Category Archives: Masculinity

Ladies Call Me…

Tiger Woods inspired me. There’s nothing wrong with your eyes. Tiger. Woods. Inspired. Me. Sure, he’s a recovering sex addict, but when he got up on that stage on Friday and admitted to his affairs with God knows how many women (including former porn star Joslyn James), the crickets in my mind hopped away. Then a news channel displayed the mia culpa (“I am guilty of”) moments of other famous men. You know, guys like Bill Clinton, David Letterman, Kobe Bryant, etc. Author Brandon Root of “Spiteful Critic” wrote a great list. Oooh, idea time. Mia culpa. And believe you me, I’ve got a lot of mia culpas.

But which of my guilts should I share? I found the answer after reading on of my favorite blogs. You see, I don’t have older brothers, so I take any lessons I can get from older wiser men. Enter Matt. He’s in his late twenties, happily married, and a pastor. He’s also the writer of “The Church of No People.” I have never actually met him, but after reading post after post he’s written and following him on Twitter, I feel like I know him. He’s like a big bro–someone you want to hang out with, someone you learn from about life and how it works. Yup, that’s what I do with my favorite writers–invent a fictive kin identity. Check out his blog, and tell him Gio sent you.

Well, one of Matt’s posts was about his quest to find bromance. And that’s exactly what I’m guilty of. No, not finding bromance, but rather having several. Yah, I’m not a two-timer–I’m just good at juggling bromances. It’s a skill I’ve acquired over the last three years. Just a couple days ago, a bro I hadn’t seen in half a year met up with me. I would lie if I said I didn’t miss hanging out with him. I know what you’re thinking, Gio, you should just get a girlfriend. You talk about marriage a lot. Why not? True, very true. But women are an investment–not just financial, but also an emotional investment. I don’t think I have enough energy or time either with school. So the next best thing, while I’m still young, is to hang out with my best buds. That’s every little kid’s dream. Grow up Gio! Hey, I’m not the only one delaying my adulthood–there are practically several books written about guys like me. But it’s not all bad. According to Geoffrey Grief, a Maryland-based psychologist and author of The Buddy System, “men who are comfortable sharing their feelings with other men may actually make better partners.” See? I have healthy bromantic relationships, which means I make one potentially great boyfriend. Ladies, call me.

I do have to admit that Matt’s post scared me because it also reminded me how the comedy movie, “Bromance” was practically a horror movie to me. Don’t get me wrong–I love that movie. I’m a huge fan of Paul Rudd (also another guy I wouldn’t mind being in a bromance with). But the movie and Matt’s real life situation–it was a wake-up call. Was that a vision of my own impending future when I reach my late twenties? It’s looking more and more likely. Is this how the post grad life is for men? Oh the horror.

You see, we men don’t do friendships as women do them. At times that’s a good thing, and at times that’s a bad thing. How do we ever figure each other out? We just do:

1. We don’t reveal our emotions.

All that emotion crap is for women, right? I think that’s the biggest lie. We reveal our emotions all the time, just not the way women do it. Emotions make us human. One way we men reveal our emotions is with our FISTS! Anger is a pretty common and visible emotion for guys–the classic Hulk mode–You don’t want to see me angry. You wouldn’t like it when I’m angry.

2. We are extremely competitive.

We constantly try to one-up each other. We compete for dominance and status to display that we’re the better man and the better mate. How many times do we talk about who has the better job, the better car, etc.? And that’s why the world of sports speaks to us. It nurtures our competitive drives.

3. We love to insult each other.

It’s another classic display of dominance, another way to one-up another, to see who can come up with the better insult. For guys who are strangers, it can cause a fight as egos are bruised. However, amongst old friends, that’s how we bond–how we display our affection for each other. It supposedly makes us tougher. We don’t say insults to be mean, we insult because we care.  Just watch Clint Eastwood in “Gran Torino” where he teaches the Asian kid man-speech in the barbershop and you’ll know what I mean.

