This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the category “family”

I Can’t Believe What My Kid Is Watching, Part I: Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”

As someone admittedly prone to negativity in my posts, I suppose it’s rather unusual that I have never posted a negative movie review on this blog. That is, until today. Since this will be my first movie-related rant, I might as well make it a double feature, and make the theme kids’ movies. This is Part I: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991). Part II: Pixar’sCars 2 (2011) will follow shortly. Read more…

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A Belated Mothers’ Day Wish

Volga barge haulers: they had it easy.

Volga barge haulers: they had it easy.

Here is what I want: I want people to stop saying that motherhood is “the toughest job”. For the record — I am a mother. I especially want people to stop saying that stay-at-home motherhood is “the toughest job”. For the record — I am not a SAHM. Read more…

The Long 1950’s … Behind the Iron Curtain

Yuri Pimenov, "A Wedding on Tomorrow's Street" (1962)As someone who grew up in a totalitarian Communist state, nothing infuriates me more than the incessant conservative droning-on about progressives being “communist”, “socialist” and “Stalinist”. People who say these things use such words as mere slurs, not much different than calling someone an asswipe, and of course, they betray both a profound ignorance of history and a great deal of contempt for it. But more than that, they’ve got it completely backwards. Truth is, American conservatives have remarkably a lot in common with Russian communists: the same obsession with ideological purity, the same irrational intolerance towards loyal dissent, the same prioritizing of ideology over practicality, the same preparedness to sacrifice liberties, human dignity and lives for the sake of ideological totems, the same clash-of-civilizations thinking, the same pretensions at worldwide cultural and political hegemony. And of course, the modern American conservative and the Russian communist of the bygone era share a deep and abiding dislike of people having unauthorized sex in pursuit of “instant gratification”.

Enter Congress’ resident comedian, Rep. Louie Gohmert, because of course he doth enter, for how could he not? After all, it’s only been a few hours since the last eruption of stupid from the right-wingers, and we haven’t heard from Gohmert in, like, days. With a name that sounds like a practical joke and every word coming out of his mouth worthy of an Onion editorial, he provides an endless parade of stupidity and ignorance, which is probably why he was elected in the first place. His latest installment revolves around the idea that teaching school children about human biology and reproductive health would turn us into the USSR. Read more…

On Child-Free Weddings

Over at Feministe, there is a discussion on whether banning children from weddings — which is becoming a trend, apparently — should be perceived as offensive to parents who are invited. Lots of virtual ink is spilled detailing children’s propensity for undecorous behavior, the poor parenting skills of people who reproduce (as oppose to the child-free, who frequently emerge in these discussions as the experts on proper parenting), and why whole classes of adults are not excluded from such events based on unacceptable behavior of certain of their members, while excluding children is okay. Read more…

Arranged Marriage: It’s Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

It is my experience that Americans are very romantic. And yet it is Americans, and to a somewhat lesser extent the rest of the Western cultures, who like to extol the supposed virtues of arranged marriages and poo-poo love matches. If you are a news and blog junkie, like me, you have probably read countless entries talking about how the institution of arranged marriage is a cure for divorce, unhappiness or the so-called “hook-up” culture, extolling it as the epitome of sensibility and the pinnacle of a stable, responsible lifestyle. Cherry-picked accounts by people (women especially) from patriarchal cultures swearing up and down how happy they are in a marriage to someone they did not even know before the wedding, someone picked by their parents, abound. And people lap it up. In fact, O Gentle Reader, you probably found this entry by Googling romantic stories about arranged marriages or happy arranged marriage accounts, or some other such nonsense — didn’t you? But clearly, this fascination with arranged marriage stems from the fact that most Westerners have absolutely no experience with this phenomenon and come from families where people have followed their hearts for so many generations, they retain no memory of what your garden-variety arranged marriage is really like.

So let me tell you a story about an arranged marriage in my family, which will, hopefully, introduce a dose of sober reality into this rosy picture. Read more…

Some thoughts on marriage, regrets and mediocrity

A few days ago, I was at a business lunch where one of the participants was a freshly divorced man in his forties. So it’s not a surprise that the conversation inevitably, and irretrievably, turned to the subject of marriage and what a soul-crushing burden it is. Not the divorce, mind you — that was a liberation — but marriage. The man had no specific grievances against his wife, whom he described as a normal enough human being and a good mother, nor against his kids, whom he professed to love — he just wished he hadn’t married her or had them. Instead, he disparaged marriage in very general and metaphoric terms, pretty much as Bill Maher once had, when he described a married man as a broken horse “shitting in a bucket”. Read more…

“Objectification”: You Keep Saying That Word …

When I started my blog, I made a pact with myself that I would not use it to attack other people’s blogs. I therefore will not include a link in this post to some of the things that have riled me up in this latest contraception controversy. Instead, I will observe generally that religious conservatives are copiously misusing the term “objectification” in an attempt to mask their fear of and contempt for female sexuality and sex in general. Specifically, a spurious charge is made that the ability to have sex “without consequences” leads to women being objectified.

I should note that objectification, in general, is one of the most misunderstood concepts in modern political and social discourse. Through basic intellectual laziness, people — especially people hostile to women’s equality — have come to equate objectification with lust. This is the infuriating “logic” behind the claim that the birth control pill leads to objectification: that men will get to have sex with women purely for pleasure. This highly traditionalist view presumes that male desire in and of itself is degrading to a woman, and that any sexual expression is by its very nature a painful sacrifice. Marriage and motherhood, therefore, are the only things that allow a woman to save face, as it were, against the humiliation of a man’s lust for her body. Religious conservatives ominously warn that the availability of birth control leads to men having sex for pleasure, and they fully expect women to be scared by this. And when women don’t get scared, they, of course, bemoan the sorry state of morals in our society. Read more…

Let’s Beat Up On the Young. Again. And Again. And Again.

O tempora o mores! What’s wrong with teenagers these days? Having dreams and desires? Doing things for fun? Having sex? And don’t even get me started on their iphones, ipads, ishmads and all that other touch-screen, sexy-picture-taking rubbish. Why, only a generation ago, teenagers were completely different. They hunted the woolly mammoth and mined salt for their own meals. They made all their own clothes and bought their own cars with the money they earned making cheeseburgers after school. Alas, it’s all in the past. Gone are the days when thirteen-year-old girls married sixteen-year-old boys and had ten babies in quick succession. Now, that was some maturity, some responsibility! Today, young people live through their teens and twenties enjoying themselves and not saving money for an obscenely overpriced home somewhere by the side of a coal plant. What’s wrong with teenagers today, and how can we help them live harder, less enjoyable lives as surly little adults?

You might think that the habits and mores of teenagers and young people today have something to do with demographic changes in the last several decades and centuries, and the current state of the economy, but you would be wrong. No, Alison Gopnik, writing for the blessed Wall Street Journal — I swear, lately, this gift just keeps on giving — is here to tell you that really, there is just something wrong with young people’s brains. It’s not the high rate of unemployment. It’s not the screwed-up economy, where an Ivy League degree gets you a job as a secretary (assuming you speak three languages and have a nice ass). It’s not the crushing cost of education these days. It’s not that it makes sense to spend some time living a little and getting a solid financial ground under your feet before you start having kids and taking out astronomical mortgages. It’s not that people who claim they lived like Trappist monks when they were young are lying. Oh no. Everything bad that happens to teenagers and young people these days is because they are lazy, irresponsible, unrealistic and shallow. In other words, “the kids these days”. Cue in hundreds of comments about “the way it was in MY day”. Read more…

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