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How many times have you heard a guy say this: “Women like you better when you treat them like shit.” Or: “I never get the girls I like because I’m too nice.” Or: “I’m a functioning alcoholic, and a complete asshole. Let’s date?” Okay, maybe that last one isn’t so popular (outside of my world, at least) but really, now, I’m sure all of us have heard the first two from multiple sources, usually men fresh from a break-up or another form of rejection. Really, it’s surprising that, being as gung-ho about gender equality as I am, that I’ve known so many men so eager to explain this rational to me.

The fact that many men categorize themselves/their behaviors toward dating women, unconsciously or not, as being “bad boys” or “nice guys” speaks less to the idea that women actively seek out men of either types and more to how society views women. “Bad boys” treat women like shit because they’re either to subdued or too stupid to know any better, while “nice guys” treat women well and get dumped because women are sex-starved bitches who do better when they’re treated like objects or children. Never does it cross their minds that they may not be treating their partner with respect. To avoid making sweeping generalizations as much as possible (since, after all, it’s these types of generalizations about women that really piss me off), it seems like, all too often, these guys are one in the same. These men never recognize or admit to their own flaws when it comes to dating; when a woman leaves, it’s always because “all women are whores,” “all women are bitches,” etc etc etc, instead of “maybe she has her reasons.” It’s always the “nice guys” claiming that women get turned on by being treated disrespectfully. Turns out they’re not really “nice guys” at all.

Now, again, this is with avoiding generalizations. As WhatEmbersConsume, a self-proclaimed “former Nice Guy,” points out, there are key differences between “nice guys” and “nice people.” A “nice person” will genuinely care about you, but also respect your boundaries and limits, and take responsibility for their faults and actions. On the flip side, here’s a few tell-tale signs that you’re dealing with a “Nice Guy:”

  • Often clingly.  May ask you far too frequently where you are, who you are with, what you are doing, etc. out of a supposed regard for your safety.  In reality, the Nice Guy™ wants to know where you are because he wants to keep tabs on you, like any other one of his possessions.
  • Easily prone to jealousy.  Doesn’t like you hanging around other people of your preferred gender and age group (or even your friends outside of your preferred gender).  This is because he is afraid of loosing you.
  • Will likely be upset when you try to put up healthy boundaries when it comes to personal time, space, etc.
  • Will often want to get involved with your family/friends as soon as possible if you have a good relationship with them.  This is because he thinks – subconsciously or not – that if he forges relationships with those close with you it will be harder for you to break things off.  The same goes for the reverse of this: he will likely want you to meet his friends and family for the same reason.
  • Will often talk about how important you are to him, how he couldn’t live without you, etc. especially as things get more serious.  He either really believes this, in which case it is because he has become dependent on the ideal of you; or is deliberately using it to manipulate you emotionally.
  • Will affirm you/praise you for your physical characteristics and accomplishments.  This is because these are the only things he cares about: things that others will notice and things that he can take advantage of.
  • Easily put off by arguments; not inclined to initiate serious conversations.  This is because he views differences between you two as freedom from him he does not want you to have.
  • Is not willing for you two to be anything less than he wants you to be.  If you maintain your boundaries, he will hightail it out of your life or seek revenge.
  • Will try to make you feel special.
  • Will never admit to making mistakes unless you threaten him with something.  He is always right, and even if your threats get him to concede that with words he will maintain that he was right in his own mind.

Looking over this list really startled me, because not only did it remind me of dating patterns I’ve witnessed, but also those my friends and I have experienced first hand–more than once.  And, what’s even scarier, is this lists’ similarity to that of an abusive relationship.  In fact, many abusive relationships–physically, emotionally, verbally, or otherwise–start off in the realm of the self-proclaimed Nice Guy and get that much more extreme as possessiveness worsens. The fact that so many men self-identify as “nice guys” is quite startling–even the OP recognized this trend in his dating choices (although he claims to be reformed now–we shall see).

