opinion

These posts reflect my personal opinion on any stated topic.

Life As A Decoration


I recently attended an informative and deeply inspiring (read: long) industry conference in Anaheim with my wife. It was held in one of the second-floor ballrooms at the Anaheim Hilton, a hop, skip, and a jump from Disneyland’s front door. There was Magic Kingdom spill over into all of the surrounding stores and buildings that made the whole place feel like an extension of Main Street USA. It’s one of those places where everything feels like a souvenir. 🙂

Anyway, after snaking our way into the parking structure (a process that added at least a good 20 minutes to our overall travel time), we found a parking space and headed toward the venue. We arrived late (because of the crazy parking) and managed to grab a seat in the 5th row from the back. It was a great turn out. All together there were about 350 attendees, with a majority coming from various parts in and around L.A. County, along with a good contingent from Las Vegas I believe, and then a smattering from locations other than the West Coast.

Throughout the program, which lasted from about 8am to 4pm (or as the homeschoolers might call it, first subject to second snack), there were multiple speakers who took to the stage to regale us with their personal stories of triumph over circumstance, the virtues of perseverance, and general advice and suggestions on how to obtain success. All while juggling chainsaws and baking cookies. (Ha! Not really, but it feels like that sometimes.)

In usual fashion, each speaker was given a brief introduction to the audience so that we would have a better understanding of who they were, and would appreciate the experience or level of expertise from which they would be speaking. But in all of what has become very typical of these types of events, there was something that REALLY stood out to me… glaring gender disparity.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not the guy that goes looking for “issues” to champion, or conjures up faux social injustices to expose. But this just sort of nagged at me throughout the day. The part that really puzzled me wasn’t the fact that the disparity was so obvious (at least to me), but that so many people seemed to be completely oblivious to it, or at least indifferent toward it.

Let me explain…

One introduction went something like this, “Mr. such and such is an amazing individual who did X, Y and Z! In addition to being wildly successful, he’s also friendly, humble, and a real go-getter! He lives in a beautiful house in such and such city, has X amount of children, AND AN ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL WIFE. I MEAN, SHE IS DROP DEAD GORGEOUS!

To be fair, in and of itself, there was nothing wrong with that statement. This person was simply offering a compliment to the speaker’s spouse. But there are two very important implications that lie underneath that benign statement…

1) that there was some apparent correlation between the beauty of the speaker’s wife and his success, and,
2) that what was most important to disclose about his wife was how attractive she was.

And these become the ongoing subliminal messages we transmit…

Men, become someone so accomplished that you can snag a drop-dead gorgeous wife.
And women, the most important thing about you, 
and the only thing that anybody really cares about, is how you look.

Now, I must state that there were also several speakers who were female. But not one of their introductions included references to the attractiveness of their husbands. No one mentioned how “stunningly handsome” or “captivatingly good-looking” the men were. It was usually a reference to what he did, such as, “…and her husband is an engineer,” or “…he comes from a military background.”

In an age where being arm candy could easily be the extent of someone’s aspirations, it doesn’t surprise me that no one noticed this pattern of referring primarily to a woman’s appearance, and by contrast, mostly referring to a man’s accomplishments. It seems to happen all the time.

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Illustration by: Zohar Lazar (as it appeared in a Hollywood Reporter article dated June 19, 2015)

Next time you’re out with someone, pay attention to how other people refer to the men and women they know, or how they are introduced. There’s a good chance it’ll fall along the lines of “she’s pretty” and “he’s successful”.

I have one daughter. And it saddens me that she’s growing up in a world that constantly reinforces the idea of beauty over brains. Especially when to me, it is a person’s intelligence that really makes them attractive. So I plan to do everything I can to make sure my daughter understands that being smart isn’t a liability, and that her purpose in life is infinitely bigger than simply being a decoration.

I’m curious what other people think about this.

Do you believe gender disparity exists? And if so, what can we do to eliminate this type of default thinking?

