Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Blue Valentine" Overrated...by the MPAA

I saw Blue Valentine Saturday night, and I thought it was genius. That's not what this blog is about. I remember before it opened there was a big ordeal about the rating. Initially, it was given an NC-17. I'm happy to say they appealed the decision, and the film was given an R rating. Without changing anything. Which begs the question, what in this film would prompt an NC-17 rating?

It turns out, my idea is right on par with Ryan Gosling's, one of the film's stars. The most objectionable part of this film is...wait for it..SEX! Sex! You know, the thing that got us all here. But I'm not talking your typical plain vanilla romp is the sack. Nope, we're talking oral sex here! Horrifying!

Now, I know what you're thinking: oral sex is in TONS of movies with R ratings. I can't even count the number of blowjobs or blowjob references in various movies I've seen over the years. So what was wrong with this film's oral sex scene? It involved a man performing oral sex on a woman. THE HORROR!

Yes, apparently our moral compass thinks it's OK to showcase a man receiving oral sex in a movie, but not a woman. And actually, that's not entirely accurate - Black Swan got an R rating, but that's because it was a lesbian scene and, as well all know, it's OK because a lot of guys think it's hot.

This just infuriates me. A woman enjoying a sex act meant to focus solely on her pleasure is somehow more offensive than, say, a rape scene or a scene of extreme violence? When I think of something worthy of an NC-17 rating (which replaced the X rating in the '90s), I think of something like porn - you know, hardcore close-ups of real people bumping genitals. And I'd classify a video of Osama bin Laden getting shot in the face worthy of that rating as well.

But ACTORS in a sex scene of a married couple enjoying a sex act - come on, there are worse things to watch.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

HAIKU, in the Style of Cee-Lo

I need an uplifting post for today, so this is just going to be fun. My wanderlust is coming back hard, and I just want to get on a plane to anywhere but here. Ideally, Europe - just start fresh on a new continent. The American dream doesn't work for me. Maybe the French or Italian one will.

So, while I mull all that over and contemplate my existence, here's a funny for you.

"Haiku" By Wendy Caldwell (with some help from Cee-lo Green)

I see you drivin'
'Round town with the book I love
And I'm like HAIKU!

Guess my Keats, Yeats, and Shakespeare wasn't enough
So I'm like HAIKU
Got to write some, too

See, if I was a poet
I just wouldn't know it
Ain't that some BYSSHE
(Ain't that some Bysshe)
I'm feelin' so stressed, and I'm tryin' my best
To write HAIKU

Five, seven, five, y'all
Well that's how to write it
But I really think that I suck this
Why not a sonnet?
Or an epic poem?
Or a catchy rhyming limerick?

I pity the fool who has to write HAIKU
(What's wrong with my iambs?
Or my green eggs and ham)
Ooh, I got some news for you
Yeah, go on and tell your professor

I see you drivin'
'Round town with the book I love
And I'm like HAIKU!

I guess my Keats, Yeats, and Shakespeare wasn't enough
So I'm like HAIKU
Got to write some, too

Yeah, if I was a poet
I just wouldn't know it
Ain't that some Bysshe
(Ain't that some Bysshe)
I'm feelin' so stressed and I'm tryin' my best
To write HAIKU

I know that I had to borrow
From my local library
Tryin' to read up, tryin' to speed up
On all this awful poetry

I pity the fool who has to write HAIKU
(What's wrong with my iambs?
Or my green eggs and ham)
Ooh, I got some news for you
Man, I really hate this class right now

Now, teacher, teacher, teacher
Why you wanna, wanna, put me through this?
(Through this, through this, through this)
I wrote a rhyming couplet
But you said it was your ass I should kiss
(Should kiss, should kiss, should kiss)
WHY? WHY? WHY?
I still can't, I can't HAIKU!

I see you drivin'
'Round town with the book I love
And I'm like HAIKU!