4. We have “shoulder-to-shoulder” relationships with each other.

Whereas most women find joy in face-to-face relationships with other women, such as, talking with another woman over coffee, men converse shoulder-to-shoulder. This means that we tend to talk to other men while doing another activity, not necessarily having to see the other guy face-to-face. Take for example the activity of fishing. Guys can talk all they want about life without having to look at the other guy in the eye because they’re simultaneously concentrating on capturing fish.  Or go to a gym with a workout partner and you’ll talk while lifting weights or at a sporting event when nothing exciting is going on.

5. We engage in “report talk.”

Georgetown University linguistics professor Deborah Tannen first coined the term in the 1990s with her book, You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. She calls men’s conversation “report talk” because our conversations are short and to the point. Women’s conversations are called “rapport talk” because their conversations are used to create connections. In short, men are about the facts, while women are about the personal details. However, because men have short conversations, they tend not to know a lot about other details about their male friends.

But do all these things affect how men maintain and keep their friendships with other men when they’re older? Could how we interact with each other be to blame? And what’s the deal with the rise of bromances? Do women in relationships feel threatened by their man’s bromances?

Well, all I know is that with my success at bromances, the ladies call me a “Bromanizer.” That’s my identity revealed for now, but for how long, I just don’t know. After all, I don’t want to find bromance in all the wrong places. In the mean time, ladies, call me.

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She’s the Beauty, and I’m…Okay, I’m the Beast

My girlfriend, Nicole, is gorgeous! Okay, maybe all boyfriends say that of their girlfriends. But what first attracted me to Nicole was her voice. When I hear her sing, a voice of an angel leaves those red lips and my heart skips a beat. At times, I have to pinch myself–maybe I’ve died and gone to heaven? Maybe I’m dreaming. Maybe. But when I look into her brown eyes, I can’t help but feel at peace. My worries and all the stresses of life seem to not matter, as if they’ve evaporated whenever I meet her gaze. Nicole has long brown hair with a tint of red and her hair drops down just below her shoulders. When the sun shines on it, it only enhances her bright smile. Yes, she’s the sunshine that brightens up my day. Nicole is gorgeous! She’s the Beauty, and standing next to her…I’m…okay, I’m the Beast. That’s fine by me.

I just have one problem. Okay, maybe several come to think of it.  First, she hasn’t met me yet. Perhaps, she doesn’t even know I exist. Which leads me to the cold hard truth: she’s not really my girlfriend–I just wish she was. A guy can dream, right? But before you go on thinking she’s some imaginary beauty–she’s not. Nicole is really Britt Nicole, the singer. And I’d like to imagine that I would meet someone like her. Maybe even marry her. Yah, maybe some day.

As more of my friends are getting married at a young age, I can’t help but think of my own prospects. Am I setting my standards to high? Should I settle? Maybe I’m just too darn picky. And as much as I’d like to think that I’m not shallow, I admit that a woman’s beauty reels me in. Yet beauty can be a deception. I’ve met many beautiful girls who turned out to be…how do I put this nicely? Um, some beautiful girls turn out to be the Wicked Witch of the West–deep down they’re horrible. Beauty gets me in, but it’s her personality, her love for others, and her willingness to put others before herself–that’s what would keep me there.

So as I was reading up on one of my favorite blogs, Bakadesuyo (a blog that contains snippets from various research journals that the author of the site found interesting), I came across an entertaining entry. In a way, it’s a “tip” for marriage, but really, it’s a study on the role of physical attractiveness on marriage:

Physical appearance plays a crucial role in shaping new relationships, but does it continue to affect established relationships, such as marriage? In the current study, the authors examined how observer ratings of each spouse’s facial attractiveness and the difference between those ratings were associated with (a) observations of social support behavior and (b) reports of marital satisfaction. In contrast to the robust and almost universally positive effects of levels of attractiveness on new relationships, the only association between levels of attractiveness and the outcomes of these marriages was that attractive husbands were less satisfied. Further, in contrast to the importance of matched attractiveness to new relationships, similarity in attractiveness was unrelated to spouses’ satisfaction and behavior. Instead, the relative difference between partners’ levels of attractiveness appeared to be most important in predicting marital behavior, such that both spouses behaved more positively in relationships in which wives were more attractive than their husbands, but they behaved more negatively in relationships in which husbands were more attractive than their wives. These results highlight the importance of dyadic examinations of the effects of spouses’ qualities on their marriages. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved

It makes sense to me. If the guy is the beauty in the relationship, the girl would feel insecure with her beauty. But if the girl is the beauty, it’s a win-win situation for the guy and the girl.

