Please Vacate the Premises, Sir, This Is a Wedding Expo.

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I have recently seen for myself that gender binarism and stereotyping are in fine form at bridal expositions. I have never given much thought to wedding expos in general, until I realized that some are described as ‘bridal’ expos, versus ‘bride and groom’ or ‘wedding’ expos. Simply by the title discrepancies holds the first problem for me. Why people still pander to the idea that it is the woman’s responsibility to plan the details of the wedding, and that they are the only ones interested in attending an expo, I’ll never know. This atmosphere appears most frequently within the ‘bridal’ expos, but can also be found within the ‘wedding’ events, which in theory, should be inclusive of everyone. The aim of these expos is to book clients and for vendors to, you know, sell things, so it seems like poor business management to be alienating fifty percent of your potential clients.

The assumption that men are not interested in any kind of wedding expo is prevalent within these events, but is addressed in a paradoxical manner within the wedding industry itself. Some companies, such as the Love Story Wedding Expo, are attempting to increase the amount of Y chromosomes in attendance by advertising that grooms can attend expos for free, but only with their brides. To me, this is one of the many oddities within the land of the wedding expo. As far as I can tell, the events themselves attempt to separate the men and women as soon as they are through the door. I recently had a conversation with a friend, and he attended an expo with his fiancée. He is excited about planning his wedding with his partner, and was surprised that he, as the groom, was not allowed to enter any of the contests by himself. If companies running these events are trying to encourage men to attend, why are they quickly alienating any potential groom, (as well as same-sex couples) by sending them the message that they don’t really belong?

As part of the paradoxical element I mentioned, many events that are advertised online have a designated ‘Groom’s Area.’ In my idealized world, this area would simply be an area for tuxedos, shoes, and any other products that men predominately buy. Sadly, this area, also known as a ‘Men’s Area,’ ‘Groom’s Lounge,’ and the horribly condescending ‘Groom-Sitting Area’ are areas that pander to the narrow, stereotypical idea of masculinity from the 1950s. Firstly, assuming that a man is not interested in planning the wedding, and likewise, that women are is a testament to the idea that women are only interested in, or only have the ability for frivolous things like parties and clothing. In my mind, gender binarism is at work here, and there is a subtle message that if men are not frivolous party-planners, they therefore must be talented in logical things and/or rough-and-tough things, that are the opposite of ladylike behaviour (whatever the hell that is).

Speaking of rough-and-tough, what’s more tough and manly than football and beer? Nothing, that’s what. So, of course when a man is dragged past aisles of tulle and lace for any length of time, they eventually will need a testosterone boost to still be able to call themselves men. Insert the ‘Men’s Area’ that will save the any man’s reputation, where GroomsAdvice describes their service as:

“We mix a little wedding talk with Nintendo Wii, ping pong and man-food. Doesn’t sound that bad, eh?”

So there, you go. Men can all give one another hot beef injections of ‘man-food’ in each other’s mouths (beef is the manliest meat, right?) when they all grow weary of pantyhose and stuff.

GroomsAdvice also offers men a free football pass (because every man everywhere is a football fan) for simply attending their event. I’m pretty sure that any man that refused the free pass, and wanted to attend the event simply to help plan his wedding would be asked to leave.

So why are men attending? The wedding industry makes their money by selling a fantasy to women, and marrying a partner that is enlightened enough to attend an expo with you is the icing on the proverbial cake that you could probably buy with enough money.  All this dude has to do to show his support is to drive there with you, buy his ticket (or not), and retreat to the glorified sports bar until you are ready for him to sign the cheque once you have found your perfect dress and shoes.  The Wonderful Wedding Show  discusses their own Groom’s Lounge, and make a special note, telling grooms to drop by when they’ve inhaled too much of the estrogen-laced atmosphere, because they will surely need a “much deserved break while their brides-to-be are exploring the rest of the show.”

There are so many examples of ‘socially acceptable’ forms of sexism that we all come across daily that drives me crazy. I’m not even surprised at the varying degrees of stupidity anymore. It’s more of a frustration that the majority of my peers can’t see any issues with this crap, and I always get flak from everyone saying that I’m too sensitive over casual gender stereotyping. Stereotyping is damaging for all people; if the expectation is that men must be one thing, and women must therefore be another, it is troublesome for every person, especially those that do not fit into the typical ‘male’ and ‘female’ roles. I wish that the wedding industry (and everyone in general) could be progressive enough to be inclusive for all people, and all types of couples that are planning their big day.

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I’m a PC Asshole, and I Love It.

