A Game of Inches

Behold: The fruit most men secretly hate. (You did know it was a fruit, right?)

The Cucumber: A fruit most men secretly despise. (You did know it was a fruit, right?)

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I have no illusions about my penis. No woman has ever refused relations with me from fear of becoming a human kebob, but no one has ever complained either, and I’ve even gotten a few compliments. Fine, I’ll toss out the ones from strippers. Still, the average erect American penis is supposedly 5.6″ long and 4.8″ around, with standard deviations of 1.0″ and 0.88″, respectively. I say “supposedly” because the study’s data was self-reported, which means that the real sizes could actually be smaller. So, without delving into details, let’s say that if male members were Sunday brunches then mine might not be the all-you-can-eat variety, but most women would walk away…pretty full.

Regardless, that doesn’t stop an annoying little voice from occasionally surfacing in the back of my head all like, “Yeah, man, you cool…but that dude on “Star Sistas II” had a Klingon disruptor rifle, brotha. Yo’ Starfleet regulation issue phaser ain’t got shit on THAT!” I’m willing to bet most men have heard his taunting, even if in their minds he doesn’t sound like a Cooley High character with a penchant for sci-fi.

Look, I’m not flipping out here. I don’t want to get my joint surgically extended or padded, and I don’t feel the least bit ashamed when it’s time to pull out the iBone for some sex messaging. It’s more like there’s this nagging sense that a perfectly fine thing could be even better.

These sentiments aren’t helped by the fact that every woman I know says that the majority of the men that she’s “dated” have had lengths around 7″+, with a large minority having had Ding Dongs roughly the size of her forearm…no matter the length of her particular forearm. Considering the results from the study mentioned above, these admittedly unscientific personal survey results have always seemed statistically un-fucking-likely.

So, what’s behind these reports of monster manhood? Either my female friends are simply mistaken, extremely lucky, flat-out lying, or they’re in possession of some pretty powerful, preternatural penis PSP. Since nobody’s that damned lucky, most of my friends are honest folk, and I don’t believe in psychic powers (genitally oriented or otherwise), I’m gonna go with option #1.

Maybe it comes down to the fact that when they’re estimating penis size, it’s usually not done in laboratory conditions. After all, not many women keep a tape measure in their purse or on top of the nightstand. (Side note: Guys, if you meet a woman who does keep a tape measure by the bed, just back your ass away slowly, like the Kool-Aid Man on Family Guy.) Regardless, it’s hard to get a solid visual estimate when the room is as dark as the dirty deeds going down.

My hunch is that there’s something more powerful going on here though.

A big factor influencing women’s overestimations of their partners’ sizes might be the simple human need to feel good about one’s choices. Considering the persistent double-standard associated with female sexual activity, women expend a lot of emotional capital when they lay it down. In exchange for racking up another notch on the headboard, an action for which they risk unwanted pregnancy, STIs, and social stigma, they need to feel as if they’ve gotten a big ole bang for their buck. As a result, their internal rulers get stretched out, making them feel even luckier when they get lucky.

If you’re thinking that this hypothesis, um, falls short because “size doesn’t matter” to women, then you’re wrong. While it’s not the end-all-be-all, a recent study shows that women absolutely do care about penis size, rating men with larger ones as more attractive. So, it could be entirely possible that imagining their past partners’ thing-things on a grander scale is a kind of coping mechanism.

Totally not cool.

Totally not cool.

Fret not. I’m not laying the fault for men’s penis worries solely at the doorstep of women’s sexual insecurities. There are certainly other factors at play, and a major one is the effect of porn’s distorted depiction of penises on an entire generation. No, this essay is just an exploration of one corner of a larger conversation about men, women, attraction, and the ways that we make ourselves and each other crazy for hilarious, ridiculous, and tragic reasons. No doubt, men engender the majority of the crazy in the sexual ecosystem, but they’re occasionally victims, too.

So, lady reader, the next time you gaze into the mirror and start feeling insecure about your bee sting breasts or concave keister, I encourage you to think about your last asshole boyfriend’s almost certain penis issues. Sure, it’s slightly mean, but it might help you realize that you’re not alone with your body image concerns. Plus, a little schadenfreude in the morning goes a long way.

