The Measure of a Man

Guest post by Tim Champion

Way back in 1986, Boston asked us the question “What does it take to be a man?”

The answer they came up with was, in part:

The will to give and not receive

The strength to say what you believe

The heart to feel what others feel inside

To see what they can see.

This isn’t a bad stab at it, but as always, the question remains… “What more?” Let’s take this time to talk about work, though you’ll find many aspects all connect like strands of a web.

From a personal standpoint, I started asking what it took to be a man when I realized I was surrounded by men, but wasn’t yet a peer. Immediately, I found myself asking how one ascended to this brotherhood. I had some larger than life role models that I wanted to impress, somehow. I had people outside of my immediate family that I wanted to think more of me. I was big for my age, but that didn’t make me a man. It did earn me some advanced level chores, though…. Lucky me.

When I was thirteen, my dad decided I needed a good work ethic, since my people skills were, shall we say, unpolished. He arranged for the farmer that he worked for as a young man to put me to work as well. I did the usual small farm stuff: herding and milking cows, baling hay, (and later, alfalfa, which is a new lesson in work), doing some light farm-type construction, and even keeping the calves safe from wildlife that ventured in from the woods.

This all taught me a few things:

1) Work is hard. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be called work, and someone else would have come along and done it already. It’s also completely necessary. Things do not happen by accident. You have to work toward a design, rather than expect a windfall.

2) No one cares how tired you are. Every single day is a grind, but the cows still needed milked. They don’t care about the show you wanted to see, the girl who wanted to catch a movie, or the fact that homework is piling up. There’s work to be done, and the guy handing you HIS money needs to know you’re pulling your weight. He’s investing money in you, for your labor, in hopes that he can turn a buck on it and his product. You do well for him, and you keep your job. Excel for him, and you get more. I got a raise every few months, thanks to the fact that I left every drop of sweat I had on his land.

3) The new guy. At some point, we’re all going to be the new guy. You’re going to suffer like only the new guy can. Initiations happen. You’ll wonder why you’re even there. It sucks. Embrace it. EMBRACE THE SUCK. It’s the time of maximum learning, and if you want to last, you need to learn it all. Don’t whine to HR about feeling left out. Catch up. Carve your own spot out… with your bare hands, if you have to. Just make sure you know what you’re doing, or you’ll go up in flames. Did I mention “Learning”?

4) The fourth big lesson I can pass on, and it’s as important now as it’s ever been, is this: There is NO guarantee of security. There’s always a chance you’ll do your best, and still come up short. Some guy’s nephew will beat you to the position. Someone, somewhere, hates you, and you’ll lose a job you busted your ass for. It’s ok, and here’s why: as someone who did their very best, for the sake of the work itself, you’ll have competence and a good reputation in your field.

5) Last one: Sacrifice. You don’t get anything of value for nothing. For everything you do, you build new opportunities and contacts. Those give you more options. It’s that simple. Yes, this is a quaint way of saying that the work never ends, but it’s also true that at a certain point of expertise, you get to pick the work that you do. This is more valuable than the money you’ll make. If time = money, the inverse is also true, labor = soul. You might be raking it in hand over fist, but are you ok with it? Is the work to your liking enough that you don’t mind the heartbeats and breath you’re investing in it? That’s the question. If it is, go you. If not, you need to do better for yourself through training or re-education in a new field. Remember, we all learned how to do the thing. If you need to learn a new thing, you can.
In closing: Work ethic, experience, reputation, results. In that order.

Let me stress something…

YOU. CANNOT. BUY. THESE. THINGS.

Not for any amount of anything.

After a few years of this, you tend to develop this thing called “character”. You actually want to do the work right, because a job well done is, in fact, its own reward. One of the major traits of a man is that he takes pride in looking at the quality of his completed work, whether it’s the way the yard turned out, the new deck he built, or the family he raised. Don’t ever be afraid to look at something you did, “and see that it was good”. Being proud of your work is normal. Finding ways to hone your craft is exemplary.

So when someone asks what it takes to become a man, I tell them you don’t become one, you make yourself one from the ground up. YOU get to be the architect of your character, your self worth, and ultimately, your public image.

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It’s All Falling Apart! Nerd Rage #188

Watch: It’s All Falling Apart! Nerd Rage #188

More McCain-ia!, plus gun-grabbers vs. gun rights advocates: who’s less civil? Political false equivalencies galore, emotionalism vs. stoicism, Osei’s review of The Incredible Hulk, and music theory/videogame and cinema music are all discussed in this episode of Nerd Rage! Watch, subscribe, like, comment, and share!

Porn Is Not Harmful, or So They Say

Hoo boy, where do I even start with this one?

Let’s start with “any man that tells you he doesn’t watch it is probably lying to you.” When you yourself watch pornography, it is very easy to fall into the trap of believing this statement. After all, isn’t it common knowledge that “everyone does it”? The problem with this statement is that it’s false.

I do believe it is true to say that most people intentionally consume porn; it has simply saturated our culture that thoroughly. But this idea that there isn’t a soul untouched by it, or uninterested in it, or willingly avoiding it? That’s ridiculous. Of course there is. Being inundated in porn culture leads us to believe that everyone is secretly a closet pervert like ourselves; we end up living in a (disturbingly large) bubble that keeps us from realizing that there is a world away from internet porn and that some people still live in it. There are still some people who want to live in it.

