Friday, June 12, 2015

The Curious Case of Rachel Dolezal

By now you've probably heard about Rachel Dolezal, a prominent civil rights activist who happens to be white. Of course that is hardly news worthy, except for the fact that she misrepresented herself as being black. The interesting part is that she is mixed, and her heritage consists of Czech, Swedish, German, and Native American. Allegedly Native American is a small percentage but let's ignore all that right now and get back to the main issue,which is outrage over the fact that Ms. Dolezal identified herself as mixed-raced (including black) in the past. Is this real outrage or just uncomfortableness?

To be honest, personally I have zero outrage on the whole matter. If someone wants to identify as black and spend their life dedicated to promoting and furthering black causes and agendas, I have zero complaints. Now it would be different if someone "misappropriated" a culture to capitalize on a certain advantage but the current facts do not support that here. She's not someone pretending to be Native-American in order to open a casino or any unethical thing like that. I feel like black women have voiced the most outrage on the matter, which makes sense because they feel like their identity is being threatened here. Historically, they have been trivialized by mainstream media, while simultaneously having aspects of their identity misappropriated. That is a very legitimate gripe, I just don't think it applies here. I'm also aware that as a man, my perspective is different, so I understand how black women may feel exploited. I read a tweet that mentioned because of colorism, Rachel Dolezal gained an advantage in the job force by being a fairer complexion African-American. I found that a bit amusing because there's no way that being a lighter complexion black woman could trump putting white and identifying as being white as far as employment opportunities go. Don't over-think this by making up unsubstantiated advantages she may have had. Someone could easily play devil's advocate and counter that with disadvantages, especially if they don't have to actually have happened. Basically don't try to create a reason for being offended. Either you are or aren't based on real information.

Let's talk about race for a minute here. Race is a social construct, meaning that it is determined and differs based on the ideologies of each society. There is no natural world order to race. It exists however we want it to exists in our head. What about the biological aspect of race? That is also just as unclear, as genetic variation is often times higher AMONGST populations (races) than BETWEEN them. I read a story this year about mix-raced twins that are different races, because one appears white, and one appears black which is absurd to me. How can two people that share the same parental lineage be of different races. Another example is that during the Civil War, some white southerners based their right to succeed on the fact that they were a different race than northerners. While both were primarily descendants of Englishmen, the southerners claim they descended from Huguenots and Jacobites (rulers and nobles), while northerners were Puritans descended from serfs. In this example their position of power determined "race". Historically race has been used as nothing more than an instrument to promote superiority and justify discrimination.

Back to Rachel Dolezal; I'm not saying her methods were right, anytime you lie it probably isn't. But it would be contradictory to ostracize someone who has done more work for black causes than most black people.  I don't think the lie itself (as far as how she used it) was damaging per se, but with that said when you lie, you have to lie to keep up that original lie and as that multiplies it can become very damaging. I don't know if that happened or not, but I'm aware of the possibility. So why the lack of fury from me? Well because part of me can understand why she felt she needed to represent herself as black. Now before I finish this rationale, please understand that me understanding the basis of her decision does not equate to me supporting it as being right. It seems to me that very early on, Ms. Dolezal decided that she would dedicate her life to black culture. As a black person, I can say with confidence that we are not very inclusive to white people. That is mostly the result of years of mistreatment by them, but that is a subject for another day. The point is that we don't accept people often. We are even quick to exclude other blacks. Every black person is familiar with the phrase, "You're not really black because _______ (insert almost anything you can think of). We also demand constantly that our people prove their blackness and if they can't the validity of any argument they have regarding our race is null and void. It can be a bit of a hassle at times, and that's for a non-activist.

So you take a white woman wanting to make black culture her life's work and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to imagine the barriers she would face, not because of her work ethic or dedication to black causes but because of her race (ironically this is an issue that black people know too well). Add to the fact that white women and black women have a rivalrous relationship (that's putting it nicely and is another topic that deserves its own post), it's hard to imagine her progressing as far as she has or having the same influence. Maybe she considered representing herself as black as the only way to effectively carry out her work, which apparently she has done a pretty good job of doing. My intentions are not to make her out as the victim here at all, but I can understand why she did it. As an activist, not being in the "in-crowd" does not carry the same weight, it just doesn't. So if her reason for representing herself as black was to be a better civil rights activist and positively impact black lives, I personally don't see any reason for outrage. Now possibly I'm being naive and it could be a less ambitious reason that I don't know of yet, and I reserve the right to change my stance based on relevant and available information. But I'm open-minded. I believe that since race is a social construct, people can chose to identify with whatever they want as long as they are doing "right" by that group and actually accepts that group as their own. And no that does not include someone that dresses or tries to look a certain culture, but switches whenever it is convenient for them or when they can gain an advantage.

