May 25, 2010

What The Miss USA Pageant Says About Us

missusa-sidebyside.jpgi am completely disgusted that she would do this for free


I.


And that's why it is ridiculously obvious that when the Miss USA Organization, co-owned by Trump and NBC television, released a racy video lingerie photo shoot of this year's contestants... the sole purpose was to pump up the ratings for this Sunday night's telecast of the 2010 pageant on NBC.

No.


miss usa ratings.JPGThis past pageant got 6.6M, which is the same as last year.

You may be tempted to think that these scandals are blown up in the media in order to boost ratings for the pageant.  Yet while everyone knows about the controversies, you can't find one person (other than me) who actually watched the pageant.  The marketing has all failed, from Vanessa Williams to Carrie Prejean.  Why would they think seeing half naked women in lingerie would entice me to want to watch them fully clothed?  Whoops?


IIa.

The photos seemed designed to generate controversy and buzz about the pageant, TODAY's Matt Lauer suggested to pageant president Paula Shugart. "Yes, to some degree it's marketing," Shugart admitted

Wrongolongoria.  The controversy isn't to get viewers to watch the Pageant, the controversy is to get viewers to watch the Today Show.

Shows don't operate on their own, they're soldiers in a standing army.  Miss USA is run by the Miss Universe Organization, owned by Donald Trump and NBC Universal, which is co-owned by GE and Vivendi.  That means the Miss USA pageant can be enjoyed as a loss leader for MSNBC, NBC, USA Network, Bravo, A&E, Hulu, Activision/Blizzard, and Universal Studios.

And rival media is free to capitalize on it if they want. Oh, is she Muslim?  Then off to Fox News and Glen Beck and etc.  You think CBS is talking about it because they want to boost NBC's ratings?

Whenever someone talks about a television's show's ratings as if they have valuable information, punch them in the mouth.

IIb. 

Small aside: if the game is eyeballs, then it becomes less relevant that they get the facts straight once you are watching; only that you watch.


fox miss usa.JPG

Is this what the Miss USA represents?  It used to be all -American girls, the leaders of the future.  These are the leaders of the future?

If you're watching this Fahrenheit 500 deliver the business news from a bar, you're probably not worried about accuracy.  Why do I suddenly want a drink and a plane ticket?


III.

CBS News, unaffiliated with the pageant but hey, it's news, right? gets to ask, "Are Rima Fakih's Sexy Shots [of her in the stripping contest] Any Worse Than The Lingerie Photos?

The answer, obviously, is yes, they are worse, they are much worse, and by worse I mean much better.  If I have only one click left, I wanna see the stripper pole.  Lingerie?  What is this, the set of Falcon Crest?  Bring on the pole.   

"Americans are a puritanical lot that can't handle sexuality."  Oh, no, they handle it just fine, otherwise it wouldn't be everywhere.  They just can't handle it when they're with other people.

When you're by yourself and the sex scene in a rated R movie comes on, do you change the channel?  "It seems wrong to watch the expression on her face change as she mounts him.  I choose to turn away."  

But with every passing year of marriage those scenes frustrate, you try to avoid them.  Not when you're Alone, of course, but when you're watching with your spouse: you worry it is reminding them how inadequate you have become.

It happens also when you're with people you're not intimate with.  Are they watching how you are watching it?  If you're too interested, will they think you're a pervert, and if you appear bored, will they think you're a prude?  So there's dead silence as everyone in the room  pretends they're not pretending.

The word for all of this is shame.

It's perfectly normal to feel this way.  But you chose this world, this is the one you wanted.  What kind of a world is it where we want sexuality in everything, have normalized sexuality in everything, but are ashamed to be caught looking at it?  

A world that prefers to be alone, of course.

IV.

A quick word on the homosexualization of public sexuality, or, what's up with all the naked guys in ads and movies nowadays?  Is everyone gay?  No.  Otherwise it wouldn't work.

When a guy gets caught watching a naked girl in a movie, he's got some pretending or  explaining to do.  When a guy gets caught looking at a naked guy in a movie, he still gets the signifier of sexuality to use any way he wants, but without the shame.  That the ladies might like it is an added plus.


david beckham Armani.jpgSon of a bitch... Posh Spice is smoking hot


V.

 
There's a simple reason why the stripping pics are "worse" than the lingerie pics:  she was told to pose in lingerie; she chose to strip on her own.

If there is one thing that makes Americans-- or at least the media, which both reflects and creates American tastes-- nervous, it isn't sex, but sex that it can't control.