Let’s look at “insecurity,” as though it is simply blind paranoia that would lead to someone hating porn or refusing to date someone who has or still does consume it. But what do you have to be insecure about when it comes to porn consumption? Is it being compared against other attractive women (or men)? Is it fearing that your significant other’s eye is being drawn askance? Is it being replaced emotionally? How about physically?

Wait, but these are all things that can and do happen when someone watches porn. So is it insecurity or justified fear?

I’ve written before about my struggles with porn. I’ve spent the bulk of my life struggling with feelings of guilt and shame, disappointment and weariness. Pornography is harmful; I’m my own best example. But I don’t need to stop at myself.

When I started following Fight the New Drug, it made me conscientious of the fact that not all porn on the internet is fun. The performers aren’t always having a blast, they aren’t always doing things they really want to do or are comfortable with.

That’s when I started to notice; you can see it. You can see when performers are tired, when they’ve exhausted themselves, but have to keep going to finish a shoot. You can see when female performers are in pain, or when they’re disgusted by certain acts or actions. Who knows what goes on behind the scenes; what happens to these people before the camera is turned on or after its turned off? Have they been coerced? Are they desperate? Do they numb the pain with drugs?

The people you saw on that video on Pornhub are just that: people. They aren’t sex machines or gods. They aren’t just images on a screen; they’re flesh and blood human beings. Human beings who have either chosen to or been coerced into using their bodies for the basest of acts.

I mentioned my feelings of guilt over porn before, because porn has harmed me. It has shaped my character into something…small. A jaunt into the comments of these videos brings you to the other side of this coin. Whereas I hide what I do, the comments are filled with all forms of degeneracy.

Men (with the occasional woman) appraise the performers (most often the woman) on looks and how they act, treating them as a piece of meat hanging in a butchery. They ask for names, so that they might hunt down more videos of the person in question. Most are blind to what I can see. To the degradation and the humiliation. They comment gleefully on how “excited” and “into it” she seems to be, and certainly there are videos where they are. It is always striking, however, when the commenter is blind to the obvious.

It’s even worse when the commenter likes it. When they see that the woman on the screen is unhappy, is being humiliated. And they cheer it on. They write out the most vile ideas from the dark hole that is their minds. Yet people say porn causes no harm. They are wrong. It twists individuals into horrid gremlins, mutilating their souls, wringing from them empathy and humanity. On the outside, they still lead normal lives. But on the inside, they hide their darkest desires. And those desires may one day come out, often onto the shoulders of a girlfriend or boyfriend, wife or husband.

And what of the women who watch porn, a cohort the OP proudly declares herself a part of? Perhaps she believes herself to be fine, to be unharmed (I doubt it). But what about everyone else? What about the women who become what I described above? What about those who have their self-image tied directly to how large their breasts are, how curvy their bodies are, how long they can perform in bed, all because they saw another woman on a screen?

Porn is harmful. No matter what anyone says, it is harmful. Somewhere along the line, it is hurting someone. It debases humanity in the cruelest of ways, turning something beautiful and meaningful, the greatest act of intimacy on this planet, into something comparable to the rutting of dogs. Humanity should be better than that. We should see the nobility within ourselves and aspire to it.

Instead, we’ll burn ourselves to the ground, all for a little bit of empty pleasure.

The Insidious Nature of Arrogance

I have been quietly observing the coverage and opinion sharing surrounding Trump and his salacious past for a while now. As his affairs have come to light, people have become ever more divided in their opinions over him. On one side, you have those who call Trump the worst kind of cad and liar, and on the other are those who insist they can and should overlook his past in favor of the good he may do now.

Both sides have valid points.

I have been reluctant to weigh in with my own opinion because I know that the people who are vehemently opposed to Trump will become apoplectic and will question my character by extension. It is similar to the irrational attacks levied by the hard core pro-Trump side whenever I have been critical of him, but oddly enough it is the antis who have been the most unpleasant since the election.

That is, I had been unwilling to weigh in… until today.

Earlier I saw this post and my immediate reaction was surprise that the NY Times should be concerned with character. They do, after all, have a history of blatant biasfabrication, and political spin. It is ironic, given their history, that they should have published an opinion on precisely this topic. If they were subject to their own standards, I would be compelled to assign them to the dust bin of the corrupt and unreadable. I suppose, then, that it is good to separate the publication itself from the succession of questionable posts and journalists that have been published within its periodicals. 

The post itself talks about Trump’s past and the support he gets from conservatives today despite what could politely be called a colorful history. It calls into question, specifically, the character of Mike Pence, but also that of the whole of conservatism and the right. 

As to the character of Pence, I can only say that you need not agree with him in all things to acknowledge he is a man of honor. I believe that he feels he can do some good in his position as VP, and that he could influence Trump’s life in a positive direction. 