BONUS Thought. It's also interesting that Walter Francis White, former chair of the NAACP for over a quarter century, had white skin, blue eyes and blond hair by virtue of mixed European ancestry on both sides (primarily white), but identified completely as being black despite being the great grandson of President William Henry Harrison. Both of his parents were born into slavery though. It just goes to show how peculiar "race" is.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Avoid Dating 21 and 22 Year Olds

Disclaimer: 21 and 22 year olds might not like some of the things I say, and that is okay. Feel free to call me a misguided old man to feel better. Also there are some generalizations involved, some may apply to you more than others. The take away message should be that for most of these things, you're at your  worst at this age. For example, you may not be selfish, but your selfishness will be at it's highest at this age.

They old adage that "Youth is wasted on the young", often seems true in regards to 21 and 22 year olds. Obviously ignore this if you're in that age range or younger (you won't appreciate the rationale), this is advice for mid to late twenties. Date people in this age group with caution because they're extremely dangerous or reckless or some unpleasant combination of both. 21 and 22 year olds have their strengths and weakness just like any other age group, but if you're in your mid-twenties you probably won't like what they represent. Let's be honest, they represent a younger version of you, going through stages and phases you've already experienced. I wrote this based on how I perceive their actions and my reflections on my own time as being 21-ish (let's call it that so I don't have to keep typing 21 and 22 year olds), you may have a different perspective. Don't mistake this post as me saying they're bad people, which is not my intention at all.  My rationale is that the 21-ish crowd can be extremely difficult for anyone that is not in that age range. It's like they have a code of conduct and ethics that only makes sense to them.
Why is this group such a hassle? There's literally probably hundreds of acceptable reasons (okay I'm being dramatic), but I'll rattle off a few that comes to mind. First and foremost, they're just coming into their own. 21 and 22 is a very important age as far as growth and maturity goes. For a majority of people it is the first time they are really an adult, and the wisdom increase from 18 to that point is immense. The problem is that too often 21-ish year olds believe that because they are a lot smarter than they were at 18 that they've transcended to another realm of intellect. They display this in an arrogant, entitled, and condescending fashion, which is unrealized to them but former 21-ish year olds know exactly what I'm referring to. They also couldn't be more wrong; they'll have just as big of an increase in wisdom and maturity between 21 and 25. You cannot tell them that now though, because they're 21-ish and already know everything. Related to this is the fact that they take themselves way too seriously. What I mean by that is they're rigid in their wants and expectations and leave little room for flexibility. Controlling how they come across is more important to them than actually being happy. Just such pretentiousness all around, and I understand why but they will realize in a couple of years just how ridiculous they were. A favorite quote of mine is "When you're stubborn and prideful, not much is insightful". I don't think you can possibly describe early twenties better than that.

Another thing that makes dating the 21-ish group hard is that they think everything is replaceable. At 21-ish you always feel like if you have something good, you could always get it again or obtain something even better. A person with that mindset is dangerous. That type of person might not see the errors in their own ways nor bother attempting to fix them. Instead of being self-critical and actualizing, they can just chalk any loss up to the game and move on. They often brag about this (their ability to "cut people off"). Part of that is because they stay in a comfortable bubble (if they're college students). If you're 21-ish, you are probably an upperclassmen and part of the highest social status in that bubble. That's a very exclusive club. For females it's an absolute position of power and they rule as such, like absolute monarchs. At that point, you're in a familiar environment and if you are attractive, there's literally hundreds (maybe even thousands) of people in a 10 mile radius that would give you the time of day. On top of that, they'll draw interest from men age 18 through 30. This means that they will always have a plethora of options and never have to take any responsibility for relationship failures if they don't feel like it. That's not bad for them at all, for someone older that likes them, that's equivalent to playing with fire.

