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February 01, 2009

That Male-Female Thing Again

I get the feeling that on certain subjects, no matter how carefully I choose my words there is some sort of male-female subtext at work that overwhelms whatever I actually said. It's pretty disheartening.

This must be the male equivalent of when a women asks, "Does this dress make my fanny look big?" and the man knows well in advance of answering that no matter how much he praises her figure or says he likes the dress, she will hear, "Well I wouldn't exactly call your derriere svelte, my dear. But at least it's not quite as big as the national debt ... or a Mack truck.... or the planet Jupiter."

Grim and I have had this discussion often enough to establish that we agree to a large extent on this subject:

The topic is public v. private behavior, and the importance of maintaining a public space that is acceptable and comfortable to everyone. This is familiar ground for all of you who read her site and mine, as it is a point of commonality (more or less) in our philosophies.

But somehow, we keep going round and round on the "big butt" part, largely (I suspect) because men have it in their minds that women secretly think certain (unreasonable) things and no amount of jawboning will disabuse them of that notion:

In the comments, though, she says something that strikes me as worth a reply.
I also don't want to have to stop and constantly explain to my kids or grandkids that certain things are not right just because fringe behavior is thrust in my face when I least expect it.

It's the phrase "fringe behavior" that I find interesting here.

Before Grim gets to the rest of his analysis - much of which I agree with - I'd like to make a few observations regarding this:

The danger is that the impulses are not fringe. They are not perversions of human nature. Rather, they are highly common and powerful desires with very bad practical consequences.

I think we need to take a giant step back here.

First of all, there is a huge difference between having an impulse and acting on that impulse (in other words, between desires and behavior).

We all - all of us - have certain desires or impulses. They are a natural part of the human condition. Not all of us act upon those impulses; especially in public and especially in mixed company or in the presence of small children. In fact, I was raised to believe that an integral part of the maturation process involved impulse control: restraining perfectly normal impulses, learning that there is a time and place for certain things.

This is one of the first things we teach small children. They aren't born, for instance, knowing that we can't simply peel all our clothes off in public any time we feel like it. They aren't born knowing which parts of our bodies it is considered acceptable to reveal to strangers or persons of the opposite sex and which are not; nor the circumstances under which rules like this are customarily relaxed somewhat (beaches, gyms, locker rooms, etc.)

Grim speaks of fringe impulses, but my comment dealt with fringe behavior, and that is a different matter entirely. The impulses are entirely normal. It is when they are given free exercise in defiance of social norms that I call them "fringe behavior". And notwithstanding his analysis, I don't believe I'm wrong to do so.

I will openly admit that I don't watch much television, but on those occasions when I have done so, I have not seen steamy scenes of women in naughty lingerie aping sex with vegetables during prime time on a network TV channel. NBC turned this ad down and rightly so. But I find it bizarre that PETA even put such an ad forward, whack jobs though they are. I found the premise behind the "shower" GoDaddy ad pretty creepy too: three teen-aged boys making a woman take a shower over and over again while they watch from their bedroom? And popping other women they consider hot into the shower at the same time? What message are we sending here? It's fun to watch real naked women online (not performers, mind you, but that woman who works down at the Dean's office) and even more fun if you can strip them naked and control their actions?

I have never thought of myself as particularly prudish, but when did this sort of thing get to be mainstream for network TV during prime time? Grim's idea of mainstream must be way different from mine. This is not something I'd enjoy explaining to my children, and as a mother it's not really the sort of thing I'd think I could let pass. Instead of being allowed to watch the game in peace, I have to stop and deliver mini morality lectures during commercial breaks?

Fun, that.

I think I can safely say that when I was a small child, I was unaware that adult women even had sex with vegetables. Go figure. I was unaware of voyeurism and porn. When I was a child, if I had seen three teenaged boys leering at two naked women in the shower on TV, it's a safe bet there would have been policemen in the scene somewhere, too. Voyeurism of unwilling participants would not have been depicted as "cool", or a "neato leisure activity" for college kids.

Would anyone have thought these things were perverted? I'll let you all discuss that. My guess is probably not. These impulses all fall well within the range of normal human sexual behavior. Whether the behavior is morally right or wrong I leave to you to decide - telling other adults what is right is not my job.

On to the rest of Grim's post:

For some they are a morass, for others a precipice. Not everyone is equally imperiled -- most of us are simply not tempted by at least one if not several of the vices, though suceptible to others.

Some of us become highly skilled at navigation and rock-climbing, and during periods of strength can explore in relative safety. (Although saying that may mark the sin of pride, which is the worst sin of all.) Yet it is discipline that enables such exploration to occur without disaster, discipline gained only through time and experience (and not without a few scars).

