Category Archives: Psychology

Why women frighten me

Have you ever had an argument with a woman where there were passive-aggressive (or aggressive-aggressive) remarks being passed back and forth. In this situation you are the underdog. Either you are being berated or you are being made to feel you have done something wrong.

The negative remarks are escalating in intensity. You can feel the woman pawing at the boundaries of what you will put up with, how far she can push you before you push back. And then she says it. She goes too far. She knows you well enough to know exactly which button to push. And when you look up at her you see something.

It’s a happy, hateful glint in her eyes, like she is enjoying putting you down, like she has one-upped you. A look that says “I am bigger than you and I got to you, and that makes me happy.”

That look is why I am terrified of women. I have never seen anything that even approaches such pleasure-taking in cruelty in a man. For all the terrible/bizarre things I’ve put up with in romantic relationships, no man has ever looked at me that way.

I have, however, seen that look from three women. Countless times from my mother. But also, memorably, on my twenty-first birthday from a girl I thought was a dear friend in college. I also saw it from the girl who bullied me in middle school as she told me she and my other three friends no longer wanted to hang out with me. It scares the shit out of me.

The terrifying thing about the glint is that it’s not derived from anger or sadness. It looks like success, like pleasure. It’s a happy internal moment for the woman, derived from your downfall.

In my mother, the glint disappears if you get close to mentioning the kind of hatred that brings it on. If you force her into your mindset (she has to be forced), the light is quickly extinguished. She says, “I would have rather had a nice, dumb daughter than a smart bitch.” I see the glint. I say, “Wow, that is incredibly hurtful.” The glint is extinguished. But she would keep going if I didn’t stop her. Sometimes I let it go past the glint-inducing comment, just to see how deep the rabbit hole goes, but I usually don’t last much longer.

My point is that I think the glint is an opening to a world men are rarely privy to. Women simply do not aggress toward men the way they do toward other women. And in many groups there is a silent undercurrent running among women that men are blissfully unaware of. I wonder if men even see things like the glint, or if they slip below their notice. I hope men are perceptive enough to run hard and fast in the other direction if they accidentally stumble upon this kind of woman, but I often worry that they’re not. This kind of woman is very skilled at concealing what she is, at least for a while.

At certain moments in my life, I have felt that women have a special hatred for me. I don’t know if they target me because I give off the impression of frailty because I am thin and I have a quiet speaking voice or because I’m an asshole. Or if I target them because I attract abusers because of my relationship with my mother (before I entered therapy, abusers made me feel so comfortable and complete, an experience shared by many people who have been abused).

I have been blessed with some truly loving, fulfilling, gentle relationships with women. These relationships have been tested and they endure. And my radar is now attuned to seek out and eliminate from my life women who can produce “the glint.” If you recognize this characteristic in yourself, please seek help and stay far away from me.

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How to know when you’re ready to have children

If I had to choose one, I would say the most difficult moment in my life so far came right after I realized I would never be loved like a child is loved by his or her mother.

I heard that friends can be your new family, and that finding The One would pervade my being and fill all the gaps left by a multitude of emotional cuts and scrapes. I expected too much of my friends and hoped for the world in each new relationship. I held out hope for a long time, thinking the hole would fill as I concentrated on the love of friends, distracted myself with a variety of substances and activities. The right combination of love and life would make me feel whole.

It never happened. It was heartbreaking.

The reality is that nothing can replace the affection, kindness, and nurturing of a loving parent. I am never going to get that, because I have an emotionally limited parent who is incapable of giving that to me. I am the child of a narcissist who had a child for the wrong reasons. Do not be this person. Put in the work to learn how to help your child grow into a complete person AND a life-long companion.

This is how you know you’re ready to have children:

1. You have worked through your own emotional and psychological issues. Are you depressed? Are you a narcissist? Do you have a personality disorder? Are you excessively anxious? Do you lack close friends? Are you addicted to drugs (legal or illegal) or alcohol? If the answer to any of these question is “yes,” or “maybe” or “I don’t know,” you are not ready to have children. You need psychological counseling and you have a long journey ahead of you to fix yourself before you are ready to have children.