Maybe it's a uniquely American thing, maybe not: as long as sex/iness comes with a price tag, we're ok with it.   Controlled, manufactured, artificial-- safe.  Lingerie shoot?  "She had to do that for the pageant."  Oh, so that's the answer.  It's not real.

But if she's caught stripping for fun, then... what does that say about me?

The feminist argument is it sets a standard for women that they are forced to at least wonder about.  "How can I compete?"  But it's worse for men.   Playboy is fine.  Girls Gone Wild drives us bananas.  "They do it... for nothing?  They're willing to get naked on camera for nothing... yet every time I try to be nice and buy one of them a drink, they won't even look at me... I don't get it, I don't get it..." 

Wanton displays of sexuality leave no room for rationalizations.  "That kind of girl only wants a rich guy."  But she did it for free.  So?

America tends to be deferential to prostitutes and porn stars, because it understands them.  It's powerless against sluts. 

Which is why we call them sluts in the first place.

---

http://twitter.com/thelastpsych









Comments

No, we call them sluts beca... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 12:11 PM | Posted by AnonyMouse: | Reply

No, we call them sluts because they destroy our Darwinian self interest. Men who cannot find faithful sexual partners have no strong stake in society. Thus the ghetto.

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Almost everytime I'm finish... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 1:14 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Almost everytime I'm finished reading your posts I'm questioning my worldview. I would like the answer to the question, "So?" now. Thanks.

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"It's perfectly normal to f... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 1:17 PM | Posted by Justin: | Reply

"It's perfectly normal to feel this way. But you chose this world, this is the one you wanted. What kind of a world is it where we want sexuality in everything, have normalized sexuality in everything, but are ashamed to be caught looking at it? ... A world that prefers to be alone, of course."

Long time lurker, first time poster. And this kind of observation is exactly why I read this blog semi-religiously. Amen, 'alone', amen.

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Res ipsa loquitur...<... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 2:07 PM | Posted by VA psychiatrist: | Reply

Res ipsa loquitur...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnTyvqYT3Y8

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I'd contend that most "slut... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 2:15 PM | Posted by Stephen: | Reply

I'd contend that most "slutty" behavior comes from "normal" girls, not career sluts.

Almost anyone will do almost anything for free if they can be made to feel as though they chose that outcome. We have an amazing ability to go with the flow of events, then do some cognitive clean-up afterward by reclassifying our actions to get rid of any annoying dissonance.

I think our irritation as American males with the sluts we can't control (and we don't really want to anyway) is actually disappointment in our own inability to go with the flow and, every once in a while, refrain from intellectualizing events as they happen.

We want to be man-whores sometimes but we can't get over our own hang-ups long enough to get into a primal frame of mind. We don't want to control sluts, we want to be liberated enough to be them.

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Note to self, check ID.... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 2:36 PM | Posted, in reply to VA psychiatrist's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Note to self, check ID.

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"We want to be man-whore... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 3:08 PM | Posted, in reply to Stephen's comment, by Justin: | Reply

"We want to be man-whores sometimes but we can't get over our own hang-ups long enough to get into a primal frame of mind."

Very well put. This puts me in mind of "The Game"... if you've ever read Roissy's amusing, prolific and disturbingly single-minded blog about his interpretation (and practice) of the Game, you'll recognize an extremely obsessive, detail-oriented mentality. Dare I use that overwrought diagnostic buzzword of the moment, it's an Aspergerian approach to seduction, and it's about as far as you can get from the primal frame of mind that Game-players are supposedly aping when they put their highly rote and specialized form of seduction into practice.

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The only reason anybody wat... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 3:59 PM | Posted by Jen: | Reply

The only reason anybody watches anything called a "beauty pageant" is that our entire planet has been built on the platform of patriarchy, for the most part anyway. I am glad you posted the chart and statistics on the ratings and how few people are watching, but that millions are watching at all is disturbing to me as a woman and a human being who believes in equality. It's not just that these things set unrealistic expectations for women, which women cannot ever meet in reality, therefore leading to low self-esteem, eating disorders, etc, but it's that there is a fundamental ridiculous injustice in women being valued for our bodies above all us. Little girls shouldn't be growing up in a world that teaches them they should aspire to look good in a bathing suit, and let their brother aspire to be a rocket scientist. We really need to evolve a bit more.

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I meant to say, "above all ... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 4:01 PM | Posted by Jen: | Reply

I meant to say, "above all else", not "above all us".

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If a beauty pageant can cau... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 6:35 PM | Posted, in reply to Jen's comment, by HedgeMage: | Reply

If a beauty pageant can cause one such serious problems, one is probably pretty screwed up to begin with.