I believe we can all agree that Trump could use all the positive influence he can get. Of course his past indiscretions are inexcusable. They may be understandable in a sense, but I wouldn’t attempt to justify them. Therein lies the source of the divide over support for Trump. He has been, at least, honest about his vices. That alone sets him apart from most politicians, many of whom behave exactly like Trump privately and then publicly play at being virtuous. 

It doesn’t help the discussion at all when one considers that the integrity of the presidency was utterly destroyed under Clinton, and that this was defended and approved by the very media outlets that have engaged in perpetual pearl-clutching since Trump’s nomination. Hypocrisy is alive and well and its most ardent champion is mainstream media. 

Which brings me back to the Divide, and the most common refrain associated with said divide, “Consistency!” “Character!” “Conviction!”

I found this quote from the Times post particularly telling: 

“Conservatives have twisted themselves into knots trying to excuse Trump’s vulgarities as acceptable and somehow set them apart from the supposed productivity of the man himself, somehow cleaving the sin from the sinner.”

Concerning the questions of character and convictions, and the contention within conservatism and particularly among Christians, is this not precisely what we ought to do?? Not make excuses, but to separate the sin from the sinner? Can we not acknowledge that things done may be unequivocally wrong while also acknowledging that people may be redeemed? 

Before you counter with, “Yes, but..,” let me reminded you that not one of us can redeem ourselves by our own power alone. If you have ever sought forgiveness or absolution then you cannot claim any more innate goodness or virtue than the President can. The act alone is proof that we are not good for goodness sake, whatever childhood songs may say. 

This brings me to what I perceive to be the insidious arrogance of “better than.” 

It is possible for a conservative Christian to support Trump’s presidency and abhor his dalliances. Jesus did not tell us to seek our salvation in politics, nor did he say that we should hawk our “fruits” in the public square by proudly proclaiming the superiority of our vote. When the elites of his day tried to trap him in an inconsistency, he merely said, “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” What our duty as a voter is, then, depends on a very personal conviction that is God’s alone to judge, as He alone is the one to place such convictions on us. 

It is disturbing to me to see such prideful and contentious interactions among otherwise delightful people. Yes, we should definitely be concerned with character, but first and foremost and always the character that concerns us most should be our own. If we cannot hold a mirror to our own pride and foibles, and seek always to remain humbled by what we find there, then we have no business becoming the arbiters of virtue in other people’s lives. 

We may not like what it says about us that our Representatives are such fallible and fallen individuals, but let us not delude ourselves with the fantasy that we each and all have not at some point been just as given to vice as they are. They are the reflection we turn away from. They are the beams we avoid in our search for specks

I can already predict the rebuttals to this opinion and I may in time address them, but I believe we can gain an understanding of what are simplistically called “inconsistencies” by remembering the many instances wherein God uses secular leaders to perform wise and good acts, and how sometimes a part can redeem the whole. These things did not come about by posturing, however; they were the result of real conviction, real faith, and constant prayer. I can’t help thinking our time would be better spent in the pursuit of self improvement and spiritual communion rather than in endless arguments over who is the “better” person based on whether or not they support the President as a politician or as a person.

To that end, I would leave you with a passage from The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis:

“We are deceived by looking on the outside of things. We suppose ourselves to be roughly not much worse than Y, whom all acknowledge for a decent sort of person, and certainly (though we should not claim it out loud) better than the abominable X. Even on the superficial level we are probably deceived about this. Don’t be too sure that your friends think you as good as Y. The very fact that you selected him for the comparison is suspicious: he is probably head and shoulders above you and your circle. But let us suppose that Y and yourself both appear “not bad”. How far Y’s appearance is deceptive, is between Y and God. His may not be deceptive: you know that yours is. 

In an instant of time -while your friend hesitates for a word- what things pass through your mind? We have never told the whole truth. We may confess ugly facts -the meanest cowardice or the shabbiest and most prosaic impurity- but the tone is false. The very act of confessing -an infinitesimally hypocritical glance- a dash of humour- all this contrives to disassociate the facts from your very self. No one could guess how familiar, and in a sense, congenial to your soul these things were, how much of a piece with all the rest: down there, in the dreaming inner warmth, they struck no such discordant note, were not nearly so odd and detachable from the rest of you, as they seem when they are turned into words. We imply, and often believe, that habitual vices are exceptional single acts, and make the opposite mistake about our virtues…”

Embrace the Contradictions

It’s Wednesday, and you know what that means…

wednesdays
On Wednesdays we post spoilers.

WALKING DEAD COMMENTARY!

Okay, so for everyone who didn’t wimp out after Abraham and Glenn got Lucilled in the season premiere, Congratulations!! You may sit at our table.

fab-evil
I’m offering an olive branch..that’s wrapped in barbed wire.

Episode 2, “The Well,” introduces King Ezekiel and The Kingdom, which I suppose is proof that geeks and LARPers can survive the apocalypse.

haters
Become a king. Own a tiger. Be FABULOUS.

Carol wakes up after being unconscious for a couple of days due to her injury, only to find herself in this wonderland of tranquility and goodwill. Morgan takes her to meet King Ezekiel, and she almost forgets to affect her innocent act. You can tell she’s flustered, but little Sally Sunshine soon rises to the occasion and the cookie-baking Carol who fooled the inhabitants of Alexandria is once more ready for action.

punch-face
Oh, Carol, you saucy minx. We love you.