Anyway, I may not have Brad Pitt’s smile or Taylor Lautner’s body or whatever it is and whoever it is that girls find attractive nowadays. According to the article, that may be a good thing. Now, the real challenge is finding a woman who would settle for this Beast.

However, I do think I look way better than Jack Black. Okay…back to working out.

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Filed under Entertainment, Life, Masculinity

The Fictive Kin Identity and The Importance of Being a “Bro.”

Yah, I give it a couple years before I'll be the short one.

Everyone has pet peeves, whether it’s people who wear socks with their sandals, drivers who don’t use a signal to turn, or that one student who feels the need to prolong class time by asking stupid questions. You know who I’m talking about. As for me, I hated it when guys would come up to me and ask, “Hey, what’s up bro?” First of all, I’m not your “bro.”  We’re not even related; I do have a name, you know. It’s Gio. Use it.

In college, it was bound to happen. Every guy has the potential to become a “bro.” Now, I’m not talking about the Urban Dictionary definition, which defines a “bro” as  “obnoxious partying males who are often seen at college parties.” I’m talking about the commonly used greeting of a male to another male in order to indicate a sense of friendship. After hearing it so often, I found myself using it. I use it in my daily speech when I speak to another guy around my age. I even use it so much, that perhaps, I’m someone else’s pet peeve. Little did I know how the word would be essential to my survival, to my process of grieving.

You see, when you lose two siblings, your identity also changes. It just has to; you’re forced to. I was the oldest of three, then two, and now I’m the “only child.” Is that what I call myself now? An only child? It is, after all, fact. An “only child” is one who has no siblings. That’s what I am now, right? Yes, and no. I’ve grieved over the lost of my siblings, but I am not sibling-less. And if you’re going through what I’ve gone through, you need to understand that.

Sociologists have a term for it: fictive kin. Thanks to Wikipedia, we know that a fictive kin is simply “giving someone a kinship title and treating them in many ways as if they had the actual kinship relationship implied by the title.” Now, I should get used to the practice. I am, in fact, Asian. And Asians are notorious for indicating a familial relationship when there is no genetic or marriage ties. In most Asian cultures, especially in Indonesian ones, you would call an older male and female who are around your parents’ ages and are close friends of theirs as “uncle” and “aunt.” Their children would be your “cousins.” Let’s just say it was confusing growing up, keeping track of which of my hundreds of “uncles” and “aunts” were actually related to me, and which of my “cousins” I could date.

We're really well-dressed for this wedding.

Fictive kins relationships are essential for one’s survival. One such example of its importance can be found in American history. During America’s slavery period, it was common practice for slave owners to separate slave families in order to control them. Parents would be separated from their children and siblings would be separated from each other as they were divided to different plantations. In an act of human survival, to maintain that human sense of family, it was also common for strangers to become a family. An older slave woman would take in a slave child as her own. Slave children would call each other as “brother” or “sister.” Fictive kin relationships provided slaves with a symbolic family, as each person supported one another.

Yes, we're "related." All Asians look alike, right? Maybe 3 out of the 5 in this picture do.

You see, saying “bro” makes perfect natural sense for Christians. If we’re all part of God’s family, then we’re all brothers and sisters in and through Christ, His Son. As the greeting goes: Hey brother from another mother. And I guess, that’s how I’ve chosen to survive and to maintain my “older brother” identity. Yes, by societal standards, I am every bit an “only child.” But in a larger and deeper sense, I have a lot of brothers and sisters. They may not be my flesh and blood family, but they act in every bit like a sibling should. Do I argue or fight with my “brothers” and “sisters?” Sure, that’s something that siblings do. But we also enjoy each other’s company. And when I find that I need some lifting up when I am depressed, I know my “brothers” and “sisters” are there to help me out, and vice versa.  The result is fictive kinships are relationally deeper than friendships.

