martes, 2 de septiembre de 2008

quick admin notice

Well, first, sorry for the delays in posts. The semester started recently at my university, and between class, work, friends, a fiancee, and of course, kicking ass and taking names, it gets a wee-bit hard to keep up.

Second, the blog's format will be changing pretty soon, along with the addition of a collaborator, a long-time friend asshole and ex-boyfriend of mine, Rob. Hopefully, it'll pan out, as I'm hoping to enrich the blog with fresher content and a different perspective.

Thanks for reading, as always. Love, Di.

Product Advertisement and What They're Trying to Say: "Cool guy" products

So, in my last post, I wrote about feminine hygiene products, and the way they're generally portrayed in the mass media towards society, or at least Western society. Long story short, we women are disgusting.

Now, how 'bout the men? Well, we could come to the conclusion that men >>>> better than women in the media. I mean, a sweaty shirtless man is pretty much our modern-day Jesus. Mmm, I love disgusting salt. Anyway, this assumption is mostly wrong. Women have the whole "let's be pure and pristine and dry all the time" schtick going against them, but then men, as of late, have the "I can magnetically attract at least 10 different women a day, even the lesbian dykes" thing going on.

First product offender: Axe. Nothing I could say would say more than this ad.
Because, y'know, using some Axe in the morning means that, in a couple of hours, a women with a huge, smooth ass is going to start washing your car as though it's her one dream (next to giving a blow job to the guy's four inch penis).

I'm all for men smelling nice. What with the perception that women must always smell nice and pretty and be completely dry because oh no our little black dress is going to get completely stained and horror of horrors WE'RE GOING TO SMELL...SWEATY. I dunno, I think women can smell better than men under most circumstances. Anyway, it's not about that. It's reinforcing the image that men absolutely must be these sex freaks with uncontrollable penises and who must be chick magnets. This is great for advertising, but the trouble is, most normal, everyday guys I know aren't actually interested in being a playboy, or being a chick magnet, or being party animals. Sure, most men are on sex mode most of the time (sex sex no, just sex), but they do have other things to do.

To get my point across, there's a saying here in my country: girls are taught to sit as though there's a quarter between their legs, while guys are taught to take that quarter out. Yeah, there's a disconnect somewhere in there.

Now, to contrast Axe's advertisement, here's Nivea for Men, who recently came up with a pretty good advertisement campaign in order to target a different market from Axe's.

I can't find some advertisement on the internet, be it in picture form or video form, but I can describe the recent commercial I saw. The commercial cuts to your regular nerd guys talking about Axe and its awesomness and whatever. These nerd guys do look quite prepubescent in a way. Then cut to a clean-cut guy with a suite and a briefcase. "I'm not a kid. That's why I use Nivea for Men."

So, it basically tells us that one product means over-sexed and immature that any girl would drag to the sack, while another product means you'll transform into a professional that any girl would take home to meet their parents'. Now, I know that it seems like nothing will satisfy me, but I'm using these products to exemplify something Western society insists on implicating on men: that, from a certain age to a certain age, it's all fuck fuck fuck, while from that certain age onwards, it's "hey, get a job you lazy bum, move out, and settle down".

Why men are subjected to the same evils as women is beyond my perception, but what will continue to bother me for the rest of my life are the social constructions we make up, and which we consequently force ourselves to fit into. Humans, at their most basic, are not either clean-cut or studs in the sack, nor are they virginal or sluts. There are no black and whites anywhere, so why do we keep making them? So we can classify stuff for our own benefit? Seriously, it's less work if we didn't bother.

Still though, I must admit, I would go for the Nivea guy. But then, a woman with her head on straight should.

miércoles, 6 de agosto de 2008

Product Advertisementand What They're Trying to Say: "Feminine" Hygiene

Pardon the wide amount of space from my last entry to this one. It wasn't from lack of muse. Instead, I was handling computer problems. I guess I should probably get used to not having Windows Vista on my laptop (not that it was all that great), and be happy with Ubuntu (which is actually pretty great).