Carol is having none of this peace and plenty, though, and she lets Morgan know that she will not be staying with this group or returning to Alexandria as he had intended.

(By this time, of course, Glenn’s brain matter is decorating the ground and Rick is all crazy-eyes and snot, because Negan broke him. The group at Alexandria could use some good news and reinforcements, but Carol knows none of this and one has to wonder if it wouldn’t just make her more determined to go it alone.) 

Morgan, meanwhile, has taken a young man under his wing at Ezekiel’s request and is teaching him the ways of the Amish Ninja. You get the impression that Morgan is withdrawing his support from the #AllLivesMatter camp and making room for the possibility that some lives will have to end to preserve other lives.

shut-up
Just in time for the Neganpocalypse

It’s good that Morgan is coming to these conclusions before returning to the group, but Carol seems to need some time in the wilderness before she finds her mental balance again. She begins cheerfully and discreetly pilfering items from the residents of the Kingdom, intending to sneak away and shun whatever remnants of civilization are left, but is caught by King Ezekiel.

problem
Your problems don’t seem so bad when you’re eating a juicy pomegranate, now do they?

Zeke is cool, tho. He lets Carol in on his little secret (that he’s not a real king and stuff… total shocker!) and offers her a solution: embrace the contradiction.

He’s well aware that his kingdom exists in stark contrast to the reality of the world around him, and he’s carrying a heavy burden for the people inside his realm, but it’s the dream that makes it all worthwhile. He suggests that Carol can leave, but not, and offers to provide her with the means to go it alone if she so chooses.

feels
Don’t leave us, bae!

What follows is a solution that everyone can live with. Carol is on her own, but not, and Morgan is free to return to Alexandria. They both manage to make an impression on Ezekiel, which is promising given the possibility (necessity?) of an alliance and trade between the Kingdom and Alexandria. I’m hoping Maggie recovers and kicks butt at Hilltop, takes over management of that place, and then they can create a triumvirate with Maggie, Rick, and Ezekiel that would challenge Negan and the Saviors.

All in all, it was a very optimistic episode, in stark contrast to the premiere. It gave me some good feels, and made me hopeful again. I loved the depiction of Negan and Ezekiel as a fan of the comics, and I’m fully on board to embrace the contradictions established by these two dynamic characters. I’m excited to see where this season goes from here!

love
I can’t quit you, The Walking Dead. 

 

If you want to be part of the conversation about this and other topics, tune in to #NerdRage tonight, 9:30/8:30 central and join us in the live chat. Osei, Ruth, and I will discuss TWD and what the new developments mean for the group. We’ll discuss that other thing I wrote about, and Ruth is working on a post about the sexism of STEM and how photos of nature help ease the triggering, or something. So much nerdery! So much rage! We’d love to see you there!

 

 

 

Stop Blaming Men For Your Failures As A Woman

I recently had a friend ask my opinion of this post entitled, “Why Women Need To Start Asking Men Out…Because Men Have No Balls,” and oh boy….

what-even-face
*fights the urge to slap a mutha*

Where to begin? The most glaring stupidity is the premise of the article; that is, if men are inherently deficient, why would you want to go out with them?

low-self-esteem
Basically, this.

The author (who gave her actual name as if she’s proud of this tripe) then went on a 20+ paragraph rant about how stupid, scared, puerile, and gutless men are.

She laments, “There’s no door-holding, no hand-holding and definitely no free drinks. There’s no taking off hats or courting through invitations. There are no smooth moves, no jackets to dinner. There are no flowers, no tables by candlelight. But, most importantly, there are no dates.” Sounds reasonable, right? I mean you need a date if you’re going to be given flowers and taken to candlelit dinners and hold hands. The drinks aren’t free just because someone else pays for them, but we get the general idea…she’s describing courtship. Right?

Wrong. She then proceeds, “If you’re a single woman, you probably envisioned your twenties as a roaring social scene full of expensive dinners and lavish nights out. You probably thought you’d have a boyfriend, or at least a few dates a week.”

Uhh…at least a few dates a week?? Of expensive dinners? Several dates a week???

budget-bro
You failed math, didn’t you?

She made it a whole paragraph into her post before she begins a diatribe of such epic stupidity that I felt compelled to dissect it.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that perhaps one reason men in her peer group aren’t spending lavish amounts of money on her is because they don’t have the money to spendIn your 20’s, you’re figuring out life, facing the reality of student debt, trying to establish yourself in a career, and probably living in a sparsely furnished abode with roomies. She obviously thinks a string of Christian Greys are going to vie for the honor of dropping fat stacks on entertaining and feeding her, and that they’ll be polite about it.

christian-grey
50 Shades of Delusion

She writes of the failures of men, “They’ll make eye contact with you in the bar, but never come over. They’ll get your number, but never call. They’ll offer to buy you a drink, but never pay.”

 I don’t know, maybe they’re in the bar to drink and relax, not engage with a millennial harpy.

