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5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women

9 Jul

If you’re not the type to keep up with ugly, soul-killing political controversies, let me catch you up: A while back, hugely popular political commentator Rush Limbaugh lost a bunch of advertisers because he publicly called a college girl a slut and a prostitute after she suggested that health insurance plans should cover birth control. But he’s paid to say outrageous things. If you really want to feel all dead inside, you need to listen to what the regular folk were saying.

For instance, on crazy political message board FreeRepublic.com, posters referred to the girl in the above-referenced story (Sandra Fluke) as a “Nasty, disease-ridden plodding uterus, an utter skank crack-ho filthy whore, a prostitute slutbag juice-receptacle” and a “Sperm-burpin’ gutter slut,” and said she “… is so encrusted and used, that I had to throw out my flat-panel TV because her appearance on my TV infected it with AIDS, gonorrhea and syphilis.” There are many, many more worse comments collected here and here and here.

Now go to the front page of any mostly male discussion site like Reddit.com and see how many inches you can browse before finding several thousand men bemoaning how all women are gold-digging whores (7,500 upvotes) and how crazy and irrational women are (9,659 upvotes) and how horrible and gross and fat women are (4,000 upvotes). Or browse the “Men’s Rights” section and see weird fantasies about alpha males defeating all the hot women who try to control them with their vaginas.

This current of white-hot rage has to come as a surprise to some of you, because we tend to think “sexism” is being dismissive toward women, or paying them lower salaries — we don’t think of it as frenzied “burn the witch!” hatred. Yet occasionally something like this Limbaugh thing will come along to prick that balloon, and out it pours. Like it’s always waiting there, a millimeter below the surface.

Why? Well, you see …

#5. We Were Told That Society Owed Us a Hot Girl

Does it seem like men feel kind of entitled to sex? Does it seem like we react to rejection with the maturity of a child being denied a toy?

Well, you have to keep in mind that what we learn as kids is really hard to deprogram as an adult. And what we learned as kids is that we males are each owed, and will eventually be awarded, a beautiful woman.

We were told this by every movie, TV show, novel, comic book, video game and song we encountered. When the Karate Kid wins the tournament, his prize is a trophy and Elisabeth Shue. Neo saves the world and is awarded Trinity. Marty McFly gets his dream girl, John McClane gets his ex-wife back, Keanu “Speed” Reeves gets Sandra Bullock, Shia LaBeouf gets Megan Fox in Transformers, Iron Man gets Pepper Potts, the hero in Avatar gets the hottest Na’vi, Shrek gets Fiona, Bill Murray gets Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters, Frodo gets Sam, WALL-E gets EVE … and so on.

Hell, at the end of An Officer and a Gentleman, Richard Gere walks into the lady’s workplace and just carries her out like he’s picking up a suit at the dry cleaner.

And then we have Star Wars, where Luke starts out getting Princess Leia (in The Empire Strikes Back), but then as Han Solo became a fan favorite, George Lucas realized he had to award her to him instead (forcing him to write the “She’s secretly Luke’s sister” thing into Return of the Jedi, even though it meant adding the weird incest vibe to Empire). With Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling played with the convention by having the beautiful girl get awarded to the sidekick character Ron, but she made it a central conflict in the story that Ron is constantly worried that, since Harry is the main character, Hermione will be awarded to him instead.

In each case, the woman has no say in this — compatibility doesn’t matter, prior relationships don’t matter, nothing else factors in. If the hero accomplishes his goals, he is awarded his favorite female. Yes, there will be dialogue that maybe makes it sound like the woman is having doubts, and she will make noises like she is making the decision on her own. But we, as the audience, know that in the end the hero will “get the girl,” just as we know that at the end of the month we’re going to “get our paycheck.” Failure to award either is breaking a societal contract. The girl can say what she wants, but we all know that at the end, she will wind up with the hero, whether she knows it or not.

“Wait right there. I need to go defeat my demons and realize the strength was in me all along.”

And now you see the problem. From birth we’re taught that we’re owed a beautiful girl. We all think of ourselves as the hero of our own story, and we all (whether we admit it or not) think we’re heroes for just getting through our day.

So it’s very frustrating, and I mean frustrating to the point of violence, when we don’t get what we’re owed. A contract has been broken. These women, by exercising their own choices, are denying it to us. It’s why every Nice Guy is shocked to find that buying gifts for a girl and doing her favors won’t win him sex. It’s why we go to “slut” and “whore” as our default insults — we’re not mad that women enjoy sex. We’re mad that women are distributing to other people the sex that they owed us.

