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Mar 28, 2012

Objectification, A Parody

Disclaimer: This piece is a parody (see title). It's meant to be ironic, sarcastic, humorous and otherwise juxtapose two things in a way that bears out some kernel of insight through hyperbole. Just keep that in mind. 

How come women get so upset with men objectifying them? It's not like they're any better... they're just sneakier about it.

No really, think about it.

A guy, what does he do? He takes a first look at a woman and he's saying, "daaaaamn, she's hott!" And I can hear the feminists from fuming in their chairs already, being like "oh no, he didn't just say that! What an objectifying pig! He should treat her better, she's a person! What a jerk, he doesn't even care about her personality, who she is!"

How is he supposed to know, he hasn't even met her yet! But he's the objectifying pig, sure. Feminists. 

Well at least he's upfront about it. Women, ohhhh, they have guile. But men, what you see is what you get right there. When they get into a relationship, a guy sticks around because he likes her for who she is.

Awwww. Right?

But now let's fast-forward a bunch of years, okay? And the fuming feminist is in a relationship with this guy for a while already. Maybe even married with a kid. Now what's going on? She's barking orders at him -"go do the dishes!" "Take out the trash!" and "We need more milk!" And he's got to ask permission to spend time with his friends. She practically owns him, and she's treating him like it too.

You know what I mean? 

Ownership, like an object. No kidding, and men are the ones that objectify. No, you women do it too. But we stop after the first five seconds. Y'all might start later on, but you'll be doing it the rest of a dude's life.


Mar 22, 2012

Date By Proxy (And Other Addled Expectations)

Time to weigh in on my reaction to this article from the Jewish Press. Simply put, it's a mother's stream of consciousness about shidduchim, particularly throughout her experience meeting young women to determine their fit for her son.

Hold on a moment, is that what I think it is? It's speed dating, but instead of the man meeting women and making his own determination, his mother is in the driver's seat! Because clearly he can't be trusted to make that decision on an actual date, nor can he be bothered to make a decision of who he dates.

Honestly, how will that not further embed a deeply seeded entitlement in men when it comes to dating? I can hear it now... someone makes a suggestion and the guy nonchalantly replies, "she can arrange a first date with my mom. If that goes well, I'll take her out on a date myself." I bet the woman would have to plan the date too... because of course she wants to impress the mother.

Hearing the mother talk about how to be sensitive, instead of trying to instill the value in her son and sending him out into the dating world with humility and empathy... is shocking, but I think quite typical in the dating world. Why she looks at the women as though they need to be dressed to date when she claims the focus is simply to gather impressions of the women (if that is what "gently ferret out vital information" means to her) is beyond me. I have another smart idea for the next event, the mother should take snapshot of each woman on her cell phone -it will be more candid than those profile pictures -and send her son a text with some tagline like "she's a keeper!"

The sheer amount of social programming in the expectations was bursting from every paragraph in the article. From the women all wanting learners and being singularly cookie-cutter in their demeanor to their devout commitment for the perfect learner, and let's not forget the comparison of "eidel Jewish girls" to the airbrushed, plastic-surgery enhanced supermodels in magazines -just brilliant.

Oh, and let's transform women's bodies into "beautiful swans." Yes. Let us make them in our image rather than accept that we are each created in God's image. Because it's much easier to have plastic surgery than work on our characters, teach sons to accept women as they are -exquisite and beautiful -by learning to find the beauty in her. What a wonderful way to emphasize the things that truly matter in dating.

Oh, and I do believe Esther actually did not try to make herself beautiful. The way she "found favor" in the eyes of the king was her character

I shudder to think where this is going.

However, I do appreciate one thing, the paradigm shift in understanding that people are not searchable goods; relationships are experiences and the interactions between people that build great relationships cannot be predicted by the bland information on a resume, profile or other informational document, no matter how thorough.

Top Ten Reasons I Hate Not Having a Car in NY

- Having to take over an hour to get to places that would take 15 minutes by car.
- Crazy people on the subway.
- Not being able to pick up a woman for a date.
- Having to plan out trips based on subway accessibility.
- Not being able to jump in a car and take a drive out somewhere -anywhere -just for kicks.
- That tell-all pause I hear right after I tell a woman from the suburban Boroughs (Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island) I don't have a car.
- Not being up to date on new music because I haven't listened to the radio since high school.
- Hiking; I miss being able to drive out to the middle of nowhere to hike or play in the snow,  or go apple picking.
- That "oh" moment when the woman realizes I won't be picking her up, and gets very quiet.
- Parking. Oh wait, nope... that's the only plus in all of this. Though, I happen to be a natural parallel parker... so I miss out on the glory of fitting into a spot that has two feet of space on either side. Guess that counts.

Mar 12, 2012

Stages of Dating

First of all, no. This isn't going to be some other rant about how the progression of dating should go. I hate those anyways. But I will share my experience about the developmental process of singles in the dating world. Partly from my personal experience, partly from the singles and married couples I know -along with countless in depth discussions about dating -and partly from crazy people.

So here goes...

