advice

Cosmo and tips for meeting men

Posted in advice, Cosmo? Is that you? on October 12th, 2010 by steph – 4 Comments

You know what the worst thing is about this post, titled “The Best Places to Meet Guys that Cosmo Won’t Tell You About”? It’s that I’m pretty sure Cosmo actually has given some of these places out as ridiculous suggestions on where to meet men.

The Men’s department of a clothing shop? Yeah, I guarantee you that Cosmo has offered up this tip. I would put money on it. I can hear it in my head now; they would suggest going into the men’s department to buy something (socks/tie) as a birthday present for your male relative (brother/dad/grandfather), and if you spy a hottie across the pyramids of folded shirts you should grab the oppourtunity and ask for his advice in picking something out. “Sorry to ask, but I’m trying to buy a tie for my Dad and I was wondering if this is a bit garish for a guy to wear. What do you think?”. Then the Cosmo writer would have ‘jokingly’ said “or be bold and say to that cutie ‘hey, you’re about the same build as my brother; would you mind trying on this shirt I’m thinking of buying him?’ “. I am positive Cosmo has suggested you trawl the menswear section for guys.

I don’t think they have suggested a Horseback Lion Hunting Safari; however, I do imagine they would advise that during an activity you choose to undertake that you should always be vigilant for new and exciting men, and take any chance you get to pretend not to know how to work a piece of equipment/do a particular task so that you can ask this mysterious new man to show you how. Preferably by standing behind you with his arms around you and hands over yours to show exactly how to do it correctly.

Meat market #3 that Cosmo isn’t telling you about is Laser Tag. This is a variation on the Go-Kart racing/paintball shooting/touch rugby at the beach tip that Cosmo has most definitely told us about. See, if you take part in a fun and lighhearted physical activity where you get to wrestle with and/or touch your crush, it’s a win. Especially if it’s an activity where you get to show people that you’re “one of the guys”/a “guy’s girl” (because then you are low maintenance and spontaneous and casual, not like one of those prissy girly girls). And Cosmo would tell you not to be scared of whoopin’ his butt, because this would totally be a turn on to a guy: a lady who can be kick-ass at a man’s game? Mind. Blown.

#4: Emergency Zombie Defense Station. If this was a real and common thing, Cosmo would tell you to pick up guys there. The only reason they haven’t given this tip is the constraints of reality (which is a rarity for Cosmo…).

#5: The Emergency Room. I doubt Cosmo has ever actively encouraged readers to meet guys here, but I bet there has been at least one gushing piece about a couple who did actually meet in an emergency room, and who are now married. Also, Cosmo would probably tell you to always be on the lookout for potential Mr Right, even when bleeding from an open wound or accompanying someone else who is. Cosmo’s mandate is to make sure you don’t let any oppourtunity escape because maybe that guy you didn’t talk to was actually The One, and now you will die miserable and alone.

#6: Planned Parenthood. I guarantee that Cosmo has touted doctor’s waiting rooms as a fertile hotspot for man hunting. I guarantee it. And it would be perfect, because you could come back out of your doctor’s appointment with your giant box of subsidized condoms and your clean bill of health, and just cut to the chase.

#7: Ski lift in the Austrian Alps. I don’t think Cosmo would be so specific, but it would totally tell you that if you spy a cute guy in line for the chairlift, try to get in there next to him. In fact, it probably already has told you this.

#8: Space Camp. Also a bit too specific for Cosmo’s general style. But the general theme of encouraging you to do a “guy activity” where the ratio of men to women is in favour of single women? Classic Cosmo.

#9: School (your child’s school). I would bet that Cosmo has also suggested this tip; either seriously, or in a “just joking people! (but actually I’m not really!)”.

The lesson? Nothing is too low for Cosmo. No place too ridiculous when it comes to looking for guys. These places that have probably never been thought of before as pick-up spots? Cosmo has almost certainly been there. Cosmo has been everywhere, and has no concept of “too far”, or “too absurd”. Need proof? Read an issue; at the the risk of your own sanity, of course.

