and how the only thing I can compare it to in terms of magnitude of effort is at the end of my college career when I wrote, directed and produced a full-length play while simultaniously finishing my academic requirements and working two jobs. I was thinking of this not because that was four years ago, during the heat of the 2000 campaign which I ignored, but because I'm having a hard time focusing lately, and in that last week of production my friend Frank dropped me a little care package which included whiskey, powerbars and some of his adderall.

I was wishing again for that pharmaceutical whetstone to sharpen my edge, but I don't know if it would help or not. The situations are somewhat non-analagous. There's much less structure to what I do now, no classes, no real boss, no set understanding of the products which are expected (essays, plays? no no, son, build me a social movement, mkay?). I have no advisors watching over me and offering sage advice. The work is in someways creative, but it isn't stratching that part of me that itches lately. It's a pickle, and I'm not above attempting to use chemestry as part of a solution to the problems I face.

But confessing all this makes it somehow easier; more engaging; less boring. The system works! There are other more hairy truths to disclose in this investigation of "why I'm not a really happy camper" lately, the hariest of all -- as always -- having to do with other people. I'll get there. The process is sound.

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Get Your War On

Get Yr War On

It's still fucking funny. New book coming out too.

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Email Problems

I'm having email problems. My hosting company and my spam-filtering service aren't working well with one another, and as a result email sent to me at outlanishjosh has a snail-mail-like delay of 3-days.

Sometimes the machines turn against you, and the only solution is to pay them tribute.

Update: It seems I was getting incoming spam faster than my service could filter it. To protect their server from overload, they'll pick up 50 messages every 7 minutes. Since I was apparently at times getting something like 10 spams a minute, my real email was sometimes going without being picked up. Amazing. I've tweaked some settings on my side and they opened it up to slurp in more messages on theirs, so hopefully my email will be back to normal.

But this just goes to show you what a total mess the email system is. An unwanted message every 6 seconds? That's unbelievable. The world of spam is crazy. For instance, did you know that 80% of spam comes from home computers (read: windows PCs) infected with malivious code that allows them to be used as spam-sending zombies by their devious masters?

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We've Lost Our Minds

I'm going to bed after this, but I can't let it slip by: Passenger Cat Stevens Gets Plane Diverted.

This is where we loose it, when the guy who sang "Moonshadow" (and remains a peace activist, if not such an active musician) is denied entrance to the US for security reasons. Seriously. It's got to be the beginning of some sort of end.

Old Cat changed his name to Yusuf Islam a while ago, which makes for some funny AP copy too:

Islam was questioned by FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

After the interview, Customs officials decided to deny Islam entry into the United States.

Flight 919 continued on to Dulles after Islam was removed from the flight.

Islam would be put on the first available flight out of the country Wednesday.

Oh. Man.

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Bush's UN Speech Flops

Holy shit. Against my better judgement I checked out Bush's speech to the UN General Assembly over on c-span.org. Oi. Fucking embarassing, actually. He's condescending, smirking, raising his eyebrows and shrugging his shoulders. His strongest moments come when he scolds those nations who didn't support his invasion of Iraq. The faces of the other world leaders are stony, flaccid. It's probably not smart to do, but the scolding is his strongest moment.

The speech itself full of empty pollyanna catchphrases, but the worst are the ones I can just imagine cynical delegates turning around on Bush:

  • We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace. And yet by that standard would you do not count yourself among the dictators, Mr. Bush?
  • The believe that suicide and torture and murder and justified to serve any goal they declare. And they act on their beliefs. As you act on yours, sending your own nation's children to die, kill and torture.
  • No human life should ever be produced or destroyed for another. Then can we expect you to bring forth a moratorium on bombs and missiles as well as cloning?
  • We will stand with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq until their hopes of freedom and security are fulfilled. Whether they like it or not!
  • For too long many nations, including my own, tolerated, even excused oppression in the middle east in the name of stability. Will the cameras now pan to Saudi Arabia, or perhaps Uzbekistan, I wonder?

Another wasted opportunity to inch us back towards the rest of the civilized world. I didn't expect anything different, but it's still disappointing and dispiriting to watch.

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Ann Arbor?

Myself and a co-worker will be hitting the feild in Ann Arbor next week to promote Music for America and our Voter X Action Guide in the area. I'm looking for local retail outlets -- record stores, coffee shops -- we might get to stock materials, local media (newspapers, alt-press, radio) to hit up as well as venues to work with.

Also, if anyone knows of good professors and/or student groups to hit up on the UMich campus; that would be awesome.

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History profs rate Bush a disaster

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

President George W. Bush's campaign for a second term got a big break last week from the nation's historians. Responding to a national survey by George Mason University's History News Network, 81 percent of the 415 historians who expressed a view of the Bush presidency so far classified it as a failure and 12 percent see it as the worst presidency in American history.

But since Bush is Lord of the C-Students, I suppose this should be expected.

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Pandagon: Just Say Fuck It

Someone better be planning to hire these little bastards as soon as they're done with school. Jessie Taylor nails it:

That's the Bush plan for terrorism: designing a plan with a series of objectives, watching the plan summarily fail to meet the objectives, and then saying that anyone who opposes the plan opposes the objectives. It's a continual excuse for failure, and nobody should be afraid any more to point out that Bush's godawful plans will meet none of his supposed objectives.

Don't be afraid. If Bush's plan is now to declare Kerry the choice of terrorists, Kerry should respond that Bush is the worldwide leader in making us less safe from terrorism. That it has the added benefit of being absolutely true is even better. These are the grounds of the debate. Either we can win, or we can keep our hands clean and watch Bush invade another country, fuck that up, and declare anyone who points that out a terrorist simp.

"I'm not gonna go to sleep, and let this wash all over me..."

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