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An open letter to Creative Loafing Atlanta on the occasion of the inauguration of Are You Shaved

21 Dec

Dear Creative Loafing,

The cover story for your December 15-21 issue, sporting the title, “Melysa Martinez, our new sex columnist, asks, ‘Is Atlanta uptight?‘” has forced me, at last, to write the letter I’ve been meaning to write ever since I read your embarrassment of a “college guide” issue a few months ago (of which I re-purposed fifteen copies to protect my hardwood floors from cat piss while training my cat to use his litter box).

The title led me to a few related assumptions before I had even opened the paper. First, since Creative Loafing had hired a woman to write its sex column, I figured I could look forward to a little less of the doltism – and, often, brazen misogyny — exhibited by the dude who preceded her. But second, I worried, as I am wont to do whenever a faux-progressive media outlet hires a woman to talk about sex, that once again I’d be seeing consumerist, destructive, male-centric ideas about sexuality insidiously smuggled into the minds of the unthoughtful under the guise of being woman-approved. It was worse than I thought. It appears that not only will CL be selling hackneyed rehashings of bro-ish sex fantasies in boxes stamped with the woman-approved seal, but the (empty) “punk rock” imprimatur will also help ensure that no one analyzes or criticizes those fantasies lest they be deemed uncool.

There are things I like about Atlanta, but Atlanta’s take on counter-culture is not one of them. I understand that many of the people who live here have come here to escape reactionary, conformist realities of which most people may never be able to apprehend the depths. Still, I expect that anyone claiming to occupy a socially transgressive role actually do so, and that is simply not the case with many people in this town. It’s 2011. Getting tattoos, advertising one’s love for tits/tacos/booze by means of wacky novelty t-shirts (vintage or not), or involving oneself in the local horror movie lovers’ scene does not make one a revolutionary, but rather a consumer of one or more commercially conceived and marketed lifestyles. The fact that the bulk of the counter-cultural activity in town revolves around Clothing Warehouse and people getting wasted in one of eight or so bars can be blamed in part, I’m sure, on the gentrification of the city in recent years, as well as on the corporate media concentration which began in the late 90s and saw all of the avenues for rebellious expression bought up, repackaged, and sold to kids who would never be the wiser. But Creative Loafing is also complicit in the devolution of the city’s cultural life. There are smaller cities in this country with far more interesting music, art, and political environments. What they all have in common is a thriving, responsible alternative media presence, not a choice between a weekly headed by a Republican asshole and a weekly that exists to advertise the fact that some dude partied with some shitty band, that yet another new junk food chic restaurant is trying to sell $18 burgers with sous-vide dog turds on them while no one knows where to buy dumplings on Buford Highway, and that there is a chick in town with tattoos who drinks whiskey and likes to fuck (you don’t say!). In the text of the article, Martinez makes reference to playing tug-of-war with her “four-legged daughter,” mentions a thwarted desire to move to New York City, and recounts a conversation with a male friend from San Francisco in which she bemoans the fact that men don’t ask her out, concluding that men are intimidated by her. Where have I heard this before?

I don’t expect much from Atlantans anymore when it comes to thoughtfulness, especially when it comes to discussions of human sexuality, but I suppose I’ll scream into the void anyway and voice my grievances with the article itself.

A sex column called Are You Shaved? Really, now. Martinez claims in comments to the online version of the article that she chose the name after hearing the question posed to the title character in the movie Amelie. I’ve (unfortunately) seen the movie, but I forgot that line. So did everyone else. Leaving aside the juvenile asininity of such a title, is there a female human being under thirty (surely, Creative Loafing imagines its audience, roughly, to be 18-30-year-olds) who isn’t? I was under the impression that the porn industry had ensured by this point that there are only nine heterosexual men alive in America who don’t pressure their female partners to remove their pubes regularly, to the point that women, when surveyed on the subject, have come to feel such shame over the natural state of their bodies that they claim to remove their pubes in toto because they think they are “dirty” or “unsanitary.” Martinez says that she likes “to see the question as a metaphor for whether or not we can be stripped of what makes us insecure, leaving us naked and vulnerable.” So, shaving one’s pubes metaphorically equates to shedding decades of social conditioning that has resulted in epidemic proportions of women (and men) feeling ashamed of their bodies because they don’t measure up to an ever-changing – and always impossible – standard created by an industry that exists to make a profit by manipulating and exacerbating human insecurity and sexual shame? War is peace, I guess.

Martinez claims there is no such thing as a pervert. What the fuck are we supposed to do as a society when there is no such thing as a pervert? I’m pretty comfortable with labeling anyone who pursues non-consensual activity a pervert (e.g., rapists, pedophiles, etc.) In fact, I’m cool with labeling anyone who finds the dehumanization of a human being orgasmic a pervert, because that’s what the definition of sexual perversion is: a warping of human sexuality such that one finds something other than sex – such as power – more orgasmic than sex itself.

The term “pervert” has been used as a tool for shaming and dehumanizing sexual minorities, which is unacceptable, but it still has uses. The problem with people like Martinez is that they can only see two options with regard to sexuality: reactionary sexuality and sexual (lower-case L) libertarianism. Reactionaries deploy the concept of the pervert — and other forms of psychological and physical violence — in order to shame women, homosexuals, and anyone else who doesn’t follow the patriarchal sexual script into either getting on board or disappearing themselves from public view. Sexual libertarians have taken things too far in the other direction, beginning from the assumption that any criticism of any form of sexuality ought to be verboten. That would be a great thing, were it not for the fact that we still live in a straight white male supremacist society in which the range of sexual expression for those who are not straight white men is limited by what straight white men can deal with. It would be nice to see some sexual liberationists take things a step further by taking it as a given that people ought to be free to explore their sexuality, but questioning the bases of the social construction of sexual desires and how they might affect our social and political realities. With freedom comes responsibility and shit.