Yes, the women in these stories are being portrayed as wonderful and beautiful and perfect. But remember, there are two ways to dehumanize someone: by dismissing them, and by idolizing them.

#4. We’re Trained from Birth to See You as Decoration

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with putting a pretty girl on the cover of a magazine or posing her next to a shiny new car. The pretty girl gets a good job, men want her, women want to be her, everybody is happy. Right?

The problem is that it goes way deeper than that.

“Brought to you by the American Corn Farmers Association.”

From my experience, if there is a fundamental difference between male and female sexuality, it’s this: There are actual occasions where women aren’t thinking about sex. Here, let me show you an extreme example. I’m going to quote a Free Republic thread again, because I quite frankly can’t stop reading them. These are some comments they made about a female public figure, and I want you to guess who it is:

“Her face is so ugly you can smash it into some dough and make gorilla cookies.”

“So fugly, I’d say ‘don’t even look’!!!”

“At least Medusa was modestly attractive by comparison.”

“This person is disgusting and I would never trust ‘it’s’ opinion on ANYTHING!”

Have you guessed? They’re talking about Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.

 

A woman who didn’t just graduate from Harvard Law — she became the fucking dean.

Yes, even in that setting, when judging a female for a position on the highest court in the land, our instinct is still to judge her suitability as a sex partner. It’s the first thing we notice. And you could just write that off as a bunch of douches being shallow, but then you have to realize how all of society has conformed to this. Forget about objectification in the media or fashion industry — go to a diner, they’ve got the pretty girl waiting tables. Go to a department store, they’ll have a pretty girl selling you pants.

See, that’s the difference. With men, there are some scenarios where it stops mattering how he looks. With women, it always matters. In a comedy movie, the male wacky sidekick can be the chubby Zach Galifianakis or the nearly deformed Steve Buscemi. But if the female wacky sidekick isn’t attractive, like the overweight Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, then every scene needs to be about how ugly and fat and mannish she is. That has to be the core of her character.

“You mean there’s other things in the world besides food? Surely you jest.”

Her role in society or level of accomplishment doesn’t matter. Even if she’s a damned candidate for the Supreme Court, the female always has a dual role: to function as a person, and to act as decor.

And we get pissed if she doesn’t do her job. Check out any article about a female celebrity who has gained weight. Here’s literally the first one I found on Google, a blog post about how fat Christina Aguilera has gotten. Check the comments:

“fuck her! I have a full-time job, go to grad school full-time, cook at home every night and still find time to get my ass to the gym. lazy ass fat bitch …”

Don’t get me wrong — if it’s a male celebrity in the article, you’ll get lots of people making fun of his fatness. If it’s a female, you get anger.

That’s her, two months ago, by the way. How dare that fucking bitch?

She owes it to us to be pretty. That’s the social contract as we’ve understood it from the time we were toddlers.

And it’s a no-win situation. We hate you if you’re ugly; if you’re pretty, then …

#3. We Think You’re Conspiring With Our Boners to Ruin Us

… aka, Why Do You Think the Garden of Eden Story Has a Snake?

First, you need to understand something about the unique love/hate relationship men have with their penises.

Do you remember that story about police having to free a guy who got his dick stuck while humping a pool filter? Or that other guy who got stuck humping a park bench, or the other guy who got stuck humping a picnic table? Or that judge who got caught jerking off while on the bench listening to testimony?

 

“Do me a solid and bring that one chick with the huge boobs back up to testify.”

You see this type of story come up a lot — check your local police blotter. And they all have something in common: They’re all guys.

Seriously, do a Google search for “masturbating in public library.” Notice something in common with all of those stories? They’re all dudes. Obviously I’m not saying women don’t pleasure themselves (every single study would prove me a liar); I’m saying that men are far, far more likely to engage in extremely high-risk masturbation in public. They’re more likely to do it at work, and they’re more likely to do it in situations where they could go to jail.

No, it’s not some rare, weird exhibitionist fetish, either. It’s that they can’t even wait the couple of hours it’d take to do it safely at home.

It’s why we refer to the IT guy as “cockblocker.”

It makes absolutely no sense. All calculation of risk goes out the window. Why?

It’s because, in males more so than females, the sex drive is completely detached from the rest of the personality. The part of the male brain that worries about job security or money or social reputation or legal consequences has almost no veto power over the sex drive. You’ve heard guys say they were “thinking with their dick” or “I was thinking with the little brain” or “I took an order from Captain Bonerhelmet.” That’s what they’re referring to.

