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December 1

Men like you better when you’re mediocre!

Filed under: issues,media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:16 am

Really, New York Times? The Gray Lady is at it again, telling women — in a dippy, unmoored “trend” piece — that you can be successful in work. Or love. Not both. See, because successful women scare the men away. That’s the price we pay, ladies, for liberation. “Is female empowerment killing romance?” asks the article, in a sentence so backlashtastic it’s not easy to cut and paste on a full stomach. I don’t know, I thought when female empowerment brought us the freedom to date and marry for love, not to mention use the Pill (speaking of which, must read this), that was kind of romantic. There’s so much else to eviscerate in this piece that I’m not even sure where to start, other than to say that when I opened the page and started reading, I literally had to scroll back up to the top to see if someone had accidentally sent me a link from 1997. Or 1957. Or — whatever.

Look, I’m sure there are men who are put off by “successful” — “ambitious,” “strong” etc. — women. I’m sure there have always been men like that. Even since before women were “liberated.” So, um, maybe that’s their problem? And even, even to the degree that men, en masse, are scared by female success, again: THEIR PROBLEM. Why is always women who have to dial it down? What’s more, the suggestion that so many menz are SO SCARED of SCARY SCARY WOMEN is ridonkulously insulting to men, too.

And then there’s this advice, annotated by BG in brackets:

Leave the snazzy company car at home on the first date [because MEN HATE SNAZZY CARS]; find your life partner in your 20s, rather than your 30s, before you’ve become too successful [show of hands: who in her 30s wishes they’d married that guy from their 20s?] [also, by the logic herein, that guy from your 20s will dump you when you become “too successful”]. And go after men who draw their confidence from sources other than money, like academics and artists [avoiding people who draw their confidence from money is sound advice for anyone; however — oh, for God’s sake, this is just silly].

The article does showcase some excellent boyfriends (who appear to be European. COINCIDENCE?!). See:

Ms. Kiechel in Paris says her boyfriend actively encourages her career and brags to friends how intelligent and hard-working she is. Ms. Haag and Ms. Domscheit-Berg both earn more than their husbands and report that their men actually enjoy watching the waiter’s reaction when they say their wife will pick up the tab.

That’s great and all, but it’s kind of like saying “How nice that your husband HELPS OUT with the baby!” The above attitudes should be a given, not a plus. And I know they are held by far more men than this article gives credit to. The day we’ve really achieved — or at least driven our snazzy cars closer to — liberation is the day we start to see articles telling the fellas that if they’re scared of successful women, they’re just gonna have to man up.


November 18

Brady Bunch 2.0: today’s “blended” families

Filed under: issues,News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:01 am

Today’s New York Times featured a lengthy article about how today’s mix-and-rematch post-divorce parents with kids make it work: not by marrying and moving everyone, and Ann B. Davis as Alice, into the same ranch house at 1164 Morning Glory Circle, but…close. As a means of preserving their own semi-independence, and sparing the kids an extra intrusion, they’re moving — well, into different ranches on the same circle, say. Or even: same house; different floors, different doors.

In the articles first example, the triple-hyphenate Curtis-Hetfield-Petrini household (two divorced parents, now each others’ partners; three kids among them), for instance, lucked into a two-family town house in Brooklyn. My initial crabby thought: “Well, of course it works great for them. They have a ‘sleek bamboo kitchen.'”

But (a) no fair, as we all know that when it comes to discord, creature comforts are more often cause than antidote, and (b)  the article goes on to describe many types of blendy families in many shapes, forms, places, and real estates. And the broadest points are well-taken. First, the economic reality of a post-Carol world:

…What’s really driving the practice of committed couples with children living in separate abodes, [said Susan Stewart, a sociologist at Iowa State University who studies how families form and change over time], “is that middle- and upper-income women have their own money and independence. They are working, and can live on their own.”

And — most important — this, also from Stewart:

“The complexity of families is the real story. Family life is not what it was. The divorce rate” — roughly half of all first marriages still end in divorce — “has been high and stable since the 1980s. The majority of these people go on to marry or cohabit. Then there’s the change in custody patterns, with more and more fathers desiring more time with their children, if not full or shared custody. The traditional family — the married-couple-biological-children family — is in the minority.”


