Category Archives: Ranting

The Internet’s Terrible Twos

I think the internet is growing up.

I know what you’re thinking, but listen.

When I was younger — when most of us, in fact, were younger– the internet didn’t know what it was. WE didn’t know what it was. It was like “Here. Here is this thing I have. In fact, here is everything. I don’t know what to do with it, but I have it, and now so do you.”

We all found our little corners, and if we couldn’t find a corner we had the freedom to build one for ourselves.

It was a magical and lawless time, as I’ve said before.

Wild Wild AOL

Yeah, like that.

During this period, the internet was a thought form, an entity yet to be.  It was like the early days of Earth, before the primordial ooze glooped out its first amoebas.

Today, it is the first complex organism to not only discover dry land, but to discover it has the ability to walk on it without dying.

Primordial Mind Blown

Phil told him he would live, but Roger had to see it for himself.

Or, to put it a different (some might say “better”) way, it is a toddler discovering that the world exists, independent of itself, and that, despite this, people outside its immediate experience can still have the same thoughts and feelings it has, and this blows its fucking mind.

astonished-baby

OMG, YOU LIKE ELMO??

Are you really that surprised other people put your thoughts to words? Like, are you seriously having a “mind blown” moment? Do you know what words like “amazing” and “astonishing” even mean? You should, you have Google in you.

Google - Astonished

Yet every time you use them, you diminish their impact, because so often what you call “astonishing” and “amazing” is so obvious, matter-of-fact, everyday, and, frankly, common-sensical that I’m left wondering if the tumblr post you shared was actually amazing for you, or if you linked the wrong post and didn’t realize it.

Either you have no idea how to use these words accurately, or, like a child first becoming aware that the world around them is more than a hologram of their own devising, you really are unbelievably astonished by someone describing with words what you, yourself, have thought.

Michael Cera

Is it?  But is it, though? Or does it make a normal amount of sense.

See, I’m baffled, because I thought we were all pretty well aware of the fact that, while we do live separate lives with our own individual perspectives, we are still experiencing the same events, more or less, and often that means we have similar thoughts. Most people — I should say, at this point, “grown ups” for the sake of the analogy– nod and agree when someone else says something they were thinking, or had previously thought.

“Yes, my thoughts exactly.”

But you. You, Baby Internet, you scream like Criss Angel just descended from the heavens and delivered you the puppy you saw at the adoption fair a week ago. (HOW DID HE FUCKING KNOW?!) You drop your jaw to the floor and a small nuclear explosion consumes everything in a three mile radius from the force and velocity with which you add the message to your social media post.

Introvert Problems

Internet. It’s only Michael Cera. We all know he’s awkward, sweetie. Shhh. Everyone wants the food they see on TV; it’s why advertising works.  Lots of people are socially awkward and introverted (which are not the same thing, but may go together); you are not alone, no matter how much you enjoy being so.  This isn’t quite Cave Johnson talking about combustible lemons, here; I really don’t think we need POTAToS levels of enthusiasm to show our agreement.

But this is a lesson you will learn in time, Internet. You finally have context for all the words and stories and images we flooded you with at your inception, and you can’t help but scream your wonder at the world around you.

I know.

I understand.

That’s why I want you to enjoy this while you can, because we’re going to get really sick of your shit when you hit puberty, and I can’t guarantee we won’t find a way to ground you.

—-

Adalind Monroe is a writer from the Pacific Northwest with a serious flea problem, right now.  You guys don’t even understand.  Combustible lemons are a serious option.

You can read some of her short stories linked in the nav menu above, but none of them have explosions.  Yet.

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Why Are There So Many Ellipses?!

What goes through a person’s mind while posting when they use a string of ellipses between phrases?

Are there pauses in the thoughts they have while typing? Are these the ellipses of contemplation? Does each dot represent a moment of time passing for the poster while they consider their next words? If we listen hard enough, can we hear the gears of thought clicking between each dot?

Is each addition an afterthought? The things we think to say after we read what we’ve said and determine it has not been enough.

Are they unsure they mean to end the thought at all?

Why are there so many ellipses?!

I have a lot of role playing experience (the nerdy kind, not the — oh, stop it, you!)  I lived through the early Golden Age of the lawless AOL chat room frontier, where twenty people in a room meant so much scroll you couldn’t read your own post, let alone the post of the person with whom you were playing. It was a time when you made character profiles on Angelfire, and 8-bit animated backgrounds meant you were on the cutting edge of free web design (even though you definitely weren’t). And from these experiences in chat rooms and IM’s, I know that people actually feel the passage of time, or the elongating of the pause, the more ellipses they use.  This is actually very natural, as a reader feels the passage of time — between speech, between actions– the more words they have to read. This is why action sequences use short sentences to move the action forward, and also why descriptive passages make us feel like an entire day could have passed between the last thing the main character has done, and the next thing we see them do. There aren’t enough pages in the world to facilitate the practice of “more ellipses = more time”, though.  And, grammatically speaking, more dots does not mean more time has passed since the speaker stopped speaking.