As for me, I no longer mind being called a “bro.” I welcome it. I love it. When I hear it, I am not reminded by what I’ve lost–I am reminded by what I’ve gained.  I also don’t need to put a close sibling-type relationship in quotes, as they are now my kin. Maybe you’ve joined a fraternity or sorority and have gained new brothers and sisters–more than you can imagine. Maybe you’re in a college club or ministry and have grown so close to certain people that they’re practically family. Maybe you don’t work with your co-workers, you hang out with them after work and they too, have become part of your symbolic family.

In fact, just the other day I lost an arm wrestling match to my fourteen-year-old brother. And I realized that in a couple years, he will grow taller than me. Just the other day, I saw my eighteen-year-old sister, and I saw how much she’s changed spiritually. And just today, I saw a picture of a New Year’s dinner party. I saw that I’m still the oldest of five brothers.

So how about you? Do you have fictive kin? Are you someone’s fictive kin? What do you do to grieve and survive the loss of a loved one?

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The Face That Launched A Thousand Hate-Mails

“Was this the face that launched a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.”
– Christopher Marlowe in Doctor Faustus

It was the story that had  historical roots based on an event that occurred between 1194-1184 BC. Legend has it, three goddesses quarreled over who was most beautiful and left this judgment to Paris, prince of Troy. After Hera bribed him with ruling all of Asia and Athena bribed him with fighting skills and the best warriors, Paris ultimately chose Aphrodite. She bribed him with the most beautiful woman on the planet: Helen, queen of Sparta. King Menelaus of Sparta, as possessive as he was, sought for the return of his wife. And thus, the tragic Trojan war began.

Helen returning with Menelaus. Photo Credit: About.com

About three thousand years later, the classic story of two men fighting for the love of one woman–a “trophy” woman–hasn’t changed…that much. Instead, it’s taken more mythical proportions. With the “Twilight” series, a vampire and a werewolf (actually, he was a shape shifter) fought for the love of Bella Swan, the “trophy.” It’s interesting that “Bella” is the Italian word for “beautiful.” But is Bella really that beautiful? I have to be very careful here. I wouldn’t want to get bitten by what I write.

You see, less than a week ago, I took on a perilous journey. I did what not many men have done before: I read the “Twilight” series. My fraternity brothers have asked me to turn in my man card and are prepared to throw me off the cliff of the Hills of Westwood. The women in my life believe that I am incredibly sensitive and courageous for even daring to read the books. And me? I wanted to understand women. I wanted to understand why they love this darn book so much. I didn’t understand why they would cry, why they would scratch, and why they would wait for days when the second movie came out. I’ve never read the books, but like most men, I knew to hate it. It was something that men had to do–had to hate the things of women because if we didn’t, we would be seen as weak. I guess it’s one of those men vs. women thing that we men are taught. Nevertheless, I wanted to understand women, and one way to understand them is by the stories they tell–stories women make for other women.

Yes, I know that Stephanie Meyers targeted this book to young teenage girls. That’s probably why I couldn’t stand the two books. It was so slow, so filled with relationships. So soap opera. So blah! I couldn’t bear reading the first chapter, let alone the entire series. But the last two books had something that men love: blood and guts. Perhaps that’s why I related so much to this half. There was a story of war, of strategy, and of chivalry. There were description about the thrill of the hunt, of working in a pack. These are things that men love, and perhaps this (at least in the perspective of one woman) is what women still desire in men despite feminist attempts. But that’s for a later post on masculinity in “Twilight.”

This post is about Bella Swan, the supposed heroine of the series. I said earlier that I had to be careful when talking about Bella and her beauty. You see, after reading pages after pages of how Edward (the vampire) was beautiful, how he should be a model, how he looked like he was cut from marble, and how he was like a Greek god, and how Jacob (the werewolf/shape shifter) was 6’7″, copper skin, huge, and muscular, I still had no idea what Bella looked like. I didn’t know whether she was a “Helen,” whether she had the “face that launched a thousand ships.” I know, you think I’m shallow, but I’m looking at it through a guy’s perspective. Two guys wouldn’t fight for her if the woman wasn’t beautiful in their eyes. Sorry, it just had to be said, but I compromised by saying “in their eyes.” Beauty is relative, right? Maybe. All I knew of Bella is fair skinned and has brown hair and eyes, that she’s a child of divorced parents, that her birthday is some time in September, and that she’s 5’4″. I later learned there’s a reason for her lack of description. Meyers left the description vague because she wanted it to be easier for girls to insert themselves as Bella.  So if girls are supposed to walk in Bella’s shoes, then perhaps Bella is the heroine of the story, a far cry from damsel in distress, right? Hmm…