October 14

“When comics and catwalks collide”

Filed under: pop culture,Superheroes,Treats — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:09 am

The New York Times reports today on the ladyfashions that lit up the most recent ComicCon: “Visitors were garbed as their favorite cartoon heroines, an outlandish cast of characters that varied from Wonder Woman to the violet-haired Faye of ‘Cowboy Bebop,’ the Japanese manga and anime series, to pink crinoline-clad Lolitas that were candy-coated variations on the brooding goth originals who strut their style on Tokyo’s streets.” The whole piece is not only great fun, but also a major Halloween costume idea delivery system. The only thing that bummed me out (not the article’s fault): the frequent descriptions of Wonder Woman’s costume as inspiration. The old Wonder Woman. Le sigh.

Related: Chris on Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


August 31

Dating, with autism

Filed under: books,Psychology — posted by Breakup Girl @ 6:51 am

Laura Shumaker is a writer whose 23-year-old son has autism. He wants to connect with the world, but isn’t sure how — at least not according to unwritten social law and convention. In a clear, spare guest post at Motherlode about a puzzling (to him) non-incident involving a hotel, a hot tub and the girls’ lacrosse team, she expresses her fears, and hopes, about his future as lover and loved. It’s a sweet and smart post, ultimately concluding (spoiler!) that in order to support Matthew through this, she’s gonna have to connect honestly with herself first. Read it, and then this, to (if you’re neurotypical) remind yourself not to take communication and social-spider-sense for granted, and to upend a few stereotypes about people on the spectrum and the possibility of love.


February 8

Smart co-eds, foolish choices?

Filed under: News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 12:25 pm

Thank goodness! FOBG Mary Beth Williams at Broadsheet explains this article from yesterday’s New York Times, which struck me as just so strange that even someone with a Breakup U. education couldn’t figure it out. Now, I wasn’t a math major, but all I could think was, I understand that 45 percent is less than 55 percent, but do still-nearly-half-male campuses really, REALLY, make all institutions of higher learning feel “women’s colleges”? And, more to the point, does this EMERGENCY!!!! man-shortage really drive smart co-eds to make foolish choices?

We think not. From Williams’s awesome fight song:

According to yet another of those scare tactics stories that makes my weekend coffee seem just a little more bitter, when women outnumber men in colleges, they’d better lower their uppity-ass standards, stat!

Take, for example, the heartache unfolding at the University of North Carolina. On yet another “tiresome” evening out, writer Alex Williams explains, the girls are forced to “slip on tight-fitting tops, hair sculpted, makeup just so, all for the benefit of one another,” because as one future spinster bemoans, “there are no guys.” “With a student body that is nearly 60 percent female,” it’s “just one of many large universities that at times feel eerily like women’s colleges.” And at the University of Vermont, where it’s 55 percent female, locals “sardonically refer to their college town, Burlington, as ‘Girlington.'” I’m sorry, I’m just a set of knockers who can’t do math, but a 45 percent male enrollment makes for a no-man’s land?

Sure, Williams throws us the bone that all this education “is hardly the worst news for women” (no, it’s your withering love box that’s the bad news). But all that fancy book learning comes with a price – “it is often the women who must assert themselves romantically or be left alone on Valentine’s Day, staring down a George Clooney movie over a half-empty pizza box.” And that’s an inevitable tragedy that shouldn’t have to happen until you’re at least 35.

But no, women barely above drinking age are hooking up for desperate one-night stands.  “A lot of my friends will meet someone and go home for the night and just hope for the best the next morning,” explains one desperate little hussy. You read right, New York Times readers: College women! Having easy sex! Because they are lonely and sad. And if they’re lucky enough to land one of those precious boy thingies, they’d better be wiling to put up with his shit: Cheating is described as “a thing that girls let slide, because you have to.”

Well, what do they expect, really? This is what happens when a university is “obligated to admit the most qualified applicants, regardless of gender.” Paraphrasing W. Keith Campbell, a psychology professor at the unnaturally 57 percent female University of Georgia, the Times explains, “Women on gender-imbalanced campuses are paying a social price for success and, to a degree, are being victimized by men precisely because they have outperformed them.”