Officially, the ellipsis is used to indicate a pause, especially in the case of thought or speech.  They are also used to indicate a quote is part of a sentence which begins and/or ends before/after the section quoted ( i.e. “[…] more dots does not mean more time has passed […]”).

IMG_0521-0

“here i am………….. being a grammar nazi…………. #winning”

However, in both cases, three is the limit.  Unless you’re ending the sentence with ellipses, in which case also add a period.  Four dots, total.

But then there’s the shorthand world, the world of social media and “casual” speech, which either follows no rule of grammar, or follows some unique permutation of grammar excusing the lack of coherence, all of which is somehow protected under the “I’m just typing casually” umbrella.  (If you’re reading this in a tone which indicates I disapprove, you are very good at interpreting my style.  Gold star.)    Here I think we return to the world where “more dots = more time”, but sometimes I still don’t understand why.  Like, obviously I get that this is what is … sometimes (?) intended (?), but I guess I just don’t 100% believe that to be true.

I just don’t know why it’s done.
Why are you pausing so long?  Why did you not just end the sentence and start a new one?  Isn’t one dot less effort than twelve?  What does it all mean?!

—-

Adalind is a confused and deeply emotional writer suffering an existential crisis over the flagrant misuse of punctuation.  You can find some of her short stories linked above, and others floating around the internet like little literary orphans (none of them named Annie or Oliver).

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Stop Buying E.L. James a Yacht!

E.L. James (author of the Fifty Shades of Grey blight) is publishing a guide for writers, and it’s all our fault.

Can we just take a moment to sit down and think, though?  Cause I need a breather before I get into this.  And maybe a stiff drink.  (I said drink, cool it!)

It’s been four hours; do I need to call someone about this?

Personally, I feel sick to my stomach and I’m not sure I even recognize reality right now.  I look at my face in the mirror, and all I see is this disgusted look of bemusement, and I can’t get my eyebrows to stop doing that thing.

Why, Universe?  Why MORE Fifty Shades of Grey buzz?  Y U DO DIS??

I’ve been upset for a while, as many of you may know, about everything even tangentially related to Fifty Shades (including, but not limited to, the loss of the phrase “it’s all just shades of grey”), but just I can’t live in the negative space necessary to be the kind of upset Fifty Shades deserves. I actually have to step away from the topic entirely to de-stress and forget, for a minute, that Fifty Shades of Grey has sold more copies than the entire Harry Potter series, that E.L. James is now considered one of the highest paid authors in the world, and that she’s about to publish a guide to help other writers be [sarcasm] as talented and successful as she is[/sarcasm].

My mind is reeling from that last statement.

First I experienced Disbelief.  “Oh my god,” I said to my little dog, who was fast asleep, and also didn’t care, “E.L. James thinks she has valid advice to give.  Which, of course she does, because she’s the Messiah of Writing, now.  Have you not seen her bank money?”

Following the Stages of Grief, I experienced the briefest flare of Anger.  “This is going to ruin writing (and therefore, all life,) forever,” I thought, with no trace of hyperbole.

Then I skipped on to Acceptance, because ain’t no one got time for this, and thought “I have to share this,” because suffering is more bearable when shared.

But . . . how?

How do I share this with the people I know?  Even if they don’t think Fifty Shades is Abuse, they can at least see the objectively terrible prose for what it is.  How do I share this without feeding the negativity spiral and have us all chanting Satanic spells in the hopes one of them puts an end to this, the Darkest Timeline?

 

My Darkest Timeline survival kit.

And then I remembered the only line of thought that allowed me to fall asleep the last time I was so upset by the series; change the conversation.

Instead of calling Time of Death on quality in literature as we know it, we need stop bad literature from winning.

Now, our first instinct in this situation is to be appalled at the very notion that a writer with as little appreciable talent as James could even begin to instruct other writers in the craft.  This is considered a native instinct, up there with “fight or flight” and knowing it’s only a matter of time before Justin Bieber becomes his own religion.

 

Clearly, this has already happened.

 This serves two purposes: 1) To prove you have a brain, and 2) that it’s still working.

Working brain intact, we are right to be appalled by this news, because new, impressionable writers may look at James’ success and think “Writing sounded hard when I talked to those masochists typing on finger nubs and drinking way too much coffee.  To hell with that noise!”, and the next thing you know the stuff the internet was ashamed to show you becomes the next best sellers on all the shelves, because E.L. James is to literature what “reality” is to TV.

At least, that’s the fear.

This is, of course, ridiculous, because as long as there are writers with passion, there will be quality in literature.  The bigger (and by far, scarier) question lurking within that fear, though, is “After this, will quality writing even matter?”

I say “Yes.  But only if you make it matter.”

If you want to see quality published, you have to put effort into quality writing.  No brainer, right?

But here’s a problem.  The majority of writers seeking publication face a real uphill battle far beyond applying every trick, tip, and hard-won skill they ever paid a workshop to learn; writers are looking to craft the best, most engaging story they can manage without killing themselves (please), but publishers are looking for something they can sell.  If the two happen to coincide, so much the better, but what the writer pours into their craft often isn’t what the publisher is looking for when they turn the first page.