Science doesn’t seem to totally understand why the “base urges” part of the brain reacts differently in men. Maybe it’s just a matter of having 10 times as much testosterone in their system, or maybe society has trained us to be like this, or maybe we’re all spoiled children. My theory is that evolution needs males who will stay horny even in times of crisis or distress, and thus cuts off the brain’s ability to tamp down those urges. Whatever — nailing down the cause isn’t the point. The point is that a man can be giving the eulogy at his own grandmother’s funeral, and if there is a girl in the front row showing cleavage, he will be imagining himself pressing those boobs in his face, with his own dead grandmother not five feet away.

“And that’s why I know that grandma is boobing down on our cleavage today in this titties time.”

When that happens, when we get that boner at the funeral, we get mad at the girl showing the cleavage. Because we, ourselves, our own rational personality that knows right from wrong and appropriate from inappropriate, knows this is a bad place to get a boner. So it comes off like cleavage girl is conspiring with our penis to screw us over.

Is that a crazy thing to think? Yep! That’s why it’s so frustrating, especially if you don’t have a whole lot of emotional maturity, and grew up with male role models who had even less.

No, this doesn’t excuse anything. Obviously, “She was asking for it!” is still a bullshit rape defense. All I’m saying is when you see guys actually get annoyed or angry at the sight of a girl showing too much skin, or if you see them eager to degrade or humiliate the girls at the strip club, this is why. It’s probably why some Muslims make their women cover themselves head to toe.

“Where’s your eye drape? You trying to get us arrested?”

And in the Bible, it’s Eve who tempts Adam to sin … by conspiring with a snake.

Every male reading this is going to think I’m belaboring the obvious (after all, the world is full of comedy bits like this one about how hot girls are almost demonic in their ability to control males against their will). But I have never explained this to a woman who didn’t look at me like I was insisting that all men are secretly werewolves.

But even this isn’t the thing that makes us angriest …

 

#2. We Feel Like Manhood Was Stolen from Us at Some Point

You know how every comedy has that stock character of the womanizing, amoral guy who just says what he thinks all the time, and cares only about himself? Joey in Friends, Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men, Sterling Archer in Archer, Gob in Arrested Development, Ashton Kutcher’s character in That ’70s Show, Michael in our Web series, the title character in my books?

Guys love that character because he’s doing what, on some level, we all wish we could do. It’s also why you have all of these ad campaigns desperately appealing to males who fear that they’ve lost their masculinity (“If you use a competitor’s product, we’re going to have to take away your Man Card!“)

See, every single male can remember the first time, when he was 5 or 6 years old, he showed his penis to a stranger and everybody started freaking the hell out. He can remember the first time he got in trouble for hitting somebody, for peeing in public, for trying to jump off some high object or set something on fire. All of the core male urges, all the suggestions whispered to us by Darth Penis, all of it gets us in trouble.

And, when we get nostalgic for the past, we always dress it up in some ridiculous fantasy like 300, where everybody is shirtless and screaming and hacking things with swords. We are fed this idea that at one time, this is how the world was — all of these impulses that have been getting us grounded and sent to detention from kindergarten on used to be not only allowed, but celebrated.

And then at some point, women took it all away.

A once-great world of heroes and strength and warriors and cigars and crude jokes has been replaced by this world of grumpy female supervisors looming over our cubicle to hand us a memo about sending off-color jokes via email. Yes, that entire narrative is a grossly skewed and self-serving version of how society actually evolved. It doesn’t matter.

The result is a combination of frustration and humiliation and powerlessness that makes us want to get it back in the only way we know how: with petty, immature acts of meanness.

“Now, maybe next time you’ll remember who has the dick in this business.”

#1. We Feel Powerless

I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman. I haven’t been one in a long time. So as a result, it’s not easy for me to describe what it’s like to be a man, because I don’t know what you’re using for context. I’m going to do my best:

Did you ever watch old cartoons where a character is starving on a desert island, and when another character approaches, he’s so hungry that he imagines the other character as a talking piece of food?

It’s like that for most men, most of the time. We’re starving, and all women are various types of food. Only instead of food, it’s sex. And we’re trying to conduct our everyday business around the fact that we’re trying to renew our driver’s license with a talking pair of boobs. So, from about age 13 on, around 90 percent of our energy and discipline is devoted to overcoming this, to behave like civilized human beings and not like stray dogs in a meat market. One where instead of eating the meat, they want to hump it.