They’ll say a girl is hot, but never hit on her. They’ll text you for a week, but never ask you out. They’ll do absolutely everything but make a move.” Apparently they just aren’t doing the hitting on and the making of the moves in the exact manner which you preferbut they are indeed making moves. You just don’t like their moves.

like-attracts-like
Just saying

She then goes on to complain that men will chase a woman down to get her number, but wait a week to text as if the only possible item on his agenda that week should have been texting her. 

Never fear, though, because M.H. (millennial harpy) has the answer!

Now, the unfortunate paradox for a woman is that she must be the chased and the chaser. She must be the target and the shooter. She must play coy and simultaneously pursue him.” 

She must complain incessantly and expect lavish dinners several times a week…

“Anyone notice the problem here? Yet again, women are left to do all the work. We’re left playing both sides of the game because they’ve simply forgotten how to play.”

Pretty sure if you’re expecting a man to invest time, energy, and funds into wooing you, calling it a game is a sure-fire way to turn him off. 

keeping-score
Lavish dinners ONLY, you man-child!

M.H. has decided that her dating woes are due to the fact that “…  men don’t know what the hell they want from us….We must tell them what they want if we’re to get anywhere close to the goals we had for ourselves.” 

Yes. Because dating is all about yooouuuuuuu, ladies! I suppose the irony escapes her that she complains about men being weak, indecisive mama’s boys, but her solution is to treat them like weak, indecisive mama’s boys who just need her guidance so that they might make her happy.

I’m curious if she and others like her ever bothered to ask men what they wanted, or if they wanted anything at all. Like my friend Doug said, “[She]  seems to assume that “normal” men SHOULD court, chase after, etc. any woman by virtue of the fact that she is a woman? This is nonsense.” It’s just possible that some men aren’t interested in the chase, and even more likely that they aren’t interested in that particular woman. 

As if her generalizations thus far haven’t been insulting enough, she posits that men are simply cowards; “They’ll never admit it, but you scare the hell out of them. After years of social conditioning, we’ve been duped into thinking that men are the strong ones…TV lied to you. Men aren’t these masculine displays of strength and perseverance. They aren’t these persistent characters..”

chandler
Because media and society have been so kind to portray men as pillars of strength.

It’s possible that the prospect of spending time with the author of that piece is frightening, but not because men are cowards… it’s because they’re sane.

M.H. then goes on to regal us with the strength and intelligence of women, and how they are forever putting themselves out there for the good of society. She does this, of course, by denigrating the women who are raising boys into men who have the audacity to actively avoid her company.

We women have to stick together, ya know.

an-idiot
I’m sure that will never bite her in the butt

Perhaps my favorite part of this inane drivel passing for quality writing at Elite Daily is this: “In the society in which we live today, with Gigi Hadid and Miranda Kerr’s Instagrams readily accessible, women have got a lot to compete with…We can dream about Channing Tatum and Chris Pine all we want, but at least women are rational enough to understand that’s just not gonna happen. So we settle for the options we’ve been given and learn to work with what we have.” (emphasis added)

I don’t know why you have such trouble attracting a man, sweetie. It’s a mystery.

picard-no-you-didnt
She’ll settle for a lavish dinner and flowers.

The coup de gras in this misandrist rant is this assertion: “Men also know that if they don’t get up the nerve to ask you out, all they have to do is swipe right on Tinder to skip the date and get right to the good stuff.” 

First, if you are calling sex “the good stuff,” you obviously don’t feel you have much else to offer. Second, unless all these potential suitors are gay, there are other women enabling this behavior. Finally, if what you want are lavish dinners and he’s obviously only in it for sex, WHY DO YOU CARE THAT HE’S NOT PURSUING YOU? It’s simply a matter of wanting different things, and you need to get down off your sanctimonious soapbox about how indecisive men are. They made a decision. They chose not you. 

the-pain
The struggle is so real.

As my friend Ruth said, “Men don’t approach women for dates anymore, because they’ve been yelled and screamed at that women are too empowered to need or want them for more than an F-bomb. And the GOOD men are looking for so much more.” 

Men who are looking for more than no-strings copulation are willing to put effort into a date. They’ll provide flowers and candlelight and the whole nine…but they are not interested in playing games with a whiny little diva who wants to use them for their pocketbook before she decides to settle for not-Channing-Tatum. If you want to attract quality, you have to be quality.

buy-me-things
There are always rich, lecherous septuagenarians if being a decent human being proves too arduous. 

It’s true that society has supplanted courtship with hook-up culture, but it’s hardly singularly the fault of men. It’s also true that, like it or not, sometimes he’s just not that into you.

big-old-mess
You can always just treat yourself to dinner.

Sex, Love, and Porn

Porn is Everywhere

Last Wednesday on Nerd Rage, we discussed sexuality and pornography. Or, more to the point, Shannon and Ruth did while I sat there trying not to have a coughing fit. This was something of an odd conversation for me to sit out, however, due to my own personal issues.

Though I talk about this rarely, I have problems with pornography.

Honestly, this does not feel like much of an admission any more. In a world where people openly declare their love of porn and their fetishes and their kinks, talking about porn like it was something to be ashamed of seems odd. Strange though it may sound to those of you who have never touched, nor even considered touching, porn, it feels unusual to be ashamed of such a thing.

