David, Goliath, and his Lover

DAVID & JONATHAN (1000 bce)

David and Goliath
After killing the Philistine giant, Goliath, the young hero David was brought before Saul, the first king of Israel. Saul’s eldest son Jonathan instantly fell in love with the handsome young warrior, and stripped off his own robe and armor and placed them upon David. When Jonathan was killed by the Philistines on Mt. Gilboa, David mourned and said: “greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” The story of David and Jonathan is told in the Old Testament of the Bible, in books 1 and 2 Samuel.

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A Slave to a Slave

MAHMUD OF GHAZNI & MALIK AYAZ (1021 ce)

Mahmud of Ghazni founded the Ghaznavid Empire and ruled as Sultan. He fell in love with Malik Ayaz, a Turkish slave, and their relationship became widely regarded as the epitome of idealized love in Islamic legend and Sufi literature. As the story goes, Ayaz asked Mahmud who the most powerful man in the kingdom was. When the Sultan replied that it was himself, Ayaz corrected him, claiming that in fact Ayaz was the most powerful, since Mahmud was his slave. the “slave to a slave” became a favorite trope in Persian literature.

Why I don’t like One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” a feminist perspective.

The other day my sister asked me why I felt the need to break my arm lunging to change the radio station when What Makes You Beautiful came on. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. It’s wasn’t just because they were a boy band, or because I had already heard the song enough times to fill a lifetime, or because I’m just not into this particular type of music, but something else. I figured out why. It’s the lyrics.

I’m only going to put in about half of the song. I think that’ll be enough. The song is about this guy singing to this girl about how beautiful she is.

You’re insecure
Don’t know what for
You’re turning heads when you walk through the door
Don’t need make up
To cover up
Being the way that you are is enough

Everyone else in the room can see it
Everyone else but you

Let’s start here, focusing on the first few lines. You’re insecure/Don’t know what for. I do. She’s insecure because she’s been bombarded with media and images of beautiful, perfect, unattainable women; women from television shows and movies and billboards and magazines, and she feels like she doesn’t compare. She can’t compare. She’s in high school (presumably). Those years can be the shittiest in life. Her breasts aren’t big enough, her lips are plump enough, her eyebrows aren’t waxed enough, her butt is too small or too big. When she looks in the mirror she doesn’t see the beautiful young lady she is, she sees the love handles on her hips, and the gap in her teeth, and her eyes are too far apart, and her scrawny legs. She doesn’t see the girl you see, because women aren’t supposed to. To know you are beautiful is to be full of yourself, or too confident, stuck up, conceited.

But also, perhaps she is insecure not about her beauty, or her weight, but we can conceive that perhaps she feels inadequate for other reasons, such as she doesn’t have as many friends as she would like, she doesn’t feel smart enough, she hasn’t been to a party, she secretly doesn’t want to drive, or rebel, like all of her other friends do and so in that way she feels like she is an outsider, etc. There are other reasons to be insecure besides beauty.

[Chorus]

Baby you light up my world like nobody else
The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed
But when you smile at the ground it aint hard to tell
You don’t know
Oh Oh
You don’t know you’re beautiful

Let’s be honest here, she could be faking that hair flip and coy glance downwards. Whoever this little girl out there is, no offense to you, but it is a possibility.

If only you saw what I can see
You’ll understand why I want you so desperately
Right now I’m looking at you and I can’t believe
You don’t know
Oh oh
You don’t know you’re beautiful
Oh oh
That what makes you beautiful

But wait, a minute ago you were saying how she shouldn’t be insecure, but it is that insecurity that you like? That’s what makes her beautiful? That is exactly what I just said up above in my very first paragraph. Girls aren’t supposed to be confident. They’re not supposed to know they’re beautiful. We like them insecure. We like them anxious. It makes girls “cute” and “delicate” or some other bullshit like that.