The general thrust of Martinez’s monologue is that she’s devoutly anti-shame, but there’s a decided “get with it” tone present throughout the discussion. She ham-fistedly insinuates that Atlantans are uptight because we don’t all act like rockabilly teenagers and aren’t keen to shout our most private fantasies over the first PBR. She assures us that there’s “nothing wrong with [our] likes and dislikes” but then tells men whose girlfriends “won’t give in” and submit to some “backdoor action” to find someone who will. Shaming people for wanting to do something consensual might not be cool, but shaming people who don’t want to do something – which amounts to pressure, which is a form of social and interpersonal coercion — is downright fucked.

Martinez asks men what kind of porn they watch and what their fetishes are, she writes, quite early in the getting-to-know-you phase. It’s the fear and hostility people feel with regard to sexuality that underlie many of the most destructive forces in human psychology, and thus creating space for frank and realistic sexual discussions is necessary to a healthy sexual existence and to a functioning society. But is the goal really to reduce every potential relationship to whether or not the two people involved like to have the same kinds of props in the room when they fuck? No one ought to be ashamed to engage in a sexual discussion, no matter what the content of that discussion, provided that the time for the conversation is appropriate. But if a dude were to go straight from asking me whether I’m into the Black Lips to asking me whether I do anal, I’d sneak out before he got the chance to stick his dick in my face unannounced. A woman broaching the subject of fetishes with a near stranger doesn’t carry the implicit threat that a man doing so does, but it’s still creepy. Boundaries matter, as any sex columnist who gives a shit about the concept of consent ought to know.

Still, let’s say the context isn’t creepy, and that Martinez is simply bemoaning the fact that men can’t seem to deal appropriately with a woman who discusses sex openly. She writes that, when she does so, men either “retreat into their good-boy shells,” or that they “assume [that her questions about sex mean] they get a straight pass to the bedroom.” Maybe these men aren’t uptight. Maybe the explanation is that the men she hangs out with — as most men do — suffer from a virgin/whore complex and have learned to deal with sexually open women by shunning them as “whores” or attempting to take advantage of them, deeming them good for nothing else. Where is the suggestion that men learn to view women as human beings rather than as caricatures who exist solely as extensions of men’s egos?

It’s fairly disheartening – though by no means surprising — that porn use is a given, and that all that’s left to discuss is which version of commodified sexuality one consumes, how degrading it is, and whether one partner can emotionally withstand knowing what forms of dehumanization the other finds orgasmic. We can simply no longer imagine a sexuality, apparently, that transcends scripts dictated to us by an industry that banks on fulfilling (and manipulating) male desires to the detriment of women’s humanity. But let’s not discuss that and what it might mean for our sex lives and our emotional development as human beings. That shit wouldn’t give anyone a boner.

This might be hard to believe, but one can tire of constant exposure to banal, unreflective, heteronormative/heterosexist discussions of fucking, and there are people in the world – Atlanta included — who might like to read and think about something a little more complex.

Martinez and Creative Loafing have both got it wrong. The problem with Atlanta is not that its people are uptight, but that they’ve somehow gotten the mistaken idea that being pro-porn, pro-microbrew, and pro-Rob Zombie is the opposite of uptight. Probably at least in part from Creative Loafing.

Please try a little harder. This is embarrassing.

Love,

ND

Coming Soon: Coca-Brola

15 Oct

The number of comments I’m required to delete that attempt to defend butthole bleaching tells me that I am not yet free to retire from blogging and bask in the glory of a post-male supremacist utopia, so I suppose I had better get back to it. It’s often hard to decide which squash to pluck from the cornucopia of examples of societal misogyny at my disposal, but I received a comment the other day from GraceMargaret regarding an ad campaign for Dr. Pepper Ten and was confronted not hours later with a dude brandishing a Dr. Pepper Ten, so this one fell into my lap, as it were.

Ad campaigns designed to sell products to men that had previously been marketed chiefly to women aren’t exactly novel at this point, but they seem to be getting more bizarre by the month. What were marketing departments thinking, targeting only women with admonitions to buy, buy, buy beauty and diet products? By associating diet drinks, diet pills, shower gel, and eye firming serums with womanity, the fuckability industries effectively precluded any chance they’d be able to sell any of their wares to people who’d rather die than be associated with women. The challenge overcoming the vagina stigma associated with these products poses to marketing, product development, and advertising departments has resulted in some fairly hilarious material. A recent trip to Target highlighted that for me when I wandered through the shower gel section and found shower pouffes in neon green, neon pink, cream, and aqua, then found the men’s shower gel section, where the pouffes were labeled “men’s shower buffs” and came in navy, maroon, black, and dark gray.  They were also four cents cheaper, which means Target had to — in addition to instructing the factory to create these additional “manly” colors — create a separate SKU for the “men’s shower buff” in order to differentiate it from the faggoty ol’ regular shower pouffe.

But that ain’t shit. Does anyone remember the Axe Detailer Shower Tool (thanks KendallMcK)?

Unilever created a men’s shower “tool” that looked exactly like a tire, then took the automotive theme even further by terming the item a “detailer” and putting out a commercial in which they refer to men’s balls and wiener as the “undercarriage.” Just ridiculous. Men will balk at no suggestion for how they might disassociate themselves with women, apparently, no matter how stupid it makes them look. Just look at the Slim Jim “Manbulance” campaign.

But we’re here to talk about soda. “We’ve been telling you that men drink Coke and women drink Diet Coke for decades, but forget that and start drinking it now, OK, bro?” is a pretty hard sell, but Coke figured, once they formulated a new zero-calorie Coke variant by mixing aspartame and Acesulfame K, that they could solve that problem by marketing the new formula to men as Coke Zero. The can is black and it purportedly tastes more like Coke. Add that to an ad campaign that appeals to the turgid male ego and sense of entitlement and you’ve got an officially non-gay diet soda:

The plan worked. Ask anyone who works in a restaurant who asks them for Coke Zero and opts to order regular Coke when the answer is no.

