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January 26, 2011

THE ULTIMATE BOYFRIEND!

Filed under: Treats, pop culture — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:35 am

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Behold: Sweet Talking Ken. This new fella from Mattel will repeat back anything someone says into his wee little recorder, which is puzzling to me considering that if you can get a guy to say exactly what you want into Ken’s wee little recorder, WHY DO YOU NEED KEN? Oh! Maybe that is why you can play the voice back at three different pitches, ranging from Darth Vader to normal to that adorable pre-pubescent kid who sang Dock of the Bay. So like, in hetero-normative toyland, if a gal records her voice saying, “You’re the only girl for me,” or “Nancy Pelosi: Best speaker ever!” and then sets playback to low-pitched, it might kinda sorta sound like a guy? Okay. I’m still puzzled, but I guess ULTIMATE BOYFRIENDS (see his shirt) are just a little mysterious like that.

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January 11, 2011

Oh, fer crying out loud.

Filed under: Psychology, media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 12:14 pm

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You know that recent story about how “Women’s Tears Say ‘Not Tonight, Dear’?” Over at the Ms. blog, J Goodrich (Echidne of the Snakes) takes the boneheaded sexist headlines and media “analyses” of a recent Israel study and basically kicks them so hard they cry.

In a study published Thursday in the journal Science, the Weizmann Institute of Science researchers collected emotional tears from female volunteers by showing them sad movies. Then they had male test subjects sniff the actual tears and fake tears comprised of saline.

A whiff of the real deal caused testosterone levels in the men to drop significantly. They found pictures of women less sexually attractive. When the men were sent into brain scanners, and shown a sad film, the men who were exposed to the fake tears didn’t show much lower activity in a region associated with sexual desire, but the activity in the same region was greatly reduced in men who breathed real tears.

The brain scans, the big yawn over alluring pictures and the drop in the he-man hormone led the scientists to conclude that “women’s emotional tears contain a chemosignal that reduces sexual arousal in men.”

MSNBC’s conclusion:

Bottom line, ladies? If you’re looking for arousal, don’t turn on the waterworks.

Basically, as she summarizes, most of the reporting on the study, rather than actually REPORTING ON THE STUDY, invokes a colorful array of half-baked stereotypes: tears as “weapon in the battle of the sexes” that women deploy on demand, men as morons who are deterred from their search for sex only by ladyweeping.

Goodrich: “Let’s take a step backwards and look at the actual study and its possible meanings:

For practical reasons, Sobel and his colleagues have studied only women’s tears. But they suspect that men’s tears, and possibly children’s, also contain chemical signals and are eager to find out what messages they may convey.

That snippet suggests a completely different interpretation of the study findings. They may not ultimately be about the effects of women’s tears on men’s hormone and arousal levels but about the effects of human tears on other human’s hormones and emotions. This is not hidden in all the popularizations but it certainly has been pushed behind that “sex sells” curtain, and you have to work down the articles to find it. /snip/

Here are my further conjectures: It seems like a very useful and common-sense conclusion that another person’s tears will reduce your sexual arousal. Something tear-worthy is happening and perhaps it’s an important survival cue to pay attention to.

I’ve got one word to say about the state of journalism and gender stereotyping: *Sob.*

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March 23, 2010

Teen girls: more to techno-life than sexting?

Filed under: media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 1:02 pm

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Clearly, the grownups aren’t at all sure what to do about sexting. While legal scholars (rightly) ponder when, whether, and most importantly how to prosecute sexters, one Pennsylvania school/DA threatened kids suspected of sexting with child pornography charges unless they took part in an after-school program which, among other things, required girls to write essays on why their actions were wrong; the goal: to “gain an understanding of what it means to be a girl in today’s society.” Is it shaming in here, or is it just me? To be sure, sexting should be taken seriously (as harassment and abuse). But why do I suspect — perhaps cynically, yes — that this focus on “what it means” will not include a full exploration of the deep cultural factors that appropriate and contain girls’ sexuality and limit their worth and self-expression to “hotness”? (Maybe it will; I hope I’m wrong.)

But as theoreotical counterpoint — and to counter the oft-peddled image of teens doing nothing all day but re-watching Twilight, playing Kill Everyone, and forwarding around naked photos of the French exchange student, I offer this: a reminder of many of the positive and, dare I say, actually empowering, ways that girls use social media.

As eleventh-grader Nadia Tareen — as part of a video series on media issues called Girls Investigate, a joint project of The Women’s Media Center (WMC) and Girls Learn International®, Inc. — writes:

Adults are often too fast to condemn teenagers’ use of technology. We aren’t as “clueless about online threats as some adults believe – Two-thirds of the teens who have created profiles have used privacy controls to limit access to them.” Also, I suspect that my parents and teachers are unaware of everything that my peers and I accomplish online. For example, social media is a great tool for activism. As the leader of my school’s chapter of Girls Learn International®, Inc., I have found that e-mail and Facebook messages are invaluable for organizing and spreading awareness. Teenagers even use social media to make their dreams come true. As an avid YouTube-watcher, I can cite at least a dozen teenagers who posted videos of their musical and comedic talents on the website, to then be discovered by industry professionals. If social media is used intelligently, it can yield endless benefits.

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January 26, 2010

Women re V-day: more “meh” than they say?

Filed under: Holiday — posted by Kristine @ 11:45 am

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Over at YourTango.com’s Love Buzz, blogger Melissa Noble polled 50 men to find out how many of them know the actual date of Valentine’s Day, which is, I guess, a slightly bigger stumper than “Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?”. For the results, just read her post’s curiously-punctuated title:  “20% of Men Don’t Know The Date of Valentine’s Day Which means 80 percent of men DO know the date of Valentine’s Day. Whew.”