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Increased social networking technology has brought us an ever-expanding access to global information and opinions. Social media outlets have made it so that everyone and anyone can have their own platform to share their personal ideas. And what has come from this technological advancement? Arguments. All of the arguments, that can lead to flame wars, and my personal pet peeve, commenting in ALL CAPS TO SHOW LIKE, HOW ANGRY YOU ARE, OR WHATEVER. These chronicled theatrics delight spectators everywhere; likely, they progress with borderline unrecognizable words and if one was to introduce the word ‘homophone,’ it may be mistaken for a pink telephone.

People have been telling me to keep my opinions to myself for as long as I can remember. My Stepfather would constantly tell me to stop critiquing things; I never stopped, because I was determined that everyone in my family know the cheese factor that I witnessed in the teenaged acting that was Elijah Woods in Flipper.

As I got older, I was ‘Facebook warring’ with people before Facebook was even a thing. I heard the word ‘political correctness’ somewhere in my junior high age, and unlike some of my peers at the time (and even some of my peers as an adult, I’m not going to lie), I understood what it meant. I officially became a PC policeperson (hardy har har) in junior high school, when my gym teacher called one of his students ‘retarded.’ Now, I’m Canadian, and in Canada, the word ‘retard’ is considered to be quite rude, and definitely falls into the category of politically incorrectness. I called him on it, and the story of our interaction became the big news throughout the school for a time. I felt confident while confronting him, because I knew that my argument was ‘right.’ I knew a few other students that had siblings and family members with cognitive limitations, and to have an instructor use that kind of language was pretty upsetting. I don’t dare use the word ‘offensive’ within my anecdote, because that word is becoming overused, with its actual definition falling on deaf ears. I actually wish that I had a deaf friend to ask if they find the previous idiom offensive or not. Be sure that I will not use it in the future if someone objects to it!

Back then, I was beginning to create an identity for myself as a person that defends the rights of marginalized groups. I still strive to do the best that I can; if someone tells me that they are hurt, uncomfortable, or, perish the thought, offended by a term, phrase, comment, costume, or anything (within reason) else, I will believe and support their call for a retraction. I don’t accuse anyone of being too sensitive, or just figure they should get over it. I don’t know how it feels to be an Aboriginal or Native American, finding a ridiculous ‘Native’ Halloween costume in the store; or similarly, a costume that consists of a donkey and a sombrero; and I don’t know how it feels to be struggling to identify my own sexual orientation, and to hear the word ‘gay’ being used as a bad thing. Yes, you read that right. I don’t think people should use the word ‘gay’ as a synonym for ‘bad,’ or ‘stupid.’ I also don’t think that racial slurs and stereotypes are appropriate in any context. You may have freedom of speech, but that doesn’t mean you have freedom from the consequences of what comes out of your mouth. If that makes me an overly-sensitive asshole (I’m writing metaphorically here, I don’t mean I need ultra soft toilet paper or anything. Well, OK, I do actually prefer it), I’d rather be that over being the hurtful and bigoted type of asshole.

So, come at me on my various social media platforms. I’ll even start you off: I identify as a feminist. I love, LOVE discussing gender stereotypes and binary issues with people, especially when they have no flipping idea about what they’re talking about. Let me first counter what is the most common first argument about feminism: feminism is difficult to discuss because there is no official definition of it (which truthfully, doesn’t make us look good), but I adhere to the idea that women should be allowed to be as human as males. I think that gender stereotypes are damaging for everyone involved, so, don’t get down on me about how I’m a man-hater, and don’t care about anyone’s rights but my own. I think that custody cases should be investigated individually and objectively, and women shouldn’t always be awarded custody simply because they are female. I am a feminist, and am not only one when it is convenient for me. So, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

My PC-ness will come out in other forms, as well: I think that all children should be nurtured; yes, everyone does deserve a prize, but perhaps not in the way that you think. I feel like praising a child’s talent or skill over others in front a group can be damaging. If you are complimenting a child’s artistic ability, what does that even mean? Art is subjective, and honestly, depending on the age, the word artistic is probably a bit of a stretch, anyway. So why not compliment a child’s ability to copy an object accurately? And then, compliment another’s ability to use their imagination, or use of colors. There have been multiple articles that discuss how in the early years of school, rules and restrictions stamp out creativity in children, and make them believe that there is only one way to be… fill in the blank: intelligent, artistic, talented…

So, continue to feel free to leave your uniformed criticisms for your PC-Asshole acquaintances (I doubt that you are actually friends) on your various social media outlets. I’m going to bet that my lot are sitting on their computers, rolling their eyes, trying to come up with reasons as to why they haven’t deleted you already. I will continue to be a PC Asshole, because I would rather research how words and actions affect people, and to be conscious of my findings in my day-to-day life, over the kind of person that has not understood a single word that I’ve written.