Right now I’m reading a book from mega-selling fantasy author George R. R. Martin. The following is a passage where he is writing from the point of view of a woman — always a tough thing for men to do. The girl is on her way to a key confrontation, and the narrator describes it thusly:

“When she went to the stables, she wore faded sandsilk pants and woven grass sandals. Her small breasts moved freely beneath a painted Dothraki vest …”

That’s written from the woman’s point of view. Yes, when a male writes a female, he assumes that she spends every moment thinking about the size of her breasts and what they are doing. “Janet walked her boobs across the city square. ‘I can see them staring at my boobs,’ she thought, boobily.” He assumes that women are thinking of themselves the same way we think of them.

Do you see what I’m getting at? Go look outside. See those cars driving by? Every car being driven by a man was designed and built and bought and sold with you in mind. The only reason why small, fuel-efficient or electric cars don’t dominate the roads is because we want to look cool in our cars, to impress you.

We also assume you have the taste of a pimp.

Go look at a city skyline. All those skyscrapers? We built those to impress you, too. All those sports you see on TV? All of those guys learned to play purely because in school, playing sports gets you laid. All the music you hear on the radio? All of those guys learned to sing and play guitar because as a teenager, they figured out that absolutely nothing gets women out of their pants faster. It’s the same reason all of the actors got into acting.

All those wars we fight? Sure, at the upper levels, in the halls of political power, they have some complicated reasons for wanting some piece of land or access to some resource. But on the ground? Well, let me ask you this — historically, when an army takes over a city, what happens to the women there?

It’s all about you. All of it. All of civilization.

Nope. Can’t see a single symbolic thing about this illustration.

So where you see a world in which males dominate the boards of the Fortune 500, and own Congress, and sit at the head of all but a handful of the world’s nations, men see themselves as utterly helpless. Because all of those powerful people only became powerful because they heard that women like power.

This is really the heart of it, right here. This is why no amount of male domination will ever be enough, why no level of control or privilege or female submission will ever satisfy us. We can put you under a burqa, we can force you out of the workplace — it won’t matter. You’re still all we think about, and that gives you power over us. And we resent you for it.

“Now you squat down and crap your pants, or you never touch these boobs again.”

All of the most bitter disputes work like this, by the way: Both sides think they’re the powerless party. It’s why tipping servers is such a bitter topic among some people — the server feels like the customer has all of the power (because their entire income comes from tips), and the customer feels like the server has all the power (because they can deny them food and drink and ruin their one night out). It’s why the richest people in the world can talk like they’re besieged victims, and mean it. It’s why the male leaders of the most powerful and richest church in the world can talk like they’re being made martyrs due to women asking for birth control. And mean it.

Which brings us back to where we started. If you add all of this together, you get a world where this woman can testify before Congress about her friend suffering from ovarian cysts …

… and a male political cartoonist will draw her like this:

Sorry, ladies.

David Wong.

David Wong is the Senior Editor of Cracked.com and the author of John Dies at the End and the even more ridiculously titled sequel This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don’t Touch it, available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell’s, etc.

THIS IS THE THING

4 May

 

I don’t know if you noticed anything different
It’s getting dark and it’s getting cold and the nights are getting long
I don’t know if you even noticed at all
That I’m long gone baby,

I’m long gone

And the things that keep us apart keep me alive and
The things that keep me alive keep me alone

This is the thing

I don’t know if you notice anything missing
Like the leaves on the trees or my clothes all over the floor
I don’t know if you’ll even notice at all
Coz I was real quiet when I closed the door

And the things that keep us apart keep me alive

and

The things that keep me alive keep me alone

This is the thing

I don’t know if you notice anything different
I don’t know if you even notice at all
I don’t know if you notice anything missing

This Is The Thing

This Is The Thing.

Why Anderson Cooper Should Never Come Out, Ever

29 Mar

Dear Andy,

I hope that you don’t mind I call you Andy. I usually do in my head, when I’m picturing the beautiful life we could have together. In real life, I know I’ll never have you — because you are beautiful and glamorous, the wildly successful son of a Vanderbilt, and I am but a lowly chimney sweep, one who still thinks farting is funny and regularly conducts business meetings on the toilet.

Also, I know you have no idea I exist, but I need to talk to you about something. 