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Categories: commentary, opinion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tragedy In The Second Degree


This weekend I scrolled past a video of a woman being violently ejected from her car during a freeway accident. To say it was disturbing was an understatement.
 
I paused because I was so taken aback by the footage. Questions on top of questions flooded my thoughts…
 
Did she die?
Is she alive?
Were there other people in the car?
Was she married?
Did she have children?
How did her family react?
Was she on her way to work?
 
But the final question, and one that probably troubled me the most was…
 
Why would someone post this video to social media?
 
The answer that seemed to make the most sense was this one:
 
Tragedy has become a spectator sport. We have become so desensitized and accustomed to the idea and reality of tragedy, that in a general sense, we’ve lost all respect for privacy, impetus for prevention, and in some cases, being spurred to action in an effort to assist when tragedy strikes.
 
Content to simply stand back and watch, tragedy has become entertainment fodder, while compassion withers away.
https://i2.wp.com/consciousreporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/youtube-censorship-conscious-reporter.jpg

We have policies in place to protect the interests of copyright holders and corporations, but misfortune is paraded about like some morbid trophy.

I’d like to believe we are better than that. Perhaps one day it will become the new normal.

Categories: commentary, opinion, personal | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fishing For Compliments


fishing for complimentsSome people are starving for compliments.  This is nothing new, especially on social networks. You know how it goes… in person they’ll throw those not-so-subtle hints out there, fishing for the compliments by baiting you with something like, “Aww fooey… my hair is an absolute mess. I can never do ANYTHING with it.”, teasing it playfully while hoping you’ll respond with something like, “Now come on… your hair it isn’t bad at all, it looks amazing!”

They’re funny things really… compliments.  I mean, sometimes one person’s compliment can be another person’s insult.  For instance, you’d be putting your life in danger telling some women they’ve gained weight, while telling some men the same thing might really stroke their ego.  Gender discrepancy being what it is…

But I still wonder… what makes a compliment effective? If you tell me you like my cooking, I’d appreciate it… but telling me you like a song I wrote would mean a world more to me.  I’ve noticed that for some people, the only compliments that really seem to matter are the ones regarding their appearance.  I suppose they need ongoing affirmation about how attractive they are (or they think they are, as the case may be).

So I’m curious, do compliments matter to you? If so, which would mean more… if I told you that I think you’re beautiful, or saying I love your intelligence?  …acknowledging your prowess in a certain sport or ranting about how well you write?  …or maybe it’s hearing that you have wonderful sense of humor, as opposed to hearing that I appreciate how organized you are?  Hmm…

Compliments… are they an absolute necessity or just a luxury?  Maybe it’s a combination of both.

Categories: opinion, Query | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

Listen Up Kids, Your Father Is An Idiot


…or so mainstream media would have every child believe. In the recently released, faith-based comedy “Moms Night Out“, audiences are asked to sympathize with the poor, over-worked, stay-at-home-mom’s attempt to have at least one night where, as my wife sometimes puts it, “no one needs me”.

Dumb DadsI get that. I really do. My wife is an AMAZING mother! No, seriously! Look up “Amazing Mom” in any dictionary and I guarantee, you wi… (ahem)

Well, I’m sure you get the point. I’m just saying that the concept of having a Moms’ Night Out is not lost on me. I often encourage my wife to go out with her friends and enjoy a much-needed, much deserved break from the fullness of parenthood that is our home. As a matter of fact, the MOMS Club my wife belongs to has a Moms’ Night Out at least once a month. Sometimes more if the moms are feeling particularly fried.

So when I first saw the title of the movie, I thought, “Cool! My wife really enjoys those each month! I bet this will be a great movie!” That is, until I saw the trailer. It serves up a good portion of cliche’ while attempting to draw you in with the following teaser:

"All Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and 
conversation - a long-needed moms' night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult 
conversation and food not served in a paper bag, they need their husbands to watch 
the kids for three hours. What could go wrong?"