Young children cannot understand mental disorders, and they suffer under the care of someone who is unable to nurture, guide, and care for them appropriately. Infants born from an adverse prenatal environment (in the womb of a pregnant woman who is experiencing extreme stress or a mental disorder or who is unable to regulate her emotions), have more difficulty regulating their own emotions, are more likely to be unhappy, are more likely to express negative affect, and may be more likely to commit suicide later in life.

2. You know a lot about child development. Do you know how long you should breast feed your baby? The answer is: 2-5 years. Is your twelve-year-old capable of advanced moral reasoning (can he understand, in a complete way, why he shouldn’t do things)? No, and he won’t have a fully developed prefrontal cortex until he is in his mid twenties. How often should you touch your child as an infant? All the time, and you should keep up with the close, physical contact until your child is at least 2. You should be asking many questions like this and having them answered by science and scientists (not by your intuition).

You need to understand how your child’s mind is developing and what she needs at every stage of her life. Find out what developmentally appropriate games you can play with your child, learn about what issues she might be going through. This means being attentive and reading literature and understanding the science behind it. This means asking relevant questions (without prying) like: “Who are your close friends at school and what do you like about them (who are they drawn to and why)?” and “Has anyone ever been mean to you at school (are they being bullied)?” and “Do you have any questions about sexual health or how to have safe sex?”

If you do not know the answers to these questions (and especially if you have not even asked questions like this), you are not ready to have children.

3. If you didn’t have a good model for how to be a good parent, you found one. If you doubt your capabilities to be a parent (which every responsible adult should do), make sure you have a good model for what a parent should be. Find a spouse who has a warm, loving family. Look for friends who have healthy and happy children and do what they do.

If you don’t have any friends, having a child is going to be extremely difficult and your child will not have appropriate opportunities to develop social skills and close social relationships. If you don’t have friends, take a long, hard look at what you are doing and why you don’t have friends. Then fix it. If you need the help of a psychologist or psychiatrist, seek it out. Don’t assume you’ll learn as you go along. Positive social supports and scaffolding for building social relationships need to be in place before you have children.

If you do not have friends or if you do not have a clear idea of what kind of parent you want to be, you are not ready to have children.

4. You have grown the fuck up. You are not ready to have children unless you realize what goes into raising them. As in love, the process of growing with another human being is one of hard work and almost infinite patience. The work is often fun and rewarding, but it is still work.

If you are not adult enough to walk into a poop-smeared room and still pick up the child who did the smearing and hug and love him while calmly explaining why spreading poop all over our possessions may not be the right thing to do, you are not emotionally mature and you are not ready to have children.

Is your house filthy and unsafe for a child? Do you have dangerous pets? Do you and your spouse have a vitriolic or immature/shallow relationship? Are you financially unable to care for a child? Do you lack a clear understanding of the work required of a parent? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes” or “maybe,” you are not ready to have children.

5. You realize a child is an autonomous creature. If you have control issues, you need to deal with them before you have a child. Your child is going to be independent. He is going to have ideas that are different than yours, he is going to have experiences that you have not had, he is going to see things that you do not want him to. Such is life. You can spend years fighting it, attempting to claim the moral high-ground, and/or arguing with your child, or you can give him autonomy to explore the world as a normal human being.

There is an internet meme going around that says something like, “I nag, pester, annoy, and bitch at you because I love you and I’m your mother. When you understand this, that’s when I know you’re a responsible adult.” That is bullshit, and a product of a poor understanding of how to mother a child. I shudder to think how many abusers and terrible mothers have that meme plastered on their digital or physical walls. A better way to approach a child is with patience, respect, love, and understanding and (always) a clear explanation of why things are happening. If you can’t do that, you are not ready to have children.

