Deposits may not be available for immediate withdrawal.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Sexuality Crisis

Well, it happened again. Once again, someone assumed I was gay. If I wasn't so inured to this, I suppose I would be annoyed. But I'm past caring now.

In fact, there was a point when I had been hit on by more men than women (luckily, that has ceased to be the case). At that point I even considered whether I was actually in denial about being gay. Now in retrospect, I think I can do a re-analysis

Top 10 reasons in favour of my being gay
1) I have very good personal hygiene
2) I am terribly up-to-date on dressing trends
3) I notice people's clothes
4) I can tell the difference between peach, pink and salmon
5) I have colour-coordinated bath linen
6) I think plastic glasses are tacky
7) I think I look good in corduroy
8) I'm finicky about keeping my beard trimmed
9) I use conditioner and shampoo separately
10) I hate beer

Top 1 reason why I'm NOT gay
1) I close my eyes and picture Brad Pitt naked. Have to throw up and watch 1 hour of (FEMALE) porn to erase images from my mind. Lesbian action preferred.

Right then, so what does that make me?

Decided to claim I was metrosexual. Actually managed to pull it off for a while. Until a very fashionable lady from Bombay sniffed at me disparagingly and said "No metrosexual would be caught dead in those shoes. And shouldn't you be at the gym?".

Right now I have no idea. The only fear I have is that women will assume I'm gay and stop wanting to sleep with me. As if the situation wasn't bad enough already. I think some of this has to do with being born in July, 1979. That's the sign of the crab in the year of the sheep. For the uninitiated, these are both the most feminine signs in their respective mythologies. Just my luck.

Perhaps I should stop vacuuming.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Queer Eye

Gay culture is a big deal in this country. In fact, its more than that. I have never seen a people so obsessed with stereotypes than Americans. And sexuality being a hot issue, the gay and the straight stand in two distinct cultural zones, and are being pushed further apart with the introduction of every new fall line.

So straight men drink beer. And gay men drink pink gins and prettily coloured cocktails. I still remember the horror on my American friend's face when I ordered a green apple martini (apparently its strictly a girls drink).

I also hear about this TV show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Basically five classy gay men (referred to as the Fab Five) burst into a scruffy straight man's life and drag him kicking and screaming to a beauty parlour to buff his toenails and teach him how to sip his martinis, both shaken and stirred.

Now I dislike this show immensely. The underlying premise is simple - to be neat, clean, well-groomed and cultured, you need to sleep with men. The men who sleep with women are all slobs, therefore, and the women tolerate them anyway. So some MSM's are needed to tell these walking testosterone factories to take a daily bath.

In this country there are just some things straight men can't do. Avoid anything pink (or close to it). Any kind of clothes that are slightly shiny are out. Personal hygiene and good grooming are to be avoided as far as possible, and expressions like "That's so sweet", "tacky", "bedskirt", "bath linen" and "you look fabulous", are to be avoided at all costs.

This reminds me of the days when I was 6 years old and got regularly teased by the bigger guys who concluded that by not joining them to play football, I was actually a girl. In the face of logic like that, I gave up.

Then I grew up. But sadly, many people refuse to.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Beverage of choice

And since the word does appear in the title, I suppose we need a post on beer (hate the stuff myself, by the way).

Any beer commercial is marketed at morons, in my opinion. It's almost always "look, here's a big pair of tits--now drink this!"

...Not that I mind seeng a big pair of tits, I'm just saying.

- from a forum for beer drinkers

Well, there you have it.

Anyway, so I was hunting for a snap of the ad that I had mentioned in the previous post - the one with the UMich girl and OSU guy playing tonsil football - and I came across this witticism. Also a bunch of other ads. Considering I wasn't sure what brand of beer it was, my searches were pretty specific, and I found a bunch of unrelated, albeit interesting, stuff.

One thing that was completely obvious was that beer manufacturers believe very strongly that a fantastic pair of cans are essential in order to sell their cans. Beer drinkers are supposedly a very macho lot, and wear their male-ness on their sleeves (in the form of tattoos involving grisly murder weapons, usually). Such men are clearly cavemen who respond to very basic stimuli. The obvious one being sex. So show them tits and sell them beer.