And that’s all before E.L. James publishes the lazy self-help version of a writer’s guide. (It has blank lined pages at the end for writers to “set down their own ideas, or ‘inner goddess'”, as all good lazy self-help books do, not because fluffing out pages, but because people interested in writing never keep paper or, say, computers around to facilitate “setting down” their ideas, so it’s really considerate of James to make sure space is provided for them, and not lazy at all.)

But, it’s not like writers have been unaware just how screwed over they are when they plight their troth with an established publisher — those authors who are successful were at least somewhat aware of the flaming hoops they’d be forced to hump in order to see their manuscript polished and shipped to bookshelves across the . . . well, county, probably — country if the publisher thought they could push it.

  
SPOILER ALERT: Publishers haven’t softened over the years.

If anything, they’ve figured out how to squeeze even more money out of every venture with the least amount of effort or risk on their part.  The writer does all the writing, and most of their own marketing, and almost all of their own promotion and public event managing until the publisher feels they’re enough of a safe bet to offer more.  If the author is really, really good at this, and makes enough money for the publisher, the author might catch some breaks for the future, and even see a cozy profit themselves.  I’m not saying they could live comfortably off that profit, but they could celebrate with a reasonably priced meal out on the town, and an off-brand bottle of champagne, if they used a coupon.

And I’m not pulling this out of my ass, either.  Search for articles around the internet designed to help writers, and once you get past the craft itself, it’s all about how to promote yourself.  Building a solid audience before you approach a publisher, for instance, illustrates to the publisher that you have the ability to market yourself (one less thing they have to worry about, then), and increases the odds your book will sell if they publish it. [relevant links attached – find them*]  That makes you a safer bet than an unknown author with no following and no internet presence.

Being an author isn’t glamorous.  Authors like J.K. Rowling are the exceptions to this publishing house sideshow, not the rule, and it’s still not without monumental effort that they succeeded.  But, her success is the fairytale we tell ourselves when we’re wallowing in writer’s block and too much mescal.  Rowling is the bedtime story we whisper before falling asleep, because picturing ourselves doing a talkshow circuit to give the breathless public insight into the mysteries of our process makes it easier to keep plugging away at the keyboard to just finish the damn manuscript.

I know, I know.  All of this sounds really depressing, which is probably because it is really depressing.

That was the conversation.  This is why we’re changing it.

Until recent years, it was both difficult and not terribly profitable to self publish — even if you did it, it could actually cost you a lot, and you were unlikely to reach much of an audience — but, thanks to glory of the internet, now it’s as easy as hitting the upload button and spamming every community you’ve ever joined until someone reads it. (It’s like success . . . .)  You could also go through outfits like Smashwords and Amazon, and get yourself free ISBN numbers, or take a more hands-on approach to make physical copies through CreateSpace, and similar, to distribute yourself.  (Pros and cons are a completely separate topic.  Stop it.)  The point is, it’s not a choice between printing in your basement, or bending over for the Rod of Publishment, anymore.
 

Pictured: Please don’t search for “rod” and “punishment” in the same keyword string.

 

We have options; we shouldn’t be afraid to use them.

If the publishers don’t want to take the risk on good prose, and you’re expected to do your own promotion, anyway, why not check out the indie scene?

But there is a second component to all of this; the reading public.  If everyone today loved War and Peace, E.L. James would have been sacrificed before Justin Bieber on the day of his birth, and writers would be rewarded for investing the time, effort, patience, and bouts of screaming insanity it takes to do what we do.  But we are not fortunate enough to live in that reality.

There is something we can do about it, though: Starve the publishers of the kind of public grateful for a series of books as thematically complex as a holiday dinner at Honey Boo-Boo’s. (Logan, shut up.)
 

Pictured: Character Development

 

The only reason publishers can get away with printing books barely edited to prevent copyright infringement is because people keep buying them.  I know you probably don’t personally know three-hundred-million people whom you can convince to not buy something, but that shouldn’t stop you from talking to those you do know.  I mean, it’s probably too late for all those grown-ups you know, all approaching thirty for the last twenty years, and watching their bodies slow down to die, but the young people can still be reached.  Teach kids to appreciate complexity, critical thinking and facing new challenges, and you’re going to have a generation of readers who aren’t looking for a book so simplistic in its execution it’s actually easier to read by repeatedly slamming it against your head.

I know this isn’t a perfect world — not everyone is going to automatically leap for Nietzsche and Dostoyevski (holy butts, I spelled both of those correctly on the first try!)–, but it’s only this far gone because we let it happen.

So, here’s the conversation: If you don’t like the idea of new writers giving in to the inner idiot we all have screaming obscenities at us, keep being better.  Stop buying idiot books written by idiots.  Discourage others from buying idiot books written by idiots.  You know how idiots get published?  The idiot public makes it profitable for idiot publishers (same thing?) to support bad prose, because it will sell better than a complex story written well by an author who cares.

—-
Adalind Monroe is a writer from a depressingly sunny part of Southern Oregon,  and hasn’t eaten since breakfast, so she’s really, really hungry now.
*I didn’t find them. 😦 I was too hungry.  I have failed you.

