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I’m not pretty enough for you? Go fuck yourself.

24 Feb

First, let me update you on the outcome of the BigAss Scrabble Tournament ™ I played in yesterday. It was kind of interesting, really.

My first opponent Played.

So.

Slowly.

It.

Was.

Painful.

We had a little hourglass timer, but he was concentrating sooooooo hard,

he failed to notice that his time had run out, even when I pointed it out. I could have been a giant bitch about it, but I kind of felt sorry for TurtleMan because he really was trying.

hourglass

See?  I’m not always a bitch.

Most Scrabble games take somewhere around 14 – 18 turns to complete.  In one hour, we managed 8 turns and I was kicking his ass resoundingly.  295 to 131.

295 halfway through the game is a great score.  But we ran out of time, I won by default, and I didn’t get to play out the whole game. I had TWO separate bingos, but I couldn’t play them.

boo

My next opponent was also a pretty shitty player.

And I apparently lack a truly competitive spirit, because I ended up coaching her on what to play so her loss wouldn’t be quite so humiliating.  She showed me her letters and I told her where to play them and I still BOMBED her, winning by more than 100 points.

There goes my reputation as an unrelenting bitch.

I plan on restoring it, though.

But first, let’s get to that discussion of beauty I mentioned yesterday.

Eminem and Christina Aguilera both recorded songs called “Beautiful”, and I think the two songs perfectly encapsulate the difference between Victim Culture™ and Get Over It Snowflake Culture™.

Women, in particular, are encouraged to view themselves as victims.  Of anything and everything, and one of the central concepts in Victim Culture™ is that if you ARE in fact, a victim, well, there must be someone to blame for that.  And it’s not you!  No way!

Christina’s song and the accompanying video is very explicitly about gender and how gender is linked to our ideas about what constitutes beauty.  It features two gay men kissing, a cross-dressing man, an anorexic girl, a skinny boy trying desperately to grow some muscles, a punk rocker and several other characters.  Christina is trying to promote the idea that everyone is beautiful in their own way, and on the surface, that’s a lovely idea.

I have no problem with gay men and drag queens and skinny boys thinking they are beautiful and therefore worthy of respect and dignity, because they are.  No question about it.  What I do have a problem with is how Christina spins that completely understandable desire into a deep well of narcissism and self-absorption.

look

Don’t look at me.

In the video, she huddles in the corner of a derelict room like she’s expecting some violent blow at any minute.  When she DOES finally get on her feet, what does she do?  She goes and looks at herself in a mirror.  Christina’s concept of beauty is all about appearance.

Don’t look at me.  Look at me.

For Christina, being beautiful comes down to one thing:  what you look like.  The characters in her video preen in front of mirrors, engage in public tongue kissing (yuck – get a room!), compare themselves to images in a magazine and essentially exist in their own little worlds with no reference at all to a wider culture.  Ultimately, the anorexic girl smashes her mirror and the girl reading magazines throws them in the fire, but the general sense and feeling of the whole video is paranoia and egotism and vanity.

I am beautiful no matter what they say

Words can’t bring me down

I am beautiful in every single way

Yes, words can’t bring me down

Uhm, no.  You are NOT beautiful in every single way, because no one is.  Promoting the idea that everything about yourself is perfect, no matter what anyone else says is the very definition of narcissism.  According to Christina, listening to criticism or stopping to consider the fact that maybe, just maybe, you might be able to improve on your natural graces and talents is an attack on your right to define yourself according to whatever personal terms of reference you happen to desire.

Don’t look at me.

In Christina’s song, beauty is whatever you say it is, you should never listen to criticism and the appropriate response to any criticism is to crawl into a corner and weep like the maltreated victim you are.

Beautiful.

Now, let’s contrast that with Eminem’s song.

The very first thing Eminem does is link his concept of beauty to the broader culture.  He explicitly defines beauty as something bigger than any one individual or any one perspective.

His message is basically the same thing:  don’t ever let them say you’re not beautiful, they can all get fucked, just stay true to you

eminem

But his concept of “you” exists in a broader society undergoing some tremendous, confusing, violent and destructive transformations.  He doesn’t stand around contemplating his special snowflakeness in a mirror.  He stands in the middle of stadium, being torn apart by a wrecking crew, and rages against forces much greater than himself.  He locates himself in a world that contains more than just his own perception of himself.

stadium

Now, we all know that I consider Eminem a truly great musical artist, but I also want to give him props for being intelligent and demonstrating an emotional depth and complexity that seems to me to be very typical of how men approach the world in general.

http://judgybitch.com/2013/01/13/judgy-bitch-music-critic/

Women start with the idea that they are the only ones who exist.  “I’m perfect and beautiful because I say I am and if you tell me I’m not I’m going sit in a corner and cry”.  Men, on the other hand, appear to take for granted that they live in a bigger world and are required to define themselves in the context of that world.  And if you tell them they’re not beautiful, the answer is “get fucked”.

