Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Contradictions and Dangerous Messages

Things have become so twisted! Things that were once considered "common sense, "normal", and "reasonable" are regarded as abnormal and totally untrue by many Western people. I think that if you want to save yourself, succeed, and live a great life you need to limit your interactions to people who have the same viewpoints and only listen to advice from people who are actually successful and leading great lives. We need to only listen to the advice of successful and happy people who have achieved what we want or value the things we want to achieve.

Anyone else is a confusing distraction that may derail your common sense and stop you from protecting yourself. I don't think the people who make the suspect/hypocritical comments are malicious or stupid. I just think that when you are swimming in the mess it is too stressful and emotional to see the easier way out. Sticking to self-defeating and hypocritical beliefs is a defense mechanism to protect their self-esteem. Some of them will eventually figure out how to get out of their own way but unfortunately many will not. Please take the time to think about the major choices you make in your life, the reasons why you made the choice (they may be unconscious and impossible to know unfortunately), the benefits, and the drawbacks. Only after thorough introspection can you decide to change or stay the same. Whatever you decide, you are responsible for your choice and must live with the positive or negative consequences. You have choices!

We can choose to be whatever women we want to be and I thank Feminism for that. There is no lifestyle or fashion choice that does not  make a statement or trigger stereotypes in other people and this is largely beyond their control. Whatever choice you make there will be consequences that may be unpleasant and unfair. Your desire to be free of judgement/harm is not a protective bubble that can shield you from that judgment/harm. Choose wisely and put your safety above your need to not offend others because you are ultimately the only one responsible for your own safety. Failing to protect yourself will end up hurting you more than anyone else. Focus on the things you can actually control and you can control many things in your life.

If the following public statements below are said in Western countries (especially in the Black community) the speaker may be called a stupid idiot who can not think for themselves, a mindless tool of patriarchy, or a white-washed sell-out when to me they are just normal things or common sense:

A. "I only wear dresses."  -said by woman in vintage dress, found in a tiny thrift store, that no one else in the room is wearing.
"Why are you such a mindless follower? A woman can wear anything she wants now!" -said by woman in jeans and T-shirt, bought at WalMart, dressed like everyone else in the room.

B. "I really want to get married."
"There is no reason to get married it's 2012!" -Note that wanting to get married and getting married has been THE NORM all over the world for hundreds of years yet it is dismissed as useless. People have been doing something for hundreds of years for no good reason and it has never benefited anyone?

C. "I really want to have children."
"Women were not put on this earth to be baby factories!" -The only way to continue the human race is to produce children, it is the only way to pass on your genes, and women are the only people capable of giving birth. You can opt out but someone has to do it. Should your mother have opted out?

D. "Education is very important to me and there are many benefits of an education." - said by woman with Master's degree who's parents both have degrees.
"Institutionalized education is useless. Street knowledge is more important. Your education means nothing to me and anyone who wastes time with that is stupid" -said by man with no university education, who's parents never went to university, asking the woman for a date. Why are you judging the value of something you have NO EXPERIENCE with? Why would she want someone who thinks she's stupid and doesn't have the same values?

E. "I like doing things to please my man and he really appreciates it." -said by woman in happy relationship.
"You shouldn't have to do anything to please anyone else! Just be yourself!" - said by woman who's last boyfriend dumped her because she had a bad attitude, constantly started arguments, and said she did not need him." Why exactly would someone be with you when the experience is miserable instead of pleasurable?

F. "I want to lose some weight so that I can be more attractive, become healthier, and live a long life." -said by woman who is 20 pounds overweight according to medical standards.

"You can be fit and fat. Big can be beautiful so you shouldn't do anything!" -sadly said by obese woman, struggling with high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, difficulty walking, and low self-esteem.

G. "I refuse to listen to hip hop music because it degrades Black men and women and spreads negative stereotypes about us." -said by man in business suit listening to Maxwell (neo soul).

"You are a sell-out! You hate Black people! You are a tool of the racist White man!" -says man blaring music lyrics calling women "h***", men "n******", bragging about the respect one gets for being a "gangsta" (i.e., criminal), produced by Sony (White owned company). Listening to and buying hip hop and dressing like a "gangsta" is a great way to help Black people and reduce stereotyping? I guess we should forget about showing the world we are intelligent, educated, law-abiding, moral, respectable, friendly, easy to get along with and JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE? Silly me, I forgot that we aren't supposed to do anything that would please anyone else even if these qualities are considered NORMAL, DESIRABLE to society, and BENEFICIAL to those possessing these qualities.

H. "You just have to ignore the negativity, focus on achieving your success goals using the resources that are available to you, and protect yourself from harm the best you can." -said by man with successful, self-started business that used his earnings to move to a crime-free neighborhood.

"There is nothing an individual can do. The world is against us. We need to pressure other people to sacrifice their own well-being to save us because it is their fault we are here. We can not save or protect ourselves so we should not even try to." -sadly said by Black and Feminist activists demanding empowerment. What if everyone refuses to save or protect us? What should we do then?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Life Choices and The Decision to Change