So c-come on
You got it wrong
To prove I’m right I put it in a so-o-ong
I don’t know why
You’re being shy
And turn away when I look into your eyes

Everyone else in the room can see it
Everyone else but you

Well, I just told you why. Or maybe she’s just shy. Maybe she likes you and is embarrassed. Maybe she grew up in a family that never taught her the skills to look people dead in the eye when they talk.

There’s basically no new lyrics after this point in the song. It just repeats itself a few times before ultimately coming to a final and complete end.

I just don’t really understand the song. Yeah, boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl is beautiful, boy sings about girl…. but then he sings about her beauty, she doesn’t realize her own beauty, that’s why he likes her, and then he wants her to own her beauty? The logic doesn’t quite follow.

Why Gay Marriage will be hard to Achieve

I find that most of my human interactions happen in cafes or cafeterias or restaurants. I wonder why that is. Something about the watering hole, I’m sure, brings people from all backgrounds and thought bubbles into one place. The watering hole is an equalizing gathering place.

Enough musing. As I said before, I was in a cafe. A regular college cafe full of regular college students. Behind me I heard a group of girls laughing and talking about Buffy, Firefly, and Joss Whedon. I was just thinking about turning around and talking to them, perhaps I would even whip out the Firefly DVD case I happened to have in my backpack, when the conversation turned to Nathan Fillion, and then to Neil Patrick Harris.

And, unfortunately, the conversation took a predictable turn.

“He’s so hot! It’s too bad he’s gay.”

Too bad he’s gay. I am so sick of hearing this. What does that even mean? Like, if he weren’t gay, you would have a shot at him and Neil Patrick Harriscould get married to him and live happily ever after? I don’t think so. Even if Neil was the womanizing Barney from How I Met Your Mother, random girl in Utah, I still don’t think you would have a shot at his genitals, and even if you did, you’d probably break up anyways. Just saying.

But then these girls went on talking.

“He can act, sing, dance, and he’s gorgeous! What a waste that he can’t have kids.”

Alright, first of all, just because he’s gay doesn’t mean he can’t beget children. There are such things nowadays thanks to this witchcraft called science like artificial insemination, or surrogacy, or drunken horny one night stands. All those things can and have fathered children from gay parents. But more importantly, what did you just say?

What a waste.

Those words have been ringing in my head ever since I heard them.

What a waste.

A waste of what? I understand the fact that you would like to get good genes into Humanity’s gene pool and continue on the Harris line of awesomeness, but those words. A waste of genes? A waste of a pleasurable sexual encounter? Or are you somehow implying that he’s a waste of life?

That last one seems a little extreme, and she probably never meant that in her wildest dreams, but you can’t help but stop on those words and wonder what was wasting away?

This is the problem. This is why it’s going to take a while for marriage equality, because of an underlying attitude in today’s culture that undermines equality. .Too bad…... What a waste…... Why are all the good men married or gay….... This attitude, that gays are some how not worthy, or they’re stealing away chances of happiness from women, is more detrimental than the hardcore anti-gay protesters. Because there’s always going to be someone who will protest, but it’s like this attitude is infecting the pro-gay people.

I believe in gay marriage. It’s just too bad that they’re gay.

That’s not really helpful, now is it? It’s not really equality, it’s not really tolerance, and it’s not really acceptance. In the back of people’s minds, there’s still this nagging. We can’t seem to accept people as people–purely and only as people who have feelings and ideas and something to contribute to the world other than children and sex.

How many times have we seen this? Just go to any Adam Lambert song on Youtube and see for yourself. The comments are not about how well done this song was, or what an amazing voice he has, or what the video means. All of the comments are qualified and tainted with something like

… if only he wasn’t gayadam lambert

… too bad he’s gay

… I don’t care that he’s gay, he rocks

… Isn’t he gay?

…..

I mean, seriously, when did he come out? Three, four years ago? And we still can’t get over it. We can’t just talk about his music, we can’t just say he’s talented, we can’t have a conversation about him being hot or him being our favorite singer without yourself or somebody else chiming in You know he’s gay, right? I’ve never been able to.

