....Was a very funny punchline in a Questionable Content comic from a ways back (when Steve and Ellen are either just about to, or just finished getting it on for the first time, If memory serves). But the concept of women as conquest is shitty. I know that there is a certain amount of status conferred upon a guy who has a girlfriend, although I mostly got incredulity when people found out I was dating Star. Thanks a million, guys. However, I do not - to this day - brag about it to gain respect or admiration. If you ask in the interests of frank discussion (as some have), you will get as much of an answer as is required. I reserve the right to ignore your questions if I suspect you have seen this post and want to bug me.
As you may have read on her blog, La Petite Mort has done an excellent job of tackling the sexual side of an issue brought up in last Friday's Citizen, and I could not have said any of it better myself...I don't even know if I could do "on-par". Anyhow, I want to address another side to the same issue which bugs me, namely Sports, and other activities that are supposedly recreational....well, they are recreational, but only when victory is not your primary concern.
I know that any professional sports player will tell you they do it "for the love of the game", but last year's NHL salary drama puts paid to that fallacy. I know people who really work for the love of the job: teachers. Two of the best teachers I have ever had left higher-paying jobs (Lawyer and Banker, no less!) to teach, and did so with great enthusiasm. Even suggest that players take a salary cut, and you're looking at a strike! Like the stars of the movie and music industries, professional sports players are the aristocracy of our world, created to give us mere mortals a glimpse of the Divine. So what does this have to do with sexual double standards and my anger? Read on...
It all begins with the glorification of the victor, the big cheese, the guy who sits down at the end of the day to write those history books. From the bedroom to the classroom to the boardroom, it's always about who is best. And there can only be one; wouldn't you feel cheated if - at the end of the day - Superman and Lex just shook hands, and said "well played, my good man"? We know from experience that the gold metal tastes sweetest (you've seen the Olympians bite 'em, to see if it's the real deal, no?) when you - or your team, I suppose - stand alone at the top of the podium. We know that the vicarious experience is always better when the 'good guys' win unilaterally. Even Yoda said "Do, or do not. There is no 'Try'". You can't escape it, perhaps not in any culture. I know I'm petrified that one day, I'll stop hearing people saying good things about what I write here, that I will cease to publish quality material. Incidentally, should such a day arrive, I want to know. I write to provoke thought, and perhaps entertain. There is no need for a superfluous blog in this vast sea of tubes :P
We have words for people who are indifferent to victory: slacker, underachiever, living-in-your-mom's-basement...the guy from "Pygmalion", who loves Eliza, but hasn't any ambition. A cousin of mine decided a while ago that she didn't want the rat race of a consumer society, and I believe she went to pick fruit as a migrant worker in BC...something to that effect, at any rate. My parents didn't condemn her for it, but I heard in my mother's voice a tone usually reserved for fathers who wonder why their son or daughter sees anything wrong with eating meat. A tone usually reserved for the kind of person who deplored the antics of those 'dirty hippies'. On the other end of the spectrum, we have words for people who value victory too much: Cheaters, scoundrels, hackers, crackers, no-good scum. We demonize these people, and wonder what drives them to these extremes...all the while telling our children that they have to win, they have to want victory more than anything else in the world if they're going to get anywhere in life.
Of course, there are people who will say that the only person you have to beat, the only person who matters in success is you. I wonder how many actually mean it. I know myself that I am not the best, not at anything....and I make peace with myself in that knowledge, eventually. There are a few reactions to defeat, but internally there are only two: Either you are content with your own performance, or you hate yourself. In the latter case, you can pretend that your actual disposition is the former, you can direct the blame externally, you can contemplate seppuku, and so on. It's all eventually forgotten, because life has to go on, but the memory of defeat stays, on some level.
Our sexual attitudes happen here. We are either content to be where we are, in or out of a relationship, or we brag. We feel inadequate, and we make up tales of sexual exploits...in the case of the article, where the writer quotes some boys discussing a conquest (where one boy was the 6th to "have her"....*shudders*)...I wonder if some might even play along, make themselves believe that objectifying women like their peers will make them 'cool'. See exhibit: Grease for related proof. If degrading sex is 'victory', then all the indoctrination and instinct grips us, and bids us to seek it, revel in it, and boast about it to enhance our standing.