[seppuku][/seppuku]

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Introverts are the Deepest, Most Socially Awkward, Anxiety-Riddled Geniuses You Know

It's a metaphor.  I'm not explaining it.

This is a metaphor. I’m not explaining it.

I hate Buzzfeed, because I keep getting suckered into looking at their “articles”, which inevitably have some title that makes it sound relevant to my life, but they’re terrible and almost never applicable.  In an unrelated matter, the title of this post is a lie.

Sorry.

Example of Buzzfeed’s Please Stop Thinking You Contribute to Society, gif-laden attempts at listicling, I give you this little gem.  I know people who consider themselves introverts who identify with a strange majority of these Things, and some of them maybe don’t hit me as hard because I get a lot of my alone time, but others are just like “Are you sure that’s not just social anxiety and being shy?”  Because being an introvert doesn’t make you socially awkward and uncomfortable with people, and it doesn’t make you hate interacting.  It can make it harder to sustain interaction over long periods, and large groups can drain us faster, but being introverted isn’t what makes someone hate groups and the people who comprise them.  Those groups misunderstanding and placing a lot of expectation and pressure on an introvert to be more like them can result in an introvert hating people, but it’s not introversion itself that is to blame.

Looking at something like “pretending to text during awkward alone moments at parties”, I don’t see introversion here.  I see discomfort from social anxiety.  As an introvert, I can say there are times I really enjoy being at a party and feeling totally isolated.  It’s like a magic bubble, where people and conversations swirl all around me, but none of them require my energy to maintain.  I can just drift and watch.  Feeling awkward when alone at a party is feeling like there’s some expectation of you to participate, and if you don’t participate, by golly you’d better have a good reason for it!  That’s not a symptom of introversion, that’s a symptom of social anxiety.

So too with “shopping alone”‘s added text, “Because shopping with friends is SO stressful. (They make you more inclined to buy things you don’t need; you’re always worried about who’s bored and who’s having fun; you have to try on everything in front of them.)”  Fixating on who’s bored and who’s having fun, or the pressure to buy and try things on is not a symptom of introversion.  Feeling drained, exhausted, and withdrawn while shopping with friends because it contributes to feeling overexposed is more symptomatic of introversion, and you may feel more susceptible to your anxieties, but that anxiety comes from something that isn’t, itself, introversion.

Now, things like “when you can email or IM a company for customer service instead of calling”, “recharging after a long stretch of socializing”, “writing (because it’s so much easier for you to process your thoughts by writing them down than by speaking them)”, and “cherishing your small group of close friends, as opposed to trying to maintain a huge circle of acquaintances”, these are things that run pretty universally throughout the introvert community (we don’t get together often if it requires leaving the house), and I can much more easily say they’re the result of the introversion, and not more likely some other problem.

For some introverts, it can feel like they really do hate people and socializing (and they’re all thinking silent, but very angry thoughts at me for saying they don’t), and being in public, or at parties, or out shopping is a genuine source of anxiety, because they know the people involved will only want to make them interact in ways that cause them to lose the most energy and take them furthest from their comfort zones, but the anxiety isn’t the introversion.  The anxiety is the reaction you have to the way others treat you through their lack of understanding or care for things you can’t really control.  Do I therefore think the people who experience these moments aren’t true introverts?  No, of course not, because you can be an introvert and still have high social anxiety, or be an introvert who is also very shy, or be an introvert with heaps of OCD, but proclaiming to the world that feeling socially awkward and worried about what people are thinking of you is part of being an introvert is like claiming that touching a light switch exactly thirty-two times every time you leave or enter a room is part of it as well, just because you’re an introvert who happens to have OCD.  If you feel these things, you may b an introvert who happens to suffer from social anxiety.

There are enough bite-sized articles disseminating misinformation about introversion as it is — since apparently it’s single-handedly responsible for all deep thought in the universe*–; don’t help it along by confusing social anxiety/shyness with being an introvert.  They can go hand in hand, but one is not the other, and they aren’t a package deal.  The terms introvert and extrovert really only refer to how you get your energy, or how you recharge when drained.  Extroverts recharge by being in group settings, and pull from those around them.  Introverts recharge by being alone, or with very little interaction from others.  So, while that list may have some things introverts (and, honestly, pretty much everyone else on the planet) like, some of the specifics assume traits that are completely inconsistent with the actual meaning of Introvert.

Here’s a thing for your short attention span, Internet.

Next Time: How to Apply Common Sense to Every Day Situations

Next Time: How to Apply Common Sense to Everyday Situations

If you want some less-than-bite-sized articles that actually do address introversion intelligently, and positively, here are a few I’ve found.  If you only read one article about introversion today (this blog doesn’t count), make it the first link; you won’t be sorry (assuming you want an understanding of what introversion and extroversion actually mean, and not some validation that you’re a deep, intelligent person, with thoughts far beyond the comprehension of more shallow, “extroverted” commoners, because if that’s what you’re looking for you, you can just walk off the tallest cliff right now).