Phase 1: Imagination and Fantasy

This phase can start as young as being a toddler. When we let out imagination run wild about married life, about relationships, about what it will be like to be "there." Over time, and as we hit our late teens and early twenties this begins to solidify into some sort of ideal image. Call it Disney, call it a delusion, call it young idealism. Whatever you call it, this is the stage where we are arrogant enough to think we know exactly what our lifetime partner will be like. If not precisely than we have a pretty darn specific set of images that we want to cram another person into. And we do that by...

Phase 2: Criterion Crafting

We select a bunch of criteria -most of which are very surface level -which are ideally supposed to reflect some characteristics that we figure we have to have. Sometimes, in the extreme, you can hear someone saying "I just know my bashert will have blue eyes" or something particular such as "he's going to learn at least 2 hours every night." We think about the way our date talks to the waiter as reflecting their kindness and the way handle the check as a reflection of their generosity. We assume that such things will bleed into all other areas of their lives and enlighten their inner character to tell us the secret of who they are in all other situations -like behind closed doors or under immense strain. Eventually we come to...

Phase 3: Shattered Expectations

There are two parts to this. First, we realize that nobody can live up to the ideal and fantasy we created in our mind. Secondly, we recognize that those tiny things, while they contribute to a person and our impression of them, do not define who they are. Hopefully experience shows us that life is more complicated than that and people have much more going on than just talking to waiters and picking up the tab. But we don't want to let go of the dreams we spent so much time building in our minds because it means losing the perfection, that person who will be everything we wish and want and hope they can be to bring us ultimate joy. In our minds, they are real. But we don't see them. So, we...

Phase 4: Grieving

Either let go -painfully -of those expectations, that perfect life in our minds... or we get stuck wallowing, feeling lost, depressed, and jaded; never moving on. Either way, we face the question if there really is someone out there for us. And either we decide for ourselves to make it work with someone, or we start laying on the blame. Recognizing the flaws, getting over them, accepting another person as they are... can be really tough. Especially if we never let go of our deepest hopes and expectations for our ideal life partner...

Phase 5: Searching for (and Finding) the Imperfect Whole over the Perfect Fraction

If we hold into the fantasies and stipulations, we reject parts of other people because they inevitably don't fit in. In the dating world, being subjected to that is frustrating, painful and a put-off. Over time, those cumulative judgments have an impact, and having to deal with it over and over again is exhausting. Ultimately, so many people just want to be accepted and loved, often for the things that we fear make us imperfect. We want to be with someone that can hold those things for us, who can appreciate us as we are, flaws and all. Who chooses us over their dreams. We can't be with someone who rejects a part of us, so learning to accept the entirety of another person (and be accepted by them) is ultimately the quest in dating**. You can't have a great relationship with someone who rejects parts of you and you can't build one with someone else if you reject parts of them. Because you can't have a relationship with fractions of a person.


**As an important post-script, I feel it's important to differentiate between searching for common values and accepting another person. The common values (and chemistry) are what bring people closer together. Accepting them is recognizing them as worthy by nature of their being human. Bottom line, not accepting can get in the way of exploring the values and chemistry two people share and holding onto our own fantasies of "what should be" gets in the way too.

Mar 5, 2012

On the Flip Side

Here's a story from a while back I haven't had a chance to post, and since I've been quite busy, I thought now may be a good time to share...

I've heard many a commentary from women about having to make a formal shidduch resume, being asked to ship over a portfolio complete with pictures and having no such reciprocation from the expectant guy, which may evoke the image of some spoiled royal prince whimsically sorting through options, demanding the best and discarding the rest.

Well, the following is a story of the -perhaps slightly exaggerated -irony of my own experience in the reverse.

When a friend you haven't spoken to in more than eight months contacts you out of the blue and leads off with some not-so-subtle questions about  your dating status and criteria... you usually know what's coming. So he puts me in touch with his wife, whose best friend he'd like to set me up with. Okay, so I ask what they'd like from me... and within twenty minutes, I'm sending my resume, profile and a bunch of carefully selected pictures. They said it would help... so why not, right? 

Now, within ten seconds, I'm already decided that I'm going out; I really appreciate when friends think of me, and I figure that they'd think about it first. Plus it doesn't happen every ten seconds, so... why not give it a shot, right?

During the course of the conversation with my friend's wife, she mentions that she already ran the idea by her friend first, profile and all. Whaaa? Take a deep breath.

Well, then. Apparently she's "very protective" of her best friend. Tentatively, I file that one under acceptable reasons and right next to "no profile or pictures." I soothe myself by deciding -for the first time -to do some Facebook stalking, perhaps even recruiting an expert or two -and perhaps a listed mutual friend -to make more sense of the suggestion. At least I got a name, right? 

Okay, I satisfy enough of my curiosity and we go on a first date; I have a good time. I want to go out again. I hear back from my friend, he tells me I should be patient, that it may take time for her to open up. Okay, so now I'm getting coached on dating this particular person. Patience? I can let it take time...

Speaking of which, time for date number two, right? Maybe, except... she nixes me with the age old cliche "it's not you, it's me."