"And that’s the problem: A generation of romantic comedies rewarding men for diligently pursuing a woman until she caves has normalized a behavior that has direct and unwelcome corollaries in real life. In an era when we’re having open conversations about representation and sensitivity in comedy, the shtick of a guy who won’t take no for an answer has lost any charm it once held. It’s become either a romantic signpost to set up a long-term romantic dynamic (which it shouldn’t), or it’s shorthand to denote a clueless creep while rarely taking him to task for it."
The Full Boyle: Guys who don’t hear “no” just aren’t funny anymore - Genevieve Valentine (via theashleyclements)
"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live."
Norman Cousins (via observando)
My professor leaned forward on the desk, hands grasping opposite elbows. He peered over thick, dark frames, taking us in. His reddish beard grazed his bare arms, exposed by his navy blue sweater being pushed up and past his elbows. We were wrapping up a discussion on David Foster Wallace’s “Transcription of the 2005 Kenyon Commencement Address”, our final DFW piece to read in class. The course had grown darker in it’s progress, despite the sun finally beginning to creep out from behind her winter captor. In his final summary of Ayn Rand’s ideologies and contrasting those with Marilyn Robinson’s “Gilliad”, his stood upon resounding words of bleak hope - “we then must build our community out of our mutual incompetence” - as we had, as a class, guided by his gentle tongue, discovered that were were all inherently bad, and that true goodness, true selfless, true awareness is not an actuality. But that wasn’t the end of his spiel. Finally, he aimed to open up Wallace’s own life, after we as a class had moved through the sequence of his writing, watching his patterns, concluding that this piece, his most recent, was, of all the three (“Getting Away From Being Away From It All”, “The Devil Is A Busy Man”, “Transcription”) the most optimistic.
"It was a mere six years ago, on 2008, that he….and I struggle to even fully comprehend this, still…" He paused, swallowing, catching his breath, reforming his sentences. "His wife came out into the garage, where he would work, and she, she…she saw him found…no, goddamn. She found his fucking body. Hanging there in the garage."
We were aware of this as a class, as one of our peers had let the forbidden piece of information slip between her lips, preluded by a hasty, “spoiler alert”. Still. We were 54 seconds over the clock. I could see my peers itching to pack away their books and rush off into their next class. Life is a fast paced board game, see. You wait, you listen, you make your next move. But board games, even though they’re for more than 4 players at a time and ages 12+. are really self-centered games. You never pay attention much to the other person’s move unless it’s directly impeding your way to the finish line. Inherently, we are selfish. And even mourning the loss of a life can, though tragic, inflict little emotion if it’s getting in the way of your trip to your next class.
Today, my social networks were speckled with memorials, with updates and profile picture changes from years ago, all with a lovely blond girl. Verbs were used in the past tense. “Was, were, loved.” The familiar feeling of a communal loss struck me. I felt the familiar softness of the atmosphere. A need for everyone to say something, and yet have it mean little. “She was beautiful; I didn’t know you very well, but; A life gone too soon.” Place holders. These aren’t the grieving, the suffering. The true pained hide away. They bury themselves away from the social media, for every time her name is mentioned is another stab, a tightening of the throat, a re-loss of rational thought. The others are the informers to the second and third parties, the ones who don’t know. They are the suppliers to the gossipers, to the curious. They are the breeders of emotion in others who did not know the name of the girl yesterday or the day before. Who may have stumbled past her drunkenly on Thursday, who may have sat next to her in class. “No,” you say, “you would’ve known her. She had this presence, see. She was bold. She was more.” And then they go on with their day, but differently. Everything is more tense, even waiting for the toast to pop, hipbones pressed into a countertop hurt more. The two minutes seventeen seconds that it takes for the toast to darken are hellishly long. They’re bare moments that give them a time to think about her again. How she liked her toast darker.
I didn’t know her. Though, I might have passed her a thousand times, she might have passed me a red cup at a party in the early weeks of September. I might have sat in the seat behind her in chemistry 210, wondering how she could possibly maintain such a fantastic appearance at 10am. But I didn’t know her.
And yet I mourn with the community. We are all the same. A community of mutual incompetence. I feel the ache of a loss, though I haven’t lost. I wonder why.
In his essay, Wallace gives an anecdote of two young fish to commence his speech, who happen across an older fish, greeting them with, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?”, which leaves the two fish puzzled. They look at each other after some time has passed and ask, “what the hell is water?” He goes on, to criticize our own self-absorption stating,
"everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it’s so socially repulsive. But it’s pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people’s thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real."
I didn’t know the girl. But I exist in the world she left behind, that Wallace left behind. He concludes his speech with,
"The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death. It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:
"This is water."
This is water.
"But remember, there are two ways to dehumanize someone: by dismissing them, and by idolizing them."
David Wong (via thedapperproject)
But sometimes the aching in my chest for you is stronger than it has been for anyone, even for him. We were lovers, he and I. You and I were different. We shared stories, we open up buckets in our minds, allowing each other to fill, allowing a sharing of blankets, a slow dance that no one else can see, in a basement littered with baby toys and video game controllers.