Though the Coke Zero marketing campaign indicated that it was a product designed for men — who, unlike women, deserve both zero calories and “real Coke taste” — women were never explicitly excluded from the right to quaff the new wonder beverage. Dr. Pepper, however, is letting women know that their new diet soda is for men only, and that women are welcome to fuck off and die before they’ll be invited to drink a DP10 with the boys. Dr. Pepper Ten has ten calories — from actual high fructose corn syrup — in addition to a machine-gun gray can, but the differences between Dr. Pepper Ten and Diet Dr. Pepper don’t end at minor formula adjustments and can design changes; the slogan for the new product is “Dr. Pepper Ten: It’s Not for Women.” Women can drink Diet Dr. Pepper, which “tastes more like regular Dr. Pepper” (than other drinks that weren’t Dr. Pepper or Diet Dr. Pepper before the advent of Dr. Pepper Ten, I’m assuming) or they can drink water or some other gay shit, but they are not welcome to DP10.

The ad mimics Predator, Sniper, Commando, Rambo, etc. and features a generic Action Asshole™ riding around in a Jeep, shooting a giant gun, and battling snakes and bad guys, all the while keeping his cool and nonchalantly informing the women in the audience that this is a movie for men, and Dr. Pepper Ten is soda for men. He then tosses an empty soda can from the vehicle — which triggers a net that catches the antagonists following his Jeep — and triumphantly points at the camera and declares, “catchphrase!” in an attempt to make idiots feel smart for realizing that action movie cliches are cliches in 2011, when everyone else figured it out sometime around 1993.

The question has been raised whether the TV spot is satirical, given the absurd tenor of the Coke Zero and Pepsi Max ads. I would be inclined to take that view if it weren’t for the fact that Dr. Pepper is trying to sell a product to half of all Americans, not fans of the good bits of  The Colbert Report and The Onion, or the fact that Dr. Pepper is planning a “mobile Man Cave” tour in the test market cities to promote DP10 (one of which I unfortunately live in), or the fact that this campaign looks exactly like every other example of dudevertising in recent memory (see the Burger King Seven-Incher, the Slim Jim Manbulance, every commercial ever aired on Spike or FX, etc.). Unclever, self-aware, faux snark deployed by people who don’t understand what they’re parodying or why it deserves derision does not satire make.

Men are going to start drinking Dr. Pepper Ten because men are stupid, but women, according to focus groups, are cool with the no-bitches-or-hoes marketing approach to the extent that they plan to drink the new product, incorrectly assuming that the new formula will come with slightly less cancer than Diet Dr. Pepper. That leads me to two depressing conclusions. First, so many women have absorbed the message that a woman who wears a size four or above is a fundamental failure as a human being that a multi-national corporation can safely assume that, even if they accompany it with a misogynistic marketing push that explicitly states that the product is not for women, women will buy any low-calorie product that appears on a shelf. Women will buy something that they think will help them avoid gaining weight even if it is being sold by an entity that expresses overt disdain for women, which means women have had their self-respect and dignity beaten out of them by the fuckability mandate. Second, men hate women and fear anything associated with womanliness to such an extreme extent that corporations can now sell products to men on the basis of nothing other than their not being for women. What men are buying here is not a diet soda, which was already available in the exact same flavor, but rather a diet soda with a “suck my dick” label. Societal misogyny and the absurdity of gender symbolism have infiltrated the diet soda market to the point that there are now formulas and can designs for men only. Think about that.

I like it when people talk about breast cancer without trying to make it “sexy.” On the kitchen counter.

7 Oct

I was bewildered yesterday when several women I know began posting updates about where they “like it.” As in, “I like it on the floor,” or “I like it on the coat rack.” Wait, I thought, is it possible that all of my female friends have lost their senses of decorum and dignity on the same day? Then I saw an update from a dude that said, “I like it with her own money in it.” I asked him what he was talking about and he told me he was making fun of “some chick thing.”

Exactly.

I was still bewildered and decided to figure it out by making use of my stellar Google skills, and it turns out that it’s an attempt to raise breast cancer awareness by means of a boring, annoying internet meme: women post Facebook updates about where they like “it” — “it” being their purse — which is supposed to pique men’s interest and get them to think about donating money to breast cancer research.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I see a few holes in this plan. First off, that train of thought skips an awful lot of stations. We’re banking on the general Facebooking public being far smarter and far less lazy than I am, and that seems like a bad bet to me (I am a highly motivated genius, after all). Second, every single one of the updates I saw on Facebook yesterday was followed with about ten lascivious comments from dudes who had neither made any effort to figure out on their own why so many women were all of a sudden posting suggestive updates on Facebook nor bothered to ask those women why they were doing so. Instead, they responded with shit like “Me too!” or “Can I come over?” You know, because they’re men, and men tend to be oversexed, clueless jags, especially when confronted with women who appear to be inviting sexual attention. I have yet to see a single discussion erupt in which breast cancer is mentioned at all. Way to raise awareness.

But let’s pretend for a second that it was working, that men all over the country were donating money they could otherwise spend on micro-brews and new Xbox controllers to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Why weren’t they doing so last week? Why isn’t the existence of breast cancer awareness month enough to get them to part with $5? Why isn’t the thought of protecting their mothers, sisters, wives, or friends from breast cancer motivation enough to get these guys in the donatin’ spirit? Why, ONCE AGAIN, do women have to flatter men’s ridiculously swollen egos with weak, nonsensical innuendo in order to cajole them into acting like human beings? Sorry, but I fail to see how breast cancer is sexy, or why we need to use sex to sell men on the idea that breast cancer matters.

Has anyone else noticed the direction that campaigns to raise money for breast cancer research are moving in? I’ve seen at least ten “Save the Tatas” bumper stickers this week, and every time I do I consider keying the car it’s affixed to. I mean, really. Are we seriously incapable of conceiving of breasts as anything but sex objects even when discussing a potentially fatal disease? And what does “Save the Tatas” even mean? I have one guess, and here’s my translation: “Men, if you love tits, donate money to breast cancer research so there will be less mastectomies and hence more tits around for you to ogle.” That’d be great and all, but what we need to save is women’s lives, not their tits.

