A Call for Censorship

I am a librarian. Now, most people think that means I shush folks, shelve books, and push my glasses up my nose with my forefinger.

Indeed, I’ve done all of those things, but there’s more to it than that. As I’ve previously mentioned, librarians have a host of responsibilities. We help people fill out job applications, create resumes, send money to their spouses in prison, set up e-mail addresses, download e-books, recommend reading material based on age/interest/reading level, create programs people actually want to attend… the list is endless. We are public slaves… and we love it. One of our major platforms though, is the war on censorship.

No, really. If an angry mom has a tantrum, because a librarian gave her 10-year-old Thong on Fire (click the link! click the link!), it will be explained to her that the library does not censor or police information, but she’s welcome to come in and assist her daughter in choosing her reading materials. We dispense knowledgeWe do not control knowledge. I can no more pull Thong on Fire for its lewd content, than I can pull Heaven is for Real for its Christian content. I stand by this. It is a truly American viewpoint… perhaps one of the only ones left.

All that being said, however, maybe it’s time that we, as individuals, choose to censor ourselves a bit, particularly in regards to our children.

Sunday, the Midwest got a gust of cold wind and a brief flurry. Naturally, we were all stranded. I didn’t even go to Mass, because of how I almost died, last time. Gail, just being off for her one day (because being a mailman suuuuucks), texted me…

Gail: Wanna play a game? I’ll recommend a show and you recommend a show. We each have to watch two episodes.
Me: Okay. Hart of Dixie.
Gail: Bates Motel. The first episode is a little graphic, but it’s really good.

:: two hours later, referencing Gail’s “dark erotica” phase ::
Me: What the hell is with you and rape?!?! It’s like your freaking favesies! You think it’s the best of everything!
Gail: I said the first episode was graphic!
Gail: Which OBVIOUSLY means rape. Lol.

So, for the last few days, I’ve been watching Bates Motel. It’s easily the most disturbing thing I’ve seen since the week I marathoned American Horror Story, while ranting on Facebook about how the entire writing staff is made up of broken souls.

AHS is still in the lead, though I gave up on season 3 for a while.

Jane: What did it for you? The incest or the bestiality?
Me: The bleach enema.
Jane. Spoiler alert! I haven’t gotten that far!

These disturbing epics have gotten me thinking. Yes, they have to be the result of a group therapy effort gone awry, but I’m more interested in effect than cause. Now, I exaggerate a lot. I know that… but American Horror Story disturbed me to my core. I was genuinely upset by the school shooting episode. I work with teens every day and the idea of them being so afraid and alone, waiting for death, having just enough time to process all they’ll miss in life… ugh. I’m done writing about it. It’s too much. That’s also a pretty healthy reaction. I remember Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook. Just the portrayal of similar events deeply unsettles me. As it should and as the writers intended. I, however, am an adult. 

I’ve discussed media’s effect on society before, but it’s been of greater concern to me, recently, how children are being affected. Just the other day, I discovered a fun correlation. The average age of first exposure to pornography is 11.* The average age for first cell phone is also 11.* I’m not criticizing the idea of giving children a way to call for help. I am concerned, though, that just as puberty hits, we give children limitless and often unmonitored access to media… and that’s the norm. Children have always been curious, certainly; but that curiosity used to manifest itself in stolen peeks at dad’s Maxims or the wrinkled pages of an old bodice ripper found in the garage. Neither medium, however, was acceptably nestled in a child’s pocket at all times.

The danger does not only lie in obvious sites, either. Today, smartphones have numerous apps that parents don’t even consider a threat. Tumblr seems harmless enough, sure… until you combine the words “naughty” and “gif.” The same goes for the Kindle app. Maybe between Harry Potter books, your curious 13-year-old is also absorbing The Erotic Dark. YouTube is just a bunch of cute kittens, you say? Search for “ass kicking.” Just the words SnapChat are enough to make me want to home school… and all of these things are available from the very device that was given to them to keep them safe.

My question is, what is this media doing to children? What will the case studies look like in 15 years? When I was younger, video games were the primary concern. In fact, I firmly believe that video games are still an issue. Don’t get me wrong. Grand Theft Auto V’s protagonist, Michael De Santa, did not shoot up a movie theater in Colorado. Are we harming developing young minds, however, by normalizing this kind of behavior through media? Ten years ago, we didn’t even have all of this new access to media and we were still asking this question. Today, Netflix is a beautiful thing… until your nine-year-old makes it through half a season of Sons of Anarchy, before you even realize they’ve been watching it. This used to (primarily) be the plight of the neglectful parent. Sure, I was watching Sex and the City at age 12, but that’s because my mom was more interested in being my bestie than an authority figure. Now, what kid doesn’t have a smart device?