Then you have the proverbial "late bloomers" even though this age isn't really late bloomer age quite like late 20's. Well these are people who are newly attractive and you can expect them to respond as if that's the case, unpredictably. Being a "late bloomer" affects people differently and you never know how it may affect the younger person you are interested in. I know a few "late bloomers" that are 21-ish that are purposely sabotaging any and all relationships because the new thrill of being wanted is too exciting to them. Of course they won't say that, and there is nothing wrong with them taking advantage of it either, but if you're the older person that likes them that's something to be mindful of. They also won't learn this until later, but the brashness of flaunting how much you're wanted is unflattering. You don't have to make it known every five minutes, how many people want to talk to you. In my opinion 21-ish is also the most selfish years. Now there's a big difference between selfish years and someone that is just flat out selfish. Knowing that difference can save you a headache down the road. 21-ish year olds aren't selfish in a bad way per se, but like I mentioned earlier, they are just coming into their own and are more likely to place a disproportionate amount of emphasis on their own wants and needs over yours. Anyone with experience knows the struggle of relationships without balance, and that's something you're signing up for with this age group whether you want to or not.

Lastly, the 21-ish crowd are prisoners of the moment. Immediate wants, and instincts always seem to override their rationale, and that rationale may not have even been rational to begin with. This may be the most damaging as far as preventing good relationships. It makes them very susceptible to dangerous swings of highs and lows. Now that's not to say that older people perfect in this regard, actually far from it, but at least then most actions and decisions are based on some sort of logical plan lessening the collateral damage. Not the "it feels good or right, so I'm going to do it" type of plan either. Instincts are very important, but you also have to learn when not to follow your instincts. People also become a bit more predictable with age. Some level of predictability in dating is a good thing. Spontaneity may be more exciting, but it can also be more stressful. Sometimes it's good to know how that person will respond to certain things. Every decision in a successful relationship can't be a risk.

Anyways, try to avoid dating 21 and 22 year olds. I know it's easy to be drawn to their "potential" or the fact that their sporadic behavior can be exciting at times, but trust me on this and just let them be. They're like that free spirit that is meant to be admired from afar or that beautiful flower that you should leave in the ground after smelling it. They're just not ideal for dating, not yet but they will be. Take solace in that.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Why Women Hate Men Binge Liking Their Instagram Photos

There's a very effective way to annoy a woman, and you can do it rather quickly too. Go to her Instagram page and like as many pictures as possible in a short time period. Women hate when men do this, especially if they don't really know you. I have heard women mention that they have blocked guys for liking all their pictures, usually followed by some version of "Ewww he's too thirsty/annoying".  Let that sink in for a second. Guys have been blocked, simply for liking all of a woman's pictures on a social media platform designed exclusively for liking pictures. The irony of this phenomenon is not lost on me. I once had a "discussion" with a woman who got offended when I mentioned that blocking someone for liking pictures on Instagram (remember that is the sole purpose) is kind of ridiculous. I simply stated that you're not forced to follow this person back or interact with them, so how can them giving you more likes which she wanted (Let's just say she was a high-end Instagram user), get under her skin so much. Well I have my opinion, and I'm here to give it.

Women wield a certain amount of power on social media, and the more superficial the medium, the more control women have on it. Is there a social media more superficial than Instagram? I can't imagine it. It's the only social media that gets heavy usage despite not being very fun or entertaining. So how does this relate to women hating when men binge like their photos. It's quite simple actually, let's go back to the power women exercise on Instagram. Calling it power, may not be completely accurate. A more accurate description would be "perceived autonomy". In Self-Determination Theory of human motivation, perceived autonomy is an important element. Having control is not as important as thinking you're in control. Usually women's perceived autonomy would rank very high on Instagram. They have creative freedom (at least from what is socially acceptable and popular), and most of the times interactions are one-sided in their favor (following to followers ratio/Likes received vs likes given/etc). Men are simply objects of their amusement that they can usually manipulate through whatever they decide to post.

This changes when males binge like their photos, as it destroys that feeling of control for women. Instead of having creative freedom and controlling interactions, the woman is now being objectified (most likely sexually), and she is now an object of a male's amusement. When women post what men consider "thirst traps", they really believe it is genuine artwork (well some women not all). They had to capture the right angles, the right lighting, etc, but now instead of being viewed as art, it is being viewed simply as sexual attraction and stimulation by that male who mindlessly clicked on every picture without appreciating the art, aesthetics, and the core idea behind the picture. Now, instead of control, women feel as if they are back in our Patriarchal Society and resent that feeling. Their creative freedom has been seemingly turned into a meaningless man's sexual attraction. And because most think that men can't control their sexual urges, it has no significance. A woman who already is so sure that she is attractive gains nothing by men agreeing to it, especially at the price of her "perceived control".

Now I'm aware some could say I'm reaching too far, that binge liking is simply just thought of as being annoying. I'd be willing to believe that if it was a few isolated incidents, but that's not the case. Men binge liking pictures really bothers women. That's my opinion based on my observations and experiences, what is yours?

This is the result of binge liking