culture

/Tag: culture

Masculine terror.

In his book How Not To Be a Boy, the comedian Robert Webb jokes that it’s not so much that masculinity is in crisis as that masculinity is a crisis. He immediately denounces this conclusion as too simplistic, but I’m tempted to agree with the original premise. Boys might be conditioned to believe that their sexuality is a fire-breathing dragon whose life force must never be tamed, but let’s be honest – that’s bullshit. It seems to me more likely that boys are fucking terrified all the time. Terrified that they won’t measure up to what they’re told men have to be, terrified that they’re not doing sex properly, terrified that they’re doing it with the wrong people, terrified that they’ll never get the girl, terrified of what it means that they don’t want to get the girl, terrified that someone might discover that they have feelings, terrified terrified terrified.

Clementine Ford on male fear.

Content warning that the full article discusses sexual assault, both in the abstract sense of what factors might contribute to it, as well as descriptions of actual instances.

2019-01-17T08:37:07+10:002nd April, 2019|Tags: culture|

Contempt.

If you and I are discussing something, and you say something that sounds racist/sexist/homophobic/classist/ableist (or otherwise marginalising towards certain groups of people), and I say to you “Wow, that’s a pretty bigoted word” please don’t think that you have offended me and that I just need to grow a thicker skin and not get offended so easily, and why do people look for stuff to go around getting offended about etc etc. (Oh no, the PC brigade is running wild!)

I’m not offended by those words. I’m contemptuous of those words, and I’m letting you know that using them just made me think less of you.

tigtog on offense.

An old post but, I think, a spot-on and very clear way of articulating this issue, and I also think it completely nails where the whole “don’t be so offended” whine actually comes from (i.e. fear of social exclusion/ridicule)…

2018-11-26T11:21:29+10:0031st March, 2019|Tags: culture|

Pretty girls take selfies.

Apparently young people in China really, really likes taking selfies.

As with a lot of these sorts of articles (see also: every English-language article ever written ever about Japan), this should be read less in the context of “lawlz China so wild!” and more in the context of, “What is this outsider-perspective on China actually saying about something we don’t want to examine too closely in ourselves?”

(Also: the whole “it being rude to publicly post photos of your friends without first ensuring they look good” is a cultural trend I can 1000% get behind…)

2018-11-26T11:11:43+10:0031st March, 2019|Tags: culture, tech|

Queer.

This is a somewhat controversial stance, but to me queer means something completely different than “gay” or “lesbian” or “bisexual.” A queer person is usually someone who has come to a non-binary view of gender, who recognizes the validity of all trans identities, and who, given this understanding of infinite gender possibilities, finds it hard to define their sexuality any longer in a gender-based way. Queer people understand and support non-monogamy even if they do not engage in it themselves. They can grok being asexual or aromantic. (What does sex have to do with love, or love with sex, necessarily?) A queer can view promiscuous (protected) public bathhouse sex with strangers and complete abstinence as equally healthy.

[…]

Queer doesn’t mean “don’t label me,” it means “I am naming myself.” It means “ask me more questions if you curious” and in the same breath means “fuck off.”

Asher on labels.

I’ve cut out a whole big chunk here because otherwise I’d just be quoting the whole article, but… yes, this.

It’s something I don’t talk about much on a personal level but, let’s be honest here; you will take the label “queer” out of my cold, dead hands.

2018-11-26T11:08:08+10:0030th March, 2019|Tags: culture, quiltbag|

Funding models.

There is simply nothing special or important about private education as an idea. It’s been around since kings hired tutors for their children. Any tin-pot dictatorship can, and does, create a highly educated elite. There is nothing difficult or clever about that. What is difficult, what requires a commitment by every member of the community – particularly, one would think, those who lead it – is a strong, well-supported, well-resourced public education system open to every child in their own right, regardless of who their parents are. That is what differentiates a civil society from one where inherited privilege trumps equality of opportunity.

Jane Caro on public citizens.

I intentionally always attended public schools, even when we could’ve afforded otherwise, as did my parents (who both came from working class families who couldn’t’ve). If I had children, I’d make the same choice myself.1

  1. Admittedly, we’re somewhat fortunate in that, because of where we live, our local public schools are literally the best in the city, of both the public and private variety. The college/senior high is also the one I attended—even though it wasn’t my local school—and it was great and I have A++ nostalgic feelings about it. []
2018-11-22T10:42:17+10:0028th March, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|

Oh, SPLC, no…

In fact, [Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris] Dees never even wanted to run a poverty law firm. In a 1988 article in The Progressive, he was explicit: “We’re not a public interest law firm, not a legal aid society taking any case that comes in off the street. We only want the precedent-setting cases… Maybe our name is part of the problem.” But the United States is in need of more public interest law firms! The kind of representation poor people receive in criminal cases is often horrendous, and legal aid is woefully underfunded. Many of the SPLC’s donors surely think they’re donating to a public interest law firm. In fact, they’re mostly donating to an ever-growing giant pile of money, a portion of which is used to finance some progressive legal work.

