My Little Pony and Society Assigned Gender Roles

So after reading this poorly worded diatribe calling male My Little Pony fans “terrifying” : http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Hollywood/2012/04/25/my-little-pony which for the record is factually accurate:

1. The show creators admitted it was rewritten for a broader audience than previous versions and Lauren Faust herself said she doesn’t buy into the stereotypes of gender.

2. The image and references this author used all obviously refer to the older series.

But that all aside, because as I’m about to point out, it shouldn’t even matter which version he’s referring to nor who the writers “intended” their audience to be.

First off, let’s break down his idea of “immaturity”.  By my definition, immaturity or immature entertainment is something enjoyed for purely youthful reasons.  Like slapstick, toilet humor and the ignorance of consequence.  So you could easily see why I’d consider any hobby one does purely for enjoyment’s sake and not for profit or deep, philosophical reasons is “immature”.  That includes but is not limited to: all sports, any science fiction or fantasy fan base, comic books, model construction, collectors and of course anything enjoyed as a child and later retained into adulthood like cartoons, parties, and dessert. In other words, WE ALL HAVE AN IMMATURE HOBBY.  It’s what keeps us sane.  Can you imagine trying to live life like a robot?  Running on 100% efficiency, not doing anything for purely FUN’s sake?  Me either.

Second, gender roles as defined by what we are expected to like and find for hobbies are not defined by some predestined hard-wiring.  They are defined by societal “norms” and reinforced by treating anyone who bucks the trend as an unwanted outsider.  So women who enjoy hobbies which are targeted at men are considered weird or at the worst called lesbians.  We get accused of trying to fake it to meet a guy or get told we’re bad mothers for wanting to pursue careers in these fields.

And what do men get for enjoying things targeted towards women?  They get called gay or pedophile or permavirgin.  And by who?  By other men who generally share an equally “immature” hobby.  By men so insecure in their own sexuality that they think gender roles are defined by the 1950’s stereotype of the nuclear family.  Fact is, most men can’t even admit to enjoying a show, animated or not, if the main character(s) is female.  The only way I even see this happen is when they explain it off as a crush on one of the actresses.  So let me get this right:

1. Women can enjoy shows and movies targeted at men because over 80% of programming is targeted at males age 18-34 so our selection is limited.  But if we are overly enthusiastic for something which is ultra “masculine” then we are called geeks, freaks, posers and lesbians.

2. Men are only allowed to like a show or movie with a female lead IF they want to have sex with the actors.  So any man who enjoys an animated cartoon with female main characters must be a pedophile since the characters portray young girls.

I hope I don’t have to point out how ridiculous this is.  People like things for a wide variety of reasons.  For example, I am a fan of anime mostly because the plots tend to be twisted, dark and funny.  I like that sort of writing.  Much like George R. R. Martin, many animes spend a lot of time building up and making you fall in love with main characters right before the writer decides to do something horrible to them.  It’s great emotional writing and I appreciate the genre for that.  Now there are anime fans who enjoy it from an artistic standard and pick their animes based on visual appeal.  Some people love robotics and are in to the sci-fi animes.  Some people are very attuned to musical scores and choose anime with great music.  And yes, there are some guys and girls who are overly hormonal and chose shows based on sexual attractiveness of the cast.

These same standards get applied outward to many hobbies.  We all find a hobby we enjoy for such a varied list of reasons that to paint an entire community of fans as an archetype is just irresponsible, fear-mongering journalism.

“Born Religious” No Longer in My Head

So you remember that post I made back on the 3rd?   Apparently I’m not the only person wondering whether religious inclination is genetic.  Picked up a May issue of MIND and saw this:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=are-we-born-to-be-religious

It was interesting except for a few points.  But those are more nitpicking about semantics than the overall topic.  It did reconfirm some of my ideas though.  For example, studies HAVE shown that certain personality traits find it easier to shuck the religion of their youth while others are more easily swayed to stay faithful.

My semantics complaints were more terms like “agreeableness” and “self-controlled” etc.  It made it sound like religious people hold monopoly on assisting others and selflessness.  When in reality the definitions were more detailed than the negative feelings we attach to these terms.  “Agreeableness” just means one who is less likely to disagree with others.  But that is not always a good thing.  Nazi Germany would be a quick example of how speaking out and fighting the norm can be a noble action even if it gets you labeled as “disagreeable”.