What is the fastest, easiest, least expensive, most effective, and most personally beneficial way to combat a negative stereotype?
  1. Create an educational campaign to dispel the stereotype using science, statistics, creative art, and personal anecdotes?
  2. Explain the historical and contemporary reasons for why the stereotype exists?
  3. Shame the believers of the stereotype by calling them racist, sexist, stupid, small-minded etc?
  4. Purposely embrace and promote the stereotype so that it possibly transforms into a positive and desirable attribute?
  5. Immediately stop behaving or looking like the stereotype and telling friends and family to do the same?
I believe the answer is 5. There are many recent examples of activism that focuses on anything but 5. For example:
  1. Create an educational campaign to dispel the stereotype using science, statistics, and personal anecdotes. This is expensive, time consuming, slow, but necessary for long-term change. This includes conducting university research, public surveys, creating educational courses, writing books and making films and television shows about exceptions. For example efforts to create better, self-produced Black media with positive images, Black female admiration blogs, women's television channels, women's studies.
  2. Explain the historical and contemporary reasons why the stereotype exists. This is time consuming, speculative, only beneficial if it is a springboard for change, redundant.  It is necessary because sometimes awareness is needed before people realize there is a problem and decide to fix it. Examples include constantly explaining the effects of slavery, patriarchy, the War on Drugs, pornography, poverty, feminism etc. 
  3. Shame and defame the believers of the stereotype by calling them racist, sexist, stupid, small-minded etc. Time consuming, angers the person into accepting the stereotype more out of spite, shames others into hiding their beliefs to avoid scrutiny, makes people look cruel which garners sympathy for the believer. For example launching personal and overblown attacks on anyone who says something racist, sexist, ignorant or insensitive. This is happens in politics all the time or any time a celebrity says something ignorant and has to go on an apology tour.
  4. Purposely embrace and promote the stereotype so that it possibly transforms into a positive, desirable, or neutral attribute or raises awareness of a problem. This is the most ineffective and potentially dangerous method! This encourages people to keep doing things that could potentially harm them or hold them back in life despite people CLEARLY and REPEATEDLY telling them that they hold these automatic beliefs (beyond their conscious control). Examples include taking back the n-word, Slut Walks, rejecting well known social conventions and standards (e.g., praising the rejection of advanced education, marriage, dual parent homes, social climbing, manners), and anything promoting the acceptance of the hip hop industry. The success of this method depends on other people changing their automatic beliefs (virtually IMPOSSIBLE) and preferences that have protective value to them.
  5. Immediately stop behaving or looking like the stereotype and telling friends and family to do the same. This is the easiest because it can start immediately, only requires individual commitment, does not require trying to change others you have no control over, and it is most likely to immediately protect people from the ill effects of the stereotype by becoming an exception to the rule. It involves purposefully trying to act and look like the opposite of the stereotype. This is beneficial because it involves accepting social conventions and standards that will help you succeed among people who also hold those standards (e.g, employers, schools, socially accepted people). Some refuse to entertain this method because to them that would be conforming, letting the stereotype holders win, or hiding their individuality or natural qualities. As with all choices it can be taken to the extreme and result in harmful behaviours in an attempt to meet social standards (e.g., skin bleaching, starvation diets, self-hatred). This method is taken by many BWE blogs; pick up artist sites/programs; campaigns and programs promoting education, health, weight loss, fitness, financial savvy, and marriage; public service announcements; the self-help and self-improvement industry including media involving beauty and dating advice. They all encourage people to be "normal", "average", or "above average" and refusing to be "deviant" which is not the same as being different, creative, or unique.
I predominantly use method 5 in my life and on this blog because I believe conforming to the standards of successful and socially accepted people is the most likely way to become successful and socially accepted. To be a winner you have to do what winners do and not follow those who are deemed unsuccessful and undesirable according to society (Western society in my case). I use method 1 to inspire myself and feel hopeful and method 2 to understand my beliefs so that I can make changes or fight their effects. I try to refrain from using method 3 as much as possible. I don't use method 4 at all and it is basically suicide in my opinion but for some reason this method is very popular with activists and seems the most logical to some dangerous people! It's all about choices and the probability that they will be successful and bring you happiness. I don't gamble and therefore I focus my efforts on methods that have the highest probably of being successful with the minimal amount of effort. I strive to be normal or above average.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Alpha and Beta Males and Females

This post may offend some people but as usual, it is a way for me to understand my own thoughts and behaviour. I will be using MANY overgeneralizations in this post for the sake of clarity but of course there will be a lot of variance in what people find attractive and there are exceptions to the rules. These are also my personal opinions so please keep this all in mind as you read. Here is a good description of alpha and beta males: ARTICLE.

An alpha male is very desirable to (some) women and research indicates this is especially true when women are most fertile each month. These men tend to be leaders, very masculine, healthy, and athletic. They are the most physically attractive and possess dominant/aggressive traits. Scientists surmise that these men are attractive because they are more likely to produce physically healthy offspring and they were best able to protect and provide for their women and offspring since prehistoric times. However, these males are less likely to be monogamous and their aggression may be turned on females and others. Athletes, businessmen, thugs, and violent criminals sometimes have these qualities. Most people don't consider these men to be the "nice guys" or underdogs but I suppose they can be nice (I'm not sure I've ever met one who was lol!). Alpha males know they are attractive to women and are often successful so sometimes they act like jerks because they can get away with it and everyone is afraid to stop them. They may refrain from any domestic duties that are not stereotypically male including spending time with their children. These are the men who feel entitled to cheat, treat women like pieces of meat, say they will never settle down, and abandon their children. I don't think they make good husbands/boyfriends but women may regard them as trophies or meal tickets.

Beta males have these qualities to a lesser degree, they tend to be followers, and they may have more boyish and nurturing traits. Beta males tend to be preferred when women are not fertile during the month and they are seen as very desirable husbands/boyfriends. This is because they are not as aggressive or dominant as alpha males so they can be nurturing to their women and offspring. These men are not ashamed to help with child care or housework. Beta males are cute, nice guys, or lovable nerds who I call "boyfriendy". They want to do the right thing more than winning. They want to play a large role in their children's lives.

Are there alpha and beta females? I think there are and they are almost the opposites of the alpha and beta males! An alpha female is extremely attractive to all males and has stereotypically feminine physical qualities.  She is the most pretty/beautiful, the least masculine, and she is soft, nurturing, and girlish. Scientists reason that these women are attractive because they appear to be healthy, fertile, and likely to have qualities that would make them good mothers. Many of the "dream girls" I have written about on this blog, such as Pin up girls, beauty queens, geishas, manic pixie dream girls, trophy wives, and Stepford wives are alpha females! Men want to snatch up these women and may insist that they are chaste. These women are "wife/girlfriend material" but of course some men will just use them for sex as usual. They have an innocent sensuality but they are not overtly sexual. The problem with some alpha females is that they are so desirable they may be enticed away by another man, they may look but not act like alpha females (e.g., beautiful but catty and shallow), or they may be totally dependent on men with no aspirations of their own (because being an alpha female has little to do with personal success). Some men, like beta males, may be better off not pursuing them because they are not on the same level.