Stiller’s Female Viagra Ad: Sloppy Satire or Misogynistic?

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They’ll call anything ‘comedy’ these days…

Ben Stiller’s spoof commercial that was recently shown on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon got big laughs from the audience members of the show. I’m discounting the laughter as my measure for any kind of comedic value of the commercial, since these were Jimmy Fallon fans. I actually can’t tell if the spoof was meant to poke fun at the old joke that men are inadequate lovers, and fail at deciphering female anatomy, or if it was meant to tear down the credibility of female sexual dysfunction issues and female sexuality in general.

I feel like the ‘comedy’ within the spoof is from another time, like, from the 80s or 90s. Whatever the intention of the commercial is, it isn’t funny. There is nothing new or clever that is said within the script, and I feel like it undermines the seriousness of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), which  is what the drug, ‘female Viagra’ (which is actually called flibanserin, or Addyi) is aiming to treat. The commercial brings up the same tired examples of old-fashioned ideas of female sexuality, in that women have sex out of duty and obligation. Now, this could be satirical, calling attention to the fact that women do and can enjoy sex, but if that’s the point, then it is done rather sloppily. My instinct is that Stiller is not a friend of the third and fourth-wave feminist, and that this commercial was produced simply to poke fun at the idea of women’s sexuality and the existence of a female equivalent to Viagra in general, which are perhaps ridiculous ideas to some.

Female hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is a medical disorder, and I don’t think that anyone would stand for a commercial that was making light of male erectile dysfunction by waving around a limp noodle for the entirety of the advertisement. Viagra, in all forms was simply created to help combat the sexual problems that both sexes can experience. For males, the problems are more often physical, but for females, stress and psychological issues can play a major part in decreased libido. The flibanserin pill is meant to balance different hormones within a female’s body to increase sexual desire, and early tests show that the pill can help to combat vaginal dryness and likewise,  increase blood flow and sensation in the genitals. So… I’m missing the joke here.

Even the script of the commercial is sloppily researched. One line reads, “even though 0% of women suffer from erectile dysfunction…” Right. So, women have erectile tissue within their genitals, and the myriads of reasons as to why there is low blood flow to the genitals could be described as some kind of erectile dysfunction. The rest of the line is, “… over 98% of women over 30 suffer from another condition, called ‘not being turned on by their husband anymore.'” The line is so reductive and noninclusive that it makes me think that there is meant to be some satire within the commercial… if only I could figure out the point of it all. Perhaps the joke is that Stiller’s character is the clueless ‘everyman,’ or perhaps they are attempting to support women’s rights. I’m kind of thinking that comedy only works if the audience can figure out the joke… so… good try? Or, maybe I’m over thinking this entire thing, and the commercial was produced with a much more universal, albeit, slightly more sinister agenda for a Hollywood actor; the commercial was most likely produced aiming for the lowest common denominator of a viewer, hoping to garnish some laughs and promotion for Stiller’s upcoming movie.

 

You Had Better Let Me Talk About Your Genitals if You Want the Job…

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Olivia Wilde was a recent guest on the web series, Watch What Happens: Live, hosted by Andy Cohen. She participated in a game, Plead the Fifth,where guests are presented with three questions, usually personal in nature, where they have one opportunity to ‘plead the fifth,’ and not answer the question they think is too private to answer. Wilde’s questions follow the usual pattern that the show follows in regards to a young, attractive females:  they are markedly sexual in nature. Surprisingly, the questions came from Wilde’s own fiancé; “What’s the wildest place you’ve ever done the deed?” and “Have you ever dipped into the lady pond in real life?” were the questions aimed to make Wilde squirm. The term “lady pond” used regarding the question of lesbianism is childish and a seemingly non-confrontational way of demanding an answer to an intensely personal, and from Wilde’s reaction, unwanted question. Unsurprisingly, this series, along with so many others, carries an faintly misogynistic air. Females are asked personal questions, seemingly for the host’s and audience members’ thrill of being privy to this private information.