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Somewhere In America: Twerking As Cultural Artifact

"Oh, I ain't got no ass? So why you lookin'?" Well, played, Miley.

The Zen of Miley: Don’t try to see the ass. Realize that there IS no ass. It’s only then that you’ll see it.

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Sometimes, I use the internet to look at images of sexy women. Often, these images move. If seen by my mother, about half of them would cause her to reevaluate her opinion of me. I am not necessarily proud of this.

With that said, last week I came upon a little gem that, while somewhat suggestive, was pretty lame…I mean, tame. It featured champion surfer Anastasia Ashley warming up before a competition. Have a look for yourself and I think that you’ll agree that it’s not exactly the stuff of which empty Kleenex boxes are made.

As I watched this pro athlete alternate between stretching her quads and pumping the briny ocean air, I found myself smiling and shaking my head. The smile was me wondering whether “Bubble Butt” was an ironic choice for the accompanying song or if the video’s creators actually believed that Ashley’s certainly cute, yet hardly rotund posterior was actually bubbly. After all, I could show those cats women that would make her rump look like perfect Euclidean planes. On the other hand, the head shaking was motivated by at least a smattering of annoyance.

I mean, this was just another example of cultural appropriation, and not a very good one, right? After all, the media calls it twerking, but what Anastasia Ashley and Miley Cyrus were doing was NOT twerking. For the love of Magic City, it was booty popping…although Miley’s since gotten it right. (See below, starting at 1:26.) And while we’re at it, the 70ish bpm, bass heavy, snare rolling music that these EDM dudes are making is not trap music. Trap music is defined by rap lyrics that are drug related (thus the trap moniker) delivered over Dirty South beats, not by exaggerated components of said beats themselves. Or is it? After taking a minute to consider, I had to reevaluate my position.

Culture is creativity in collective form, and like all species of creativity, it can only reach the height of its expression when shared. A bedroom masterpiece is no masterpiece at all: it’s only after a creative act has been consumed, evaluated, critiqued, and celebrated by others outside of it that said creative output acquires value, and that value is measured by the extent to which it inspires a desire for ownership. In the case of individual works of art like paintings, evening gowns, or songs, this translates to buying (or stealing) them. When it comes to communal art, i.e. culture, this means acculturation. We take the best from other communities, making it ours, with our own accumulated experiences and aesthetic POV, transforming it into a new artifact to be claimed by someone else further along the cultural chain.

Unlike artistic efforts by individuals, we cannot choose who consumes, takes ownership, or modifies cultural output. Culture is the original open source software. It’s constantly re-imagined, renamed and remixed. There are no intellectual property laws protecting it, and thank the gods for that. Otherwise, we’d have no surfing, no bikini (at least not by that name), and no hip-hop, which means no Anastasia Ashley bustin’ it open on the beach. You may not like what she did, how she did it, or that white girls like her get so much attention when they do it, but the fact that it happened is actually a beautiful thing. While Anastasia and Miley are still twerkin’, we can sit back and reflect with pride that somewhere in America, a black girl is riding a killer wave.

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In the Mix: The Top 5 Ways Deejaying Is Like Pushing Up

She's smiling now, but watch what happens when you stop playing Beyoncé.

She’s smiling now, but watch
what happens when Beyoncé stops playing.

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So, your boy has been spending a lot of time talking about and listening to DJs lately, not to mention spinning myself, and it’s got me thinking. Something about the whole process of manipulating the wheels of steel just seemed so familiar. All of the attention to detail, the tiny adjustments, the electric thrill of the perfect mix…I couldn’t help feeling that I’d been there before.

Then one day, staring down at my Technics’ hypnotic twin platters, it hit me. In what other situation does one commonly find themselves putting on a show for an audience that’s often tentative, skeptical, or completely disinterested? If you answered “teaching at a public school in the United States” you get partial credit, but that’s not the response that I wanted. On the other hand, if you said, “kicking it to a woman,” you are correct!

And yes, I’m a straight dude, so this is written from that perspective. You can either substitute your preference where applicable, or fucking relax and appreciate my genius in all of its temporarily gender insensitive, heteronormative glory. Your choice.

Now, without further ado, I proudly present the top five ways that deejaying is like pushing up.