Beta females have these qualities to a lesser degree. They are less attractive and have more masculine physical and personality traits. There are only certain men who find them attractive (but there usually is someone). They are not stereotypical females and men may think they don't even date men. They may be promiscuous possibly because they are not seen as the ideal wife/girlfriend material (because they do not have the dreamgirl qualities) so they may be used for sex more often. But they may also make great girlfriends/wives because they are less sought after by other men and more likely to be monogamous, they may have similar interests as the man (e.g., tomboys), and they may have lower standards for men so they will accept someone who isn't the most desirable. These women are way more attainable than alpha females and they need love too.

I think that feminism has promoted the transformation of many women into beta females and shamed alpha females or those who want to be alpha females! Feminists have shamed women for trying to look beautiful, wanting to be wives/girlfriends, trying to stay young, and for feeling fulfilled with nurturing domestic and caregiving roles. In contrast, feminists applaud the choices of beta females and hold them up as ideals. They encourage the pursuit of male activities and careers over traditionally feminine ones, looking and dressing more like males, and adopting stereotypically male behaviours (e.g., swearing, drinking, and being argumentative, aggressive, strong, and promiscuous). They use the faulty logic that rejecting femininity is a way to fight patriarchy and male dominance but if your choices in life are based on not doing what men find attractive you are still letting them control you! If you copy what men do you are affirming that they are superior! This has been a disservice to women! Many women are now realizing this and rejecting pressure to be beta females. I also place blame on rap music for encouraging Black women to be hard and promiscuous and to only seek out alpha males who do not want to have relationships with them. They also influenced women to dress in masculine hip hop clothing and sports gear as in the photo below. Lastly, I blame the burden of growing up in dangerous, high stress situations that force girls to act like women too soon and force them to act like men in order to protect themselves. Any woman who did not grow up under such conditions does not have this as an excuse and there is no reason for them to be hard.

Furthermore, it is 2012 and the traditional characteristics of alpha males and females have changed. It is more accepted for all men to be nice guys and nerds, share some domestic duties, and spend more time caring for children. In fact, being an alpha male has less to do with being tall, having muscles, and being a physical protector because having intelligence and money can provide protection (e.g., enough finances to live in a safe neighbourhood or to pay for martial arts classes, a security system, or a gun). It is also acceptable for women to work (even in traditionally male occupations), be highly intelligent, pay for someone to help with domestic/childcare duties, and to not base her whole life on pleasing men. I think that I was a beta female for years but this EBW journey has helped me to become an alpha female! The journey has helped me to bring out my feminine side and put aside hostility, anger, and moodiness. It has helped me to change my appearance to look more feminine. I am nurturing my soft, girly, sensitive side instead of being edgy, having an attitude, or being hard. I am eliminating negative things from my life and focusing on the positive and pleasurable things. I think I have always preferred "boyfriendy" beta males. Although I do find alpha males to be physically attractive I just don't want to have relationships with them because they don't tend to be nice guys in my opinion. They don't want to be monogamous or get married.

It's interesting that I am reading online about beta males having INTENSE and DISTURBING anger towards women for ignoring them in school and preferring alpha males (read any Men's Rights Movement website if you want to be terrified...maybe you shouldn't actually). They complain that these women dated and had casual sex with alpha males when they were younger and ignored and insulted beta males. Now that the women are older and want to settle down they are seeking the beta males that they once ignored. I think  these men just have to accept that alpha males are more physically attractive and pursue women more and that is why they dated more as youths. From experience women learned that these men were not boyfriend/husband material and they preferred the personality and behaviour of beta males and therefore seek them out for marriage. They have to remember that there were plenty of beta females who these beta males ignored too while they were pining after the alpha females! I was ignored and teased the same way they were. But unlike them, I don't blame the boys/men for not liking me and I just accept that they thought other girls/women were more attractive. I do not believe they were inherently evil creatures trying to destroy all of womankind! These downtrodden men are making themselves even less attractive to women because of this hostility and bitterness. The best way to deal with this is for these men to work on themselves to build their self-confidence. They may have to be more accepting of beta females too because there is no point chasing someone who continually rejects you. None of us are entitled to anyone else and holding onto this bitterness is probably hurting you and preventing you from having a good relationship.

Is it Wrong that I Only Want to Listen to Cheesy Love Songs?

I think this has to be the last post I make for a week because I am procrastinating on doing something for school. But who am I kidding, in between studying I know I'll have ideas I'll want to blog! Blogging can be so obsessive!

When I was growing up I listened to the same pop music radio station that most of my friends did. It played 90s and some 70s and 80s rock (including soft rock and classic rock), pop, R&B (including Mowtown oldies), and a little bit of rap. The artists played included Madonna, Janet Jackson, Glass Tiger, The Beatles, MC Hammer, Prince, George Michael, Eurasure, U2, En Vogue etc. Everyone knew these songs and the music was not offensive compared to pop music today. At the time it seemed like there were fewer types of music and it was easier to distinguish between rock, heavy metal, rap, pop, country, classical, R&B, jazz, and blues and of course international styles like calypso and reggae.

The type of music that moved me the most was the pop ballad and that is my favorite type of music today! I am "coming out" and admitting that my favorite type of music is any cheesy song where a guy sings about love in a very high voice! I love ballads from the Bee Gees, Maroon 5, REO Speedwagon, U2, Stevie Wonder and MANY one-hit-wonders. I also listened to my father's Love Collection records (yes the one's sold in infomercials) and I loved them! When I hear these songs I get an instant physical feeling of love for the singers (the same way I feel when I see and hear cats lol)! It's an 'I want to scream' and 'I love this/you so much I want to die' feeling that you can see in footage of Beatles or Justin Bieber fans. My theory is that the high pitched voices of male pop singers and cats activate the pleasure centres of my brain lol!!! Hmmm, maybe that's why I prefer guys with younger, higher sounding voices? Yes, it's very quirky and I do love to sing along while making typical performance hand gestures! I readily admitted this as a high school student and undergrad but since then I have felt uncomfortable doing so.

