Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Good Vibes, Goodbye (Winter Wonderland)

This past Sunday, Tiffany and I had the pleasure of seeing the conclusion of the Good Vibes Tour, featuring Zion I, Collie Buddz, and Rebelution.

Matisyahu couldn't make it, and that was fine with me.

We had an amazing time. Sure, the rum runners helped a whole lot, but I think the show would've been awesome enough without the intoxicants. The St. Augustine Amphitheater is a fine venue, run by excellent and passionate staff.

Unfortunately, today I woke up with some bad vibes. They were the kind of vibes that had me reading the comments on news stories and Facebook posts and taking said comments seriously.

I told you. Bad vibes, man.

One such article (rather, the comments) that pissed me off pertained to the St. Augustine Amphitheater's decision to no longer continue having a "Winter Wonderland" ice skating rink during the winter season.

Here's the article: http://staugustine.com/news/2013-09-23#.UkIxQbyyyME

The rink isn't making enough money, and the manpower required is simply too much. One woman commenting on the Facebook link had the nerve to say something to the effect of "well maybe the employees should find new jobs."

Others expressed equally selfish, narrow-minded, and misplaced outrage. The employees would like to spend more time with their families on the holidays, but hey, maybe they should just pick a new religion. You don't see Jews staying home from the movies on Christmas.

For the most part, people are just upset that something is changing. Anytime anything new happens here (and most other places), people take to social networking to express their knee-jerk opposition to deviation from the normal routine.

Here's a suggestion for the folks who want to see it continue. Instead of making a big stink, why don't you just volunteer to work "Winter Wonderland" yourselves?

Or is it not that big of a deal?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Gender Flipping is Funny, But Let's Not Get Ahead of Ourselves

I've seen a lot of excitement over the educational hilarity that is "gender flipping." For those who are too afraid to google this (duckduckgo.com is a great, anonymous search engine), it basically involves taking advertisements, music videos, or really any visual media wherein women are blatantly sexualized, and replacing the women with men.

It's supposed to be great because it reveals gross inequalities between men and women in terms of who is more sexually exploited for the sake of marketing. What appears as hot and sexy to the "male gaze" (bet you didn't think you'd have to contend with that kind of outdated terminology since undergrad) is goofy, awkward, and wholly unattractive when the roles of gender are reversed.

I find nothing wrong with it, but I think its power as a tool in addressing the real problems of gender inequality is overrated. First and foremost, if you don't already perceive a wealth of gender inequality, specifically in terms of sexualization, I don't see how gender flipping can effectively make you more cognizant of the issue. If the viewer of the gender-flipping is, say, a twenty-something heterosexual male (or hell, even bisexual), his preconceived notions of women being sexy and men being goofy (when dressed up as sexy women) will not be challenged.

Sorry, just putting a man in a bikini doesn't change the fact that a woman has breasts, fuller hips and thighs, and is typically lacking a penis and scrotum. I realize simply pointing to a Calvin Klein ad, or any romance book in which Fabio graces the cover, does not compare to the saturated sexualization of women, but a more accurate "gender flipping" would be something less silly.

The silliness is supposed to be part of the point, that society has preconceived notions of what is and is not considered sexy. But I don't think (and I'd like to be proven wrong on this) that ALL of what is considered sexy is a fabrication. Otherwise, holy shit did I miss a LOT in biology (and, perhaps, sociology). There are fads and trends from the past, such as different types of thongs and short shorts, and once upon a time skinny was the new fat, but there has always been a sexual appetite based partially on appearance.

So, of course, society has different expectations for men and women as far as what is considered sexy. I think this has more to do with inherent biological differences between men and women than socially constructed inequalities. But I'm not citing any research, that's just my bullshit opinion. I didn't take women's studies (but I was a cheerleader for five years, for whatever the hell it's worth). I do believe men are more visually inclined in terms of what arouses them.

None of these are excuses for the over-objectification of women. Rather, these are reasons why gender-flipping can be nothing more than a conversation starter. But it's really only a conversation starter if you're interested in the topic of objectification and gender inequality to begin with. Otherwise, it's just goofy. And it's getting old.

So the broader point, I suppose, is that the aforementioned expectations are higher for women. Again, fair point. It's inarguable. Women are more frequently expected to possess a kind of sexiness (but also not to use that sexiness in any tangible way, lest they be considered a "slut"). It's unfair, and I knew this before gender-flipping got really popular.

I guess I'm just confused as to what I'm supposed to do next. I don't support the over-objectification of women, or anyone for that matter. But to exist in a capitalistic society means I must benefit from the inevitable objectification of human beings (as welders, singers, mining engineers, beet inspectors, butchers, delivery dudes, etc.). I think the issue is broader than any feminist fad can account for.

EDIT: And while gender-flipping is funny, as a kind-of-comedian, I have to say from experience that merely making someone laugh can only get you so far in terms of changing the way they think. It's funny, but it ain't that funny. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Parking (Please Try Harder)

I saw this on the window of a van downtown: http://www.amazon.com/Please-Not-Park-Within-Feet/dp/B00635GSYI

For those who cannot be bothered to click on links, it's a handicapped sticker that reads "Please Do Not Park Within 8 Feet."

When I say it's a handicapped sticker, I mean that it comes with a "handicapped" symbol and implies a wheelchair or other such device requires an eight foot clearance (from, presumably, the side of the vehicle upon which the sticker is placed). I don't intend to say that the sticker itself is in some way deficient, but I will anyway.

First, I don't think I'd be compelled to read the bumper sticker unless I am already within eight feet of the sticker (which I was). Second, most people probably can't read the sticker unless they're within eight feet of it, so you're already asking quite a bit. Third, don't you already have your handicapped hanger tag/handicapped license plate? Don't you already get that amount of clearance when you park in a designated handicapped spot?

To be clear, I've not been inconvenienced by handicapped drivers (or in this instance, parkers) at all. But I'm hard-pressed to imagine a situation in which such a bumper sticker would be necessary. I GUESS it's more polite than taking up two parking spaces (I've been tempted, on numerous occasions, to take my keys to the finish of such vehicles). I GUESS I'm a huge asshole for even bothering to base a rant off of this sticker.

But hey, people thought "Baby On Board" was a good idea. Until one of you convinces me otherwise, I'm going to keep on thinking this is equally pointless. I get it, you're handicapped, and that's an inconvenience. But so is finding out you have an ethical obligation to pass up on the one parking spot left in the lot (just so that some other inattentive schmuck will take it up without seeing the eight-foot radius sticker).

I have lots of bumper sticker ideas, one of which is "Raw Deal? Please Try Harder!"