That is another reason why places where children may be present ought to be kept clean of certain things. It isn't that the behavior is necessarily fringe. In fact, one of the best reasons to clean it up can be that it isn't a fringe desire at all. Children need time to learn and to develop the inner discipline that will let them navigate these perils. These pleasures and vices are called "adult" not as a euphamism, but because adults are the ones who may (sometimes!) have the proper strength to handle them.

This was the entire point of my post. I don't understand where the imputation that there is any perversion of human nature comes from. Not only did I not say that, but it is diametrically opposed to what I happen to believe: the reason we don't tear off our clothes in public is because people all share certain drives that covering up parts of ourselves helps us to keep under wraps until we're in the right time and place to give them free reign. The conference table at your office is probably not the right time and place to give free reign to your libido. That's why we generally frown on women wearing low cut tops and sky high skirts to work, nor would most people be comfortable with men showing up shirtless or in a**less chaps. It's out of place.

Of course, we have defined down what is meant by the term "adult" as well; so perhaps that too is no fit place to hang our sign. That, though, is another conversation.

Question for the day: if these commercials didn't have an "adult" theme, what is the family friendly explanation a parent can use to tell their 6 year old why 3 teen aged boys are looking at naked ladies online? Personally, I don't think anything has been defined down. It's hard for me to understand what else one would call this type of commercial, if not 'adult themed' (which is the exact term I used).

I also think standards have been so eroded that people no longer recognize what's right in front of their noses unless it is spelled out. When I constantly hear the argument that we are less free that we used to be (this, in a society where both TV and movies were heavily censored for decades), I wonder what kind of historical revisionism is going on? I grew up in a world where married couples could not be shown sleeping in the same bed for fear of violating decency standards.

During my lifetime, I've watched the popular notion of what is acceptable erode by leaps and bounds. I do and say things I never would have, twenty years ago.

Can anyone honestly tell me today's media climate is less open?

I don't think you can turn back the clock. What bothers me is the notion that societal standards are what we say they are. If we collectively shrug our shoulders and look the other way when things happen that we know in our hearts tear at the fabric or our society, we contribute to the problem. Every time an issue like this comes up, I hesitate to write about it. No one likes you for it. You sound like a scold, or a Mrs. Grundy.

But in a larger sense, I think it's a pretty sad state of affairs when we become so cowed by fear of disapproval that we fail to do what we think is right. So I suppose I'll continue bringing things like this up. I'm not trying to ride anyone out of town on a rail and I'm certainly not saying anyone's impulses are perverse.

It's because we all share certain impulses that society has always placed certain limits on human behavior in public, and it's the appropriateness of human behavior that I addressed. And not that anyone cares, but I find the Viagra and Massengill ads just as inappropriate. We have free will so we can make free choices.

Sometimes I just wish people would think a bit and make better ones.

Posted by Cassandra at February 1, 2009 08:09 PM

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"If we collectively shrug our shoulders and look the other way when things happen that we know in our hearts tear at the fabric or our society, we contribute to the problem. Every time an issue like this comes up, I hesitate to write about it. No one likes you for it. You sound like a scold, or a Mrs. Grundy.

But in a larger sense, I think it's a pretty sad state of affairs when we become so cowed by fear of disapproval that we fail to do what we think is right. So I suppose I'll continue bringing things like this up. I'm not trying to ride anyone out of town on a rail and I'm certainly not saying anyone's impulses are perverse."

Well then, the Ten Commandments and the laws of our land could be considered to be the ultimate scold.

I do not and have never, during my adult life, had a problem scolding when I was offended by unacceptably disgusting behavior in the presence of my wife or daughters. Place and time. Place and time...


Public versus private. Impulse versus action. Acceptance verses resistance to acceptance (more concise or accurate words fail me). While I can understand the danger aspect of the need to look inside one's self, to explore things that may be disturbing, frightening, or dangerous, I have to agree that it's the act, the display, the exhibition in public or polite company that crosses the line. At least it does in my humble and antiquated opinion.

I will not claim purity in this area by any stretch. I'm well over 5 decades on this planet and I still struggle to control my temper and language. My desires in other areas are, I would imagine, not unlike any other male. What restraint I manage, I owe to those who were instrumental in my teachings. The examples set for me by other men I knew as I grew are, in no small measure, responsible for my getting up every day and making the attempt to measure up.

At 15 I wound up being the new boy in a rural high school in California. I probably averaged one fight a day during the discovery phase of pecking order leveling during the first couple of months of that year. One particularly involved fist-ta-cuff broke out in the far corner of the practice football field. My opponent and I were rolling on the ground, punching and cursing like... well, like sailors. The next thing I knew, I was levitating and I realized that my 6'7" Swedish coach was hauling my dusty carcass off of the other kid. After some time spent cooling my heels in the coach's office, the coach looked down at me and told me that he did not appreciate my language! Little to nothing was said about the fighting. In those days it was understood that the pecking order sorting had to be worked out by the principles involved. Instead the coach told me that foul language and for that matter bluster, did not enhance the standing of a man.

