The More You Know
Homographs, homophones, heteronyms, polysemes, and capitonyms – do you know the difference?
Debbie Drakeâ€™s Easy Way to a Perfect Figure and Glowing Health (Drake, 1961). You know. Before I do my scissor kicks, I fix the hell out of my hair and makeup, then put on my perkiest bullet bra.
“OTL: Dark History” at ESPN.go. A very brief glimpse into the Santa Anita racetrack and our human capacity for cruelty.
“A Clinical, Searing Memoir Of Abuse in Tiger, Tiger“ at NPR. Library hold, placed.
“Male-Centric Plots and the Oscars” at SocImages (and then, “There Are More Sites Of Oppression Than Gender”, Womanist Musing’s response)
Amelia Earhart’s plane found? (Answer: no)
I got into Noisettes this week. It’s only a matter of time before Ralph does. Oh, and I totally know which album he’ll like.
“Talking to Your Daughter About Beauty” at The Good Men Project. Not so much a fathering article as one anyone identifying as male should consider. This is a good 101 article; sadly, there is a dearth of them, and more in-depth stuff is nary to be found. I’d love to hear a male author weigh in on this topic; men are usually so silent at speaking out against beauty performance, instead of being powerful allies.
At NPN, photos of natural birth. How fucking awesome is this? Including the following sentence: “Acknowledging that many parents cannot or choose not to have this kind of birth, next weekâ€™s photos will show other birthing experiences.”. NPN, that is rock-tastic.
“Dear Brian McFadden: I was damaged after being taken advantage of”. Brian McFadden’s song “Just as you are (Drunk at the Bar”) – and every pro-date rape song out there – suuuucks. This piece illustrates why, rather well. Particularly good is Nina Funnell’s answer to “Anonymous”. Kind of stunningly good.
“Ensuring the Male Gaze” at PostBourgie. Someone wrote something pretty damn smart on the potrayal of “reverse sexism”.
“Suicide” by Jeff Sabo. This piece and the commentariat is so far an incredibly illustrative discussion of youth depression and suicide (given it is written by a non-youth). The “It Gets Better” campaign irritates me for a few reasons, one of which the tone often seems to be: don’t kill yourself, your life hasn’t even started, just wait to grow up, we won’t help you NOW.
“Taming the Tiger Mother” by Naomi Aldort at Life Learning Magazine. Nuanced article about the balance of control vs. neglect.
“So You Want to Unschool Your Child or Teen? Yes, you CAN do it!” by Laurie Couture. What can I say, today’s all about some 101!
Salted Caramels & Homemade Cadbury Eggs, both from Instructables. My friend Sophiea and I made these caramels Monday and they were delicious!
“Building Cookies is Not SEW Easy!” at Sweet Sugar Belle
“Celebrate Women’s History Month by Picking Up a Needle and Thread” at CRAFT
The Incredible Edible Abacus at The Hokey Pokey Kitchen
“Home”, a French knot masterpiece.
Cat vs. Internet, a comic
“Open-Minded Man Grimly Realizes How Much Life He’s Wasted Listening To Bullshit” at The Onion
Beauty performance is a tough issue for me to discuss. I doubt that any man can truly identify with what females go through on a daily basis. Because of this, I always feel that I will come across as ignorant because…well…I am. I’ll give it a shot anyway, since you asked.
I think I did reasonably well with my first daughter, given that I was so young when I started and still had a lot of growing up to do. In fact, I’m still working on some of that growing up, but who isn’t. I don’t recall ever putting much emphasis on her meeting certain beauty expectations. The only time I ever added my two cents was when she seemed to be struggling with what other people thought of her. She had her princess stage, but it was mostly the result of the toy industry and the influence of friends at school. I’m not trying to blame anyone. I’m just saying that she only found interest in “girly” stuff from exposure to the standard influences outside of the home. I never bought her toys because they were gender appropriate. I bought them because they were fun and/or she expressed an interest in them. Sometimes it was Barbie. Sometimes it was Hotwheels. It was a pretty even mix.