The Cullens with Bella. Photo Credit Twilight Review

There have been many articles criticizing Meyers for being anti-feminist by how Meyers writes Bella’s. I’ll admit, Bella seems to enjoy the kitchen, doing all the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry for her town head sheriff father, Charlie. But surely, if she enjoys it, it isn’t a bad thing, right? I can hear the women in my life groan in unison. Come on Gio, we’re heading to 2010, NOT 1910. I think she’s more melodramatic than real-life teenage girls. So should girls really look up to this fictional character or admire what she does?

I’ve gotten a lot of No’s. It seems that many guys and some girls just hate her. Just Google “Reasons to hate Bella” or “I hate Bella” and you’ll see why this post is titled the way it is. And I for one have never wanted to slap a girl until I read about Bella. If she was a real girl, I’d probably slap her a couple times for her own good. If girls like to think they are her, then there’s a lot of girls I need to slap some sense into. I fear for the youth of this world, especially if they start acting out. Here’s my reason:

10. She doesn’t pay any attention to her friends. Being the new kid in school isn’t easy. But here, she’s surrounded by a circle of friends who actually give her the time of day and who actually like her

9. She almost dies several times, but doesn’t. She should just die–as in her character should never have seen the light of day. Okay, I’m not that sadistic. It would be better if she was able to redeem herself. All she does is complain and complain–“woe is me” crap. She puts herself in danger to get some kind of high. Leave that stuff to the daredevils.

8. She’s in love with a killer. Yes, that’s what vampires do…kill. You’re just asking for it. See #6.

7. She’s so selfish. She puts other people’s lives in danger. She doesn’t think about how her relationship affects the people who love her. See #6.

6. She kept a life-threatening secret from her dad. I know, I know, I sound like a parent. Teens keep secrets from their parents all the time. But this is life-threatening. Edward mentioned several times that he could kill her. She’s dating a guy who has the potential to kill her–who wants to kill her because her blood is so appetizing. You shouldn’t keep these kinds of secrets away from your parents. Especially, when the people that are associated with your boyfriend (i.e., all those other blood-thirsty vampires) can kill your parents.

5. She doesn’t have any life goals except just being with Edward. See #3 for more clarification. Your life shouldn’t revolve around another person. Take care of yourself first.

4. She pressures guys to have sex. This was an interesting gender-role reversal to me, and not that I’m applying that it should be guys who pressure girls to have sex. No one should pressure anyone to do anything they don’t want. But let me remind girls the power of saying “No.” If a guy doesn’t want to, quit tempting him. If you expect respect to go both ways, then do so. And, you’re a little too easy–you want it too much. That doesn’t say much about you as a character.

3. She can’t do anything without her Edward. She was depressed over a guy for almost half a year. That’s a good reason to slap some sense into someone. If you are that obsessed over a guy, you have issues. You couldn’t do anything without this guy. This girl is so clingy! You certainly do not find your identity in another guy. You need to know who you are first!

2. She uses guys. Not a big deal, right? Girls use guys all the time. We all know that she used Jacob. Clearly this is a guy who cares a lot about the girl, and all she does is lead him on. Guys hate being led on. Meyers writes it in a way as if it’s okay for girls to do this because Jacob just keeps coming back.

1. She’s so whiny! Come on Bella. You complain about the world so much. As the saying goes, “B*@&$ please!” Your life is not so bad. Even if you complain about being part of a divorced family, you’ve got two parents who love you a lot. That’s more than some people in this world.

Dear Youth of this World,

It’s okay to like the “Twilight” series. Just don’t think the real world should be like that. And certainly do not behave recklessly like Bella Swan. Perhaps that’s the only redeeming value of the character–that she is an example of what NOT to become. Your identity should not rest whole-heartedly on one-person. When that person dies or goes away, then who are you? You are your own person. You need to find your identity first before committing to a relationship.