The Introvert Fetish – Cyborgology

Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert?  What It Means for Your Career – Fast Company

The Internet’s Love Affair with Introverts – Slate

Are Introverts Smarter Than Extroverts? – Huffington Post

Oh, and this guy’s a dick.  Introverts are In! – Bob Goldman, Townhall Finance

*”Do you have a penchant for philosophical conversations and a love of thought-provoking books and movies? If so, you’re a textbook introvert.” —

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Ben Affleck is Batman, and Your Angst is the Worst.

There are only so many ways you can hear or read “You know, I feel very strongly that Ben Affleck is the wrong choice for the new Batman movie, chief among the reasons being the fact that I believe he is very untalented and will not do the role justice.” When that opinion is phrased in any variation of “OMG, BEN AFFLECK AS BATMAN IS THE WORST! /WRIST!” it makes it that much harder not to want to set you on fire and 300 kick you into a pit of spikes.

I get we’re all pretty sure Ben Affleck is going to murder the role, and everyone who wants to emphasize giving him a chance will cite our previous uncertainty about Heath Leger giving way to more support and appreciation than not, but the internet and social media are so magical that within an hour of the announcement, it became old news. All news is old news on the internet, as anyone who has come across a funny picture on reddit three hours before it appears on FB will leap to tell you as condescendingly as possible, but this becomes extra true when it involves negative opinions about anything. These negative opinions quickly devolve from “This displeases me” into a group tantrum contest where I can only assume the winner is the person who manages to sound the most personally victimized by the decisions made by people who don’t know them, regarding the fate of things they love, or vaguely enjoy on occasion, but in a really specific way that will be completely destroyed forever by whatever just happened.

So, from this point forward, you’re whining. You’re a whiny, obnoxious, self-centered child-being who can’t let go of something over which you have no control, but which somehow dictates the rest of your entire life and ability to enjoy anything ever again. At least, that’s the impression I get from how vocal you are about the travesty that is, I guess, hiring Ben Affleck for anything, but especially letting him dress up as Batman.

But, you know, I guess it is WAY more important to have a fit over Ben Affleck and Batman than it is to be socially aware of literally anything else happening on this planet. No, you go ahead. The world’s problems will wait till you’re done.

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An Open Letter to DirecTV Guy

#RealityCheck – I’m sorry, you’re right, @DirecTVService Representative on the phone.  I must have completely imagined the attractive technician who came out here and installed the fresh-out-of-the-box receiver in the guest room.  No, no.  Your records showing it was mailed out as a replacement for the unit that stopped working in my grandmother’s room, which I guess I imagined you replacing more than a year ago, but which we never bothered to activate, is totally exactly what’s going on here.  Thank you for clarifying that despite my having seen the man hook up and activate the receiver in the guest room, it’s actually never been used, and is, as stated, the replacement you mailed out.  So, yes, I’ve also imagined every show I never watched through it, being as it was never activated ever.

What’s that?  I can toss out the unusable unit myself with no obligation to ship it back to you?  Your generosity knows no bounds.

Oh, and yes.  I asked if you send replacement remotes because I’m not using the remote from the living room, I’m using the remote that came with the unit that wasn’t installed by a technician when my friend Brian wasn’t boarding here last year.  You have all the answers, DirecTV guy.  You are my guru.  I should bake you a cake.  Oh, wait, do I even know how to bake a cake?  What if I only imagined having baked in the past, and in fact have no idea what a cake is!  Come back, DirecTV guy!  Do I know how to bake a cake?!

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When did __________ become _________er than _________?: A Rant.

Propaganda you think is hilariously insightful and appropriate to your life right now.

If you came here today expecting or hoping to find a post related to writing and/or MadLIBS, I’m very sorry to disappoint you, but an issue has come up.  And that issue is how we as women seem so happy to attack each other based on appearance.  Yes, there’s definitely a certain amount contributed to this issue by men, but I’m not talking about men.  I’m talking about how women all over the internet, Facebook especially, though probably also Tumblr and Twitter (though I don’t know those sites well enough to say for sure), will link the above picture and chortle with all their male and female friends about how curves are what define a woman as real, and no skinny woman in that picture is attractive in the least, and “Look at how malnourished they are!”, and “Oh, I can’t date skinny women; I’m too afraid I’ll snap their little chicken bones!”, and “C’mon!  Eat a burger!  Amirite?!”

They’re also perfectly justified in having the opinion that curves are beautiful, so don’t think I’m angrily turning around and saying “You’re all wrong, and shut up!”  There are just as many curvy women I find unappealing as skinny, because I have opinions like anyone else, and we’re all welcome to share them.  It’s when opinion starts crossing over into personal attack territory that I really start to protest.

When did it become okay for us to attack each other based on how much fat we do or don’t have? Why is this the last frontier in the fight for protection against discrimination?  And why is it women doing it to other women?  (Note: I don’t accept “cattiness” as an answer.  It is an excuse to allow bad behavior to continue, rather than taking responsibility for being petty.)