Just to make sure, I’m going to apply the ol’ switcheroo here. Let’s say that the Red Cross decided they needed to step up their effort to encourage people to donate to relief efforts in Haiti and decided to sex the campaign up by asking us to donate money to Haitian women’s breasts or Haitian men’s penises, complete with photos of breasts and penises (or at least photos suggestive of breasts and penises). Yep, that’s completely insane. One more try: how about we raise awareness of the prevalence of prostate cancer with a “Save the Boners” sticker campaign? Or by asking men to post cryptic Facebook ads about where they like to leave their wallets, as in “I like it in the back pocket of my pants until the morning, when I like it in my other pants”? Also insane, if only because no one pays attention when men post seemingly sexual Facebook updates because they do it all fucking day anyway.

If men don’t give a shit about breast cancer, we can’t make them, even if we hold a topless awareness rally. First because they’re already aware that breast cancer exists (who isn’t?), and second because all they’ll see is a bunch of tits, not the human beings they’re attached to, which might be where the root of the problem lies anyway, know what I’m saying?

Halloween approaches. Time to dress your dog up like a bee in a porno.

10 Oct

Come the fuck on, dude. I just went over to check out my Twitter page, where I came across a tweet (holy shit, did I just use that word?) posted by Bitch PhD linking to a page that looks to be a joint effort by the Spoiled Rotten Doggies (retch) site and The Extreme Halloween Network. What kinds of activities The Extreme Halloween Network can be involved in I can only imagine. Armed trick-or-treating? Doorstep parkour? Dressing up as characters from 1997 Mountain Dew commercials? I’m sure it goes the fuck off, but I digress. This particular site, far from hyping anything particularly x-treme, is jumping on the hosey Halloween costume bandwagon and offering sssexxxaaay women’s Halloween getups that come with matching miniature versions for dogs.

lg83207Unbelievable. First of all, I’m really sick of the pirate craze. REALLY sick. It’s officially been stupid for a minimum of five years — more likely eight — and the fact that any adult is still into it after the advent of Jolly Roger underwear for toddlers really makes me wonder. And then there’s the pink. Why is it that any time one wants to make a “women’s version” of something, they just replace one of the colors with pink, tart it up, and act like they’re doing womankind a favor? Pirates, as boring a subject as they are at this point, certainly weren’t out wearing ruffly panties and pink, off-the-shoulder peasant tops while they hopped aboard seagoing junks and swiped all the booty on board. Nor were they likely to have been wearing thigh-high pink-ribbon-trimmed stockings on their peg legs. Apparently, in order to put together the “women’s version” of a particular Halloween costume, the creative team has to figure out a way to cross the sartorial stylings of some fantastical character with those of a female infant and those of a stripper. Imagine the visionary vibe at the meeting at which these dudes had to figure out how to bring a little asshole dog into the mix.

la83261

Alright, so the pirate costume isn’t the only thing on offer, but whatever. They’re all the same. The outfits without fail include thigh-highs, a skirt that barely covers the culo, some off-the-shoulder or sleeveless shirt, and a stupid hat, no matter what character is being portrayed. And the dog versions, which are naturally modeled by tiny Chihuahuas, are all just miniature facsimiles of mama’s costume, so your dog can be sexually objectified too!

la21055Isn’t that cute? The dog looks like it’s filming a (more) pornographic version of the “Hit Me Baby One More Time” video!

Seriously, dude, have the porn and entertainment industries so thoroughly brainwashed the American female into believing that her life ought to revolve around eliciting boners that we’ve now moved on to dogs? I hated most dog people before I’d even seen this site, but my conversion is now complete. Not only do I have to suffer listening to people tell me how their relationship with their dog is exactly the same as that of other people’s with their children (or better); not only do I have to tolerate reading bumper stickers on the backs of SUVs telling me that some North Face-vest-wearing dork’s Weimaraner is smarter than “your” honor student; not only do I have to pretend I don’t think it’s flabbergastingly rude for people to bring their dogs to cafes where I’m attempting to eat and drink; not only do I have to suffer with equanimity the slobbering of strangers’ dogs all over my shoes while I sit in the various parks I sit in (and even pretend it’s cute); not only do I have to endure the general thoughtlessness, narcissism, and sense of entitlement of the average dog owner when it comes to the behavior of their pets; but now I have also been forced to confront the fact that this exists.

I don’t dislike dogs. Dogs are cute and often very entertaining  (though they stink a little more than I’d like them to), and I don’t mind seeing them around and even petting one occasionally. I won’t blame dogs for this abomination and affront to human decency and self-respect. I won’t blame the victim, as it were. Dogs don’t read blogs or dress themselves, so I’ll leave them out of it. Female pet owners and Halloween costume-wearers, on the other hand, I’d like to ask a question: Don’t you think it’s kind of insulting that when you have just one chance a year to be whatever you want, you’re still expected to be a sex object? Can’t we have one day of rest in 365? Men get to pretend to be any fanciful character their psyches can devise on Halloween. They don’t often come up with anything all that interesting, but still, they get to be whatever they want. And we’re supposed to also be whatever they want? That’s a pretty shitty deal.

The fuckability mandate sucks. Why foist it upon your poor dog? And besides, think about it for a minute. Is there a single thing on this planet that is more absurd than a sexually provocative dog costume? I’m going to try to think of something.

Hold on.

I’m trying.

Still trying…

OK, MRAs come to mind, but other than that I’m at a loss and will be taking suggestions in comments.

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Latisse. Because if your eyelashses aren’t thick enough, you are seriously fucked up.

10 Aug

I was watching TV recently when I saw a commercial that seriously confused me for a minute. The commercial was for Latisse, a new product by the makers of Botox that claims to help one grow longer, thicker, darker eyelashes. For a minute I thought I had accidentally stumbled upon a skit show, but then I remembered that SNL and Mad TV are incapable of doing anything funny or insightful, so I had to consider the possibility that Latisse was a real product, that a major pharmaceutical company had developed a prescription drug for people who are so upset by the paucity and/or hoariness of their eyelashes that they feel they need a DRUG to help them remedy the situation. And then I thought about my own eyelashes, which are fairly pale, and wondered whether I ought to rush myself to the nearest hospital.