Despite being taught the necessity of buying and exchanging Valentine’s Day cards (often in bulk) from pre-school on, I have to admit…I have at times, well, forgotten Valentine’s Day. Not very ladylike behavior, I suppose, as Noble writes: “Most women we know either relish or dread February 14th.” But…really? Women are that fixated on Valentine’s Day? And same-sex couples…well, never mind them, I guess? Or, beyond all that, is it really so black and white (and red all over)?  Is there room to observe it our own way, because hey, why not, it’s here, it could be nice, without making such a giant cuckoo deal?

I mean, my college crush and I thought ourselves so evolved as to be post-Valentine’s Day. We decided no cards, presents or even candied hearts. Instead we sat in a smoky café with our friends, reading Kierkegaard out loud, dressed in black, sipping lattes. At the time, it was perfect. He loved it. I loved it. There were no false expectations. Now, the odds that I’ll observe the holiday that way today are about the same as that of Hallmark coming out with a card criticizing 19th-century Hegelianism and celebrating the priority of concrete human reality over abstract thinking, but still. It was fun.

So tell us: What are some ways you’ve observed, ignored, or something in between, Valentine’s Day? That is, assuming you even knew the date. ;-)

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January 8, 2010

Why can’t we be friends?

Filed under: Advice, blogs, issues — posted by Christina @ 8:01 am

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Can men and women be friends? Ah, a question for the ages: one that men and women have wrestled with and debated until TOTALLY JUMPING EACH OTHER’S BONES.  I kid.  In fact, I have always been a firm believer that those of opposing genders should have no issue getting beyond those barriers — people are people, after all. Why should gender have such a big impact on who we hold near and dear?

Well, yeah, OK, I guess isn’t always that simple. Erin Scottberg at Lemondrop doesn’t think so either. Yes, she says, it is perfectly normal and possible for men and women to  maintain friendships. But as we orbit around the sun, each year adds an extra challenge to bringing new opposite-sex friends into the mix.

According to Erin, there are two basic guy-friend categories. The seriously dear pal who you’re Just Not Into (otherwise known as Boy BFF, or BBFF), and the seriously dear pal whom you’ve hooked up with but it’s so not a thing. (No, really.) But!

“Now that I’m older,” she writes, “it seems that — unless the men in your life have been grandfathered into your post-college world — these two categories no longer exist. From a guy’s point of view, every stranger is either a potential screw … or nothing. But the thing is, as a single lady, when I meet a guy who I think is cool, but I’m not physically attracted to, I want to be his Just Friend.

I’ve discussed this with friends and think maybe my recent platonic dry spell comes down to geography. People who live their adult lives near where they grew up or attended college have plenty of friends, male and female, and are set with their circle. They don’t need anyone new. As one friend said, “When a guy tells me he wants to be just friends, I think ‘You’re in your late 20s. Don’t you already have enough?’” But when you’re new to a city, the answer to that question is usually, “No.”

Or maybe it’s just that as we get older, relationships get more serious, and, sadly, a good friend of the opposite sex is almost always a threat — while your high school BBFF’s girlfriend may realize you’ve “been around forever,” the girlfriends of newer BBFFs might not be so understanding.

I have been in both situations. I have two very close male companions (we eloquently describe ourselves as “The Holy Trinity”). I’ve known them since the ripe old age of eleven and have been close as could be with them ever since. One I  dated briefly in my youth in that “aw it’s so cute they just kissed” sort of way, but we always fell into that category of being ‘Just Friends’. The other has since gotten married and as a side note, his wife and I get along swimmingly. Gender has never been a barrier here.

In fact, I’d have to say that a vast majority of my friends are men. Some I have know for what seems like forever and some I met just a short while ago. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but sometimes it REALLY works. Ya see, the boy who I was “best friends” with turned out to be the love of my life. Does it prove the “When Harry Met Sally” theory? Not really. If that were the case I’d probably be a bigamist.

As a woman working in the video game industry about 95% of my coworkers are men. I’m sure one or two may have had more than friendly feelings for me, she says modestly, but for the most part gender has never had a role in how we communicate. I think most friendships are rooted in common ground, and if you can relate to this person (male or female), everything else becomes less of an issue. Does it become more challenging? Yeah. But then again, everything gets harder as we get older  standing up, seeing small print, etc.). I think making new friends as we get older is complicated enough on its own without throwing male and female parts into the mix.

Can we be friends? Well, I hope so. It’s lovely to meet you.

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March 11, 2009

I <3 U 4ever b/c U R 2g2bt mwah! w@?!?

Filed under: News, Psychology, TV — posted by Rose @ 2:56 pm

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I thought it was just the English major in me that despised the butchered staccato — not to mention the soulless narrative and truncated nuance — of texting. Turns out, it was probably just my estrogen talking.

Studying text messages submitted by young men and women to Allmusic, Italy’s TRL-like interactive music channel, researchers from Indiana University found that “while men historically talk more in public settings, when the exchanges occur via text messaging in a public venue …  it is the women who push their messages closest to the character-count limit, who use more abbreviations and insertions, and who implement more emoticons (like smiling and frowning faces).”

In other words, while men historically out-verbiage women oratorially, women seem to try harder and longer (yup, that’s what she said… and said and said) at conveying content and meaning when they have to do so via SMS.

Funny enough, I was planning to announce to my friends this week (via my much-loved Facebook page, a technology I so prefer to txt) that I am *off*texting*for*good!*. My status shall soon read: “Rose no longer emits or accepts text messages. She is a callivore, not a textinarian.” And yeah, I just made up those two zeitgeist-ready words. Feel free to pass along.

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