Friday, November 30, 2012

The War are we fighting, again?

Some of you may have come across this article by Suzanne Venker over at that bastion of media respectability, Fox News.  If you haven't, you might want to check it out.  In the article, titled "The War on Men," Ms. Venker proposes that one of the reasons so many men are opposed to marriage these days is because of...well...because of women.

"I've spent thirteen years," Ms. Venker states,
examining social agendas as they pertain to sex, parenting, and gender roles.  During this time, I've spoken with hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women.
So she's establishing her credibility.  That's great, especially the stuff about examining social agendas and writing three books (which she mentions earlier in the article) and so forth.  But here's me being nitpickish, and I just can't help it.

Apparently she's also spoken to hundreds--maybe even thousands--of men and women.

WOW!  I'm amazed.  Except I'm not.  Admittedly, I assume she's saying that in the context of the "examining social agendas" thing, but come on.  I don't know if speaking to a lot of people qualifies anyone for much of anything.  Except, perhaps, speaking with more people (?).  Did she speak with these men and women in a professional context?  What kind of sample are they?  Gah.  Anyway.  This isn't even what I want to write about, but let me just say I'm not that impressed.

Back to her words:
I've accidentally stumbled upon a subculture of men who've told me, in no uncertain terms, that they're never getting married.  When I ask them why, the answer is always the same.  Women aren't women anymore.
Ok.  Women aren't women anymore.


Does she mean that women aren't what men expect and want them to be anymore?  They aren't what society tries to pigeonhole them into being anymore?  Or is there some other angle she's getting at, here?  Because, um, anatomically, I'm pretty sure women are still...women.  Stephen Colbert did a great bit on this, so check that out--I don't want to step on his toes (and couldn't if I tried) or beat the subject to death (and mix a lot of metaphors).

But anyway, there's the crux of her article.  Women want to get married, and men don't want to get married, and, largely, that whole conundrum is the women's fault.

Personally, I see some fundamental problems with this thesis.  First of all, since when, exactly, is men not wanting to get married a new thing?  I'm pretty sure Og and Zog, the caveman and cavewoman, struggled with the same issue.  Zog wanted babies.  Og wanted to go out with his pals, Urlp and Frederick, to see who could lift the largest rock.  Zog, seeing as how she was the one who did all the cooking, cleaning, and hunting to boot (What did Og do, anyway?  Lift rocks with his friends, I guess.  Oh, and start wars.  There's that.), threatened to withhold any and all sexy-fun-times unless Og stuck around to spend some quality time and give her a bouncing baby or three, or eleven.  So Og shouts down the cave complex to Urlp and Frederick, letting them know the big boulder-hefting competition is off, they'll have to try next weekend.*  It's a tale as old as time**, not the revelation Ms. Venker makes it out to be.

The modern Og and Zog.

Now, one thing Ms. Venker does get right is that women have changed quite a bit.  Good on you, Ms. Vanker, I think that's a fairly accurate statement, although it might be slightly more accurate to state that the way women are treated has changed quite a bit, but still.  Way to...oh.  Wait.  Actually, according to Ms. Venker, the gist of this change consists of women becoming angry and defensive.  Again, this is something I just don't see.  I'm sure Zog could be just as angry and defensive as any woman today, just as I know for a fact that most women today are actually quite pleasant and graceful.  Doesn't seem like much of a change to me.  In fact, Ms. Vanker's entire article seems to do little more than perpetuate generalities and stereotypes that have existed for centuries, wrapping them up in sort-of-shiny, kind-of-new wrapping paper, and throwing them right back into the face of feminism.

Ahem.  Anyway.  She said this other thing that I found a bit wonky***:
The so-called rise of women has not threatened men.  It has pissed them off.  It has also undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family.  Men want to love women, not compete with them.
First of all, let's be honest, the "rise of women" (which sounds more like a planet of the apes movie than anything--come on, people, let's work on our nomenclature) has threatened men.  Some men.  And, sure, it's probably pissed men off, too.  Some men.  But, by and large, I actually think that men, and society as a whole, are better off when women are treated as, well, anyone else should be treated--meaning respect, kindness, and all that jazz, as well as letting them choose to do whatever they want with their lives, whether that's running a business or running a home.  Some people (and I won't restrict this category to just men) may indeed be pissed off and/or threatened by women suddenly filling high-level positions in businesses, or doing better in school than men, or voting, or working while a man takes care of the children, or whatever.  And those people are entitled to their opinions.  But I don't think that's a reason to blame men's lack of matrimonial desire on women.

And the whole "love women, not compete with them" thing...that may be true, too, but probably only because men are scared to death of getting their butts handed to them.  Just another reason for men to pick it up a notch and give these uber-women a run for their money.  (Now, Ms. Venker did come out and say she actually meant that "husbands" don't want to compete with "wives" in the workplace, which I suppose makes a modicum of sense.  Look up modicum in the dictionary and you'll see what I mean.)

Now, is there some truth to Ms. Venker's article?  Sure.  I'm sure the thousands of men and women she's talked to have genuine concerns about this issue.  But I think she spins it too far--it seems more of a reactionary piece to elicit backlash more than anything (in which case, I suppose, she's got me there!).  But you know what?  She can say what she wants, I can say what I want, and we never even have to confront one another about it.  That's what's so great about America.  And the Internet.