I’m cool with you being with other people. I understand. You have needs. But it’s kind of like when I tell my father I’m dating someone new: he’s happy in the abstract, as long as he never has to see it.

The moment actual visuals enter the picture, this person ceases to become any sort of romantic potential for me and will be labeled as my “buddy,” “friend” or (if they’re really lucky) “special friend.”

Thus, I know you’ve got a “special friend” in your life, but I need that to stay behind closed doors. This means no People magazine cover and no sitting on Oprah’s couch and talking about boys. But, especially, it means you have got to stop hanging out with Kathy Griffin. Her magical homo-lovin’ aura is a bad influence on you and sometimes pushes you way too close to accidentally saying the thing we all know but only talk about on the interwebs: you really like v-neck sweaters.

I know I’m a huge advocate of other major stars coming out, especially if your name is Bradley Cooper and you have more beards than any one person ever needs. This is partly because I love being right and have a particular dance for such moments — it looks like Chad Ochocinco having a seizure or Michael J. Fox trying to dougie — but I also think LGBT visibility is important. Having out and proud celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris in our lives might only be a small step for the community itself. However, in the same way that studies show that watching Friends makes the world hate America a little less, these ambassadors use their soft power to slowly change hearts and minds in our nation’s living rooms every day.

But although I will be ready to scream a strident ”I told you so” when Taylor Lautner announces he’s quitting “acting” for gay porn, this cannot be your path. You will stay in that closet with Tom Cruise, and you will like it. I don’t care if there are no vents or windows and Tom Cruise won’t stop trying to get you join his Scientology Fight Club. This is just the way it has to be.

Do you understand how you make me feel all the time? Look at you. Your face looks like the inverse of Rumer Willis, and I’m convinced that your perfect hair isn’t actually real, as it never moves, even in the winds of Hurricane Katrina. I am convinced that your hometown is Stepford.

I know that you are forever destined to be better looking and more successful than I am at everything, but can we not add dating to the mix? According to the Internets, you’re shacked up with some hot Brazilian dude who runs a semi-exclusive nightclub in the Village, which is kind of like saying your significant other does car commercials in Japan.

If John Stamos sat next to him on a plane, would he tell your “special friend” he’s pretty? I’m sure he would, and if life were US Weekly, you two would always be on the cover. Actually, because life is pretty similar to US Weekly – filled with idiots and only tolerable when you’re drunk — I can see your cover stories now, every headline increasingly proving your romantic superiority. “Anderson and Sergio: So in Love!” “An Affair to Remember: Anderson’s Whirlwind Romance!” “Anderson Cooper’s 5 Tips to Amazing Sex with Your Partner (Hint: It Involves Having One!)”

You must understand, Andy. This is not the way the world works. Back at the ranch, most of my friends are single, as we are all in our early twenties and even the good relationships don’t last longer than a herpes flare-up. If the irritating pustules of happy coupledom rear their slimy heads, all I have to do is wait it out.

However, you’re different. You’re the ideal boyfriend, and I imagine you can’t fathom the mundane melancholias of the incessantly dumped. This is because you don’t live in the Lars von Trier movie that the rest of us do. You live in the Bubble — where you and things go together, where life is like Tiffany’s — but here’s how life works outside the Bubble:

Outside of the Bubble, you lose your virginity to a guy who moves to another state after he has sex with you. Outside of the Bubble, your last boyfriend spent most of your relationship avoiding his former drug dealer. Outside of the Bubble, you stayed in that relationship because his dad was the Vice President of Silk, and even though you grew to loathe almost everything about him, you couldn’t give up all the free soy.

Outside of the Bubble, your whirlwind romances end because: he doesn’t love you anymore. He was lying when he said he loved you. He is in love with a crack addict. He slept with someone else on your birthday because he didn’t think you two were that serious. He can’t get rid of his unstable/ possibly homicidal ex. He won’t kiss you or have sex with you. He says you forced him to be in a relationship with you. He spontaneously stops returning your calls. He might have died.

Outside of the Bubble is a place I never want you to have to see. It’s a terrible world, where love is like standing in line at the DMV: it’s interminable, fruitless and ends in shouting and tears. This might seem hard to believe, but it’s how most of us live.

Although our dating universes are very different, they can coexist by simply never having contact with one another. You can go on living the life that you love, while the rest of us continue to date guys whose idea of a “romantic night in” is eating leftover Taco Bell while you watch him play World of Warcraft. We actually pay very good money to our therapists to have such lives, and if everyone lived inside the Bubble, Tina Fey and Hilary Clinton wouldn’t exist.

