10 Things I Still Don’t Understand… (Part 2)

Continuing with the final 5 in my list 10…

6. Cougarism/Dirty Old Men – I do not mean negatively. What I don’t understand is why we spend time labelling either of these types of people.

Because what we are talking about are “types” of people: women who prefer to date younger people AND men who prefer to date younger people.

This is vastly different from people who struggle with pedophilia or pederasty.

Yet still, we spend time reducing women to animals “cougars,” because they are 1) able to and potentially 2) prefer to date younger men. Also we do the same to men.   We make them into perverts, that somehow they are doing something “wrong,” something “dirty” by dating someone younger.  Jealousy gets you nowhere, folks. 😉

I live in Rome. I don’t know about other cities in Italy or around Europe. Here, however, it seems to me to be quite normal for “May-December” relationships to occur. Younger men often date older women. Older men often date younger women. It doesn’t seem to bother the Italians who live in Rome much. So, why is there such fuss and such hype… enough so that there is apparently a television show called “Cougar Town?”

Granted, there are some people who are just simply predatory and seek underaged sexual/intimate partners… And that’s when I would point possibly to words like pedophilia and pederasty… Of course, this is just my opinion.

Also, there is seemingly a gender bias here that disturbs me. In researching online about the topic of “cougars,” both women and term seem to enjoy a positive relationship with the media. There are dating sites devoted to “cougars” and it presents as a point of fascination and something at/about which one ought to smile. Whereas the “dirty old men” don’t seem to enjoy the same luxury… Are they not of the same ilk, however?

If the agenda is that one is strictly worried about the welfare of the young, then it shouldn’t really matter if the older person is male or female.

7. Reality T.V. – As some of you know, I am back in college for the second time around. Life as an undergrad affords one many pleasures. One of these pleasures is hearing about the latest in reality television. Apparently, the Real World is still on! Who knew! Considering the fact the first Real World premiered prior to my attending college the first time around (1995), I was a bit surprised, especially as after season 3 the structure of the program shifted dramatically.

I still miss Pedro Zamora (3/1/72-11/11/94), at whose funeral President Clinton spoke… and who, in my opinion, represented the very best of what the Real World hoped to show the youth of the world… That is that we can do so very much in our lives and touch the lives of many in real ways… even if we are given limited time…

My point is that my fellow students are quite absorbed in these made-up realities, these worlds of opulence, in which a group of young people are tossed and expected to humiliate themselves through intoxication, fornication (yes, I wrote that!) and by divulging way too much information, and making general spectacles of themselves… But why is this entertaining? Does anyone else remember the original 3 seasons of the Real World??? How awesome were they in comparison to what’s going on now? Oi… 😉

8. Relationship Construct – Perhaps as therapist I shouldn’t write this type of thing.  And on a professional level, my opinion is quite different from what I am about to write… because I do get it.  On a personal level, however, I don’t get traditional romantic relationships.  More specifically, I do not understand why we engage in the process of “demanding” or “asking” of someone else or ourselves to commit to being together “forever.”  No…. really, I don’t get it.

In my mind, at this point and for some time now, it would make more sense to simply allow for people to flow into and out of our lives, rather than say “No, you must stay” or “Don’t leave me.”

Yes, I understand that it is important to feel secure, to feel loved, to feel respected, to feel beautiful, to believe that you can trust in someone, etc.  Shouldn’t you first provide yourself with those things, so that it should not be so important to ask that someone else provide them for you?

And yes, I am single… and happily so  😉 (And apparently, eHow.com can tell you the way to achieve this too in 10 easy steps!)

9. Pejorative Reclamation – Okay, at first glance this may not make much sense.  What I am talking about is in reference to certain movements, such Third-wave feminism in the 90s. Pejorative reclamation is the action of marginalized groups taking ownership of terms/words that were used against them and “reclaiming” them in order to infuse and empower these words with new and positive meaning.  So, for example the term “bitch” was one of the first to be reclaimed.  Some examples of reclamation are Meredith Brook’s song “Bitch” (1997) and “Reclaiming Cunt” Eve Ensler’s episodic play The Vagina Monologues (1996).  So, what don’t I understand?

I don’t understand what happened…  Again this is simply my experience.  I, however, watched as women went from in the 90s taking power over the words that were for so long used against us… to then slowly but surely using them against ourselves as the decade ended and the new millennium began.  I could say as much for the “N” word.  Also the LGBQQT community has watched as the word “gay” has been taken back and has now become synonymous with the meaning of “stupid” or “ineffective” even as the community gains wider acceptance.


10. After 2000 – To end on a lighter note.  I am not sure about anyone else in their 30s or older.  What I have recently noticed is that I somehow stopped.  I am reminding myself of the “little old ladies” I used to see as a child, who seemed to be stuck in a period at least two decades earlier… from their manner of dress to their manner of speech.