Personally, I’ll take Eminem’s version of Beautiful any day.

Now, here’s the point.  Me and Pixie finished shooting our first YouTube show, and I’m going to be taking a giant (probably stupid) leap into the great void, where I anticipate that I will more or less immediately confront other people’s ideas about beauty and how much I have.

The truth is, not much.  Oh well.  So sad, too bad.

Hideous

Repugnant

Revolting

Gruesome

Ugly ugly ugly.

ugly

OH HONEY, I THINK YOU MEAN THIS…

windowlicker_2

(with love PPP)

Yeah, yeah.  Whatever.  If you can’t argue the point, it’s always fun to post insults. I don’t know why, but it always surprises me when the fat ugly whore comments come from women.  I especially like it when women post in exquisite detail how they hope I get raped and murdered.  There’s something particularly satisfying, though, about scrolling through a 1200 word description of your own demise and then hitting the trash button! Hey, thanks for taking the time, bitch.  And goodbye.

Welcome to the sisterhood?

Haters gonna hate.  It won’t shut me up.  Go ahead.  Tell me I’m not beautiful.  I won’t sit in a corner and cry, I guarantee it.

I’m not pretty enough for you?  Get fucked.

fuck off

Lots of love,

JB

Sexy little things: children who dance to popular music

20 Feb

We’re not a particularly sporty family here at Chez JB. We’ve tried the kids in a bunch of different activities, and none of them ever really captured their passions. Baseball, soccer, diving, bowling. All rejected as boring.

With one exception: both my son and my oldest daughter love to dance. They are crazy mad for dancing. The louder, bouncier and stompier, the better. These are no graceful ballet dancers. Nope.

Hip hop.

hip hop

That’s their thing.

Hip hop doesn’t have to be, but CAN be, a very *ahem* mature sort of dancing. They wiggle their butts and pump their arms in ways that can get a little risqué, and when I see the kids practicing their moves, I will sometimes think, “oh shit, is this a good idea?”

dance 2

I’m a right bitch about costumes, and the dance instructor knows if Pinky or LittleDude are in a performance, she will have to tone down the bare skin element. No bare midriffs!

I think one of the most important parenting decisions Mr. JB and I have made is to ban commercial television from our home. Our children do not watch advertisements and cannot mindlessly flip through endless channels of uninspired or inappropriate programming. The kids can watch Netflix, but only in a main room under direct adult supervision and their YouTube surfing occurs under the same conditions.

At this stage of the game, they mostly watch funny cat videos, but they take as a given that Mom and Dad will be looking over their shoulders, no matter what they watch.

cat

The kids go to hip-hop and musical theatre classes twice a week. They are reprising a scene from The Little Mermaid for their theatre number, but their dance number is a little more mature. They will be dancing to a cleaned up (lyrically) version of Will.I.Am’s “Scream and Shout”, which is a pretty jazzy little number. It’s all “sassy” and not “sexy”.

So of course they wanted to watch the official music video.

 

JBwarm

 

Yeah, that’s me. For real.

A couple of interesting things: first, my kids are 100% aware that they are singing and dancing to cleaned up lyrics and the profanity of the actual song came as not the slightest surprise. They find the language giggly-snorting-hilarious. Apparently, the entire Sixth Grade class knows the REAL lyrics to “Scream and Shout” and has taught the entire school (it’s a small school), right down to the kindergarten class, how to sing it.

That’s what they do at recess!

recess

Great job, supervisors.

Meh. Doesn’t fuss me too much. I think it’s good for kids to know that there are acceptable and unacceptable forms of language and if their idea of rebellion is to sing an uncensored version of Britney Spears, well, I think we’re doing okay.

The second thing I noticed when we watched this video is that both my kids were watching through a filter of TECHNICAL PERFORMANCE. They watched how the dancers moved their hands, their feet, their bodies, their heads. Instead of just taking in a spectacle, they were watching dancers perform.

feet

Ultimately, I think this is one of the best weapons I can equip my kids with to confront the hyper-sexualized world of popular music. They see Britney thrusting her hips and whirling around and rather than thinking about what that means in terms of her sexuality and her desirability, they think about it in terms of sticking to the spot and getting that back leg in perfect position to whip her whole body around.

twirl

The performance of sex becomes just that: a performance.

It’s not some deeply mysterious, strangely compelling world of secrets and whispers: it’s a set of moves and techniques that take varying degrees of skill to master.

I’m keeping my eye on this experiment. This could be a mistake. I’m not quite sure.

But for now, all eyes on us!