I would like to believe that this meme is not intentionally breeding pettiness in women, but how many times have you seen responses to this picture praising “real women” for having curves, or outright insulting women who don’t have “enough”?  This is a problem, people!  ALL women are REAL women, regardless of how anorexic or overweight they appear to someone else, and the more time we as women spend degrading each other over something as trivial as the virtues of pronounced hips vs. pronounced ribs, the less time we spend supporting each other. Don’t try to tell me that this isn’t degrading, either, because by using terms like “real women” and “when did X become sexier than X” you rob the subject in question of something intrinsic, something you have no place to say they lack. To make this more personal, though, since phrases like “the subject in question” sounds so clinical and distant; what you’re doing is personally telling another woman “You’re not a real woman.  Period.”  When you say that, you rob them of the value you appoint to “real women”, placing them lower in your opinion for no better reason than you dislike how they look. You rob them, in your own opinion, of the ability to appeal to someone sexually, judging and criticizing them for falling short of your preferences.  Sound familiar to anyone?

There’s a link to vintage ads floating around, all of which claimed at the time to help women put on weight because that’s how you “get dates”. (There’s even one in there for men.)  This has been spread (at times) in the same spirit as the picture above, to re-establish and support the idea that bigger doesn’t mean less beautiful, a message that in and of itself is not the problem, because there is a need to teach our women, young and old, that beauty isn’t the number you wear, and that’s good.  The problem with the vintage ads is that they were written by mad men playing on the socially accepted idea at the time that a woman’s goals should be to get married and support her husband from the home, so don’t drive away those eager young men, Olive Oil; get some meat on those bones!  Putting a positive interpretation on scare tactics used to manipulate women into fitting this ideal dictated by a small portion of society (not to say that only a small portion shared this view, but that a small portion was in control of what was said about it to the public) doesn’t change the fact that the original sentiment was wrong.

This picture may not come from the same male-centric standpoint, but that makes it far worse, because this actually could have been put together by a woman, a woman with more curves than the classic beauties portrayed (and let us also remember that a size 14 in Marilyn’s day was closer to a modern 10, which, by today’s standards is considered small.  Yes, clothing stores will call them “medium”, and when feeling surly “large”, but when your size 10 friend tells you she’s too fat, you quickly reassure her in your most “I’m fighting the urge to hurl your skinny ass out the window” voice that she is, indeed, quite thin.).  But, a woman may have sat at her computer, snatching up pictures of skinny women she felt embodied the modern interpretation of “skinny is beautiful” while emphasizing how malnourished they look (which is unfair as well, since many women now judged for being “too skinny” are at the target weight for their frames and body types), and then compared them to women from a different era that she felt embodied her personal beauty aesthetic to claim that her version of beauty was better.  Now, really, there are only two options as to the gender of the person who originally put this together, and when you break it down it’s the presentation of the opinion that’s the real problem, but just the knowledge that there’s a 50% chance a woman began disseminating this breaks my heart a little.

I don’t argue against spreading images that build you up – we all need a little lesson in self love now and then -, but there are ways to do it that don’t disparage another individual or group of individuals.  Most of us seem to think this is okay because “big girls” had to put up with this, so now it’s their turn to have a say.  The same attacks larger women, some of whom can’t lose the weight, have faced for not being what modern magazines tell us is the height of beauty (just as vintage magazines told us skinny was then what plus size is now) are perpetrated against smaller women, some of whom can’t -GAIN- the weight, often by the very same women who suffered similar attacks in the first place, and many people nod their heads and say “Well, it’s about time.”  But what I think really needs to be asked is “How does disparaging the appearance of other women fix what’s wrong with society’s image of beauty?”  It’s not the fault of the skinny women pictured that the shift in aesthetic happened, so why are you targeting them?

(Spoiler: I do not think that word means what you think it means.)

If you can’t make out everything in the image there, it’s a different set of thin women and the same set of pin-up girls, only this time it’s a Demotivational Poster that says “LETS BE FAIR.” (Which needs an apostrophe in “let’s”, but that’s unimportant.)  And below that:  “It didn’t.”  But that isn’t really fair, either, is it?  The better argument isn’t that skinny never replaced curvaceous as beautiful.  There is no improving an argument that can be reduced, at its most fundamental level, to “Skinny isn’t hot, curvy is.”  You’re fighting a battle of opinions, and lashing out at women who have done you absolutely no harm.  You don’t even know these women, but you’re willing to point the finger and say “No, I’m pretty, not you.”  This sounds an awful lot like playground bullying, to me.

See, we don’t approve of domestic violence and abuse for obvious reasons, but in addition to the physical, mental, and emotional damage it causes to the victims, it can also create new abusers; that (usually correct) theory about bullies in the schools lashing out because of abusive home lives?  Yeah, that one.  Are we no better than school yard bullies with alcoholic parents? This “skinny women vs. curvy women” debate divides us. You can look at it from any angle you want and try to reason away how the debate is not a bad thing, but the fact is that it divides us as women and fosters an environment of judgement. Is that really what we need to do to each other?

Prithee, councilor! Recount to me the time wherein THIS did attain more praise for that most delicious of sinful delights, which may only be bespoke away from the delicate blooms which do so vex us, than that appearance which even now wouldst fair cause my heart and loin to stir as one? In faith! Was it so long ago?

