The cow is not for sale.

1 04 2009

I don’t generally write much about “the sex” in this space, aside from the occasional Chuck Grassley/boobies joke, because, among other reasons, several of my colleagues—and, god knows, by this point, probably my mother—read this blog, so, really.

Pimp daddy

But my post last week about divorced comedian Steve Harvey’s book of so-called advice for single women, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” has raised a lot of issues about women, sex and dating that I’d really like to explore a bit further. If this is the sort of thing that makes you blush, well, I really don’t know what you’re doing on this blog in the first place, but you might want to wander on over to something a little more PG.

Anyhow. Several of the folks who commented on and emailed me about the post articulated my problem with Harvey and his philosophy better and more succinctly than I could.

 

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In defense of Twitter

30 03 2009

Recently, a colleague stopped following me on Twitter because, he says, keeping up with my feed is “emotionally exhausting.” Others have panned the practice as banal, self-indulgent, time-consuming or narcissistic. And then there’s this video, which successfully, and hilariously, paints Twitter as absurd in the extreme:

All of these folks make good points. And, as most who know me are aware, I am nothing if not banal, self-indulgent, time-consuming, narcissistic and otherwise emotionally exhausting—but that’s me, not Twitter. Twitter itself is nothing more than a medium I use to disseminate my narcissism, banality, etc., and like all other media, it can be used well or it can be used poorly.

When used poorly, you get the Twitter described above. But when you use it well, Twitter becomes something more than yet another social networking site; namely, a real-time, collaborative mental sketch pad that allows the user to take an idea, throw it in the hopper, and see what comes back. At it’s best, Twitter isn’t about getting to know each other so much as it is about sharing ideas, shaping a larger dialogue and watching the cultural zeitgeist develop in real time.

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Steve Harvey wishes you weren’t such a slut

25 03 2009

So I was browsing through Oprah.com yesterday, for, uh, RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY, and I came across O’s interview with one of the original Kings of Comedy, Steve Harvey. Being someone who occasionally likes to “laugh” at “jokes,” I thought the Harvey piece would be right up my alley.

Oh, my.

Turns out our friend Steve fancies himself as something of a social commentator. And you know his favorite thing to offer commentary on? Women. Specifically, Steve was on Oprah to share with us his pearls of wisdom regarding how ladies ought to behave.

Harvey’s first book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” currently tops the New York Times best seller list in the advice category, and Oprah, apparently, is lapping it up. According to Harvey, whenever a man approaches a woman, he knows what he wants from her and is trying to determine what it’s going to cost him—a premise that’s hardly revolutionary. In fact, I’m fairly certain I’ve heard it somewhere before.

 

What a dick!

The problem, Harvey says, is that modern women “have stopped setting the bar high.” You sluts are basically giving it away for free. And because, according to Harvey, a gal’s vagina is pretty much all she brings to the table, by giving it up, you’re giving away all your power. Steve is just looking out for you, see.

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, though, Harvey isn’t comfortable calling sex sex. Instead, he calls it a “cookie”: “We’ve got to have a cookie. Everybody likes cookies. That’s the thing about a cookie. I like oatmeal raisin…but if you’ve got vanilla cream, I’ll eat that too.”

Honestly, I don’t even know what that means.

And how long does Harvey think a lady should wait before giving up her “cookie”? Three months. Months. Look, I’m all for taking things slow if that’s what you feel like you want to do. Fine. Good. But 90 days? I’m a lady, Steve, not a saint.

Of course, Harvey says, you can put out the cookie platter before then, but only at the risk of looking “desperate.” “You all keep changing the rules,” Harvey writes. “And men are aware of the fact that you are changing the rules. We’re aware of the fact that you act desperate. We’re aware of the fact that you think there’s a good shortage of good men out there.”

The flaws, insults and outright misogynies in Harvey’s argument are both too numerous and too obvious to outline here. But it all goes back to the idea that sex—I mean, the “cookie”—is the only thing a woman has to offer that a man could possibly be interested in. Which, when you think about it, is degrading to men maybe most of all.





Office kitchen wars, take three

20 03 2009

dishes

The vigilante crackdown on disgusting kitchen slobs continues. This is a bit hopey-er than my guillotine, but I feel like Barack’s expression is a bit menacing. As if he’s saying, ‘Don’t make me tell Michelle about this.’





A question on comments

18 03 2009

As maybe you’ve noticed, I don’t post comments on my own blog. Sometimes I’d like to, to clarify a point I made, respond to another commenter or just verbally bitch-slap somebody who I feel like is being sort of a douchebucket, because, you know, I’m not above that. But I don’t because I feel like it’s not really fair. I have a lot of leverage here in my little corner of the internet: I can state my opinion, cherry-pick my facts, even delete comments if I want to (which I never have. Yet.). So I feel like sticking my nose into the comments section would be, forgive the expression, a sort of bitch-ass thing to do.

