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mdear's Blog


internship

I have an internship with a do-gooder organization. The kind that exudes liberal values and claims to acknowledge economic/racial privilege at every turn. The kind that attempts to shun break and bend all gender norms.

Yet the interns "don't get" why anyone would go to a state university. I had to explain that I couldn't afford insurance and was met with suspicion and patronizing words - "You should really have insurance...what if you get sick?" The interns think asexuality is sad and that being a 27 year-old virgin must be "miserable." These people don't realize how elite they are, how hypocritical. 

I work in the nation's capital. Theoretically, this place should be brimming with the kind of diversity that democratic society requires. But no. This city is the most out-of-touch, pearl-clutching, white-washed place I've ever visited. I guess I was naive to hope that our country was truly democratic.

There aren't real people here. Just trust-fund babies in polo tees who intern for some lobbyist on K street and love to talk about it. Or grammar-stickler old white ladies who would live in Silver Spring but think that it's just too...sketchy (read: black). 

I cannot relate to these people. I am miserable. But the longer I'm here, the more I realize people like that will never represent people like me.

Response to a Dead i09 Thread

I’d like to note that there are a million things I could have incorporated in this response to yield a more pointed answer. Examples: how WWI and WWII affected gender roles, and thus affected Disney storylines; how the Golden Age of male-focused comics dominated other forms of children’s entertainment; etc. Point being, I don’t think this is an adequate response to the OP’s original question. But I tried to respond to the best of my ability without writing a dissertation on the topic.

Question by OP “collex”: why[do]  the Disney Princesses, despite all the criticism and the conservative values they teach, remain[n] extremely popular characters to reimagine and reenvision[?] What is so attractive in the Princesses that they stimulate the imagination and that the male Disney characters don't have?

I think the concept of agency is really important here; “reinvention” of trope-y princesses is wholly driven by the audience’s desire to see who princesses will “choose” to become. By allowing princesses to express their “desires,” desires which are mostly absent in their original context, we grant princesses control that is otherwise not present. That kind of subversion is very common simply because it is a type of power subversion and us powerless humanfolk go for that kind of thing. The only difference here is the gendered element. That’s not a flippant difference, though. Add to this subversion the rarity of complex female characters. Also add the very recent explosion of extremely successful well-rounded female characters, and you get something completely unprecedented as compared to male counterparts.  You have, it seems, a desire to complete shift in the portrayal of gender dynamics in entertainment.

Reinventing a classic character in this context is a nod and a "good riddance!" to our not-even-decades-ago past; Tropey female characters once abounded with very limited exception. Though complex female characters are still hard to find, they're becoming more successful than ever before.  Art work depicting a “new” old character is sort of like someone saying “Man, shit is so different these days… look, here’s proof- remember Belle? This is what she’d look like nowadays!” Reinvention in this context is clearly an expression of awe as to how far we’ve come in developing well-rounded and kickass female characters. 

There are several reasons why this isn’t common for male princes. 

As I mentioned before, there are many well-rounded male characters. So there’s no clear power dynamic to subvert - prince charming doesn’t really remind anyone of a time when men were powerless objects of external circumstance. That’s because male characters, by and large, have always been agents of their narrative. So there’s less of a need to convey some statement regarding men no longer being without agency. 

Additionally, Disney princesses served as some of the only family-friendly models girls could use as a means of escape, so they’re more of a focal point in female childhood.* While it may be true that young boys looked to Disney princes for similar escape, boys have never been restricted to those models. There was never a strong drive to develop Disney princes to the degree of the princess for boys because, as I mentioned before and will mention again and again, there were already a whole bunch of well-rounded characters present for young boys to latch onto. That isn’t to say boys can’t develop fondness for male princes. I’m simply arguing that Disney princes are terribly written because male-prince archetypes weren’t heavily marketed toward boys. While I’m not entirely sure why that would be the case, I can guess. It’s a vicious cycle of bad writing:

writers don’t write compelling male prince characters ‘cus they don't think boys will buy it as much as the latest Batman movie --> some boys don’t care about latest male prince --> some boys find other compelling character to love --> Prince charming merch is left in dust --> writers don’t write compelling male character because they don't think boys will buy it as much as the latest batman movie.

Concrete example: if a boy did not identify with Prince Charming, he could probably find solace in Huck Finn, Dick Tracy, John Wayne characters, Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein to a degree, or the host of superheroes that were present before Cinderella even became a movie. But if a girl did not identify with Cinderella, well, she could always be…snow white?

Thus, the Disney princess remains a point of childhood nostalgia for lots of women by way of its ubiquity in toy/book/movie merchandising catering to girl children, while princes are not necessarily a focal point of a boy’s childhood. Granted, this trend is changing nowadays due to new stuff like Hunger Games and Harry Potter, but I think people of my generation (“Y”) are a little too old for the new stuff to be included in our early childhoods.

So when the desire to relive one’s childhood arises, many relive it through princess imagery (or in my case, through cheap not-Disney-princess coloring books). This isn’t without qualifications; the adult in us fixes our childhood nostalgia's problematic elements to justify our adult enjoyment. The problematic element in this case is lacking agency. We “fix” it by imagining agency is present in the way I described above. 

* I know, I know: there are exceptions. There’s Scout, Wonder-woman, your gender-bending uncle who was inspired by princesses, and some girls just end up identifying with male characters. Please forgive me for speaking generally. This is a very large question, and I don’t anyone could tackle it without making generalizations.

Realizing she is writing a dissertation, Molly looks at her clock and notices 2.5 hours have passed. She heaves a sigh, slowly rolling off her leopard-print bedspread. She finds her bulky jet pack beneath a pile of dirty socks, sets its pink phasers to “stun,” and flies out of her small window into a bleachy-blue sky.