No, it’s OK. Go bust your ass on the SATs and take out loans you’ll be paying until well into your 40s, as long as you don’t mind paying the price and being victimized and all. Happy now, girls? HAPPY NOW? No you are not, that’s the answer. And “the loneliness can be made all the more bitter by the knowledge that it wasn’t always this way,” Williams writes, sadly citing a girl who tells of her roommate’s parents, who met (siiiiiiiigh) in college. Dammit, why did they have to ruin everything with stupid learning? Now they’ll never have babies!

But brace yourselves: Not all young women are looking for serious boyfriends. Psssst…. not all young women are into boys, period. (Note to the Times: it’s pronounced lez-be-in.) Never mind that drinking and hooking up and heartache and occasional insensitive behavior are part and parcel of the human experience. Never mind that the number of men in colleges is actually holding pretty steady. Nope, outnumbering the menfolk, even slightly, is a romantic death sentence. And if you can’t trust the people who helped sell us the Iraq war to get it right, who can you believe?


April 9

She loved, she lost, she made spaghetti

Filed under: Treats — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:55 am

For some, music is the food of love. For BG, food is the food of love. Which is why she knows she’ll dig FOBG Giulia Melucci’s I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti.

From today’s NY Times: “Her romantic adventures are interspersed with recipes like “Morning After Pumpkin Bread” and “Ineffectual Eggplant Parmigiana” (“Serves the two of you plus the three people you wish were there to keep the conversation going”).


April 6

It tolls for you, too

Filed under: News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:40 pm

From yesterday’s New York Times: New research — well, not that new — shows that as men age beyond about 30, their chance of fathering a child with an autism-spectrum disorder or schizophrenia increases, just as their overall fertility decreases. According to NYU psychiatry researcher Dr. Dolores Malaspina: “It turns out the optimal age for being a mother is the same as the optimal age for being a father.”

As the Times’s Lisa Belkin writes: “The push and pull between timetables and dreams, between our bodies and our babies, is at the core of many women’s worldview, which also means it is at the core of relationships between the sexes. This tension feeds the stereotype of woman as eager to settle down and men as reluctant, and it’s the crux of why we see women as ‘old’ and men as ‘distinguished.'”

Indeed, says Dana Goldstein of The American Prospect. “Imagine a world in which the stereotype of women rushing men to the altar, biological clocks on overdrive, simply disappeared, as men took full 50 percent ownership over the reproductive process. Or in which wealthy 50-year-old divorced men ceased to be such catches for 30-year old women, because of weakened sperm. I wouldn’t want to return to a society in which both men and women are pressured into settling down and having babies at an unduly young age. But I do like the idea of rejiggering our notions about the intersection of gender and aging. It isn’t just women who have a lot to fit into their lives in terms of career, romance, and parenthood. Science is beginning to tell us that men are facing the same pressures.”

This is not to say we want men to have reproductive challenges. But given that science shows that they do, it’d be nice if culture would catch up.


October 6

Hey, it was good enough for Damon!

Filed under: Celebrities,News,Treats — posted by Breakup Girl @ 1:23 pm

Here’s a sweet New York Times story about Gotham’s storied marriage bureau (locus of Matt Damon’s lowest-of-keys wedding to Sarah Silverman Luciana Bozan).

As the Times reports, the office itself may be heading for an extreme makeover — but it’s still a nice reminder that not all nuptials are extreme weddingpaloozas.


September 4

What’s your damage, Heather?

Filed under: News,Psychology — posted by Abby @ 8:24 pm

So now that youngsters (myself included) are heading back to school, let’s discuss the persistent annoyance of POPULARRRITTTTY. My bespectacled, retainer-clad self has always secretly loathed these social rankings. I always give off that what-EVER vibe, but secretly, I rely on the mantra of the social-success-challenged: “You’ll be sorry when I’m older, when I’ll be far greater than this.” Mom’s version: “They won’t grow up to be nearly as great as you!”

Could either of us be actually — scientifically — correct? A recent article in the New York Times explored various sociological studies of popularity, suggesting, for one thing, that those with aggressive, dominating attitudes within the hallowed high school halls (you know, those that lettered in every sport, ever, including picking on you) carried those traits into the “real world” … where they didn’t go over well. (Picture Emily Blunt’s character in The Devil Wears Prada, who was probably a popularity nightmare in high school.)



August 19

Ladies! If you don’t have a child by age 40…

Filed under: News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 5:04 pm

…you’re actually pretty normal, apparently.

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