So what’s the fucking deal? Why do so many men equate possessive behavior to genuinely caring? And why do so many guys think that they can’t get a date because they’re “too nice” when really they completely fail at seeing a woman as a human person with autonomous feelings and decision making capabilities?

It makes me really sad, to be honest. Some of these guys have serious issues.  This type of misogyny can often be a product or a side effect of other problems such as alcoholism, poor self-esteem, post traumatic stress disorder, or other serious mental/emotional limitations. Really, who’s to blame? The guy who thinks he’s supposed to treat women like shit, or the culture that says if he doesn’t manipulate her into submission, he’s not masculine enough?

Either way, it’s not an issue to brush over, and what’s most important is who this outlook affects the most—women.  Ladies, how many times have guys tried to guilt into dates, sex, or staying in a relationship, just because someone was “nice” to you? Probably a lot. Probably all the time. And chances are, when you reject these guys, it’s probably not pretty. He probably gets mad. He might use misogynistic language to describe you, like “bitch,” “cunt,” or “whore,” whether it’s to your face or behind your back. And a lot of times, he probably won’t back down after the first rejection.

What’s most important is to remember that you have control over your body and decisions first—no one else. I know a lot of times it doesn’t feel that way, but we must keep reminding ourselves. By owning ourselves first, before any ideas or cultural standards, we are taking a giant step against oppression every day. Don’t let anyone tell you whether or not they’re a “nice guy”—leave that to your own judgement calls.

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Today a video from BuzzFeed.com, “How To Confuse Pro-Lifers With Just One Question,” has been just about all over my facebook feed. The video shows a cameraman interviewing folks at a pro-life protest and their responses to the question, “If abortion should be illegal, what should be the punishment for women who have illegal abortions?” I thought this video offered a fresh new prospective on the abortion debate. The intention of the protestors becomes suddenly illuminated: they want to end the practice of abortion, but can’t say how the crime should be punished. Most reply that they’d never thought of it, others say that God will provide punishment in the end, but none suggest any method of prosecuting offenders.

The video points out a fundamental flaw in how pro-lifers perceive pro-choicers as not being sympathetic to the unborn child, while on the flip side, it becomes clear that most pro-lifers don’t think of women as worthless sluts. In fact, pro-lifers and pro-choicers share a common goal: both sides want to prevent the situation of unwanted pregnancy. The difference is an arbitrary sense of morals. Pro-choicers don’t necessarily view abortion as a moral issue; most know the difference between “human life” and “sustainable life.” Meanwhile, many pro-lifers are attached to the idea that human life is valuable no matter what, and therefore abortions should be restricted under the law as a form of condemnation. Not that there isn’t already a whole lot of cultural forces that condemn abortion, from religion to pop-culture phenomena.

What pro-lifers blindly ignore is the fact that death, and the practice of humane killing, is just as much a part of the continuation of life as having sex out of wedlock. Living wills allow people to consent to be “aborted” should they fall into a vegetative state. We put animals to sleep 9 million times per year–some because they are old or sick, most because there’s no one to take care of them. I really don’t see anyone celebrating with champagne over these statistics (well, maybe a fucked up few), but if we didn’t “abort” unsustainable lives, everyone would suffer. Abortion is similar, but for some reason, pro-lifers are far more judgmental of women experiencing unwanted pregnancies than the drunk driver that put your grandpa in a vegetive state–yet it’s easier to name a punishment for those convicted of DUI’s than those who undergo illegal abortions. Hmm, how’d that happen?

Maybe there should be less people protesting whether or not abortion is legal and more people trying to offer support to women with unwanted pregnancies through education, financial aide, and improving accessibility to birth control. It’d be nice to live in a world where we only needed the assurance of being able to get an abortion when and if we needed one.

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This essay offers both a introductory explanation of the male gaze & its value in analyzing film as a mass media as well as a critique on representations of women in Quentin Tarantino’s work.