However, I am guilty of at least one thing that the author pointed out. When I saw a pretty woman, more often than not I would make it known that I thought that the woman was pretty. My comments weren’t initiated with any intention of making a comparison to my daughter or my wife. I just found it necessary to say something for my own sake. I don’t know why. It was just me sharing what I liked to see. To me, appreciating the beauty of Jennifer Lopez is the same thing as admiring Jackie Chan for his fight choreography. I understand that beauty isn’t an actual accomplishment like fight choreography, but I still appreciate it.
In the last 6 years or so, I have come to realize that some of my interests could have been bad influences. I read and collected Maxim magazine. Although filled with highly sexually charged content, it was once a decent magazine. I won’t lie. I enjoyed the images, but I did learn a lot of useful non-sex stuff from it. It’s a real rag now. Once they dropped the original editor, it just became another lazy skin magazine. Luckily for me (and my daughter), she never showed any interest in the magazine, so I don’t think any damage was done from that source.
Beyond that, I had an interest in pinup art. I collected and sold some of the old stuff like Gil Elvgren and Varga. We also decorated our house with art from Steve Hanks, some of them nudes. I can’t say if any of those images affected my daughter negatively, but now I can see how they had potential to do so. The only interest my daughter had in any of the pinup stuff was when she casually mentioned that she might want to get a tattoo of a pinup girl. I agreed that it would be cool, but told her that tattoos are very personal and should be considered carefully before getting one. She was 18 at the time in case you were wondering.
Her body image isn’t the best, but it isn’t the worst either. There are a few sources that caused this that I won’t go into here because they involve mentioning other people. There was one incident however that rattled me a bit. I think it was her freshmen year. She started wearing dresses and heels to school instead of jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. I thought it was odd, but not really any of my business. Later I found out that she was trying to change her image because her boyfriend said she wasn’t feminine enough. I was more than a little bit angry, but I tried to play it cool to see if she would figure it out for herself…and she did. A few weeks later, the boy broke up with her because she wouldn’t have sex with him. She promptly went back to wearing what she wanted. It scared the hell out of me, but I was happy with how she handled it. Shortly after the break up, he found a girl that would have sex with him and wear what he wanted her to wear. It’s damn scary really.
The things I’ve changed with my youngest daughter seem natural to me now. Maybe it’s just because I’m older. I still like pinup art, but I’m getting rid of most of my collection. Our tastes have changed in decorating, so the nudes are going away as well. As I mentioned, I’ve lost interest in Maxim magazine, so it won’t be around the house. I keep my comments to myself now (and have for a few years) when I see a pretty woman. I still recognize their beauty, but I also recognize that my opinion is irrelevant.
Unfortunately, at 6-years-old she has already shown disapproval of fat. I know where this comes from, but it doesn’t come from me and the source is beyond my control. I do my best to discuss it with her if she brings it up. She has also picked up the notion that certain toys/colors are for boys only and others for girls only. Yesterday I was showing her drum sets at the toy store because she had shown interest in playing. She immediately limited herself to a single drum set because it was pink. The others were “for boys”. I explained that she could have any kind of drumset that she wants. If she wants a black set with skulls on it, she can have it.
So basically, I teach my daughters to be who they want to be and look how they want to look. I try to diffuse external negative influences if I can, or at least give them my opinion for their consideration. I am not perfect, and in fact can act like a “pig” sometimes. However, I have learned to recognize these traits in myself and do my best not to demonstrate such behavior in front of my daughters.
Another reason that we may not hear many arguments from men regarding beauty performance is because it’s embarrassing to admit our habits and thoughts once we realize that they may affect someone negativley. Additionally, before someone makes that realization, I think it’s normal for them to defend their own behavior because it’s a part of who they are. These habits and behaviors are a result of our life experiences. The best we can do is try to unlearn the negative ones.
As a final note, I think that most men treat their daughters with the utmost love and respect. If we can apply those same behaviors toward all the other females in our lives, the world would be a much better place.
…and I love the song Daughters by John Mayer. There, I said it.
Holy Willy Wonka, Batman! I’m going to have to spend a weekend in the kitchen making candy! Seriously, the Fleur de Sel Caramels are calling my name.
Love the homebirth pics, too but I love even more that they want to include different types of births in a different post – I know that so many times you hear how people feel bad that they couldn’t have the birth that they wanted and I always wonder if they feel segregated somehow within the natural parenting community for something that they didn’t necessarily have control over. Acknowledging that is such a great way to allow those people to feel accepted.
