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The Prostidude Identity

I heard a jingle on TV today of a famous song from “Annie Get Your Gun” that goes like this: Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you. It’s a fun song that entices competition of the genders. Yes, well when you apply it to one of the world’s oldest professions (and I’m not talking about farming), it can be a little strange. Forgive me, but to describe this profession, I have to use a little Menglish, which writer Griffin Longley describes as “a language used of, by, to, and about men.”

So here it goes:

Prostidude (n): a male prostitute; gigolo (Urban Dictionary)

I bet you didn’t know they exist, but they do. Or, maybe you knew because like me, you’re quite aware of the most famous one of all: Deuce Bigalow, male gigolo.  We’re all about equality, right? So why can’t a guy be a male prostitute? I can see it now, men lined up putting their fists in the air, fighting for equal rights in a woman’s world. And as the world economy goes down the drain, maybe prostitution is the way to go. According to Barbara Ross and Larry McShane of the New York Daily News, despite an economic meltdown, the prostitution business is still up and running and hasn’t really experienced the effects.

So enter 25-year-old “Markus,” America’s (and more specifically, the state of Nevada’s) first legal male prostitute who puts the “bro” in “brothel.” The Shady Lady Ranch hired him after successfully obtaining state and county approval, and since then, the controversy has given him his fifteen minutes of fame and a spot in Nevada history. Markus is not without critics, and perhaps the most ironic come from female prostitutes.

Markus is an ex-marine who did a short stint as a porn actor in Los Angeles, but dropped out because he thought porn degraded women. Great, a prostitute with a conscience. He was homeless and was living on the streets of Santa Monica before he made the move to Nevada. Oh, and he “sees himself as [a] sexual pioneer and likens his role to that of civil rights icon Rosa Parks” (Daily Mail UK). At least he’s active in other things, right?

I applaud New York Post reporter Mandy Stadtmiller who got the exclusive and had to go through great lengths (you’ll understand what I mean) to go where no reporter has gone before. And her article is insightful, especially of Markus’s “mommy issues.” It’s quite entertaining and informative, but if that’s not enough, check out the MSNBC article.

Here I am, tapping my feet to that famous Broadway song again. Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you. Well Markus, sorry bro, but this is a competition you’re probably going to lose.

What do you think? Do you wish him luck?

**Note: I am NOT a supporter of prostitution, male or female. I believe it degrades women (and I guess now, men too) and robs them of their self-worth and their dignity. It saddens me that prostitution still exists after thousands of years in civilizations around the world. As a researcher of modern masculinity, I thought this “prostidude” was an interesting look at how masculinity has changed and perceived today.

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Thankful: The Truth

As the story goes, if it wasn’t for the Native Americans, the first pilgrims who arrived in America via a wooden ship called the Mayflower wouldn’t have survived their first winter. The Native Americans showed them how to fish, how to farm, and some time in November, both sides set aside their differences by coming together for a large feast. This was the first American thanksgiving. At least, this was the story that was ingrained in me when I first immigrated to America and spent my own first Thanksgiving. Little did I know, that the story of the first Thanksgiving may be more myth than history.

According to Chris Lewis, an American Studies instructor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, the holiday we know as Thanksgiving  had its roots in the Civil War NOT Plymouth, Massachusetts. Constantly thanking God, Abraham Lincoln established the holiday to commemorate the dead and to unite the nation by reminding the people of the United States of being thankful for the blessings they received.

So here I am, 146 years later, and I have a lot to be thankful for. I thank God for the life He’s given me. I thank Him for giving me amazing and loving parents. I thank Him for giving me a supportive group of friends that I can laugh and cry with. I am thankful that I was able to be the first in my family to graduate from a university (UCLA, Go Bruins!). I am thankful for the freedom of speech and freedom in general. I am thankful for the men and women who fight so that freedom would still ring in this country. Yes, I have a lot to be thankful for–I don’t think I can count all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me.

Counting blessings is something that my friend Victor and I used to do before we left for college. It was a good practice for us because as emo teenagers who thought the world would end when things didn’t go as we wanted them to go, counting our blessings reminded us of how life wasn’t at all that bad. As teenagers, we were so dramatic about how we saw life, so when we wrote down on paper all the specific things we were thankful for each day for an entire week, we realized we were quite spoiled–that God gave us bountiful blessings. And as a result, if we were truly blessed, then why should we have a “woe is me” mentality?

Grateful–blessed, spoiled even. And I want to continue the habit of giving to others, and that’s my identity revealed.