Finally, let me contextualize:  I'm a married man, and I'm supremely happy about that.  My amazing wife happens to be the main breadwinner in our family at the moment, and I'm proud of her for that.  She's intelligent, capable, enjoys what she does for work and--get this--is freaking good at it.  I'm not angry or defensive about our situation, and neither is she.  Will that be our situation forever?  Probably not.  But if it is, I, for one, won't be terribly upset.  We compliment each other pretty well, she and I, and I think that is one attribute among many that makes us pretty adaptable to whatever situation comes our way.

*  True story.  Think I saw it on the history channel or something.

**  What, you thought Beauty and the Beast was the only one?  Don't be ridiculous.  Now, when it comes to songs as old as rhyme, I'm pretty sure there's just the one.

*** Okay, she said whole lot more stuff that I found wonky, to say the least.  But this post is already expanding far beyond its humble beginnings, so I'll hold my tongue.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives.
So says Oscar Wilde, anyway. Just a Thanksgivng Day thought. Fortunately, my family is pretty cool, so the above is something I rarely have to worry about--usually I'm the one that needs the forgiving, anyway--and today has been wonderful. I hope that, wherever you are, you are having a grand day of gratitude and gastronomical gorging.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wretched Queen

Some of you may have noticed that the progress bar for "Wretched Queen 1.1" reached 100% last week.  That's right!  Draft 1 is finally complete.  This has been an interesting project to work on.  The story, in a nutshell, plays with the tropes we all know and love about Dark Lords (aka Evil Overlords, aka Big Bads, etc)--in this case, an Evil Queen.  This idea first came to me some time in 2008, during which I wrote what I thought was backstory for the piece.  As I've written this first draft, however, that back story has sort of wormed its way through the main narrative.  I'm preliminarily pleased with the results.

Why am I working on a short story (a novelette, actually) when I've got an entire novel burning a hole in my hard drive, just waiting to be revised?  The Writers of the Future contest, that's why.

WOTF is great.  If you can win that contest, you've got a pretty good "in" as far as the publishing industry is concerned.  Problem is, the contest is uber-competitive.  Which is why I plan on submitting a story every quarter of the contest until I win or they tell me to stop*.  We'll see which happens first.

Anyway.  I was talking about "Wretched Queen," right?  Here are some brief facts about the story:

Title:  "Wretched Queen"
Total Word Count:  11,688
Total (manuscript) Page Count:  56
Sections: 7
Viewpoint Characters: 2 major, 1 minor
File Size:  74 KB
Start Date:  I think it was March of 2008 when I started brainstorming and planning the idea, and drafting out the "backstory."  I returned to the idea for WOTF in mid October of 2012
End Date:  16 Nov 2012

Now, of course, this is just a first draft.  I'm planning on doing a major first revision starting tomorrow, and taking care of some of the major glitches in the story.  From there, I'll give the story to some first readers and see what they think, make more changes after that, and so forth until I submit the story--hopefully by the end of December to get it in to the contest in time for Q1 of 2013.

And there are, indeed, some major issues I think may need fixing.  The amount of viewpoint characters, for one, may be a bit too much for a novelette.  I also play with a number of things as far as form is concerned (tense, person, etc.), and I'm not quite sure whether I pull that off or not.  But, that's what revision and readers are for!  So, without further ado, that's what I'll be jumping into in the next couple weeks.

Wish me luck.

*  Now, I may not submit for the second and third quarters of next year (however long it takes me to finish BTD 2.0).  While the contest is important to me and a good way to "break in," even if I do happen to win, that doesn't do me much good unless I have a novel waiting in the wings and ready to go.  But, once that's taken care of, I plan on submitting essentially every quarter.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Life in the PR

4 best friends (we're four best friends!*)


3 sunset pictures (a couple of which are kind of weird because I was testing out the panorama feature on my phone...)


2 ridiculously large starfish


1 million mosquito bites

[picture withheld...seriously, you want to see a picture of my mosquito bites?]


A freaking awesome trip to Puerto Rico with some pro ballroom dancers, their east coast parentals, snuba diving, kayaking in bioluminescence, oh and some great dancing.  So, yeah, it was cool.

*  "Stealing socks!" ...from the SNL digital short that I actually won't like to, you know, because of content...not the cleanest of sketches.  But I'm sure if you really wanted to find it, you could.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Guess what! I'm leaving the country!

And going to Puerto Rico!

That's right. I can't take the election rhetoric anymore, so I'm getting out of dodge. I've already decided who I'm voting for anyway, so it's all lost on me.

Ok, actually we're going to PR to hang with our friends Travis and Jaimee, and to watch them dance at the Caribbean Classic. Yeah, they're professional ballroom dancers. So that should be pretty cool.

In other news, I'm trying to use the Blogger app for the iPhone. It's okay so far, but pretty minimal. I can post pictures, as you can see, but haven't found a way to integrate links yet, as you may also be able to see. Not sure if there is one, which is disappointing. Im attempting to do it with regular old html; we'll see if it works. So if the whole post is full of incredibly unwieldy, aesthetically offensive, awkwardly parenthetical URLs, I'll just have to fix them in post (or as soon as I get a real web browser and/or wifi that doesn't cost money).

Anyway, be jealous because I'm going to tropical warm weather and it's going to be awesome.

[also, I know the pic is lame...I'm sure there will be much better ones to come]