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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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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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Guy-isms, Part 1

Photo Credit: LodinewsSara is a gorgeous brunette from Los Angeles who loves to smile with her hazel eyes.  At 21, she has a sort of sophistication, a sense of wisdom beyond her years. Perhaps it’s how she carries herself, or even how she dresses. She loves fashion, but favors wearing mod attire. Surprisingly, she loves reading about the Middle Ages, and specifically loves T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King.” When she talks about her experiences with guys, she laughs nervously as if it’s a topic she’s never been asked (although she’s got a lot working for her, including being physically attractive and quite bright). Whatever the case, when she talks about guys, she laments over attracting the wrong guys and asking me, “When will my knight in shining armor come for me?”

Yes, she said the word “knight.” Does she still believe there are knights out there? Maybe all that reading about King Arthur has gotten to her. I’ve always been under the impression that chivalry is dead. It’s been dead since the feminist movement, although one can argue that it’s been kept alive with powerful and impressionable companies like Walt Disney with its many movies that reinforce gender roles in its movies.

Without thinking, I responded, “Okay Sara, I’m sure that ‘knight’ is out there some where. But maybe he’s pursuing a different ‘princess.’ I’m sure he’ll eventually get to you.”  Princess? Why the heck did I say “princess”? I obviously do not know anything about women. I’m supposed to be consoling her.

And of course, right on cue, she said, “Gio, that doesn’t make me feel better. I don’t want to imagine that whoever I’m supposed to be with is with someone else right now. But that’s typical of you, isn’t it? You men. It’s one of your guyisms!”

Huh? What are guyisms? I grew more and more intrigued of a female’s perspective on us guys. She describes guyisms as a behavior and action that men do. It’s a performance then men do to maintain the status quo and what society requires of men. I laugh. It’s definitely something I’ve researched on. Eventually, I learned that Sara, like many other women are very much aware of our Guy Code. You know, rules like “Boys don’t cry” or “Bros before hoes.” However, Sara believes that parts of Guy Code is chauvinistic and is against chivalry, the code of knights. I know what Sara is looking for–she wants a perfect gentleman, but if that isn’t merely a fantasy, then perhaps “gentlemen” is a rare breed.

Then, why do women end up dating jerks? I think that’s a good question, a perfectly valid one. Sara couldn’t quite answer. She knows why girls tend to go out for bad boys–they are unpredictable. And for women like Sara, she loves the challenge of taming the “wildness” that is wired deep down all us guys. Maybe, that’s the reason we have terms like “whipped,” as in the sentence: “George doesn’t hang out with the boys anymore. He listens to his girlfriend. He’s whipped.”  Is that a particular guyism? That once we are in a relationship, we get domesticated–that gentlemen only exist because ladies teach us how to be one for their sakes, as much as ours?

To be continued.

Photo Credit: Ludinews

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