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May 15, 2009

Interesting Question

93-michelle_obama_hot100_l-240x300.jpgWhy does this bother me on a number of levels?

Michelle Obama on Maxim’s 2009 Hot 100

... I’ll leave the discussion on the aesthetics to the guys, but considering that the names on the list that I can recognize are of entertainers, is this really the place for the First Lady?

Confession time: my instinctive reaction to this story was, "You have got to be kidding me". I happen to think Michelle Obama is an attractive woman. She is not classically beautiful, but as we've discussed here in the past, when she dresses in clothes that flatter her, she's quite lovely. And the question of her overall 'hotness' is hardly a slam dunk:

I've gotten a number of emails on this subject, and at least a few conservative bloggers regard the ranking as just another preposterous claim by an adoring media. Well, maybe so, but as somebody who finds women in their forties and fifties much more attractive now than I did, say, twenty years ago, I'll man up and say that I think that Michelle Obama is pretty darn hot. You can argue whether Michelle O. is #93 hot or all that power and media-manufactured glamor makes her more or less hot -- tastes vary on such things -- but from where I sit Maxim did not compromise its standards to include her on the list.

Once I got over my amusement at the validation of 40- and 50-somethings, I got to thinking: how do we define attractiveness, anyway? What is the feminine ideal? And is there not arguably a difference between what we consider beautiful and what we find sexually attractive?

... last year Professor Victor Johnstone, of the University of New Mexico, published results of a fascinating series of experiments that linked perceptions of beauty to the effects of oestrogen on the bodies of adolescent girls His results bore the idea of childish features being attractive, but the explanation he gives has turned the original theory on its head.

"We found that that there definitely was a type of adult female face that men found attractive and that it was different from the average face," says Johnston. "The two key measurements are the distance from the eyes to the chin, which is shorter - in fact it is the length normally found in a girl aged eleven and a half; and the size of the lips, which are fatter - the size normally found on a fourteen-year-old girl". The Kate Moss view seems to be confirmed, but where does that leave actress Sigourney Weaver as an example of an attractive mature face, for instance?

Johnstone came to these conclusions by running a computer program that tried to mimic the process of evolution. Faces randomly selected by the computer were rated according to attractiveness by volunteers, and the most attractive were combined to breed a second generation of faces, continuing the process on to third and fourth generation,and so on. Gradually a shorter,full - lipped face took over. But Johnstone doesn't believe that the reason for its success was that it triggered protective feelings. "Although the features are juvenile, the face wasn't seen as being babyish," he says. The ideal face turned out to be that of a woman of 24.8 years.

The proportions seem to point to fertility, specifically the effect of the hormone oestrogen on the female face. "Up until puberty the faces of boys and girls are similar," says Johnstone. "But then the rise in oestrogen in girls gives them fuller lips, while testosterone in boys gives them a fuller jaw . So what people are picking out as beauty is really a sign of fertility brought on by oestrogen. Interestingly, 24.8 years - the age when most women achieve ideal facial proportions, according to the study - is the time when oestrogen levels are highest and women are at their most fertile".

... The oestrogen-beauty-fertility connection rears its head again in studies where men decide if a woman's body is sexy or not. Dr Devendra Singh from the University of Texas, points out that while testosterone encourages weight to be put on around the stomach, oestrogen lays it down around the buttocks and thighs, so full buttocks and a narrow waist send out the same message as the ideal face: ''I'm full of oestrogen and fertile."
When Singh got male students to rate pictures of women according to whether they had an attractive figure, he found that the most popular proportions for the ratio of a woman's waist to her hips were between 0.67 and 0.8. Women with these ratios were also seen as being humorous, healthy and intelligent .Those women whose waists are thicker were viewed as being faithful and kind, while women who are too thin were seen as aggressive and ambitious.

When men adopt a more traditionally feminine role of being judged solely in terms of their looks, such as the Chippendales today , they begin to show such traditional feminine anxieties as being worried that people only want them for their bodies and not for who they "really are".

Ms. Obama's facial features don't conform to the feminine ideal of big eyes, short face, relatively small jawbone, and perfect symmetry. Her body certainly doesn't conform to the pornified popular ideal of stuffed to bursting, silicone Mr. Potato Head breasts arbitrarily plopped onto a hipless, childlike body. Then again, countless studies have indicated that in the real world at least, what men are most universally drawn to is not so much ginormous breasts as a fairly narrow range of waist/hip ratios.

Ms. Obama's physique tends towards the lithe and powerful, but her ample hips cannot be termed anything but womanly. But aesthetic questions aside, what bothered me about seeing Mrs. Obama on Maxim's hot 100 list was not the incongruity of a fairly average, if attractive, woman being included in a list of women who are all well above average in attractiveness.

It was the implied disrespect. Somehow it seems wrong to sexualize a woman who has done nothing to invite such treatment.

In a society where women's various body parts are frequently and enthusiastically rated on their ability to facilitate solo acts of sexual gratification - increasingly in public - the inclusion of the First Lady of the United States invites some rather disturbing commentary.

I'm not sure we need to go there. More importantly, I'm not sure we ought to go there.

Posted by Cassandra at May 15, 2009 06:45 AM

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Comments

You're gonna laugh at this, but I have often wondered why, aside from the 'bright shiny!' factor of feminine pulchritude, women are still designated as objects of desire within a parameter. I think, given the fact the Obamas shattered barriers is that we have had other First Ladies who were attractive, but not in the 'powerful, sexy' mode. Seriously, would this have been done to Jacqueline Kennedy? She was a lady!

To Expand My Thought; on a subliminal level we parade the pulchritude as sort of an ongoing tribute to Ashtarte. Now, that thought is rattling around in my head after putting in some serious hours wrestling with homework so it could be the fatigue talking.

Since we no longer have temples of Vestal Virgins or celebrate fertility, it just wonders me why we do it unless it is a 21st century version of fertility worship.

*snoozes on accounting book*

Posted by: Cricket at May 15, 2009 08:22 AM

This bothers me on all kinds of levels too, Cassandra. If this had been a list of 100 Most Beautiful People, fine. I actually think Michelle Obama is an attractive woman in a healthy, normal person way. But "hot"? As you say, not exactly appropriate for a woman who has not sought to be sexually objectified. Plus the company she's in! Or more accurately the state of undress of the company she's in. The other pictures are fine since they're consensual (enthusiastic even) but they're not the right company for the First Lady of the United States. And don't get me started on "girls" for a 40-something mother of two with a law degree and a brain.

(Imagine if, say, Chippendales had included Barack Obama in their list of 100 hot guys all of whom were in various sexually provocative stages of undress. And referred to them all as "boys".)

I didn't particularly like the Michelle Obama we first got to know. I thought she had an unhelpful attitude about a lot of things in this country. She was, however, real. Now she's just plastic. A feminist blogger I read refers to her as having been turned into a Stepford Wife and surely this sexual objectification is simply the next logical step in that process. Anyone who read the book had to figure that total fulfillment of sexual fantasies was built into the Stepford Wife package right along with no nagging and carefully organized grocery carts.

You know, if I were a raving feminist I would be tempted to think that the sexual objectification of a woman like Michelle Obama, who should be treated with respect, is just another sign of the validation of misogyny that was so useful to Barack Obama and so beloved of his most vociferous supporters. If I were an old feminist I would quietly weep that young women think Michelle Obama's inclusion on this list represents some type of advancement for women.

And BTW, surely no one, not even the guys Fausta links to at onecosmos, believes the gorgeous, half-dressed women in the other Maxim pictures actually look that way without lots and lots of help. For anyone who does, I suggest a look at Glam Jamie as an antidote to that particular form of idiocy.

Posted by: Elise at May 15, 2009 09:23 AM

And BTW, surely no one, not even the guys Fausta links to at onecosmos, believes the gorgeous, half-dressed women in the other Maxim pictures actually look that way without lots and lots of help.

Bingo. But the same folks will tell you they prefer the "natural" look :p

In a pig's eye they do. Women do this stuff because they are competing for male attention and it works. This doesn't make it men's fault. After all, we are free to choose whether or not we will compete, and what we're willing to do to "win".

But I find it endlessly amusing for guys to pretend they don't pay far more attention and lavish far more approval on women who do precisely the things they say are "unnecessary".

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 09:34 AM

"What I'm scared of is that that's what women have become accustomed to needing to feel good about themselves," Curtis replied. "And show business and media and magazines don't help by promoting these images of women that are completely airbrushed, that are completely altered, to then give you, the unsuspecting buyer, this fake sense of that that's what people are supposed to look like."

I couldn't have said it better.

As I've aged, I continue to find it distressing that it's not enough to keep my weight down and my body in shape. Contemplating my upcoming entry into the "glorious 50s", I have actually found myself contemplating plastic surgery - something I'm very much opposed to.

That is part of why I decided to stop covering the grey in my hair, but as I told a friend yesterday, I'm struggling with that decision, too. With no grey, I think I look a little bit younger than my chronological age and I get a lot of comments to that effect.

It's jarring in this day and age when nearly all women color their hair to simply accept the oncoming years gracefully and concentrate on being the best you can, for your age. Still haven't decided how I feel about that. But in today's society, coloring your hair is what wearing lipstick was in my youth - it's the "norm".

Bizarre.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 09:43 AM

On that topic, this is classic.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 10:09 AM

It is refreshing to see actual scientific fact being used to relate male reproductive urges with something. Thanks for this insight.

Michelle Obama is not a MILF. She's on the list because Maxim knows who is boss. Boss Obama that is. I don't find her attractive on any level. Not physical, nor spiritual, and certainly not on an intellectual or pathological level.

Iowahawk has another take on it in his recent satire:

"Yeah, another jug eared idiot with a hard-on for horsefaced women. Barack was in London a couple weeks ago and rang me up, asked if he could drop by for tea. So he comes in, and I'm thinking, whoa -- those Yanks have really stepped up their space program, he's brought along a real live Klingon. Turns out it was his wife."


Posted by: bob in los angeles at May 15, 2009 10:20 AM

Jackie Kennedy got the same treatment only in early '60's style. Teapot, tempest.

"But I find it endlessly amusing for guys to pretend they don't pay far more attention and lavish far more approval on women who do precisely the things they say are "unnecessary"."

So you would like to be treated like Miss California? That "unnecessary" stuff attracts attention, but is it the type of attention you're looking for?

Posted by: Pogue at May 15, 2009 10:29 AM

I read somewhere that men like women, most men anyway, and most women any how.

Further, I sayeth not.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 15, 2009 10:37 AM

So you would like to be treated like Miss California? That "unnecessary" stuff attracts attention, but is it the type of attention you're looking for?

I am glad you said that, Pogue :)

Like it or not, people treat attractive people (male or female) better than they do less attractive folks. It's a simple fact of life.

And no, I don't want the kind of treatment Miss California receives. It's not respectful, and in some cases it's a turnoff (not sure why conservative guys feel the need to make crude sexual remarks, and I've seen plenty of those). That said, whether we're male or female, most of us enjoy a little admiration from the opposite sex.

We'd like to think we've still "got it", whatever "it" may be. I tend to enjoy it far more when I'm at a party talking with a man and it is evident he's interested in and enjoying the conversation. But I think we're also a combination of what one might call animal instinct and more rational thought.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 10:40 AM

It is refreshing to see actual scientific fact being used to relate male reproductive urges with something. Thanks for this insight.

I get annoyed with women who blame men for finding women attractive, or for what they find attractive in women.

I understand some of the frustration because women in particular are wired to want to seduce, and since men are visual creatures, that makes appearance very important. But there is more going on than that.

I was never the prettiest girl in high school, and yet I never went without a date. That wasn't because I was 'easy'. I think it had more to do with the fact that I put boys at ease. I think they felt like they could talk to me, and when everything was weighed together, that was pretty important and outweighed the fact that I wasn't a cheerleader.

I also think a lot of guys would have dropped me in a heartbeat if they'd thought the cheerleader would date them :) But mating is a competitive sport, so I understand that.

What tends to annoy me (speaking strictly as a woman) is men who choose women for their looks and then complain when they find they've married a gold digger or harpy, or women who select guys because they are flashy and glib and then complain when he cheats or is shallow. Neither one of those outcomes is particularly surprising.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 10:48 AM

I think this inclusion of Michelle Obama in the Maxim 100 is just a continuation of the oohing and aaahing over the photos of Barack Obama without a shirt.

He's not a bad looking guy at all, but Odonis he is not. However, if you see someone as not just your political choice but as the embodiment of everything necessary to save the world the ability to admit to faults, or imperfections, becomes sadly nonexistent.

If Barack Obama is the hottest thing on earth, then he must be married to one of the hottest women on earth, right? Thus, Michelle Obama is included in a magazine that she really has no business being in.