5. Preparation Is Key – A former DMC champ told me that there’s always something that he could be doing to prep his next set. This means finding new songs, checking out the next venue, basically anything to make sure that his next gig is as smooth as an alpaca’s ass. The same is true if you’re trying to get that P.Y.T. on your team. If you’ve got friends in common, find out about her background and interests. If you’re out at a bar, notice who she’s with and how she acts. Any of this intel could mean the difference between keeping her dancing or sending her running for the exit.

4. Stay in the Groove The groove is an abstract concept that roughly means a coherent, consistent, rhythmic flow. Like the stream of a conversation, once it’s moving along a good DJ does everything in their power to keep it rolling. It’s the same way with you and your next lady love. If you’re talking about where she’s from and she’s opening up, stay on that track until you can blend in a topic on the next deck that’s complementary. Don’t be a dummy and throw out some crap about how you hate her hometown because the girls are such airheads. It sounds obvious, but left on your own some of you dudes couldn’t feel the groove if you were a needle on a record.

3. Hone Your Recovery Tactics – Even the best DJs face glitches. The record skips, you drop the next song off beat, or that new version of Seraktor freezes right in the middle of your set. Still, it’s not the glitch, but your response to it that can make or break you. You made a joke about the phrase “Christian Scientist” being a worse oxymoron than “compassionate conservative”…only to find out that she picks up the Monitor on the way back from her Young Republicans meeting every week. Don’t go cowering beneath your decks. Cue the next track and get that bad boy pumping. Put a wrinkle in your brow, lean in, and intensely whisper, “REALLY? Well, I’m always looking for smart people to challenge my assumptions. Let’s talk about it.” Oh. Shit. Hear that? That’s the sound of you taking the party to the next level.

This is either a party or the Zombie Apocalypse. I'm a glass half-full type, thus I included it here.

This is either a pic of a bangin’ party or the Zombie Apocalypse.
I’m a glass half-full type, thus its inclusion here.

2. Read the Audience – You’re throwing pure audio gold out the speakers. You’re a vessel of divine musical artistry, touched by Apollo himself. The problem is that the crowd thinks that you’re just plain touched. While there’s something to be said for challenging people with unique sounds, if you go too far off the deep end you just might drown. Things are no different with that young tender. Sure, discussing the finer points of critical race theory might cement you as an intellectual in her mind, but did you ever stop to think that she’s not interested in your brain at 1:15 AM…after her third vodka gimlet? With all due respect to Lupe, you gotta dumb it down, homey. There will be plenty of time for brain later. (See what I did there?)

1. Remember the Fundamentals – Sometimes showing off is entirely appropriate. If you’ve got a killer turntablism routine, by all means unleash the Kraken on them bitches. Case in point:

But what good is it to play records using only your eyebrows and right pinky toe when the songs aren’t beatmatched and the selection has no logical flow? Similarly, it’s great that you wowed babygirl on the dancefloor when you broke out that Matrix backbend move and held it for three minutes while simultaneously doing the Kid ‘N Play Kickstep with her…including the entwined leg hop thing at the end. Kudos. But see, you dropped the ball at dinner when all you could talk about for 30 minutes was you, you, and YOU. A DJ can play an entire three hour set without using a single effect or beaming videos directly into the crowd’s brains, but if the music is tight and the transitions are smooth, everyone will love it. And guess what? She’ll be closer to loving you if you just display some common courtesy, make her smile as much as possible, and let her know that you’re feeling her. In other words, keep the basics front and center.

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Sensitivity, Not Senselessness

Ralph-Tresvant-Sensitivity

“I’m not your man, not Ralph Tresvant, not Ronnie Romance…no, Ma.”

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I’m a sensitive guy. If you’re laughing already, it’s probably because you’ve mistaken my version of sensitivity for the cartoonishly effeminate variety of tenderness that has come to permeate the significance of that word. No, I’m not suggesting that I’d be anyone’s first choice for a marathon session of Lifetime TV shows…unless we’re talking about The Client List starring Jennifer Love Hewitt…’cause I’d probably watch that…a lot. But be that as it may, what I meant was that I usually demonstrate an acute awareness of others’ feelings. Awareness of said feelings and giving a single, tender fuck are disparate things, however, and that makes me wonder, at what point should I care more about your feelings than my own?