So, you are allowed to be happy — because I like to think that someone out there is having good sex, as the legacy of Sarah Jessica Parker must be for something other than looking like a horse. For SJP’s sake, go forth and spread your magical merriment. Just don’t come out and, please, don’t tell anyone about your love life ever. If Oprah comes up to you and just wants to “talk girl talk,” just stiff-arm her and Ochocinco it out of there.

So long, Andy, and thanks for all the sweaters.

Sincerely,
Nico

What Superman Means

29 Mar

As a kid, I tried to make sure that I was always wearing clean underwear. I didn’t do this out of some innate sense of cleanliness; I did it because I was sure I was going to be whisked away by a Jedi Knight or a wizard from Lord of the Rings at any moment.

As a kid, as I say, I had a very clear sense of my destiny, and my destiny did not involve elementary school, where I was mercilessly teased for being a glasses-wearing geekazoid with a wussy name. …No, I was sure that at any moment, things would change. The Jedi or the wizard would arrive on the school playground during recess and scan eagerly around, until he located me — me out of all the kids. “Are you Oliver?” the Jedi would say. “Oliver Miller? Mm; I thought so, just checking. Well, come along then. …The galaxy needs you.” And then I would be whisked away in a spaceship, while the bullies and the popular kids stared and gaped with envious awe. I could visualize it all so clearly.

…So, and the point of the clean underwear was that it might be days or weeks before I got my new Jedi/ wizard uniform (the journey to the distant land might take a while), and I wanted to be as clean and neatly-pressed as I could be when I began my new life.

Anyway, all of this is why I have always identified with Superman.

Yeah, there are more interesting superheroes than Superman. As an acne-scarred geek, I have always identified with Spider-Man, who is definitely more accessible and approachable-seeming than the Man of Steel. And I have always secretly longed to be tough and cool like Wolverine or Batman. But as a symbol and as a metaphor, Superman is the most important hero of all to me.

I’m a half-hearted Jew, so Superman has always made sense to me on an instinctive level, since he was created by two Jews. The latest Superman movie tried to make him into a kind of Christ-like figure, but no, he’s a Jew. It’s a Jewish story. A child from a distant land arrives in America, and is taught to hide his true identity. He moves to New York, of all places, gets a job working in the media, and lusts after an unattainable shiska. That’s the story of a million Jewish immigrants; but Superman means much more than all of that.

“…Your name is Kal-El. You are the only survivor of the planet Krypton. Even though you’ve been raised as a human being, you are not one of them. You have great powers, only some of which you have as yet discovered.” Those are Jor-El’s first words to his son; his speech to Kal-El/ Superman, years after his son has arrived on planet Earth. He’s been raised by a kindly couple from Kansas — Jonathan and Martha Kent. They have given him the name Clark Kent, but that is not Kal-El’s real name.

Even though you have been raised as a human being, you are not one of them. Could there be a more universal statement of otherness? As humans, we are unique in feeling apart from things. Dogs accept their… dog-ishness, for lack of a better word. Cats accept their cat-ishness. And so on for every other species on this planet. Humans are unique, because we can stand in the middle of a crowd, and still feel lonely. No other species can feel like that. And as humans, we all feel a sense of terminal uniqueness. We all feel special, and so thus we all feel apart. Paradoxically, this is what unites us, and this is why Superman speaks to me as a metaphor. He symbolizes the feeling of apartness, and also our secret belief in our own awesomeness — the belief that I experienced as a child, as I waited on the playground for wizards to whisk me away, and to teach me my true destiny. It never happened, but I never stopped believing in it.

_____

Superman is unique among superheroes because he is the reverse of other superheroes. This has been pointed out many times before. Batman’s true identity is Bruce Wayne, millionaire playboy. Spider-Man’s true identity is Peter Parker, geeky teenager. But Superman’s true identity is Superman. The “costume” that he wears is not a costume — the red cape, the chest medallion, the boots, the belt; those are his normal clothes. When Superman dresses up and pretends, he pretends to be a normal human being; but he is not one.

We all feel like this. Every day, when we schlep off to work, wearing our foolish work clothes — we all feel this way. We feel as though we are wearing a disguise in our jobs, our relationships, even in our interactions with, say, a barista at Starbucks. We jealously hide our true, secret nature, because the world cannot know who we truly are. And why? Because the world couldn’t handle the truth.