And finally…

6. You have empathy for others and you are a caring person. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be a complete, loving person before you start having children. You want to be (and to seek out a partner who is) fun, playful, attentive, loving, and accepting. Men, if you are going to be the breadwinner of the household, and your wife is going to be a stay-at-home mom, make sure she is a caring woman and will be a good mother to your children. Take as much time as you need to make sure.

Links on parenting:

-Darcia Narvaez’s thoughts on evolutionary parenting.

-Psychology Today’s parenting articles.

Information about postpartum depression.

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Why I Hate the “Fat is Beautiful” Movement

I am a size zero. Being thin is in my genes. I eat. I am healthy and happy. I have to work hard every day to put on (and keep on) fat and muscle. It’s a struggle.

So I had a visceral reaction the first time I saw Dove’s “real women have curves” campaign for “real bodies.” The idea seems good on the surface, but what idea is Dove really selling us?

Dove is a multi-million-dollar corporation. The idea that Dove is encouraging “real” beauty by selling us beauty products is, in itself, laughable. Dove uses statistics (like this one: “Only 2% of women describe themselves as beautiful”) and images of women’s bodies to sell us the idea that Dove is made for “real” women (not those skinny bitches who are not “real” women). The message is incredibly cynical and insidious.

In other words. They are using this image:

Dove Advertisement

…to do the same thing to women as does this image:

What advertising is selling women is the gap. For Dove, the gap is between “real” women and “not-real” (skinny) women. For Armani, the gap is between you and the ideal woman. Either way, the end-game is to get you to buy things. The problem is that this message is a destructive one that seeps below the surface and poisons our thoughts about ourselves and about women on the other side of all the manufactured gaps.

I cringe every time I hear a corporation (or person) bang on about how only large/curvy/thin/fat/big/skinny women are healthy or beautiful. Such messages are not just hurtful to every woman excluded from the body-of-the-year definition of what is beautiful, they are also concepts mobilized to encourage competition and dissatisfaction among women. They funnel female energy away from loving, accepting, and nurturing one another and into competing with each other over what is most attractive and appealing.

I would say I wish male bodies were exposed to the same scrutiny as ours, but that’s not the solution. The solution starts with showing men (and women) the effect they can have on female health and self-esteem by being kind, accepting, and loving toward women instead of belittling, categorizing, and objectifying them.

Yes, fat is beautiful. So is thin.

The next time you are tempted to criticize another woman’s body, just imagine a man (let’s make him unattractive, whatever your idea of unattractive is) leaning back in his leather chair and smiling cynically at the inertia he has created to feed into the destruction of female self-esteem. Every time we push each other down, he is winning.

I refuse to buy Dove products and prefer real images like this:

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Universal Morality: In the Final Analysis

Thirty years after he wrote them, Dr. Kent Keith was shocked and thrilled to hear his “Paradoxical Commandments” (see below) read as a poem attributed to Mother Theresa. He discovered the basis of the connection between himself and Mother Theresa through library research and began to speak about his work again.

Since then, Dr. Keith has become a renowned writer and public speaker (and lawyer) who has put years of work into parsing out universal ethics and exploring the field of positive psychology.

drkentkeith@hotmail.com.

In addition to writing beautifully, Keith has produced a clear list of universal ethics–ideas that are common among all the major religions and on which we can agree even if we do not believe in a higher power. He calls this The Universal Moral Code.

Keith’s Universal Moral Code can be distilled into two main tenets: “Do no harm” and “Do Good.” The complete list contains twenty-two actions we can take (“Be generous,” “Take care of your children when they are young”) or not take (“Do not physically or verbally abuse others,” “Do not do to others what you would not like for them to do to you”) to be moral, ethical humans.

I am fascinated by the commonalities among the beliefs of ethical people and am always curious to discover what ethics seem to be innate in humans (most ethics) and which are ‘created’ through religious idiosyncrasies or legal peculiarities.

Keith and I are not the only people who seek clarity on what ethics we can all agree upon.