Assuming that we’re reasonable individuals endowed with a healthy sense of fairness, our inner arbiter of justice should assess our position when our emotional needs conflict with a fellow traveler’s and determine whether or not to reconsider our stance, moderate it so as to reach a compromise, or maintain it and respectfully tell that trick to back the hell on up. What surprises me is that the inner arbitration process seems to be super freakin’ spotty for a lot of folks.

Here’s a true story to clarify my point. It happens to embody the everyday drama of which VH1 reality shows are made, which is good since most of you are about as trifling as a pimp at a Bangkok orphanage.

Anyway, years ago I hooked up with this woman named Olivia. And by “hooked up” I mean “came to know” and by “came to know” I mean “we got naked and bumped into each other repeatedly while genitally interlocked.” Many years later we were reintroduced and began hanging out sporadically. While there were multiple instances of flirtation then, there was no more having of the sex. More importantly, not once was there a hint that we were remotely interested in spending consistent time together, let alone seriously dating. In fact, we regularly told each other about the people that we were seeing, and she almost always brought someone along with her when we met up. In other words, our relationship had all of the intimacy of a live-streamed cuckholdry session.

Well, one time Vicky’s friend Olivia accompanied her. We hit it off famously, and started to hang out without Olivia. Eventually, it became apparent to me that we had big-time chemistry, so I confronted Vicky about what I sensed. She couldn’t deny it. Granted, she couldn’t speak at all since my tongue was halfway down her throat, but still. All that was left was for the two of us to tell Olivia, and we assumed that she’d be surprised, but happy.

We were wrong. Like, real wrong. Like, “You dirty, lying bitch, you’re not my friend, he’s pathetic, it’s never gonna work, and give me back my fucking Helmut Lang dress,” wrong. According to Olivia, she’d always had feelings for me, even if nobody (including me) had a clue about them. By kindling a relationship, we were guilty of betraying her trust. Of course, I say that we were only guilty of miscalculating the ratio of rational thought to lunatic self-absorption in Olivia’s spoiled head.

its-all-about-me

No, it’s not. Unless you’re my girlfriend or wife
and you happen to be reading this…in which case, it is.

I mean, come on, dude. Olivia and I had had plenty of time to get something going. We’d seen one another multiple times, and neither of us had felt the urge to put in any effort to increase either the frequency or intensity of our meetings. There’s an old saying where I’m from: “If a cow has but one udder, it’s probably a bull.” OK, I made that up, but the point is that you can’t squeeze milk from a bull’s penis. It’s either there, or it isn’t…and it isn’t, ’cause bulls don’t orgasm milk.

What gives Olivia the right to stake a retroactive claim on something that was never hers? Her preternaturally late-blooming feelings? Well, la-di-da. Congratulations, Lady O, you’ve got feelings. Welcome to the club! You might have noticed that your friend Vicky and her man are also members, which is probably why they couldn’t make it to your initiation ceremony: they’re busy expressing theirs to each other in a very loud and physical way. Now, sit your Narcissistic Personality Disorder having ass down.

Look, it’s well and good for us to make our sentiments known to those around us, otherwise we can’t expect them to understand who we are and how they can help us live a more fulfilling life. As a corollary, it’s right and responsible to acknowledge emotions expressed to us in good faith, allowing them to shape our thoughts and actions accordingly so as to function as supportive, empathic beings. With that said, the phrase “in good faith” is key in that last sentence.

Your feelings are important, but no more so than anyone else’s, and their mere existence doesn’t make them unassailable. Emotions are not weapons to be drawn at random, pointed willy-nilly at others like some drunken, Old West villain, blasting away until you get what you want. When they are, I say that those on the other side have every right to return fire, or do like Vicky and I did: let the fools keep shooting until they run out of bullets, then laugh with everyone else as they stumble out of town, tripping over their inflated ego.

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Am I Sexist?

“What?  You think I wanted to do a bit with this asshole?  It’s called a career move, bitches!”

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It’s International Women’s Day, and I as I actively reflect on the substantial impact that women have had in my life, something I’ve been mulling over since the 85th Academy Awards is still circling the drain in my head. See, Seth MacFarlane hosted, and he delivered his sarcastic brand of genteel, macho humor on Oscar night.  I thought he did a pretty good job, which is why I was honestly disturbed when I found out that some critics were panning his performance as sexist.