Short post today. It’s Literacy Day at the School, so I’m going to read books to the First Grade class. Of course, I’m bringing Taro Gomi’s fabulous, Everyone Poops!

poops

Because everyone does!

Lots of love,

JB

Woman = Victim? It’s a hard habit to break.

6 Feb

-8

 

So yesterday afternoon, I was out for a walk, listening to a new album I downloaded onto my iPhone and a song came on that I thought was very pretty.  Nice beat, lovely lyrics and above average vocals.  The man singing had a very soulful, smooth voice and I pulled my phone out of pocket to see who this undeniably compelling singer could be.

 

Ugh.

 

Chris Brown.

 

 

You know who that is, right?  He’s the guy who did this to Rihanna’s face.

 

-6

 

My initial reaction was to feel disgusted that I had inadvertently given that dickbag money, but then I got to thinking.  Why am I boycotting Chris?  I wrote before that I think a lot of the opprobrium and scorn Chris has earned for his unquestionably violent attack on Rhianna is motivated by racism.  People who give Sean Penn or Mickey Rourke a pass for beating the shit out of their wives/girlfriends, but NOT Chris Brown are probably just reacting to a cultural trope that loves to paint black men as animals.

 

http://judgybitch.com/2012/10/25/the-fact-that-chris-brown-is-a-fucking-asshole-doesnt-give-you-a-free-pass-to-be-a-fucking-racist/

 

I kept walking and started to unpack my assumptions and then it hit me:  I’m engaging in exactly the same thought processes that I rail against daily on this blog!

 

JudgyBitch:  giant hypocrite!

 

Hey, life’s a learning curve.  What can I say?

 

-3

 

My hatred of Chris Brown is first and foremost a visceral reaction to the fact that he beat Rhianna so badly.  I want to kill him for that, which makes perfect sense, right?  I object to violence and my first reaction is to go Reservoir Dogs on his ass.  But underneath that are a couple of assumptions that are not justifiable and play into the kinds of stereotypes that do more harm to women than good.

 

My first assumption:  that Rihanna is completely innocent in all of this.

 

-5

 

I mean, look at her. She’s so beautiful and slender and small and how could she possibly be an accomplice to her own destruction?  How?  Oh, rather easily.  The reality is that domestic violence is perpetrated EQUALLY by both men and women.

 

http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/abstract/97/5/941
http://ncfm.org/2009/01/issues/domestic-violence/

 

Did Rhianna provoke her attack?  Did she throw the first punch?  Was she a full participant in the altercation?  I don’t know.  But the automatic assumption that she is a completely innocent victim denies that women are just as violent as men. That perpetuates the idea that women are innocent and men are evil and that is just the kind of thinking that permeates the culture and makes it acceptable to express an open hatred and disdain for men.

 

How thoughtful of me to help spread that ideology.

 

-2

 

 

Erin Pizzey, who founded the first shelter for female victims of domestic violence in the US has a good deal to say on the subject of violent women, and her writings at A voice for Men are well worth a read, especially if you find yourself, as I did, axiomatically buying into the idea that women are always the victims and men are always the abusers.

 

http://www.avoiceformen.com/women/working-with-violent-women/

 

My second assumption is that Rhianna is incapable of understanding her decisions and that going back to Chris Brown is a cry for help and we must all intervene to protect her from this violent predator who is certain to hurt her again.

 

-4

 

This particular assumption is one that is incredibly damaging to women. Rhianna is a grown woman with agency and intelligence and responsibility.  EITHER she is an adult fully capable of understanding the consequences of her decisions OR she is a helpless child who needs an authority figure to intervene in her life and make decisions for her and protect her from the consequences of her actions.

 

-7

 

You can’t have it both ways.  Are women adults with responsibilities and obligations, including the obligation to face the consequences of their decisions?  I certainly think they are.

 

It’s hard to throw off the idea that women ought to be protected from their own bad decisions.  A natural instinct to protect and shelter, especially when a woman is beautiful, kicks in and it takes a conscious effort to stop and reconsider how we feel.  Rhianna does not need our protection.  She needs to be held accountable for her decisions and face the consequences and in doing so, she will learn and grow.

 

That’s how life works.  You make a choice, that choice ends up being really stupid, you learn from that, try to make better choices, and you carry on.  You don’t look around for someone to blame.  That someone is YOU.

 

I made a choice to boycott Chris Brown, it turns out that in doing so I am helping to perpetuate the very ideology for which I have nothing but withering contempt, I spent some time thinking about that decision and today I am going to download and pay for ONE Chris Brown song.

 

Baby steps.

 

-1

 

Here’s your money, Chris.  I still hate you, but I refuse to hold you accountable and give Rhianna a pass.  Now that’s equality.

 

Lots of love,

 

JB

 

 

 

 

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