Invisibility

Posted in advice, bullying, homophobia on October 4th, 2010 by steph – 4 Comments

This morning, a friend of mine on Facebook who is training to be a teacher posted a link about how to make your school bully-proof. This is the start of the post

On September 23, 2010, a 13-year-old who had endured years of bullying at school committed suicide.[1] The day before that, an 18-year-old university student committed suicide after an act of cyber-bullying, and a few days later a student at another college who’d been bullied also took his own life.[2]

What immediately jumped out at me was the thing that wasn’t there: any mention of the fact that both of those instances of bullying were homophobic. Nowhere in the ‘how to’ (the text or the actual steps an individual can take) is anything of the sort mentioned. I think this is terrible. I understand that it is meant to be a general article about bullying prevention/intervention, but to not even acknowledge that the two quoted cases of bullying were fueled by homophobia, and that homophobic bullying is a huge fucking problem? The first tip is

1. If you are a student, initiate a club that promotes tolerance and respect. Work with teachers and administrators to create schoolwide activities. Hold assemblies and make them both informative and fun (go multimedia!).

and this would be the perfect place to talk about LGBT-straight alliances, or drop some sort of reference to the specific issues that these clubs can be advocates against (racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism).

So, I changed it:

On September 23, 2010, a 13-year-old who had endured years of homophobic bullying at school committed suicide.[1] The day before that, an 18-year-old university student committed suicide after an act of homophobic cyber-bullying, and a few days later a student at another college who’d been bullied also took his own life.[2]

(emphasis mine to show my changes).

Hooray!

Don’t leave it too late to ruin your career by having babies!

Posted in advice, New Zealand on October 2nd, 2010 by steph – 3 Comments

Two headlines from the Life and Style section in The Herald:

“Don’t leave babies too late, says expert”

and

“Starting a Family Still ‘Damages Careers’ “

The first one is about how many women are leaving their babymakin’ later and later, and shouldn’t expect to be able to fall back on technology to help them out if they do so. It also includes the quote

Couples beginning relationships late in life and women’s focus on career – combined with the ease of access to fertility treatments – are tempting couples to wait until later to try for a child.

Well, is the focus on careers a surprise, given that – as the second article tells me-

Despite years of equality, women who leave their jobs to have children still face a tough career progression, say unions.

Helen Kelly, president of the Council of Trade Unions, said it was difficult for women to maintain an equal foothold in the workplace, particularly after having a baby.

“Many women who return to work return to jobs where they are overqualified, or at a lower level of pay.”

and

Employers and Manufacturers Association employment services manager David Lowe says employers have made giant leaps in working with women who leave to start a family.

But he admits that anyone who takes extended leave from a business poses difficulties for their bosses.

So yeah, it really isn’t surprising that women are putting off having kids because of their career worries, as the first article told me. I was just a touch amused to see both articles posted on the same day, almost side-by-side. I feel it gives a false impression that these two issues aren’t as intertwined as they are; at least the content of the articles does acknowledge that this is the case.

Doing it wrong

Posted in advice on September 12th, 2010 by steph – 4 Comments

Via Jezebel, this list of “tips” for female employees was reportedly distributed to the entire HR department at Citibank.

I honestly expected the comments on the Jezebel post to be full of fury over this, but as well as he anger there were many were defending it, saying things like

Seriously Jezebel, don’t knock good advice. Equality is not about bitching about inequality, its about acting equal and in return being treated equally.

I won’t comment on the behavioral criticisms in this list, as I am not an expert. But I would agree that even I, a woman, would not take a woman who spoke softly while petting her hair, clamming up, simpering or giggling and gave weak ass handshakes seriously either

and

Let me see if I’ve got this straight . . .

This list gives genuinely helpful advice on avoiding certain workplace behaviors that are perceived as undesirable in the current, male-dominated corporate climate. Nowhere on the list does it say “all women do X” or “male-associated behaviors are clearly better than these others because of their inherent moral or intellectual superiority.” The list was written by a woman who has a Ph.D. in psychology and a decades-long career in employment counseling.