(I apologize if this has been hard to follow; my mind is a tangled web on the best of days, and refused to untangle when I decided to write a post on this subject.)
Bringing this to a close are some examples. One is a show I saw on TV recently, about kids in sport, and their parents. These parents, although well-intentioned, are the most pitiless motherfuckers on the planet, forget 'queen bees' and third-world despots. I have never bought the "this hurts me more than it hurts you" sort of argument here. I am aware that kind, fluffy concern is the stuff of affluence and excess, but I get the impression that the parents see the uniforms and the goals, and not their child. There is everything right about supporting a dream, there is EVERYTHING wrong with living it vicariously through your child! A parent can scream a thousand times for their kid to pass the puck, block the punch, stick the landing, follow through, etc. It's easy, because they don't have to do those things. Ever seen someone on a computer, being directed by other people? Ever NOT seen the 'other people' yell? It's always easier when the pressure is on you, but not the heat of the moment, the passion of the here and now.
The kicker was the girl who was not allowed to have a boyfriend, unless she could produce "one good reason" why she should have one. I would hope that she's tried "I want to feel like somebody needs me as more than a player on a team, as more than a number on a jersey", so I wonder if anything at all would wash with her mother. Even if early relationships can lack a certain amount of depth, are singles in their 20s and 30s instantly able to form lasting relationships? I don't think so. It's a mix of experience, good and bad, coupled with a lot of luck, and - very often - good friends. But I digress. If someone is being denied a basic part of their own maturation process (I recall that girls in gymnastics supposedly go through puberty later than average, although if this is the exercise or artificial, or both, I do not know), one has to question: WHY? Why do we munchkin (for want of a better word) our children, leaving them socially underdeveloped? If taking gold in, say, figure skating means few friends, long hours of practice, etc...is that REALLY worth it?
Maybe I just don't understand, or maybe I'm bitter because I was never pushed into anything, never became the champion at anything. Maybe not, though. I have lots of friends, and I am slave to no coach, no psychotic parent. I take ballroom dance lessons most sundays, but they are always fun, and the pressure is manageable. Plus, we get good breaks, and there is coffee and a European import grocery store nearby. Again, I digress. What I was hoping to explore here (and feel very free to tell me if I have done this at all well or not) is one aspect of unhealthiness in our culture. I seem to recall reading a headline where a mother had assaulted a coach or referee for what she considered to be a "bad call" or somesuch. I definitely remember the story where a father inadvertently poisoned several of his daughter's opponents in a sabotage attempt (spiked their gatorade with something unfriendly, I think). These may be isolated incidents, but it is terrible that they happen at all. Something has to be done, because we know that if Og has Shiny Thing, Ug may very well club Og to death to get it. This is what we teach our children, this is what we know ourselves. So the next time a mother brags how soon her child learned to read, or use the toilet, you walk up to them, and you say "That's great...so have you taught HIM/HER to brag about it yet?"
No, my Sci-Fi story isn't dead, but I haven't taken the time to properly plan and write out a chapter yet, so I apologize. With many untold hours of vacation before me, I hope to devote substantial time to the project. Once I have momentum, it should be a little easier with each passing chapter. At the moment, I'm trying to find something to HAPPEN in the story.
I have it on several trusted authorities that salvaging my mostly-failed relationship with Star would be a waste of time and energy. After late last week, I am inclined to agree. To some extent, the enigmatic nature of woman is a pleasurable torment for us guys. An extent which I think Star has long exceeded. I can understand issues, I can understand that it is not ever easy to deal with them...but I am not therapy, I am not a punching bag, and I am not going to be your plaything!
Will I look for someone new? I don't know yet. I'd like to feel wanted again. I think I'll have to wait, despite what I may want. A few friends have recently found solace in others, and I don't want this to be a "me too" thing. Besides, going on the rebound is never a great pretense to be dating. Time will tell.