I was the fat girl growing up. I got over it. I had Barbies. I knew about and sometimes watched pageants on TV (the sacrifices we make to be "one of the guys"). It didn't take me long to figure out that if you glop on a ton of make-up and prance downstage in skimpy clothes, you are asking to be judged by your appearance. If you help build a woodland fort, keep up with the boys on dirtbikes, and kick their butts at computer geekery, you are asking to be judged on other merits.

I grew up on a hog farm in a very traditional (and sexist) rural town. I never fit the most popular female ideal, but I found a niche all my own.

We're all narcissists. We're all good at showing others what we want them to see. If we choose to show what *is* great about us instead of what we think others think would be great, we do all right.

People who let some vague notion of society's expectations sway their values and self-image really need to evolve a bit more.

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analyze this guy<a... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 7:32 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

analyze this guy

http://dailyuw.com/2010/5/25/death-and-life-soo-chun/

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Jen,The principle ... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 9:08 PM | Posted, in reply to Jen's comment, by MM: | Reply

Jen,

The principle of equality, which you claim to believe in, is one of the reasons women are valued for their bodies and nothing else in our society. This principle, put into action in a society, leads to individual rights for all, which liberates women to do what they want to do. If their decision to compete in a beauty pageant is morally reprehensible to you, it's not because there is any lack of equality or freedom. Quite the contrary, it's because there is an abundance of such equality.

In other words, if you're going to support a woman's choice to be a rocket scientist (on the principle of equality, that is), then you can't deny a woman's choice to be a beauty pageant contestant without contradicting yourself.

It's time to look elsewhere for the ills of our society. Lack of equality is not the problem.

-MM

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It's funny that you mention... (Below threshold)

May 25, 2010 11:04 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

It's funny that you mention the homosexualization of sexuality to eliminate shame; that's exactly what happened years ago with Japanese shojo manga.

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FACT: men who are worried a... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 12:31 AM | Posted, in reply to AnonyMouse's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

FACT: men who are worried about finding long term partners are, evolutionarily speaking, losers. From an evolutionary perspective the best men easily find mates to reproduce with, many of them.
Monogomy and women being faithful and pairing up with just 1 man was invented for loser males, FYI. The winners don't have to worry about the faithfulness of women quite as much because they get so many women that in the long run it doesn't matter. The loser dudes are the ones who are bitter and jealous and terrified of females who are sexual.

Just, yea, massive FYI.

Not "our" darwinian self interest, but rather the self interest of males who very well know they ain't first choice.

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Oh and TLP, I want to congr... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 12:32 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Oh and TLP, I want to congrats you on this blog entry, as this is the first time you blogged about a gender issue without being borderline misogynistic.

I approve of the majority of content written above.

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LOL what a joke. Yea, I'm s... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 12:35 AM | Posted, in reply to Stephen's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

LOL what a joke. Yea, I'm sure the ladies are lining up for you, "if only you would stoop to the level of a slut".

So if a hot 22 yr old girl asked you to come to her apartment, you would turn around and say, "NO! I, madam, am not a slut and refuse your uncouth advances. Find a morally repugnant man to solicit for reckless casual sex."

O PLZ brudder, we all know that's a straight up lie.

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MM that is a load of garbag... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 12:43 AM | Posted, in reply to MM's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

MM that is a load of garbage.

If the popularity of beauty pageants were a sign of sexual / gender equality, then by logic their popularity and prevelance would increase with other trends of sexual egalitarianism. This is not the case at all. Beauty pageant are much less popular the more options women have for self actualization. Who in the motherfuck wants to starve themselves and act like a moron and an asshole when they could instead go to school and become a real person?

It's sorta like ghetto kids shooting for the NBA and ignoring school. They do it because they feel hopeless and do not realistically believe they can assimilate in mainstream society and get a real education and stuff.
Women who bank on sex and beauty are women who do that because they perceive themselves as having very few other options... who in the fuck wants to depend on some other person for money and support, when odds are good he will neglect you or arbitrarily dump you on the street like Dino from the flintstones once you reach age 35 or 40.... assuming he marries you at all.
Sure there is always that one girl who marries a gazillionaire, or who actually becomes a famous model, but most women who make a career out of being a piece of art or a toy for men end up with nothing, used up, haggard, 40 and fucked over, etc etc.

So, sorry bud-d-die gonna have to dis-a-gree.

The # of females who orient their identity and lifestyle around pleasing and entertaining men seems to very strongly and solidly correlate with a decrease in options for independence and self sustenance any other way.