Creativity is inherently linked to how our brains function. In order to participate in creative expression, one must exercise divergent thinking, or “the ability to produce multiple ideas, answers, or solutions to a problem for which there is no agreed-on solution,” and not just convergent thinking, or conventional intelligence problem solving in a logical way. Further, through analyzing art, one has the opportunity to examine and interpret an artistic thought process. Some psychologists applied theory to this analysis, such as Freud, who considered narrative incarnations (or unconscious phantasies) as an integral part of the unconscious. In theory, one “must believe that he or she has created the object that he or she discovers. Failure to have done so results in trauma” (Grotstein 193). This idea implies that manifestation of phantasies in art would reflect unconscious desires or perceptions at some level of analysis.

Psychoanalysis proposes that creativity is the result of unconscious drives. In acting out unconscious drives, one is expressing repressed desires stemming from an unsatisfactory reality. These feelings can be the result of perceived inadequacies, biological drives, or social pressures. Ultimately these phantasies exist to fulfill the ego. “Theorists in the Freudian school have built further on the premise that creativity is part of the mental functioning operative in the id; i.e., the individual uses it to seek pleasure and avoid pain” (Vantage). Freud paid specific attention to the influence of gender and sex to the influence of personality; he believed it to be intimately related with defense mechanisms in maintaining self-esteem. In his systems of personality Freud believed the id, ego, and superego—the three components of self-image and perception—to be the results of pleasure-seeking drives (the pleasure principal), conscious rationality (reality principal), and moral influence (ego ideal), respectively. In this way, our unconscious phantasies are influenced by both hidden sexual drives and social reinforcement of expectant or exceptional behavior.

In theory, self-expression often reflects these personality components and unconscious views. As a result, analysis of creative works often relies on interpreting an individual’s ego, as well as the collective unconscious. Works of art often reflect both an individual’s repressed desires, as well as social ideas of good behavior. When analyzing mass media—such as television, magazines, and film—a broader consideration to cultural inclinations is taken into account. Mediums such as film, especially when the product of big studios, place a greater importance on superego in order to have the broadest appeal (and make the most profit). Auteurs of the film industry—such as Hitchcock, Felini, and Tarantino—often embody the most primal and persistent social drives in their work while achieving a vision of great personal influence. Such individual influences have shaped the medium of film and how audiences perceive it. By observing visual media, one has the potential to acquire the creative identity of the minds behind it.

In her essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Laura Mulvey approaches this psychological phenomenon through the concept of the “male gaze.” The male gaze is the theory that in observing film, audiences acquire a heterosexual male point of view wherein female characters are always passive while being actively observed. This is the result of both the reflection of an industry of male-dominated creators as well as cinematographic techniques that construct the camera lens as a masculine eye. Because of the acquiring of identity through observing a film, the position of the woman helps to form what Mulvey calls the “patriarchal unconscious” (28): “Her meaning in the process is at an end, it does not last into the world of law and language except as a memory … Woman then stands in patriarchal culture as a signifier for the male other, bound by a symbolic order in which man can live out his fantasies and obsessions through linguistic command by imposing them on the silent image of a woman still tied to her place as a bearer of meaning, not a maker of meaning.” In terms of film, a woman represents symbolically the fears and desires of the male creator—usually through visual or linguistic command rather than subtext—instead of her own unique meaning as a representation. She is the both product and representation of the male unconscious, mimicking the pressures women feel in the real world to uphold male standards.

Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze is one of the most interesting analyses of Freudian desire because rather than pure psychoanalysis of a subject, it analyzes specific visual examples in addition to context; in other words, film aesthetics become a manifestation of the unconscious in a way verbal self-insight cannot obtain. Further, because the behavioral glance is rooted in the id and superego, as well as the collective unconscious, the theory provides valuable insight to identity on a micro and macro scale. Common shots that are concrete examples of the male gaze include medium close-up shots of women from over a male’s shoulder (opposed to close-ups of a male’s face from straight on or extreme angles), shots that pan and linger on a woman’s form (opposed to shots of a male that do not pan and show his full body), as well as scenes that frequently occur which show a man actively observing a passive woman. This last type of aesthetic was common in Hitchcock’s work, which was at its peak of popularity in the 70’s at the time of Mulvey’s essay, and which openly incorporated Freud’s theories of personality. One film in particular, Vertigo, about a man who falls in love with a woman he’s been hired to spy on, offers perhaps the most explicit example of the male gaze. “[The protagonist] Scottie’s voyeurism is blatant: he falls in love with a woman he follows and spies on without speaking to. His sadistic side is equally blatant: he has [freely] chosen . . . to become a police man, with all the attendant possibilities of pursuit and investigation. As a result he follows, watches, and falls in love with a perfect image of female beauty and mystery” (37). Beneath the purely voyeuristic behavior portrayed lies a further critique on identity; as Scottie observes Judy—a woman from Kansas pretending to be his employer’s wife—she takes on the identity of Madeleine, who has become a ghost twofold. In this way, Scottie has fallen in love with someone completely unobtainable because of deception initiated by a man and carried out by a subservient woman. This exemplifies male feelings of victimization rooted in unconscious inadequacies, i.e., Scottie’s inability to save Madeleine from her false suicide and therefore losing his fabricated vision of love forever to his male employer; his drive to keep her alive by searching for Madeleine destroys his reality when he succeeds by finding Judy and discovering that he’s been set-up.

At the time of Mulvey’s essay, alternative cinema, which she recognized for its importance in opposing patriarchal views, was still at its on-set in comparison to its popularity today. Fearing the influence of the male gaze in Hollywood film, she directly called upon alternative filmmakers to use opposition as the pivotal meaning of their works. Although alternative cinema has come to influence mainstream film, the male gaze is still prevalent in visual aesthetics, if not as obvious as in Hitchcock’s openly Freudian works. One filmmaker today who represents both the subversive appeal of alt film and the superego of the patriarchal society is Quentin Tarantino. His films are perhaps the most fantastically violent to ever come out of mainstream Hollywood cinema, and he often portrays females as active characters participating in the normally exclusively male battles, such as in his short film with Lady Gaga, Telephone, which portrays all-female characters in a normally male archetype: as prison inmates escaping from the law. However, despite females being represented as active characters in this film and others, they are still presented under the scope of the heterosexual eye and are intended to be observed rather than relatable. Tarantino compensates for his masculine representations by creating hyper-sexualized female characters.

In Planet Terror, his own wife, Rose McGowen, portrays the epitome of this restitution; the opening credit sequence shows her go-go dancing provocatively from the prospective of the audience. Later, she loses one of her legs from the knee down and can no longer dance; she then completes her now-damaged body using a gun as a peg leg, her provocative dance moves now utilized to slay the enemy. Her representation is not to be mistaken with that of an empowered woman; she does not transcend notions of a desirable woman in the unconscious male mind and the superego of the patriarchy. As a professional exotic dancer, her strengths lie in her willingness to be observed for sexual pleasure. This is at the heart of how she is aesthetically represented as a manifestation of desire and obtainability.

Between the polarization of representations of women in Hitchcock and Tarantino’s films, which can essentially be reduced to the unobtainable versus the obtainable, a broad spectrum of the ideal woman from both the heterosexual male and broader patriarchal unconscious point of view is illuminated. In Mulvey’s application of Freudian theory to film, these images arise from inadequacies in a masculine unconscious, and an attempt to make reality more enjoyable by constructing a phantasy that sympathizes with these desires. “The image of woman as (passive) raw material for the (active) gaze of man takes the argument a step further into the structure of representation, adding a further layer demanded by the ideology of the patriarchal order as it is worked out in its favorite cinematic form—illusionistic narrative film” (38). While films may no longer be purely a manifestation of heterosexual male’s point of view, because they must have a broad moral appeal, they are subservient to distinctive social standards that persist in a patriarchal society; because they exist to make reality more enjoyable, they must appeal to unconscious desires on an individual level. In this way, passive—or aesthetically pleasing, observable women—are still highly prevalent in film and video, and reflect the position of women in a patriarchal society. Although alternative cinema has called these images into question, mainstream cinema reinforces it, even when redefining aesthetics to a socially progressive audience. In this way, the objectification of women persists on both an individual and mass level of unconsciousness.