No, ribald gentleman of the past, t’were not so long ago.

How often have you, or someone you know, complained that the “Reubinesque” figure was the height of beauty and never should have been changed? I bet few also address the fact that it was the height of beauty at a time where a more generous figure was proof of wealth and good health, of the luxury of life that meant they weren’t slaving away, just scraping by to get enough food to survive the next week, and sometimes just the next day. Given what modern Western society provides, that same generous figure is now usually evidence of someone just scraping by to get enough food to survive the next week, because the cheapest food is also the least healthy.  Many people also perceive a lethargy and lack of personal care that is decidedly unappealing, regardless of how true it is.

The opinions regarding beauty change with the society sharing them for a reason, and even though we face a lot of grief and struggle against the fashion industry with their Twiggy-esque models, and magazines telling us to lose all the weight, I think you’ll find that the overwhelming majority find healthy to be height of beauty.  It’s healthy,  in whatever form that takes for the individual, that appeals.

Even if that form is factory standard and comes with Cyclopes-style visor eyes, or Unsettlingly Similar To Your High School Ex-girlfriend face.

I think what upsets me the most about the original image is that so many women glom onto it and wave it like a victory flag while they shout from the rooftops “Yes!  Yes!  Curvy is better than what Hollywood tells us is beautiful!  When will you all learn that this is what REAL women look like?!”

But what about this?

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Let me type that out for you again.  “Real women are curvy.  Real women are also slender, muscular, chubby, skinny, voluptuous, gangly, and shapely.  We’re all real.  We’re all women.  Deal with it!”

Instead of waving your validation banner around, why don’t you grab onto THIS image and make IT viral.  At least then you’ll be helping your fellow woman realize that fitting just one imposed ideal of beauty isn’t what defines her as a woman, and it isn’t what makes her beautiful.

This is my friend, Rachel.

Pictured: A beautiful, strong woman.

Rachel is beautiful.  She is the perfect illustration of a beautiful woman being beautiful in herself, not because she’s curvy, not because she’s skinny, but because she’s strong.  I think this speaks louder than any picture I could have searched for, and if anything THIS should be a banner around which we as women rally.  We CAN do it.  Whatever “it” is, we can do it, but we need our sisters to keep us strong.

Support each other, because we are our mothers, our daughters, our sisters, our grandmothers, our nieces, our aunts, and our cousins.  We are every woman who has come before us, and every woman who will come after us.  And that should mean something.  Make it mean something.

And I’m spent. I want Kahlua in my coffee and a big ol’ Amy snuggle.  Y’all bitches be trippin’.

We’ll return you to your regularly scheduled literature lesson sprinkled liberally with humor on Wednesday.  Or maybe Wednesday will be a MadLIB to make up for today.  WHO KNOWS!  (I bet it’s a MadLIB.)

—–

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Adalnd Monroe is not a militant femi-nazi, but she does get tired of seeing visual and verbal attacks against a woman’s appearance or physique hidden behind the intention of raising the self-esteem of another group, especially when it’s another group of women.  She would like all of her sisters to please at least TRY to remember that ALL women ARE REAL women, regardless of your visual preferences, and that you don’t get to decide what does or doesn’t qualify them as being “real”.

When she’s not rant-paging about sisterhood, you can find her a-tick-a-typing away on genre fiction, or blog posts about the process of writing, and probably bunnies.

Read “Don’t Let Her In”.  It’s creepy and free.

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Wendigging the Debate

One man dedicated to fabricating the truth from other fabricated truths: The Real American Hero

Presidential debate correspondent and aggressive pen-monkey, Chuck Wendig, infiltrated the town-hall-styled presidential debate Tuesday, October 16.  As he crouched beneath moderator Candy Crowley’s desk, fogging up his glasses with his own moist exhalations, he tweeted to the public the historical events as they transpired.  This is a complete transcript of Mr. Wendig’s coverage:

Glimpses of Obama pre-debate confirm aggressiveness. He is seen biting a rattlesnake in half and chugging its blood and venom.

Obama then yells: “Welcome to Barack-Town! Population: My Foot In Your Ass.”

Romney wins the coin toss, which means he gets first chance to fake wash a bunch of pots to show his fake support for the poor.

Romney: “I want you to get a job! But China ate them all.”

Romney: “I’m going to make sure you can get hired to make iPhones in a Shanghai sweatshop.”

Romney: “My plan to put people back to work is to undo the Republican dick-jam clogging up Congress’ pipes like an old tampon!”

Obama: “I got a five-point plan, too. Five fingers form a fist and punch Mittens in his crotch-wallet. BOOM.”

Man in audience asks: “Why are you a Muslim Kenyan Martian Socialist Gay Married Christmas-Hater?” Is unmasked as Donald Trump.

Romney just answers the next question by licking his fingers and smoothing his eyebrows, then chuckling.

Romney holds up a golf ball: “This is clean coal!” Then he sets it on fire and warms his hands by it.

Obama: “Truth is, Governor Romney is a lying-faced liar that lies, and his pants are on fire. And full of poop.”

Asked about renewable energy, Romney just squeezes his hair, drinks it, spits it into a Zippo flame and BOOSH.