And I don't say that because she is unattractive, or less attractive, or too old, or even because she is in a role that makes it inappropriate. Simply - if you look at the rest of the list there, it's like playing a game from Sesame Street, "One of these things is not like the other ones..." I was even wondering at the inclusion of Marisa Tomei.

If Sports Illustrated ran a "Best 100 Athletes" spread and included Donald Trump in it at number 93, I would feel the same way. Or if Time Magazine did a "Top 100 Most Influential People" and included Kenny G on their list.

Michelle Obama is not half naked or in her twenties. She does not weigh 5 pounds (all of it located in her chest). If the list had included people like Sigourney Weaver, or Blythe Danner (whom I've always felt to be tremendously attractive), and Jamie Lee Curtis I would not have batted an eyelash. If the rest of the list had been more diverse in its application of the word "hot", no one would have seen anything odd in her inclusion.

But this is only one in a string of questionable incidents like this from the media (I truly didn't expect Maxim to sink to it, though) - not only was there salivating over the President's chest, but People Magazine included several of his cabinet in their Most Beautiful People issue ("Barack's Beauties"). It's ridiculous and it reminds me of all encompassing nature of Russian and Korean leaders.

Anyone remember Putin's shirtless fishing episode? Gag. But the Russians ate it up - they want a leader who leads in everything (legitimately or not), not just politics. Apparently, so do many in America.

Posted by: airforcewife at May 15, 2009 10:49 AM

Actually, I suspect that by including Mrs. Obama, Maxim was saying, 'See? We put a strong, intelligent (but average looking) woman on the list! So this whole 100 Hottest Chicks list is *so* not about rating women solely on their looks' :)

Come on guys. I'm with airforcewife:

Michelle Obama is not half naked or in her twenties. She does not weigh 5 pounds (all of it located in her chest). If the list had included people like Sigourney Weaver, or Blythe Danner (whom I've always felt to be tremendously attractive), and Jamie Lee Curtis I would not have batted an eyelash. If the rest of the list had been more diverse in its application of the word "hot", no one would have seen anything odd in her inclusion.

That's right up there with pretending beauty pageants don't put looks and sexiness above accomplishment and intelligence :p If you are going to do it, admit what you're doing and get over it!

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 10:59 AM

Narcississm has always been a problem for the elitists. The feminist women recoil from the natural glamour, beauty and self-assurance of conservative women (non eltitists.) They claim to be feminists but attempt to destroy what should be the basis of their movement, the freedom and spirit of those ladies who think and act for themselves.

Are they trying to downtalk potential rivals to reduce the field of competitors from their elitist husband's roving eye? Note the continued savagery against Cindy McCain, Sarah Palin, Carrie Prejean, Jeri Thompson, Elizabeth Hasslebeck and most any female who doesn't look like an aging hippy still clinging to the glory years of Woodstock.

Most of us males who work hard and have appropriate values, ethics, integrity, morals and a slight dose of guilt to keep us in line find more attractive a female with a sense of humor, common sense/wisdom and healthy self-concept. As opposed to the vapid "beauty" chatting you up while looking over your shoulder from a superior position for someone higher up on the food chain.

I find that sort of person, male or female, unattractive in the extreme both physically and mentally. But I live in the fly-over states...!

Posted by: vet66 at May 15, 2009 11:02 AM

On the subject of what those gorgeous women really look like:

Several years ago a very good male friend of mine was in a large department store (on legitimate business he always claimed) and discovered (much to his surprise he always claimed) than a then incredibly popular super-model was in the store promoting something. He just happened (he always claimed) to pass by and get a good look at her. We had lunch the next day.

To say he was crushed would be an understatement. He kept repeating that he just didn't understand how she could look so bad. I said, "Let me tell you what was wrong with her. She was so thin she looked seriously ill. Her mouth was too big. Her eyes were too big. Her nose was way too small. Her facial bones were so pronounced the looked like a skull with a dusting of color." He was amazed and demanded to know how I knew all this. Simple - those are the physical characteristics that look good in pictures.

I saw Sigourney Weaver in person once and was overwhelmed by a desire to take her home and feed her chocolate before a stray breeze blew her away. And just for the record - I hear Tom Cruise is really short. :-)

Posted by: Elise at May 15, 2009 11:04 AM

If you are going to do it, admit what you're doing and get over it!

Bless me Father, for I have sinned, it has been eleventy-seven years since my last confession.

I have had impure thoughts on 3,986,763,298,678,566,285,757,884,923,217,089 occassions.

I also threw Peanuts into the lake.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 15, 2009 11:05 AM

I know I've told this story before, but when we were first married and living in quarters, we had a couple down the street who were just insanely attractive. They both looked like supermodels.

Oddly, though the husband was dark haired (a type I'm normally most attracted to physically) I found myself not at all attracted to him. My eyes could appreciate his physical perfection, but it didn't affect me in any other way.

Some of the men I've been most attracted to in life haven't been all that physically great looking. I'm hardly indifferent to looks - after all, the majority of my boyfriends before I married conformed to the same rough physical type.

But looks alone never did it for me.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 11:08 AM

I have had impure thoughts on 3,986,763,298,678,566,285,757,884,923,217,089 occasions.

I would imagine it is a rare person - male or female - who has not. The question is always, where do we go from there?

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 11:15 AM

The camera definitely adds pounds, Elise.

Best pictures I've ever taken have generally been when I was about 5 pounds lighter than I should have been (which hasn't been most of the time - normally I have to struggle not to gain weight).

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 11:18 AM

And in response to something earlier, women are no more "moral" than men in regard to what we find attractive.

A lot of studies have shown that when a woman is at her most fertile, she prefers the 'bad boy' type. But the entire rest of the month she will usually go for a more solid, responsible, trustworthy man. We are pulled in conflicting directions by our own biology. Fortunately, most of us also have brains :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 11:22 AM

"Like it or not, people treat attractive people (male or female) better than they do less attractive folks. It's a simple fact of life." But that neatly avoids the real issue - what is attractive? The answer to that changes with age - speaking as a fifty-(mumble-mumble)year old guy, I can honestly say that from the physical perspective good health, good muscle tone, and a positive self image go a lot further than make up and plastic surgery. One of the most pathetic things I've ever seen is a woman who used to be "hot" not dealing well with the fact that "hot" is a temporary condition. If that's all she's got, she's in big trouble. Hey, it would be nice to be in my 20's again (physically at least, I'd just as soon not make the same mistakes ;p ) but I earned my gray hair and while I'm not thrilled with all the changes that come with age, they're part of who I am. Some Maxim bimbo may make for great eye candy, but in the real world I'll take a pass, thanks.

Posted by: Pogue at May 15, 2009 11:23 AM

A second boy comes into the confessional a few moments later.

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned, it has been eleventy-seven years since my last confession.

I have had impure thoughts on 2,967,630,244,622,333,144,671,111,393,519,346 occassions.

I also threw Peanuts into the lake."

Father absolves the boy of his sins and prescribes penance.

Then another boy enters the confesssional and confesses to an astronomical number of impure thoughts, and to throwing Peanuts in the lake.

Again, Father absolves the boy and prescribes penance.

Just prior to the end of coffession, a boy enters the confessional and says:

"Bless me Father, for I have sinned, it has been eleventy-seven years since my last confession.

I have had impure thoughts on 3 occassions."

The priest waits for amoment before responding:
"Is that all? Isn't ther anything else you'd like to tell me?"

The boy hesitates. "Like what, Father?"

Sighing, the priest gently asks: "Well, son, didn't you also throw peanuts into the lake?"

"Oh no, Father! I'm Peanuts!"


Posted by: spd rdr at May 15, 2009 11:40 AM

Some Maxim bimbo may make for great eye candy, but in the real world I'll take a pass, thanks.

My husband said something similar to me a year or two ago when I asked him (spd, watch it!) why men go so gaga over younger women.

That's a hard thing for women to deal with. We have a tendency to interpret your interest as what it would mean if *we* were doing it (and I can tell you right now that the main reason I try not to look at other guys is that when I have, I've found my mind wandering into places it does not need to go. It makes me far more receptive to the idea of cheating.)

Men deride this as a baseless fear, but I think that's not entirely fair for two reasons:

1. There have been numerous studies which show that men who spend a lot of time looking at women they're not married to (and who are more attractive) report feeling less satisfied with their wives and more critical of her physical appearance.

This ain't rocket science, fellas. If your wife has had a few kids and is over 24, odds are she can't compete visually with an airbrushed supermodel no matter how much you love her. It would be a stupid woman who didn't recognize a threat to a relationship she values. If she knows you're doing something that will lower your perception of her attractiveness, it's a no brainer that this would provoke some anxiety.

2. Men have little or no empathy precisely because in most - not all, but most - cases, they've never had to deal with their wives openly admiring other men - especially men who are airbrushed and who are far younger and better built than they are. When women do look, they are unlikely to bring the subject up in conversation, especially with their mates.

Interestingly, men are normally far less good at judging how attractive they are to women than we are in judging how attractive we are to men.

Neat study: men were asked to rate photos of themselves on a scale from 1 to 10 for attractiveness. Then the same photos were shown to women, who almost invariably rated the men a good 2-3 points LOWER than the men had rated themselves.

Then they showed the men photos of muscular, handsome male supermodels before asking them to rate photos of themselves.

Their self-ratings dropped dramatically, and were then identical or lower to the ratings other women gave them :p

Empathy often depends upon whether we've personally experienced a feeling. If we haven't, the other person is being emotional, oversensitive, or insecure. If we have, we're far more likely to understand and sympathize.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 11:46 AM

"Oh no, Father! I'm Peanuts!"

*cough*

mr rdr: come to the front of the class.

WHAP WHAP WHAP!!!!! :)

Posted by: Sister Mary Ita at May 15, 2009 11:49 AM

My prior comment aside, I think men are also partially right when they say, "it didn't mean anything". Guys seem to separate love and desire/sex.

For women, the two are more tightly coupled, so a show of desire for someone else implies (to us) a threat to the relationship - not just a sexual threat.

This is one of those areas where I think it helps for both sides to back off a bit and try to appreciate how the other half thinks. Often you find the very qualities that drew you to the other person are the ones that also cause you heartburn in some contexts. When you look at it that way, you're less likely to think you'd like to change the other person and more likely to appreciate why they're the way they are.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 11:55 AM

When you look at it that way, you're less likely to think you'd like to change the other person and more likely to appreciate why they're the way they are.

This from a woman who goes WHAP WHAP WHAP!!!!! at every opportunity. :-)

By the way, it is Friday, People!
Where's the party?

Posted by: spd rdr at May 15, 2009 12:05 PM

Hey - I don't expect you to change when I 'WHAP' you...

I just enjoy it :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 12:10 PM

Where's the party?

That is what you're here for!

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 12:13 PM

"...and carefully organized grocery carts."

Hey! What's wrong with organized grocery carts?
*hmpf*
Watch it! I know how to get ahold of a *family mushroom*....and I know how to use it, too!
0>;~}

"A lot of studies have shown that when a woman is at her most fertile, she prefers the 'bad boy' type."

Funny, I always *heard* that they were attracted to a guy with duct tape over their mouth and a spear sticking out of their chest......huh......who knew?
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 15, 2009 12:22 PM

Hey - I don't expect you to change when I 'WHAP' you...

I just enjoy it :p


I think that I just found the party, folks.
:-)

Posted by: spd rdr at May 15, 2009 12:25 PM

spd,
Which hurts more - a *WHAP* or a *Whack*?

Inquiring minds want to know....
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 15, 2009 12:29 PM

It's like red wine or white wine, Sly. It's the meal that dictates your selection.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 15, 2009 12:33 PM

Gotcha! Sooooo....if one's evening were to include, say, mazola oil and visqeen, a *WHAP* would be appropriate -- given, of course, the semantical differences between "Give it a good, hard whack!" and "He just got whapped upside the head."
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 15, 2009 12:44 PM

I was thinking more along the lines of gnocchi bolognese, but I don't quiblle about such distinctions on Fridays.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 15, 2009 12:54 PM

Well, not to disagree with the other objections, but rather to add onto them:

My objection is that these types of lists are low-brow. Not that there's something wrong with low-brow. Helk, sometimes I really like low-brow stuff. If fact, sometimes the entire gloriousness of something is that it celebrates it's own low-browness.

But it's not something I want to see the First Family involved in.

Just because I happen to like sitting on my couch in a stained and ripped t-shirt with my belly hanging out while watching TV and drinking a beer out of a dixie cup doesn't mean I want to see the President doing the same thing.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 15, 2009 12:55 PM

Please, Lord, remove this blog from mrs. rdr's bookmarks.