And yet simply because it makes some generalizing statements about *some* women, this list clearly must be a sexist atrocity worthy of our scorn and condemnation. This site falls into undergraduate-level gender studies analysis mode WAY too frequently lately, if you ask me .

There were comments such as this, saying that this list is helpful, and that hey, they don’t take women who do those things seriously either, so the tips are on point. But luckily the voice of sanity was also present, pointing out the fact that these “feminine” behaviours are learned behaviours, and that if these behaviours aren’t deemed acceptable, or are seen as a hindrance to getting ahead in the workplace, then it’s because society views “feminine” things as less desirable and acceptable. So the whole reason that the behaviours in the list are considered bad is because the same people who give advice like this list have decided that it isn’t conducive to success in business.

One of the commenters pointed out that there isn’t necessarily anything inherently wrong with behaviour such as “playing fair” or “sitting demurely”, but because these things are associated with femininity, and business is so often seen as a man’s world, then these things are seen in a negative light. Of course, this generalizes to the wider world as well: behaviour associated with being feminine is seen as less acceptable/desirable in general.

One of the very good points brought up in response to people saying ‘hey, listen to the list’ was that women here are being castigated for being “feminine”, but in reality they are not only recriminated for being too feminine, but also if they try to avoid these “feminine” behaviours and end up being too masculine. You know, the ball-busting, hard-ass, butch, tough, manly female coworker or boss. Women can’t win either way; the behaviour in the list is too womanly, but go too far in the other direction and that would be too manly, too unladylike. And not even too far in the other direction, because “too far” is an arbitrary amount determined only by whether a man is threatened by or dislikes her. Too far could mean barely any difference in behaviour, or quite a lot, or none at all. It’s not relevant, just like when a man calls a woman a slut it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how many men she has slept with.

So basically women are walking the finest of tightropes, and in all probability the ‘right’ balance of masculinity and femininity – or, as is presented in this list, assertiveness vs. femininity – does’t exist. The line is arbitrary, and the goalposts movable. So that’s why I think this list is terrible: because it implies that by following these rules, women can ‘pass’, and fit into a workplace environment, when .

Ladies, are you fat? Blame your boyfriend.

Posted in advice, diets on September 3rd, 2010 by steph – Comments Off on Ladies, are you fat? Blame your boyfriend.

Despite the really in-depth coverage of exactly how my boyfriend is making me fat, they forgot one reason: that time he stuffed multiple cupcakes into my mouth.

I just really object to the word “making”, because I guess to me it somehow implies some sort of blame, whereas what they’re talking about is weight gain associated with change of habits/lifestyle.

So what size will make me happy, again?

Posted in advice on September 3rd, 2010 by steph – 2 Comments

“Why Being Size 14 Wont Make You Happy”

I read this headline, and thought to myself now how would anyone know what size makes me happy? I read the headline, and though that this had the potential to be an epic disaster, or at the very least some seriously poorly worded and reported research.

Early on it seemed to confirm my suspicions, talking about a recent study saying women who are size 14 are the happiest, then saying

The road to happiness does not come with being a size 14. In some of the recent articles exposing the view that it does, a photo of Fern Britton was used.

The same Fern Britton who had a gastric band fitted, which is a serious operation for those who are very likely to be very unhappy about their weight. The other ‘go-to’ person for picture editors with stories on this sort of topic is Kate Winslet. Kate Winslet. A woman with one divorce behind her, who has recently separated from her second husband. So perhaps being a size 14 doesn’t necessarily signal the right passage to continuous happiness.

Those illustrating and writing these recent pieces, of course chose to ignore the Jada Pinkett Smiths of this planet. Pinkett Smith, a woman who quite clearly has her life and her A-list husband, Will, in order, would look ridiculous as a size 14 – she is far too small in height and build.

Holy shit, you mean the number on a dress tag doesn’t guarantee that my marriage will last?? I have been seriously misled by the marriage and size 14 clothing industries. After reading this I was seriously concerned that this article was written by someone with a grasp on causation and science not even up to par with the average child.