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Oh and, re: naked men in me... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 12:46 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Oh and, re: naked men in media, I don't see that as a way of eliminating shame. I see that as people trying to make money off of the subset of viewers who are sexually attracted to men, i.e. gay males and women with high sex drives and such.

In "shojo manga" this is obviously the case, as all japanese cartoon porn has the shame built in already. You can't de-shame that which is inherently shameful and pathetic.

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"The only reason anybody wa... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 4:45 AM | Posted, in reply to Jen's comment, by Start The Machine: | Reply

"The only reason anybody watches anything called a "beauty pageant" is that our entire planet has been built on the platform of patriarchy, for the most part anyway." Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum.

"I am glad you posted the chart and statistics on the ratings and how few people are watching, but that millions are watching at all is disturbing to me as a woman and a human being who believes in equality." (my italics)

No cigar. It's not important how few people were watching. It's important how few were watching relative to the other choices. Feel free to click the link to the Nielsen ratings page, should you decide you care to figure out what actually happened rather than simply identifying information which seems too reaffirm your chosen worldview/excuse.

Spoiler alert: the season finale of America's Funniest Home Videos kicked the shit out of the Miss USA Pageant. Of course, you're no aspiring rocket scientist, so I'll give you some context:

The year is 2010. While AFHV once dominated the market for three-minute home movies of average people injuring and/or embarrassing themselves, those same movies are now widespread that you literally have to go out of your way to avoid them on the web. Youtube alone houses thousands of videos of teenagers jumping off roofs, all in one convenient location, available 24/7. benevolently distracting millions of young girls from their low self-esteem and eating disorders. Just enough to keep them from clicking the 'back' button, but not enough to keep them from yawning.

Which is funny, because in 1998 the moment you stumbled across something humorous on Geocities, you thought you'd won the goddamn lottery. Eager to share your newfound wealth with friends and family, you forwarded the video/animated greeting card/chain letter to everyone you knew, that they too might know your joy.

But that was then, and this is now. Gone is our innocence. How sad is it that nobody gives a shit about your link to a video of a 15-year-old trying to break a beer bottle on his own skull? Well, a Youtube search for "beer bottle to the head" returns 1,380 results. Chances are they're not missing out. Nobody is, not anymore. We've all seen it, and we've seen it all.

And yet...

The season finale of America's Funniest Home Videos kicked the shit out of the Miss USA Pageant.

Really? That show still exists? Whatever, there's probably nothing else on. I'll watch it. This low self-esteem/eating disorder/family isn't going to ignore itself.

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Spare me the Darwinian alib... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 6:04 AM | Posted by Ben: | Reply

Spare me the Darwinian alibi. I'll accept a Newtonian/Einsteinian excuse for the fact that you're stuck on this planet, but there's a limit to how much you can blame your behaviour on your genes. If I propose to you a game where I win $50 for every card drawn except the 2 of diamonds, and you win $1 for that one card, would you play? If yes, commit yourself. If no, why not? Perhaps because you have a brain, can critically reflect on the rules of the game and decide for yourself?

No one will hold you responsible for breathing, having a libido of some sort, or shivering in the cold. That's biological. Identifying yourself or another as a slut and engaging in the behaviour you consider appropriate to that attribution, though, is all you. You might be convinced that you're stuck playing Darwin's game, but you're still responsible for the moves you make.

Some wise @$$ once wrote, 'All of our actions have a blast radius, and other human beings are in it.' - Other human beings, not just long, repetitive strings of common organic molecules. Get it?

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Could you please do a dedic... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 8:30 AM | Posted by Mark: | Reply

Could you please do a dedicated post on your point #4 above?

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MM has pwned the comment bo... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 9:05 AM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

MM has pwned the comment board on this one. Jen: you can submit your cmment to your women's studies professor for extra credit.

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"If the popularity o... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 9:14 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by MM: | Reply


"If the popularity of beauty pageants were a sign of sexual / gender equality, then by logic their popularity and prevelance would increase with other trends of sexual egalitarianism. This is not the case at all. Beauty pageant are much less popular the more options women have for self actualization. Who in the motherfuck wants to starve themselves and act like a moron and an asshole when they could instead go to school and become a real person?"

Enjoyable (although, admittedly, a bit primitive) rant, but you missed my point. I wasn't focusing directly on beauty pageants in my post, but I was instead focusing on the idea behind them: that is, the worship of the woman's body over her other attributes (the poster's comment I was replying to said we needed to evolve if we still consider the woman's body as her greatest asset). Just because beauty pageants are on the decline, however, doesn't mean that that valuation is gone from society. In other words, with increased equality, women just have more options to strut their stuff. It's empowering until they realize that it's not.