I read the piece at The Good Men Project and it made me think back to being a kid and my dad. I don’t think my dad ever really did anything or said anything that made me feel like there was an emphasis on being pretty, though he may have and I may have been completely oblivious to it. Society in general did enough to make me feel less than pretty – I wore glasses, I’m short, and my teeth are in serious need of orthodontic intervention. But I wasn’t really interested in being pretty because I knew that I wasn’t. The only thing my dad ever said about looks was that he personally preferred long hair on women. He cried when I got my waist-length hair cut to a short bob in 8th grade. But he never made a critical remark, even when I got it cut short Ã la Annie Lennox, in 1988. So maybe I’m lucky – he didn’t put an emphasis on beauty so I didn’t, either. To my surprise, when our senior class was doing the ‘superlatives’ for the yearbook, I came in 3rd in the ‘prettiest’ category. The only reason I know that is I was on the yearbook staff and in charge of that part, along with a male friend. When we did the tally and I expressed shock that my name had even gotten on the list at all, he said “Why are you so surprised?”
Kidsync talks about his 6 year-old and her preference for a pink drum set. I tried really hard not to emphasize the “princess” thing with Maeve. She was drawn to purple (and sometimes pink) from a very young age. I bought trucks and cars for her to play with but she didn’t want to play with them. She was all about Barbies, dolls and princesses. She loved to dress up. Her cowgirl dress-up outfit even had a skirt. She asked for a pink guitar for Christmas when she was 6. I had to let it run its course. Now she’s not about princess stuff and I can’t really get her to wear anything other than jeans. I had to talk to her about making sure she brushes her hair (she doesn’t like to) because it gets knotted so easily. And to do that I had to make sure that I didn’t use any loaded words like ‘pretty’ or ‘nice’ or ‘ugly’. So I told her that when she doesn’t take care of her hair that it makes me wonder how she’s feeling, and that part of feeling good about herself includes taking care of herself. I had to de-emphasize how it looks and instead talk about how she feels when she can’t get the brush through it if she hasn’t brushed it in 2 days. And then I had to gently offer to help her. It was hard to talk to her about it without making some kind of reference to looks and looking pretty!
Gwyneth is less like this than Maeve. She likes princess things, but usually her dress-up costume consists of a Snow White dress, with cowboy boots, so she can ride her stick horse. She loves playing pirate and was one for Halloween. She begged me for one of those fleece hats that has a fringe-y mohawk on the top when she saw one in the boys’ section at the GAP. It was black with blue pirate skulls and she wore it constantly this winter. She and Tallon play trucks together often and her current favorite toys are the glow-in-the-dark Playmobil pirates that she got for Christmas. She has 2 favorite pairs of pants that she calls “adventure pants” (both hand-me-downs from Maeve and from her cousin before that); when she wears them she is “Adventure Gwynnie!” and is ready to head outside to be rough-and-tumble.
I think it’s a matter of personality for some girls to be more concerned with being girly and princessy. But I also think it’s important that we teach all girls to value themselves and help them to grow up to value themselves and others as whole beings and not just for their looks. That’s what we do here in our house. And the thing is, Scott is surprisingly good at not putting a premium on pretty with our girls or with anyone else. Well – unless we’re talking Oscar red-carpet best-dressed list and then it’s about the dress and not the person. And he does it when the girls aren’t around.
I have to go back and read about the sexualization of girls because I have this horror of seeing little girls dressed like they’re extras in a bad music video. That and Maeve is wearing a women’s 7.5 shoe and she’s only 10, which means it will be a true pain in my ass to find any sandals for summer that resemble something appropriate for someone her age. High heels for your pre-schooler, anyone?
I forget to say that the Debbie Drake link was priceless! It reminded me of my Aunt Sheila, who never broke a sweat, to my knowledge, whose hair was always in place and whose makeup was always perfect. She also had a white couch in her “living room” which we weren’t allowed to sit on if we were wearing denim, no matter how faded and old, because she was convinced that the indigo dye would rub off on it. And by we I include her husband, my uncle. I put living room in quotes because no real living was done in it, since you weren’t allowed in there without adult supervision if you were a kid, and you certainly weren’t allowed to wear your shoes in there on the pale blue carpet. So glad I didn’t live in that house – my cousins were always afraid they were doing something wrong.