While the expanse of this problem lies mainly with electronics, even beyond that, erotica is publicly acceptable.For realz yo, my sister-in-law had a “Laters Baby” sticker on the car she drove to her job as a 7th grade reading teacher. That’s a 50 Shades of Grey reference, for anyone who didn’t catch it. At the height of its popularity, that book was all over Facebook. My sister-in-law wasn’t even the only teacher posting about it. Additionally, the covers of books in that genre used to be anything but subtle…

bodice ripper
Wait. His chest is disproportionate to… everything else. No, really. The gun looks tiny.

… today, the trend has shifted to the completely innocuous.

the gambleIn this one, he essentially holds her captive until she think it’s sexy…
like in The Beauty and the Beast.

So, even when you aren’t reading something on a Kindle/Nook/iPad, no one has to suspect that you need to change your panties, anymore.

Aunt Glenda: “Is that a Kindle, Belle?”
Me: “Yeah. It’s a Paperwhite.”
Aunt Glenda: “Can I see it?”

It took me an unexplainable amount of time to find any book that was appropriate for Thanksgiving dinner, before handing it over.

I reiterate that NO library will deny these books to anyone.

I’m not proposing that we all pretend it’s 1986. Technology is a beautiful thing, with many benefits and self-control can only be taught with moderation. I’m also not suggesting we, in any way, police the media consumption of adults. They’re old enough to compartmentalize and separate fantasy from reality. That’s no one else’s responsibility. Children, however, are the responsibility of society and, most importantly, their parents. We’ve entered this age where we’re so afraid to tell kids that they can’t do something. We’re terrified of setting limits and I see that in the students in my classrooms who cannot get through a single hour without some form of electronic media, be it music or texting or social networking. I see it in the kids who watch violent YouTube videos on their phones and the 6-year-old boy shouting “BITCH!” at the computer in the library. This is all happening right now. Children are becoming addicted to pornography, The Walking Dead is completely desensitizing them to violence and gore, little girls are sending pictures of their breasts to boys (22% ages 14-17)*, teens are encouraging self-mutilation and eating disorders, and no one is doing anything about it. We will see the day when a presidential election is compromised by a sext. So, my suggestion? Start telling children no. The library certainly won’t do it, because it’s not our place. Nor is it the place of Netflix, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, SnapChat, Tinder, Samsung, and iPhone.

We don’t have the luxury of rating systems anymore, as we did when video games and movies were the scariest things out there. We have to create limitations ourselves. I’m not saying that I have the perfect answer for what those limits are, despite the fact that I see no reason anyone under the age of 18 needs 24/7 internet access, but they have to exist. Parents need to set limits that work for them, and find a way to enforce them. Schools need to reclaim the power and ban cell phones from sight. Parents should back them. Children should never touch a single electronic device in church, ever. The phone should be put away during mealtimes, and that goes for adults as well.  Perhaps an extension of the problem is that we’re too busy with media to take notice of youth. We can’t protect kids from everything, especially in this digital age, but that doesn’t mean we have to banish them to the town from The Children of the Corn, either.They need guidance. They need our effort. They need a little censorship… because things never work out so well when children run the show.

children of the corn

http://www.citizenlink.com/2012/01/27/the-new-normal-%E2%80%93-youth-exposure-to-online-pornography/

http://www.theonlinemom.com/secondary.asp?id=1981

http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-sexting

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“Too soon?” Yes. It is too soon and you’re an asshat.

On Saturday, Paul Walker, actor in The Fast and the Furious franchise, died as a passenger in a single car accident, on the way home from a charity event. We, as a country, responded in one of three ways:

1. Appropriately sad
2. Somewhat unhealthily sad
3. With giggles

The first response is obviously the one I favor. These people may have posted something on social networking sites addressing Walker’s age or expressing best wishes for his family. They may have mentioned their love of his films or the fact that they just got them all on sale on Black Friday. They expressed remorse and went on with their lives. Perhaps these folks watched She’s All That and managed to not angrily scream “WHERE IS THE ADMINISTRATION?!?!?!” during every high school scene. Normal.

The second response… is weird. I’ve really never understood the total devastation someone can feel over a celebrity death. If Pope Frankie (as my cousin, Mitch, likes to call him) died tomorrow, I would weep for the Church. I’ve never met the man, but he’s an influential leader and, in my opinion, a truly good soul. If Barack Obama died tomorrow, I would weep for the country, because he’s a political leader and that would leave our government in uproar during a tenuous time. If Leonardo DiCaprio died? I’d comment on his age and watch Titanic, failing to not angrily scream “HE’S A VAGRANT, YOU IGNORANT COW!” during every romantic scene. I would not cry… because his life in no way affects me or anyone I love and I don’t feel I have that right. My Gramma cried the day Elvis died. I know many who cried when Michael Jackson died. I just don’t get it. However, it’s not an offensive reaction. I realize that other people (who are wrong) don’t necessarily scream “Emotions should be hidden like the last fucking Horcrux!” every time their eyes water. Maybe they’re the healthy ones. I don’t know. Regardless, no harm done.