My old man was the same sort of fellow so I already knew all this from years of being his son, but it never really registered, at least until the day in the coach's office. Maybe it is the power of being dressed down by someone other than a parent. Someone you respect. I don't know, but it registered that day.

Will the anything goes, it's all good attitude continue to be the sliding standard for public behavior? Probably so, unless members of society decide to have teaching moments with those who feel that it is appropriate and acceptable to conduct themselves in any manner without fear of consequence.

I think that mostly, it is a matter of respect. Respect for one's self and for others.

Again, apologies for the bandwidth.

Posted by: bthun at February 2, 2009 09:22 AM

No apology needed, bthun.

Years ago, my husband coached soccer. As the boys grew up we noticed that kids grew increasingly defiant and unwilling to accept authority. Any authority.

They were clearly unused to being told what to do by their parents and these kids honestly thought no one had the right to tell them what to do. Now I see adults with that same attitude and I understand where kids get it from.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 2, 2009 09:34 AM

Cass...speaking of "looking for trouble where none should exist," you should be careful when substituting "fanny" for ass, can, caboose, butt, sit-upon, derriere, backside, etc.
In Britain, "fanny" is a synonym, and a bit of a naughty one, for female reproductive equipment.
Just sayin...

Posted by: sean at February 2, 2009 09:36 AM

[tapping foot] :p

In Britain, "fanny" is a synonym, and a bit of a naughty one, for female reproductive equipment.

And people say blogging isn't educational...

Posted by: Cassandra at February 2, 2009 09:54 AM

It all comes down, I think, to the biggest problem - we know that there are boundaries, but how do we explain the placement of those boundaries to young people who have basically been raised in a morally feral manner?

For instance: I can't speak for everyone, but I scoff at the notion of burqas to protect women from male desire. Silliness.

On the other hand, outside of Miami, I also think that a minimum dress code should apply in public and I'm rather grossed out by some of the outfits I see teenagers wearing.

I've tried explaining this to people raised in a "Don't judge!" manner, and found it hard to impart the idea of appropriate time, place, behavior, and attire. When you understand the various cultural facets that lead to the variations of rules on the beach, in the shower room, at school, in a courtroom, going for a walk, etc - then it is obvious. But too many people were kept from those understandings as they grew, which is why I refer to them as morally feral.

When my own kids complain, I tell them that you have to have a complete understanding of the rules and the consequences before you can know when it is appropriate to break them.

One pastor I had managed to get several vocal women at his church up in arms because he lectured the teenage girls on appropriate attire. Several had been wearing outfits that would cause someone to double take even at the gym - and they were wearing them to church.

The Pastor was trying to explain what was right and also the consequences of dressing like a hussy and told them that such attire could attract very unwanted attention, "Don't put out the open sign if you don't want people to come in and shop."

Well, it took less than an hour for one of the parents to call and accuse him of being Christian Taliban. Instead, of course, of understanding that whole thing of appropriate time and place.

Posted by: airforcewife at February 2, 2009 09:57 AM

I will openly admit that I don't watch much television, but on those occasions when I have done so, I have not seen steamy scenes of women in naughty lingerie aping sex with vegetables during prime time on a network TV channel. NBC turned this ad down and rightly so. But I find it bizarre that PETA even put such an ad forward, whack jobs though they are.

Well, I honestly think PETA intentionally made an ad they knew would be rejected. It's a form of negative advertising. "Come to the PETA website to see the commercial banned by NBC!" Any ad that wouldn't be too controversial for TV wouldn't generate as much interest as one that was. So it was a coldly calculated way to drive folks to their site.

As for "moral decline", I actually think that like most everything else, it's cyclical. We may complain about lavicious advertising on TV, but it's not like you see brothels with working girls displaying their wares from the second floor balcony like you had in the 19th Century. And remember, that's not just on the Frontier. London had a raging prostitution industry during the height of the Victorian Era, a time renown for its prudishness.

Morals are not as constant as we seem to think. Oh sure, the basics are always there, but whereas a Victorian Era prostitute might never show her ankles, there's no doubt an 8-year old from Whitechapel needed mummy or daddy to explain to him what that lady was talking about. Likewise while we might debate the cruelty of lethal injection, our great-great-grandparents would have taken their children to a Sunday hanging as a form of entertainment. Are we more moral than in "the good old days" then? I contend it's merely different.

Posted by: MikeD at February 2, 2009 10:10 AM

Er... Please substitute principals for principles in my earlier comment. One day I'll learn to proofread before I post.

Coffee!