Amen.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 15, 2009 12:57 PM

Well, my smart remark was "denied for questionable content". How's that for a Friday afternoon?

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 01:07 PM

Smart?

Posted by: spd rdr at May 15, 2009 01:09 PM

Start running, law boy :)

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 01:13 PM

Waida minnit!
Your own blog censored your comment!!
Now that is priceless.

*snnnort!*

Posted by: DL Sly at May 15, 2009 01:17 PM

Oh, it's happened before. I didn't even say anything that was in any way objectionable.

Just random snark.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 01:23 PM

"I didn't even say anything that was in any way objectionable."

Uh huh

Stickin' with that one, are ya?

Ohhhkaaayyy............
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 15, 2009 01:31 PM

Just more of my patented self-defecating humor.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 01:38 PM

Does a pomegranate martini qualify as a *red* or a *white*? Maybe it's like a *blush*........

Ohhh the things you can think when you up your medication....

0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 15, 2009 01:44 PM

And another one goes off the track....


Seriously, I am the best derailer, EVAH.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 15, 2009 02:16 PM

I think pomegranate martinis fall into the same category as strawberry daquiris...and I'll take one of each, thankyouverymuch.

"Random snark", eh Cass? Riiiiiight.

Posted by: Sly's Wardrobe Mistress at May 15, 2009 02:57 PM

Well, I got some near-topic flame bait if you really want it, but ya'll look like you're having way to much fun.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 15, 2009 03:22 PM

Oh, go for it. I got nothin'.

Just play nicely. Mom has a headache :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 03:33 PM

OK,

I contend that what girlie mags are for guys, romance novels are for women.

Both sell an unrealistic and distorted view of what their target demographic is naturally attracted to (visual for guys, context/situation/romance whatever you want to call it for women). I would bet a beer that women who spend time reading romance novels also begin to feel less satisfied and are more critical of their mates as well.

Yet we don't see the stereotypical case of a guy slapping his SO's shoulder and calling her a female chauvanist piggette for burying her nose in a romance novel.

Why?

My theory is that it's because we realize that the character in the book isn't real. They don't exist, you are not going home with them at the end of the day. They are made-up, fiction, fantasies, nothing more.

And this brings me to: "Some Maxim bimbo may make for great eye candy, but in the real world I'll take a pass, thanks."

Jack Buaur isn't real, neither is Princess Leia (whether she's wearing a cheese danish bikini or not). There are actors who play them who are real, but they are not real themselves. They are fantasies. Thus it is with the Maxim bimbo. She's not real either. Sure, there's a real person who portrays the Maxim bimbo character. But you're not going home with her, she's made-up, a fiction, she does not exist.

And our attitudes toward her should be the same as towards Fabio.

As for whom women dress up for? It depends.

The woman who makes sure her make-up and clothes are perfect before going to Wal-Mart? Sorry, she is doing so to prevent the disapproval of other women.

The woman who puts on the wonder-bra and the skin-tight low cut dress for a night on the town? Yeah, there's no doubt she is doing so to seek the approval of the guys. If it makes other women jealous, that's just a side effect.

Re: The natural look
I guess that depends on your definition of natural. Jumping out of bed, throwing on a t-shirt, yoga pants and a ball cap? Yeah, I agree, that's naht gonna doit. But neither is wearing so much make-up you look like the lead singer from Twisted Sister. There does come a point where it becomes too much.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 15, 2009 04:56 PM

You nailed it. -
"Yet we don't see the stereotypical case of a guy slapping his SO's shoulder and calling her a female chauvanist piggette for burying her nose in a romance novel." -
I think that has something to do with how women view reality. I've never met a man who will hold a grudge for something they dreamed, yet I've met lots of otherwise reasonable women who will.

Posted by: Pogue at May 15, 2009 05:20 PM

I think that along with all of the very good commentary (and Friday afternoon tangents) there's another piece that highlights how long this has been going on and that it's not limited to Democrat Media Darlings:

If Sarah Palin were living in the Naval Observatory, she would have made the list. Last fall before the election I was out for drinks with my Navy boyfriend and a few of his military friends/coworkers and the conversation turned to Palin's MILF (and soon-to-be GILF) status. I sincerely doubt that the gloss of more political power would have diminished that appeal.

Posted by: preservationgal at May 15, 2009 05:43 PM

Not in the slightest. But it's one thing to think that the First Lady is sexy, but published lists like this are meant to be base, sophomoric, trivial, fundamentally unserious. That is their appeal.

And I don't think it unreasonable to bristle a little bit at a lack of professional decorum.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 15, 2009 05:55 PM

*digs for baseball cap*

Let's see, that's a pomegranate martini and a strawberry daquiri.......

*looks through supplies*
Let's see, I got beer...
brain wash, industrial strength, super sized.....nope
Um,....unedited pictures to edit later and send out.....nope
Beer...
Guacamole....
Beer....
Salsa....
Beer....
Chips...

Nope, sorry not seeing any daquiri or martini mixes. I do however have fresh California strawberries....
And beer.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 15, 2009 06:11 PM

I contend that what girlie mags are for guys, romance novels are for women.

Note to self: you don't need to say everything that crosses your mind :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 07:34 PM

I told you it was flame-bait, didn't I? :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 15, 2009 07:39 PM

Let me attempt a far milder version of what I just said.

No doubt that theory explains the large number of female bloggers who constantly post about Romance novels and then hang out in the comments sections yammering on about washboard abs, heaving bosoms, and manly biceps. You know, the whole "DILTHROMB (Dad I'd like to have rip open my bodice" thing.

And then there's the pervasive influence of Romance novels in popular culture these days. You can hardly look anywhere without seeing a man degrading himself by running about in tight breeches with no shirt on.

Yep. That's it :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 15, 2009 07:52 PM

I've been away from the computer all day. I went with Haole Wahine up to Fort Hood for a memorial service, so I'm playing catch-up on my blog reading....

What is attractive? I know that I have had crushed on guys that were what I considered attractive at first, but as I got to know more about them, they became less attractive to me. Conversely, guys who - initially - didn't really do anything for me, as I got to know them better, they became more attractive. There have also been those occasions when one of those really attractive men also seems to be a wonderful person, and so he doesn't "lose points"...

As for myself, I haven't felt very attractive to the opposite sex for a long time. Most guys don't seem to go for the fat girls. I'm trying to work on that. I really don't want to be single for the rest of my life. I've already been single for much longer than I ever imagined when I was young. Even though I've lost a lot of weight, I haven't really noticed men taking THAT sort of interest in me. Sucks to be me that I really don't want to have to go to my little sister's wedding stag. Also, I have been coloring my hair again. I found my first gray hair when I was 18 and a freshman in college. Apparently, a few generations back, some female in the family line was completely gray by the time she was 20... It used to only been an odd gray here and there that was easily pulled. But, a number of years ago, it go to be more than could be plucked. For a while, I used some do-it-yourself hair color, but eventually, I decided to let my stylist do whatever he thought would look good. He went for blonde highlights, which was a better choice than the shade of red I'd gone for. Stopped the highlights for a while as a way to cut expenses when I went back to school. Recently decided to start having them done again, this time with a different stylist, since I don't live in the same place anymore. She started with what my former stylist did, and has since made a few changes, along with a new style. I like it. Helps me feel better about myself. Less of feeling like an old spinster.

Part of my (was some would call negative) outlook on my attractiveness to the opposite sex has A LOT to do with my non-existent (for the most part) experience with guys. When no one is asking you out or flirting with you, it kinda sends you a message that you are not what they want. So, when I am in a situation where "hooking up" is the main reason for being there, I feel very awkward, which I'm sure doesn't help matters much. However, when I'm someplace where where the focus is on something else, and it is for something in which I am confident of my knowledge/abilities, I don't feel awkward. But, even then, that hasn't seemed to have gotten me anywhere.

If someone can tell me what I'm doing wrong...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 15, 2009 07:53 PM

I read romance novels, but I don't read the ones with shirtless men and women with heaving bosoms on the front... It's escapist reading, when that's what I pick up. Haven't read one in a while.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 15, 2009 08:00 PM

Well Cass, that just means women are quieter about it. Unless you want to contend that the reason there's a big giant section of it at Kroger's because no one is buying them.

As for why their aren't tons of guys running around shirtless and in tight pants, well, as agreed to previously, women aren't as visual.

But there are a ton of movies where the guy is a silver-tongued knight in shining armor. He's suave, he's rich, and he can make your knees weak just by saying "You complete me."

Two seconds later, the woman asks her guy why *we* never say things like that to them.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 15, 2009 08:50 PM

"And then there's the pervasive influence of Romance novels in popular culture these days. You can hardly look anywhere without seeing a man degrading himself by running about in tight breeches with no shirt on.

Yep. That's it :p"

Bingo! So why do women do it?

Posted by: Pogue at May 15, 2009 09:15 PM

Miss Ladybug, your comment just breaks my heart. Have confidence in yourself. Be yourself, not what you think anyone else wants you to be. It'll work out, really. It took me a long time to find the right woman, it was worth the wait.

Posted by: Pogue at May 15, 2009 09:19 PM

Miss LB, what Pogue said...

While guys may be visual creatures by dint of Ma Nature's genetic predisposition, twisted sense of humor that she has, as we age we too have a unique opportunity to mature and see the beauty and value in the character, heart and mind of a lady. Many men will jump all over that opportunity.

Yeah, we still may succumb to the hardwired impulse to turn and gaze upon young and shiny things... Then again, it's little more than a setup for a joke, often on us.

Bottom line, believe in yourself. Your intelligence, wit and positive attitude will turn you into a man-magnet, guaranteed. I'll wager you a six-pack of beer on it. Believe Miss LB. It's all in the attitude.

Posted by: bt_Norman Vincent Peale_hun at May 15, 2009 10:02 PM

I have confidence in myself, but just not when it comes to men. I never dated in high school, really, though I was asked to the jr/sr prom when I was a sophomore, and I was asked to "go steady" by a guy I hung out with a lot (the best friend of one of my best friend's boyfriend - the 4 of us went lots of places together) by senior year, but in all honestly, I had a big crush on another guy, and probably wasn't really ready (emotionally) for dating.

Went out a few times with a guy my freshman year of college, set up by a girl that live on my floor in the dorm, only to find out from another girl on my floor: "I thought he got married over Christmas break..." - I was set up with a married man and didn't even know it (I don't care if his wife cheated on him after a month of marriage - he had secured neither an annulment or a divorce by the time I had gone out with him; that and telling an 18-year old that [after only a couple of weeks of seeing each other] that you're in love with her, and she'll fall in love with you to, even though he'd only recently gotten married, is a sure-fire way to scare the hell out of her...).

Dated a GI my last summer in Germany, the summer between my sophomore & junior years of college. Wrote him a letter after returning to the states (we PCS'd), never heard from him again.

Attempted a long-distance relationship with a guy I meet that last summer in Germany, too, after returning stateside. He was a friend of my best friend, and the three of us spent a lot of time together that summer. Chris was a "double-digit midget", waiting to return to the states himself, and get out of the Army. We could talk for hours on the phone, and we wrote lots of letters back and forth (this was before the days of PCs in practically every home), were supposed to be able to see each other on several occasions, but something on his end always messed it up. Finally, I gave up, sending him the birthday present I had expected to give him in person, telling him to have a nice life. Didn't hear from him again until years later (August 2001) when he managed to find me living in another state and called, telling me he was married, but he wouldn't be except for they had a kid. Told him - via email, this time, that I could be his friend, but that if he wanted something more, to forget it. Haven't heard from him since.

Over the years, there have been several men I've been interested in that haven't been interested in me, all the while I was slowly packing on the pounds. I've done singles groups and gotten nowhere (always seemed to be way more women than men...). Since moving back to Texas, until recently, I've not had much of a social life because all my friends live elsewhere. Trying to work on that.

Through my blogging, I've recently made connections with a few people locally. One of them (a very outgoing, married, former Marine and member of Vets for Freedom) has invited me to attend some American Legion events, and I plan on actually joining the Auxiliary. But, as far as "available men" in the Post, I've not met any (all the men seem to be either married, or too old, or too young).

I go to lots of minor league baseball games, too (working & spectating). However, when I'm out there, at least one of my (much) younger and much fitter sisters is also there. Whenever I'm around either of my sisters (never mind one is engaged and the other has a long-term boyfriend), no one is looking at me.

So, I'm trying to put myself in situations where I might "meet someone", but through situations where "hooking up" isn't the central purpose of what is happening. It hasn't worked yet. I'm working on losing weight (about 30 pounds lost, but lots more still to go). Figure that will help my chances, plus I remember that I'm in my sister's wedding in November, and those pictures are going to be around forever, and I don't want to be embarrassed by how I look in them.