I’m not going to recount his performance here, partly because it happened eons ago in internet time, but more importantly because there was nothing really new or surprising about MacFarlane’s material.  In fact, it was pretty damned tame in comparison to the jokes regularly thrown around on his own shows, and I LOVE that stuff.  And that got me questioning whether I’m unknowingly guilty of being some kind of male chauvinist.

That thought kinda chafes my self-concept since I actually consider myself something of an nontraditional feminist.  In fact, I sometimes feel as though I take gender equality more seriously than some women.  With that said, I stand firm on the belief that men and women are absolutely, positively, freaking different, and those differences lead to experiences that many of us encounter at some point in our relationships, at least in the straight variety.  Men are inconsiderate and women nag.  Men are insensitive and women are overemotional.  Men are unfaithful, or at least want to be, and so are women…but women are crafty little fucks, and men are too self-absorbed to notice.

Anyway, it seems only natural to point out these asymmetries for laughs.  If the joker happens to be a man, then his jokes will likely be from the typical male’s POV.  So when I hear a female comic joking about how men are pigs, I don’t get my vasa deferentia all in a tangle.  I say big whoop. It doesn’t mean that every man and woman fits neatly into those boxes, that they display those characteristics all the time, or that those traits aren’t socialized.  Regardless, the shit is real, and it can be damned funny.  Unfortunately, that rationalization doesn’t get me off the hook for enjoying the other side of MacFarlane’s guy-friendly humor, the side that glories in the female form.  He’s not alone in this, of course.

One of my favorite examples comes from the late comic Patrice O’Neal, who dared to wonder aloud why we don’t implement a National Sexual Harassment Day to let guys just get it off their chest, one day a year.  Buy a colleague some flowers or candy, engage in your normal small talk, then ask her if she wouldn’t mind playing a little flesh flute in the bathroom.  No harm, no foul, ’cause it’s Harassment Day!

I promise, it’s funny when he says it.

Look, there’s no doubt in my mind that we live in a sexist society, so does enjoying, promoting, and even creating that kind of humor mean that I’m an unwilling co-conspirator with card-carrying members of NO MA’AM? I don’t think so.  As a thinking man, I find comedy like that funny for two reasons.

First, the sentiment that he’s expressing is just embarrassingly true.  If you are a woman with anything remotely resembling a physically attractive attribute, please know that dudes have imagined kissing, groping, or otherwise manipulating said attribute ad nauseum.  And I mean that ad nauseum part literally. Dude could be about to leave the office with a 102 degree temp, but if you told him you were gonna give him a cubicle lap dance he’d probably sit right back down and reposition the trash bin just in case.  They’d never let you know that though, ’cause they don’t want you to think that they’re a creep…plus they probably enjoy the benefits of gainful employment aside from surreptitiously observing you from behind at the water fountain.

The second, more important reason why it’s funny though is because it underscores the pitifully comic way that men are constantly bombarded by their physical attractions.  That’s right, we’re the real butt of that joke. It’s like, “Ladies, we’re basically one step above Pavlov’s dog.  Throw us a bone, please.  We’re barely holding it together over here.”

Now am I saying that women have nothing else to offer us besides their bodies?  Absolutely not.  Am I saying that it’s cool to draw attention to their physiques just for a laugh, no matter the cost?  No way.  A catcall on the street ain’t a joke (though all male to female street commentary ain’t a catcall either), and a random sexual advance under cover of an insipid pick-up line does not the stuff of humor make.  What I’m saying is that when a man makes an artful jest, carefully constructed and thoughtful, but firmly centered on his lust for a particular woman or women in general, the joke is actually on him.  No matter what he says at the end, the true punchline is that he found himself in the presence of beautyan ethereal, intoxicating, inspiring substanceand the only thing that he could do to relate its effect on him was to string together some silly little words.

I’m not a sexist.  I’m just another schmuck that happens to be attracted to women, and even though that fact is sometimes the cause of great frustration, it always eventually makes me laugh.  The hope is that when it does, you do, too.