Works Cited
1. Grotstein, James. “The Overarching Role of Unconscious Phantasy.” Psychoanalytic Inquiry 28.2 (2008): 190-205.
2. Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Issues in Feminist Film Criticism. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1990. 28-40. Print.
3. Vantage. “Comparative Theories.” Vantage Quest for Creativity and Personal Transformation. Web. .
4. Wood, Samuel E., Ellen R. Green. Wood, and Denise Roberts. Boyd. The World of Psychology. Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2007. Print.

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We live in a culture that revolves around male sexuality; female sexuality is rather unstudied and warped by male view points. Young women are seen as attractive and passive, while older women are often associated with the “cougar” stereotype. Women who have sex too much are promiscuous and are contributing to the spread of disease, abortion, and the cultural demise of the “family.” Men are more likely to remain bachelors and sleep around; women need to marry because they depend on a man for income. Dr. Laura Berman has come forth from her own research into female sexuality to dispell four common misconceptions about sex & relationships:

1. A woman’s sexual performance peaks in her forties, while a man’s peaks in his teens.

Myth. While Planned Parenthood says that the sexual prime for males is around age 17, and that females’ sexual prime is around age 30, these ages actually reflect the genital prime, when sex hormones (testosterone in men; estrogen in women) are highest. But in general, both men’s and women’s sexual performance will peak when they feel most comfortable with themselves and their sexuality. Though this tends to happen between 40 and 60 for both men and women, it can really happen at any age, depending on the person!

2. Having sex more often can help boost your immune system and prevent illness.

Truth! Researchers at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., found that sex may help strengthen the immune system. According to their study, couples who had sex once or twice a week as compared to couples who had sex less than once a week had 29 percent higher levels of immunoglobulin A, an immune system protein that protects the mouth and upper respiratory tract against cold and flu viruses. Just another reason to get busy with your honey as often as you can!

3. Older people have less sex and/or less enjoyable sex.

Myth. According to a recent study of 27,000 people conducted across 29 countries, the majority of men and women studied had active sex lives past the age of 40 and well into their ‘eighties’! Couples in Western Europe who shared greater equality were more likely to enjoy their sex lives than couples in more male-oriented societies, such as those found in Asia and the Middle East.

4. Most American women who are 45 and over are married.

Myth. About 25 million of the 57 million American women who are 45 and older are not married, according to a recent study by the AARP. The study’s authors suggest that this may be because American women marry later, have high divorce rates, and tend to outlive their mates.

Source

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For those of you who don’t think it’s important to include health insurance coverage of abortion in health care reform, maybe hearing Tiffany’s Story will make you reconsider:

She was pregnant with twins and had to abort one to save the other. If abortion coverage isn’t included in reform, it’s likely she wouldn’t have been able to afford the procedure, and would have lost both her children.

Although cases like Tiffany’s are rare, I still think it’s important for health reform to include abortion coverage, if not because it would otherwise screw over willing mothers, because restricting fair access to abortion violates Roe vs. Wade and a woman’s right to choose.

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Every so often I approach the magazine rack of some store or another and take a healthy gander at women’s magazines. I’m shocked that most of the sex advice articles–when they aren’t putting women down for their poor body image or revealing over and over again that the best kept secret to sex is a vibrator–offer advice that applies to both men and women, whether you’re with someone of the same gender or opposite. I’ve decided to simplify it by offering a more cohesive, all-inclusive list of tips.

A mandatory disclaimer: Don’t ever force yourself to do something you’re uncomfortable with for your partner’s sake. If any of this advice is too kinky for you, don’t feel obligated to take it.

1. Tell Your Partner You Like It

Let your partner know they’re doing a good job–the more specific the better. Don’t be afraid to be a little dirty; if you let them know how hard you’re going to come, they’ll make sure you enjoy it to the fullest extent, not to mention it will drive them crazy.