So, here starts a mini-series on my own personal analysis on certain products, the way they're packaged, the way they're advertised, and a reason or two about the underlying reasons behind it all. I figure since I'm studying Mass Communications, I may as well put what I know to use. This post's topic: "Feminine" hygiene. Or, to be more blunt, what women use somewhere down their crotches to catch the blood their vaginae spit out once a month for at least one week.

The two products I'm going to write about will be ones that pertain to Proctor and Gamble.

What I'm going to write here will be mostly from my impressions on Always's website. First is their recent campaign, Have a Happy Period.

Have a happy period? It can't get any worse, so why not make the best of it?
I'm not sure what's worse, the notion that all women are depressed, high-maintenece schizos who need a website filled with tips on what to do during their period (like warm baths and chocolate), text message "lingo" to communicate their secret "period only" transmissions to the other female creatures that they convene with, or that, quite possibly, all this has been orchestrated quite possibly by a group of men.

"Hey, I know! My wife's always a bitch when she's on the rag. Maybe if we put all that stuff we see on TV about chocolate and cell phones, she'll get happy."

"Wait! Have a...happy period. Brilliant! You shall be promoted in the morning my dear man!"

I don't know what I should be feeling here, condescended or insulted. Look, I get it. Women are raging hormonal monsters that get crazy on men a few days before their period starts, and for most of the rest of the week. But menstruating doesn't mean that we're incapacitated during the week, that we hate all of mankind, or that we need to have a closet filled with chocolate. It means that our body is actually healthy. Hey, how 'bout that?

Besides, I don't like chocolate all that much.

Also, the Ask Iris section leaves much to be desired. VaginaPagina is far better, less biased, and more thorough. Then again, it's not a corporate product page.

First, this advertisement I managed to find. I think I'd rather prevent both embarrasments and leaks, not just one. And, come to think of it, most women have already interlinked embarrasment and tampon leaks in their minds, so this is completely redundant. "Well, sure, that's embarrasing. But what's the difference?" That, at least, was the thought going through my head.


Next time Mother Nature brings your Monthly Gift, be prepared.

Like this is some kind of monthly piece of mail that, without fail, is loaded with ticking time bombs and land mines. But never fear, Tampax Super Plus tampons will deactive the bombs before they explode in a horrific gory mess!

Now I feel insulted.

To make matters worse is all the techincal babble placed on their packaging.

Tampax Pearl Super Plus for the heaviest flow days. Tampax Pearl is available in Unscented and Fresh Scent version. Smooth plastic applicator and rounded tip for comfortable insertion. Contoured Anti-Slip Grip TM to make the applicator easy to hold and position. Width-wise expansion to fit your unique form. Only Tampax Pearl has an absorbent Built-in Backup® Braid to help protect against unexpected leaks. Discreet and durable wrapper with easy-to-open tabs.
First off, the grip thing is something you will find in most commercial plastic applicator tampons. Second, what the hell will a stupid braid do to make sure that I don't start dripping blood? And finally, let's make the whole thing as discreet as possible by putting it in a wrapper in a certain color that NO ONE will recognize for a tampon. Look, I don't care what it has. If it's cotton that absorbs, I'll take it.

I think the only thing that bothers me more is the fact that tampon ads and packaging, and what they emphasize, haven't changed much over the years. Don't believe me?

Pursette tampon ad circa 1974:

Tampax ad circa 1990:

The first one exemplifies how utterly horrifying it would be for a guy to find a tampon, and the need for "discreet" packaging. (Frankly, I can't pick out what the tampon there is supposed to be.) The second points out the benefits of the round smooth applicator and how one's virginity can be maintained. The virginity issue doesn't factor in so heavily in current US advertisement since it's largely accepted that a hymen can be worn down over time, and not necessarily "taken away" in sex. (And even still, comparing a tampon to a penis in size is ridiculous. Well, usually.)