My thing is: I'm still the same person with the same interests, I'll just be in a different package. This just makes me think men are shallow, that they haven't consider "me" because of the packaging...

bthun~
Like I said, I think I exude plenty of confidence when I'm in a situation where "trying to pick up a guy" isn't the focus, and it's something I am sure of my knowledge/abilities (e.g. - situations where I know I know what I'm talking about; that has never been the case when it comes to guys). And, I'm not a beer drinker...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 15, 2009 10:25 PM

Get your game on, girl. I know you're good for it.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 15, 2009 11:23 PM

"I think I exude plenty of confidence when I'm in a situation where "trying to pick up a guy" isn't the focus, and it's something I am sure of my knowledge/abilities (e.g. - situations where I know I know what I'm talking about; that has never been the case when it comes to guys).
I hope I did not offend Miss LB. Reading your comment gave me a heavy heart and I only meant to indicate that you will find someone, just stay positive and circulate.
And, I'm not a beer drinker..."
Good! I already owe Sly half a tanker truck load of beer... and a digital torque wrench.

Posted by: bthun at May 16, 2009 08:33 AM

Well Cass, that just means women are quieter about it. Unless you want to contend that the reason there's a big giant section of it at Kroger's because no one is buying them.

If you stop and think very carefully about this statement, I think you'll see what's wrong with it. The second premise doesn't logically (or statistically) follow from the first.

I'm not going to argue this, because Yu-Ain's right. It's just going to make me angry.

I have no idea how many women read romance novels.

I do know this: I make a great attempt (and I'm not perfect and have never claimed to be) to see both sides of an issue. I try very hard to be dispassionate, and to understand even points of view that make no sense to me. Often I write about something precisely because something has occurred to me and I don't see anyone else saying it.

I also don't believe that the rightness or wrongness of an act has jack to do with whether someone else has done something wrong. IOW, I don't think two wrongs automatically make a right. If Yu-Ain wants to make the point that girlie mags and romance novels serve the same need in men and women, I might buy off on that.

But as Pogue so aptly confirmed in his observation that men don't "demean themselves" by running around barechested in tight breeches, being in a girlie mag isn't an activity that commands respect. The image of women that's presented isn't even remotely one that emphasizes character, intelligence, or any other human quality. They are, as so many men have pointedly reminded me, "things", like a nice looking car you'd like to "own".

Romance novels, on the other hand, routinely portray men at their best. They are strong, intelligent, competitive, and unlike women in porn they don't meekly submit to whatever the reader wants even if it's painful, dangerous, or degrading.

So though I don't read romance novels, I don't think the two things are at all the same. Women are presented as far less than the people they really are - sexually available to anyone who wants them and with little or no will of their own.

Men are presented in an idealized fashion that is more than they usually are. To say that these things are both "fantasy" is true.

To equate them requires that you willfully ignore the "ideal" each presents to the consumer.

Finally, I realize that no matter how many times I say this it will be ignored, but I have no power to change anyone else's behavior, nor (IMO) have I suggested that is my proper role, or even my purpose in writing about subjects like this. I have tried to raise the discussion above what individual people are doing to what society's goals ought to be and whether law means anything: whether our principles should be selectively applied to excuse people we agree with and punish those we don't agree with?

Just as I have zero control over other people's behavior, I have zero control over their thoughts. I offer my arguments and my thoughts, which have zero ability to compel anyone else, for discussion. But if people are determined to ignore my actual arguments and decide I've said a whole bunch of things I patently did not say or worse, to attempt to decide what my motives are for saying things I patently did not say, there is no point in showing up here every day. I am wasting my time and everyone else's.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 16, 2009 10:33 AM

My point in saying that, bthun, was not that you offended me. I'll freely admit that I don't go trolling for men. I'm not one for going out to bars. Yes, I went out to bars/clubs when I was in college, but that was always with a group of friends, mainly to go out dancing. I've always heard people say that that's not really the place to find a true mate anyway.

I don't try to pretend to be someone I'm not. What you see is what you get, I think, WRT who I am. I just apparently don't know where to go to find a good (and available) man. I have friends/family who met their spouses in high school or college. My best friend met her husband in a martial arts class. My oldest (younger) sister met her fiance online. My youngest sister met her boyfriend out at the ballpark, through a mutual acquaintance. I know of several people who met their spouses through their job.

I went to high school and college and grad school. Nothing. I've taken classes. Nothing. I've tried "singles groups" through church. Nothing. I am online. Nothing. I have had jobs most all my adult life. Nothing. And, I've not really had people make serious offers to try to fix me up with someone they knew.

So, after all these years, yeah, I've grown a little cynical and skeptical about the "there is someone for everyone". I can tell you exactly the last time I had a date. Someone could have raised a child all the way through high school in that time. I have to face the fact that I will likely never get to do that. Right now, I'm just hoping to have a date for my sister's wedding, which is still months away, but I know I can't count on it, nevermind having that phantom date be my "Mr. Right" that I'll get to spend the rest of my life with.

So, I'll just continue to go about my business. I'll either continue with my poor romantic track record, or my luck will change and I'll get to have what, when I was a little girl, I had always expected to have: a family of my own.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 16, 2009 11:42 AM

Back to the romance novels. I agree with Cass: you cannot truly equate girlie magazines with romance novels. Yes, they are both fantasy, but they are not the same kind of fantasy. The women in girlie magazines are one-dimensional, put out their as the ideal specimens of feminine beauty, no matter that you'd never see a woman like that in real life, and you are - as Cass rightly pointed out - ignoring many important aspects of a person, namely "what kind of person are they?".

The heroes in romance novels are not just a physical ideal (they're always big & strong & attractive), but also they are always intelligent, kind, resourceful, respectable men. While not "normal", there are men like that out there.

But, like I said, romance novels are escapist reading for me. I don't expect to find someone just like the heroes in romance novels. It would be unfair of me to expect perfection in an actual person. But, there qualities I should be able to find in a real man: intelligence, kindness, resourcefulness, being worthy of respect. Tell me: what qualities that are shown of the women in girlie magazines that a man could reasonably expect to find in an actual (not airbrushed and surgically enhanced) woman?

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 16, 2009 12:00 PM

So though I don't read romance novels, I don't think the two things are at all the same. Women are presented as far less than the people they really are - sexually available to anyone who wants them and with little or no will of their own.

Men are presented in an idealized fashion that is more than they usually are. To say that these things are both "fantasy" is true.

To equate them requires that you willfully ignore the "ideal" each presents to the consumer.

Oh, thank you, Cassandra. Since I do read romance novels - albeit a rather limited selection of authors - I've been fidgeting over how to say this very thing since I first read the post equating the two. You, of course, put it perfectly.

And, no, I have never looked at my husband and wished he was more like the guys in those novels much less asked him why he wasn't.

Miss Ladybug, please don't give up. Take it from someone who knows all to well - it's far better to find the right guy late than the wrong guy early. More practically, have you considered Internet dating? A few years ago I would never have suggested it but my husband's cousin met his wife on one of those sites. They've been married for 6 years now. She was the happiest bride I've ever seen - giggled through her entire wedding.

Posted by: Elise at May 16, 2009 12:49 PM

Elise~

I am out there on a number of dating sites. Nothing. I just must not be what those men are looking for. That, or I'm not good at "selling myself"...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 16, 2009 12:54 PM

Cass:

You say, "Why does this bother me on a number of levels?"

I don't know; but I'll tell you why it bothers me.

To introduce a political figure into a question of beauty is to invite the worship of power. The thing that excites people about her is not her physical beauty, about which I will say nothing. The beauty being celebrated is not the vision of her face, but the vision of social change that to them she represents. It is the power that is being worshipped, not the beauty.

You doubtless saw:

"May I change the subject," said a prominent Washington theologian at a recent dinner. The conversation had been high-minded -- religion, philosophy, the nature of evil. "I'd like to talk about Michelle Obama's arms," he said.

He is a big fan of those arms. We then began a discussion about the significance of the first lady's arms. Actually, it turned out to be equally serious. Michelle Obama's arms, we determined, were transformational. Her arms are representative of a new kind of woman...Leaving aside the question of whether any of that is true, (or whether it is simply absurd), the point is clear. It is not the fact of her having arms that look this way or that way: any number of women have nicer arms. What is being worshipped is the fact of her being someone who can transform society.

That is power worship, plain and simple. It has nothing of true beauty, or real romance.

Posted by: Grim at May 16, 2009 03:43 PM

I met my wife because she informed me that my briefcase was on her seat on an departing flight from Atlanta a long, long time ago. Love at first sight is all about about making first impressions. There was simply no way that I was going to let this beauty get away. So, for the next two and a half hours I lied through my teeth. Not big lies, but lies calculated to make her want to see me again.

Of course, I had no idea that she was so smart, so, as all liars do, I was eventually emabarassed and contrite. After all these years, however, the woman stills loves me.

Am I lucky? Or what?

Posted by: spd rdr at May 16, 2009 06:06 PM

Um....

Okay, to be honest I did tell her that I was the president of General Motors, that I had a villa in Spain, and the only reason that I was flying coach was because my private jet had engine problems. But in my own defense I did admit to throwing Peanuts into the lake.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 16, 2009 06:18 PM

But in my own defense I did admit to throwing Peanuts into the lake.

Thereby masking your true identity -- Peanuts...

Posted by: BillT at May 16, 2009 06:41 PM

And that's how I became an Olymipic swimming champion.

Posted by: spd rdr at May 16, 2009 07:57 PM

Romance novels are so far removed from reality that I should refer to them as fantasy.

I read a few in the early 80s. I was single then and just could not get my head around the fact that there was a market for them. Thin plots held together by the characters hooking up, and rather graphically, I might add. When I first heard the PC term for comic books, I honestly thought it was referring to adult fiction like erotica and romance novels. My bad.

Blecch.

But then, whaddaya expect from someone who refuses to give up Holy Writ, Sir Walter Scott and J.R.R. Tolkein?

Posted by: Cricket at May 17, 2009 10:38 AM

...but from where I sit Maxim did not compromise its standards to include her on the list.

Maxim has standards?

Geez -- who knew?

Posted by: BillT at May 17, 2009 12:06 PM

I've read a variety of romance novels. Some are rather graphic (if it were a movie it would be rated "X", and I prefer not to read those. Some rated "R". But, you can also find "G", "PG" and "PG-13". You just have to know what authors and what series to pick up. I'm always a little leery about trying a new author that isn't part of a series that I know what kind of "illustration" I'll get. I have some favorite authors, and then there are others I know aren't what I'm looking for.

But, like I said, reading romance novels are escapist reading for me. I don't really expect what happens in the book to happen to me in real life, however much it might be nice to find one of those hunky, strong, intelligent, kind men to spend the rest of my life with...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 17, 2009 05:22 PM

I have a former friend who was/is an award-winning romance novel writer. When we were still friends (long story, who cares) she gave me one of her novels as a gift. I had never read one. Can't say it convinced me to start, either. It seemed a very empty way to spend time. What on earth would a non-award-winning writer of romance have to say?

Of course, I spend a lot of my time reading about homeopathy, and many people feel that is as interesting as reading the residential portion of the phone book, so it may just be a matter of taste. However, when I'm done reading a book about homeopathy, I feel like I have more potential to help my family and others, but I felt diminished by reading her book. Hmm.

I recently cured my cat of eosinophilic granuloma using homeopathic medicine. Couldn't have done that reading romance novels. :)

Posted by: MathMom at May 17, 2009 05:35 PM

Miss Ladybug -

My post was not in response to yours. I was evidently composing mine while you were posting. When I began BillT was the last comment, so please do not read my comments about romance novels as any response to your comments.

However, your comment makes me think of my neighbor across the street. Her husband of two years was my neighbor for eight years before they married, each for the first time, at nearly the age of 50. She said she had an ideas about her "ideal" hunky guy, tall dark handsome, whatever. There is nothing wrong with her husband's looks, physique or employment, but her "ideal guy" looked different than him. She said his character finally won her over, and then she began to see that all that other stuff really didn't matter.

For some reason, I have been proposed to by quite a few men. I don't see myself as a particularly lovely specimen of female pulchritude, and the years have taken their toll on my figure, too. But I am nice to men, and I smile a lot. I can't help it. It seems to be something that men need. I am not flirtatious, but sometimes when I'm being friendly I see that it is finding a home in the person with whom I am speaking, and if it is a man, I have to turn it down a little, because I am married and don't plan to change that.