What I mean is that my frame of reference drags me right back to the 90s.  I feel much more comfortable listening to alternative rock and am comforted by thoughts, songs, movies, etc. from the time period of my adolescence and my young adulthood.  It’s not that I am against the new millennium or that I refuse progress, etc.  Just somehow I feel a bit out of sync.  I don’t know… Perhaps I should start watching television.  It perhaps doesn’t help that the only things I watch on YouTube are between the years 1969 and 2002. 😉

Until next time!

Best,

D.

In memory…


10 Things I Still Don’t Understand…(Part 1)

New Start 2010, photography by Diedré M Blake

Okay, there are many aspects of life that I sincerely do not understand and perhaps will never make an attempt to do so.  This list is, however, focused on two areas of interest to me: relationships and modernity (and really how the two come together or not).

      1. Text messaging etiquette… No, really.  What is a good amount of time to wait for a response? Or better yet, how much time can I wait before giving a response?  Eric Charles, I know you know already-Honestly, I’ve read the articles in my inbox.  No one, however, seems to be following the same rules on this issue.
      2. Modern dating… Yeah, I am starting to feel like I am from the age of the Flinstones.  Yes, I am that old (in some people’s minds).  What happened to a simple thing like, “Do you like me, yes or no?” You know, stated or written, or carved in stone…  Now it’s all evasive text messaging, Facebooking, and whatever-else that is happening to be out there these days.
      3. Men… On personal relationship level. Enough said.  Next.
      4. Women… At least, on a personal relationship level, when it comes to dating men.  No, I really don’t know what happens to the minds of women that seems sometimes to become so sadomasochistic (more maso- than sado-) when confronted with the possibility (and perhaps not probability) of a romantic relationship.  It’s like the temptation to hit the either “Self-destruct” button OR the “Annihilation” button (sometimes both) becomes too great.

      5. Love… I remember watching movies like The Princess Bride, and thinking, Oh, how romantic that someone so wonderful and good-looking can come into your life and do everything to be with you!  Yeah, I bought into the Disney version of the fairy tales too and even thought myself a Princess Charming at different points (and probably was to some people).  I probably was a frog too and never quite changed into what was expected after being kissed… Ahem.

Anyway, the point is that we supposedly meet someone and for some reason or another we “click” with them or are (dreaded word) “into” each other… and then we imagine ourselves skipping happily off into the future together.

I mean, this is not a belief held only by girls or boys, teenagers and young adults.  Plenty of adults and elders still hold on to this idea of the “happily ever after.”  And honestly, I don’t get it.  What really is happily ever after?  Is it happily protected from facing the reality of the person with whom you are spending time, because you are both holding up your masks still… showing your best selves?

And then, once the masks fall (because they inevitably will), suddenly will one or both of you fall out of love too?

The reality is that we tend to expose and place into the hands of the person receiving our love our very vulnerable selves…  It is this vulnerable part that suffers the consequences of our pretense of “happily ever after.”

———–

You’ve got my whole world in your hands

I’ve had to put my whole world in your hands

I’m gonna put my whole world in your hands

I’ve had to put my whole world in your hands

Charlie Winston (In Your Hands)

To put this all together:  Here’s what I don’t understand.  I don’t understand a world in which men and women get together without even really speaking with each other and use text messaging as a method of making dates and expressing feelings, even to the point of beginning and ending relationships.

So many people I have met recently have told me about being broken up with via text.  No phone call,  No email.  No face-to-face meeting.  Perhaps not even full sentences.  This is the text-speech land of love that we are in now.

The “nice tm w u b4. gd lk. bye.” world

… and we are told to accept it.  That it is okay that we no longer give each other the decency to meet face to face to part ways…  What???  Hence, I am beginning to feel a bit old.

———–

You see, I still like to write letters.  I hate to talk on the phone and prefer to meet in person.  I rarely watch television or listen to the radio and am certainly not “hip” (yes, I wrote “hip”) to what is going on out there in the world unless I am told by a friend.  I like myself this way.  I am a pretty relaxed person as a result of my decision to be the way that I am.  My relationship with technology extends to checking email, because I have to and writing my blog, because I love to.  I go on Facebook, because I wish to be connected to my family and friends as I live far away from many of them and I can make new connections through social networks.

So, I am not saying “Down with Technology!”  What I am asking is “What is happening to us that we should choose to live in avoidance of each other?”  We speak of globalization and so much connection.

Yet still, I see people spending more time being disconnected while being in the physical presence of their fellow human beings, because they are too connected to their technological playmates in the shapes of iPads, iPods, BlackBerry’s, and whatever else is out there…

Until next time!

Best,

D.