Beauty pageants, thongs, strip-clubs, internet porn: this is the outcome of a free and liberal society (of course, there are also women CEO's, lawyers, doctors, etc.). More equality and more freedom will only allow more of this phenomenon. So, again, the focus of people opposed to how women are valuated in our society shouldn't be pushing for a more equality (unless by equality you mean the stripping away of the rights of men, which wouldn't be real equality at all).

-MM

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I wonder, do we prefer to b... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 9:55 AM | Posted by Wonders: | Reply

I wonder, do we prefer to be alone. I guess, it does seem that way. hmmn ok well if i'm making a preferential choice I'd like to know who is running this show cause I sure would like to peruse the other options...

And for giggles, I laughed a little at the comment about a room full of people pretending not to pretend - funny cause when a sex scene comes on telly and i'm in the room with someone other than my husband, I can practically feel the people in my head trying to pull the shutters off to escape. I wonder that my face must look so funny while thats happening....

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I wonder if I'd have just t... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 10:06 AM | Posted, in reply to VA psychiatrist's comment, by Wonders: | Reply

I wonder if I'd have just thought that was far out cool before I had my over-sexualised Alone goggles on.... man those girls got energy

I wonder if the parents have considered what it is to teach such young girls how to move their bodies in sexual ways to attract attention... do you think it even crosses their minds?

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Oh and almost forgot, Alone... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 10:30 AM | Posted by Wonders: | Reply

Oh and almost forgot, Alone, I was wondering whether you had considered having reply posts attach themselves to the original? if you had, could you please.
There is often interesting conversation here but its bollocks having to scroll around to look for the next segment....

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The part about watching sex... (Below threshold)

May 26, 2010 11:53 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The part about watching sex scenes with other people really hit home for me... god damn...

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A stereotypical sexist comm... (Below threshold)

May 27, 2010 1:05 AM | Posted, in reply to medsvstherapy's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

A stereotypical sexist comment from a stereotypical sexist mental health "professional"

This is probably why 90% of your female patients are diagnosed with "borderline".... what else is an unhappy woman besides a bag of random illogical emotions which grates on the nerves of any man near her?

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Only a pedo would find that... (Below threshold)

May 27, 2010 1:09 AM | Posted, in reply to Wonders's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Only a pedo would find that "sexual".

The only thing sexual about the dancing is their costumes, which are intentionally designed to make you think that they are post-pubertal when they are not (the way the costume is cut, and the skin shown, invites the mind to think that the weareres of the costume are sexually developed women when in reality they are scrawny 7 year old kids).

The dancing itself is pretty neutral.

The costumes are pretty pedofied though.

My thoughts:
Only a pedo would design those costumes.
Only a pedo would think that dancing was sexual.

That is all.

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Who the hell said anything ... (Below threshold)

May 27, 2010 1:22 AM | Posted, in reply to MM's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Who the hell said anything about banning pageants and doing away with the "choice" of a woman to parade around like an underfed plastic smiled object with no hard brains but cute diplomacy who agreeably says everything agreeable?

Not me. I just said that the decreased popularity of beauty contests in the west is directly proportional to the increased ability for women to make something of themselves and be independent.

Argue that, if you want, don't tell me I'm trying to eliminate choices. The choices are eliminating themSELVES, I don't need to get huffy and puffy about it because it's self farkin evident that it's takin' care of it's own bidness.

Also, one more point: In the past, beauty was for men. Women who dressed up and preened did so primarily because she wanted to please and be selected by a man and married off. Today, beauty is for women. Fashions and dress and aesthetics is a hobby for women (and some men), and it has NOTHING to do with trying to please men and to be taken care of eventually. Today, women dress sexy because they like to feel sexy. They care about fashion and beauty because they enjoy it. It's not about pleasing anyone but themselves.

There is an increase in fashion, beauty, aesthetics and sex, but for most women, this is primarily a self serving hobby... like a guy interested in his car, or his boat, bike, or sports, or whatever.

Pageants are a hold over from the old timey days when women were expected to please men; the pageant winner is a symbol of the woman who is best at doing this. She is competing in her ability to be agreeable and aesthetically pleasing in the eys of a man. It's no wonder no one gives a crap anymore, it's ridiculous, like when the KKK parade around small southern towns during their rituals no one but old rednecks give a shit about.