My brain is a smile.

I'm a much happier person than I was a few months ago. Even happier still than a year. I think it's because I've stopped fighting what the work refuses to be. I finally acknowledge that the world will not bend to my will and agree with me. People will not always welcome my opinions or "the world ought to bes..." with open arms. Before, I think I tried to blind myself from that fact. I thought the best way to get someone to realize that they were wrong was to humiliate and belittle and dominate. In doing this, I only ever made myself more angry and defensive. People inevitably pushed back. They threw my tactic back at me. And neither of us learned anything new.  So I quarantined myself from news things. I felt threatened by opposing opinions. Opposing opinions meant I might have to state my own opinion on something, which would mean more anger and humiliation. My intellectual life (the only one that I actively live) became boring and frustrating. I got angry as I always do.  

This is where the author says she got better because she stopped caring about what others have to say.  As much as I’d like to follow the cliché, that’s really the opposite of what’s been happening to me. I care more. Much more. I care enough to listen to someone, rather than to assume that I have an answer that they do not. And instead of challenging someone’s opinions directly, I steer them discreetly to my opinions without them knowing. But the more that I listen to people whose opinions I disagree with, the less I have to steer. I actually want to know how people feel about stuff for its own sake, even if it “threatens” or opposes my own feelings. And I want to know how this opposition might function in my own life.

I think one reason I'm excited is because I see the effects of my change in other people. The more I listen and come to understand people, the more open they become to my opinions. And then we have an exchange. The first kind of exchange I've ever had where I don't simply "wait" for my turn to talk. Instead of the same old remarks bubbling from my mouth, I ask questions that even I have never thought about. And they of me. They don't stick to the same defensive dance. They ask me things. I have to think, and I do not feel rushed to respond something snide.

Life is getting more interesting. I’m genuinely excited to meet new people and discuss things with them, even if they don’t see the world like I do. It's been a long time since I've felt this warm and excited about other people.

Now, I think I just need to tackle the social anxiety thing. 

On monogamy

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.

I hate myself so much, and no one knows. If I died today, no one would care. They probably wouldn't even find out until the smell got too bad. My professors don't care. I don't have friends. My family might cry for a while, but then they'd get over it. I am an unpleasant anxious person that is no fun to be around. I want to die. 

Escape

Sometimes I look for escape from the world. I try to watch tv or get off or jig, but even in those acts, I feel skewered by hot knives of prejudice. I cannot enjoy myself. I cannot enjoy anything.  

Hatred

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If you are abusive.

If you are abusive and you admit it, you need to *refrain* from hurting others. It doesn't matter if it only hurts "a little". It's not your place to decide what amount of abuse is  okay for others to endure. 

Help

My life has been so dream -like and neutral. I don't remember anything pleasant, aggravating, or sad from my childhood. And now I'm beginning to feel angry (blinding anger) and intense sadness, and I don't know how to cope with it. It's intense and it's happening all at once. I don't know what to do and I'm scared because I feel out of control all of the time. I want to hit someone or myself or something. 

Please help me. If you comment on this, please give extremely specific advice. Don't use empty phrases like "just deal with it" or "see someone about that". I have no money. I have no one to talk to about this. Please someone tell me I'm not alone and that there's a solution.

worse

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Dreams

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Sad

One of those days where I feel like I'll never be able to trust anyone. 

Bitter

Have a good love life? Fuck you. Have a terrible love life? At least you have one. Got high self-esteem? I hope you fall from your ivory tower and quick.

I am venomous today. 

Talk

I want to explain what I'm thinking but I don't have the words to express it.

Overreaction

Do you ever face reasonable scrutiny and overreact to it?

Peace

Why is this computer at rest, but I am not? Why can't I be like this cup, plastic, immovable and full? Why can't I be air, compressed and flat?

Why do I feel? 

Trial and Error

Not many people are nice on the internet. Some use "knowledge" as a weapon against others, instead of educating, and learning from, those others. They use snarky humor to one-up those that may not understand. And yes, I am the one that does not understand. 

But we are an ignorant race. That is our nature. If it were not so, wouldn't we be happy? Wouldn't we try to unite others through knowledge instead of separating the world into two camps-- the "ignorant" and the "educated"? Yet these people, that claim to know better than so many unseen, unknown souls, do not admit their own ignorance.

And in their hostility, their unkindness, they scare curious minds aching to ask a question, wanting to reach out. These same unkind people loudly complain of ignorance. The question must be raised-- Have you no humility? Have you no reason? Surely,you, "educated" one, can understand the  negative effects pomp and humiliation have on a learning person?

I suppose I'm with The Jewish Barber-- "Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost."

Fear and Loathing

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1-13 of 13 Blogs   

Previous Posts
internship, posted March 10th, 2014
Response to a Dead i09 Thread, posted November 30th, 2013
My brain is a smile., posted May 11th, 2013, 1 comment
On monogamy, posted May 10th, 2013, 1 comment
., posted April 3rd, 2013, 1 comment
Escape, posted February 16th, 2013
Hatred, posted November 9th, 2012
If you are abusive., posted August 14th, 2012
Help, posted August 10th, 2012, 2 comments
worse, posted May 20th, 2012
Dreams, posted May 4th, 2012
Sad, posted March 9th, 2012
Bitter, posted February 17th, 2012
Talk, posted January 30th, 2012
Overreaction, posted January 8th, 2012
Peace, posted December 20th, 2011
Trial and Error, posted July 24th, 2011, 1 comment
Fear and Loathing, posted June 15th, 2011

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