This pharmaceutical outfit, Allergan (operating out of Irvine, California — a real shock), claims that their drug treats the legitimate medical problem of hypotrichosis, but I’m a little skeptical. Have you ever heard of hypotrichosis? Yeah, me neither. It’s a scientific term for “a condition of no hair growth” (nice work on the wording there, Wikipedia cooperative). Apparently that’s considered a medical condition, though I can’t imagine why it would be save in very rare circumstances. I’ve always been under the impression that a medical condition was something that caused one physical discomfort, threatened one’s life, or disrupted one’s ability to carry out one’s daily activities. Oh, wait, that’s it: a “condition of no hair growth” in the wrong places can be just as disruptive as a condition of copious hair growth in certain other places, because it threatens one’s ability to comply with the old fuckability mandate.

The product’s website makes frequent reference to hypotrichosis, which indeed does sound terrible (as does anything that ends in -osis), but the company’s product line-up hints that what they’re really trying to treat is notthathotatosis; Allergan, in addition to Latisse, also slangs some injectable anti-wrinkle shit called Juvederm (the slogan for which is “parentheses have their place but not on your face” — I swear), the Natrelle line of breast implants, our old pal Botox, and some line of uber-expensive skin creams called Vivite. Not only do none of their products treat legitimate medical conditions, but they don’t even treat the symptoms of legitimate medical conditions. I mean, I suppose having no eyelashes could be a problem, seeing as they protect one’s eyes from debris and all, but I imagine that the no-eyelashes-at-all contingent makes up a pretty small percentage of this product’s target market. The majority of that target market, I suspect, consists of those women who have been convinced that having a few thousand spider legs for eyelashes is more important than, say, protecting one’s eyes from irritants and chemicals or being able to rub one’s eyes when they itch without having to worry about dumping an ounce or two of mascara flakes into them.

So, you drop your $130 for each month’s supply, smear this shit on once a day, and a mere sixteen weeks and $520 later, your eyelashes may get thicker and darker. Of course, as soon as you stop using Latisse, these benefits will disappear. What a sweet deal. But there has to be a catch, right? No way. Latisse’s side effects are totally mild! They include red and/or itchy eyes (which you’d have anyway due to mascara) and the possibility of skin and iris discoloration. The discoloration is likely to be permanent, but you can always wear eyeshadow to cover it up and get color contacts to restore your natural eye color, right?

Are you fucking kidding me, dude?

This product campaign is just evil. It preys upon women’s insecurities in the most disgusting of ways, creates insane expectations that can’t be met, then hoses women out of huge sums of money. We’ve all gotten the message that, if we can’t naturally grow eyelashes the likes of which mascara models can’t pull together without falsies, we’re blowing it as human beings and will never be able to coquettishly bat the fuckers at men in order to make them stupid. Hence the existence of glue-on eyelashes, eyelash dye (a lovely substance to be sure), eyelash extensions, and the ever-expanding variety of mascaras with absurd patented high-tech names. But now that ain’t enough. Sparse eyelashes now constitute a pathological medical condition (note the frequent use of the phrase “inadequate eyelashes” on the site and in the ad) that requires treatment with expensive drugs that might permanently alter the color of our eyes and eyelids, drugs that might sort of work, but will never create the kinds of eyelashes that don’t require curling, slathering with mascara, and augmenting with false eyelashes. I know this because all of the images on the site and in the ad feature women with an abundance of mascara on.

All of that is sinister enough, but what of this company’s central operating principle and the message that the FDA, in approving these drugs, is putting out there? That principle and message are one and the same: in a nutshell, not being hot enough is a medical condition, and a boner shortage warrants the attentions of our best and brightest scientists (and marketing experts).

I must have missed the news report announcing that we’d cured cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

Latisse is officially the new Flomax.


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Dimples Kids Spa, making your 6-year-old sexy as fuck.

28 Mar

Ugh. Do I have to admit this? OK, I’m on Facebook. I was checking my Facebook page today to see what kind of dorky shit the people I know who have Facebook pages were doing and I happened to spy a teensy little ad in the column to the right of the page. The ad was for a place called Dimples Kids Spa (nice name — pardon me while I puke), which is located in Brooklyn Heights. I love New York sometimes, but I really hate it sometimes too. If someone can come up with a disgusting, insulting way to part people and their money, it’ll happen here first. This place has been open for a bit, so I’m sure there’s something similar in LA by now, but whatever. New York is the world capital of offensive profligacy, the city that offers the rich asshole the largest variety of opportunities to communicate the fact that she/he is evil by doing things like pissing off to eat a $1000 ice cream sundae after blindly waltzing past a woman begging for change for some corporate shit-burger with no nutritional value. And what better way to tell the world and all of its poor people that they can collectively huff a dong than to throw hundreds of dollars away on spa treatments for children?

Hence we have Dimples Kids Spa. If you live in Brooklyn Heights and just can’t figure out how to waste your money quickly enough, toss your kid into your Orbit Baby Infant Carrying System (MSRP $900), stop off for an $8 non-alcoholic beverage, and then drop her ass off for a spa day (drop your son off at the park where he can exercise and develop coordination and motor skills).  At Dimples, your little girl can “indulge” in hair, nail, and facial services, and they even do parties! Their services include temporary tattoos (what your daughter really needs is a temporary lower back tattoo), manicures, pedicures, chocolate facials, strawberry honey facials, hair braiding, hair styling for the “evening”  (you know, for all of those black-tie events), and flat-ironing. Because nothing looks less sexy on a kid than wavy hair.

What the fuck!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Has everyone lost sight of what spas (massage services notwithstanding) and salons are really about? They do nothing other than enable women to waste their lives and money striving for the ever-elusive beauty standards that our society sets up for them. And whence do those standards derive? From boners. Salons and spas exist to help women  increase the number of men who want to fuck them, and that’s it. All of this bullshit about “self-indulgence” and “empowerment” and “me time” is fucking absurd. I mean, sure, it’s a good idea, if you have to waste several hours a week on your appearance, to make the wasting of those hours as pleasant as possible, but women wouldn’t do any of that shit if we weren’t told that we are blowing it as human beings if we don’t look like gold-dusted, semi-moist cartoons.