And Superman enacts the same ritual as we do, each and every day. He could be living in a crystal palace on the North Pole. He could fly to Jupiter, or burrow through the Earth’s core to China. Instead, he plays his role as a schlubby human. He enacts the role of “Clark Kent.” He puts on the tired work suit, the busted wingtip shoes, the boring tie and the ugly glasses, and gets on the subway and rides off to his fake job as a reporter.

But inside, Superman has secret powers, because we all do. He is separate and special and different — because we all are. Even though he has been raised as a human being, he is not one of them. We are all Not One of Them. We are all Uniquely Us —  just like Superman. And that’s what Superman means; and that’s why Superman matters.

~Oliver Miller

Why Being in your 20s is Awesome

23 Mar

I know I talk crap on being a twentysomething but I’m only half-kidding. In actuality, there’s no age I’d rather be. (Besides maybe seven years old because they don’t do anything besides eat ice cream and poop themselves. That sounds like an ideal life to be completely honest.)

Being in your twenties is all about discovering which things hurt you and what makes you feel good. You go in blindly, practically pricking yourself with a dull blade, and then you walk out with tougher skin. One day you’ll stop pricking yourself altogether. Maybe. I don’t know. How would I? I’m just a twentysomething, remember?

This is what your twenties are for — to feel and see as much as you can, to take advantage of not being tied down to anything and anyone and to go balls to the wall with everything that you do. You’re a raw nerve. You hate getting upset over little things, about being constantly unraveled by ignored text messages, parents, grades, and friends, but you have to remember something: you don’t know yourself entirely yet. Before the age of 20, you were mostly under your parents care, a reflection of what was going on around you. You didn’t have the option to make your own choices. You were merely living the life someone set out for you.  Being in your twenties allows you to start carving out the life you want for yourself. Everything is on your terms now which seems daunting but is actually liberating. For the first time in your life you’re the boss.

It’s important to talk about why your twenties are great because it seems like we spend so much of our time wanting to be somewhere else other than where we are. Think about it. Why the hell are we in such a hurry to live some boring grown up adult life that we saw at a Crate & Barrel? Because once we do get there, we’re stuck for a long time. The novelty’s going to wear off, we’re going to get married and have babies, and everything will be amazing but don’t think for a second that you won’t be nostalgic for this time. Don’t think for a second that you’re not going to miss those nights you spent putting on your make up, changing five million times, drinking wine, smoking cigarettes out your apartment window, and going to some silly party, a party that feels like all the others you’ve been to but still has the right to feel special. You will miss all of this. This is a luxury. It’s going to leave us eventually so you better freaking enjoy it. You better enjoy every lame ass party, every awkward kiss, every 5 AM hangover, every drug experience, every crappy apartment, because one day it will all be gone and you’ll just be left with the pictures and the bruises and nothing else. Youth is fu**ing magic. Don’t you get it? Look at your skin! Touch it. Look at your smooth legs and stomach. Grab it. When you’re older, you’ll want all of this again so bad. You’ll possibly spend so much money to get some semblance of it back. Now it’s yours for free.

We’re not stuck. Even if it feels like we are, it’s not true. We’re the opposite of stuck. As twentysomethings, we’re constantly moving — apartments, relationship, cities, jobs. Anything is possible. People are ready for you. They want to hear what you have to say. They look at you and are curious about what words are going to come out of your mouth. You’re the new generation. What do you have to say? Don’t bite your tongue. One day you’ll be pushed aside for a younger “fresher” perspective so you better get it out now. Make a mark. Make a stain. Make something.

I want to remember the fear, I want to remember the promise, I want to remember the nights I wanted to curl up in a ball, I want to remember the people I’m not supposed to remember, I want to remember not knowing myself, I want to remember the moment I started to feel safe and like this life I’m leading is really mine. I’m going to be scared, I’m going to bruise my knees and not know how they got there, I’m going to try to fruitlessly forge a connection with someone who won’t ever get it, I’m going to lose the person that means the most to me and find my way back to them. I’m going to be a twentysomething because that’s what I am and all I know how to be.  And you should too. You should love every single moment of this hot mess of a decade. Chances are you’ll miss it before you even get to say “I’m 30.”