Softly, you come to me in the early morning, not night. He comes to me in the night. You come to me in the early morning, you sink into bed with me, like you’d do when I sank into slumber hours before you were ready. But this time you’ve been up, you’ve been working, you’ve been dreaming like you always do. You pull back my covers, you lay yourself next to me, but you don’t touch me. You stare up into my ceiling. I notice you, but I am not there. I never was. Even our physical proximity lied to us. Even the way our bodies fit together, smoothly, unlike any other body I had pressed to mine before, even though the stubs of your hipbones bounced against mine, our bodies were made for each others.
But we were too quick to place labels and possessive strips upon each others’ bones. So much so that now, I’m afraid no man will ever love me in the manner that you did, that no man will ever give himself to me in full. I still have your name branded on my wrists, I can still feel the curls of your hair tangle in between my finger tips, like we’re loving again. I feel you today more than I have felt any other, even though I’ve placed two lovers between you and I. Even though I’ve felt the beads of other men’s sweat trickle from palpitating necks, even though I’ve made a home in other men’s pillows. You were the only one who ever loved me.
As spring emerges, as the color battles against the grey, and I am bathed in sunlight, I am reminded of you. I am reminded of leaving, of the discontent that grasped me, though not suddenly. It trickled in. I felt its heat in early February, I just felt it strongest in April. It was as if I was unaccustomed to the fresh air that pervaded my lungs. Winter was heavy, but I had grown used to the cold. Summer’s heat was harsh. My skin felt uncomfortable in clothing, its captor. I longed to be free, to be naked, to be back in the cold.
I look back on spring, upon us, as a wondering of being fearful of human interaction. I look at the lack of relationships I’ve possessed with men, the inability to talk to my father, the fearfulness of having male teachers in elementary school, the worry of being loved by a man. Perhaps your love was simply too much, though I know there’s more than that.
But you could have given me the world, and I still would have asked you for the stars.
"It’s not just a matter of self-perception, however. Women are expected to prove their qualifications and have more of them. We need more qualifications in order to be paid fairly and to succeed. Men do not feel the same pressure to prove their expertise because they don’t have to. They are still able to wake up, look in the mirror and feel perfectly confident talking about virtually anything. It’s a likely and predictable effect of seeing yourself pervasively represented in culture as competent, able and powerful. There is a reason why only young white boys experience a surge of self-esteem when they watch television. Girls and women do not, as a rule, derive a message of cultural power from the moment they are born, so we overcompensate and second-guess ourselves."
Use this to combat pro-life “statistics” (aka, statistics pulled out of a random donkey’s hiney).
"Don’t ever compliment me by insulting other women. That’s not a compliment, it’s a competition none of us agreed to."
"it’s a competition none of us agreed to" I want to give the author of this quote the hardest dap ever.
On Bodily Autonomy
I have the luxury of living in a country that, for the most part, allows me to be in control of the decisions of my body. Not entirely. But we’re getting there. Regardless of the fact that some individuals in this country still believe we exist in the 1800’s, and that a woman’s body is not her own, there exists an even further troubling notion of this urge to possess another person. Not entirely in a fiscal sense, not entirely in a property sense, but in the sense that because someone has entered your life, one now feels that they have a right to that being.
I am making sense? Probably not. But I’ll keep going.
As a woman, which is not a statement made to say that this is a gendered phenomena, but as a woman, I have experienced on a personal level this idea of belonging to someone. Relationships. Friendships. Familial ties. The phrase, “you owe me” comes to mind. Because of my relation with another, I am thus bound by invisible ties to supply certain needs for the other individual. Honesty. Loyalty. Trying my best. Being there. Whatever. It depends on the person a lot of the time. But especially in my male relationships, and this is why I say as a woman, I’ve experienced it more forcefully.
When I am underneath him, I am his. When I am away from him, I am his. He is upset and indignant that I do not return his calls, but has no qualms doing the same to me. He is in control when his hands are upon me. When I leave the relationship, I still am his. I owe him the unspoken truths of the past, whether they rightfully belonged to him or not. And look, guys, it’s not entirely your fault (this obviously isn’t the case for all men, but at this time, let me make broad statements). You’ve been told by the world generation after generation, fuck, for thousands of years, the fucking beginning of time even, that because you are male, you are inherently better, and you may possess the “weaker” sex if you will.
But here’s the thing - women don’t fucking owe anyone anything. Just because I slept with you once, kissed you once, talked to you once, made you think I cared once, actually cared once, gives you no right over me. And the same goes for men. Human beings are not belongings. People don’t give themselves to each other in full. That’s gross. That’s fucking slavery. You have no ownership over me. And suddenly past lovers think they’re doing us a fucking favor by bestowing forgiveness or benevolence or fucking friendship on us because we fucked up once. My mistakes are maximized. They are expanded and swollen. I could cheat, and he could cheat, but only one would emerge as a slut.
I don’t want or need anyone’s forgiveness or saving grace, because that’s not what it is. It’s an asshole exercising his believed right over me. I am purposeful in my choices, and I will own up to any mistakes, but I do not need a man to soften the blow and heal the situation. You can take back your “forgiveness” and shove it up your ass.
"I am deliberate and afraid of nothing" - Audre Lorde.