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One For Me, None For You: Relationships and Compromise

Compromise

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If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that relationships are all about compromise, I’d be writing this on the third floor of my winter villa in Rio.  By the way, I couldn’t use the first floor since it would be in use as a working recreation of a Starfleet holodeck, and the second floor would be flooded for reenactments of ancient Roman navy battles.  My point is, muphuckas are always preaching about the virtues of meeting in the middle.

It’s not that I’m arguing with the precept.  My problem is that, more often than not, men are the only ones actually expected to head down shitty old Compromise Road.  On the other hand, our girlfriends and wives just stand there, barely stepping foot on the path themselves.  It’s like we’re characters in a Looney Tunes feature and our ladies are the wascally wabbits.  “She switched the signs, dummy!  That’s not Compromise Road, that’s Her Way Highway!  It leads to a…cliff.”  Womp, womp, wooooooomp.

Here’s a real example to clarify my meaning, based on a conversation with a past girlfriend:

Me: “By the way, I’ve got plans on Saturday night.”
Her: “What plans?”
Me: “Well, I’m supposed to meet up with some friends for drinks.”
Her: “Uh…but I wanted to go dancing on Saturday.”
Me: “OK, but you didn’t tell me that, and I already made plans.”
Her: “Yeah, but I should come first.”
Me: “You do come first, but we’ve spent every day together except one since Sunday, and it’s Thursday.  I have other friends, too.”
Her: “But I’ve been studying all week!  That’s not quality time!”
Me: “Any time that I spend with you is quality for me, moon of my life.”
Her: “OK, OK.  Let’s just compromise.  Why don’t you go out with me this Saturday, then hang out with your friends some time next year.  That’s cool, right?”
Me: “Dear, sweet, lovely woman…that’s not a compromise.  That’s you getting your way completely.  Isn’t there some other way that we can both be relatively happy?”
Her: “FUCK YOU!  Your mother sucks cocks in hell!

Or something like that.  The bottom line is that we both wanted something, but she totally got what she wanted and I got jack.  And it sucked.

Even so, it’s not like I think that women are inherently manipulative, self-centered creatures who will stop at nothing to see men trapped beneath the weight of their thigh-high boots.  On the contrary, I believe that this inclination to promote their own needs at the expense of their partner’s evolved as a defense mechanism, a means of combating their relegation to second-class citizenship in a male-dominated society, and it’s realized through artful appeals to chivalric principles.

As I’ve said elsewhere, chivalry is an insidious institution, and I propose that this is yet one more way that it damages our relations with one another.  Having been instructed that a gentleman caters to the every want of his lady, women have come to use this teaching as a blunt, but immensely effective weapon to help even the odds in the battle of the sexes.  Turn weakness to strength: relentlessly question a loving man’s commitment to your emotional well-being and you’ll win the day more often than not.  The Tzu brothers, Lao and Sun, would be proud.  (Note: if you believe that these ancient Chinese men were actually related to each other then you are ignorant, racist, or both.)

So, most men succumb to the browbeating, acquiring the conflicted, cartoonish demeanor that TV husbands have displayed on every sitcom from “The Honeymooners” to “Modern Family.”  Sure, we talk a good game, stomp around the house, and on occasion even dare to challenge our better halves face to face.  As a result, 15% of the time we may get our way.  Still, 75% of the time poker night gets canceled, there’s no boys’ trip to Prague, and you can forget about buying the full-scale replica Iron Man suit with a functional wee-wee hole.  All the while, us menfolk sit stewing, wondering when in the name of Al Bundy we surrendered our gonads.

Yep.  Guilt and an overactive desire to please eventually give way to resentment, and that brings us to the 10% of the time for which we have yet to account.  Care to hazard a guess as to what happens then?  That’s right: rebellion.  Appearing to acquiesce, sheepishly nodding our heads and avoiding eye contact, we slink into the shadows…biding our time.  Our moment may come later that day, it may come next year, but rest assured it will come, and when it does, not an iota of guilt will accompany our transgressions.  No, we’ll rest easy on a resplendent throne, our smug visage pressed firmly against the flowery bosoms of an exotic dancer named Passion as the DJ replays “Bandz A Make Her Dance” for the third time.  After all, revenge is a dish best served from a strip club buffet, and years of compromise have made us very, very hungry.

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Beauty, Fat and Lena Dunham

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I'm rich now, so fuck your eyes."