I went to graduate school in a small city and I did not like any of the radio stations (they played too much country that I absolutely can not tolerate and constant Nickleback!). I also did not like many of the songs played on Much Music because they were getting too "screamy" and sounded computer generated (Autotune is horrible). So for the next several years I was not paying attention to new music at all and I mostly heard new music through movies, television, or by chance. Now I feel some imaginary pressure to listen to new music so that I can actually state what type of music I like and open my mind to new things or something. I  keep reading dating profiles where men state "I like many types of music" and it makes me feel like I'm closed off or immature because I rarely like new music and there are many types I don't like. I feel (and have been made to feel) guilty for not liking country music, most things with fiddles (e.g., Celtic music), some alternative (ewww grunge music), jazz, reggae, and calypso. There are many types of music that are great in television and movies for setting the mood (e.g., heavy metal in horror films, classical, jazz etc.) but I don't find pleasure listening to them outside of these mediums. It's like I worry something is wrong with me because I am not moved by more types of music.

When I started looking into new styles of music I tried some so-called "conscious hip hop" (that was actually full of curse words and the n-word), R&B, and neo-soul. I felt so much pressure to choose my favorite music based on race instead of what I found pleasurable!  I felt as though I would be a "sell-out" if I ignored these forms of music and limited myself to genres predominated by White people! There may be some other racial minorities who feel pressure to like their cultural music too but others will just like what they like and never feel guilty. I think that unlike other groups, there is a lot of pressure for Black people to listen to and support rap/hip hop despite it's rampant degradation of women, degradation of Black people (by using the n-word) and making Black men look like materialistic thugs, morally bankrupt artists, and it's references to lifestyles that are foreign to many middle class people (e.g., living in the hood, shootings, drugs, and gangs). But I think that now I am finally secure about my rejection of rap/hip hop music! I think it's safer to avoid the genre and negative messages instead of "giving it a chance" just because a few songs may be innocuous.

I am going to listen to internet radio more often so that I can hear my old favorites and new pop music. I tried listening to some emo, indie rock, soul, and R&B but they did not move me emotionally. I will try them again but probably if they are not played on pop stations I won't seek them out. I feel as though I am not supposed to like the same music I did when I was younger and I'm supposed to like more "adult" types of music that is serious and edgy instead of love songs sung by cute guys. This reminds me of the pressure women feel to abandon pleasurable things, being playful, and acting girly after a certain age (as I wrote about in my post I'd Love to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl). People feel pressure to trade in everything from childhood for things that are serious and mature (maybe because of that Bible verse about putting away childish things but I'm not even religious). How necessary is it for adults to become aware of depressing/controversial things for the sake of education even though they are powerless to change anything? I think there has to be a balance between entertainment being purely for pleasure and entertainment that is also educational and thought provoking. There seems to be a lot of pressure focus on the latter. I prefer songs that are about love (being in, finding, or losing it) mostly sung by men with high voices. It doesn't teach me about other cultures or the plight of oppressed people. I like 80s and 90s pop and any modern music that sounds similar. The last two CDs I bought were James Blunt and Gavin DeGraw. It just makes me happy. Isn't that enough?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Ice Princess Dream Girl

In my previous post I discussed the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) character that some women (mostly feminists) dislike in films. For example, the character of Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer. One blogger asked the question, Who is the Black Zooey Deschanel? I think that Black women are rarely depicted as MPDGs in films (I can't think of any roles) but instead they are cast as "Ice Princess Dream Girls" (IPDGs; my label).

Unlike MPDGs the Ice Princess is usually the lead character in films and is often a successful, career oriented, strong, independent Black woman who either doesn't want a man, or can't find a man good enough for her. She may have a negative attitude as well. Then she encounters a man, usually less successful than she is, blue collar, or less attractive than she is. The Ice Princess initially rejects the man but he pursues her tirelessly. His role is to win the Ice Princess, show her that her career achievements or popularity will not bring her the happiness he can, and bring out her nurturing, feminine, soft side. IPDG films include Deliver Us From Eva, Something New, I Can Do Bad All by Myself, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Love Don't Cost a Thing, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, The Bodyguard, and probably many others. In these roles the male characters are less developed but infinitely wise and it is the female characters who are somehow deficient. In other cases where the man is the lead character, the Ice Princess's sole purpose is to show the man that he is chasing the wrong woman to be his trophy and he should consider the "nice girl" or "best friend" instead. Films like this include Boomerang, Brown Sugar, and Woo (I think). I think that many White women are also cast in the IPDG role too (e.g., New in Town, Overboard, Bed of Roses, Some Kind of Wonderful).

I am not sure if this is a case of art imitating life or life imitating art because many successful Black women are feeling pressured into the Ice Princess role! Successful, educated Black women are being pressured to lower their standards and date less successful and educated men. They are being told that they are single because they are too masculine, fake, or career oriented or that they have bad attitudes. Men are implying that these women need to change and that love (specifically Black love) is all we should require of a man. These men also advocate that we adopt the submissive role of letting them lead while at the same time taking the dominant role of helping them succeed.

Potential Black Manic Pixie Dream Girls
I do think that there are Black celebrities who could be cast as Manic Pixies. A Black Manic Pixie could wear the same feminine clothing as White Manic Pixies like Zooey Deschanel (except for the ones with the rainbow hair). In films they may also take on the bohemian look. In my mind I see these characters with adorable natural hair (maybe with flowers in it, I know I'm biased), a bubbly personality (quirky and cute) with no attitude, edge, or hardness, and a job as an artist or other creative or low-stress jobs (e.g., waitress, hairdresser). I think that Black Manic Pixies would be appropriate for interracial roles because they may be very attractive to White men but less so for Black men. These are the types of women who will be accused of "dressing and acting White", they will have multicultural friends, and they won't be into hip hop music or lifestyle (they would probably listen to rock, pop, retro music, or neo soul lol).

I think that other than the career thing, I might look like a Manic Pixie which is probably why I like them! I date interracially; dress in a feminine manner; have natural hair; I am quirky because of my love of cute things, science fiction/horror movies, and blogging; I listen to retro music and pop; and if my favorite songs come on I may spontaneously dance or call out the song title! Examples of celebrities who could pull off this role are Thandie Newton (I think probably has), Corinne Bailey Rae, Lisa Bonnet, Zoe Kravitz, Solange Knowles, and Jada Pinkett-Smith. Lynn from Girlfriends is a good television example. The great examples I would say are Andy Allo (images) and Esperanza Spalding (images) and you can see what I mean if you look at their photos. They look like nice, carefree, artsy, eccentric, feminine women who could be muses for any man. Below I have posted some outfits that Black women could wear to get the Manic Pixie look. I did not include any bohemian or punk styles because I'm not fond of that look :)

I'd Love to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl!