The third reaction? This one is deeply disturbing.

Facebook status on Tuesday:
So a car just freaking exploded and was engulfed in flames right next to my apartment building. This is one of the most insane things I’ve ever witnessed

Comments:
– Paul Walker came over? To soon?
– ok guys that’s a bit fast with the Paul Walker jokes. I’m furious.
– haha I think it’s time to hit the brakes with the jokes.

 I am not contradicting myself here. I realize that I’ve made many inappropriate jokes in my day.

::in the car, waiting for my dad and step-mother to bury my grandfather’s ashes, inJuly::
Me: “Ugh. It is a thousand degrees in here. They’re gonna have to bury three more piles of ash if they don’t hurry the hell up.”
Cade: “It would be awesome if the window was open and they could hear you.”

So, what’s the difference? The difference, is that my grandpa used to drag my brother and I to church on the weekends that we went to the lake, because vacation was no excuse for missing Mass. The difference, is that every Christmas he bought us shitty gifts, filled with love, because it’s all he could afford. The difference is the cherished rosary he wanted me to have. The difference, is that he was my family and saying goodbye was hard, so humor was my crutch, because emotions belong with the last fucking Horcrux!!!!!

Paul Walker was only 40 years old and his father had to bury his baby boy. I don’t even have kids and my relationship with my dad has shown me that a child never stops being his parents’ baby, whether they’re throwing up at age 10 or crying on their doorstep at age 23. A woman watched her son lowered into the ground forever. His parents won’t be able to give him the Christmas presents they’ve already bought. There’s a couple out there weeping over high school graduation pictures from the early 90’s. Paul Walker wasn’t an only child, either. Bo may be a redneck bigot sometimes, but if my big brother died, I would be inconsolable. Most tragically, there’s a 15-year-old girl out there who was just getting know her daddy and now his light is gone from the world.* He’ll never interrogate a college boyfriend or walk her down the aisle. That is heartbreaking.

Paul Walker’s death was no more tragic than that of any other 40-year-old man with a family and full life. It also, however, was no more uproarious. If his family and friends choose to use humor as a crutch, more power to them. We all have fucked up coping mechanisms. Whatever gets you through hard times. Everyone else? No. We don’t get that crutch, because it’s not a crutch for us. It’s insensitive and cruel, especially when published on a social networking site where the man’s name is tagged and his family is guaranteed to see it. Remember when your dog was hit by a truck when you were fourteen? How much more awesome would that have been with strangers making lame-ass jokes?

“What’s black and white and red all over? Your dalmatian!”

This isn’t a new issue, either. It’s not even confined to celebrity deaths. During the last natural disaster, I had a heated Facebook debate with that douche bag from high school who’s only on my friends list because it’s amusing to read about how much he loves himself. When I called him out on his insensitivity, he told me I had no right to be offended, because I wasn’t harmed. CHILDREN DIED. I’m sorry, but as an American citizen, a native of this state, an educator, I had a fucking right to be appalled that the bodies had barely been recovered and he was running the laugh track for his self-proclaimed cleverness. Furthermore, several people liked each and every comment I made, as I defended the fact that his being an inconsiderate prick, didn’t mean I didn’t have a sense of humor. I clearly was not the only offended party on the billboard that is Facebook.

Gaily’s daughter died at eight months old. I was Aunt Belle. I saw that little lady 5 times a week…. and sometimes we make disturbing up jokes about it, because it hurts not having her in the world. It’s how we deal and we know we’re broken. Where has the compassion gone for everyone else who’s hurting, though? I’ll admit, I don’t know what to say in times of heartache and I usually end up doing something really awkward…

In fact, the last time, I’m pretty sure I waited waaaay too many days to comment and then blurted “I’m sorry you’re sad.” It wasn’t perfect. Far from it. It also wasn’t a giggle. Had that been the alternative, it would have certainly been best to say nothing. This is a really easy response in social networking. You don’t have to comment. If you don’t have anything nice to say, shut your damned hole on a public forum.

I’m not even knocking offensive humor, as a whole. I, myself, have made too many battered wives jokes to count. I’ve also survived an abusive marriage. Just the same, generally offensive jokes, like those horrifying dead baby jokes that Gail and I made as teenagers, are far less appalling. They never pinpointed one tragedy or crying family. We were also kids and didn’t quite comprehend that that shit actually happens. The comments I’m reading and hearing about celebrity deaths, the Oklahoma tornadoes, and Sandy Hook? Those aren’t being made by kids, but adults who fully understand the pain and heartache of losing a loved one; and without fail, they always end in “too soon?” Yes. It is too soon and you’re an asshat.

i plane ny
This shirt fucking exists.