I am thankful that Kristen Stewart did a tame version of Bella–maybe it’s because Stewart can’t act. I’m not fond of her. However, I’m glad that Stewart’s Bella isn’t as whiny as it is in the book. If she was whiny, I probably would’ve thrown popcorn and soda at the screen.

This public announcement best describes what I feel about Bella and young girls who want to be her.



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Live Free or Twi-Hard: A Guy’s Perspective On Women’s Perspective of the Twilight Series

C.S. Lewis's book looks strangely like "Twilight." Photo courtesy of W.K.

We’re a culture of story-tellers. We’ve been doing it for so long. Homer. Shakespeare. Fitzgerald. And with any good story comes a moral to that story. Stories teach us about ourselves–they teach us about our fears, what we value, lessons we need to learn. And stories, if they are good enough, will pass the test of time. They will be passed on from one generation to the next to teach the next generation where they come from and warn them of what they have the potential to be. Stories reveal our identities.

Like most guys, I find the female world mysterious and complicated. I think Relient K puts it best in their song, “Mood Ring.” They suggest that girls should get mood rings to warn guys of what mood they currently are in: “Mood ring oh mood ring/Oh tell me will you bring/The key to unlock this mystery/Of girls and their emotions/Play it back in slow motion/So I may understand the complex infrastructure known as the female mind.” Now okay, guys are somewhat mysterious too–we don’t like talking about our feelings. However, there are times that we are allowed to show our emotions. The BBC reveals some and Tremendous News reveals a hilarious set. Women often see our true emotion when (and this is some of my own thoughts) 1. Something happens to our genitals. 2. We lost a lot of money. 3. Someone we truly love dies. 4. Our favorite sports team loses. See, guys are simple.

If stories do reveal identities than perhaps those romance novels that women often like to read also reveals their identities. Perhaps it reveals a woman’s fantasy–what he should look like, how he should talk, what she believes a man must do to win her heart.

Books like "Twilight" and "Harry Potter" get kids to read again. Photo Credit: Children Book Blogs

Being a guy and knowing “Guy Land” because I live it and have researched it, I asked myself an age-old question better men than me have asked: what do women want? If stories do reveal identities than perhaps those romance novels that women often like to read also reveals their identities. Perhaps it reveals a woman’s fantasy–what he should look like, how he should talk, what she believes a man must do to win her heart. Enter Stephanie Meyer, author of the “Twilight” Series. Her 4 books have made the New York Bestseller list, and like J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series it inspired children and teenagers to stop playing video games or shopping for clothes and go to a bookstore and pick up a book. The “Twilight” series reveals a certain type of heroine in the main character, Isabella “Bella” Swan, but feminists believe she’s a “villain” (more on that in other posts). So why write anything about Meyer’s “Twilight” series? They aren’t important; they aren’t a special work of literary genius? I could care less about the series, but when a book like that spawns a movie (“New Moon”) that the Los Angeles Times reports as breaking two-box office records in one day, as well as create a pre-teen and teen frenzy during its premiere, or how book publishers have started to change the covers of their book to mimic “Twilight”–to say that the books can or doesn’t influence the next generation is to say that the moon doesn’t influence the ocean waves. I can still hear the screaming and crying girls. I shudder thinking about it.

After 2 hours of reading the first book, I’m on page 212. And what I’m learning so far…well, it’s terrifying.

A couple days ago, I wrote about the double standard with Taylor Lautner being “jailbait” I realized that before I could make more judgments, I should really be an informed reader. I’ve never read the books, but I was introduced to the first movie back in June by my friend, Jillian. She loves the movie, and loves the book even more.  To see her and other girls light up when Edward or Jacob walks into the room–it was interesting. So in order for me to understand what the “Twilight” books were revealing and how they could affect the next generation, I needed to know what the fuss was about–I needed to read the books myself. And the bet was made for me to read the books before the New Year. So I picked up the phone, called my friend Victoria, and borrowed her books. Oh, and if you’re reading this Victoria, I was quite secure in my masculinity to be walking around UCLA with the books in hand. Okay, I was a little embarrassed when I walked by the gym. I wanted to approach the book differently. Other reviews and other websites gave a woman’s perspective on the books. I wanted to give a guy’s perspective on the woman’s perspective of the books. Like I said earlier, we can learn a lot from the stories we tell, and the “Twilight” books aren’t an exception. I want to learn what it is that girls and women want in a man–or at least what they think they want in a man. I want to learn what they want a man to do. After 2 hours of reading the first book, I’m on page 212. And what I’m learning so far…well, it’s terrifying. So you’ll have to wait for the next post–I’ve got to continue reading.