Posted by: bthun at February 2, 2009 10:14 AM

it's not like you see brothels with working girls displaying their wares from the second floor balcony like you had in the 19th Century. And remember, that's not just on the Frontier. London had a raging prostitution industry during the height of the Victorian Era, a time renown for its prudishness.

Err... normally there was a part of town where one went to find a prostitute, though (IOW, the activity wasn't something that was openly condoned and pervasive everywhere, Mike). You went to the poor and crime-ridden part of town because if you tried that stuff anywhere else people pitched a fit. I think that is what you all miss with that argument.

Of course it's always been around. You can go into DC and find prostitutes today.

When I was 15 and took the Greyhound bus up to DC to visit my best friend, I was approached at the DC bus terminal near 14th street by a pimp who tried his darndest to get me to leave with him. But then everyone in DC knew that hookers hung out on 14th street.

There weren't a whole lot of women in thigh high boots or men in leopard skin coats on Pennsylvania or Massachusetts Avenue.

The point is that these things have always been tolerated by society, but not necessarily mainstreamed and (even in Victorian England) not - I think - condoned. They were tolerated so long as they didn't bleed over. When they did, there was scandal and heads rolled.


Posted by: Cassandra at February 2, 2009 10:52 AM

I came across this piece, Barbarity Without Vigor, a book review of The Strange Death of Moral Britain, by Anthony Daniels, a while back.

In the piece he says,

"I live in a society in which everyone is physically wary of almost anyone under the age of thirty, for fear of an explosion of insensate rage or egotistical violence. We have become afraid of our own children, at least if more than three of them are congregated without adult supervision.
I have sympathy for the author if he truly does live in such a state of fear.

Apart from the authors observations being about Britain and maybe due to the author and I passing through the same moments in time -I recalled many similarities from my youth- I enjoyed the review. I may have to spring for the book as my nightstand stack decreases.

Anyway, I'll share this book review on the chance that others might enjoy it too.

Posted by: bthun at February 2, 2009 11:42 AM

Sadly, I notice some of this same lack of discipline and restraint isn't just the fact that the parents don't rein their kids in...the schools don't either. Of course, it depends on who the Lord of Discipline is at the school, and hwo sensytyve he/she is. I believe in correcting my children's behavior but I don't reward them for every good thing either. I brought this up a couple of years ago, but the incentive to good behavior at our local elementary school is not because it is what is good for and for others, it is a reward for doing good. I don't need a bunch of children whining for a set of Legos every time they take out the trash, unload the dishwasher or clean their rooms or whatever. What I need are children who do the right thing because it is the right thing to do and they feel good because of it.

THAT is the reward.

There are people in Britain who are bewailing this.

Posted by: Cricket at February 2, 2009 12:35 PM

Sadly, I notice some of this same lack of discipline and restraint isn't just the fact that the parents don't rein their kids in...the schools don't either.

Well, that is part of it.

I know with my boys, one of the more difficult aspects of raising them was when my values came into conflict with the values of the surrounding community and I wanted them to hold to a higher standard. You can't follow your children around 24/7, and wrapping them up in cotton wool doesn't work well either. Different kids have differing abilities to resist outside influences.

It is really naive for parents to think that if they just tell their kids, "This is what we believe - do it.", they'll be fine. No kid with any gumption is going to blindly adhere to that. They will challenge you, and the greater the gap between your values and their peers', the harder it will be to hold the line.

I read earlier today that parental values are still one of the biggest forces in keeping kids (and I do mean kids, not teenagers) from engaging in what I can only call risky sexual practices. But coupled with that, there is the fact that about 60% of these kids are doing these things but only 33% of their parents know they are.

Personally I'm a bit of a cynic on that score.

I always assumed that whatever I knew about my kids was the tip of the iceberg, and I watched them very closely. I think that's all you can do. I always assumed that kids are going to do certain things, and that furthermore if you can keep it down to a dull roar through the application of sheer terror, that's all to the good. You just keep talking to them and loving them and teaching them and hopefully they don't make any mistakes that are too big to fix.

But an awful lot of that isn't in your control anymore once they hit the teen years.

Posted by: Cass at February 2, 2009 12:59 PM

Once I reached the Age of Reason, my father always explained things to me without speaking "down" to me. He explained that he expected a certain amount of childish behavior, because I *was* still a child, but he also made it crystal-clear that there were things he would not tolerate.

He set realistic boundaries and allowed me free rein *within* those boundaries, but no deus ex machina was ever going to save me if I crossed the line. He only had to prove it to me *once*...

Posted by: BillT at February 2, 2009 01:12 PM

He set realistic boundaries and allowed me free rein *within* those boundaries, but no deus ex machina was ever going to save me if I crossed the line. He only had to prove it to me *once*...