The fact that the average woman’s idea of the ultimate way to spend a day so often involves hundreds of dollars’ worth of beauty treatments ought to show you that there’s something seriously amiss with femininity, our cultural ideas of what’s sexually attractive, and capitalism. Feminity is a fucking jail sentence, not an “indulgence.”  It requires that we sacrifice our time, energy, and self-worth chasing a goal we’ll never reach, the goal of being adequate as human beings when “adequacy” for women means hotness and when the definition of what’s hot changes every second. Our social construction of what is attractive binds women into a never-ceasing downward spiral of self-hatred and doubt, because our social construction of what is attractive springs from misogyny and is abetted by capitalism. Capitalism doesn’t work if we have a sense of “good enough,” and the entire world of marketing and product development exist to remind us that there’s no such thing as “good enough.” We don’t have enough shit, we aren’t hot enough, we haven’t put forth the effort or spent the money that we need to. We have to take that next step on the staircase to nowhere in order to be a little bit less worthless.

I have a good idea! Let’s introduce our daughters into this fucking mess as early as possible so that they’ll never have a chance to escape it! Let’s make sure that they learn that their lives ought to revolve around how much sexual attention they can get from men, and quick! Get ‘em started on mani-pedis, facials, and the idea that the natural texture of their hair is an abomination as early as possible. It shouldn’t be that hard to convince a female child to accompany mom to the salon in the current Pepto-Bismol environment young girls are forced to live in, just tell her there’ll be lots of pink shit and that she’ll feel like a princess. Of course it’s not inappropriate to sexualize a 6-year-old and to encourage her to objectify herself. It’s good, clean mommy-daugther bonding action!

For those of you new moms, Dimples Kids Spa has an even better option. They do baby mani-pedis, so you can get your daughter onto the femininity track as a baby so that, by the time she’s five, wearing nail polish and having facials will come as naturally to her as tilting her head and pretending to be stupid and dainty when men talk to her. Hey, if you don’t get her used to the idea early on that she exists on this Earth to be looked at and lusted after, she might get the foolish idea that she’s a human being, and we all know that leads to disappointment, frustration, and a sense of unfairness — and then on to FEMINISM! And we wouldn’t want that. Men don’t want to fuck feminists, and if no one wants to fuck you, what power have you got as a woman?

Wake up, you fucking dupes. If not for yourselves, then for your daughters. I understand that as things are, sex appeal is one of the few sources of power that women have, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t have to allow our worth as human beings be determined by advertisers, by the fashion industry, by how much male lust we can garner, but the only hope we have is that we start teaching young girls the right things, and the right things don’t include chocolate facials.  I didn’t start hearing that it was my responsibility numero uno to put shit all over my face, fingers, and hair every day in service of the fuckability mandate until I was an adolescent. As such, I stood some chance of seeing it for the inconvenience and outrage that it is. Had I been coated in face masks and nail polish at the age of 6, I’d have stood absolutely no chance, especially if the coating took place in a cutesty party environment and if it was presented as a bonding experience with mommy.

If anyone wants to toilet paper this place, send me an e-mail.

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MTV: Sex, Drugs, and (almost no) Rock and Roll… FOR KIDS! (Part 4)

22 Feb

Good news, everybody! It’s now OK to watch MTV! Why, might you ask? Because it turns out that MTV is not actually the vanguard of society’s descent into a swirling abyss of Monster Energy Drink, chocolate-scented Axe, Clearasil, and chlamydia. No, it actually turns out that the executives over at Viacom, taking note of the success of the Colbert Report, have decided to try out satire on one of their other networks and have geared MTV’s programming at satirizing the vapidity and misogyny of American culture.  Don’t believe me? Get thee over to their website and peep a few episodes of A Double Shot at Love with the Ikki Twins. (I recommend the sixth one.)

It has to be satire, right? Right? RIGHT!?!?!

For those of you who can’t stomach the 20 minutes’ worth of Proactiv commercials one must suffer through in the course of an hour of MTV viewing and are wondering what the samhill I’m talking about, I’ll sum it up by saying that MTV has found a way to make an entire season of television out of the concept behind those “And twins!” Coors Light commercials. You know the ones I’m talking about. They are, quite simply, the most embarrassing thing American culture (which is basically nothing but a giant pile of advertisements) has ever, ever produced. When I’m overseas and meet people from other countries, I cross my fingers and wish upon stars that they’ve never seen these commercials. I often lie awake at night wondering whether the leaders of other nations that possess nuclear weapons have seen these commercials, terrified that they have and are seriously considering nuking the United States in order to protect the rest of the world from our inferior genetic stock and our cretinous culture. Just watch this shit:

Holy shit is right. But it isn’t as if Coors Brewing Co. was the first entity to broach the bizarre subject of dudes thrusting beer bottles up in the air and grabbing their dicks while yelling, “Wooohoooo, gimme some pooosay!” over a set of twins. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been utterly bewildered by the oft-referenced obsession men have with getting the chance to bang twin sisters. I mean, shit, there’s even an episode of Fantasy Island about it. But I never really gave it much thought and just assumed, as I am wont to do, that it couldn’t possibly mean what I thought it meant, that there’s no way people are that gross. Well, people… oh, wait, I mean MEN – are that gross.

MTV’s producers, apparently unsatisfied with the level of salaciousness they had achieved with A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila (see my take on that show here), decided to “step it up” with the new season of the show. Apparently the already completely insane premise of the original show, that a woman who had spent several years turning herself into the one of world’s most well-known and least interesting sex objects had decided to pretend that she was bisexual and was looking for love, just wasn’t ridiculous or offensive enough for MTV. This time, MTV replaced Ms. Tequila with the Ikki twins, two former Hooters waitresses (I swear, both of them worked at Hooters) and car magazine models. That’s right, phony bisexuality wasn’t enough; they had to throw some implied incest into the mix. Because dudes love fake boobs, fake lesbians, fake fingernails, fake blond hair, AND TWINS!