"Penn Fraser Jillette (born March 5, 1955) is an American magician, comedian, illusionist, juggler, bassist and a best-selling author." I copied that directly from Wikipedia, because it is awesome.

In 2011, Glen Beck challenged Penn Jilette (of Penn and Teller) to come up with an Athiest’s version of the Ten Commandments and this is what he came up with.

Jilette’s list has a lot in common with Keith’s, but it is more parsimonious and elegant. He includes a commandment to rest, to “Put aside some time to rest and think” in his fourth commandment. This commandment encompasses all forms of religious ‘rest’ (Shabbat, Sunday for Christians, snake-handling, whatever). His other commandments include the abstract: “The highest ideals are human intelligence, creativity and love. Respect these above all.” And the simple: “Keep your promises. (If you can’t be sexually exclusive to your spouse, don’t make that deal).”

Keith and Jilette each provide a wonderful base of commonality among all humans: religious, spiritual, and non-believing. What a beautiful project. What ethics do you think are universal? Is there anything missing from Keith’s or Jilette’s list? Is there anything that should be taken out of either list?

The Final Analysis (Dr. Kent M. Keith)
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. Succeed anyway.
If  you are honest and frank, people may cheat you. Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight. Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the FINAL analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

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6 Groundbreaking Psychology Experiments that Scarred Participants for Life

Psychologists are wonderful people. They’ve given us psychoanalysis, Celebrity Rehab, and Ritalin. Psychologists are also generally ethical, kind people out to do good and improve our understanding of human behavior.

However, sometimes people do some ethically dubious things in the name of science. For example…

6. Little Albert

Remember Ivan Pavlov, the guy who’s famous for making dogs droll in response to a bell?

"I’m a genius! Where’s my Nobel Prize?!"

Pavlov is famous for demonstrating classical conditioning. Classical conditioning works like this: Humans are pretty dumb, so we try to make everything easier on ourselves. We put things together that don’t really go together. For example, if your local bartender slaps you in the face every time you order a vodka-cranberry, you’ll start cowering in terror every time you smell vodka or cranberries.

It’s not really the vodka or the cranberries; she just hates you

Conditioning is responsible for those heart-flutters you feel every time you smell your ex-girlfriend’s perfume. It’s also why a junkie can’t visit his former crack-house without going into a self-destructive, needle-poking rampage.

The experiment:

In 1920, John Watson and Rosalie Rayner wanted to top Pavlov’s work and see if classical conditioning could work on a human baby. They chose a normal, eight-month-old baby who they dubbed “Little Albert.”

They started by showing Little Albert a white rat, then slamming a hammer onto a metal rod. Little Albert wasn’t initially afraid of the rat, but the crazy hammering sound was terrifying, so he soon learned to associate the rat with fear and misery.

After Little Albert was satisfactorily terrified by the white rat, Watson and Rayner used the same process to make him afraid of other white/fluffy things: a rabbit, cotton, Santa Claus, and a white seal fur coat (because, you know, this was the 1920’s).

I wasn’t there, but I assume their thinking went something like this: “Wow, those drooling dogs were adorable! How much more exciting would this experiment be if we used an infant instead of a dog? But instead of letting the baby smell delicious steaks all day, we’ll make sure every time he sees something white and fluffy, it will scare the bejeezus out of him! What could possibly go wrong?”

Where it went wrong:

Unfortunately, Watson and Rayner chose the color white. There are a lot of white things in the world, and we can only assume that all of them terrified eight-month-old Little Albert after his encounter with science.

Even worse, Little Albert left the lab before the experimenter was able to get rid of his fear of everything white (probably because Little Albert refused to see the mean, evil scientists at this point). So, essentially, Watson and Rayner gave an infant an enduring terror of all things fluffy and white and then never fixed the problem.