In short, people who are inherently questioning, pushing against norms and curious about science and facts tend to find it much easier to embrace atheism.  Common sense sounding, but it should help you in any future debates.  That fanatic you are trying to sway may not be receptive to any sort of logic, plea or empathy so save your energy and put it somewhere positive instead. 😀

Protecting a “Cross” and other Divisiveness

Well last night’s NYC Atheists meeting was interesting. I guess I’m a moderate conservative with a heart full of tolerance compared to some people. :3

You see, there are certain members who are currently involved in a lawsuit to remove the “cross” from the 9/11 memorial. Now I am a sentimental crybaby when it comes to 9/11. I can’t go down to that site without getting a lump in my heart. I hate that over 3000 people died pointlessly. And I can fully understand why in the aftermath certain religious people turned to and found an icon in this cross shaped beam of steel.

Now I know it’s just a steel beam and since it’s steel crossbeam it’s duh in the shape of a cross. But now that it’s been anointed by holy peoples and worshiped, prayed to, kissed etc for over a decade since then, it’s part of history. Not to mention that it’s actually from ground zero and as such belongs in the museum. Now my fellow atheists argue that it is being used as “prime real estate for advertising religion”. But my argument to them is this: so?

Let’s put it this way. Say I don’t like a certain artist. All this artist paints is “trash” imo and that it’s horrible and overrated. Now if this artist gets a showing at the MoMa, will I be happy? No. But do they deserve to be there as a cultural icon and marker of that time? Yes.

To put it another way, go to the Natural History museum. See for yourself the ancient Greek sculptures of dead gods and goddesses. Once great religious icons, now seen as relics of the past. Just because something IS religious, does not make it “evil”. I think that taking atheism to this negative, litigious path just makes us all look bad and spiteful. I know I didn’t make any friends tonight by saying this. But it’s what I feel in my heart. Let the people have their peace in whatever shape they need it to be.

—–

On a final note, we are not forth graders in need of gold stars.  So why does every meeting seem to devolve into glad hand politics and back patting?  Yes yes, someone wrote for the newsletter or organized something.  Send them an email of thanks.  Or just mention their name so we can thank them IF we appreciate it.  But saying things like, “Person A did a FAN-tastic job on this article you should all read it!  So n so, stand up and tell us more about it!  It’s really a great piece!  Heck, that one group we’re buddies with said THEY liked it!”

Come on guys, I appreciate hard work too.  But get over it. This is a meeting with many people and we’re trying to get MORE things done.  So let’s not waste time congratulating each other on the little things when there are bigger projects to be tackled.  Especially when you spend a large chunk complaining that not enough people are showing up and that we need MORE support and MORE action.

By all means, take the advice I gave about using PR sites and using social networking and change.org.  USE the means we have to spread a message. 😀

Foxhole Atheists Deserve Equal Rights

reposting this link once more:

http://www.change.org/petitions/demand-that-the-us-military-start-protecting-atheist-soldiers-from-hate-crimes

15 signatures is a nice start, but I would love if more of you could share this petition in your circle.  Every little bit helps! Thank you.

For more info on why this is important and currently an issue for atheists:

http://militaryatheists.org/watchlist.html

Thank the G – O – D I don’t live in Egypt

I’d have been stoned to death by now.

But seriously.

http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2012/04/04/egypt-jails-christian-student-to-three-years-in-jail-for-insulting-islam/

So posting a cartoon and stating your personal opinion on a certain religion is a crime?  On a deeper note, what the hell Muslims?  You want to be taken seriously as a peaceful, loving faith that doesn’t want to blow up churches and kill innocent people.  And yet you continue to not only pass but enforce laws like this.  Here’s a clue:

If you want to be taken seriously when you say you are a “religion of peace” then STOP jailing, killing and destroying things just because they “offend” you.  All I hear when a Muslim speaks of “peace” is that line from Princess Bride: “You keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Peace is by it’s definition an act of tolerance.  A choice to “turn the other cheek”.  To walk away.  You are not a “religion of peace” when it is in your dogmatic core to not only hate but DESTROY anything which “dares” offend Islam or Mohammed.  Guess what?  There is a wide world out there and you do not make up the majority.  You also don’t live on an isolated patch of land.  If you want to do business with the rest of humanity.  If you want a seat at the  UN and a say in NATO, a cut of import/exports and to draw in tourists, then kindly get THE FUCK over yourselves.