I will briefly point out that not only is this completely anti-feminist, it doesn't help the image of the men of this world. We DO have brains you know. And we use them - not all our decisions are made 2 feet below.

That said, the interesting thing I noted was that Budweiser had actually run a series of controversial ads aimed specifically at gay men. The first ad showed two men holding hands, with a punchline - "Be Yourself". Naturally, this led to howls of protests from conservative groups in America. Typical, isn't it. Anyway, Budweiser continued running these ads for a while, but only in gay publications. Later, it ran ads with mildly suggestive gay themes in these publications.

Clearly, this showed that the company realised an important truth - a significant proportion of its customers didn't like big (or any kind of) tits, and they had to reach out to these people.

The story didn't end there, though. There's a bunch of e-mails doing the rounds from people on both sides of the divide, trying to rally support to their cause. Again, there is no shortage of people with no work in their lives. I feel sad for such people. They seriously need to see some tits - or whatever.

Monday, December 20, 2004

And speaking of men and women

So why can Superman and Spiderman have ordinary wives who know their secrets, while giving Wonder Woman an ordinary husband poses huge problems?

On a related note, Rahul told me about an interesting thing that happened in Ann Arbor. As you may know, the University of Michigan (AnnArbor) and the Ohio State University have a huge rivalry going. Both are members of the elite Big Ten League (so is Northwestern, but thats another story), and are bloody good at football. So UMich-OSU matches usually lead to a great deal of fuss.
Anyway, so some beer company puts up a print ad, which was reasonably unoffensive as beer ads go (which isn't saying much). They have a girl in a UMich sweatwhirt and a guy in an OSU sweatshirt kissing. Both holding the relevant brand of beer, and the catchline goes "brings even the worst enemies together", or some such.
What was probably not surprising was that the students at UMich made a bonfire of these posters. What was surprising was their main objection - Why was the girl in the UMich sweat and not the other way around. In Columbus, Ohio, the reaction was one of glee. After all, they got to be the dominant partners in the relationship.

All this is similar to the objections that some Muslims had to Mani Ratnam's Bombay. Why was the female character Muslim and not the other way around?

Final example - Antara points out the following on her blog.

Indian men have this peculiar thing with white I will say I noticed that more brown women date white men than the other way around. Part of me says, this isn't right- how much of this is exoticization and one of those 'Indian fetishes' (I've met white males who do have 'brown women' me). But there's this whole power thing with white women I don't get, some post colonial condition I don't have an insight into.

The above is absolutely true. You see a LOT of white guys dating desi girls, but the reverse rarely happens. In the few cases that it does (I can think of a very obvious example close to home), the guy usually assimilates himself into the American milieu before going out, and for all practical purposes is a PIO, rather than an Indian strictly.

I trace all of these phenomena to a single point. Everywhere in the world, the woman is the one who marries into the man's family and not the other way around. Even in lesser relationships (not amounting to matrimony), the woman becomes the man's and not the other way round. The direction of the possession mapping is unequivocal and unidirectional.

So WW is marrying beneath her status and Supes is not.

So a guy kissing a girl is expressing his ownership over her (a better word is haque)

So a brown woman is upping her status by marrying into the superior culture, with no cost to the guy. If a brown guy married a white woman, he would have to first become part of American culture to prevent the girl from taking a step down.

And no amount of hyphenated post-marital surnames will change that.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Wonder Woman

For those of you who have been living in a cocoon at the bottom of the Hudson river for the last 30 years, click on the link above.

After the post on Stevie boy, I wondered about the woman in his life. I think WW is a fascinating sociological specimen. Here - in a skimpy, spangled nutshell - you have an idea of gender relations - particularly the strange and laughably contradictory views that men have of how their women should be.

A little history lesson first.

Wonder Woman was introduced into the world gingerly in 1942. At that time, the big guns of comic books (Superman, Batman) were all male. The prevailing idea was that a female lead couldn't sell comics. To cover up for her unfortunate gender, the writers added a few ingredients - patriotism (star-spangled girl, also her debut was around the time of Pearl Harbour and she was married to a US airman); mythology (very bad rewriting of the Greek myths in her back story); and of course gratuitous T&A.