I guess my Keats, Yeats, and Shakespeare wasn't enough
So I'm like HAIKU
Got to write some, too

See, if I was a poet
I just wouldn't know it
Ain't that some Bysshe
(Ain't that some Bysshe)
And though I did try my best it is time to confess
I can't write HAIKU!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A Little More Talk and a Lot Less Action

IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING: I don't care at all about anyone sending pictures of their body to anyone, unless one of those people is a minor and the other is not. Can anyone guess why? IT'S NOT NEWS! We've had the Internet for how long now? Have people still not caught on that the only reason we keep coming up with better technology is to get laid? Think of cell phones. You could call your significant other when they weren't at home! Then we got texting. And camera phones! Now video! You can actually make a porn on your phone, then send it to someone you met on Twitter and see what happens (hint: it won't end well).

So a few famous people figured this out and it's all over the news. Democrat, Republican, Communist, whatever: No one wants to see your junk. The only people who should see it are doctors and spouses. If you need to show off a little, don't be stupid enough to do it on your OWN TWITTER ACCOUNT! Start a fake account - geez, teenagers have figured this out.

Newsflash, United States: SEX IS NOT BAD. It's fun! It reduces the stress hormone, releases endorphins, and sometimes leads to more people. It isn't bad. It's not bad for you; it shouldn't be taboo. I think we should at least be able to look at this situation and say, "Screw abstinence only educating." The abstinence only people aren't that way because they were taught it in school. Usually that's a religious/moral thing.

So how did I come to this conclusion from a Twitpenis? Well, first off, he denied it. "I got hacked." No, sir. You thought you were good looking, and you wanted to see if you could still get the ladies, so you took a shot (and a photo) with a 21-year-old. Too bad you didn't snap a pic of your balls - they must be huge!

Why would one deny this? I know, he's a public figure and married and all that. But he said he felt ashamed. Ashamed? Of your penis? That's not normal. I'd be embarrassed I got caught and all my friends would be harassing me, but I wouldn't be ashamed. I don't find my body to be shameful. I don't think taking pictures that make you feel sexy is something to be ashamed of. If you pass them out to children, then, yes, be as ashamed as you want. But one adult sharing an intimate photo with another adult does not a scandal make.

Second, telling a teenager not to do something has never worked. Ever. Instead, when your teen is at the right age (not when YOU needed the talk - times change), ask him or her what questions they may have about sex, sexual health, their changing bodies, etc. Really. Start this before puberty. Our teen pregnancy rate is actually going down, so it works. I promise.

Why don't we try being HONEST with children about sex? Let's give them real sexual education, not just about what parts go where, but how you can respect your partner by always having a recent STD test, or how it's OK to wear clothes that flatter your figure. The more you know about sex, the better prepared you are for it.

Here, I present a few sexual mantras I live by (unless you're my grandmother - STOP READING FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!) It's cool, guys. She doesn't read this blog.

Wendy's Rule Number One
Get tested. I get tested before and after each new partner, and every six months to catch any false negatives. Many infections transmitted sexually can be asymptomatic, so don't think that because you don't feel different you don't have anything. Better to be safe than sorry.

Wendy's Rule Number Two
Always wait until after your period (or placebo week) before changing sex partners. This is just something I find helpful - at least I won't end up on Maury Povich testing the 12th guy who is still "NOT THE FATHER." Come on, ladies. We can do better.

Wendy's Rule Number Three
TALK to each other, not at each other. If you can't talk to your partner about sex, don't have sex. It's quite simple. It means you aren't ready personally, or you aren't ready as a couple. If you can't tell your partner what you like, it isn't going to work.

Wendy's Rule Number Four
You're never THAT single. I said that to Leslie once, that I wasn't "that single" in reference to a guy. Keep your standards high. It's important to respect your own body just as much as your partner's. Stay safe, keep talking, don't ho it up. That's it!

This isn't just for teens, though. This applies to adults of all ages, and I'm especially thinking of the newly divorced who suddenly find themselves trying to date for the first time in a decade or more. You don't start dating where you left off - if you're dating now, you need to know the game. Set your own ground rules (not before x dates, not until x months, etc.) before you start dating. Talk to your doctor if you have health concerns.