Which brings me to my question: Do you think bloggers should post comments on their own blogs? What makes it appropriate/inappropriate? Why?

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Also! Did you know you can subscribe to Urbzen.com? That’s right! In pretty much any reader you want!

Never miss another scrap of self-important bananlity–Subscribe today.

Srsly, people, CLICKEY CLICKEY.





Breakup 2.0

17 02 2009

Breakups have never been simple affairs. No matter how quickly we try to tear off the Band-Aid, there’s the inevitable period of disentanglement between the initial conversation (“We have to talk…”) and the final separation (“Kthxbye”). And generally, the longer the relationship was, the longer this period lasts. We return each other’s things*; maybe bid farewell to each other’s families; and if you happen to have been living together, well, that’s a whole other fistful of horrible.

But now there’s a new step. In addition to the tears, the drama, the fights over furniture and real estate, there’s the Social Media Separation. It’s hard to end a relationship quietly or privately when the entire saga is played out in news feed updates and little broken-heart icons on Facebook. It’s the electronic equivalent of standing up in front of everyone you know and shouting, “Hi. My relationship failed. Just thought you should know.” And then taking questions.

shame

Of course, there’s often something to be said for public humiliation. Particularly for those tender souls who feel things like “shame” or “remorse,” a good calling-out can be a good way to administer punishment, modify behavior, or just stir up some resentment, if that’s what you’re after. But breakups are hard enough without the digital self-flagellation inherent in social networks.

Really, there is no moving on in the world of social media, or if there is, it isn’t easy. Are you supposed to un-friend your ex? If so, who goes first, the dump-er or the dump-ee? What about friends of theirs who you’ve friended? Do you give them the boot too? Awkward.

How about Twitter? Even if you stop following your ex, you’re still able to see his Twitter feed, and you know that in a moment of weakness, you will go there. Do you really want to see him flirting with other users? Do you want him to see you?

I’m not suggesting that anyone sit digital Shiva for weeks after a relationship ends; We’ve all got lives to live, jobs to do, beers to drink, bad decisions to make, over and over and over again. It’s just that for all the advantages of living in a hyperconnected world, it’s also hard, when all you want to do is disconnect.

*Unless you break up with me via text message. Then I’m giving your shit to the homeless. You know who you are.





Lilly Ledbetter and the tough girl’s guide to negotiation

29 01 2009

This morning Barack Obama signed into law the first legislation of his presidency, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, extending the statute of limitations on paycheck discrimination for men and women like Ms. Ledbetter, who earned less than her male colleagues while doing the same work.

The bill is a victory for women and other marginalized groups and is long overdue. That said, though, I seriously doubt it will make much of a dent in America’s 78-cents-for-every-dollar gender pay disparity because overt bias is much less of a problem than the inability or unwillingness to negotiate. Simply, the problem isn’t that American women aren’t getting raises; it’s that they aren’t asking for them.

resentment

It’s been well documented that in America, and probably around the world, boys are taught to argue while girls are raised to acquiesce, and from the sandbox to the boardroom, pushy women are seen in a very different light than pushy men. So it isn’t any wonder that more often than not, when Dick and Jane are each offered their proverbial 78 cents, Dick will negotiate his way up to a dollar, while Jane will politely accept what she’s offered, reasoning that the company, knowing the market and her qualifications, probably is offering a fair rate.

So now the company is paying Jane 22 percent less than Dick for doing the same job—but they probably would be willing to pay Jane what they’re paying Dick. Only Jane never asked.

The same is true when it comes to raises and bonuses—you usually aren’t going to get one unless you ask for it. The fact is that in business, unlike in college, no one is assigned to track your successes but you. Your failures, yes, but successes, not so much. Social scientists have long puzzled over why women succeed in huge numbers in academia then fall behind their male peers almost immediately after graduation, and the answer is simple. The problem isn’t women’s all-consuming (and highly overstated) desire to make babies; it’s that while her male colleague is in the boss’s office asking for a raise, she’s sitting patiently at her desk, waiting for somebody to notice all the great work she’s doing.

None of this is to say that women like Lilly Ledbetter who earn less than men for doing the same job aren’t victims of discrimination or that they don’t deserve the right to sue for damages. But regardless of the law, few women will ever have the opportunity to see these wrongs righted in court. Every woman, though, has both the ability and the responsibility to ask to be paid what she’s worth.

Come back next week for How to Negotiate Better Pay without Sounding Like a Bitch.

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