Sex is so ubiquitous in our culture, we hardly think twice when we see it. The idea that anyone should feel wrong for looking at or enjoying sexualized imagery is peculiar because sexuality is so common. The very first episode of Marvel’s Luke Cage shows Luke and Misty getting it on. For three awkward minutes, the viewer is treated to kissing, stripping, and groping (lots of gratuitous groping). And while that is all that is shown, the scene is so dominant as to be out of place in the rest of the episode and first act of the season.

Or take another show, one of my favorites, Suits.  In the second season, the hero, Mike, finally gets together with the cute and whip-smart paralegal, Rachel. As is usually the course in modern media, the first thing they do is have sex. At the law firm they work at. Inside of the file room. And, not only do they have sex, but they go all the way. The whole  act is depicted from start to finish (albeit not explicitly). However, all it would have taken was a few more lost pieces of clothing and a few less discrete camera shots and it would have looked no different to regular porn.

Yes, regular, because make no mistake, that scene, and thousands of others like it, are porn. They may not draw FCC lawsuits nor will they draw a lot of views on PornHub (though they are probably uploaded there too), but they are porn. They exist to titillate, to excite, to bring the brain to think of sex outside of a healthy context. They are everywhere. And when you are a kid, the images get imprinted on you and, at some point, you are going to want to see more.

Porn’s Power

Usually it starts out small. Maybe a sexy advertisement that caught your eye. Maybe a lad’s magazine left lying out or sitting in a rack in the shop. Maybe even a website, where one mis-click sent you to a page filled with images you did not expect. It rightly does not matter what it was. What matters is that you were exposed and went looking for more, to turn that first flicker of a feeling into something big.

When porn first blossoms into that flame, it is a rush. Your eyes and mind are filled with images that you not only have not experienced before, but probably should not be experiencing. It is a bombardment that saturates your mind and fills you with its perverse sense of pleasure. The glow of that flame consumes you…for a time.

At some point, the fire will lose its intensity, its strength. The fuel that made it will burn away, but you remember the feeling. You remember the excitement, the euphoria it brought you. You want more.

You seek more.

You find more.

The first few times, it might be more of the same. What you viewed before or something similar. Eventually, however, you get used to it. You become desensitized to it. It is no longer more that you need: it is different.

Thus begins the spiral of addiction and dependence. What starts as a foray into lingerie catalogs or the “artistic” nude slowly extends itself into deeper corners. Eventually, bodies are not enough. Soon, still images are not enough. At some point, normal sex is not enough. For some, this goes far, far beyond the bounds of the “decent” and the “acceptable.” Mercifully, it has not for me. For millions of others, however….

Porn and People

Porn consumption is commonly treated as perfectly healthy and normal behavior. Humans are sexual creatures, after all, and have we not spent far too long constrained under the thumb of restrictive, outmoded moral codes? We need outlets, places where we can enjoy sex as much as we want, when we want, in whatever way we want. If it means we spend an hour or two a day watching sex on a computer screen, what does it matter?

Sex may be the subject of porn, but sex does not occur in a vacuum. In order for sex to happen, it requires one very vital thing: people. It is not just sex that you watch in porn; it is people. It does not matter if it is a single woman, man, a couple, any combination or multiplication thereof, porn requires people.

The problem is that those people are not really people, not as far as porn is concerned. In porn, those people are just big breasts, a hot body, or a nice…er, endowment. The value of a performer is not in the parts that really matter: the mind, the personality, the heart. Their value lies solely on the body. They are a piece of meat hanging in a butcher’s shop. After all, no one who watched porn has ever looked at an actress and wondered how well she can perform calculus in her head.

Day after day, we parade these images before our eyes. Maybe at first we see people, in the same way you notice someone out of the corner of your eye. But over time, we stop seeing the person. We only see the bodies. We only see the sex. We consume porn like a frat boy consumes beer. He does not stop to savor the drink, or even realize that it is cheap swill, he only wants more because he knows it better and it is “fun.” We are deadened to the person on the screen; they are only there for our pleasure. Cheap whores to be used, abused, and cast aside twenty minutes later.

Performing in porn is considered to be empowering, a way to take charge in one’s life. This is bollocks. Sex unbound does not give strength; it takes it away. Without emotion, without heart, sex turns you into someone else’s plaything. They do not care about your feelings, nor do they care about your future. The fans do not care about a person; they care about a body.

Yet, more and more people, particularly young women, get into the porn business. Not through seedy studios in back alleys, where they will be abused and forced into acts that will break them mentally. Now, they are getting into the business through the use of webcams and a bit of spare time. Young people are now willingly and gleefully throwing themselves into the business of debauchery. They get attention and fame and a following and all they have to do is expose themselves to perfect strangers from the safety of their own homes.

Porn Kills Love

It is the tagline of fightthenewdrug.org, a website committed to battling pornography’s influence. But how exactly does porn kill love? What is it exactly that prevents porn from co-existing with love?

The question is, what is the relationship between sex and love? Of course, it seems that there is no relationship between the two these days. Sex comes first, second, third, early, late, whenever, with love only being a secondary thing you might find if you bang enough people.