OK. Diatribe over. Now, go send your Congressman a naked pic! (Kidding, but that would actually be HILARIOUS)

Monday, May 23, 2011

I'm Not That Girl

I woke up one day, and I was 28. I wasn't a college graduate as I had intended. I wasn't married. There weren't any kids running in to wake me up. As it turned out, I was in my dad and Laura's house. That can't be right. I'm 28. Why am I living 3 hours away from my friends, most of my family, my life? Where did I go? Or, more accurately, where did I go wrong?

All of this thinking has been in the back of my mind lately, and it's come to the forefront for the strangest of reasons: I've been getting hit on a lot lately. Annoyingly so. I can't go a night without getting several messages from men (usually people who have never met me, mind you). And I'm starting to get pissed off about it. Then I started wondering why it was pissing me off. I should be flattered, right? I mean, to the average person, this hardly sounds like a "real" problem.

Of course, I'll do this obligatory "this is aimed at no one in particular" and "this isn't all encompassing" and of course "I don't think everyone who sends me a message on Facebook or Twitter is a pervy asshole." But, let's face it, some of you are.

You see, I'm not that girl. "The pretty girl." The one who wants male attention 24/7. I look the way I look because of genetics, but it isn't who I am. It doesn't show my character. My looks aren't anything I accomplished. I didn't work hard for it. I just wake up, and this is what I look like.

When I get messages from strangers, men who want to "get to know me," I'm skeptical. Obviously. Why do you want to get to know me, specifically? There are nearly 7 billion people on this planet - that's more than enough. And seeing as how it's called Facebook, I figure it usually has something to do with one's face.

That's all I get. I have a name no one uses. I'm not Wendy to these people. I'm a slew of monikers that are usually used as terms of endearment or words of physical attractiveness. These are words I've used before, but those are reserved for people I know and love.

I like social networking. I like the idea of getting to exchange ideas with people from different places. I like being able to easily stay in touch with friends who live far away. But I don't like being treated like an object, in some twisted Internet version of cat and mouse.

I never really thought about that growing up, what it must be like for the popular girls, always having the attention of guys, always being the OBJECT of desire, not the woman. We all got the genetics we got by chance - by our parents.

Do any of these people care that I'm a good person? Does it matter that I have panic attacks, that I can't sleep at night, and sometimes the hardest part of my day is getting out of bed? Or do they think my life must be easy, must be carefree, and I have nothing better to do than to be courted online because some idiot thinks he's getting sex out of it someday. And I'm the one who needed psychiatric care. Right.

So how did I get here? Do people only value my looks now? Does my brain not matter to anyone? Does it make a difference that I left college because I could no longer afford it? My test scores put me in the top 1% of people on the planet - shouldn't that matter?

I have dreams of someday going to Africa and helping people - handing out latex gloves, mosquito nets; educating children and adults on HIV; building huts and living in a land that has yet to be touched by time. Does that have some value?

I'm a great writer. I am passionate about it, and I have a knack for it. I'm empathetic to a fault. And yet, the impression people get from me is "She's hot. I'd like to hit that." And that makes me deeply shamed. Have I stopped valuing these qualities as well?

I appreciate a compliment if I've put on a dress or done my hair or makeup. And I appreciate a compliment when I make a perfect wrap at work. Both of those require effort. But just looking a certain way isn't cause for celebration.

I have some self-respect. I'm working on more confidence. But I don't need a bombardment of attention when I need to be focused inward. And I suppose that's my diatribe of the day. I don't know where I went wrong, but I know what is making me unhappy in my life.

Oddly, I'm reminded of an episode of CSI in which Catherine tells Sarah about her days as an exotic dancer. Catherine: "Did your dad ever tell you you were pretty?" Sarah: "No." Catherine: "I bet he told you you were smart."

Growing up, that's what I heard. I didn't hear that I looked great. I heard that I was smart, that I had potential. I made good grades, I never got in trouble at school. I was a great kid.