Apparently, everything when you involve dear ol’ dad. The sad answer to that question provided in the film’s plot summary. A snippet of which (according to Wikipedia) explains to us that, “… their husbands attempt to care for the children with disastrous results.”

This trailer had the familiar stench of the highly derided “Dad Test” commercials by Huggies. I have no problem finding the humor in parenting. But it shouldn’t be used to downplay the importance and value of fathers.

Over the years there has been no shortage of articles from people who’ve felt the same way about Dumbing Down Dads and the Epidemic of Stupid Men and Useless Fathers. As an involved father of 6, I just find it disheartening that we are still fighting to redefine the role and establish the importance of the father in the home. This movie is one more step backward in this struggle. dumb-dad

In his review of the movie, critic Brian Orndorf says, “Less inviting is the suggestion that all dads are buffoons, unable to keep up with their children. Before the night is an hour old, Sean has a dislocated shoulder and Marco is a rattled mess, unable to juggle the basic needs of fatherhood while tending to a parakeet he’s brought from home. It’s ugly sexism in what’s trying to be a harmless feature, pandering to the female audience with a mean-spirited attitude toward men and their habitual boobery. “

Why are we perpetuating the notion of imbecile fathers who get in the way of moms and embarrass their children? Is it too much to ask that we instead focus on laughter caused by simple everyday folly that doesn’t imply someone is a buffoon who exhibits “habitual boobery”?

Or maybe I should just start posting my own videos of the movie making process that depicts writers, directors and producers as idiots who couldn’t come up with an original thought if their lives depended on it. :-/

Categories: commentary, family, marriage, opinion, personal | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Don’t Ask Me How I Am


Here’s a confession… there is one question, above all other questions, that I despise most in this world. That question is, “How are you?”.

Know why?

Because people who ask this question usually fall into one of two categories:

1) They are people who don’t really care AT ALL how I’m doing. They simply ask because it’s their default introductory question. The social hurdle they must clear before getting to what they REALLY want to talk about, or the first in a series of questions they’d like to ask.

2) They are people who probably really want to know how I’m doing, but would prefer the abridged version because they just don’t have the time necessary to sit and hear me go into detail about the context and content of my complex emotional state.

And I hate it.

I hate fumbling about in a vain attempt to answer that irksome question to the satisfaction of either of these two kinds of people.

I hate it because I’m NOT that guy. I mean, I am A guy. But I’m not THAT guy… the one who will tell you how I am, when it’s obvious you don’t really care to know. I’m not interested in summarizing the content of my head and heart just to satisfy your short attention span, or relieve you of any residual heaviness the truth of “how I am” might bring you.

That might be someone else’s M.O., but it’s not mine.

My life is full.

It’s busy and it’s complicated and it’s hectic and it’s thriving and it’s awesome and it’s overwhelming and it’s gratifying and it’s exhausting… and it’s beautiful.

These are not things so easily consolidated into a brief prepared statement that creates no lingering emotional maze for you to navigate. If you dare climb aboard the roller coaster that is my life, you must be prepared for all the dips, turns and loops that come with it.

The kicker is that to a degree, I kind of get it. I mean, most men are not very expressive or in touch with their feelings. Unfortunately for some, I am both. I mean, I completely understand the terse kind of responses a “how are you?” would typically elicit. I’m just wired differently.

If you REALLY want to know how I am, at least give me the courtesy of stifling your look of impatience and apathy. Realize that there are times when I desperately NEED to tell someone how I am. I need to unload some of these mental and emotional weights. We all do at some point. If for no other reason that to position ourselves to start shouldering the next crate of life events arriving daily… non-stop… whether or not you’re prepared for them.

In that regard, I am no different.

So when I ask you, “How are you?”, just know that I genuinely want to know. I’m ready to ride that convoluted roller coaster you call life.

My question is… are YOU?

Categories: opinion, personal | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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