Sounds a lot like me and my dad. Of course, I was a lot more stubborn than you. It took more then a few times of crossing the line to find out that what was on the other side was going to be there everytime, and that I really didn't like it... LOL!

Posted by: FbL at February 2, 2009 01:21 PM

MikeD,
The PETA add was also linked at "Tigerhawk's" website, because, as BillT said, those Princeton guys like to "talk" about sex. :)

I can reason with my 14 year old son to a degree, although it still didn't make him shovel the driveway after the snowstorm last week, which meant that I had to do it at 10:30 at night when my wife got stuck, but no matter.
My 11 year old son is much less receptive to reason, as he is more stubborn and unwilling to accept authority unless you threaten to wring his little neck (metaphorically speaking).

As Bill intimated, physical corporal punishment is always a good reinforcement (at least for boys) when they stray from the path of good personal self - governance.

My wife and I are both sorta glad we never had girl-children.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 2, 2009 02:06 PM

Boys fight you more directly, I think. It was a constant battle with my two between punishment and trying to lead by example or make them want to do the right thing by appealing to their good opinion of themselves.

The thing is, I am very stubborn and I won't tolerate defiance or backtalk from a child, so I had to stay on them like a duck on a June bug. A boy will not listen to a woman (especially when he hits the teen years) unless you are really firm with them and very consistent - boys are very much like big dogs that way. It's kind of an alpha personality thing. I hated it, but it is what it is so I did what I needed to do to get them to mind me.

I think girls are harder because you have to deal with the tears and the mind games. They are like Psychic Vampires. After a while they drain your will to resist... ;p

Posted by: Cass at February 2, 2009 02:13 PM

There's another factor in the decline of acceptable standards that I have a hard time articulating, but I'll try anyway... There is an active effort to make people accept or even applaud bad behavior. A couple of examples would be the people who intentionally subject others to pron (sic) - anyone ever hit one of those links by mistake that drop you into a pron loop? People were intentionally setting those up to domain names that were similar to perfectly legitimate sites. Or why do some of the otherwise reasonable gay crowd feel the need to be admired because of their sexual preference instead of their talent? (Yes, Ellen Degeneres, I'm talking about you.) I think my grandparents had a pretty good rule of thumb - sex, politics and religion were not acceptable topics for polite conversation, and I'm really beginning to believe that extends to prime time TV as well. The point is that there is an active assault in progress on these standards, and I think it's important to stand by your convictions.

Posted by: Pogue at February 2, 2009 02:40 PM

Grim's idea of mainstream must be way different from mine.

If fringe is an interesting word, mainstream is another. As it is normally used, "mainstream" means "any organizing principle that the New York Times editorial board wholly endorses."

Indeed, I think the NYT has been monopolizing the word for some time. In that view of America in which New York City is the very heart and soul, the physical representation of The American Ideal, that makes sense. That view is widespread -- I had an Egyptian translator tell me today that New York City was what America was all about. Well, in a sense, I can see how it might seem that way: it is multiethnic, the melting pot that never fully melts, noisy and commerce-oriented and full of abandon of tradition in favor of the innovative. A lot of people love it, and it was not for no reason that it was Bin Laden's primary target on the one day he had the strength to strike at America.

This was Eric's point -- "mainstream" means something like "anything that can reasonably be expected to provide an adequate return on your investment in a Superbowl ad." In order to provide such a return, given the expense of the ad, it must be broadly appealing to tens of millions of people.

In that sense, the impulse of having a virtual reality game in which you can put women together in a shower is probably perfectly mainstream. I doubt there's a teenage boy who hasn't had the fantasy, and indeed I think I remember a scene in Weird Science that more or less mimics the concept (although, I should add, I have not seen any of these commercials -- it turns out that AFN aired only the regular AFN propaganda during commercial breaks, not the famous Superbowl ads).

In that same sense, I am conscious of being well outside the mainstream. One has that sense strongly in years like this last one, where the main stream soundly picks up and lifts a boat to a new shore that I would never have consented to touch at all -- I mean of course in terms of the Presidential election. There was something that motivated tens of millions of Americans, and is therefore wholly mainstream; and I still don't understand why anyone would have even considered voting for him.

So, the term "mainstream" for me is not an endorsement -- with a view of human nature such as mine, it is rather far from an endorsement, in fact. We have long used the term "MSM" as a pejorative, and for the same reason. It speaks of a part of America, but not really my part of it. Yet ours is a strange country, and we share allegiance and friendship with many who occupy that space.

When I say that the main problem is that the desire is not fringe, but indeed mainstream, what I mean is that the problem is both deeper and wider than your formulation describes. It is a deeper problem because the behavior accords with what appears to be normal human nature; and it is a wider problem because the behavior is widely desired among the millions.