Then it begins to slowly struggle into ‘actually, you should just be the size right for you’ territory, which was a relief (although it does indicate that you should be replying on BMI, although not actually using the term BMI)

Contentment does not come with dress size. It never has done. As long as you are in the medically acceptable weight range for your height and bone structure, then that is what is important. My best friend is a size 14 and looks incredible. I was a size 14 once and a photograph of me at this weight caused Lorraine Kelly to exclaim live on GMTV: “You’re not yourself there, are you?”

That was because Dr Hilary Jones was sitting next to me on the sofa and I was on air to talk about how I had been seriously ill with a thyroid problem – and my weight had ballooned and overwhelmed my 5ft 3in, small-boned frame. During my size 14 phase I was lethargic, depressed and unhealthy. When I got my physical condition back on track, through a combination of natural supplements and exercise, my state of mind improved immeasurably. The smiles returned to my face – at a size eight.

Everybody is different. Being too curvy for your frame is as bad for your health as being too thin. America spent $147 billion (yes, billion) on the health related problems of overweight Americans last year. Some of those will have been petite women who were a size 14 and too big for their bone structure.

Ended with a sweet indirect dose of reinforcement that you probs are too fat, actually. So apparently “everybody is different”, huh? I guess different is ok as long as it’s within a certain narrow range. As Dr. Spaceman from 30 Rock would say, “Now Jenna, medically speaking for your height your weight puts you what we call the “disgusting” range”.

The MSN article ends with

So ignore the size fascists. Happiness is not about your dress size. It comes from within you.

Yeah, talk about messages that are all over the place. ‘This study says size 14 women are happiest; but look at this example of a size 14 lady who got divorced! So happiness doesn’t come from dress size; everybody is different! But also, being “too curvy” is as bad as being “too thin”! So do what’s best for you; but remember eating healthy and doing exercise will make you happy. But happiness comes from within yourself, and isn’t about size at all!’

Equal oppourtunity sexism!

Posted in advice, sexism on September 1st, 2010 by steph – 3 Comments

Well, I guess all those facetious requests for equal-oppourtunity patronising, stereotype-based advice were finally heard…

’20 Things Your Boyfriend Should Forgive You For’.

and

22 Things You Should Forgive Your Boyfriend For’.

So, first up: things you did that your boyfriend should forgive you for. These include suffocating him with your nail polish fumes, and cheating in him with a move star.

What do you need to forgive him for? Wearing “mandals” and leaving the cap off the toothpaste.

In all seriousness, though, some of the tips are, as Melissa points out, are actually worrying. You should forgive him for repeatedly trying to talk you into anal sex? Um, nup. Any person (male or female) who badgers the other for something sexual (that clearly they aren’t saying yes to, given that they are trying to talk you into it repeatedly) doesn’t deserve a free pass for it. Have you heard of consent? Because it isn’t being given. Asking is one thing; repeatedly trying to talk someone into something is another.

And lots of these seems to be just veiled go-aheads to excuse some genuinely shitty behaviour; behaviour that would be shitty in or out of a romantic relationship. Throwing away his nasty shoes that he loves for no reason? “Accidentally” deleting a recorded program of his so you can make room for something of yours? Reading the subjects and senders of mail in his inbox just because it’s open on the screen? Apparently we are supposed to be ok with people doing passive-aggressive stuff in relationships.

And some of the tips are just pointless, and assume that all men and all women do the same things and feel the same way. Why assume that a woman wouldn’t already be ok with her boyfriend looking at porn? Maybe they watch together, or she watches, or he isn’t ok with porn. I suppose that, given this is an advice list after all, it will pretty much be solely based on stereotypes, but I’m sure there are some genuine tips on this topic in there somewhere. Although the thing about forgiveness is that it really is very, very person-dependent, and for some people the toilet seat up/toothpaste cap off/15 minutes late without a text wont be a big deal, and for others it will be a total dealbreaker. So I suppose it is really a case of trying to churn out a list of definitive answers for a question where there isn’t one. Still, I’m not down with these lists at all.