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Jailbait

TaylorLautner1

Taylor Lautner on GQ. Photo Credit: Gossip Teen

I woke up to a horrendous display of advertisement–or really, it was a rerun clip of Access Hollywood‘s Shaun Robinson interviewing Taylor Lautner in the “New Moon” premiere in Westwood a couple weeks ago. Robinson is seen showing off a shirtless Mattel doll version of Lautner’s character, Jacob Black, and asking him of his opinion. Lautner was embarrassed–seemed uncomfortable. The whole thing was sort of awkward. You could see it for yourself at the end of the entry. Over at Twitter, a female friend of mine joked about how she was counting down the day that Lautner turns legal. He is only 17, but in the words of Jacob Black, “Age is just a number, baby.”

Britney1999

Britney Spears was 17 on April 1999 cover of Rolling Stone, Photo Credit: Dolly Mix

I have to admit, I am interested in this Taylor Lautner phenomena, mainly because of the ramifications that who he is and what he’s done is steering the change of how we view masculinity and femininity today. Don’t quite follow me yet? Take for example this countdown that a fan made to countdown the days that Lautner turns 18. Now let’s go backwards in time–countdowns like this have been used to celebrate past “jail-baits” as Britney Spears, the Olsen Twins, and Lindsay Lohan. Grown men that counted down the days were seen as perverted and disgusting. Now, fast forward to 2009. It’s the women’s turn. Now, I’m all about equal opportunity, but are women getting as much flak ove their comments on Lautner and the fact that he is “jailbait?”

I don’t think so–and definitely not at the same degree as men. Actually, there isn’t much clatter about cougars eyeing the shirtless Lautner, except on sites like Just Mommies, a message board for moms. So apparently, it’s okay that a shirtless seventeen-year-old boy can pose provocatively, but when a seventeen-year-old girl (and she doesn’t have to be shirtless, i.e., Britney Spears) poses provocatively, it turns heads. Double standard?

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I discovered that they made a more realistic Taylor Lautner-Jacob Black action figure. And yep, you guessed it, he’s shirtless. I have to agree with fellow blogger,  Nobody Puts Baby in a Horner, when the blogger writes:

“I’m not saying that you can’t have him as your object of lust-eyes because you can do whatever you want, but I am saying it’s difficult to forget how, unless you’re another teenager, those lust-eyes are technically statuatory-rape-eyes.  Sure, the thought police aren’t throwing anyone in jail over the a few idle thoughts, but still: He’s only seventeen, so YIKES!!!”

Yes, big YIKES!!! With 3 exclamation marks means extreme warning. I don’t know whose bright idea it was to create such an action figure. Apparently, it was revealed in Comic Con for the Twihards (a term for die-hard Twilight fans). Poor Taylor Lautner. Poor Tay-Tay. Will he ever escape his identity of just being eye-candy instead of being an actor? I mean, that is what he wants–to be recognized for his acting talent. A Showbiz Spy article reveals Lautner’s ultimate desire:

“I worked hard to get in shape for this role,” Lautner explains. “My motivation was the movie and the fans, but I don’t want to become known as just a body. If I had to choose, I would never take my shirt off again in a movie, but I guess that’s not very realistic. I certainly won’t be asking to do it, though.”

Well, that’s a start. I’m no fortune teller, but I predict that the next few roles you’re going to get will continue to exploit you. Sex sells, eh?