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Oh, same anon above:<... (Below threshold)

May 27, 2010 1:27 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Oh, same anon above:

PWOOF that pageants are misogynistic: the male equivalent of a pageant is a drag queen contest. Drag queens are judged in a TOTALLY different way than pageant girls. The drag queen who "wins" the contest is usuallly the queen who is the most OUTRAGEOUS, the most artistic, the most unique of all. Drag queen contests are for the drag queens themselves - each member is expressing him/herself and they are being judged based on the uniqueness and artistic value of that expression.

The female beauty pageant is a complete 180 of that. The pageant winner is usually the most bland, most conformist, most "perfect" example of an agreeable docile girl. Zero controversial views, perfect physically, charming, you're crowned.

In other words, the girl who has the least individuality/self and conforms most perfectly to the needs / interests of men is the winner.

Pageants are ridiculous and outdated.

Drag shows, however, rock :D
I love drag queens, they are fabulous.

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"Not me. I just said that t... (Below threshold)

May 27, 2010 9:18 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by MM: | Reply

"Not me. I just said that the decreased popularity of beauty contests in the west is directly proportional to the increased ability for women to make something of themselves and be independent."

You're certainly right that they have more options. I agree with you here. As I've been arguing, this is equality at work. But let's catch our breath and look at the options they are choosing (and if the media is any indication of who the popular/respected style of woman is today, the choices they're making aren't particularly commendable). Remember, just because women aren't choosing beauty pageants to find self-fulfillment doesn't mean they're pursuing more fulfilling ends. They now have more options to be more risque, to take off more articles of clothing, to not be too intelligent, to be free to show off their "hot bods." Empowerment? You decide.

Either way, my point was that people pushing for more equality and greater liberties have it all backwards (at least if they're wanting to solve the problems we face today). A decline in beauty pageants only means an increase in things far worse (or better, depending on one's enjoyment of the female body).

-MM

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"my point was that people p... (Below threshold)

May 27, 2010 9:48 AM | Posted, in reply to MM's comment, by Ben: | Reply

"my point was that people pushing for more equality and greater liberties have it all backwards (at least if they're wanting to solve the problems we face today)."

Oh dear. Jen's rant against patriarchy was perhaps misplaced, but the rejection of it laid out the red carpet for paternalism. There are many things on this blog (and yes, in the comments too) that I disagree with, but one theme to which I would unequivocally subscribe is that we should not look to psychiatry to solve social ills. Who died and made you society's fairy godmother, MM?
Even if curtailing equality and liberties *would* attenuate problems like sexism and superficiality, would the cure really be better than the disease? Look mom! I'm no longer hooked on porn, because Great Leader has shown me The Truth! If you give people freedom, and they use it to act like materialist, shopaholic automatons, what makes you think that less liberty will grant them more autonomy? An automaton given even less room for choice is better off? That's either a cynical reading of Orwell or a twisted reading of Kant.
You can lead the horse to wisdom, but you can't make him think. Thanks, MM, but no thanks.

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Your articles about the inc... (Below threshold)

May 27, 2010 10:13 AM | Posted by Stiva: | Reply

Your articles about the incestuousness and insidiousness of TV are always insightful and fun to read. Still, I think it's a pretty big stretch you're making from "it's awkward to watch a sex scene on TV with your significant other" to "everyone wants to be alone." People might choose what to watch on TV based on who they're with, but they don't choose who to be with based on what shows they want to watch ("Sorry babe, I can't come out tonight. Ghost Whisperer is on and Jennifer Love Hewitt is going to be wearing a teddy you can practically see through"). If you're looking for evidence that we're becoming atomized there are much better examples out there: the rise of rootless urban anonymity, the disappearance of fraternal community organizations, the growing numbers of unassimilated immigrants living in racially segregated enclaves, etc.

As for the sluts, well, we used to call them sluts as a way of stigmatizing promiscuity, which undermines family formation and social stability. Of course nobody concerns themselves with such bourgeois matters anymore, so it comes as no surprise that the word has lost almost all of its bite. I think as much as anything it now signifies simple frustration with the fact that being attractive and uninhibited has become a license to do whatever you want, and damn the consequences. It's easy to write that off as sour grapes (as it no doubt often is), but only someone with a head full of rocks would think that this situation represents a positive step for society.

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Ben,So much hostil... (Below threshold)

May 27, 2010 10:40 AM | Posted, in reply to Ben's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Ben,

So much hostility, my friend. If you would read my posts a bit closer, you would find that we agree on more points than you realize. I'm not pushing for any sort of social dictatorship, as you are suggesting that I have, and I don't have any answers. I merely know where the answer doesn't lie if one is wanting to combat modern social ills (it's a negative observation, not a positive one).