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/paul-walker-died-seconds-crash-coroner-rules/story?id=21098595

http://popwatch.ew.com/2013/12/01/the-sides-of-paul-walker-you-may-have-missed/

Life Lessons from a Chick Flick

I am not a fan of chick flicks. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a good romance, but I usually take it in book form. For one, I’m a librarian and can easily find ones with an engaging plot; but mostly, I can add my own tone and cadence to the lines, so they don’t come off quite so cheesy. Not to mention, in my head, every single male lead is played by one of three actors:

alcide

 charlie hunnam

jensen ackles gun

I’d pterodactyl that trio.

1. pterodactyl
When a woman performs oral sex on a man in front of her, while at the same time is giving hand jobs to men on her right and left. The resulting motion looks like she is attempting to fly. (Much like a pterodactyl.)

Too far? I went too far, didn’t I? Who let me on Urban Dictionary?!?! Also, is this the correct verb usage?

Regardless of my distaste for the over-the-top romantic gestures of most RomComs, there are one or two that truly resonate with me. Sweet Home Alabama tells the story of a woman balancing her Down Home Girl roots with her City Girl career. I can totally relate. No Strings Attached emphasizes the importance of friendship in romantic relationships, while also acknowledging that you can’t tongue a pal’s genitals without developing feelings for them (the pal, not the genitals… though those too, I suppose). Bridget Jones Diary acknowledges that sometimes, no matter how bad we claim to want something, we’re just too fucking lazy to make good decisions. 500 Days of Summer has me screaming “BITCH! HOW COULD YOU TURN DOWN JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT!?!?! YOU REALLY THINK YOU’LL FIND SOMEONE BETTER?!?!” Hmm… I may have veered a bit on the last two. I should probably end the list now. You get my point, though. Aside from the love stories that are not about love – The Vow? Really? They hate each other and cry and then go on a date?!?!?! FUCK YOU, HOLLYWOOD! I WANT MY $7 BACK!
Ahem…
Despite all of the bad love stories, there is one that actually strikes a personal cord with me: My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It’s not just my huge, loud, gossipy, overly-concerned family that allows me to relate to this cute, but somewhat forgettable title. It’s that I, too, went through a “phase” through the first 23 years of my life. I was also “frump girl” before a YouTube video and a Gail taught me to apply eyeliner. Many days, I feel like Toula in the last half of this movie. So, while Carl and Ellie take the cake, here are the many lessons present in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, making it one of the best love stories of all time.

It’s never too late to start your life… and you’re the only one who can do so.
So take a class, get a better job, put on some makeup, and do whatever else you have to do to make yourself happy.

Not all men want skinny blondes.
If you can’t change it, work it.

There is no “standard” for beauty, but you do have to try… and that’s okay.
Nearly ever other woman is also wearing contacts and waxes her lip. 

Adult strangers are rarely as mean as they were in middle school.
So smile. Introduce yourself. Sit down. Chat.

Your family is yours and you are theirs, but their claim on you does not extend to your life decisions.
So date the white guy, the republican, the atheist, or what have you. If you’re okay with it and they treat you well, hopefully the family will get on board. 

Regardless, some battles just aren’t worth fighting. An ugly dress never killed anyone.
Nor did an embarrassing comment or bad first impression. Laugh. It’s fine. 

Most families are nosy, pushy, and embarrassing. It means they love you.
If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t pry. Thank them.

Relationships don’t have to be dramatic. You can just be nice to each other.
Fights move a plot along, but they end an actual relationship. 

Third date sex is not the norm.
If he likes you, he’ll wait. 

The people who are already in your life love you and think you’re worth their time. It’s not a stretch to think someone of the opposite sex will, too.
Chin up. People like you. 

A wedding is just a party. There’s no reason to hurt anyone’s feelings over a party.
The worst wedding day is the best blog post.

You should hide a relationship until it’s serious enough to justify the hassle of introducing them to your ridiculously large and in-your-business family.
I may have misinterpreted that. 

my big fat greek wedding

“Rape her with a billy club!”: How unaffected I am by violence in media.

So, I am not a huge television watcher. In fact, this is my background on my computer screen at the moment…

read instead
Yes. It was intended to be ironic.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with watching television… when you want to watch television. I just think there’s something broken about Americans that has them plopping down in front of a screen as a default, rather than finding something they enjoy more. It’s the home where I grew up. It’s the home where my dad still lives. It’s the home my brother has built. It’s my entire technological experiment of a generation that just plugs in, because real fun is harder. That’s fucked up. That being said, television can be truly enjoyable. Well, Netflix can. My hatred of all advertising is a topic for its own entry, with an honorable mention of the ridiculous price my cable company charges for pretty much anything. Netflix, however, caters to the 11-year-old that is still inside of me re-watching last Monday’s recorded episode of Roswell before she goes to school. I am an obsessive person and the selection of television series feeds that.