Now you may be thinking, what’s the big deal? Am I advocating that it’s okay for older people–men and women–to lust over underage teens as long as there is equal flak on both sides? No. I’m just quite concerned that people forget that Lautner is still a boy with a man’s body–well, at least until February 11, 2010. People should stop and take a look at themselves. Let me repeat again, he’s 17!

jacobblackactionfigure

Jacob Black action figure. Photo Credit: Twilight Book Addicts

Now, you might be saying for me to take a look at myself, that I’m just jealous that I don’t look like him. Heck ya I’m jealous–me and every guy that doesn’t look like him gets jealous. And the men of the world felt the same way when 300 came out. But that’s exactly how Lautner is changing, or rather, adding to masculinity. Men are running to the gym again, and cougars are on the prowl. Now, women are the ones with the “lustful eyes” and men are the ones “lusted after.” As 2009 comes to a close, we find ourselves at a changing landscape: the image of “jailbait” isn’t a girl; it’s a boy…a really buff boy at that.

What do you think?

“Do not get me upset. Things are gonna get very ugly!” – Jacob Black in “New Moon”

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Filed under Entertainment, Issues/Causes, Masculinity, Movies/TV

My Drinking Problem Or The Lack There Of

Photo Credit: InImagine

Photo Credit: InImagine

According to old English Common Law, “A man’s home is his castle.” If that is true, then aside from the couch being a sort of throne, perhaps the toilet is like a side throne. In either case, a man spends some time on these two equally important thrones. In America, a man sits on his couch, drinks beer, and watches TV. And in his younger days, a man lies down on his couch, passed out from his excessive drinking. At least, that’s the stereotype. On the other hand, a man conducts all kinds of business on the comfort of his toilet seat, even reading magazines and newspapers while sitting. And in his younger days, he would vomit into the toilet from his excessive drinking. Thank God I’m not the Australian man who had to get rushed into the emergency room after sitting on a toilet that was pranked with fast-acting adhesive. No, my problem is drinking.

But not exactly the kind of drinking problem you may automatically be thinking. I am a 23-year-old male college student/graduate, but that doesn’t mean I binge drink. You see, (now this may be a bit graphic for some people), I went to urinate today and discovered that my urine wasn’t quite as clear or light-colored as it should be. Diagnosis? My drinking problem is that I don’t drink enough water. Sure, everyone knows that drinking alcohol gets you dehydrated, and therefore you need to combat that with drinking water. But for me, it’s all those Starbucks caramel machiattos, those Tapiaco Express boba milk teas, and those Arizona sweet teas that have led to the downfall of my urine. This was quite a wake-up call to me. There you have it. I am not ashamed of my drinking problem, and chances are you aren’t too, because you may be suffering just like I am, being dehydrated and not know it! As a result, I’ve decided to be an amateur advocate promoting the healthy drinking of water. According to nutrition experts, “a good estimate is to take your body weight in pounds and divide that number in half. That gives you the number of ounces of water per day that you need to drink.” In my case (and I’m a little sensitive about revealing this to you), I currently weigh 195 pounds (yes, I’m working on losing 30 pounds). That means that I should be drinking 97.5 ounces of water daily.

You may wonder why I am promoting the “healthy drinking of water.” You may think that it’s redundant, that water is healthy for us anyway because it flushes out all the filthy stuff in our bodies and refuel our cells and giving us some energy. That’s all true, but drinking too much water too quickly is also bad for you–it can even kill you. You can have “water intoxication,” just like the tragic story of 28-year-old Jennifer Strange. A local radio station contest held the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest in 2008 when the Wii just came out. Strange drank  some six liters of water in three hours for the contest and was found dead in her home. Another incident involved a 21-year-old male student from California State University, Chico back in 2005. According to the Scientific American, he  died after being “forced to drink excessive amounts of water between rounds of push-ups in a cold basement” during a fraternity hazing gone wrong. As tragic as their stories were, it educated me about the dangers of excessive water-drinking, especially because our health-conscious  culture tells us to drink plenty of water. Now we know how much is “healthy.”

I know I’m a strange person for even examining my urine. But I’m a curious college student. And this curiosity led to a scientific exploration of my dehydration. Now, I hope you too will drink more water instead of all that other junk. And I hope you will drink water responsibly too!

For now, I’m trying to control my Starbucks addiction. In the mean time (and this is bad timing), Jamba Juice has a special promotion until September 27, 2009. If you buy one smoothie, you can get one 16oz. smoothie for a buck if you print out the coupon.

Photo Credit: InImagine

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Filed under Issues/Causes, Life, Masculinity