NPR Video, Parody Video (pretty funny, I would love for someone to make me a mix CD!!!, Femme Fatales Vs. Manic Pixie Dream Girls video (interesting because I think Black women are often treated like femme fatales i.e., attractive but mean or bad, so I'd rather be a MPDG)

Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) is a term used to describe women like Zooey Deschanel and the characters she plays on film and television. An MPDG is a "bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the imaginations of writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” Well it seems that feminists dislike Zooey Deschanel (according to the numerous post about her on The Gloss.com). MPDGs have a girlish, quirky, fun, carefree, lovable quality which sounds fantastic to me! But some women hate Manic Pixies and accuse them of being vapid, unintelligent, woman-girls (they just sound like young women to me), and somehow an affront to modern women and feminism. People hate it when young women grow up too fast and are now complaining when older women want to stay young! So to combat patriarchy I should forgo simple joys and purposefully act and look older than I feel...wouldn't that mean patriarchy is controlling my behaviour anyway? It's funny that they don't like Zooey because she dresses modestly, doesn't have the stereotypical Hollywood sex-object look, and appears to be a "nice girl". Zooey Deschanel is 32 and I would love to have her feminine qualities! I just watched (500) Days of Summer again and I loved her and her wardrobe (as an aside I have to say I ADORE Joseph Gordon-Levitt and there is nothing more adorable to me than skinny, emo guys in sweater vests!!! From now on I think I will call potential boyfriends Joe's lol!).

Many of Zooey's critics use feminist arguments for why they do not like her. Naturally I disagree with all such arguments. It is against women't best interests and perhaps happiness to be forced to abandon everything youthful and fun. What is the alternative, depressing news coverage, activism, politics, and stressful careers all day every day until we die? Shouldn't women be allowed to have fun and hold on to some childhood pleasures? If I like kittens, sundresses, and wearing bows on my clothes does that mean I don't have a brain? According to them I have to only like politics, arguing, dressing like a man, and buying designer handbags. People have criticized her website Hello Giggles by calling it immature and inappropriate for a grown woman. I think this is blatant sexism! Zooey is a comedian and plays quirky characters who are similar to herself. Comedians do things to be funny! Her way of being funny is about being quirky, cute, and "adorkable". No one criticizes Ricky Jervais, Seth Rogan, or Paul Rudd for being man-boys in their comedic roles or hilarious interviews. But it's as though women have a cut off point (maybe 25) where they have to stop being funny and cute and they have to hate everything adorable. Men today still play video games but I can't like kittens and pink dresses? It is a total double standard!

So now it's a problem that a woman inspires a man to improve his life, shows him life is worth living, teaches him how to enjoy simple pleasures, and reminds him of what it was like to be an innocent child? I think that anyone who is able to do that is worth having in your life and has immense power and wisdom (seriously, people pay therapists for this sort of thing)! Are women not inspired by other men and women? Are men not inspired by other men? Isn't that what our parents, teachers, heroes, mentors, and role models do? No, your purpose in life is not to inspire men but I believe it is YOUR JOB in a relationship to add enjoyment instead of pain) to your partners' life and to have a fun time together. Are these critics suggesting that in a relationship women should just exist and not try to be fun, be playful, try new things, and push their boundaries?

In each of the MPDG movies all I saw was an introverted, depressed, and under-employed man who grew to love an extroverted, non-depressed, non-career driven (but often working) woman. It is refreshing and inspiring to the man because the woman is so different. In fact, since she changes him instead of vice versa isn't she the secure and stable one? If she had low self-esteem she would start acting differently and change to fit with her man but instead she is so confident in herself that she insists he act more like her! This is what ALWAYS happens when two very different people interact. The one who is the most insecure and open to change will do so. Of course the Manic Pixie is not perfect but why are feminists expecting her to have no flaws? So what if the women are not bound to stable careers? Many people are not and their job does not determine their self-worth. There are plenty of men and women who go from job to job and are unsure of what they want, especially those under 30 without a degree. Any extroverted, well-travelled man who has had many long-term relationships would be a Manic Pixie Dream Guy to me because I'm the introverted one who finds it hard to let loose. He would inspire me to try new things and teach me about relationships...isn't that the point of meeting new people?

The funny thing is that men LOVE MPDGs which is why they are dream girls! Male critics love Zooey Deschanel but it is other women who have a problem with her. Surprise, surprise, someone who has traditional feminine qualities (e.g., charm, girlishness, cuteness, innocence, lightheartedness, caring, and nurturing) is loved by men and rejected by women who have strong feminist views. I think that Zooey's website looks fun and it seems like she is having fun...unlike her critics! They probably love Sarah Silverman because she may be a comedian but she doesn't dress like a girly-girl. Critics make it seem like the only acceptable female character is one who isn't appealing to men! Rosie O'Donnell maybe? As long as a woman is pretty some man will fantasize about her, even if she is a tomboy, or a lesbian, or an evil and horrible person (e.g., the bad girl).

Some state that the MPDG trope is one-dimensional and it is harmful for women to be thought of as Dream Girls by men because then those men will never get to know who they really are (read article HERE). I absolutely do not understand that argument. When men meet ANY woman they may have a one-dimensional view of her ranging from trophy wife potential, sexual conquest, girl next door, best friend, to MPDG. But once they get to know the woman that may change completely. Are these critics implying that once a man sees you as his dream girl he will never get to know you and you can do no wrong? Where is the proof of that? This is just the way relationships are because you start off with an idealized image of the person combined with lofty relationship dreams and infatuation. Then you start to see the person is not your perfect ideal and you either accept the person or end the relationship. I don't think any man should be criticized for idealizing a woman at the beginning for their relationship. I have idealized many men after a great first meeting but sooner or later I got to know them and see their (sometimes major) flaws. Oh call the police, your man thinks you are his perfect dream girl, poor you! I would LOVE to be someone's dream girl instead of feeling like a place holder until the guy finds "the one".

What is this depth these critics are complaining about? MPDGs are the girlfriends of lead characters and often bring comic relief. By depth do you mean drug addiction, intimate partner violence, oppression, dysfunctional childhoods, death of loved one's, miscarriages, suicide attempts, political beliefs, religious beliefs and what other depressing or controversial things are you expecting writers to include in these comedic characters that would not be a total derailment of the main plot? I have the feeling that to these people depth means having "edge" (having a chip on your shoulder) and you know how much I dislike edge.