Now what do I hear? From various sources it's a lot of doubt. Am I ever going back to college? Why can't I support myself (I could go on my usual digression of the 11-months of bedrest from crippling chronic pain, but I won't)? Why can't I just get a better job and make more money? Why can't I be thankful for what I have instead of being depressed?

I wish I knew the answers. The short one is that my brain is chemically different from most people's. Add to that my problem-solving nature, and I'm constantly obsessing on my own shortcomings. I can't turn my brain off. Today I was so anxious I couldn't keep my legs still, and I have no idea why. I wake up alone, drenched in sweat, in a 62-degree-room, and no one can tell me why.

But, to the naysayers, it's important to know that I am a fighter. Right now I guess I have to fight for myself, because no one else will do it for me. Three years ago today, I was living a decent life. Eight days later, my life changed forever. But I fought back from that. I got out of the wheelchair. So I suppose I can handle this, too.

And to those of you who think sending me a few Facebook messages means you can see me naked...Go fuck yourself.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

1 in 3

I was watching TV yesterday, and while I was looking through the guide to find something to watch, Glenn Beck was on, in his usual form. I would like to preface this blog by clarifying something: I do not have problems with Glenn Beck because I disagree with him. I disagree with a lot of people - Bill O'Reilly comes to mind. And while I do disagree with O'Reilly, and I find he can be condescending, I do not believe he is a bad person. I wouldn't mind sitting down and having a drink with him, just talking. But Glenn Beck is a different story. Glenn Beck is misinformed, and he preys upon the ignorance and fears of others. And yesterday, he crossed an unforgivable line.

Now, I could start this by diving head-first into the George Soros thing, but I'm not going to do that. For starters, it's fairly obvious that Beck crossed a line there. He lost countless sponsors, which he should be accustomed to by now, but the media and pundits have already covered this extensively, drawing parallels, comparing his words to typical anti-Semitic propaganda, and the like. Personally, I don't think Beck is informed enough to realize that what he said was essentially a reiteration of some of the most well known Nazi propaganda, but that is just my opinion. I don't think Beck is a Nazi by any stretch of the imagination, and I'd just as soon let sleeping dogs lie on that one. What he said was wrong, it preyed on the fears of his viewers, and was meant to incite some type of panic or distrust. That's the way this man operates. I don't believe his agenda goes further than that.

Yesterday, he was on one of his usual anti-liberal, anti-progressive rants. He uses the words "liberal" and "progressive" as though they were four-letter words. Progress is not a bad thing; quite the contrary. He had that usual tone of voice he has when he's speaking of one of the progressives or liberals - snide, disapproving, with an air that the individual is somehow dirty or tainted. And what was he referring to? EXTENDING THE LEGAL DEFINITION OF RAPE.

This is a hot-button issue for me. It should be for everyone, because violating someone should never be viewed as anything other than a despicable affront to the human collective. And before we go further down the rabbit hole that is my brain, let's just clear something up: rape is not about sex; it's about power. So what's wrong with extending the legal definition? What's wrong with making it easier to prosecute sex offenders? The statistics on sexual assualts and rape are astronomical: 1 in 3 women, and that statistic is easily five years old. And it isn't just women - this happens to men, too.

Of course, the general opinion is that men don't report it because they're embarrassed. Right. Because women are totally OK with it. Being violated in that way isn't embarrassing; it's paralyzing. Terrifying. It's a kind of fear and loneliness that I don't even have words for. It's a ripping away of innocence much like ripping a Band-Aid, quickly, almost so quickly you don't really remember it, but it keeps stinging after it's gone.

I vividly remember being in the newspaper office in college. We were running a story on sexual assault, and three female staffers - including me - were gathered around a computer reading it. One commented that the 1 in 3 statistic was high, too high to be accurate. My colleagues were quick to put this theory to the test: there were three of us there, and they knew they'd never been assaulted. Then there was a look in my direction, and I just nodded my head once. I didn't say anything, I just nodded. And for all of us, in that moment, the statistic became very real. It wasn't just 1 in 3, it was now our friends, coworkers, people we saw regularly.