Bo: “Do you watch Sons of Anarchy?
Me: “I don’t have cable. I also hate reality T.V.”
Bo: “That’s not reality T.V. It’s about a motorcylce club.”

Oh em jingles, I was just masturbating to a motorcycle club romance novel! See, Gaily. There’s a lot of shit I don’t say. My filter isn’t broken. It’s selective, fuck you very much. In actuality, I downloaded the motorcycle club romance novel after that conversation and it wasn’t porn… not exactly. Wednesday night, however, I had just finished a couple of those books and figured I’d give this Sons of Anarchy thing a try. My first thought being, I don’t get it. My second thought being…

jax
Oooooh. Noooow I get it.

I’m kidding. There were no coherent thoughts. When I Googled that photo, I saw ones with his hair cut off and I think I need to change my panties now. Eventually, I totally understood the appeal of the show, beyond the fully naked backside shots, though those are worth rewinding. Being the obsessive gal I mentioned above, I started the show Wednesday evening and made it to season four by Saturday night.

Now, anyone who reads this blog regularly is fully aware of my affection for alpha male romance novels. The hot, pushy, protective, special ops guy is super appealing in fiction-only-fiction-ever. As I’ve mentioned, I can compartmentalize and acknowledge that, because I’m 25 and my brain development is leveling off. Being threatened and bullied and pushed around only works in those books, because the women secretly want it. For example, if Anastasia Steele were to legitimately say…

“Fuck off, Christian. I’m an adult and I’m capable of making my own decisions. Bee tea double ewe, I want a divorce.”

… he would bar the door to physically prevent her from leaving, then tie her up and punish her sexually just like it was still a normal Tuesday… only this time she would mean it and there would be no way to express that. In a fantasy, the alpha does nothing I don’t secretly find sexy, so I don’t need a way to state genuine disapproval. In reality, I’m calling my daddy and he’s loading his gun.

jed
I’m kidding of course. I’m loading my gun.

guns
Pink or not, they’ll still fucking kill you.

My point is, though, that I get that it’s fantasy and a different set of rules apply. Women have rape fantasies because the responsibility for the degrading things they’re imagining is put on someone else. It does not mean they want to be raped. I have fantasies about some big strong man coming in and taking over the responsibility in my life, because I have deep-seated abandonment issues and if I weren’t so fond of gummy worms, I’d be stripping. It does not mean I’m going to go out and start that relationship.

All that being said though, during my Sons of Anarchy marathon, I found myself thinking thoughts that girls with a fondness for pink aren’t typically supposed to think. There’s a scene in season one where the woman is knocked over the head by another woman and then gang-raped. I don’t believe in that feminine power crap about how we’re all sisters because we all slough our uterine lining once a month, but the idea that a woman would betray another woman in that way was just abhorrent, as I’m sure the writers intended. So, as I watched and waited for this gal to finally get hers, she ended up alone with a cop and I found myself shouting at the screen:

“Rape her with a billy club!”

Later, the bad guys were getting away and I was yelling:

“Shoot out their fucking knee caps!”

The doctor’s boss had been a bitch all season and the doctor finally punched her and threatened her and I was thinking…

Yeah… maybe it’s a little weird that I just rewound and watched that again.

After two seasons, I was texting Gail…

Me: I want to buy a motorcycle.
Gail: No you don’t.
Me: … and sell guns illegally.
Gail: Again, you’re mistaken.

Back to that compartmentalization skill of which I was so proud… I understand that if that character were raped with a billy club, the actress would just go home and call her dad and explain that he probably wouldn’t want to watch next week’s episode. No one’s knee caps are actually being shot. Punching anyone would make me feel horrible, because I apologize to the dog when I have to move him off my blanket. I get that the depicted life of crime is only appealing because there are hot guys and they gloss over all that prison. I’m not stupid or sadistic. I’m only enjoying this vicariously through fiction… because I’m an adult and capable of doing so.

After last year’s theater and Sandy Hook shootings, a lot of debates about violence in media sprung up and people brushed them off to focus on the creation of more gun laws that we won’t enforce and criminals still won’t follow. If a few hours of watching Sons of Anarchy can have a future librarian screaming “rape her with a billy club!” though, maybe we should give this violence in media topic a little consideration. I’m not a violent person, but I still can’t wait for Grand Theft Auto Five and gleefully told Gail:

“I hope they bring the chainsaws back!”
leatherface My mind is more or less fully developed. These books, shows, and games are not shaping my brain. I understand that this isn’t reality and I would no more want to physically assault someone, let alone chop them up, than I would want a man to lock me in his sensory deprivation chamber and condition me to enjoy rape.

comfort food
Don’t perform an image search for this book at work. You’re welcome.