Not pictured: Little Albert shitting his pants at his first job interview

5. Oklahoma Sonic Boom Tests

The experiment:

Also known as “Operation Bongo” (yes, really), the Oklahoma Sonic Boom Tests were carried out in Oklahoma City across six months in 1964 by the Federal Aviation Administration to parse out the sociological and economic factors in sonic boom flights over rural areas. The FAA wanted to figure out if the US could use supersonic transcontinental air travel.

Seems important…

Where it went wrong:

Except that a sonic boom is sound. A lot of it. Just for some perspective, a sonic boom can reach 200 decibels at ground level. That’s one million times the sound of a cricket. Or 3.5 thousand times the sound of the average fart.

Although residents of Oklahoma city were initially receptive to the experiment, they got tired of the sonic booms pretty quickly. The force of the booms broke 147 windows and led to a class action law suit by the residents of Oklahoma city against the federal government. The FAA concluded that sonic booms were “tolerated” and hundreds of thousands of people in Oklahoma concluded that the federal government is composed entirely of assholes.

"Turns out, poor people will tolerate a shit-load of noise!"

4. Facial Expressions Experiment

The experiment:

In 1924, Carney Landis, a psychologist from the University of Minnesota wanted to do an experiment to figure out whether people make universal facial expressions unique to different emotions.

The study had many awesome implications for teaching autistic children about emotions and teaching men how to approach the gentler sex.

If you start apologizing for existing now, you might still get laid tonight.

Where it went wrong:

As part of the experiment, to induce a ‘disgust’ facial expression, participants were asked to behead a live rat. They had no instructions and no training to perform the procedure in an ethical manner. So, this was pretty freaking terrifying for all of them.

Although the idea was admirable, the experiment actually produced no positive results. Turns out we really are beautiful and unique snowflakes when we look at really gross stuff.

3. MK-ULTRA

The 1960’s were a glorious time in American history. Love was free, racism was falling out of vogue, and your parents were drying weed in their ovens to go to Woodstock.

I don't know about you, but I had fun.

MK-ULTRA was the code name for a series of experiments conducted by the CIA during the 1960’s. The CIA? Well there must be nothing to worry about; they’re totally trustworthy! Right?

The experiment:

Wrong. Although the original stated goal was “mind control,” what they actually did was test LSD on unsuspecting civilians.

The CIA even included a separate project called Operation Midnight Climax (seriously) in which they used prostitutes to lure unwitting subjects and then test tons of illegal substances–including LSD–on them, all while monitoring them behind one-way glass. I know this is a regular Saturday night for some of you, but these are innocent civilians we’re talking about.

Towlie was a "scientist" in the 60's

Where it went wrong:

Senator Ted Kennedy’s comments on MK-ULTRA really sum things up well. In an apology to Americans and non-drug-users everywhere, Kennedy admitted that the CIA conducted “drug tests on unwitting citizens,” the “agents doing the monitoring were not qualified scientific observers,” and that “at least one death” occurred. At least…

And, best of all: “Other experiments were equally offensive. For example, heroin addicts were enticed into participating in LSD experiments in order to get a reward — heroin.”

What actually happened is not known, since almost all documents related to the experiment were destroyed in 1973. What we do know is that the CIA took advantage of the best decade of the 1900’s to get innocent people addicted to drugs. Awesome.

2. Harlow Monkey Experiment

Harry Harlow is famous for his experiments in pair-bonding with monkeys. Harlow taught us that monkeys prefer a surrogate mother who gives them warmth to one that gives them food.

In 1960, Harry Harlow changed the direction of his research. He took happy, well-adjusted monkeys who had bonded with their mothers and placed them in isolation chambers.

Fascinating! This guy has already proved he’s a genius! Everything seems fine!

Where it went wrong:

Humans aren’t the only creatures that can be emotionally affected by experimentation, you dirty speciesist! The monkeys were placed in isolation, which caused many of them to eventually go super bat-shit bananas, and not in a good way.

Harlow actually called the isolation cages “Wells of Despair.” Plus, numerous comments by Harlow indicate that he was a serious monkey-hater. Harlow’s creepy later experiments, explored the depths of depression in animals by ‘breaking their hearts.’