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I’m rich now, so fuck your eyes.”

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Everyone is NOT beautiful.  No amount of sensitivity training or cultural relativism can erase that fact…but it doesn’t seem to stop some of us from trying.  The questionable Dove “Campaign for Real Beauty” from a few years ago comes to mind.  Meanwhile, it should have been dubbed the Campaign to Ignore Excess Body Fat.  The good folks behind that hit campaign certainly had a valid point, in that women of all shapes deserve to be represented in media, but they didn’t fool anyone into believing that an extra 30 pounds of flab was the beauty equivalent of say, knobby knees or a widow’s peak.  Still, I’m all for realism and the projection of realistic body images for women and girls, and one woman is undoubtedly the champion du jour of said cause: Lena Dunham.

Ms. Dunham writes, directs, and stars in HBO’s “Girls,” a show about spoiled and/or sociopathic white 20-somethings in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  Not to overgeneralize and imply that all young, psychologically disordered Caucasians have tons of sex, but as you might have guessed, they get down a lot.  This basically translates into Dunham getting nude like every episode.

And here’s why that’s apparently interesting: Lena Dunham is not beautiful. She’s not ugly, either.  In fact, everything about her physical appearance screams “average at best.”  Her face is nondescript, she looks to be about a size 10, and she jiggles in all the wrong places.  Read: wobbly arms, thighs, and back, but no real breasticular tissue of which to speak and an ass as flat as day-old champagne.  (If you’re not black or you’re the type of Latino that pretends not to be black, you can strike the last phrase since it probably just confused you.)

Like I said, she’s not beautiful.  But she is normal.  That hasn’t stopped some people from complaining with vitriol about Dunham blessing us with glimpses of her soft, pasty flesh though.  Reading their commentary, it would seem that only gorgeous women should be allowed to expose themselves on national television.  I can’t agree with them.  Art imitates life, and good art does it well, so I’ll add my voice to those who applaud Dunham’s brazenness.  Real life isn’t perfect and it’s a treat to see an artist who’s willing to reflect this imperfection in her work so nonchalantly.  The show is so much more genuine as a result, and I’m sure that she’s given every mostly average woman out there a confidence boost that they can use the next time they have hungover, daytime sex.

With that said, I’m gonna stop like 100 miles short of saying that Dunham is somehow a shining example of “real beauty.”  That’s absolute jollytime fuckery, and the people selling that dream are just as guilty of distorting reality as those who would have us believe that the only women of aesthetic worth wear a size 2 and have C-cups sculpted by Michelangelo himself.

I don't think this is what Rihanna had in mind.

I don’t think this is what Rihanna had in mind.

Hey, no one can claim that their standard of beauty is absolute.  It’s all up for debate, and we all know that the current Western ideal has been unequivocally weighted towards an unrealistic aesthetic.  That fact has negatively impacted those who don’t fit within the wraithlike Western standard in ways that are as malicious as they are profound.  I would never advance that distorted view of beauty.  What I’m promoting instead is the simple, yet somehow controversial notion that a body that is toned and proportional is more appealing than one that is flabby and asymmetric.

There’s plenty of room in this world for a diversity of sizes and shapes.  I for one have been known to appreciate a variety myself, and am certainly not a fan of stick-figures.  But there are limits, people.  If your torso sags like the jowls on a British bulldog when you remove your clothes, you’re fucking up.  If your ass looks like it’s stuffed with two Virginia Hams, but your stomach does too, you’re still fucking up.  If your back evokes images of piles of deli meat at a Super Bowl party, you’re fucking up and you’re making me hungry.  And for you so-called skinny girls, if your arms and legs are twigs but that gut of yours has you looking 11 months pregnant, guess what?  You.  Are.  Fucking.  Up.

No sane person expects perfection.  But I do expect you to strive for it.  When it comes to body composition, this means health-conscious eating and consistent, serious exercise, including the use of some frickin’ WEIGHTS, gods damn you not just running, jumping, or stretching on some glorified rubber rug called a yoga mat.  Unless you’ve been cursed with the physiology of a sloth, you will see results.  Promise.  Or, don’t do anything and just let it all hang out.  After all, you’ve got every right to do you.  Just don’t expect me to want to do you, too.

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