When I read what you have written about your hopes for your life, I feel a sadness that is hard to escape. Is there something in your life that brings you true joy, something about which you can speak with excitement? My husband jokes that I can talk for 90 minutes to a wrong number, and he's not far wrong. But this gift/curse comes from inside of me. I find that connection with people (and men, if you're hoping to connect with men) is made when you can find interest in what interests them, and ask them about it. I learn a lot from talking with people, and get excited about the things that some people do. People respond to honest interest expressed by another party. Smile, girl! Good luck out there!

Posted by: MathMom at May 17, 2009 05:59 PM

I suspect that when people think about romance novels they usually think about Harlequin novels from the 70s which could be rather thin in both size and plot. Today there are lots of different kinds of romance novels just as there are lots of different kinds of mystery novels and science fiction novels. (And Westerns, I assume.) If you want to get technical about it, no fiction reading is actually a *profitable* way to spend time: not Nora Roberts or Amanda Quick or Barbara Delinsky; not Dick Francis or Robert Parker or Agatha Christie; not Robert Heinlein or Greg Bear or Connie Willis; not even Tolkien or Herman Melville or Jane Austen. But I read for enjoyment and I enjoy all those authors - and have even been known to read Louis L'Amour from time to time.

Posted by: Elise at May 17, 2009 06:19 PM

Mathmom~

I've always been a shy, quiet person. I'm generally not one to approach strangers, male or female, unless I have a legitimate reason to. I'm not as bad about that as I used to be. I find it much easier to "jump in" to conversations with strangers online, but after several years of hanging out on the milblogs, most of you - even if I haven't met you yet - aren't complete strangers anymore. I did meet some of y'all at the Milblog Conference three weeks ago. I don't know what kind of vibe I gave off to them...

Like I said, when I know I know what I'm talking about, or if I have something to say, I don't necessarily have a problem speaking with confidence. What am I passionate about? I'm a big history buff, I'm big into troops support stuff, I'm into politics (moreso than the average person), I enjoy baseball. On Friday, I went with Haole Wahine (she doesn't comment here - though she told me she does read VC on occasion), but she does read and comment on some of the milbogs) up to Fort Hood to attend a memorial service. This was only the second time we'd meet in person, and we became acquainted over a year ago. We talked current events over lunch after the service, probably for a couple of hours. If there had been a guy there with us, I don't think I'd have changed the things I said. I'm not going to pretend I'm interested when I'm not, though.

Not all romance novels are created equal. There were times I would find myself (beginning probably the summer between 7th & 8th grade) staying with my dad's mom without my parents around, and there wasn't much to do. Oma had an extensive collection of those old Harlequin paperbacks (very tame, simple love stories). While in college, when Daddy was still stationed in Germany, I would spend Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring breaks with one grandparent or the other. One Christmas break - remember, in college, that is about 4 weeks - I was staying with my mom's mom, and my mom's sister was living there at the time. Tante (that's German for "aunt") had a vast collection of more modern romance novels. Let's just say I'd not really read anything like those before, but it was the only thing around to read. Remember: this was before the internet, and I couldn't always find something to watch on TV (although I did watch a lot of Turner Classic Movies when staying there, before my grandfather passes away). I've got the authors I like (for the most part), which don't tend to get any more graphic and an "R" rating (Julie Garwood & Judith McNaught), and I've recently discovered some nice, sweet, tame romance novels (with Christian overtones), some of which come from publisher Steeple Hill. And, I LOVE the Outlander series from Diana Gabaldon: they are part romance, part historical fiction, part sci-fi/fantasy, and they definitely have a very involved plotline.

What I read often depends on my mood. The most recent book I finished reading was Liberty & Tyranny. I'm plugging my way through one of the "Idiot's Guide" books on children's book publishing (I've got a writing project I want to do, if I can ever find/make the time...). I've read House to House and Lone Survivor. I've read all the Tom Clancy "Jack Ryan" books. I've read Tolkien (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings). I've read all the Harry Potter books. But, every now and then, I just want to escape into a simple love story that I know will have a happy ending. When I read fiction, I'm reading for entertainment....

And, I really am not expecting to find a man that looks like the heroes in the romance novels I read. The men I've found myself attracted to over the years haven't all been "good looking" men. Goes back to that "someone can become more attractive the more you get to know them" thing. There have also been those times when I had a crush on a good-looking guy that couldn't survive getting to know more about him... I'd just like to be given the same chance. It's hard for me. men my age find women 10 years their junior attractive, and they can get them (my sister, who is only 28, is marrying a man who is 38 - 6 months younger than me...). My other sister, who is only 24 is dating a man who is I think 7 or 8 years older than her. Men my age don't seem to be interested in women my age. So, where does that leave me? I don't want to turn into a bitter man-hater (I don't hate men...), but I can't help feeling like the deck is stacked against me...

Well, I've already been up later than I should have been. I'm substitute teaching tomorrow, so I have to get up early, and the district I'm subbing in, I can't count on being able to get on the internet during my breaks, so I might not be able to check back on this until the late afternoon...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 18, 2009 01:06 AM

I think she's dog ugly, because that's what comes from within her...

Posted by: camojack at May 18, 2009 03:56 AM

I see nothing incongruent about those two statements at all. That women tend to be less crude in public should not be a suprise to anyone. But that doesn't mean they don't have the same thoughts. There's a reason why pictures of a shirtless Obama have made the rounds and it's certainly not because of the guys and likely not for platonic reasons with the women.

Secondly, you wouldn't walk into a grocery store and condlude that people aren't eating because of all the food on the shelves. You wouldn't walk into a Best Buy and conclude no one is buying music because of the rows and rows of CDs on the shelves. So why would Romance novels be any different? Stores stock items because they sell. If they don't, they get different items.

So just because women aren't openly crude doesn't imply they aren't consumers, which is evidenced by the large market catering to them.

If Yu-Ain wants to make the point that girlie mags and romance novels serve the same need in men and women, I might buy off on that.

This is exactly the point I was trying to make. And, at least originally, as far as I had taken the analogy (more on that later). That's why I said the both sold an unrealist and exagerated view on what their target demographic finds attractive. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear enough about that.

However, I do want to take issue with the contention that Romance stories play up the positive attributes of men, cause I don't see it.

Let's take Titanic as an example since it was such a blockbuster. The male lead was unemployed, homeless, showed a lack of dedication and committment by taking and leaving jobs at a whim with no considerations for anyone but himself or his own future. His entire life up until that point was an exercize in "If it feels good, do it" including, as Cass said in the thread on Sin/Black/White/People=Things, without any sort of commitment risks her entire welfare by possibly impregnating her. He's not the pinnacle of male character, he's the loser boyfriend that keeps every father awake at night.

But there are traits he does have in spades: He can sell the fantasy that living in the Great Depression would be an exciting adventure unencumbered with the drudgeries of a j-o-b. He's "wild", "dangerous". He's the "untamed rogue" to her scripted life. He's seductive.

Jerry MacGuire was an asshole of the first order throughout the entire movie. The only person he truly cared for was the kid. He only came to have any concern for his client because his wallet depended on it, and his entire relationship to the mom was under false pretenses to maintain access to the aforementioned kid. He only had any feelings for the mom when he got lonely. What's crazy is that in the climactic monlogue he even flat out admits this. And this is still considered romantic because he says it in a manner that's just so seductive. He can flat out deliver a line like no one else. No one else, at least, without a team of scriptwriters, a highly paid director, years of acting lessons and experience and as many takes as he needs to get it right.

There's a new movie coming out that remakes A Christmas Carol as a romantic comedy. They show the hundred of past girlfriends (one even for just a matter of minutes: 3 guesses at what they were doing for those few minutes and the first 2 don't count). My guess is that the movie won't be about him becoming virtuous, but that the female lead will get to have is obvious powers of seduction all to herself.

So no, I don't see them selling an unrealistic and exagerated view of male virtue. If they did, our romantic male leads would more closely resemble John Wayne's characters than Matthew McConaughey's. They sell seduction not character, just like the girlie mags do.

As for the scale of impact on the non-target demographic. I agree, they are not the same. But I would point out that the negative effects on men are not zero. There is demand for schools which teach the art of seduction. The puppy blender mentioned a book a couple of months back written about it. The guy found that while he did bed a lot of women, he never found the relationship he was looking for out of it (shock-shock). He traded the gold of meaningful relationships that he was looking for for the trash of meaningless sex (sound anything like what women do?). Again, I'm not saying the scale is anything like the same. There are vast differences in scale, but not so much in kind.

Why men do a better job of realizing it's an exagerated fantasy they need not compete with, I've no idea.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 10:28 AM

You begin with romance novels and then somehow segue to movies.

I'm confused.

They are not the same thing. Not at all.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 10:35 AM

And before anyone thinks I'm going off on a "nice guys finish last" whine: I liked Titanic, I liked Jerry MacGuire. They were fun movies. I want my movies to be where dangerous means James Bond saves the girl not where a woman with two black eyes is yelling at the cops to take her lowlife boyfriend to jail. How then can I begrudge women the same?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 10:48 AM

Of course they are. I only used the examples of novels to remove the visual aspect.

Notice that in the movie examples I never mentioned looks.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 10:51 AM

I believe I'll allow romance novel readers to argue that one with you.

I've only read romance novels once in my life and though I got a box full by different authors, the plots followed the same formula. Not having watched either movie you mention, I can't address the applicability other than to say neither one sounds like any romance novel I ever read.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 11:04 AM

Well, I simply hold that a story is a story. A plot is a plot. The medium doesn't change things.

Evidence how many books are turned into movies and vice versa.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 11:12 AM

Not having watched either movie you mention,

Which sort of defeats the purpose of having used them. I was hoping that their popularity would serve as a common frame of reference.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 11:15 AM

When books are turned into movies, the plot is nearly always changed.

And the medium does matter - the reason the plot is usually changed in a movie is that it doesn't translate easily. An author can convey more nuanced and complicated ideas in books. It is nearly impossible to do the same thing in a movie.

Hence my point.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 11:15 AM

Nope, Y-A G. There are movies that are like romance novels - I'd put "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" in this category and any number of romantic comedies - but the movies you cite are not even close. I would not read a romance novel where the hero was a guy like the main character of the Titanic and if I accidentally stumbled into one, I'd never read another one by the same author.

The first rule of a romance novel is that the ending has to be happy: the couple gets married and lives happily ever after. A little hard to do when one half of the couple is at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

I don't remember enough about Jerry Maguire to comment on it but I'm pretty sure that's a "guy movie" (resisting impulse to use really rude equivalent of "chick flick") so equating that to a romance novel is sort of like equating "Nine Coaches Waiting" to Esquire (perhaps Maxim but I'm a little behind of my "gentlemen's magazines") or "Angels Fall" to Playboy.

The second rule of romance novels (at least current ones) is that the hero has to be a good guy. The heroes of current romance novels have far more in common with John Wayne than they do with Matthew McConaughey.

Straw men make very bad romance novel heroes.

Posted by: Elise at May 18, 2009 11:18 AM

FWIW, I started to watch Jerry McGuire with my husband but bailed out of it very early when I saw what kind of movie it was.

I have very little patience with watching movies about people I don't like. If they're jerks or Hollywood is once again glorifying the mundane or the tawdry, I tune out - fast.

Life is depressing enough as it is without watching movies that try to convince me crap is chocolate ice cream with cherries on top :p

Never wanted to watch Titanic b/c I can't stand Leo what's his name - he's sleazy. And the trailers told me all I needed to know about that one. I understand that people aren't all perfect or all heroic. But in my leisure time, I prefer to be inspired or uplifted. Otherwise, I'll just go read a book :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 11:30 AM

When books are turned into movies, the plot is nearly always changed.

And if they are changed too much, they usually don't perform very well.


I would not read a romance novel where the hero was a guy like the main character of the Titanic and if I accidentally stumbled into one, I'd never read another one by the same author.

I find this hard to believe when applied to the generic case, given that Titanic currently holds the all time box office record both domestic and world-wide.

But if you all like the generic term romance story better, it doesn't really change my point.

My point is that there does exist a female counterpart of fiction which stress and exaggerate seduction over character which enjoys popularity. And much for the same reason that examples of fiction which stress and exaggerate seduction over character are for men.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 11:42 AM

Ohhh, you want to inspired or uplifted??
Well, why didn't ya say so?
*snnicker*
0>:~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 18, 2009 11:51 AM

Oh, and Jerry Maguire even bills itself as a romantic comedy, not a guy movie.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 11:53 AM

You know, Yu-Ain, it occurs to me that here you are, having advanced the proposition that romance novels fulfill the same need in women that girlie mags do in men.

Then, you substitute two movies (a romantic comedy about sports!) and a historical drama that has a romance in it, for romance novels.