Abraham Lincoln, photo credit: College Publisher

Here is the 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln (The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler)

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863

This is the proclamation which set the precedent for America’s national day of Thanksgiving. During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders like this. For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on 28, 1863, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.” She wrote, “You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.” The document below sets apart the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”

According to an April 1, 1864, letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863, fellow Cabinet member Gideon Welles recorded in his diary that he complimented Seward on his work. A year later the manuscript was sold to benefit Union troops.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

 

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It’s All So Draining: Exploring Vampires

Edward Cullen

Photo Credit: CSPA Workshop

The end of Halloween and the beginning of November can only mean one thing for girls all across America. Their two-year wait can now be count down to a matter of seventeen days before they see their precious heart-throb without a heart-throbbing in the big screen. Enter twenty-three-year-old British actor Robert Pattinson, who plays forever seventeen-year-old American vampire Edward Cullen. Girls seem to fall madly in love with him. One girl I asked described the actor-character as, “Gorgeous. I want him to come rescue me. And if he wants to bite me, all the better.” Another girl said, “His eyes are just beautiful.” Sorry, excuse me if I barf. I don’t quite understand his charm–he looks like a drug addict, especially around his eyes! But maybe that’s why he brings that specific appeal to Team Edward, rather than his rival in Team Jacob (the werewolf in the movie). Before angry girls start writing in, I’m not bagging on Pattinson–just his alter ego, the way he looks in the movie and pictures. I’m a big fan of him as squeaky clean Cedric Diggory. But enough with “Twilight” and “New Moon.” This post isn’t about them, but rather about our fascination with vampires.

Vampire mania seems to be the trend these days. Heck, when you’re sitting on gold, you got to exploit it while you still can, right?  When “Pirates of the Caribbean” came out, just about everyone wanted to be a pirate–even porn stars. And I’m sure the Halloween costume sales for pirates or naughty pirates increased during the trend. But these past two years, vampires are in. Case in point, “The Vampire Diaries,” which air on the CW. It’s about two teenage vampire brothers fighting for the love of a teenage girl. One vampire doesn’t drink human blood, the other does. Sounds somewhat familiar to the vegetarian Cullen clan. Then, there’s “The Vampire’s Assistant.” It’s about a teenage vampire who doesn’t drink human blood and who has to fight against his best friend-turned vampire who does. Yes, things sound quitet familiar. And the success of HBO’s “True Blood,” which is an adult vampire story also about a vampire that doesn’t drink blood who is constantly challenged by vampires who do drink blood, opened my eyes to why we’re so fascinated with them.

Vampire Diaries

Photo Credit: TV Fanatic

First, we have to understand the past. Perhaps it’s human to want to know what happens to us after we die. Is there or isn’t there an afterlife? And what if you can live on, even after you die, but the price you pay to live is by killing another? From the Dark Ages to the Victorian era, to the early 20th century, we’ve been fascinated by the vampire mythology. For several hundred years, that fascination was more of a fear of the dead and of the unknown. I just watched The History Channel’s special on vampires, and it was remarkable for me to learn that even to this day, some European graves have corpses with stakes in their hearts because of the vampire paranoia. But if we used to fear vampires for several hundred years, why are we in love with them today?

Perhaps it’s because we are no longer afraid of seeing dead bodies. Thanks to shows like CSI and NCIS, who have pushed the envelope into seeing how a human body looks on the inside, we don’t cringe as much when we see the dead bodies. We’ve been habituated to death and death isn’t quite a mystery in our Age of Enlightenment. Or perhaps we like to flirt with the ideals of the vampires. Vampires are rebellious and live (ironic, I know) freely, who live life dangerously and in a constant mode of excitement. Deep down each of us, we all secretly want to rebel from a life of mediocrity, a theme I know all too well from “Fight Club.” Or maybe, we don’t fear vampires because they’re just darn too sexy. The classic Dracula was a middle-aged man dressed in a cape who fed on beautiful virginesque (I made up that word) women. It’s definitely creepy. But nowadays, the vampires are dressed like you and me and with the exception of the “True Blood” vampires, I have not seen a vampire over the age of 30 who is not physically fit or not physically attractive. And when we make out with a vampire, such as the case with Kristen Stewart, we are literally making out with death and figuratively flirting with death. I thinking the “flirting with death” part intrigues people, and thus attracts them to the vampire mythos. There you go, today’s vampires have undergone image reconstruction, and whoever is doing the PR work for vampires needs to get promoted or get a raise. It is now cool to be a vampire.

But with all that said, can we lay it off with all these vampire stories that seem to be recycled? It’s all so draining! Enough with the “vampire who drinks human blood versus the vampire who doesn’t” storyline. Well, I guess I have to wait until the next trend. What does our fascination with vampires reveal about our own identities? Maybe the fact that although we understand death scientifically, we still fear death spiritually. Is there life after death? The vampire flirts with us and entices us with his answer.

Photo Credit: CSPA Workshop

Photo Credit: TV Fanatic

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