I hate things that share 98% of my DNA!

1. The Monster Study

The experiment:

The Monster Study was a stuttering experiment conducted on 22 orphan children in Iowa in 1939 (uh-oh, they used orphans; we can already tell this isn’t going anywhere good…).

Researchers wanted to figure out if parents played a part in whether or not children develop stutters.

Where it went wrong:

Did I mention that the experimenters got the children to stutter by screaming in their faces and telling them they were worthless?  And that they got the orphans to participate by telling them the experimenter might be their new mom?

"Hey, this is your new mom! J/K, you're still an orphan, but she's going to yell obscenities at you for the next six months."

Of the six ‘normal’ children in the experiment, five developed a stutter after “negative therapy.” The experimenters tried to reverse the damage, but couldn’t. Worst of all, the experimenters didn’t even tell the orphans they were part of an experiment until 60 years later.

When the study was made public in 2001, experimenters were forced to admit that many of the participants were psychologically scarred by participating in The Monster Study, and that “the negative therapy group showed a loss of self-esteem,” which probably led to years of this:

The University of Iowa made a public apology after the study came to light.

That’s all, folks! Thanks for reading!

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Weddings vs. Marriages: Why I Don’t Hate Kim Kardashian

My parents, for better or for worse, have been married for thirty years. My father thinks about marriage as a life-long commitment to a person you choose to love every day. I have never thought about my wedding, or valued large weddings. I have never thought about what engagement ring I would like. I only ever thought about the man.

So I had a visceral reaction when I found out Kim Kardashian was getting a divorce after 72 days of marriage. Why? Because her wedding/fundraiser makes a mockery of the institution of marriage? Because hundreds of thousands of young women watched a woman get married for money and fame instead of love?

No. I was disgusted because I totally fell for it. I was genuinely happy for her. She seemed like an insecure, misguided, beautiful, imperfect human being. It seemed as though she fell in love with someone she truly appreciated and cherished and that she was confronting some important issues from her childhood in the process of committing to him. Why else would one televise something as private as a romantic courtship?

Looking back, the Kardashian wedding/fundraiser was only a symptom of the problem. She is not destroying marriage. She’s just one person, and she is so highly scrutinized, she must live in terror of any missteps. Hers wasn’t even the shortest celebrity “marriage”, by far.

The metamorphosis of the institution of marriage is just a symptom. So are the excesses of the wedding industry. The disease is the rampant materialism that has come to define America.

More and more, I see celebrities and role models who focus on the wedding instead of on marriage. I fear for our children, and especially our daughters, when I see the messages they will receive from cradle to tomb about what appropriate behavior is for a woman, how she should express her morals and values, and what those morals and values should be.

What kind of message does this wedding obsession (as opposed to a desire for marriage) send about what defines women? It’s not a good one. It reinforces the idea that women are shallow and superficial. It encourages the myth that throwing a lavish party is a reasonable, desired, and necessary act for all committed couples.

It suggests that those who choose to invest their money in a down-payment for a house, a trip around the world, or a child’s education (instead of a one-day celebration) are the unreasonable ones. It suggests that one day (the wedding) is more fun and important than what you will build every day for the rest of your lives together (marriage).

But women are not the only ones to be blamed for their desire for lavish wedding spending.

I trace the idea that materialism and consumption represent love to the creation of the market for engagement rings. In the 1930’s, DeBeers, the famous diamond company, singlehandedly created the market for diamond engagement rings. To combat twenty years in decreased sales, DeBeers launched their “A Diamond is Forever” campaign. They sold women the idea that you are not loved unless your future husband puts a diamond on your finger. The campaign was wildly successful, and most women today cannot imagine becoming engaged or married without a diamond.

The wedding industry has exploded in size similarly: by creating an excess of “need” where there was—and is—no need.