There are more here at MUM.

So, the conclusion: I get that men have been hammering into our brains for centuries that periods are disgusting things that should be hidden and not talked about. But I think, at this point in history, it's retarded. What's even worse is that the message is being reinforced not by men, but by women. Men just stay out of the loop on women's health topics, and when they finally are in contact with women, freak out because their genitals get wet, they have breasts, and they menstruate.

Just sell me the product and stop trying to tell me my period is horrible. My cramps do suck, but hey, that's part of life.

sábado, 2 de agosto de 2008

what love might possibly be about. maybe.

Well, before getting the meat, let's start off with the rice: I fully understand that love can be explained as one of evolution's way of getting us to procreate. (So are orgasms, but I digress.) I also understand that soul mates are probably about as real as that piece of bread in your hand. (Made you look.)

That said, I have always been a proponent of the thought that love, at its purest and most untampered by society, bases itself far less off gender, and far more of pure compatibility between two (or more than two) people's personalities. However, as I learned in a humanities class I took last year about love and it's history (it was fascinating, by the way), love and attraction are both controlled by social constructions. I'll assume at least 98% (Fabulous Statistic© #2, and I'm actually considering making this a staple) of the people who will ever read this blog were raised thinking that a woman should love a man's penis, and a man should love that big-titted porn star.

Seriously, check out those breasts, they're like inflatable, plastic, round balloons filled to the brim with silicone. I can't stop staring.

Anyway, because we're raised by that one set social standard, it's hard for us to break out of that mold. And don't give me any crap about, "but people can be gay or bisexual", because that's so far from my point, you're all the way in Albuquerque.

you rule man.

I'm more referring to how, despite advances in how sexuality can be viewed, we're still really far off from creating a society in which people are allowed to fall in love with people, not gender, and are also free to freely enter as many back doors as they want, kind of like the boy lovers in Athens. (Hmm, 300? Anyone?)

At any rate, I really don't know when the whole "let's classify your sexuality" deal started, but whenever it did, it seriously hindered the way we are allowed to view ourselves sexually. Who's to say you are wholly straight, or wholly gay? Come on guys, after more than a few tequila shots, that guy over there is surely going to start looking attractive. (If you're gay, replace tequila with appletini and guy with woman.)

But more importantly, why is shame the most prominent emotion when it comes to sexuality? Or anything in sex and one's bodily functions that doesn't involve giant penises and virginal women? I'm not advocating that we change our views overnight, because it's impossible. Nor do I want to get into anything too kinky (sorry, no, I'm not into horses). Nor do I want people to start questioning everything they ever thought was true about themselves.

I guess I just want people to think about things a little differently. If not for the fact that you're 100% you're straight, would you view your best friend differently any differently? If you're bisexual, who's to say you have to love both genders equally? And if you're a straight man trapped in a woman's body and want to carry your wife's child, who are we to criticize?

That said, the prompt of this particular entry was a conversation between my fiancee, in which we came to the conclusion that, if I were a man or he a woman, we might just have fallen in love for one another. Whether we'd recognize it as such remains up in the air though.

More importantly, just enjoy love and sex for what they are: two different ways to really enjoy life. (Or cut yourself to, you decide.)

jueves, 31 de julio de 2008

the children of men and women

Pardon the advertisement mess. I figured I'd give it a go, see if I can't make a few cents out of it. It sure would be funny to receive direct deposits of $0.37. It'll be like WTF, except real.

I decided to watch one of my favorite films again, Children of Men. I actually do like quite a few films that don't fall in the Hollywood blockbuster category, but don't mistake me for a movie-phile. You probably won't catch me having dirty, back door sex with films anytime soon. But, I do like me good movies, and this is one film I particularly love.