In a way I am an MPDG in the making because I like to wear cute dresses, I look younger than am, I like to have fun and still like some things younger people do (e.g., dance clubs, amusement parks), and I don't talk about serious things (especially work) when I first meet people. I am highly educated though, but since I am still a student, my schedule is more flexible than other adults (I sometimes sleep during the day and stay up at night lol). I also prefer men who are younger, introverts, and seem a bit insecure because I think it's cute. To these men I will appear to be the more outgoing and adventurous one and I am always told that I am fun. If these guys said I inspired them to enjoy life that would be fantastic! I love videos of kittens, animals, babies, and kids doing cute things. When I am feeling down nothing cheers me up more than watching kitten videos on YouTube. There is a reason why such videos go viral and have millions of hits...it's because they make people happy! I also love watching America's Funniest Home Videos and it often makes me laugh out loud, something that rarely happens when I watch anything else. That show has been around for at least 20 years because it makes people happy. I say to Zooey's critics, lighten up and allow yourself to experience pleasure and happiness in little things. Life is too short and full of suffering so don't waste time having negative thoughts about inherently pleasant and harmless things. Not only are Manic Pixies enjoying their lives but you are letting them ruin your own happiness by causing you anger (or maybe jealousy)!

Here are some related articles:
My Love Hate Relationship with Zooey Deschanel
In Defense of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Why are Manic Pixie Dream Girls Getting Dumber
What Exactly is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl
An Argument for the Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Kill the Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Zooey Deschanel: Maybe We're All B******(foul language)
A Valentine for Maturity (crude language)
Who is the Black Zooey Deschanel?
The War on Twee and the Illusion of Choice (excellent pro-twee article)
Femmephobia (must read, excellent!)
On Cupcakes

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Watching Films with Classical Elegant Women

I recently read a post on The Proper Lady called The Elegant and Proper Ladies of Jane Austen (great post!). In the past I'm not sure if I ever watched a film based on Jane Austin's books and I don't think I've read one of her books. I think I might have one or two of her books somewhere. I have seen some period films (Valmont is one of my favorites) and I suppose, if you pay attention, they can teach someone quite a bit about chivalry and how to be a lady. I really don't have time to read a book right now (I'm about to graduate and there are other more pressing things to do!).

I think that in the past I rejected some of these films because they were "chick flicks" and way to girly and romantic for me. The term "chick flick" is derogatory but really it shouldn't be so I won't think of them in that way anymore. Sometimes, when I'm single, I avoid watching anything related to romance because they just remind me of what I don't have. But I think that this may be a fast and easy way to see ladylike manners in action. I think seeing demonstrations of comportment will be very useful since I can't find a real, all-encompassing etiquette video online.

Another reason why I rejected these films and books is because of their lack of cultural diversity. I want to read and watch things that include different ethnicities, including Black people. I think Jane Austen writes about the Victorian Age (1837 -1901) and this is after the abolition of slavery in the British colonies in 1833. So I don't think there will be any slavery in the films/books which is a good thing. I just wouldn't feel good trying to emulate the behaviours of women who had slaves and thought they were inherently better than me (you know what I mean). It would just feel wrong because the women would act kind and lovely to their peers and family yet they would be participating in such evil by having slaves. So I don't think I'd be interested in a film or book about manners in the U.S. prior to the abolition of slavery or during Jim Crowe either. Like I said in a previous post, I tend to boycott things that don't show diversity. I would love to see/read anything from the Victorian era that has diversity though, or anything about manners in Asia, India, the Caribbean, or Africa actually.

So, I think the first film I will watch is Pride and Prejudice ( I watched the Bollywood movie Bride and Prejudice before lol...not a fan of musicals). Maybe I'll just put the boycott aside for a while so that I can learn what I want to learn. It will probably be really helpful to see exaggerated depictions of femininity, etiquette, and manners so that I can develop my behaviour to be a better-than-modern-average but less-than-Victorian. In order to be a proper lady it seems logical to look at the examples of classical proper ladies. But if I hear any racism I'll be really annoyed!

Update 1: I just found out Jane Austen lived from 1775-1817, definitely before the abolition of slavery so I guess her books are not set in the Victorian age. So I don't know about this whole thing at all...The hoity-toity characters she writes about probably owned slaves and are of the same sort who went around the world to colonize other people and build plantations. These are the people I can't stand! Yes, people like me are just supposed to ignore things like this and appreciate the art and writing...not sure if I can or should...

Update2: I read about Jane Austin on Wikipedia and it states that she writes about the landed gentry, people who own land in Britain, but there was no mention of slaves. The article talked about farmers living on the land and the gentry earned money from rent (not unlike what I would like to do one day with houses or office space) but I don't know if they also employed slaves, or if the slavery was race-based. I think I'm going to have to research this more before I decide to watch/read any Jane Austen. I'll give it a chance and watch Pride and Prejudice and do a review on it. Let's keep an open mind because maybe there is nothing to be offended about.

This all reminds me of a time in high school when I told some friends that I started to watch Dead Man Walking but I turned it off after hearing Sean Penn's character say horrible, racist things. I said I didn't have to subject myself for that or try to empathize with the character because I had better things to do. The teacher overheard and said that I should have watched the movie anyway because I missed out on a great film. Well she was White and had probably never had the experience of watching a movie only to find it riddled with racist things directed at her. This was the experience I also had watching Taxi Driver (every racist slur towards Black people was mentioned in that movie!), L.A. Confidential, Saturday Night Fever, and many Quinten Tarrantino films (e.g., Reservoir Dogs). No one thought to mention that there were highly racist comments in the films said by the so-called "heroes" who the audience is supposed to root for and identify with. I'm just supposed to look past the racism and somehow enjoy the film. I don't reject every movie that has racism though, only the one's that didn't need it (and it seems as though the writer just felt like insulting Black people). For instance, in Reservoir Dogs the movie was not about a historical time period (e.g., Jim Crowe) and there were no Black people in the film, yet I still heard the n-word. It makes sense in a movie about a racist person or setting, but not out of the blue. Well I can't stand the unnecessary racism and I won't endure that anymore. If you insult me, don't expect me to stick around to hear what else you have to say. There are plenty of excellent films from around the world that I would rather spend my time watching. Missing out on a few is not the end of the world.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Current Wardrobe

I just discovered Polyvore a great site to make online collages! So I decided to make a collage to give you an idea of what I wear. It will also help me identify things that I want to change. It's not bad for a first try but the ones by some of the other users are amazing!