Then when women who actually read romance novels point out that the two are really not the same, you say it doesn't matter but that a self-billed romantic comedy about sports is still the same, differences notwithstanding :p What, exactly, are you arguing?

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 12:02 PM

More goal post shifting:

My point is that there does exist a female counterpart of fiction which stress and exaggerate seduction over character which enjoys popularity.

It may well exist. But that characterization doesn't describe the genre, "romance novels" :p In any event, the target audience of Jerry Maguire was just as much men as women. I can't think of the last time I heard a woman quote that movie, or even say she was a huge fan.

Guys quote it all the time. Draw your own inferences from that.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 12:05 PM

Well, I did say that if you liked the term romance story better, then it was fine with me.

The medium was not the point and if I had known how much ya'll would focus on it instead of my point I'd have left it off.

I can't think of the last time I heard a woman quote that movie

Given my experience that it's incredibly rare that women quote movies, period, while guys to it quite often, it doesn't reall tell me much.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 12:15 PM

Interestingly enough one of the best movies ever (IMHO) was adapted from a romance novel - "The African Queen." Of course the quality of the cast may have had something to do with that.

Posted by: Pogue at May 18, 2009 12:48 PM

Was it really? That's doesn't surprise me, though.

IMO, movies of that era were more like what I'd expect of a romance novel - the men were admirable. Most of the women were too.

Today's movies are rarely that way. Probably why I don't care for them much.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 12:54 PM

Y-U G, the fact that "Titanic" was wildly popular doesn't say anything about romance novels. Lots of movies are wildly popular and aren't romance novels or even movies that are like romance novels.

But if you all like the generic term romance story better, it doesn't really change my point.

Actually it blows your point out of the water. (Heh, heh.) The first "Terminator" movie is a romance story; bears no relation to romance novels - no happy ending violates First Rule of romance novels. "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is a romance story - again no happy ending violates First Rule. Heck, under your definition "Bonnie and Clyde" could be considered a romance story - and it violates *both* Rules of romance novels.

My point is that there does exist a female counterpart of fiction which stress and exaggerate seduction over character which enjoys popularity. And much for the same reason that examples of fiction which stress and exaggerate seduction over character are for men.

Well, that wasn't your point to begin with. Your point to begin with was:

I contend that what girlie mags are for guys, romance novels are for women.

Cassandra has disposed of that argument. If you now want to argue that "Titanic" is to women what girlie mags are to men, I'll simply refer you to "Romeo and Juliet". (BTW, how did we jump from "girlie mags" to "examples of fiction which stress and exaggerate seduction"? Is this like "I only buy it for the articles"?)

Posted by: Elise at May 18, 2009 12:58 PM

I'm out for a weekend and I miss a fantastic thread. SO much to catch up on here:

1) The First Lady in Maxim. Dumb. I think this has been covered very well in that, because she's the ONLY example of a woman in her age/physical attractiveness group, it's pretty blatant that they're being disingenuous. Now, People magazine? That would be a BIT different, but whatever.

2) Romance novels vs girly mags. Again, well covered. I've actually read a bodice ripper once. Bad literature for sure, and while I back up what YAG said (that they meet the same need for women that the girly mags do for men, ie fantasy fulfillment) I do understand Cass' point as well. The girly mags have a more negative societal impact. So basically, men's fantasy fulfillment can (and really should) be considered "lower" entertainment than women's. Seriously, what guy would want his daughter or sister to appear in one of those? More on this in a bit.

3) The "natural" look. Cass, I'm actually going to call you on this. Men are NOT lying when they say they prefer the "natural" look. The problem is that we simply don't know what "natural" is anymore. Case in point. Men want the "after makeup" version of those starlets, and not the "before". It's 100% true. But when do you SEE anyone "before" makeup anymore? Women put on mascara to go grocery shopping. Forget about 'who' the women are getting made up for, it's true. My wife personally considers lipstick an essential nutrient, not makeup. But it's also about all the makeup she wears. She's unusual because of that. Most women put on much more, but when it's skillfully done, it's hard to tell they're wearing anything (at least for us it's hard). Men associate the "unnatural" with things like Tammy Faye Bakker, or the lion lady. If a woman's laying makeup on with a trowel, THAT registers for us as unnatural. When done skillfully, we think that's "natural".

Now, I'm NOT saying that's a good thing by any means. I'm just saying it is the way we perceive things.

So now, let's touch on this visual vs. cerebral thing. Yes, men are more visually stimulated. Not that women aren't, but not to the same degree. And it's unfortunate because it leads to misunderstandings and the aforementioned societal ills. Because men are visually focused, we CAN'T take women's fantasy fulfillment seriously. It just doesn't register. And because of that, we don't try to live up to those standards. But women CAN see when a man's interest is visually triggered. The head whip is so obvious as to be insulting at times. I GET that. And because what we find attractive is so blatantly obvious, it's easy for women to attempt to compete with an unrealistic standard.

And let's talk about the desirability of those porn starlets. While VISUALLY a man might be immediately interested or attracted to a stripper or porn starlet, in all seriousness, how many men would want to MARRY one? Really? The jealousy factor alone would kill most men. It remains fantasy for just that reason. Men will look at the woman who is "sexually available to anyone who wants them and with little or no will of their own", but he's not going to form any kind of relationship with a woman like that for the very specific reason that she is (by definition) available to ANYONE. The hot sports car is fun to look at, and you might even take it for a test drive, but for the most part, you're not going to buy it.

Again, I'm not saying that it's the same thing for women to fantasize about an idealized personality on a man as for men to fantasize about a hot woman who will do whatever he (or anyone else) asks. Clearly one is a more destructive model, but this brings me to my central point.

I am a man (last I checked at least). I am a visually oriented creature. I can (and do) look at other women. But I'm NOT pure instinct. I have a mind, and a will, and I exercise them to CONTROL my impulses. I don't just mount the next available female that presents herself in front of me. And that's specifically both the problem and the solution. I do look, because my brain instructs me to. I CHOOSE to restrain myself out of respect for women (in general) and my wife (in specific). When men do NOT do so, women (rightly) realize he's a jerk. The study quoted in the original post states what face men are drawn to. But instinct is not everything, it must be controlled and guided with reason. Otherwise, we're no better than animals, and as Cass has said in the past, it's insulting to men to imply we have no control over our animal instincts. I for one agree.

Posted by: MikeD at May 18, 2009 01:00 PM

Elise, Cass,

If I were to say that I have revised my original premise to more closely align with the facts herin presented unto me, would that make ya'll happy?

Cause it makes no nevermind to me. Ya'll call it goal post shifting, I call it worrying about the rose in the background that keeps changing color when the camera angle changes. If the flower is that darned important, I'll just take it out.

Again: Women, just like men, enjoy fiction which stress unrealistic and exagerated seduction over character and virtue. Additionally, this fiction is popular and for precisely that very reason.

And yes, pictures of scantily (or non)-clad women are fiction. They are fiction for the same reason that this picture of The Terminator is fiction. There is an actor who is real portraying that character, but the character itself is fictional.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 01:18 PM

Wow, Mike.

I agree with every word you said. Especially the parts about men not even knowing what 'the natural look' is anymore, and this:

Because men are visually focused, we CAN'T take women's fantasy fulfillment seriously. It just doesn't register. And because of that, we don't try to live up to those standards. But women CAN see when a man's interest is visually triggered. The head whip is so obvious as to be insulting at times. I GET that. And because what we find attractive is so blatantly obvious, it's easy for women to attempt to compete with an unrealistic standard.

That is what I meant earlier when I said that men are better at 'compartmentalizing' - that love and sex are separate things.

The thing is, there is also a very real issue with some guys - especially those who look at a lot of porn - translating that to real life. No, not everyone. But a fair number of guys do begin to expect their women to look and act that way. And if a man demonstrates a lot of approval for women like that, it's not at all odd that we conclude that is what they want.

Which, in a nutshell, is why women do so many dumb things.

A perfect example of this is what happened to a friend's daughter.

She had been dating a very nice young man - someone who up until he dated her, had not had much attention from girls. But she saw something in him and they went steady for a long time. During this time, he was chosen as the homecoming king or whatever they call it these days. All of a sudden, he started to get attention from another girl who was willing to have sex with him (my friend's daughter wanted to wait). And it went to his head (probably both of them, now that I'm thinking of it).

Surprise, surprise - he dumped her for the girl who was willing to put out. She is just heartbroken.

It's my opinion that she's better off. But how do women who behave the way men *say* we should compete with women who will do anything? Saying that's not a real problem requires real blindness. The sad thing is that this other girl wasn't as pretty, as nice, or nearly as smart.

Didn't matter, in the end. What a lesson.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 01:20 PM

Well Yu-Ain, I don't agree with this:

Women, just like men, enjoy fiction which stress unrealistic and exagerated seduction over character and virtue.

If you'd said that in the first place, I would never have said I'd buy off on the proposition.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 01:24 PM

Even though I presented an example that demonstrated it was true?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 01:26 PM

Lucky me: the teacher had left her computer on...

Women, just like men, enjoy fiction which stress unrealistic and exagerated seduction over character and virtue.
Have you ever READ a romance novel? I would say you haven't. If you had, you would realize your statement is complete and utter bullsh*t. The romance novels I read - yes, the hero is seductive, but he's also a man of good character (though sometimes jaded by prior experiences...).

Gotta run. Have to pick the kids up from the cafeteria...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 18, 2009 01:31 PM

Miss Ladybug,

We've already moved past the "novel" bit. Whether you want to call it goal-post shifting or me revising my statement under the onslaught of overwhelmingly superior argument.

To-may-toe, to-mah-toe.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 01:34 PM

Yu-Ain:

You've posited that "women" (all women? some women? most women? even some sizeable portion of women?) enjoy stories that stress seduction over character.

In my experience, though women may sometimes enjoy a movie that has a character like that in it as a part of a larger plot (the old correlation does not equal causation thingy), women in general don't seek that sort of thing out specifically to watch some sleazy guy seduce a woman. Now you may disagree all you wish, but trying to use romance novels as "proof" doesn't cut it.

Neither does citing two movies that (first of all) had quite a bit more going on in them than simple seduction.

As Elise noted, the "only read it for the articles" applies quite well. No one buys that either. But if you insist on telling women what they do like, I suppose any argument will do and we shall just have to take your word for it :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 01:40 PM

Cass, I gotta say, I didn't expect you, in a post where you talk about what "men" like, to object to the same usage for women.

women in general don't seek that sort of thing out specifically to watch some sleazy guy seduce a woman.
There wasn't much else to the plot of Titanic. Oprah wasn't having a near climax on her TV Show because of it's historical value.

Now you may disagree all you wish, but trying to use romance novels as "proof" doesn't cut it.
Again, I've already moved off the "novel" bit. Whether you want to call it goal-post shifting or me revising my statement under the onslaught of overwhelmingly superior argument makes no difference to me. Whichever makes you happy. You win, I give up on the novel bit.

But if you insist on telling women what they do like
I'm not telling women what they do like, the sales numbers are telling me.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 01:47 PM

The romantic movies I prefer are like the romance novels I read. Good man, happy ending. One of my favorite romantic movies is The Quiet Man (John Wayne & Maureen O'Hara). I LOVE My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I liked Kate & Leopold. How about Far and Away? More recently, Disney's Enchanted.

One of my favorite romance novels, For the Roses, was turned into a TV movie (Rose Hill, and they ruined it. Took the hero and destroy him. Instead of the "happily ever after" with a good man like in the novel, the heroine's love interest was a smooth-talking scoundrel who ended up murdering one of her brothers...

I have previously conceded that romance novels are fiction (and fantasy), and that I don't expect some romance novel hero to jump of the pages and into my life, but I don't read romance novels (or watch romantic comedies) just for the seduction. I want to read about/watch the "happily ever after".

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 18, 2009 01:59 PM

And, no one seems to have addressed a point I made previously about what men really want. From where I sit, men (regardless of their own age) seem to want the young, nubile female who puts out. For those of us women who aren't young and nubile and don't put out, what are we supposed to do? Until a guy comes along and proves to me that this point of view is wrong, I'll continue to think that's the way most men are.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 18, 2009 02:07 PM

Well, I have a couple of friends of mine who are not, by any stretch of the imagination of the young, thin, nubile type who have been successful at finding guys. One has since gotten married.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 02:19 PM

That still doesn't address my third point...

Time to get the kids from PE now...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 18, 2009 02:31 PM

Well, I've never thought to involve myself in their sex-lives (We're not *that* good of friends). So I have no idea one way or the other.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 02:34 PM

It's my opinion that she's better off. But how do women who behave the way men *say* we should compete with women who will do anything?