I have to digress for a second. What is the fucking deal with dudes being into twins? Could it actually be that men delight in the idea that women would be willing to commit incest for their viewing pleasure? Goddamn it, I hope not. But I think that’s it. I mean, the majority of male sexuality in this culture revolves around domination and degradation, which is where the male desire to see women pretend to be gay, submit to unenjoyable sex acts, etc. comes from, so it’s only logical, but I really don’t want to believe it.

Back to the Ikki twins. I know it’s hard to believe, but these two women objectify themselves much, much more aggressively than Tila Tequila does, and they’ve got absolutely no sense of irony about it whatsoever. Check out this quote from their bio:

Get ready to meet the Ikki Twins – sexy, spunky and spontaneous, these bisexual twins are double the trouble and double the fun.  Being that  Rikki was born just a few seconds before her sister, she and Vikki have been inseparable since birth.   The girls complete each other’s sentences and even their own father can’t tell them apart!!

Born in Pennsylvania, the twins’ family moved around a lot, living in nine different states before finally settling in Southern California.  It was there the girls had two life-changing events  – they began modeling and they realized they were both bisexual!!

Rikki was the first to discover that she was interested in girls – in fact she was attracted to girls before guys!  Trying to follow “the rules” of society, Rikki suppressed her interest in girls and instead dated guys. But her attraction for women never went away.  Rikki kept it private as long as she could, until the day that Vikki admitted that she was also attracted to women and in fact a bisexual.  It was that conversation that gave Rikki the comfort she needed to come out as a bi-sexual as well.

At the same time they were learning each other’s secret, both girls were working as waitresses at a local Hooters.  No one there could tell them apart, so in an effort to not call the girls the wrong names, they were nicknamed the Ikkis!  It was also there that their lives changed forever!  One day a coworker asked them to pose for a motorcycle website.  As luck would have it, talent manager Dove happened to see those photos and the rest is history!!

Isn’t it cool! They’re both bisexual!!! Isn’t that awesome? Dudes like bisexuals! Especially dudes who like motorcycles and Hooters hot wings!!! Isn’t it lucky that they’re twins, that they’re both hot, and that they’re both bisexual!?! Rad! And who needs “the rules” of society? That shit’s gay (real gay, not hot gay).

Tila Tequila spent two entire seasons on the show proving to the young adult world that nothing is more important than getting people to want to fuck you (other than being on TV, of course) and that sexual manipulation is the only thing worth being good at. But Tila Tequila, as gross as she and her show might have been, was at least aware of how absurd the concept of the show was. Ms. T might be an embarrassment to womankind, and she might be the narcissistic, patriarchy-approved sell-out of the century, but she’s not stupid and she’s probably not evil. One got the distinct impression that she knew that there was something odd and kind of sad about asking 24 people to repeatedly humiliate themselves on national television for the chance to get naked and have empty sex with a woman with a barbed-wire strewn heart tattoo that says “C’est la vie!” in the middle. While it was obvious that she enjoyed the idea that they were willing to do so, you could also tell she felt a little sorry for them. And while she made the ridiculous claim that her show deserved the credit for the California Supreme Court’s decision to allow gay marriage (before Prop. 8), it was obvious that she wasn’t actually bisexual and that she knew that very few of the women on the show were actual lesbians. And that she knew the whole thing was a big game.

Not so with these two. They’ve gotten down with the titillation plan to the point where they truly believe that catering to male fantasies is a legitimate sexual orientation and that anyone who disagrees is a closed-minded bigot.

On to the show.

The first episode begins with two crates being airlifted by helicopter into the driveway of the McMansion in which the contestants for the twins’ vaginas — I mean hearts — will be living. One of the crates is blue and the other is pink (natch). Inside the crates are twelve men and twelve women, all waiting to see who the hot chick they’ll be competing for is. Mind you, they’ve got no idea they’re there for twins yet. As the crates come down, the men are hopping up and down like a bunch of Red Bull-saturated simians, screaming and yelling for a glimpse of the poontang (I’m sure I heard the word “poontang”). One of the twins comes out to greet the two crates and lets the women out first. The women squeal with excitement at being on television or whatever, and then the twin orders the box of men opened. The men come out and actually pump their fists downward and together in that stupid bodybuilder pose and bark like they’ve just seen Arsenio Hall in order to illustrate just how pumped they are that they might get the chance to pork the chick they see in front of them. But they don’t know the half.

The 24 contestants spend the evening trying to impress the woman they’re there to compete for, completely unaware that every time she leaves the room, it’s actually her twin sister that comes back to hang out. Makeoutery occurs, blah blah. The next day, one twin gets everyone together for a pool party (woooo, bikinis!!) and makes the announcement that she was born with another part. (Ha! Get it? She made the dudes think she used to have a dick! Sick!) Then the other twin comes out. The reaction from the men makes the previous evening’s ape impressions look dignified, while the women just look sort of shocked. Mind you, at this point the implication is that whoever wins the contest is going to be having sex with both twins. Seriously.

So, for about five episodes the twins force the contestants to humiliate themselves in various ways in order to stay on the show (bowl of goat dicks, anyone?) and make out with everyone in sight at every possible opportunity in between pole dancing sessions. Nothing new (I mean, is there a show on MTV that doesn’t include pole dancing and chicks making out?). But once they get down to the last few contestants, they really start going off, because now that they’ve separated the wheat from the chaff and whittled it down to two girls and two boys (isn’t it odd how that worked out?), it’s time to get serious. In what might be the most insane hour of television ever broadcast, they go to visit the families of the four remaining contestants, Scotty, Trevor, Rosie, and Rebecca.