The items in the collage are similar to items I have, but they are not the same items, colours, or prices of the items I own. Prior to my EBW journey I only had hoodies, sweat shirts, turtle neck sweaters, blazers for work, jeans, ill-fitting pants, masculine looking dress shirts, and masculine looking shoes. I didn't like my wardrobe at all. Now I am really liking what I have purchased (almost entirely from thrift stores) but I think I can turn the femininity up a notch by paying more attention to accessories and altering my clothes. These are items depicted below:

Skirts: My favorite skirts are my black pencil skirts because they are comfortable and they emphasize my curves. I also have them in brown and gray. I have peasant skirts in brown, black, and white and they are great for work or running errands. I prefer skirts over dresses because I think I can get many different looks with them.
Dresses: I have some summer dresses, party dresses, and sweater dresses for the winter. I want to try different looks with the summer and party dresses by pairing them with cardigans, blazers, and shrugs.
Sleeveless tops and tank tops: I have so many of these in every colour (especially turquoise!). I like the frilly ones the most. They are great under cardigans, blazers, or low cut tops. I have a few baby T-shirts that are cute for a casual look when paired with a skirt.
Cardigans: I have many of these too. I was influenced to buy them because they look so great on Michelle Obama. I think I should pin flowers or brooches on them more often, wear them with belts, or wear them open because sometimes they make me look boxy. I also have some shrugs that I will wear more often because they probably won't make me look as boxy.
Blazers and Jackets: Blazers are perfect for work or sometimes I wear them as spring jackets. I have to alter many of them so that they fit me better. I have white, black, and beige trench coats and I love wearing them belted at the waist.
Belts: I almost always wear a belt to cinch in my waist and cover the waistbands of my skirts. I love the wide ones that are almost like corsets but I will try wearing the skinny ones too.
Jewelry: I tend to only wear earrings. I love hoops and thread earrings because tiny ones can only be seen if I wear my hair back. I also can't wear dangle earrings with my hair down (my hair and I learned that the hard way!). When I first went natural I actually wore brooches in my hair and it looked pretty, but now I think my big hair gets enough attention as is! I think any more jewelry would be too much.
Cute shoes: I have many pairs of heels but I rarely wear them. I want to get used to wearing them again and I will try to bear the pain! I think the heels will really perfect my look. I just have to stock up on shoe inserts and cushioning. I also have cute flats with bows that I love and some sandals. I have flip flops that I rarely wear because they aren't very classy are they?
Purses: I have four purses and three of them are black (small, medium, and large). I wouldn't mind getting something extra cute in pink or purple. I just don't want to become obsessed with purses.

Dita von Tesse Burlesque Style

Dita von Tesse is a burlesque dancer and fashion designer. She was once married to Marilyn Manson (seriously!). Dita is well known for her feminine retro style that has aspects of 30s, 40s, and pin up fashions that I wrote about in my post "Pin up Girl Style for Black Women". She always makes sure to look her best when in public and I found numerous fashion galleries devoted to Dita and her stylish elegance. She usually wears vintage-style dresses, gowns, dress suits, corsets, and heels and it is rare to see her wearing pants. Her style is so glamorous and it would look wonderful on anyone who has curves. There is nothing hard or masculine about the way she carries herself and she definitely knows how to stand and sit perfectly!

Of course I would not dare to be a burlesque dancer or pose nude but let's just pay attention to her clothing (I am not encouraging anyone to pursue her career). I like many aspects of her wardrobe but for everyday women like myself, too many bold, vintage items may create the look of a costume so don't over do it. I am not a fan of the pale make-up (a little too gothic if you ask me) or the red lipstick, but I like almost everything I have seen her wearing online. I love that she wears her hair curly the way pin up girls did! She has reported that she does her own make-up and hair so it is possible to look great without a stylist. Here are some great links related to Dita von Tesse's style: Tutorial 1, Tutorial 2Photos, Slideshow 1Slideshow 2Slideshow 3Slideshow 4, Slideshow 5Style galleries on Polyvore.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lessons We Can Learn From Geisha

I have been meaning to do this post for a long time. When I first started this blog I watched a documentary about Maiko Training. A Maiko is a young woman who is training to become a Geisha. A Maiko starts out as a normal Japanese girl and she learns how to become the ultimate feminine woman who is desired by most men because of her grace, elegance, and mysterious beauty. It just goes to show, although some aspects of femininity come natural to women, some things can and must be learned in order to appear the most feminine. It includes learning how to move, speak, dress, wear make-up, perform music and various arts, and how to treat men. It takes five years to learn all of this! It reminds me of young women who are sent to finishing school to learn how to be proper ladies. It was hard to find videos about Geisha, just as it is difficult to find videos about etiquette and finishing schools because people want to reserve these skills for the elite members of society (or they want to be paid for the valuable information).

When I started this post I decided to give myself a lesson (a few hours) about Geisha based on what I could find online. So I decided to watch The Secret World of Geisha and Memoirs of a Geisha (other video: Video1). What I love the most about Geisha is the way they move so gracefully and slowly. That is what I really want to learn, how to move in the most feminine manner possible. That is also why I want to learn dance lessons. I really want to learn some Geisha tricks!

Memoirs of a Geisha starring Gong Li
I have to say that I have been a fan of Gong Li ever since I saw her in Raise the Red Lantern years ago. I also loved her in Hannibal and Miami Vice (the movie).  She is always so beautiful, graceful, reserved, and ultra-feminine. I really need to watch more of her films so I can absorb some of her essence! Her photos on Google Images are just breathtaking!