2. Touch Your Naughty Bits

Whether you’re absent mindedly fondling yourself or working yourself down there, masturbating will show your partner that they’re driving you wild, plus they’ll be able to see what feels good to you. This is besides the fact that it will feel great for you! See if you’re able pleasure yourself while performing oral or during the old in-out.

3. Switch It Up

Even if you don’t have a big repertoire in terms of moves, rotating between different positions and sex acts will keep your partner’s attention.

4. Do It Somewhere New

Having sex in public places risks heavy punishment if you get caught (unfortunately the law is more likely to prosecute gay couples than heterosexual couples), but have you ever had sex on the kitchen table or on the dryer? Smooshing in places other than your bed adds spontaneity to what might otherwise be another Saturday night.

5. Take It Slower

What’s the rush? Got somewhere to be? No, you don’t, you’re busy getting busy, so why don’t you go at a comfortable pace and enjoy it? Rather than wearing yourself out trying to get it over with as quickly is possible, start slow and pick up–when you get tired, take a minute to go down on your partner, or vice-versa. Think of it this way: you’ll have more time to make each other completely satisfied.

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It used to be that discriminatory attitudes were only propagated by religiously fundamentalist viewpoints. Slavery, male dominance, homophobia, and racism are all justified in biblical literature. Then industrialism came along and all of the sudden indentured servitude was limiting to society and emancipation was the new moral fad. Next thing you know, everyone else is demanding for oppressive laws to be reversed. Although oppression may be condoned by religion, humanity eventually began to see that it was doing more harm than good. Likewise, one would think the rise in the popularity in the theory of evolution would come to disprove divine influence, and therefore much religious legitimacy.

That is, until people started citing biology as a reason for privilege. Although many earlier sciences set up to justify oppression (such as eugenics) have been regarded as socially backwards, today we have a much more abstract science persisting a logical reason for white male supremacy – evolutionary psychology. Now we are able to point to specific gendered tendencies – such as female nurturing and passiveness – with biological reason: the uterus, of course! Seem a little bit of a weak argument when laid out bluntly? People fail to see the difference between evolution and socializing, and therefore persist in ignorance. That is to say, instinctual drives are not a good enough explanation for social behavior.

Take, for example, a cold person with a blanket. It is likely that she will wrap the blanket very tightly around her body in order to stay warm. We can explain this behavior by the biological want to be warm, but the blanket and knowing what it is supposed to be used for cannot be explained by biology alone. Who is to say that someone who has never seen someone else using a blanket wouldn’t see the same patch of fabric and think it was the perfect kindling? When seeing humans acting on supposed “instinctual” behavior, you have to take into account the social circumstances and influences as well — what we are taught is acceptable behavior starting at birth.

Some people think that existing biological differences are the explanation for physical differences in sex, such as females having difficulty building muscle mass. However it is likely that this physical difference did not exist to begin with, but rather came to be through the process sexual selection. The idea of sexual selection is very closely linked to evolution – the idea that sex trait differences, such as lack of muscle mass, occurred because for generations, women with less muscle tissue were the ones to most widely reproduce. This does not mean that there was not once women over six feet tall with triceps walking the earth — as evidenced by the fact that there are still women like this who exist today in small numbers — but perhaps that those females were more likely to spend their lives dying in battle (perhaps next to men) than starting families. Likewise, stronger men were able to reproduce more because of all that raping and pillaging. Looking at the diversity of gender roles in the animal kingdom is good evidence that these functions are more random than anything. The key here is that these traits were spread by social patterns and not preexisting conditions.

The funny thing is that sexual selection is a theory originally proposed by Darwin and thought of as legitimate by most leading evolutionary psychologists. It’s just that most idiots who don’t actually understand the complications of evolutionary psychology think that they can use pure science or biology to explain oppression, without taking into account the obvious effects human sentience and complex social structure has had on the condition of the current human race. Further, justifying everything by saying gender roles serve the purpose of having the most babies possible does nothing to explain why homosexuals (and homosexual urges) occur completely naturally and persistently in humans.

All I’m saying is there’s more to it than just blowing one’s load. Come on, give the human race a little more credit than that.

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