To begin with WW had only female villains to fight. To expect a woman - even with those cool bracelets and lariat - to kick the asses of male supervillains was too far-fetched for the public to swallow. Also WW was shoehorned into this odd relationship with the good Capt. Trevor. This is where the complex politics of man-woman relationships entered the picture.

Note that Superman could marry mortal Lois and Batman could (briefly) woo the winsome Vicki, but when you have a strong (and they don't come stronger than her) woman in a relationship with a decidedly ordinary man, things tend to look bad for the guy in question.

To save Steve from the severe embaressment of being regularly saved by his girlfriend, the authors played up his military history, his courage and fighting spirit IN SPITE of not having any superpowers. Finally Steve never realised that Diana and WW were the same person and often rushed in to save his damsel, believing her to be in distress. At times like these, WW was only too happy to simper "Oh Steve", and give our hero a long kiss.

Note: read about WW history here,

Cut to the post-feminist era. Now superheroines are accepted with open arms (yeah right!). In the DC universe, decidedly sexual women - Black Canary, Zatanna (Why would anyone fight crime in fishnets?) and more recently Huntress - take the stage. With kickass attitudes, they can take down any villain - male or female - and are incredibly slutty to boot.

Now the focus is back on our lady. She has the first-mover advantage. So she is already queen of the scene. Time to start taking WW seriously. So her godly powers are accentuated and she is made a UN ambassador (there has never been that much collective cleavage in any security council sitting). Now remains the problem of the insignificant other. Being a product of the 1940's, WW was strictly monogamous. So opportunity to position her as the pristine queen - to be admired and desired, but never attained. But what of Stevie boy? Well, take the easy way out. Steve (like all men with powerful girlfriends) has sudden ego hassles, walks out on her and marries the comic relief. So he is now a complete jerk (courageous World War heroism notwithstanding) and she's better off without him.

Now in this new avatar, WW is strictly kept out of any relationships. Subtle sexual tensions vis-a-vis Batman and Aquaman are being explored, but they are never overt (nor will they ever be).

The new WW is a beacon for her entire gender. She is smart, bold, ethical, and responsible. A complete role model, a woman to be looked up to. She can kick ass on an Olympian scale and remain the heart of the JLA. In other words, someone to be taken VERY SERIOUSLY.

Oh, and she still wears a high-cut, backless, strapless swimsuit that masquerades as a costume.

Men, you see, will always be pigs.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Prince Consort?

Catching up on the JLA stories got me thinking - of all people - of Captain Steve Trevor. So who is he, you might ask. Well, Steve occupies pride of place in the comic book universe because he got to live every pubescent teenagers hidden fantasy - this is the man who actually slept with Wonder Woman.

This is, in my opinion, what sets Wonder Woman apart from all the other comic book heroines. She was a super-powered woman who settles for a very very ordinary man. True the reverse has happened many times.

Examples - Peter and Mary Jane, Ray and Jean, Ralph and Sue, Logan and Mariko and of course - Clark and Lois.

But when it comes to the comic book heroines, they just have to find a significant other who has some super-power too. List them all out - Jean, Emma, Ororo, Sue, Wanda, Janet, Barbara, Dinah - the lot of them have had relationships only with "more powerful" men.

All except for Diana, that is. This woman broke the stereotype. She was incredibly powerful (and had an outfit that was part of every geek's wet dream), but chose ordinary mortal Steve over the spandex-clad brigade.

Identity Crisis

Well, holidays have begun in all earnest. So time for some serious randomness.

To begin with, I have been reading Identity Crisis. Described as the Comic Event of the year, it certainly lives up to expectations. OK, so its no Crisis on Infinite Earths, but if you compare it to recent comic offerings, especially Marvel's AWFUL Avengers Disassembled, it really stands out.

I have read #1 - #6 and am eagerly awaiting #7. The murder mystery they've spun is beautifully written, and everyone is churning out incredible theories to explain them. Issue #6 gave a possible direction, but I'm really hoping its a red herring.

A common argument against IC is that its way too gritty, and will only lead to the Marvel-isation of the DC universe. Thats possibly true, and its also likely to alienate a big section of the comic reading population - kids. However, as a 25-year-old I really couldn't care less. I just love it - and frankly, DC have been pushing the envelope with their other series. Side note - anyone who loves comics just HAS to check out Y: The last man.