If I’d read the above book at 15, though? I don’t know how that would have shaped my views of sex and relationships, particularly when paired with the trashy alpha male motorcycle club books I just read. If I’d been playing GTA and having Sons of Anarchy marathons when I was still learning anger management and people skills? I don’t know. I can guess, though and I genuinely think that I would’ve developed a more warped view of sex than I presently have and my favorite thing about masturbation is that I’m the most normal person in the room despite the tears. Life broke me enough on its own and I absorbed an abnormal amount of electronic media as a kid and teen. Thankfully, it was mostly Roswell, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, and maybe a couple of Sims characters locked in a room with a rocket launcher. Then again, maybe that explains the violent werewolf porn on my Kindle.

I don’t necessarily have a solution beyond parents actually, you know, parenting and not letting their kids have access to violent shows and video games. My primary declaration, though, is that this shit does matter. Maybe it’s not a video game that shot a bunch of scared babies in Sandy Hook, but Manhunt probably didn’t help the anger issues. Even as an adult, during my Sons of Anarchy marathon, I’m pretty convinced that I want a motorcycle and have for years. Because I’m a huge Superman fan and watched Man of Steel during said marathon, I’m danged certain I want it to look like this….

superman motorcycle

… but I’m an adult who couldn’t possibly be affected by media since not even children are, right? Isn’t that what keeps advertising from being a billion dollar industry? I started using Maybelline cosmetics at 12 (and still do), because Sarah Michelle Gellar was in the commercial. Don’t tell me Teen Mom doesn’t have anything to do with the rising teen pregnancy rate in my hometown. Even so, you can get on your high horse and tell people to read instead of watching T.V. or playing video games, but there’s still violence and fucked up sex in books, too. Maybe the time people spend arguing about this crap should be time spent discussing the abusive relationship implications of the Twilight novels with their 13-year-old daughters. Maybe we should be finding out where our teenage boys heads are at and reviewing their Internet history to discover what kind of porn they’re watching and how much that’s fucking them up. Maybe we should stop blaming external sources and blame ourselves for allowing impressionable children full and unlimited access to said sources.

watch responsibly

Women in Fiction, I’d Like A Word With You

I’ve been going through a romance phase for a while now: paranormal, suspense, mystery, the ocassional erotica (a word I just recently had to define for my Gramma). I’d still rather sit through a rectal exam than watch most chick flicks, because the acting is never up to par or I just fucking hate the heroine. Really Ally? Noah should have let you get hit by a car when you were lying in the street. Don’t even get me started on Rose and Jack… again. Maybe I just need to get laid, but I love my romance novels. I can put whatever inflection I want in the dialogue to make it less dramatic and the lead male is never unnattractive… and almost always Alcide Herveaux.

alcide
Sigh. Wouldn’t you just love to bathe him with your tongue like a mama cat?

When the circumstances are right, I love me some alpha males in my fiction and even in reality, I’m a traditional gal. The boy asks, opens doors, pays. That’s what works for me and I don’t mind one bit that it’s not what works for some, like my sisterfriend Rosie the Fucking Riveter. I cannot help that some of her feminazi crap bleeds over, though. On that note, fiction, what the hell is up with:

Putting Necklaces on Your Lady

This seems to be a recurring event in movies and television. From Stefan Salvator to Don Draper, it’s a gallant man who puts on his gal’s necklace. To be fair, I made a post bitching about this on Facebook one day and literally the next day had to ask my Gramma for help putting on a necklace. However, I think that was the one time I’ve had to do so. In all my years of marriage, I never asked my ex-husband to put on a necklace for me. Get a job, don’t kill our pets, quit stealing from me, yes. Help me put on this necklace, no. Wanna know why? Because it’s not held on by a damned Rubix Cube. I know the clasp is behind me, where I can’t see it, but are we women really so uncoordinated and inept that we can’t work a clasp without looking? If we’re going with gender stereotypes, am I not the one with the dainty lady fingers that have the dexterity to embroider pillowcases, sew on buttons, and work diaper pins? Wouldn’t these fingers more likely have nails to catch the lever on said clasp? Bracelets, I understand. I only have one hand free. But I have both hands for this necklace endeavor, unless it’s a really complicated piece of jewlery. Maybe nipple clamps and shackles are involved? I don’t know.

putting on necklace 4  putting on necklace 1

putting on necklace 2putting on necklace 3
Elena is having a particularly difficult time with that necklace.