But let's get back to the issue: extending the legal definition of rape. This seems like a no-brainer to me. This notion that rape is only a penis being forced into a vagina is outdated. We have several definitions of sex - does no one remember the Clinton years? And if it doesn't take penetration to be sex, it doesn't take penetration to be rape. It's an open and shut thing for me.

So, given the above information, one can easily see how Glenn Back's disdainful attitude toward this makes my blood boil in a special way. We, as a nation, have an epidemic of being unable to respect the rights - and bodies - of others. Violence, rape, sexual assault - they all run rampant. It's time we held our citizens to a higher standard, and that works both ways. We need laws that will empower people to come forward, and then we need those people to come forward.

Why don't people come forward? Well, there are a lot of theories, but I'm sure it's different for each person. For me, it was lack of support. When your family - your flesh and blood - tells you not to talk to the police because "it will just piss him (the offender) off" it kind of changes things for you. If you think that's something that's easy to bring up to anyone in your family in the first place, you are sorely mistaken. But when you actually summon the courage, months after the fact, and are told you shouldn't do anything about it, that leaves scars, too. It isn't something you can just sweep under the rug and pretend that it isn't there. And when you go to the on-campus counseling service, and knowing why you're there they send you to a male counselor, it kind of makes you want to jump on the desk and ask them what qualifications they have for counseling at all, when they clearly can't recognize that you certainly can't talk to a man about this. When you talk a campus officer just to see what protocol is, the officer urges you to come forward but warns that it will likely do no good, as it will be your word against someone else's. So you go back to your dorm room, you have panic attacks when you see his car on campus, and you carry a knife. Because the people who are supposed to protect you, who are supposed to look out for your well being, have abandoned you.

When I hear someone speak of extending the legal definition of rape as anything other than the right thing to do, I go a little nuts. You see, this isn't about me at all. I have cousins in college now, and I have others who will be headed that way soon. What was taken from me can never be returned, but we have a chance to make it a little less likely that it will happen to them. Most offenders have a progression - they usually don't start with penetration rape. If we can do something before it escalates, we can help to protect a generation. Anything less in unacceptable.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A History of Violence ... Leads to a Future of Violence

Hockey season is back, and because I'm now living with my dad, there's a lot of hockey on the television. I always enjoyed going to Predators games, but, like baseball, I just can't get as jazzed about watching hockey at home compared to actually being at a game. But that isn't the reason for this post, as one might have guessed from the title. My main problem with hockey: fighting.

Before everyone gets up in arms over this, let me say that I've already heard that argument that it's part of the culture of the game. So what? And, more importantly, why? And, to be fair, it isn't just hockey. I find UFC to be beyond barbaric, and I really don't get the point of boxing. I mean, I GET the point is to knock out your opponent, but I just don't get how that has any value or purpose being a sport. But that is simply my opinion, and seeing as how the sport is fighting, the fighting aspect can't be eliminated.

But why can't grown men playing in a socially acceptable competitive sport refrain from punching one another, and why don't the officials stop these things? It's a penalty for obvious reasons, yet they don't break it up as soon as it happens. Usually it has to go on a while or someone has to get pulled to the ice before anyone skates in to stop it. My theory: people like to watch the fights. And, yes, I'm aware that that is the bigger problem.

Why do we rely on violence for entertainment? There are plenty of other societies in which hockey is played, and not all of these societies have the kind of violent nature that seems inherent in us. I do enjoy a violent movie, but I would have a far different opinion if I were watching film of an act of actual, real violence. Movie violence isn't real, and it's usually unbelievably over the top. It's easy to differentiate between the two.

If things don't go the way we want, should we resort to violence? At home? School? Work? Our kid's little league game? Where do we draw the line? When do we decide to change who we are in order to ensure a better life for who we will be? We're becoming desensitized to the things that should disturb us. It's entirely possibly that I'm a little too sensitive about this, as I recently brought up the use of phrases like "hit me/you up" and "hit me/you back" - and not just because I imagine that's how Kevin Federline talks. As a general rule, and I'm probably not alone here, I don't like anyone to refer to hitting me in any way, not hitting me up, hitting me back, or hitting that. No hitting. Choose better words - it's why we have so many.