Women have been taught that weddings are the zenith of romance. A wedding should be the best day of one’s life. In a truly bizarre twist, women are now encouraged to plan a wedding before there is even a man in the picture. The popular television show “Say Yes to the Dress” features many single (as in, not even in a relationship) women who shop Kleinfeld’s racks for wedding dresses ranging from $2,000 to $50,000. As with many other things that we consume, weddings have become a booming industry, a 40 billion dollar industry, in fact.

There are tremendous incentives in place for advertisers to do everything possible to get women to spend money. Women spend $5 trillion dollars every year, which represents half of the US GDP. Selling “beauty” is a big part of this (I’ll talk about this later), as is selling the idea that you are only loved if you have a diamond and a wedding. Advertising companies constantly target women with images and slogans; the goal is to make women feel bad about themselves so they will buy things to fill a newly-created void.

What is my point? It doesn’t have to be like this. And being aware that we are being manipulated is the first step in changing our perspective on what we consume. The 2011 documentary Miss Representation ends with the thought that women control the US economy. We are capable of exercising tremendous power as consumers (or non-consumers).

A wedding can be a beautiful affair—a true celebration of the love a couple has found and their excitement in committing to each other for the rest of their lives. But a wedding is not love, happiness, or joy. Marriage is.

What are your thoughts on the wedding industry?

Here are some other people’s thoughts on excessive consumption:

-Slate.com article: Diamonds are  Girl’s Worst Friend

-The 2011 documentary Miss Representation is an eye-opening look at how images in the media are used against women.

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Why We Love Zombies

Zombies shuffled back into my life this year with the new television series Walking Dead. Although zombies date back to Haitian and African legends, they have experiencing an exciting revival in recent years. Zombies have infiltrated films, television, novels, and our hearts.

So, why do humans love zombies?

The zombie market fits neatly into our endless enchantment with the human mind. We are fascinated by humans deprived of their faculties for reason. We also have a morbid fascination with human failing. Zombies bring up important philosophical questions: What makes us more than meat? What is it about the mind that makes us human?

But what makes a zombie most interesting is, ultimately, not the zombie. We don’t care how the zombie apocalypse started. In fact, the origin of infection part is conveniently left out of most movies and television shows. We are more curious about how we are going to react to the zombies.

Duking it out in a survival situation—and winning—is a scenario that appeals to many of us. Secretly, a lot of us think we would be the last one standing in a fight-to-the death situation, and at least want the chance to see how long we would last.

Life in the post-zombie-apocalyptic world means living out a collective, and largely secret, fantasy that many men share: surviving in the wild. Men get to be men, shooting zombies in the face and roughing it on an even playing field. Protecting the tribe in the zombie apocalypse also means men attain the respect that they deserve, respect they are often sadly denied in the modern world.

A post-zombie-apocalyptic world holds a special charm for romantics, as well. The post-zombie-apocalyptic world represents a return to how things used to be. The threat of deprivation is why Beethoven’s love letters to his Immortal Beloved are so poignant. When our spouse leaves the house every day and we are unsure he or she will ever come back, we experience a profound appreciation for his return. Just as we have been deprived of the special joy in eating the first strawberry of spring by factory farming, we have largely forgotten the purity that accompanies a true reunion.

Plus, zombies play into our innate fear of dead, gross things.

That zombiehood is transmissible by biting gets at our fear of dirty things. Exterminating zombies taps into a deep, human desire to expunge the defective from the human race (People of Walmart, anyone?). We like to see zombies killed. It is like a modern-day eugenics movement within a world of black-and-white moral decisions (It’s a zombie? Kill it!). Zombies have no morality. They want our brains, and our brains are what make us uniquely human.

What are your thoughts on zombies? Do you agree that the Christian bible is the first real zombie story?

Fun, zombie-related links:

1. Zombie-proof house.

2. What would you look like as a zombie? Find out here.

3. How long would you survive in a zombie apocalypse?

4. Incredible zombie makeup tutorial.

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