I get the the appeal of the damsel in distress thing in books and movies. Even Samantha Jones once went on a crying jag about how she just wished a man were there to care for her when she was sick. Lorelei Gilmore once wept because she’d ocassionally like for someone to wait for the cable guy. It’s not even a sexist thing. Everyone likes the idea of having someone take care of them when they need it, or even when they don’t, just to be sweet. I might even place the necklace bit in the last category if it were an action that I ever even think about. But I don’t. Because it’s just a stupid necklace. Asking and waiting for assistance is going to take more time and effort than just doing it myself. If I’m going to ask him to put on my necklace, why not ask him to tie my left shoe, blow on my soup, or squeeze the toothpaste for me? It’s weird that this is even a thing. Wanna do something sweet? I’ve got the necklace. You go change my oil.

necklace
Mkay. I think I’m gonna need some help with this one.

Requiring Tiny Feet

When I was five, I used to sit in the bathtub and turn my feet to just the right angle so they’d look smaller and daintier, because women have tiny feet dammit!!!!

Fine. I was a weird kid. Regardless, go watch Cinderella. When you get to the part where the king’s men try the glass slipper on her step-sisters’ feet, what happens? They’re so gargantuan that the shoe barely covers the ball of her foot. When they try to force it, the slipper is flung across the room and shatters. Think about it. It’s a shoe. What are the odds that no one else in the kingdom had the same shoe size as Cinderella? Sure, they were made of glass and that didn’t leave a whole lot of room for give, but it’s not like they’d have been comfortable anyway. So her feet just had to be freakishly sexily small.

glass slipper step

Meanwhile…

glass slipper

Horseshit. I’m not buying it.

foot binding

That’s what her foot really looks like.

As an adult, I’m less self-conscious of my shoe size. I’m only 5’5″, but wear a 10. No one else does, so the cute boots on sale come in my size. Score. However, lately, I’ve read a ton of books where the women’s feet are quoted at size 5 and size 6 over and over again. Even Anastasia Steele was a 5. The average shoe size of American women, however, is an 8*. You wanna tell me I have big feet compared to a size 8, I’m cool with that. I’m only 2 sizes above normal. You wanna tell me I’m double the normal size? Go fuck yourself, fiction. Go fuck yourself.

Carrying Her Everywhere

Okay, this one is sort of an all-encompassing issue regarding weight and the idea that women are only sexy if they’re tiny and vulnerable looking. Bella Swan was quoted at 110 pounds and 5’4″, which I’d like to mention is just above underweight and really not very healthy, despite having been described as being “soft somehow.” Maybe this is an evolutionary issue where we women want the largest and strongest caveman, so we want to at least feel teeny, but throughout all genres and formats of media, from my paranormal romances to the latest chick flick, women are light as pretty pink feathers. Once again, however, I’m able to defend paranormal romance, because The Black Dagger Brotherhood and Eric Northman had fucking superpowers. That was the whole point. It still doesn’t explain why they carried their gals everywhere. There’s no real rationalization for the other occurrences, either, because I’m pretty sure even sexy women have weight, y’all. Maybe we harbor totally unreasonable expectations of it in this country, such as when Gail’s ex-fella announced “She was huge. She must’ve weighed like 150 pounds or something”, but that doesn’t change the reality of hoisting another human being into your arms. When I go to my Gramma’s and my niece is over there, without fail she screams “AUNT BELLE!” and I pick her up and spin her around. Then I put her down, because she’s fucking heavy… at four.

I remember the first time I noticed this weird trend. I was a teenager and absolutely obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because I was awesome, and everyone just carries Buffy around any time she’s hurt. Sure, Angel and Spike have superpowers and Riley is a soldier, but high school Xander and Giles? The former was portrayed as awkward and gangly and the latter was in his mid-sixties. Ron carries Hermione after she’s tortured, but was the guy really known for his brawn?  Charlie Swan is an aging man carrying around his 18 year old daughter, because she’s sad over a breakup. While Edward Cullen was reasonably able to throw Bella on his back and scamper up a mountain, Robert Pattinson pulled a hamstring doing it, because WOMEN HAVE WEIGHT, Y’ALL.

carry bella 2 carrying bella 1

carrying bella 3 carrying bella 4
Seriously? Can the girl not walk? I thought her spine healed.