Now they’re just hitting each other with their microphones. WHUMP BOONG FWUMP FFFMMM BUMP

Obama starts explaining economic theory. Romney makes fart noises and monkey sounds in the background.

(In a brief moment of seriousness, Chuck comments on Romney as being “a smug douchenozzle.”)

Question from audience: “Governor, how do you plan to pay for all your tax cuts?” Romney: “Chinamen. I mean, Keebler elves.”

Romney is now holding the moderator’s head in a toilet bowl he appears to have brought from home.

Romney: “I want to help those middle class families that earn more than a frabjillion dollars per year.”

Upon hearing his name, Bill Clinton rides in on a Kodiak bear wearing a gladiator costume. Bronzed and oiled.

Romney: “I am going to force the wealthy to pay more tax–HAHAHA heehee I can’t do it sorry! I josh! I josh!”

Obama: “Romney’s plan will cost us five trillion dollars.” Romney: “I make that much in a week!”

While Obama is speaking, Romney is wandering around the audience selling snake oil and bad mortgages.

The moderator just pulled out a Taser.

Outside the debate, Big Bird just doused himself in gas and set his golden feathers ablaze.

Romney: “I love affirmative action. That’s a Republican thing, right? It’s not? I hate affirmative action.”

Romney: “I love women. I smack their asses when they do a good job. I give them kisses & candies. They prefer that to raises.”

Romney: “I think abortions are delicious. Wait, what are we talking about?”

Romney: “I GET NEXT ANSWER WAIT SHUT UP ME NOW NEXT FIRST I SAY THINGS NOW STOMPY STOMPY BOO BOO.”

Romney: “I will trade our women to China and that will balance our budget.”

Obama: “I promise to hunt and kill Honey Boo Boo. And film it. Seal Team Six stands ready.”

The moderator is loading a handgun. For herself? Remains unclear.

Obama: “Here is Osama bin Laden’s head. Let us now play kickball with it and end this charade.”

Obama firmly strokes his turgid erection. Bill Clinton and he lock eyes, and share a wink.

Romney: “Obama only did 92% of the things he said he’d do. Zing! Gotcha, nerd! Go back to Kenya!”

Woman asks about immigration. Romney explains that they will serve in an annual “Hunger Games” event.

Romney: “Immigrants can bow out of the Hunger Games provided they agree to serve as building materials.”

Romney explains that his strategy is “to say whatever works to make you like me, When that fails, I will release angry bees.”

Romney: “I sucked four years ago. Hell, I was high on goofballs during the GOP primaries. You shouldn’t quote me.”

(Reflecting on the events with another rare moment of sincerity, Chuck had this to say: “I just want Obama to punch Romney in the ear, Fight Club-style.”)

Obama: “In my next four years I will enact legislation to punish those who interrupt during debates. Seal Team Six is ready.”

Romney just had a terrorist attack in his pants.

Obama gets mad, Shoots lasers out of his eyes. Buzzsaw blades from his mouth.

Obama: “I want to keep guns out of the hands of orangutans, clowns, postal workers, children, grandchildren, and Republicans.”

Romney: “I think children should be raised by guns. Straight guns, Not gay guns. Because, ew.”

Weird. Romney has a dead dog strapped to the top of his podium.

(Gripped by a fever of lucidity, Chuck tweeted: One of these guys is a President. The other is a CEO. Choose wisely.)

The moderator is unlocking a tiger cage.

They pan over the audience. Turns out, undecided voters are basically a pack of unwashed hobos. One guy is sniffing his hands.

Romney: “The key to getting tough on China is enacting legislation to make sure we get crispy, spicy General Tso’s chicken.”

Romney: “I plan on solving immigration by sending Obamacare to China and then shooting Libya with guns and tax cuts.”

The undecided voter audience is now eating one another. I suspect bath salts. Or some kind of Walking Dead voodoo.

Romney: “China hacked my BIOS and made me say all kinds of crazy things during the primaries.”

Last question of the night: “Do you like anal?” Where do they get these people?

Obama and audience member named Barry form a detective team, Barry and Barry. This fall, on ABC.

Real debate: these two dudes seriously do not like one another. I really thought they were gonna start kickboxing or some shit.

—–

As the president and former governor slowly drifted toward their respective females, and the audience cautiously swarmed the celebridential candidates, Chuck had this final observation to offer before strapping on a jet-pack and rocketing through the hall and out the window in the ladies room:

“Both candidates explode. Everyone dies.”

He offered a follow up when spotted later in a tree several blocks away: “The audience of that debate looked like shelves of mummies.”

—–

Chuck Wendig is the spectacularly talented author of MOCKINGBIRD, a screenwriter of indescribable greatness, and free-lance pen-monkey capable of flinging poo with deadly accuracy.  He keeps a regular blog you can (and will) check out immediately, and is highly followable on Twitter as @ChuckWendig.  Go do these things.  Regret will not follow.  Or it will, but it’s the kind of regret you’ll keep reliving alone at midnight with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and your own tears for comfort.

“Set phasers to love me” indeed!

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