What I probably find most interesting about the film is how the problem of infertility, which goes unexplained in the plot (as is Cuaron's habit), is focused on women, not men. Though this is contrary to popular scientific belief that men will eventually be infertile, it does make for some interesting observations. If, in the film, men were infertile, then it would have mattered less, probably. If the one man that was fertile were found, most likely they'd just harvest his sperm and begin impregnating women everywhere again. Kind of like a baby factory.

But, because women are the ones who are infertile, not men, somehow it becomes extremely urgent that the one woman who is found to be fertile to be protected. When you think about how most women are still treated around the globe, it makes you think, if only for a moment, how very little women get appreciated, or more importanly, how little they are valued. That is, until push comes to shove. Even more important still is how the woman in this film, Kee, is an African woman, and how the father of the child is unimportant. What primarily matters is the saftey of Kee and her daughter.

I think that the film also provides excellent commentary on how fragile politics really are under strained circumstances such as this. A lot of things can fail in a country and in a government. But when the most important piece of the machinery, the ability to leave behind a genetic legacy, goes missing, everything else falls apart. A lot of people like to brag about how they want to leave behind a legacy, especially men. But the truth of the matter is, it's much less important to leave behind buildings and paintings and novels and movies, as it is to leave behind a son or a daughter. Otherwise, who will continue to live in your buildings, or look at your paintings, or read your novels, or watch your movies?

Finally, the film comments on how fragile humanity is, and how useless things like ethics, morals, and law become when faced with a daunting future. Somehow, given the circumstances, it becomes less important to save others or to help others, and far more important to shoot the guy next to you because you don't know who he is.

Still, as long as we can reproduce, the world is fine and dandy. But, given our real circumstances, for how long might that last? This is something both men and women need to give serious thought to, rather than arguing or criticizing or locking yourself up in a room filled with money from all the gas your company's sold.

Sometimes things need to get worse before they get better though. But I have hope that someday, we'll think more of our kids than of our petty problems.

martes, 29 de julio de 2008

Hollywood vs. reality

I think I should start off by stating that Juno is now one of my favorite movies. I watched it, fell in love, and I have it on DVD because I even bought the box edition that came with a shirt. So I guess the content of this entry might be a bit scewed in perspective and a bit biased. But it might not be.

So, there's still this debate floating around about Hollywood and its attitudes towards teen pregnancy lately, most especially exacerbated by Jamie Lynn Spears who, as some might know by now, has already delivered, and has been quoted by whats-its-name, "being a mommy is the best thing ever!" Well, as usual, there're two sides. One is the "thank you baby Jesus, we're finally getting over the hatred of teen pregnancy and are able to speak of it openly!" The other is, "psh that's nothing like a real pregnancy, I didn't keep the guy at the end/I don't have bazillions of dollars to take care of a kid."

I can't help but notice a few things though. First, when speaking about Spear's pregnancy, almost no one makes mention of the fact that she didn't use protection or was on any form of birth control whatsoever. If any reference is made, it's simply stated that she had premarital sex. And that's something I don't understand about American society. Why are its people more preoccupied with the fact she had premarital sex, or underage sex, then with the fact she failed to use birth control? She had a variety of options. She could've used condoms, which aren't that expensive, not for her anyway. She could've gone on the pill if she were going to be sexually active. She could've used Emergency Contraception if something had failed or she'd messed up. Or, last and seemingly most horrific, she could've had a quiet abortion. But no, it's just that she had premarital sex.

And how many other underage people are having premarital sex? Exactly. (I lack specific statistics to back my fabulous statement, but I will look if anyone wants them.) Just remember folks: it's not premarital sex unless you plan on getting married.

The second thing I notice is how Jamie Lynn is not only being under attack for having premarital and underage sex, no one seems to notice that, compared to her older sister, she has handled the situation far more maturely (up till now anyway) then her older sister, Britney Spears. Unlike her sister, Jamie Lynn has not rushed into marriage (though is in the process of one), and doesn't seem to run the risk of risky behavior and habits. Plus, I think because she's underage, she might be better off than Brit, if only because there will be more people watching her. Maybe.