This is wrong though, is it not? Sex is more than just physical contact, more than just animal pleasure; it is a bond. It connects people in ways beyond what more platonic contact would. Love is an integral part of sex, in part because the latter reinforces the former.  Without the former, sex flails about, trying to find a true connection where there is none.

When sex is treated merely as a thing, the mind is still looking for a connection. Even if we deny it to ourselves, no matter how much we want to tell ourselves sex is merely animal instinct, it is something deeper in humans.

This is where porn comes in, because porn is the pinnacle of loveless sex. Not only are the people in porn committing loveless sex, the viewer is joining in vicariously. But that desire for a connection remains. Porn cannot provide that connection, but provides a shadow of it. This shadow is part of what keeps the viewer looking for more, this vain, subconscious hope that this can fulfill us.

The deeper you go, however, the more your mind becomes skewed. Love and sex become blurred, as does the purpose of each. Porn rewrites our priorities. We start seeing the sexual act as the goal and our aim is to reach that point. The people we love become objects of pleasure and satisfaction: our pleasure and satisfaction. We become so immersed in porn that we forget the person and only see the body. We begin to objectify those who we love, treating them as possessions to be abused rather than adored.

Sex becomes an all-consuming vice. Where love would give it focus and contain it, porn turns it into a monster. Sating our lust becomes our goal and lust, on its own, is never sated. There is always a new experience, a new conquest., another high. Porn kills love because all the focus is on the sex and not on the human being beside us.


This was hard to write. One of the things that porn does to you, should it get its hooks into you, is drag you into a sense of normalcy. Porn becomes habit and, thus, becomes natural. This post was difficult because I had to keep stepping back and looking into the truths of the habits I have formed. I had to look at my own ugliness…and then realize that I am not the only one.

There are millions upon millions of people worldwide who are broken by porn and do not even know it. They live in a world that tells them it is healthy and appropriate and so never realize how far gone they are. Day after day, relationships are torn apart by porn, women and men ruined by its pernicious effects. For millions of others, lives are consumed by loneliness, as people controlled by porn feel no real need to form bonds outside of themselves and their computers.

Porn kills love.

Porn kills decency.

Porn kills honor.

Porn is killing humanity, one click at a time.

What’s The Deal With Jessica Jones?

We here at Nerd Rage HQ do occasionally stray from topics on existentialism and nuclear physics to discuss the more plebeian topics, such as Netflix series and superhero culture.

I know, I know… you’re all shocked. Next thing you know we’ll be discussing online gaming or sloths. Good heavens… what horribly mundane things.

Anyhow, for today I wish to discuss the series Jessica Jones.

I’ve had several friends ask if I’ve watched Jessica Jones, and some who have used it to fill the void between seasons of Daredevil. There are even a few who, for some unknown and completely insane reason, have watched JJ but haven’t yet watched DD. I decided to catch up on this newer series, because I have enjoyed Daredevil so very much and have heard the two are loosely connected.

My verdict: meh.

I’m underwhelmed. The depiction of Daredevil, Kingpin, and the Punisher was so well done, that I really expected to be blown away by Jessica. I did my due diligence and researched the characters and got a feel for the story, so I wasn’t expecting to see a copy of Daredevil, but I was expecting more than what Jessica Jones delivered.

There are a lot of intriguing elements, but it’s incredibly vulgar. I understand that the heroine is a P.I. and her job entails some indelicate things, but the best thing about the show is the villain – who actually is really evil but is often more likable than the main character. Jessica is a complete ass to everyone, without fail, and is only humanized by her one friend, whom she is a complete ass to also. We’re supposed to believe that she is unpleasant so as to protect people from the danger she feels she brings along with her, but she often shows no compassion for the people around her at all. She is mercenary in nature (not taking jobs to help, but to pursue her own agenda or make them shut up), seems to hate humanity in general (she aids in a “compassionate” abortion in which the unborn is called a “thing” and disgustedly mumbles about “breeders” later), and doesn’t actively seek to improve the lives of anyone in her circle unless her arm is twisted – even though those people often stick up for her in completely selfless ways.

Apart from her completely horrid personality, Jessica’s powers are never really defined. They seem to be inconsistent at best, and you really have to suspend disbelief to accept that a tiny, emo, alcoholic possesses super strength and what might be accelerated healing or an impressive jump? Like I said, her powers aren’t explored or defined well at all (and keep in mind I already knew what they were). You also never get a feel for what motivates her. She comes across as caustic, and you’re meant to see her as broken, but she only seems broken about a third of the time. Nothing about this character is consistent.

Besides the main character being a hot mess, her boyfriend and fellow super is a bit one-dimensional as well. In fact, the most compelling characters are the much-abused best friend and the junkie down the hall. All of them, however, are nothing in comparison to the villian, Purple Man. Killgrave, as he’s called, is a truly bad dude. His powers are clearly defined and he uses them to full advantage, leaving untold collateral damage in his wake. Despite his general horribleness and destructive nature, he manages to be a compelling and complex character, something the main character is sorely missing. There are even moments when one could almost feel bad for him, all the while knowing that he’s hurt people in ways that will never be made right. That’s the mark of a well-written and well-acted character, though. Killgrave is what got me through the entire season of Jessica Jones.