~Ryan O’Connell

Why Being in Your 20s Sucks

22 Mar

1. You have no idea where your life is heading. You feel as though everyone around you has some sort of direction. Some of your friends might be married, engaged, pregnant, or expecting. You? You’re just sailing through life working a minimum waged job that you swore your college degree would get you out of. Or even worse, you don’t have a job at all. Your life revolves around your friends’ work schedules. You have exhausted every TV series your neighbourhood  ma-DVD guy has to offer, and there are only so many Glee/Desperate Housewives/Sluts in the City episodes you can watch in one day. You have probably become the sad barfly at your favorite dive and people probably guess you have no idea where you’re going in life. Guess what? They’re right.

2. Being in your twenties is like New Years Eve everyday — such a disappointment. Sure, you have a number of emo songs on your iPod that make you question why you are still alive, but you hope your friends just graze over them while going through your playlists. You hope that your friends think about death as much as you do and come up with horrible thoughts like “Every time someone close to you dies, it’s one less person in the world who loves you.” Oh, just you? Awesome. If you were to listen to Carrie Bradshaw, she says “Your 30’s are to learn the life lessons and the 40’s are to pay for the drinks.” Does it really not get any better? Probably, if Carrie Bradshaw is your go-to for life advice.

3. You seem to have the “You are not a girl, not yet a woman” mentality. You cringe when people call you ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’ and you hate being mistaken for a ‘Mrs’ when it is clearly obvious no one put a ring on it yet. Hell, you don’t even have a sexting buddy. You long for lavish themed cocktail parties, fancy dresses and suits, and you can’t wait until you can afford the name-brand vodka. You dream of the day when you can just pick up and leave, runaway to some amazing place like New York, Paris, or Mombasa. Sadly, in your twenties you would totally settle for a weekend road trip and pray you had enough money for gas and food. Being in your twenties is like being in limbo; you are simply waiting to be told what to do, where to go, and how to get there.

4. You feel pressure from everyone and their mother, literally, to be in some sort of relationship. You always need to be dating someone, loving someone, and planning your future together using the creepy-morphing-baby-website. You can’t tell those people who pressure you to leave you alone because you know that they know, deep down, it’s really what you want too…maybe? Another downfall of being in your twenties: each sex feels superior to the other. Girls hate boys, boys hate girls. It’s like elementary school again except this time cooties are real and they are called STDs. You can’t count how many times you hear girls say “Guys are such assholes” and guys respond with “Girls are such bitches”. Yes, you know you aren’t perfect, but someone should be able to accept your type of assholery, yes? Isn’t that what love is? Tolerating someone’s bitchy-ness and assholery long enough to say ‘I Do’ and make a baby? Maybe you have been watching too much Mad Men lately or maybe it’s the truth. Which leads you right to your number five reason.

5. You begin to finally learn the truth. Your parents, who you thought had a great relationship, are actually falling apart at the seams. Your mom, your dad, your uncle, or whoever it is has caught the infamous “cancer of the _____________” and you have to realize at some point that cancer is real. It happens to people you know. It could happen to you. You begin to take off your rose-colored glasses and see the world for what it really is…reality. The reality that you have been eating the same package of Ramen for the second day in a row because you don’t have the money for groceries. Maybe in your twenties you realize that the people who were assholes to you in high school are still assholes now. That’s just who they are, and it’s not the ‘phase’ your mom promised you it was as you cried yourself to sleep every night. You begin to realize that people die. You wear your basic black dress for a different reason on that day and mourn the loss of someone you loved. But don’t you do that every day? You lose people all the time in your twenties and they are not always in the ‘lost and found’ bin or in a coffin.

You do your best to remember why being a 20-something really is the best time in your life and why you should strive to be more fabulous every day, even if it is just to show your haters how to hate.

~Kelsey Simpson

Phillip Walubengo for Governor of Nairobi

13 Mar

So every once in a while The Battousai makes a serious announcement. Well, this is one of those rare times.

The Founder, Partner and CEO of The Battousai (yes, we are actually a real company; you would never have guessed, huh?) Phillip Walubengo is running for the seat of Governor of Nairobi.

We will support him and we wish him the best. And we ask you too to give him your support in any way we can. It’s about time we had our own in positions of leadership. New wine must go into new wine skins, not the old wine skins that are already being touted as the possible next governors of Nairobi.

Come together to make what sounds like a distant dream an evident reality. None are better suited to the job than Mr. Walubengo, and that’s a fact. He is more than equal to the task to make this city and county a shining jewel on the Dark Continent, a beacon of hope for the rest of the country, the continent, and the world.

We will be campaigning and voting for Phillip Walubengo for the seat of Governor of Nairobi.

See Also: Walubengo’s Den: Philip Walubengo for Governor of Nairobi

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