And how does the "nice guy" compete with the "bad boy"? In my personal case, I did it by being the "bad boy" long enough to get my foot in the door, then reverting to type. In other words, I acted like I didn't care, long enough for the woman to take an interest, then I could just be myself and be the "nice guy". The trick seemed to be getting over the "just friends" hump.

Both men and women, especially early in the dating scene, seem to excel at doing dumb things. I cannot tell you how many female friends I had who would moan to me about how they wished they could find a guy like me, but not me (since we were too good of friends). And yet they'd keep dating "bad boy" jerks who would continue to treat them poorly time after time. And by the same token, a guy who gets... shall we say 'unlimited attention' from a young woman will likely find himself in a less than rewarding relationship than he would have with a woman who prefers to wait. Young adults seem to exercise their self-control much less than they should, which leads to them following impulses more suited to a less evolved time (if you will). So a man will spread his genetic material amongst as many partners as possible, and the woman will accept a riskier partner that they know is bad for them.

As we get older and more control over our raging hormones, we instead seek out partners who are better suited for us (men who are good providers and do not stray, and women who appreciate a dependable man who may not be as 'exciting'). Biology works against us, and it is up to good upbringing and self respect to overcome the impulses that lead us into risky behavior.

As you say, your friend's daughter IS better off than the other young lady (and probably the young man as well), but I know it's little consolation at the time.

One final note, and I'm sure I'll catch hell for this, but YAG's got a solid point about the 'exciting seducer' selling well to female audiences. While the Company here might be of a higher standard (and I do certainly believe that), the low brow bodice rippers and films with the seducer do sell extremely well. And while we might bemoan the quality of these stereotypes, it really is true that there's a big market for them. Which means (most likely) that the Company is not the target audience.

Posted by: MikeD at May 18, 2009 02:53 PM

In my dictionary;
Attractive: To appear happy and mischievous at the same time.

Posted by: tomg51 at May 18, 2009 03:00 PM

OK. I give up.

I don't read these things. The women who do say that they don't center around seduction over character, which was my recollection of the ones I read years ago. But Yu-Ain says they do anyway.

Even thought we're not talking about romance novels :p Got it.

But for some reason, the assessment of the women actually reading these things doesn't make any difference. And though we're not supposed to be talking about romance novels, we must accept that sales of something we're NOT talking about "prove" that women like a thing that's not what romance novels generally focus on :p

Sheesh. No wonder I'm confused!

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 03:00 PM

Sorry, please let me clarify. For my point (can't speak for anyone else) I am aware there are romantic fiction books that appeal to a broad audience. Some are well written, some are not. They fulfill a fantasy role for many women. There are also bodice rippers. The best that can be said for them is they're normally poorly written. Less charitably, they're borderline written porn (as opposed to visual) and best used as kindling. However, they too seem to have a large fanbase. And while I am sure that there are men who read them (as I said, I've read one), men clearly are not the target audience. Breathless descriptions of the man's broad glistening (and invariably hairless for some reason) chest, as well as frequent references to his "manroot" (by far the most hilarious euphemism for male genitalia I've ever seen), are probably not written with (heterosexual) male audiences in mind.

Bodice rippers sell. Apparently quite well. I also understand and appreciate that the Company is not part of the readership of said novels. That's 100% fine. I'm also pretty sure most of the male Company are not frequent consumers of porn. But that does not mean men don't consume porn.

I personally prefer war movies over stag movies. Call me old fashioned. You prefer romantic fictions that feature the strong positive male who must overcome his dark past to get to the happy ending over the Richard Gere/Leo DiCaprio seducer. I get that. But that doesn't mean those movies are not directed (and consumed) by a female audience.

And honestly Cass, I'd rather catch hell than have you give up. :)

Posted by: MikeD at May 18, 2009 03:23 PM

OK, in light of all the evidence presented here I am once again revising my assertion.

Women are by-and-large virtuous creatures who do not indulge their base and primative sexual desires through fantasy either because they don't have them or possess sufficient will power to overcome them and can only be seduced by males of surpassing moral quality that rank them right up there with Jesus Christ himself, except for that whole celibacy thing. Thus explaining why the "bad-boy" types constantly go home alone.

You're right, that's much more reasonable.

/sarcasm

You know I love you guys. I really do. And I am glad that ya'll have been willing to engage me on this issue, however staunchly you disagree with me. And if I have angered any of you I truly apologize.

I just don't see the evidence that men and women are that far apart in their natures. The expression of these natures may take differing forms. Neither do I see the evidence that the readership here is representative of the population at large (And thank God for that). As MikeD said. If there wasn't a demand for stories of "the exciting seducer" the stories wouldn't sell like they do.

If I were to conduct a poll of the men here, I would fully expect to find that the explicit hard-core stuff wouldn't appeal to them either. And yet the internet is rife with the stuff.

Whom am I to believe? The guys here, or the shear volume of the market?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 03:39 PM

"Didn't matter, in the end. What a lesson.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 01:20 PM"

Cass, I bet it will matter to the lad. Maybe not for a while, maybe not for many years. But at some point he will have his Eureka! moment, guar-an-teed. And at that time he will realize that he turned his back on something good, a young lass with character and inner strength, for something less so, a willing young lass.

But what the hey, that's only the opinion of an old methane eruption.

Other than that, I think I'll agree with Camo. Ugly goes all the way to the bone and can not be made up, dressed up, polished, buffed or otherwise disguised by an entry or feature in the daily fish-wrap or a glossy periodical.

Posted by: bt-the resident-curmudgeon_hun at May 18, 2009 03:39 PM

but YAG's got a solid point about the 'exciting seducer' selling well to female audiences.

Now that formulation I would buy to some extent. In general, though, in order for a female audience to buy the "exciting seducer" he must, once he's swept the heroine off her feet, turn out to have a long list of boring virtues - otherwise it's no go. When Angel went bad - and who's a more exciting seducer than a vampire - Buffy killed him. Even the guy in "Titanic" (Jack) for all his faults gave up his place to save his sweetie's life. (And having refreshed my memory of "Titanic" with this absolutely hysterical recounting of it, I'm not so sure Jack is the villain of the piece.)

On the other hand, I'm not altogether sure men would avert their eyes from Miss July if the picture captions made it clear she was dumb or mean to her mother or liked to shoplift or didn't see fidelity as a cornerstone of relationships.

Posted by: Elise at May 18, 2009 03:53 PM

Elise, you're saying the guy's redeaming quality is that he refused to commit murder in order to save his own skin?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 03:57 PM

On the other hand, I'm not altogether sure men would avert their eyes from Miss July if the picture captions made it clear she was dumb or mean to her mother or liked to shoplift or didn't see fidelity as a cornerstone of relationships.

By all accounts, most Hollywood celebrities are dumb, mean, cheating scumbags. And yet we still go to their movies.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 04:06 PM

The "high-born man of quality" was the villain in Titanic: Rich, the veneer of manners and class, yet he was a complete and total boor... Jack - for all his faults - wasn't a boor, and actually took an interest in who Rose was as a person, until the other guy who viewed her more as a possession to be acquired. Whyelse would Rose, after being rescued, deny her true identity and the chance to return to the rich guy? Jack valued the survival of the woman he loved over his own life. And, for those men on the Titanic who took a seat in the lifeboat over women and children, are they really "murderers", or are they just worthless examples of human beings?

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 18, 2009 04:10 PM

I've never dated a guy who treated me like crap. Of course, I'm one of those girls who hasn't dated much. But, I'm also one of those girls who doesn't "need" a man to get by (unlike some other women I've been acquainted with). Like I said before, there have been times I have had a crush on a guy based solely on looks, but as I got to know more about him, he became much less attractive as a partner, and I got over it. Several of the men I've been interested in over the years (but who apparently weren't interested in me) weren't "bad boys", as far as I was able to discern. Being a nice girl wasn't enough to attract their attention.

Seems there are women who are just magnets for men. That's never been my problem. No one can seem to tell me how an ordinary nice girl (who isn't just gonna jump in the sack with the first guy to come along) gets a man. People say there is someone for everyone, but right now, I have a hard time believing that is true.

School's over. Time to write the note for the teacher, drop the resume and cover letter in the office and see if the principal is available, and then get out of here and go home...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 18, 2009 04:17 PM

YAG, you have an interesting definition of murder.

As for the whole celebrities are scumbags thing, I think we've circled back around on ourselves. Or something like that. I'm saying this one more thing then I'm retiring from the field.

Let's say I'm watching a movie (or a TV show or reading a novel, romance or not). The male protagonist is presented as stupid, cruel, larcenous, and unfaithful. It does not matter how charming he is, I will not enjoy watching him sweep the heroine off her feet. The issue of what the actor who plays the protagonist is like is not relevant to this discussion: it is the nature of the character, the role that is supposed to appeal.

Miss July is both the role and the actor playing the role. If Miss July is presented as stupid, cruel, larcenous, and unfaithful, I'm not sure that her appeal to those who enjoy looking at her would diminish.

This of course leads us into a whole other thicket: girlie mags present real women; Miss July is really Susan Smith and Susan Smith is out there wandering the streets. Novels, movies, and TV shows present characters, roles. I'm sure there's some point in there about which is easier to confuse with real life but I really need to get some stuff done this afternoon so that will have to wait for another day.

Posted by: Elise at May 18, 2009 04:26 PM

Miss July is both the role and the actor playing the role.

But for a guy, she is not. That is what I've been trying to tell you. Miss July is only the role. Susan Smith is the person. Miss Smith and her personality are irrelevant the same way that Russle Crowe's violent temper is irrelevent to the characters he plays.

As for the hero/villain in Titanic: Yes, the "high-born man of quality" is the villain and yes, has many character flaws himself. But that does not absolve Jack of his own character flaws. Why do we forgive Jack's flaws but not the villain's? Because Jack is charming, exciting and seductive. That's why. If you have those things his character flaws don't matter.

And so you see my position that it is not character that is at issue. Neither person is one I want dating my daughter (should I be blessed enough to have one): The one for being a power hungry trophy hunter and the other for reckless endangerment.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 05:26 PM

Why do we forgive Jack's flaws but not the villain's? Because Jack is charming, exciting and seductive.

No, no, no. That is such a male way of thinking :)

We forgive him (if we forgive him, and I don't) because he genuinely does care about what's her name.

But for men, the woman might as well not have a personality at all. That's not what they're interested in.

Her attractiveness is composed of two elements:

1. Looks.
2. The appearance (even though it's a fantasy) that she's sexually available.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 05:33 PM

And, for those men on the Titanic who took a seat in the lifeboat over women and children, are they really "murderers", or are they just worthless examples of human beings?

If they actively tossed the woman out of the boat and into the water? Yes.

Those who passively took a seat. Not necessarily murderers as at that time there may have been some chance of rescue for those remaining on the boat. They were not knowingly and intentionally signing the death warrant of another person.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 05:52 PM

he genuinely does care about what's her name.

But this has nothing to do with his supposedly heightened positive male characterics.

That he's a sincere loser boyfriend doesn't change that he's still a loser boyfriend.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 05:57 PM

I don't think anyone really cares about whether Miss July "cares" about anyone looking at her centerfold.

In fact, I don't think anyone cares about any qualities she might possess that make her a human being. But then you already admitted that. Chalk it up to the male/female disconnect - you will never admit any of us have a point b/c you insist on framing things in a way that "proves" your point. Nor, apparently, do we even understand what it is we want or fantasize about :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 06:06 PM

Anyway, like Elise I am done talking about this.

It makes absolutely no sense to me to claim that the fact that things that don't say what you claim they say sell a lot "proves" women don't care any more about character than men.

You are assuming away a major assumption there. You can do that.

What you can't do is convince me to overlook the assumption.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 06:09 PM

No, but I can try to convince not to overlook the male assumptions as if they don't exist.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 06:13 PM

In fact, I don't think anyone cares about any qualities she might possess that make her a human being. But then you already admitted that. Chalk it up to the male/female disconnect - you will never admit any of us have a point b/c you insist on framing things in a way that "proves" your point. Nor, apparently, do we even understand what it is we want or fantasize about :p

I grant that you have exactly as much point as you grant me. But, appearently, that's only a problem when I do it.

Just like how it's only wrong to be unconcerned about Susan Smith as a person because of the role she plays as Miss July, but is somehow OK when I am likewise unconcerned about Christian Bale as a person because of the role he plays as Bruce Wayne.

To my mind they are the exact same. But you find this unacceptable and grant no point that doesn't confirm to that previously held belief.

But, as I said, this seems to only be a problem when I do it.

But I do agree that this has long since ceased to be a profitable discussion. There are much more important and fun things to discuss.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 06:28 PM

Once again, you are rephrasing points that people have made to 'prove' your argument.