Aside from the problem of not liking the main character at all, there is the issue of the show just being terribly vulgar. I’m aware of the rating, and didn’t expect a Disney show, so spare me the “it’s to be expected..” tone. When I say it’s vulgar, I mean it’s really hard to not turn it off vulgar. All of the dialogue/monologue is liberally sprinkled with “god-damn”, among other frequent swearing.  There isn’t a lot of nudity – in fact hardly any – and yet there is some extremely vigorous sex (broken beds and all) and suggestive content (moments of office romance, if you will). There is a recurring subplot dealing with a love triangle involving 3 lesbians, a nasty divorce, and extremely questionable ethics as two of the triangle points work at the law firm which Jessica somehow gets continually drawn to. One begins to wonder if this is merely to make the erstwhile romance more prominent than is strictly necessary, especially given that there are other problems which should require a greater focus. Like, say, a villain who is destroying people at will.

All in all, the show wasn’t entirely bad, I’m just not sure the good outweighs the bad. The villain totally made that season watchable, and he’s a horrible person. I’m not sure I would care to slog through all the negatives to see where the show goes from here, especially since the only character I care about at this point is the junkie neighbor, and since the only connection to Daredevil was a brief appearance by the D.A. and the night nurse.

Breaking Cookie Cutters

Contributing Guest Host Miss Ruth has some thoughts to share on modesty and a culture that accepts everything… except high standards.

 

Spend five minutes with me and you’ll figure out quickly I hold myself to a fairly high set of standards, at least compared to general culture and society. Shoot, glance at me from across a room and you can see I adhere to a level of modesty that prevents my breasts from busting out randomly in public and my clothes aren’t stretched across my body so tight it looks like the threads of the fabric are yawning into an abyss, about to break. I maintain standards for every aspect of my life just like the majority of humanity. I don’t expect everyone else to hold themselves to my specific standards, but – call me crazy – I do presume to expect those who claim to care/love/respect me to not ridicule or degrade me for having set a high bar by which I live my life. It is MY life after all. Every day I remind myself I have to be – I WANT to be – right in God’s eyes. Not because I fear a vengeful, angry, wrathful God, but because I seek to commune with a holy, righteous, just Savior who has my best interests before Him.

I’ve put up with a great deal of disparagement from others over how I dress (skirts, modest necklines, no makeup or jewelry) because it’s really not worth it to fight with someone over their preconceived ideas of how people who dress like me should act, think, speak, or what we should know. Apparently the next worse thing for a person to find out is I don’t drink. Cue the, “How do you even have fun??” and “Wow, you must be so boring,” and “You can have just one drink, right? You MUST have at least one drink with me.” And LAWD help us when the trifecta is completed and they realize I don’t use profanity.

I’m 33 years old and, at this stage in life, it’s no longer shocking (but still hurtful) when the negative criticism comes from those whom I love. For the most part, my response toward all this is: if someone pulls out a disparaging remark against my modesty or standards, they automatically lose their footing in the discussion, have lost my respect on the topic, and they chip away at the overall respect and trust between us. What the person is telling me when they call me a “prude” or “too picky” or “wound too tight” or “you need to get laid” or whatever-it-is, is that they don’t like an integral part of what makes me, me. Now, not everyone I’ve met or spent/spend time with has/does this, but it’s been enough of an issue to cause an internal struggle of who I am and if I’m “good enough”. And that’s a problem; a very big problem.

What these individuals are doing is drawing a deep line across who I am and telling me everything before the line is SUPER GREAT, but everything after it is bad and a flaw and makes me less than feminine or empowered or good enough. What they’re saying to me by their words and through their actions is, because I choose to live up to a higher or different standard, I’m less than they are. And frankly, I’m sick of being pushed down bit by bit, because someone else who claims to love/care about me wants to pick apart my chosen standards. If it’s such a problem, why stick around?

Yes, I’m a nerd. Yes, I own approximately 30 fandom shirts (and counting) and look forward to Fandom Friday every week. Yes, I appreciate and use correct grammar. Yes, I’m loud. Yes, I’m passionate. Yes, I own more pairs of flip flops than actual shoes. Heavens yes, I’m expressive. And a roaming spirit. And weird. And I dress modestly. No, I don’t use profanity. Yes, I think it’s cool to read my Bible every night before I go to sleep and I pray every day. No, I don’t have it all together. Yes, I love singing in the choir. Yes, I’m klutzy. No, I’m not perfect. Yes, I enjoy going to church. Yes, I really enjoy my coffee. No, I don’t sleep or date around. Yes, I believe God has the right man out there for me and I don’t need to lower myself to get him.

I’ve kept quiet for so long because I didn’t want to hurt or upset those who criticize my choices, but something had to give at some point. If it’s okay for others to boast and brag about getting drunk and all their skeezy hook-ups or relationships, then it’s ok for me to be content not to do all that mess. It’s exhausting trying to fit myself into everyone else’s cookie cutters. Trying to fit into someone else’s cookie cutter is cutting up who I am and who God made me to be…and that simply doesn’t fit with me.

-Ruth

“Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”