Perhaps this freedom is just, after all. I'm not sure. But your diagnosis of mankind (i.e. "You can lead the horse to wisdom, but you can't make him think") leaves me with very little hope, anyway.

-MM

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MM,Allow me to quo... (Below threshold)

May 27, 2010 11:55 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Ben: | Reply

MM,

Allow me to quote Terry Pratchett totally out of context: "Mr. Tulip and Mr. Pin are the kind of people who call you 'friend'. People like that aren't friendly."
That you think is clear, and that you see similarity in our views is, to that extent, a relief. I often get frustrated with critiques from post-modernism/critical theory (not accusing you of subscribing to either - merely drawing an analogy), because they're often hollow beyond the critique. It's tempting to reply, 'There's no magic in recognizing the problem. Bill O'Reilly can do that. What's your better idea?'
I prefer positive proposals about negative freedom than negative observations that avoid the positive responsibility associated with having an opinion. It might just be a disagreement over aesthetic preference, and debates about matters of taste are famously pointless.
I didn't realize I had diagnosed mankind, but I'm flattered that you'd think so. Don't sweat the hopelessness. It's only a problem if you expected Progress in the first place.
Thanks for the effort at conciliation. No flame war intended.

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Ben,I admit that t... (Below threshold)

May 27, 2010 1:47 PM | Posted, in reply to Ben's comment, by MM: | Reply

Ben,

I admit that the "my friend" comment - when used in an anonymous debate - can come across as a bit condescending and presumptuous. I assure you, nevertheless, that I wasn't trying to be un-friendly. Maybe it was my god-mother instinct coming out once again.

You wrote: "I prefer positive proposals about negative freedom than negative observations that avoid the positive responsibility associated with having an opinion."

I, on the other hand, am chained to the latter. It might be a character flaw - a weakness - but I'm weary of most affirmative action; Nietzsche's negative philosophy has always been greater, in my opinion, than his positive proposal of the "Overman." But to clump anyone who thinks like that in the Bill O'Reilly camp? A bit harsh, no? Besides, from what I've seen anyway, it seems O'Reilly spouts as many solutions as he does diagnoses (it's just his diagnoses are usually shouted).

Either way, despite our disagreements (and because of our understanding), I'll label this a fruitful discussion, and that's what a blog like this a good for.

-MM

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MM,No, you're in a... (Below threshold)

May 28, 2010 8:21 AM | Posted, in reply to MM's comment, by Ben: | Reply

MM,

No, you're in a different category than Bill O'Reilly (I also said, "That you think is clear..."). I meant that even BO'R can identify problems like teenage pregnancy, the banality of affirmative action and lasciviousness masquerading as autonomy, etc. His proposed solutions, however, are nearly without exception paternalistic (and incoherent in combination with his calls for a smaller state, for that matter).

Anyway, the reason I've ventured to dangle my foot in front of my mouth yet again (tasty morsel!) is to relate Kurt Vonnegut's diagnosis of mankind, which he self-consciously labeled as such:

"The Winners are at War with the Losers and the Fix is on. The prospects for Peace are awful."

Hence my remark about hopelessness and Progress.

Finally, I'll add a caveat to my suggestion that more negative freedom is the best way to cope with (not rectify) the status quo, from James Bovard:

"Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner."

(You see? My proposed suggestions aren't even mine. They're the synthesized bastard children of wisdom that's crossed my path. But I still take responsibility as their adoptive father.)

"I'll label this a fruitful discussion, and that's what a blog like this a good for."
-Amen.

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Ben,You said Bill ... (Below threshold)

May 28, 2010 10:33 AM | Posted by Jack Coupal: | Reply

Ben,

You said Bill O'Reilly's recommendations are nearly without exception paternalistic.

You appear to relate those paternalistic (or maternalistic) trends with harmful government action. That is the trend today.

A few years back, those terms really meant Family: mother, father, and children. Does any government today regard you as its child? Sure, most times, and you're the helpless abused child, abandoned to the State's warm concern.

To destroy the Family, government must convince anyone within hearing distance that paternalistic and maternalistic concern (of the loving kind) now come only from government. Parents (stepparents) are the only sources of family grief.

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JC,I'm aware of th... (Below threshold)

May 28, 2010 12:44 PM | Posted, in reply to Jack Coupal's comment, by Ben: | Reply

JC,

I'm aware of the plain English meaning and its Latin etymology. I was using it in the technical, social scientific/philosophical sense (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/paternalism/). Sorry, I didn't mean to go all jargon on you.

But I share your concern that Big Brother is hardly fraternal.