If you want to take issue with the point that have been made, that's one thing. Re-phrasing them inaccurately is not a viable option.

The point made earlier (which you agreed with) is that no one cares about the centerfold's character -- either than of the actual model OR of the fantasy. She has no personality. There is no "story" attached to her.

Women don't care about an actor either because the fantasy consists of the story - the character's character. A centerfold has no character except to be whatever you want her to be. She's a blank slate.

Not so with a character in a movie or book.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 06:33 PM

Just like how it's only wrong to be unconcerned about Susan Smith as a person because of the role she plays as Miss July,

That was never the point.

The point was whether anyone cares about Miss July as a person - whether her character has anything to do with the appeal of the fantasy.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 06:35 PM

But I don't care about Bruce Wayne as a person either. He doesn't exist.

And that is what I'm talking about when I say that ya'll haven't granted that I have a point either: You assume that I should care.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 06:44 PM

Wrong. I never said men *should* care. I just said that a woman *would* care.

Miss July is a thing, just like a car. Her only value is the way she looks. Hence the term "objectified".

Darcy is a person. If he were a different person, he would not be attractive. It is just as much WHO HE IS as how he looks that makes him a fantasy.

Major, major difference.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 06:50 PM

I just said that a woman *would* care.

In the real world, I see plenty of this (just as I do out of the men).

But in the fantasy world I just don't see much evidence for it as a general trend.

One last time. Jack, by all measures of masculinity I know is a loser boyfriend character. No matter how sincere, there is no steak, what there is a lot of is sizzle. Can you honestly blame me for thinking the sizzle is his appeal?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 07:04 PM

Perhaps, too, it is a generational thing. Pride and Prejudice is not exactly a hot book for most of my contemporaries.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 07:08 PM

Yu-Ain:

We women are really, really dumb in a lot of ways.

We don't expect men to be perfect.

A persistent fantasy of our, however, is that even a manifestly imperfect guy could change because our love somehow "transforms" him. If I had to guess (and I find Leo DiCaprio as well as the character he plays on Titanic repellant) I'd say you're seeing the female "Love conquers all" fantasy, as well as a huge dose of self delusion.

Or just hope - people do, after all, frequently change if someone just gives them a chance. And women are the biggest dopes of all when it comes to that idea. It's not just a fantasy. I've seen otherwise shallow and worthless guys suddenly straighten up because a woman believed in them and they didn't want to let her down.

I think maybe this belief is necessary to raise children. God knows kids let us down over and over again, but we continue to love them and darnitall if they don't live up to what we ask them most of the time.

The secret is in the asking. And the love.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 07:16 PM

And I think what is so upsetting to me personally about porn is that there is no ideal for a woman to live up to, but actually a stripping away of not just clothes, but expectations.

It makes us not count as people. And that's insulting and hurtful.

Men and women are wired differently. We are wired to desire good providers, and that means taking personality and character into account. But men are wired to view us as nothing more than breeding receptacles.

Fortunately, as MikeD so eloquently put it, both men and women also have brains. If that were not so, I certainly wouldn't be married because I don't have DD boobs and I talk too much. And yet, my husband loves me.

I have always thought men were more than a bunch of instincts. But still, it's hurtful to women to think a man's fantasy is of a voiceless, brainless, characterless thing who never talks back and never has an opinion of her own.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 07:29 PM

Can you honestly blame me for thinking the sizzle is his appeal?

I will try one more time.

I think much of the appeal of the "bad boy" is the idea that though the world is often disappointing, we are all perfectable. It may also be a power thing with women - fantasizing that you and you alone have the power to bring out the very best in someone. Or 'tame' the beast in them. The bigger the challenge, the bigger your power as a woman. But the important part of the fantasy is that the bad boy wouldn't change for just anyone. The people matter. He has to be (at heart) redeemable. And you have to have the qualities that inspire him.

The reason it's fantasy is that for the gift to count, they have to choose to be better people, and that's something beyond your control.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 07:48 PM

As for the "bad boy", I've always been of the opinion "if he did it before to someone else, what makes you think he'll treat you any differently?"...

Anyhow, for the time being, I'll just continue to go about my business, trying to get out more and meet new people and maybe I'll get lucky and stumble upon "Mr. Right" (a man of good character, not a "bad boy" who needs reform).

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 18, 2009 07:57 PM

Ok, for me it pretty much comes down to this.

Would you want Jack dating your daughter.

My answer in not just No, but HELL NO. I then cannot see how his appeal can be about his superior male virtues. If he had possessed those characteristics, the answer would be yes (who wouldn't want their daughter to date someone who was).

It must be something other than his character that is appealing.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 18, 2009 08:08 PM

Aye yay yay.

I then cannot see how his appeal can be about his superior male virtues.

No one but you is arguing that. In fact, I just pointed out that in cases like that, it isnt' his "superior virtues" that are the point at all. It's that the love of the right woman can inspire him to be a better person. Hardly an adult fantasy, but then if he didn't have some redeeming qualities it doesn't work at all. The key is that at least his personal qualities comes into the equation :p

You are hanging your whole argument on "Jack", even though he's far (as many women have already informed you) from the 'romantic ideal'.

No one is arguing that he is a great guy. In fact, no one but you is arguing that he is even the kind of guy most women fantasize about. Most adult women I've talked to don't find the character at all attractive. I don't think that most men would find Miss July unappealing :p It's a different bar, Yu-Ain, and no matter how many times you re-phrase it, you never do address that point.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 09:02 PM

I already addressed this question:

Men and women are wired differently. We are wired to desire good providers, and that means taking personality and character into account. But men are wired to view us as nothing more than breeding receptacles.

In the end, despite his imperfection, Jack was a 'good provider'. He sacrificed himself to save what's her name. That's part of that fantasy.

Miss July offers a different fantasy: all the sex you want without that troublesome relationship hassle. That's her value proposition. You don't have to care about her as a person or even consider her as a person.

Regardless of what you think of Jack, he's a person. It's the relationship women fantasize about. With a person; real or imagined.

It's different, Yu-Ain. Sheesh. I asked my husband about this when he walked through the door and he said, "They're different. They're both fantasies, but men don't want the same thing. They want sex without complications."

Titanic isn't about sex without complications.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 09:20 PM

Titanic isn't about sex without complications.

Your gift for understatement shines through.

Hoooo, boy, were there some complications in that flick!

Posted by: BillT at May 18, 2009 09:52 PM

Hey, I just have opinions. That's all they are :p

That said, a male Marine friend of mine used to take dates to Titanic to 'soften them up' before putting the moves on them. Part of the attraction may have been the fantasy that that guy who seems immature and insensitive would really give his life for you (and therefore, you should sleep with him) :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 18, 2009 09:58 PM

No one but you is arguing that.

I seem to recall a great many instances where the argument was that it was about the male characters superior moral quality. I can pull down quotes from above if you like.

Even when it comes to "transforming" the bad boy, what I hear is that it's bad for a guy to start with a blank slate and write whatever he wants, but good for a woman to start with a written slate, erase the bits she doesn't like so that she can rewrite it to say whatever she wants. That doesn't sound any different to me. And that invariably it's the charming exciting seducer parts that are kept that make me believe that it's really not about him at all (before or after), but about her.

In fact, no one but you is arguing that he is even the kind of guy most women fantasize about

Well, me and about $1.8 Billion in worldwide sales.

Regardless of what you think of Jack, he's a person.

And there's the thing. To a guy, he's not a person. He doesn't exist.

Which brings me to:

Miss July is a thing

In as much as Bruce Wayne is a thing. In as much as Jason Bourne, Danny Ocean, and Bugs Bunny are things. And yet, we never talk about objectifying them.

And yes, they are exactly the same thing to us. They either satisfy our desire for entertainment or we throw them away and go elsewhere. If you want to get mad at our "objectifying" of Miss July, then you should also get mad at us for "objectifying" Bugs Bunny.

And that's the thing about fantasy, we do not expect nor desire our fantasy to have any connection to our reality.

In fantasy, "Dangerous" means thrilling and exciting, but nothing really bad ever happens.

In reality, "Dangerous" means standing on your front porch with two black eyes and a split lip yelling at the cops to lock his a$$ up for good.

We no more expect you to compete with Miss July than we expect you to compete with Bugs Bunny. Those are not the things we look for in real life.

I've said this before, and this time I mean it. I am tired of angering/disappointing people I view as my friends over this subject. I appreciate your graciousness, and I'll shut up now.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 19, 2009 10:09 AM

*sigh*

I seem to recall a great many instances where the argument was that it was about the male characters superior moral quality.

And Jack exemplifies few or none of these qualities. Which is why he's not a good example in the first place.

And it doesn't matter how many women tell you that, you want to cite the sales of one movie that has considerably more to it than just showcasing Jack's qualities to "prove" you know more about what women fantasize about then they do :p

Posted by: Moral Twerpitude at May 19, 2009 10:44 AM

No, it's that you claim it's about character, but then when it's inconvenient you shift the goal posts and say that it's not.

Which is it?

It just seems to me that you want to have it both ways.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 19, 2009 11:08 AM

While I do see ya'll just going round and round here, this one I need to comment on:

And Jack exemplifies few or none of these qualities. Which is why he's not a good example in the first place.

The problem is, Jack is actually a very good example for one reason. This is the highest grossing movie of all time. Something about the characters/plot/whatever resonates, and people voted with their money.

But regardless, I think the key point YAG is missing is that women aren't "just as bad" in their fantasies, and what they're really fantasizing about is (for a female) an ideal mating partner. One who is strong, loyal, dependable, and just exciting enough to keep things interesting. And men fantasize about (for a male) and ideal mating partner. One who is there and nekkid.

Now, let's talk attractiveness. For men, it is more important. We are more visually oriented. It is a fact. But women cannot say looks don't matter at all. Of course they do. They matter. Perhaps not as much as for men, but they do. In fact, I can think of one single popular media story where the male love interest was actively unattractive. The TV series Beauty and the Beast. And even then, the dude looked like a lion. Other than that, how many female oriented romances have the male lead as "dumpy", "chubby", or anything less attractive than "rugged"? Not too many.

All I am saying is that yes, women attempting to live up to a male fantasy can be in for a world of negative self image. Moreso than men trying to live up to a female fantasy. And I think it's foolish to argue otherwise. But by the same token, while the female stereotypical fantasy man is a positive role model, there is also the darker side where the fantasy man is a bad boy who is redeemed from the love of a good woman. The problem with that it, it can cause unrealistic expectations, not in men, but in women. The "bad boy" will continue to be the "bad boy" regardless of how hard you want him to change.

So, I'm sad to say... it looks like ya'll get doubly screwed on the fantasy bit.

Posted by: MikeD at May 19, 2009 11:30 AM

Heh :)

Posted by: Moral Twerpitude at May 19, 2009 11:36 AM

Yu-Ain, I never said it WASN'T about character.

You pressed me to explain why some women fall for jerks. I have never fallen for a jerk and don't agree that is in any way the standard but you pushed for an explanation. So I gave you one: some women think there is potential in every man and that the right woman could partner up with him and give him a reason to want to be a better person -- as I said, live up to parts of his personality that he's underutilizing.

You don't get to substitute something I never said for what I did say.

Posted by: Moral Twerpitude at May 19, 2009 11:39 AM

*shutting up*

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 19, 2009 11:59 AM

*sticks head up, looks around*

Is dis da way to Albisquirky?

*Notices lots of dust and decides to return to the safety of the rabbit hole*

Posted by: Bugs Bunny at May 19, 2009 01:03 PM

*Dingdingdingdingding*

And that brings us to the end of the 15th and final round of this cruiserweight bout, folks!
And, while the judges tally up their scorecards, we'll take you to a quick this commercial break.


Alright! We've got the scorecards.......
Judge spd rdr scores the bout - n to n....?

Ok, um...Judge Carrie scores the bout - *looks towards judges table* Erm, well, it appears Judge Carrie is still trying to get her cat away from the sliding glass door.

Moving on....

Judge DeBille scores the bout - *turns paper upside down* Judge DeBille scores the bout....*turns paper over*....oh c'mon, Mr. DeBille! Drawing pictures of fiddly bits, fling wings, thongs and zippers? You said you'd be serious this time.
*sigh*

Looks like it's a tie, folks! Thanks for coming out, please make sure to police your seating area before you leave.
Good night, folks.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 19, 2009 01:19 PM

*and with the scoring done, the stage hands prepare for the curtain drop as Democratic Congressman Murtha, that Statesman and all around shining example of manly integrity from the Great state of Pennsylvania offers this thought.

Posted by: El Puerco at May 19, 2009 01:57 PM

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