Here are some lessons we can learn from Geisha:

  1. Be a fantasy and a walking work of art.  A Geisha is a man's fantasy of a feminine, pure, idealized woman. Make yourself look beautiful and feminine. Walk in a soft delicate manner with small steps. Carry and treat yourself like a precious work of art. Do not allow people to treat you with disrespect because you are priceless! The more you believe this and act this out the sooner it will become your usual way of thinking and behaving. Part of being a fantasy is not revealing everything about yourself as soon as you meet someone. Be mysterious. Also, try not to mention everything you do to look beautiful, keep your grooming habits secret.
  2. Be exclusive and only associate with high quality men. Only the most successful, high quality men are able to associate with Geisha. Do not lower yourself by associating with low quality people or they will bring you down to their level and you may pick up their bad habits. If you associate with low quality people onlookers will assume that you are low quality too. If you want to find a good man then you must frequent the places where such men congregate not at a sleazy club or on the street beside the liquor store.
  3. Learn how to entertain. Geisha are artists who provide entertainment to wealthy clients. Being entertaining includes learning the art of conversation. Become aware of world events, read non-fiction, tell amusing stories, ask other people questions, and show interest in others. Be a good guest at parties, be on your best behaviour, and learn dining etiquette. You don't have to say everything you are thinking and there is not need to argue all the time. Speak wisely, listen closely, and learn to keep a secret.  Sell your skills and companionship to male suitors, not your body.  Be reserved and learn to control your emotions.
  4. Women need to preserve traditional femininity. Women must teach girls and other women how to be feminine because men can not properly teach these things. Men may believe that acting feminine comes naturally and don't realize that it is hard work to learn. There are tips and secrets that we must teach future generations so that we maintain our femininity despite all of the pressure to be androgynous. Gender roles have changed with time and we can keep some of the old and blend with the new. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Why I Gave Up Wearing the Pants--Literally!

I have given up wearing pants and I'm so glad I have! Almost four years ago I transitioned to wearing natural hair and cut off my relaxed ends. Even though I had nine months of new growth, I did not realize how much shrinkage I would get (about 80%!!!) so my hair ended up looking only about two inches long! That was way too short for me and I thought it made me look unfeminine. It also didn't help that my student wardrobe was mainly jeans, sweatshirts, and hoodies. So I decided I needed to make myself look more feminine to compensate for my hair.

I started by buying jewelry. I think large, colourful earrings look great with natural hair so I bought plenty of those. I also bought necklaces but I just never liked them enough to keep wearing them (maybe I haven't found the right style yet). I also decided my wardrobe needed an overhaul not only to look more feminine, but also because I had gained weight and my pants no longer fit! It wasn't that expensive either because I tend to do thrift shopping. I became frustrated because the pants I tried on did not fit me well. Many Black women have probably encountered the same problem trying to find pants for larger thighs and backsides along with a small waist. If the pants fit the thighs/backside then they are loose around the waist. Any pants that were in my waist size were too tight to pull over my thighs. So I decided to try on some skirts. At the time I had a few long flower skirts that I rarely wore but I still gave it a try. I ended up with pretty, elegant dresses and skirts that greatly improved my look and garnered many compliments! These are the benefits of wearing dresses/skirts:

  • It is easy to look feminine wearing a dress/skirt. Dresses and skirts come in feminine patterns (e.g., flowers, elaborate designs, lace etc.) and colours (e.g., pink, red, yellow, pastels) that are not seen often in pants. This means that as soon as you put them on you instantly look more feminine. Baggy pants aren't helpful but even a loose, flowing skirt can enhance your femininity. Furthermore, you will look more feminine because you will be wearing a traditional female garment. Dresses/skirts may also prompt you to walk and sit in a more feminine manner and this will make you appear well mannered and elegant. Women who want to look androgynous or masculine do not wear pretty dresses or skirts.
  • When you wear a dress/skirt you look more dressed up. Dresses and skirts are basically just tubes of fabric but somehow they make you look less casual. They are definitely more dressy than jeans. People will think that you care more about your presentation even though dresses and skirts are easier to put on than pants (no jumping around to fit into tight pairs or using hangers to pull up zippers!). Many women only wear skirts for special occasions so when you wear dresses/skirts it looks like you are dressing for something special. You will always stand out in highly feminine dresses/skirts when surrounded by other women wearing pants and casual styles. This will make you more attractive to men who prefer feminine women.
  • A dress/skirt can give you an hourglass figure. You can buy skirts that emphasize your curves if you have them, give you more curves if you don't have them, and minimize your curves if you have too many. When you wear a skirt (slightly above the knee or lower) no one can tell how large your thighs (I actually looked thinner than I did in pants especially because my lower legs are unusually thin). Skirts that are worn high on the waist (higher than any pants would be worn) can really emphasize the small waists of curvy or overweight women. Wearing things low on my waist makes me look boxy. Some pants are cut to actually look like men's pants and they make my hips look huge (especially when the pockets stick out).
  • Dresses/skirts can accommodate for weight fluctuations. Pants with elastic waist bands tend to look awful, but many skirts are made of stretchy spandex material or loose flowing material! If you gain weight the skirt still fits and hugs your body. If you lose weight is just looks like a looser skirt and you can add a belt. Pants that are too tight or loose do not flatter the body at all. So if you accidentally put on a few pounds over the holidays or if you are on a weight loss program you may not need to rush out and buy new pants. This will allow you to keep your favorite clothes and save money.
  • Dresses/skirts can actually be very comfortable. I think girls may avoid dresses because they are warned about getting them dirty and are not allowed to play in their "good clothes". But adult women do not worry about getting dirty or being able to run around, so these things are no longer a problem. Dresses/skirts can be made of comfortable stretchy material including cotton and jersey fabrics that breathe and stretch. On a hot day it is very uncomfortable being squeezed into tight pants. I was also pleasantly surprised that my legs didn't get very cold in dresses/skirts. I also wear them in the winter with tights and high boots. You can find comfortable dresses to wear at home too and you can wear flattering night gowns.
  • A great dress or skirt will always be beautiful and in style. Although designers come up with new fashions every season, a good skirt or dress will always be in style. A black skirt or summer dress will always be a great part of your wardrobe. Flower skirts have been in fashion for decades. The little black dress is a wardrobe staple. Certain styles like capris, harem pants, or certain jeans can go out of style quickly. 
I love skirts and dresses and they make me look fabulous!

Thursday, March 1, 2012