This ‘If Only He Wasn’t Gay’ thing has to stop. It has to. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words hold the real power. They last. They hurt. They break. They change the world.

The words that come out of our mouth reflect our thinking, and right now it doesn’t look good. How we think affects how we act, and our actions affect others.

We the people of the United States hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cannibalism, and Gender

Ever see those Cinnamon Toast commercials? They’re weird, right? Slightly disturbing, cute, and funny all at the same time. Those crazy squares are cannibalistic, always eating each other, sometimes even themselves!

They work together to try and hunt down their own species and reap the rewards of the cinnamon and sugar, and then are betrayed by the very same squares, or they fall into a messy trap. Survival of the fittest in pursuit of deliciousness. And rightly so. Can you blame them?

Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Cinnamon Toast Crunch 4

But something caught my attention the other day. The first two words of the commercial said “Hey, Ladies.” and then the last words, the sort of tagline was “Everybody craves those crazy squares.” Now, this may just be the English major in me (we like to pick things apart and look at the details) but I couldn’t help but think of those two opening words.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch 1

Maybe the commercial is directed towards us ladies because women’s tongues are different then men’s and are more inclined to sweets.

Or maybe its because women on their period crave sweets. Or it’s the hormones, you know?

I kid, of course.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch 2

But then again, it’s interesting how they target the cereal towards women, but have that cereal then be cannibalistic and treacherous.

Hm…

But then again, I suppose the Toasty squares aren’t actually female. They’re more gender neutral, which, because they don’t have long eyelashes and luscious pink lips, mean they look male. That could possibly make up for it, right? They only said ladies, but then the actual members look male. That gets them off the hook.

No, wrong again. Because feminism isn’t just interested in women, we’re interested in masculinity and men, too. So, it also catches my attention that the cannibalistic, self-destructive, shifty, backstabbing Squares are male-esque characters.

But what are you going to do? Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Criticized with women and men. Well, that’s just how things are, I suppose. The problem is this isn’t like an intentional attack on gender, it’s just there. We don’t think about it. It’s ingrained in our skin and it comes out in our media in things as small and insignificant as cereal commercials.

Men Dressing “Like a Woman”

Men wearing dresses

 

 

Let’s conveniently note that the woman teacher is wearing pants.

Let’s wonder if a woman wearing that dress would have “too much cleavage.”

Let’s question if a guy can even have cleavage.

Let’s now picture him wearing a loose jersey that I’ve seen much too often for my own preferences. I’ve seen guys walking around schools in those and they never got escorted out.

men dressing like a womanIggy, I’m not sure who you are, but I kind of love you.

My favorite picture is him on the right, by the way. I just love the way he frolics.

 

Guys at the Gym

Ever been to the gym? If you have, the guys are usually lifting big, heavy weights. And if they are lifting weights, they’re usually grunting and groaning as they do so (at least in my experience. I don’t know, maybe you go to a quiet gym or something). Also, those men tend to like drop their weights and let them crash to the floor.

Now, when I lift weights, I usually can handle lifting them without any moaning. I can also put down the weights without dropping them. What is it about guys wanting to make so much noise and stuff? Is it involuntary?

I’ve figured it out. It’s all a display of their masculinity. It’s a way to show off their strength or prowess or manliness. Someone in the back of their mind, they must think that grunting makes them look tougher. They drop the weights to say “Yeah, I just lifted that over my head. What up?  #swag.” Yes, they say hashtag swag. (You probably can’t hear it because they mumble it to themselves most of the time.)

Now, at first I supposed it to be like a mating dance. Like that of an ostrich or giraffe to try and get the lady’s attention. But maybe its not. If I imagined an all-male gym where I snuck on a beard and fake underarm hair to work out, I think I would probably find this same behavior, even without any ladies present.

I think it’s a display of masculinity for the benefit of other males. They’re doing for each other, not for us. And I’m not saying they’re mating dancing for each other. I think it’s more like “Look, my antlers are bigger than yours. Suck it.”