Male guests being interviewed are not subjected to directly personal questions as such; when personal questions arise, the atmosphere is congratulatory, and not as prying when compared to their female counterparts. Actor Taylor Kinney and host Cohen discussed their ‘wildest’ Halloween costumes in a separate interview; the word ‘wild’ in the title of the web episode,  one may think that this man will be asked to regale the audience with an anecdote of some sexual experience. The ‘wild’ aspect of the episode was Cohen and Kinney describing Batman and pumpkin costumes. Similarly, John Stamos’ title of the video reads “John Stamos on orgasms, Dating Paula Abdul and Rejection.” One would think that he was going to be pressed to answer personal questions about his sexuality, but the question asked was how many orgasms has he given to a female have in one night. Women are subjected to invasive questions that seem to produce a sexual thrill from the host and the audience, especially judging from the two men’s expressions that were onscreen with Wilde when she was asked if she had ever participated in lesbianism. Understandably, a male host asking a male guest about his own personal sexual enjoyment may be awkward, but the disparity of the invasiveness of questioning when dealing with females over males is apparent and unfair.

Other women participating with the series have been subjected to the same uncomfortable questions. Lindsay Lohan was asked why she never wears bras, and was told by Cohen, “… it looks like you have beautiful boobs, by the way.” Lohan awkwardly gives a half-hearted chuckle and nod after Cohen’s statement. The only question that pushed Lohan to stop the polite and light-hearted facade, and refused to answer a question is when her personal information was given to the media without her consent. A list of her rumoured list of her sexual conquests was released, and Lohan says this list was made as a step in an AA program she had attended, and refused to answer any questions regarding it. There is a line for what is  deemed going ‘too far’ for some female celebrities; the personal questions being asked to many women seem to be in the same realm of Lohan’s personal violation, only the information is given voluntarily, albeit many times reluctantly, by the women themselves.

Actress Lea Michele was asked, in front of her father, how her ex-boyfriend and cast mate of Glee, Matthew Morrison was in bed in a separate interview.  Michele embarrassingly laughs and ‘pleads the fifth’ for the question. It seems like more actresses should demand better treatment and respect for their personal lives.  The questions are being asked by Andy Cohen, and by many other people like him, but it seems as though society should encourage women to stand up and say they are not comfortable answering the question, or in a utopian society, for that question to have not been asked at all.

Why I Hate Caveman Actors, and the Talk Show Hosts That Interview Them…

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Liam Hemsworth appeared to be ignorant over his co-star, and reported ‘best friend’ Jennifer Lawrence’s viral essay, “Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co‑Stars?” in which she criticizes gender inequality in the film industry. Hemsworth, who appeared on the talk show The Project to promote his new film, The Dressmaker, appeared unconcerned over the outrage women are feeling from the recently hacked Sony list, releasing internal information that illustrates the discrepancy of payment in regards to men and women in Hollywood.

Lawrence recently composed a public essay, asking why producers deem her not as worthy as her male co-stars, and discusses issues that women in the workplace have been facing for years: the fear of being labelled as ‘brats’ for demanding equality, and more specific to Hollywood: fear of being black-balled by producers if a women is deemed taxing in the workplace. If Hemsworth and Lawrence are as close as they portray themselves to be in the media, it seems doubtful that Hemsworth had no idea Lawrence had shared her personal story of inequality.

During the interview on The Project, hosts Carrie Bickmore, Peter Hellier, Waleed Aly and Chris Bath each took their turn to stroke Hemsworth’s ego to the point that it became uncomfortable; Bickmore gushed over the privilege of sharing the same oxygen as the actor (seriously), and each host tittered at every bland answer given, seeming as though they were each waiting in line for a turn at the school dance. It is frustrating that Hemsworth, along with many other men in the media, avoided an opportunity, and perhaps even  responsibility of providing a meaningful response to the issue of discrimination to the hosts and viewers, seemingly because of his debatable charm. Hellier began the conversation:

“Is it true you and Josh [Hutcherson] made ten times more than Jennifer Lawrence [during the Hunger Games]?”

Hemsworth joked: “We teamed up and squeezed her out of the equation…”

Bickmore interjects: “Good on her for standing up for it, I thought her comments were spot on…”

“…What did she say?” Hemsworth asks, hesitantly.

‘”She was talking about the pay…” was all that was distinguishable before Bickmore dissolves into laughter.

“I think she got paid alright.” Hemsworth finishes, and the interview is over. It is unfortunate that there was no push for an serious answer that encompasses the gravity of the situation for women, and what is most infuriating, his lack of concern for the issue that is being laughed over. The hosts all share the blame for preventing any serious discourse with their unprofessionalism; they behave like overstimulated contest winners on the Oscar Awards Red Carpet, never having encountered a celebrity before.