Rationalizing Child Molestation

When Desperate Housewives first aired, Jesse Metcalfe was 25. His character, however, was 17. I’m not shaming the women of America for looking at a 25-year-old in a 17-year-old costume and thinking he’s attractive. I’m shaming the writers of this show for assuming that I would relate to Gabrielle Solis when she commits statutory rape, because he was just so yummy that it made it okay. Maybe I find this offensive because I work with teenagers, but when I first watched this show at 24, I looked at Jesse Metcalfe’s character and I saw a child. A 17-year-old boy thinks like a kid and reasons like a kid and processes emotion like a kid, because that’s what he damn well is. Gabrielle Solis committed rape and just because she did so with a vagina, rather than a penis, does not suddenly make it sexy rape, because that’s not a fucking thing. Implying that the women of America are gonna be all “YOU GO GIRL!” over baby rape is just as disgusting and offensive as suggesting that all men are going to be rooting for the sex traffickers in Taken.

sex trafficking
Chicka chicka yeah…

Apocalyptic Menstruation

One of the few chick flicks I truly enjoyed and actually own (bought used) is No Strings Attached. I enjoy it, however, despite one of the most obnoxious scenes in the history of film, in which Natalie Portman and all of her roommates are lying around the apartment groaning in misery. Is it cholera? Ebola? The Zombie apocalypse? No. It’s the horrors of WOMANHOOD! These women are all supposed to be in their medical residency, but none of them can take care of a few cramps and all of them have the time to hole up like wounded animals and whine about it? Let’s not forget the whopping cliché of them acting like bitches and fighting over junk food, because all women love chocolate. I probably eat 10 Reese’s a week and I gave up chocolate for Lent, because it would be a legitimate effort and sacrifice for me… because I like chocolate… not because my vagina does. Also, I don’t know about other women, but when I’m on my period, I… you know… work. For a day or so, I feel miserable and don’t want to eat at all and have the inconvenience of a gunshot wound between my legs, but I still get my ass out of bed, pop some ibuprofen and earn that puppy food. I’m a grown ass woman, no one else is going to take care of the bills, and this happens every month. Honestly, though, the most offensive part of this is the suggestion that a woman gets a free pass on treating people like shit because her body does stuff. Maybe I’m a little more irritable around my period, but other people still exist and have feelings. I don’t get to snap at them and tell them to fuck off because my uterus is leaking. Implying that I can’t control the urge to do so is seriously underestimating a gender famous for unhinging their pelvis to crank out a human being every now and then.

snake eating egg
It’s like that, but backwards.

Bashing Men

When Gail and I get together, much of the conversation does revolve around men, though not nearly as much as modern media might have you think. Sure, we giggle about and mock The Musician and his drug-induced flirting or that guy who bought me a drink and started massaging my shoulders, but neither one of us is in a relationship with these people. When Gail mentions A, she might lovingly joke about the vehicles I’ve nicknamed The General Lee, but it’s nothing he hasn’t already heard. Just like I would expect my beau to speak respectfully of me, I wouldn’t say things to Gail that I wouldn’t want him to hear… unless I were on my eighth LIT at Hudson’s and weeping about my abusive husband, in which case… Happy Thanksgiving! Pretty much every episode of Sex and the City involves the girls sitting around a table complaining about how much their men suck. Newsflash, ladies: you don’t have to be with these guys. Way to portray powerful and self-sufficient women, by having them fret over men all of the time. Samantha could’ve left Richard; Miranda could’ve ditched Steve; and Charlotte could’ve told Trey to fuck off. Carrie was far too in love with herself to notice anyone else in her life, of course. I’m waiting for a Sex and the City/Cloverfield crossover event, where Carrie gets eaten. That’s the third movie.

carrie bradshaw
I loved this guy. Remember when he accidentally hit her? He was the best.

Of course, there’s always the romantic (and in this case comedic) fiction where women are just as horrible to men in person as they are in private, such as in Knocked Up. I love Seth Rogan and adore this movie, don’t get me wrong, but the scene where Katherine Heigl’s sister yells at Paul Rudd for not being able to Wizard away child molesters is a horrible representation of women… along with the one where she’s insulting Rogan for being overweight, rather than expressing any legitimate concerns about his use of illegal drugs or lack of a job… aaaaand the scene where she screams at her husband for playing fantasy football. Pretty much all of the scenes with Heigl’s sister in them imply that women have a right to abuse men. So does the one where Heigl, herself, screams at her baby daddy for disagreeing with her before leaving him on the side of the road. Heigl has pretty much zero incentive to be with Rogan in this movie. He’s funny and… um… that’s kind of it. I wouldn’t have even told the guy I was pregnant. That, however, is not a valid excuse to leave him in the street. It’s a valid reason to break up with him. Paul Rudd was like the dream husband and father, but it was supposed to be funny when his wife treats him like crap? Is that the same way it was funny when Archie Bunker humiliated and belittled Edith? Or is it the same kind of funny as when Sally Fields had to sneak out of Iran with her daughter? Oh, wait… it’s not abuse unless it’s committed by a man. Gotcha.

*http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/10/16/size-8-is-the-new-7-why-our-feet-are-getting-bigger/