Baby I was Born This Way: A Thought Experiment

While passing time on a walk this morning a thought struck me.  Since my thoughts tend to border on rambling let me explain:

Premise 1: Race issues are prevalent in media and social networking sites.

Premise 2: Homosexuality and Atheism do not get as much “air time”.

Premise 3: Race is harder to “hide” than one’s sexual orientation or religious preference so it’s more noticeable.

Premise 4: Many people still believe that homosexuality is a choice and almost everyone believes religion is a choice.

Now my next thought was this:

WHAT IF Atheism is like homosexuality?  An inherent personality trait which one can chose to act upon but as far as “urges” are concerned, you are hard wired internally.  Now I know I said before that we are all technically BORN atheists. But let’s go down a different path just for fun.  Say we are all predisposed to be atheists just in the definition that we do not know of any religion yet.  But what if some of us are just natural born skeptics and some are just naturally born believers of the supernatural?

For example.  I never had an imaginary friend.  That’s not to say I never had an imagination or that I do not enjoy fiction.  I have just always been pretty adept at separating the two.  I believed in Santa only so long as I believed it was physically possible for him to actually exist.  I believed in fairies, dragons, demons etc all for the same reason.  I genuinely believed they existed until further investigation and curiosity proved me wrong.  And I was tearing apart mythology at the same rate I was tearing apart electronics to see how they worked.

So, what about people who have always had “faith” in things like Santa, ghosts, big foot, UFOs etc?  Perhaps they are just genetically inclined to the supernatural.  Perhaps they did not become religious merely because of how they were raised.  But perhaps they are just more inclined to put faith into fantastic ideas no matter what the source.  I am willing to bet that if such research were conducted studying varying levels of skepticism throughout childhood, we would find that  those of use who managed to break the spell of faith were already showing intense levels of curiosity and impetuousness as children.

I have always wondered what would happen if we spent more time teaching children to embrace curiosity, critical thinking and questioning the source of authority.

Hipsters and the Death of Controversy

It all started a couple weeks ago.

I was looking over this popular meme a friend had posted on Facebook.  It showed Marilyn Monroe in a bathing suit next to some anorexic model in a bikini and said “which would you choose”?  I honestly replied that I would “choose” neither since they are both vapid women who used their looks to acquire fame rather than their brains.  I believed I was just honestly answering a question posed by a friend.

However I had opened some floodgates of anti-hipster hatred misdirected at me.  I was called a “typical hipster” for saying something against the norm.  Since when is it only “hipsters” who disagree with the status quo?

Then just a couple days ago while commenting on the Rick Santorum video where he may or may not have used the N-word I tried to weigh both sides fairly and said that the evidence given is not enough to assume he was trying to utter a racist word.  This time I was called “contrarian” for trying to play devil’s advocate.

So here’s my dilemma.  I am an argumentative and questioning person by nature.  Not by some recent drive to “be trendy” which, by the way makes no sense which is exactly why I despise hipsters.  I am always trying to be fair in my judgment of others and get alarmed at how easily most of society will take sides in an issue without full evidence.  Like with Treyvon Martin.  We weren’t there.  We only know what little evidence has been linked to the media.  So pretending to know “for sure” whether one is guilty or not makes no sense to me.

In my opinion, a hipster s someone who despite their own opinion or morals, will take the minority opinion or root for an underdog just because they hate being with the “in-crowd” so much that it drives them mad. They are the type of people who will pretend to stop liking a band once it becomes popular. This, is not who I am.  I like what I like.  Sometimes it’s something trendy or popular and sometimes it’s not.  I believe anyone who really knows me for more than one day would be painfully aware of how varied my taste is.

So why is it that I am constantly met with labels like “hipster”, “hater” “contrarian” when in reality I am just being 100% honest in my opinion?  Do people honestly believe that any opinion beyond the majority is driven by some outside desire to be a “cool outcast” rather than personal taste?

I don’t hate indiscriminately anything which is popular or fun.  I  love Harry Potter, but I hate Twilight.  I love SkyRim but I hate Halo.  I love Metallica but I hate Amy Winehouse.  These are just matters of personal opinion and taste.

I really wish there were a succinct way to explain myself when people lob labels at me so indiscriminately, but I usually am so shocked by their blind judgment that I’m too stunned to reply. But the bad side of this is that I do find myself voicing my opinion less and less.  Perhaps that is the goal of these people to begin with?