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.

Attention Men Everywhere: Kanye Doesn’t Like His Butt Being Played with, and Neither Should You.

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Recently, Kanye West was in a sparring match on Twitter with his ex-girlfriend, Amber Rose, who revealed that she has done some spelunking in West’s cave in the past. Kanye has since denied this fact, saying that he’s “not into that shit.” Ok, I get that anyone’s first reaction to having their sexual preferences and details about their private lives would be denial, but this heterosexual (and homosexual, in certain circles) revulsion of anal penetration seems to be a deeper issue for people. Enthusiasts of the binary system will see relationships in terms of  ‘penetrator’ and ‘penetrated’ positions, where the penetrated are usually considered to be weak, passive, and feminine. When I see and hear this attitude in regards to penetration, I get the feeling that the person saying it believes women to be below them, at least on some level.

In other cultures, men who have sex with men doesn’t necessarily mean that both are considered to be homosexuals; it is only the penetrated party that is considered to be gay, and in general, they will receive less respect for it. A study done at Yale University gives evidence that some heterosexual people will treat LGBTQ members differently, depending on which position (top/bottom) they identify with. Of course, discrimination against gender and sexual orientation are not new concepts. When people discuss gender stereotypes, they often will talk about how damaging it is for women, but men get the short end of the stick, too. It’s damaging for all genders for there to be a societal idea of how one should behave. Perhaps violent behaviour from boys and young men has increased because some ‘go along’ with what society is telling them; aggression is normal, and is often encouraged. Males who express emotion, who are thoughtful, and who hug one another freely are not the norm, and there are consequences for anyone partaking in this behaviour.

I guess my disapproval stems from two things; that penetration is considered feminine, and ain’t nobody want that, as well as the fact that some men feel like they can’t/shouldn’t explore their own bodies in private because of what society tells them. What is interesting is that it is not butt stuff in general that people find offensive; comedian Russell Brand made a remark during his stand-up routine in regards to the pleasure he experienced as one women was working ‘the front,’ and at the same time, one working [the hole]. From what I understand, male prison systems also have a system of submission that involves rimming. So a tongue is A-Ok, but a finger or a phallus is objectionable, I guess?

A YouTube video attempted to break down this barrier by having a heterosexual man use a vibrator, designed to stimulate the prostate, on himself in order to encourage a public dialogue on the issue. An article titled Why More Straight Guys Should Be Playing With Their Butts referenced this video, and described the situation, writing that the young man enjoyed the vibration, but “perhaps a little too much.” What the butts does that mean? This was supposed to be an article to encourage men to leave behind any kind of shame and societal nay-saying and they have a comment like that? Would anyone ever say that a woman was enjoying her vibrator too much? I don’t think so. It seems borderline ridiculous that men and women wouldn’t explore their sexuality in private because of fear and embarrassment they feel from society. Who knows, maybe guys everywhere are sticking things up their butts in their free time… I hope they are, if that’s what they want to be doing. I just really hate the shaming that is put onto consenting adults that are just doing what they do (or what they want to be doin’).