P.S. A small disclaimer: I am a bit obsessed with the music of Charlie Winston at the moment.  😉

Men… As promised… (part 1 of 2)

Untitled, photography by Dolores Juhas. Copyright (c) Dolores Juhas. All Rights Reserved

I will be the first to admit that I know very little about the not-so-fairer sex.  (Well, the guy in this picture is pretty fair… don’t you think? ;)).  This may have something to do with the for-so-long-queer issue.  It may have something to do with the primarily working with females issue.  I mean, really, my life has been surrounded by women:  from five years living in a convent to three years attending an all girls high school to working in treatment programs for girls.
More recently, however, I have found myself surrounded by, engaged in, and pondering about the world of men.  And oh man (pun intended) it is fascinating… Of course, more fascinating to me is how women, whom I know, view men in their lives and in general.
Want to know about men? Ask a Guy
Since early last year, I have spent time visiting the site A New Mode.  It is a site dedicated to addressing the relevant topics of the modern-day woman, which has nothing to do with me.  Thus, I always go to the only area of interest to me, “Dating & Relationships.”  Why?  Well, it’s as I have stated above, I have spent a great deal more time recently talking about men with women.  Hence, I enjoy reading about dating and relationships, especially if there is a unique and/or male perspective.
And A New Mode most definitely has a perspective that is both unique and male…  It comes in the form of advice columnist Eric Charles in the section titled “Ask a Guy.”
In “Ask a Guy” Eric answers a variety of questions, e.g. “Why is always the girl’s fault?” and he writes special segments titled “Decoding Male Behavior,” in which he tackles topics such as the male perspective on “neediness.”  Of most importance to me is his style of relaying the information he deems necessary for readers.
If you are expecting any kind of sugar-coating, there is none.  He is quite in-your-face about his understanding of male behavior AND why, at the end of the day, women need to learn to accept the men in their lives or… move on.
Okay, so what’s my point?  The point is Eric has taught me a great deal about men (from his perspective).  That is, men…
  • are more action-oriented rather than word-based
  • need space to resolve their issues than “help” (so, don’t try to fix him…)
  • men know how to use a telephone.  Really… they do.  They know what text messaging is and don’t suddenly lose their visual and digital capabilities upon receiving your text messages.  They are simply choosing not to respond.
  • do things one thing at a time… So, if he is reading, he is reading and doesn’t want to be disturbed.
  • men’s concept of time is profoundly different from women.  This goes back to both the action-oriented and one thing at a time issues.  That is, men are less aware of the time that is passing since you last sent that text message, left that voicemail, email, Skype/Windows Live message.  They are focused on getting things done… and responding to you goes in order of sequence. Don’t take it personally.
  • If a man is “into” you (I really dislike this expression), you will know.  Why?  Because he does what he says he is going to do.  Simple.  He calls when he says he will.  He shows up when he says he will.  So… Stop asking him, your friends, your family, random strangers…
  • If a man is not “into” you (I really really dislike this expression), you will know.  Why?  He does not do what he says he will.  Simple.  He may call you sometimes (randomly).  Show up when it is convenient for him (maybe).  He certainly will not be responding in any reasonable timeframe, if at all, to your messages (no matter the format).
  • Men don’t like “needy” women.  Now, let’s clarify that.  I believe “needy” here would be in the category of emotionally insecure and co-dependent women, who are seeking a relationship to feel more stable/more whole/more accepted… etc.  Women who need someone to show them the beauty of who they are.
  • Men don’t like to feel needy.  So, men like to feel in charge of their world, their destiny.  They like to know they can provide for themselves and their loved ones.  I believe Eric mentioned something about our primal days when discussing this issue…
  • Men choose to heal from break-ups in multiple ways.  Some take a lot of time to be alone and sort themselves out while spending time with friends.  Others become quite sexually promiscuous (this brings to mind urban slang “man-whore”… but I dislike that expression almost as much as slut or whore sans man), and drift from one “relationship” to another.
  • Men are not all complete jerks, so don’t generalize based upon your experiences or those of your best friend, sister, mother, next door neighbour…
  •  Men will run from a woman who only, or mostly, reflects back to them the worst parts of themselves (i. e. of the men… I imagine they would run from a woman who was only showing the worst parts of herself too… unless truly sadistic or in saviour mode.)
  • Men experience emotions… too.  You know, sadness, fear, guilt, shame, anger, happiness, surprise, disgust, envy/jealousy, love…

Until next time!

Best,

D

Self-potrait, photography by Dolores Juhas

Photographs are by Croatian photographer, Dolores Juhas, whose work has been featured in such magazines as Italian Vogue.  You can visit her website at http://www.dolores-juhas.tk or email her: d_juhas@yahoo.co.uk.  She has her own blog at http://themax.bloger.hr