Would that it were only fringe behavior we had to confront; but this is mainstream America. These ads will make millions. An heart that would strive to turn that flood will need to be steel, and steel enough to start by looking at the problem with clarity. These people aren't strange, but normal; and that is the beginning of the trouble.

Posted by: Grim at February 2, 2009 02:44 PM

The point is that there is an active assault in progress on these standards...

Heh. Why d'ya think they *call* themselves "progressives"?

Posted by: BillT at February 2, 2009 03:23 PM

Oh, one other thing that occurs to me, wrt "defining down":

It's hard for me to understand what else one would call this type of commercial, if not 'adult themed' (which is the exact term I used).

How about "sophomoric"? That is, the practice of someone who feels they are as clever and informed as any adult, and in need of no further guidance; but who have, in fact, really just begun to learn what an adult must finally know.

Posted by: Grim at February 2, 2009 03:25 PM

It took more then a few times of crossing the line...

And you call *me* "brat"?!?

Ummmmmmmm, no, the purple pants suit *doesn't* make your butt look big.

*just one more reason I'm gonna go to Hell*

Posted by: BillT at February 2, 2009 03:30 PM

Heh. My head hurts.

All I know is, when the guy in the car in the parking lot in the shopping mall in Oklahoma City flicked his butt out the window, I picked it up, made sure it was out, and flicked it back into his car, saying "I think you lost this."

For some reason, he was not amused, and came swarming out of his car saying "I'm gonna kick your... oh, never mind."

Something about being a former wrestler and football player I guess. Something that apparently wasn't obvious until he stood up.

Then there were those Lieutenants at Fort Sill, who tossed their Burger King trash out of their car (on post no less) and then wanted to argue with me about it when I ordered them out of the car to clean it up.

Seemed to think I was exceeding my authority or something.

Heh.

I don't know where that puts me in this discussion, but I they're fun tales to tell.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at February 2, 2009 03:52 PM

You (and Pogue) articulated what I was getting at well, Grim :)

That is exactly the sense those ads left me with: a creepy feeling that the desired end state was not just acceptance, but endorsement and approval of something I am not prepared to endorse or approve. It wasn't really a conscious thing so much as something that just felt "wrong" to me.

It was odd. I am rarely conscious of feeling pressured by much of anything. If something doesn't appeal to me, I generally just ignore it. Sorry if this doesn't make much sense. My hair's on fire right now.

Posted by: Cass at February 2, 2009 04:06 PM

"In Britain, "fanny" is a synonym, and a bit of a naughty one, for female reproductive equipment."

And people say blogging isn't educational...

Don't worry, Cass. Our friends "across the pond" have odd slang. :)

I am a premium cigar hobbyist, and I run what I consider a pretty decent cigar review website on the internet. I was involved in a newsgroup discussion, and a new company who makes lighters placed an ad on our newsgroup. Besides the fact that ads were culturally verboten on our newsgroup, the url of the company was "giss-a-fag.com".

When I read that, the first thing that popped into my head was: "light-a-homosexual-on-fire.com". Not a good image.

I responded that that might not be the best market ploy if they intended to sell lighters in the U.S. and I was treated with: "You yanks think you're the center of the universe".

Well, no. If you want to market your product in the U.S., you ought to know the marketing realities. If not... well... carry old sport. :)

Posted by: Tony at February 2, 2009 04:07 PM

I don't know where that puts me in this discussion...

I don't know either, but it makes me feel better :p

Posted by: Cass at February 2, 2009 04:08 PM

"*just one more reason I'm gonna go to Hell*"
Well considering that I think I've started cramming for the finals a bit too late, it's good to know that I will have some company. =8^}
"I don't know where that puts me in this discussion, but I they're fun tales to tell."
Heh... I'm not admitting to anything without checking the applicability of the statute of limitations in each case. But I'll enjoy listening.

Posted by: bthun at February 2, 2009 04:10 PM

But on the subject at hand...

Since I pay for my cable, I ought to be able to control what comes into my house. The ads ought to be rated by a group of moms, and then TV ought to be able to be set to reject the naughty ads.

It could be a classic 1-10 rating system. "broken spaghetti strap on busty model" - 5, "Leering teenagers" - 9, "sex with vegetables" - 10. Then you could set your TV to whatever you were comfortable with.

Posted by: Tony at February 2, 2009 04:11 PM

re: fannies...

I guess I need to work on my situational awareness :p I knew about the cigarette slang but I hadn't heard the other.

Posted by: Cass at February 2, 2009 04:12 PM

Cassie, how *do* you keep your tongue moist with it hanging out all the time?

Enquirer minds want to know.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at February 2, 2009 04:42 PM

[sic]

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at February 2, 2009 04:42 PM

It could be a classic 1-10 rating system. "broken spaghetti strap on busty model" - 5, "Leering teenagers" - 9, "sex with vegetables" - 10. Then you could set your TV to whatever you were comfortable with.