But this pales in comparison to violence toward children. I can see the argument for spanking up to a certain age. Before children have a fully developed moral compass, and before they have the vocabulary and understanding to converse with adults, I understand giving a three-year-old child a smack on the hand when he or she is about to touch a hot stove. Studies show, however, that once a child reaches the age of five, the sense of right and wrong is there. Misbehaving at that point is intentional, meaning the child knows he or she is doing wrong. The important thing is that they understand why the rules are the way they are. But let's get back to the violence argument.

I've been told that I'll feel differently about this when I have children. I doubt that. There's a part of me that recognizes that I don't have the complete experience to say definitively what I will do as a parent. If I have a two-year-old throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of a department store, I may feel a spanking is in order. I don't know for sure. But if I can't communicate with a seven-year-old without resorting to violence, maybe I shouldn't be a parent.

I don't think spanking is the equivalent of bad parenting. I understand it up to the age of five. After that, though, I just don't get it. I've had plenty of conversations with kids that age, and they're certainly capable of talking about and understanding right and wrong, appropriate behavior, and how they feel. But if we teach them that violence is how to control an other out-of-our-hands situation, we're really just increasing the odds that our children will grow up to be violent adults.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Come Out, Come Out, Whoever You Are

Today is National Coming Out Day, and I'm a bit torn by this. First, I am happy that we have a day devoted to such an important milestone in the lives of our friends and loved ones. But then I'm also disappointed, and a bit ashamed of us, that we have to have a day for it. Shouldn't our GLBT friends feel loved and accepted for who they are every day of the year? Shouldn't they be able to come forward without prejudice when they are ready, and shouldn't we, as a society, embrace them?

It saddens me that so many of our citizens are intolerant and/or afraid of 10% of our population, and I wonder why that is. No, it isn't because of God. And if I hear one more narrow-minded talking point about loving the sinner and hating the sin, you're going to need some towels to wipe up the mess that will come from my head exploding.

Now, some people may argue that this is human nature, this notion that love is and can only be between a man and a woman, that marriage and family is only husband and wife. But I do not believe that. And, what's more, I actually have something to support that.

You see, I'm what you may call the black sheep of my family, and if nothing else, I'm certainly the most liberal. And sometimes it seems I'm the only liberal. I love my family, but I don't always agree with them. I was also raised Church of Christ, and being me, one can see how that easily explains my special brand of crazy. But I digress. My cousin, who is 15 now (and don't think that makes me feel young because it certainly does not), was about 5 years old when my sister went to college. She and a friend from church were going to be roommates, and when my then 5-year-old cousin found out that were going to be living together, he asked if they were getting married.

Why did he ask that? Well, my theory is that, in his mind, when adults lived together, they were married. All the adults he knew who lived together were, and it only made sense to him that if my sister were sharing a residence with someone, they must be married, too. It's probably the same reason my other cousin, when she was about 2, called my high school boyfriend "Daddy" - every adult male in her life was called "Daddy" by someone.

My point is this - we aren't born with prejudice. It is learned, developed, cultivated, in the home and in the community. The proverb that it takes a village to raise a child certainly holds truth. If I were to ask my cousin today what he thinks about same-sex marriage, he would probably be opposed to it. So what changed? The village.

If you have children, or if you are thinking of having them, then please consider this: How many people are really raising your child? The scout leader, the Sunday school teacher, the school teacher, the babysitter, the families of their friends, the list goes on and on.

Be prepared to have that conversation with your child when it comes up. When you're at the park and two men are holding hands, think twice before calling someone a "fag" or muttering how "disgusting" it is, or how they shouldn't be "flaunting" their sexuality. Do you think men and women holding hands are flaunting their sexuality? What's the difference really?

And for those of you who are afraid that if you have a gay friend he or she will try to hit on you, relax. You are not that undesirable. Does every straight man or woman hit on you? I didn't think so.