So she's not a realistic bar towards which other teen mothers-to-be should measure up to. But she's a Hollywood kid, and really, who is real in Hollywood? (Seriously, if they're not ODing on drugs they're jumping on couches.)

Finally, that's the biggest thing I have against those who criticize Juno: that it's not a realistic portrayal of a pregnant teenager. Let's put the pieces together though. First, her social class. I think her parents' reacted in one of the two spectrum middle-class parents' react to a pregnant kid: they were disappointed, but felt that she had just made a genuine mistake and rather than tossing her out of the house, they helped her. (Not without reminding her most of the time that she shouldn't be in this mess anyway.) Second, Juno's (Ellen Page) personality: instead of taking a "poor me" attitude, she took a good look at the situation, made a mature (albeit naive) decision, and stuck to it, realizing that it was a mistake, but that mistakes are made to learn from them.

Third, and most importantly, it's a movie, not a documentary. It's not meant to show us every single stupid step of the process. It's only meant to tell us a story. Juno's pregnancy isn't even the center of this story, it's used as a plot device to tell the story of how she had to grow up quickly, and show the world that not all girls take self-pity attitudes towards themselves. In fact, I applaud the movie for not taking the view most pregnant-girl films take, the one where it's all the girl's fault for getting pregnant.

As I'm about to repeat: it's Hollywood. Do you honestly expect reality? If you want to make sure your teenage girl doesn't get pregnant, do the responsible parent thing: talk to her about it, tell her to use protection, offer to accompany her to a gynecologist visit for hormonal birth control, and, if she does get pregnant anyway, be there for her and be sure that she and the guy who got her pregnant takes responsibility for their mistake and make the best decision.

How hard is it to be a parent instead of letting school/the media/their friends do the job?

sábado, 26 de julio de 2008

"She got pregnant...but I'm not sure how."

So I was minding my own business the other day, as I usually do, in fact. Anyway, I was just walking around town lazily, when my ears picked up the fragments of a conversation of two women not too far ahead of me. I really don't know the context of their discussion, but this one particular piece stood out.

(translated roughly into English)

"So did you know [random girl] is pregnant?"

"Really? Wow, I can't believe how irresponsible she could've been."

"Yeah, I know, you'd think she would use her head and at least avoid getting pregnant..."

(end rough translation)

What stood out here for me wasn't the fact that apparently another teenage girl has fallen victim to lack of information or any kind of sensibility. It was that there was absolutely no reference to a man at any point of this topic. And that's when I stopped to think about it. At least 95% of the time (a fabulous statistic made up by yours truly), you never hear about the man when someone becomes pregnant outside of marriage, and most especially with a teenage girl. In other words, it's as though the girl became pregnant on her own because she was not smart enough to be more careful.

Pardon the crass language, but what the fuck?

I'm serious here. Okay, I get it. I get that because it's the woman that carries the baby in her womb for nine months and then spits out the baby through her vaginal canal and, unless she gives it up for adoption or custody gets taken away, the kid is legally under her care until the age of 18/21.

But let me make this clear. Women, no matter what the age or what their marital status is, do not get pregnant on their own. Women do not regularly pull a Virgin Mary (nor can they get away with it). Women cannot tango alone.

I think it's more irritating for me because, despite laws to ensure that children have a father that has to at least pay child support, people will not budge on this. I don't know, I mean, sure, we could call the girl involved irresponsible till the cows come home. But why don't the men involved in these situations get the same treatment? Seriously, keep it in your pants or wrap it up. I hate to hear such crap like "but I don't feel anything". What would you rather do, not have the same warm wet feeling your penis usually gets but prevent an unwanted pregnancy, or father at least ten illegitimate children with no job? I mean, it's not mathematically possible for men to have had sex with at least twenty women and for one woman to have had sex with only three. And it's not fair that the woman has to take the brunt of it all.

I can't wait for the day this changes. But my grandchildren might be grandparents before that happens, unfortunately.