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I caught this on Yahoo! Ans... (Below threshold)

May 28, 2010 5:14 PM | Posted by passiton: | Reply

I caught this on Yahoo! Answers. It’s apparently been deleted due to “profanity":

Question: Shall we dispense with the bull?

Dear Individuals Suffering from Bipolar Disorder w/Acute Narcissism:

Please seek help. As in psychiatric help. Then please take your meds as prescribed. Psychiatry is not a conspiracy hell-bent on destroying “rugged individualism” in this country.

There are times when medications are necessary for a person’s well-being. If not yours, then the well-being of others around you

I have nothing against creativity, ambition, and boundless energy. I DO take exception to abuse.

Abuse it NOT a vital component of competition. Chronic (expletive) did NOT make this country great. Thinking and acting like a sociopath is NOT a direct result of high testosterone levels, self-confidence, or the desire to win.

Holding others accountable for their failures while behaving like a douche is NOT healthy or normal human behavior. “Personal responsibility” is not a weapon to be used to feel morally superior.

If anything, take your own advice and own up to the fact that your behavior affects others negatively.

Therefore, let us dispense with the bull. We can do without your brutal honesty. If we abuse you in turn, we have a good reason: namely, you refuse to own up to your persistent faults. Stop trying to rationalize your bad behavior.

Quite simply, you’re addicted- To feeling superior and contemptful of others. I don’t care if you invented the cure for cancer. Your behavior is annoying.

Yes, you DO have a problem. It’s not us or Big Pharma. It’s YOU.

So, shut the (expletive) up. Seek help. And take your meds.

PERIOD.

Respectfully Yours,

Friends, Family, Co-workers

* Please send this open letter to everyone you can think of. We need to get the message out.

(Hey Doc, what do you think?) :)

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Playboy is fine. Girls ... (Below threshold)

May 28, 2010 5:21 PM | Posted by Matt: | Reply

Playboy is fine. Girls Gone Wild drives us bananas. "They do it... for nothing? They're willing to get naked on camera for nothing... yet every time I try to be nice and buy one of them a drink, they won't even look at me... I don't get it, I don't get it..."

The answer is that they're not the same people, of course. If you actually meet a chick you recognize from a GGW video in a bar, and this happens, then you might have a legitimate grievance. (Well, no not really). But the vast majority of girls have never gotten naked on camera.

In your most recent post, you talk about the dangers of a legal system that treats people as types, not individuals. We men... no, make that some men (see what I did there?) treat women the same way, and it's just as bad.

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anonymous sez: "A stereotyp... (Below threshold)

June 1, 2010 8:45 AM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

anonymous sez: "A stereotypical sexist comment from a stereotypical sexist mental health 'professional' "

Ouch! I just got stereotyped!

And double-ironic! My initial comment was a disguised way of noting how Jen herself was being sexist!

"This is probably why 90% of your female patients are diagnosed with "borderline".... what else is an unhappy woman besides a bag of random illogical emotions which grates on the nerves of any man near her?"

Good point, Anonymous. Generally, I have a strategy of making sure that a female counseling client who somewhere along the way has been labeled "borderline" should not properly be labeled "complex ptsd." "Just plain female" should also be considered.

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thank you for share,good po... (Below threshold)

June 7, 2010 10:31 PM | Posted by roller shos: | Reply

thank you for share,good post

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Anonymous: looks like someo... (Below threshold)

June 8, 2010 7:05 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by a guy: | Reply

Anonymous: looks like someone is bitter because he lacks the discipline, mental fortitude and rationality to reject women at will.

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Eh. Acting and being a 'slu... (Below threshold)

June 9, 2010 5:42 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Eh. Acting and being a 'slut' does not preclude one from being faithful afterwards.

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This is a great post, havin... (Below threshold)

May 17, 2011 3:21 AM | Posted by DG: | Reply

This is a great post, having lived in different cultures I can say firsthand that Americans do have a problem with women being sexual.

They want her to be a slut, but only his slut, and they (we) freak out of the idea that she might also be a slut to someone else. But..but.. my ego!?

Why is the idea of MMF threesome one of the scariest for some American guys - in other cultures this is no big deal, you are getting the girl, who is fun, and hey let's try for DP, to give her more pleasure

I think this all comes down to our American insecurity, we aren't as good as someone else out there, we need X for the girl to like her.

Sexuality is something that needs to be fixed in US, because as you've said - everything is heading to sex and violence, two things no one can fake.

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Elaborate, blast you!... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2013 12:47 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Atarii: | Reply

Elaborate, blast you!

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