At Trevor’s house, things get a little weird. His parents, it is noted, are religious and conservative. When they are taken aback that their son has brought home  two “bisexual” twins who look like they just got in from a porn shoot, they’re branded reactionaries and told that their objections are akin to racism, that they’re completely backward and unreasonable. It almost blew my mind to see such an obvious refusal on the part of everyone involved to call attention to what was really going on. You see, the parents might be dicks for having a problem with bisexuality, but that wasn’t the deal. They were visibly worried that their son was being manipulated by two incestuous strippers, but everyone pretended that their disapproval stemmed from homophobia. It was unbelievable. The twins, noting how uncomfortable Trevor’s parents were, offered to help Trevor’s mother do the dishes, then proceeded to purposely bend over repeatedly and expose their entire asses to Trevor’s mother and father, both of whom looked as if they were about to die of embarrassment. They were purposely behaving wildly inappropriately, but the message was that the only shameful element of the entire encounter was the fact that the parents disapproved. Come on. Who the fuck wouldn’t disapprove of their child bringing someone home who made lewd sexual comments and bared their ass all night?

I thought it couldn’t get more ridiculous, but then they went to Rosie’s house. Rosie is a go-go dancer in Staten Island. Rosie’s cousin is an actual lesbian. Rosie’s mother has never heard anything about her daughter being gay before. Watching a room full of people each try to pretend not to be offended or flabbergasted by a different thing was actually really entertaining, but I ended up feeling sorry for everyone but the dog, whom the twins hated because Rosie paid too much attention to it (which is a big no-no).  The twins, here noting that Rosie’s mother was a bit disconcerted by the announcement that her daughter was a lesbian, scooted over to Rosie and planted a sloppy, lengthy, lascivious kiss on her, as if daring her mother to object and thus prove that she was a homophobe. It was absolutely obscene, an obvious provocation.

The visit with Rebecca’s family was fairly uneventful, but then they went to Scotty’s house, where they had their most successful family visit. Scotty is quite possibly the biggest tool on Earth. His favorite adjective to use to describe the twins was “smokin’,” and when they took him to Las Vegas in the seventh episode, he jumped out of the limo at the hotel and yelled, “Vegas, baby!” while doing the bodybuilder pose mentioned above. He’s from New Jersey (surprise, surprise), and he took the twins there to meet his bros, all of whom have nicknames (Ill Will, Pistol Pete, and Big Chris — I swear), and his family. The twins wore red headbands as skirts and matching red bra tops with tassels all over them, which would come in handy when they got Scotty’s mother and aunt, who are Jewish, to do the “Hava Nagila” and to drink Manischevitz body shots from between their breasts (I’m not kidding). The twins basically offered to fuck Scotty’s parents during dinner and spent the entire evening shaking their tits all over the place. They even leaned out the windows of the SUV as they left the house and shook their tasseled breasts at his family while waving goodbye. Check out the episode highlights.

Ah, love.

In the end it came down to Trevor and Rebecca. I know it’s a shock that it came down to a boy and a girl, but it did. The deal was that the twins would each choose which of the remaining two they were in love with, and if they ended up choosing the same person, then that person would have to choose between them (MTV must’ve gotten a lot of complaints from outraged parents, without which I truly believe they would have had the winner walk away with both twins). They both chose Trevor, he chose one of them, the couple lived happily ever after. Try not to faint.

There are several problems here:

  1. No one on this show save a few of the women who were kicked off in the early episodes is actually a lesbian or bisexual. It’s all a show, and one that’s being put on to titillate a male audience and a female audience that has been conditioned to conceive of its own sexuality in terms of what gives men boners. Isn’t it neat how in the end the twins both chose a man, thus reassuring the universe that everything’s still alright, that men needn’t fear that women can do without them?
  2. This show is openly promoting the idea that incest is hot, as long as it’s between two women (but two guys doing it is grooooss!). Apparently there’s no form of degradation that is too outrageous to ask women to submit to and pretend to like — ON NATIONAL TELEVISION in front of an audience of adolescents.
  3. Why would anyone be willing to eat a sheep’s eye in order to ingratiate themselves with a pair of morally repugnant assholes who’ve constructed their self-worth around how successfully they can use their “sexuality” to manipulate people? It’s ridiculous that people should be engaging in contests for affection, even if that affection does come in the form of a porn fantasy.
  4. I realize that a large proportion (if not all) of the women on this show were there to get exposure on television. Why is there a seemingly unlimited supply of women willing to pretend to be gay, expose themselves, and repeatedly degrade themselves in front of a national audience for a minuscule chance at Z-list celebrity? That was a rhetorical question.
  5. It’s absurd that the producers of this show are pretending that this parade of narcissism, humiliation, and vapidity is about “finding love.” In fact, it’s ridiculous that they’re claiming it’s about anything but a bunch of warped, shallow people seeking whatever kind of power appeals most to them (the power to use women for the men, and the power to give men boners for the women).
  6. The idea that anyone who objects to this steaming pile of misogyny, objectification, dehumanization, degradation, and indignity is a bigot is incredible. There’s nothing I hate more than hearing people who are behaving like immoral shitheads co-opting the language of the oppressed to defend their behavior in the face of completely justified outrage.

These twins are completely evil, though I don’t know whose fault that is. They’re fulfilling the expectations of a porn-sick, frat boy-centered society at every possible level. They’ve absorbed the message that women’s power lies in our ability to induce boners, so they’re exercising that power while they have it. I get it, but it’s terrifying. Every time the twins got the slightest inkling that someone was paying attention to anything or anyone besides themselves, they became visibly incensed. They wouldn’t brook anyone in the house forming attachments to anyone but themselves, which they proved by forcing the contestants to stab life-size cardboard cutouts of their fellow housemates with giant butcher knives. In the course of this show, people ate animals’ penises, licked several pounds of frosting off of a mannequin, dressed up as animals and tried to sell themselves to the twins by saying things like, “I’m a duck and I like to fuck,” allowed their parents to be sexually harassed and even physically molested, got into fist fights that resulted in their asses being exposed on national television, and who the fuck knows what else, all in order to get the chance to be on television and/or fuck a pair of evil twins. I’m pretty sure that means we’ve either hit rock bottom, or that we can expect to see people doing anal on the next season of A Shot at Love.

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