OMG. That just destroyed me.

Posted by: Would we get a remote control? at February 2, 2009 04:46 PM

The Princess Kitty does not engage in Mind Control yet. She is trying to learn, but her brothers keep her grounded and interfere with her radar. It still amuses me how even the eldest CLU thinks we have magic mind powers when it is simple logic, and living with them for several years 24/7.

However, they do have some freedoms and there are times when the Big Brother will take them all to the library during school hours; they bike together and believe me, that is hard for me to let them go, but children do not understand leadership, responsibility and accountability unless you give it to them, mentor them and hold them to it.

Posted by: Cricket at February 2, 2009 08:38 PM

"Every time an issue like this comes up, I hesitate to write about it. No one likes you for it. You sound like a scold, or a Mrs. Grundy.

But in a larger sense, I think it's a pretty sad state of affairs when we become so cowed by fear of disapproval that we fail to do what we think is right."

Cassandra, the difference in generations is that our parents, and the society they inhabited, would not have put up with the programming ads that put adult themes in prime time. Their reaction to being called a scold would have been "so what."

Tony, your statement is part of the problem I think.

"The ads ought to be rated by a group of moms,"

It is not the moms but the dads that should be doing the rating. It is our place to say what is and what is not acceptable for our children to see. When we finally decide to take point on this, you will see change fast. It is the dad that is going to turn off the game or any other show because of trash being shown, not the mom. It is our job and we have abdicated it

Posted by: Russ at February 3, 2009 12:11 AM

Russ, I could not agree more.

That is exactly why women hesitate to speak up about this - it becomes a wedge issue between men and women and anything we say about it is easily dismissed as either personal insecurity or controlling behavior.

But neither of those things are the issue. If a women has some sort of larger issue with her husband and p0rn, for instance, removing a commercial or two from prime time won't even begin to scratch the surface of what is bothering her. And neither will any law, really. She needs to deal with him directly.

That's a personal matter that the law can't solve and was never designed to. If the law changed tomorrow and all 'adult' fare were suddenly outlawed, some men would find a way to look at it anyway and some would probably find other things to amuse themselves with. But in the end, it really comes down to the relationship two people have and what they have decided about their private lives. And that is a far, far different matter than what flies in mixed company, in public.

Or at least one hopes it is, because I don't want to know any of that and don't think it's any of my business.

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 05:07 AM

But in the end, it really comes down to the relationship two people have and what they have decided...

I *knew* it, knew it, knew it!

A perfectly good thread on *sex* and you hadda go drag *relationships* into it!

Posted by: BillT at February 3, 2009 06:52 AM

I tell ya... womyn :)

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 07:14 AM

Would it make you happier Bill if she had a thread on relationships and there was no sex in it?

Posted by: MikeD at February 3, 2009 08:39 AM

While I agree about men saying suggestive or graphic ad content is unacceptable, the biggest reason why women don't say anything is because they are dismissed as feminists, rabble-rousers and supporters of Andrea Dworkin, who, I have to admit (I really really hate even saying this, but bear with me) had more of a point in suing purveryors of porn than outraged Persyns in suing tobacco companies or the gun maufacturers.

Where I draw ahead of the Late Ms. Dworkin is that while she saw porn as inciting crimes against women, I say it erodes society. As long as people don't act on what they see, fine. But when the line is crossed, it has to be stopped. Dead.

"If a women has some sort of larger issue with her husband and p0rn, for instance, removing a commercial or two from prime time won't even begin to scratch the surface of what is bothering her. And neither will any law, really. She needs to deal with him directly."--Cassandra

Exactly...and I am making my comments along those lines but with my train of thought, so if you will forgive the digression, I'd appreciate it.

Posted by: Cricket at February 3, 2009 09:15 AM

Honestly, the feminist accusation doesn't bother me a bit, Cricket.

Any objective person (and I don't much care about the other sort) can look at my writings and my life and tell I'm not a rabid feminist or man hater, so I don't much fear that label. For me, it is too easy to refute.

The nasty implication (and this is why some men use it reflexively) is that you have some undisclosed personal problem if you bring the subject up because let's face it - that's really not an accusation that is ever going to be easy to refute, is it? No one can see into your mind or know your motivations.

It's even more successful online because you get all those idiotic "if she said that she must be ugly/fat/flat/etc." remarks, as though no male ever expressed the same opinion (but of course if he does, he is obviously gay - so much for addressing the argument rather than attacking the person).

The thing is, you will never convince many men this isn't so. It is an irrational reaction, but it makes them feel better about themselves: anyone who disagrees with them is either physically or mentally defective and their arguments can therefore be dismissed out of hand. :p

That's right up there with the feminists who think anything a man does is done for the worst of reasons. They can read other people's minds for them! Doesn't speak very highly for their critical reasoning faculties, but what are you going to do?