Nathan J. Robinson on… yikes.

The allegations against Dees and the SPLC’s misuse of money are undeniably awful but, that being said, I do think Robinson is a little too flippant in his criticism of Hate Watch, ref. e.g. his dismissal of Return of Kings as apparently just a blog published by pick-up artist Roosh V and a couple of his friends which, uh… kinda undersells the damage of a dude who literally writes rape manuals for a living and contributes to an ideology that pretty consistently produces mass murderers. Not to mention the fact that Nazis host pool parties (or play with kittens) doesn’t mean they’re, y’know. Not fucking Nazis.

To be fair to Robinson, I do think his broader point here is valid; basically, “liberal elites” like to focus on grassroots hate groups both as a kind of sneery “rednecks ew” class warfare thing and because it means they don’t have to think about systemic issues of inequality in traditional liberal institutions. Which… fine. But, also: ¿Por qué no los dos? Institutionally discriminatory policing sucks but so does, y’know. Living in fear of violence from your neighbor because he has a giant swastika tattooed on his head. Like, the fallacy of relative privation is a thing.

All that aside, the broader point is that the SPLC has ousted Dees, and hopefully the worst of its current culture with him. The organization still has a shittonne of money, so… time to do something good with it.

2019-03-27T08:57:24+10:0027th March, 2019|Tags: culture|

The end of the end.

Next time The Olds™ get to whinging about the degeneracy of Kids These Days and their No Family Values, just remind them: Millennials are, apparently, killing the divorce industry. Or, maybe more accurately, Baby Boomers have unusually high rates of divorce, historically speaking, and Millennials are just reverting that to a mean.

It makes a kind of intuitive sense, if you think about it, and for once it’s not something that can be entirely blame on the Boomers; they were, after all, the first generation to (in modern, Western nations) take advantage of both no-fault divorce laws and the economic emancipation of women.1 That is to say, they were the first (again, modern, Western) generation where women didn’t have to saddle themselves with a dipshit man in order to, like, eat and own a house.

Outside of pockets of (mostly evangelical religious) resistance, meanwhile, my generation has grown up with the idea that marriage is a kind of social-economic partnership between two legal equals—and one that can be dissolved at will if it’s no longer considered effective by the parties involved—as a norm. Shockingly,2 society no longer effectively forcing women into marriage has not, in fact, destroyed the institution and, arguably, has strengthened it instead (see also the fight for marriage equality, for example, which is an indicator that marriage is still such an important institution that people want to see it extended, not rolled back).

(Also, because it’s worth mentioning, even the whole “people aren’t getting divorced because they aren’t getting married in the first place!” thing is also a kind of reversion to a historical mean, given that common law marriages/de facto relationships have been the pre-modern norm for commoners. So while, yes, on the one hand it’s reflective of widening inequality—marriage has always been an upper-class aspirational bougie institution—it’s also not, like, unusual, historically speaking.)

  1. Imperfect but, like, y’know. My Boomer mother was literally the first working cohort year where women could retain their jobs after they got married. My dad had to co-sign her first passport to give her “permission” to be able to leave the country when they went on their honeymoon in the 1970s. Like… our current system isn’t perfect but it’s come a long way in two generations. []
  2. Or, yanno. Not. Marriage in some form or another exists fairly universally among human cultures, and has done since forever. Given that humans are a largely monogamous species whose offspring require huge parental investment, it’s probably not outrageous to argue “marriage” is merely a cultural shell wrapped around whatever’s left of our evolutionary ancestors’ mating instincts. In other words, it’s lasted this long; it’s probably not going away any time soon. []
2018-11-22T08:26:42+10:0026th March, 2019|Tags: culture|

They always knew it was bad.

“Boys will be boys” is a nostrum with the designated purpose of chalking male malfeasance up to innocent high spirits. It’s a saying that meant to exonerate, but here’s the funny thing: It only works on the agreed-upon assumption that boys do shitty things, the gravity of which we’re supposed to ignore or dismiss. The message isn’t that the boys don’t know that the things they do are bad; it’s rather that the rest of us should forgive, understand, and love them anyway, without their needing to ask for it.

Is it any surprise that an incentive structure like this one breeds entitled indifference to girls and women in the coddled party, and in the system that coddles them? Is it any surprise that men would panic at the realization that the system that they could depend on to look the other way is fast eroding?

Lili Loofbourow on boys.

The whole post is about Kavanaugh, so obvious content warning for sexual assault.

2018-11-08T13:48:10+10:0024th March, 2019|Tags: culture|

The tyranny of engagement metrics.

How using hyper-capitalist concepts like “engagement metrics” is killing galleries and museums.

2018-11-08T13:42:42+10:0024th March, 2019|Tags: arts, culture|