Peas in the same pod.

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 10:10 AM

That is why I hesitated in saying what part of Ms. Dworkin's reasonings I agreed and disagreed with and why. Not because I was going to be attacked...but oh, the taint!

hehe. While I do have the same objections as you about the advertising during family time, for me it goes a bit deeper in terms of the influence the type of media has. Thank you for letting me say it, and giving me much to think about in return.

Posted by: Cricket at February 3, 2009 10:17 AM

I'm glad Grim wrote about this - he added a lot to my rather disconnected musings.

I had written a longer post originally but threw it out, as I do most of what I write these days. Though if the Armorer is to be believed, there's not quite enough throwing away going on :p

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 10:22 AM

Though if the Armorer is to be believed, there's not quite enough throwing away going on :p

If the Armorer is to be believed, unicorns are three feet high with a brownish pelt and they *don't* fart gold dust.

http://www.thedonovan.com/archives/2009/02/promises_kept_b.html

Posted by: BillT at February 3, 2009 11:30 AM

Would it make you happier Bill if she had a thread on relationships and there was no sex in it?

Fat chance, with Sly doing her impersonation of an alpine pass and HF6 following close behind with a bowl of marshmallow fluff and a spatula...

Posted by: BillT at February 3, 2009 11:34 AM

"Cassandra, the difference in generations is that our parents, and the society they inhabited, would not have put up with the programming ads that put adult themes in prime time. Their reaction to being called a scold would have been "so what."
In a nutshell, what Russ said.

Posted by: bthun at February 3, 2009 12:13 PM

Fat chance, with Sly doing her impersonation of an alpine pass and HF6 following close behind with a bowl of marshmallow fluff and a spatula...

Wishful thinking aside.

Posted by: MikeD at February 3, 2009 01:07 PM

Always listen to Russ :p

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 01:16 PM

I'm just not certain if Russ was referring to my parents generation or mine. My dad, a Russell BTW, was born right at the boundary of the first decade of the 20th century.

On reflection, it could not be mine. I'm of the reviled boomer demographic. And truth be told, I have a hard time arguing in support of the boomer generation. Especially when I stop to consider many things which have come to pass on our watch.

Or in the context of this topic, the defense of, or lack of defending many worthy public/private boundaries.

Posted by: bthun at February 3, 2009 01:41 PM

If the Armorer is to be believed, unicorns are three feet high with a brownish pelt and they *don't* fart gold dust.

I *did* note it what passes for a unicorn from this Administration if you are one of the ones *expected* to pay your tax bills, vice those... others for whom it is optional until they want a Really High Viz job.

I'm sure Geithner's unicorn shat gold.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at February 3, 2009 03:12 PM

In some important ways we ARE, today, less free.
Blazing Saddles "I'm gonna shoot the n*gg*r..." would not be made nor released today.
Much of Twain's dialogue in Huck Finn could not be read aloud, because of the N* word.
Ending racism is good -- but is a reduction in freedom for the racist.

The 'Free Sex' George Carlin, there are no curse words has been replaced with Political Correctness puritanism. The Femi-Nazis.

Many don't believe in God, so Gov't fills their God-shaped internal why-am-I-here place. And laws become expressions of morality -- everything bad must be illegal; anything not illegal is OK, and tolerance requires condoning it, all non-illegal acts are equal...

This is where CA Prop 8 fits -- one might tolerate anal sex in the bedrooms of an adult, yet still think it sinful. Gays want to make it illegal, thru hate crime laws, to say (or think) that homosexual behavior is sinful.

The PC folk have made us less free to talk about racial and sexual differences.

We should be pushing for taxes on ads.

Posted by: Tom Grey at February 3, 2009 05:29 PM

I think it's hard to argue we're less free overall now, Tom.

What Carlin is most famous for is his "7 Words You Can't Say on TV". In 1972 he was ARRESTED for performing the routine - on obscenity charges. There is no way that would happen today. No way.

There has always been social pressure to conform: not to offend other people. The difference is that now it is mostly social pressure. Rarely is it backed by the force of law or threat of punishment.

You can defy social pressures and not get arrested or blacklisted. People might not like what you have to say. They might not buy your products. But then people have always had to deal with the fallout of their own speech and whether it conforms to contemporary sensibilities. To pretend this is something "new" (much less the fault of feminists) runs counter to decades of our own history as well as our public laws.

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 05:39 PM

FWIW, I agree with you about hate speech rules, but those are made by private entities like colleges. I am not aware of hate speech laws as yet, at least here.

I think you make valid points about PC reducing freedom to discuss our differences (and potentially resolve them). I"m just not sure most of this has been codified so much as it has shown up as social pressure.

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 05:42 PM

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