Emily Gould’s take on Gossip Girl is delicious for all manner of reasons (many of them GG-related), but here are two of my favourite excerpts:
Like a lot of childless unmarried adults my age I tend to think of myself on some semiconscious level as a perpetual teenager, but then when I’m confronted with actual teenagers I realize not only that I am an adult, I am also a member of a completely different generation and fitted with a completely different make and model of brain than today’s teenagers.
Hence our love of shows like The OC and Gossip Girl. I tend to see it the opposite way, though: that the characters on these shows are honorary adults, played by actors in their twenties and (school aside) living a lifestyle more akin to someone in that age group than a high school student.
Same with the Sweet Valley books: the 12-year-olds acted like 16-year-olds, the 16-year-olds like 19-year-olds, and the 18-year-olds like 25-year-olds.
It’s rare to watch a tv show’s writers basically confess that they’ve hit a wall. Imagine if, somewhere around the third season of Friends, Ross had sat Rachel down and said, “You know, we’ll never stay together, because there would really be nothing to hang the misunderstanding-based hijinx of this show on.” When Chuck told Blair that “the game” is “what we like,” he might as well have been staring into the camera and addressing the audience directly. ‘When we finally get together,’ he’s saying, ‘you’ll know that Gossip Girl’s writers have finally gotten that memo from CW headquarters that they’ve got another episode or two to wrap things up.’
But less cynically, or maybe more cynically: the audience basically never gets to watch the ever-after part of romances – it’s boring, we’re given to understand, all that moviegoing and hand-holding. Love affairs have three acts, we know from tv, and even, a little, from our own experience. There’s the thrilling beginning, fraught with obstacles and delicious suffering. And then there’s the middle, the happy normalcy phase that actually maybe doesn’t even exist and is just a slow slide into the mediocrity and boredom that signals the end. Maybe there are just two acts, then.
And it’s so true. If love is looked upon as narrative drama, the good, content bits will always disappoint. As Andy Warhol once remarked: “The most exciting thing is not doing it. If you fall in love with someone and never do it, it’s much more exciting.” This, I believe, is (one of many reasons) why it’s best to look for excitement (headlines! news! drama! amusing anecdotes! - stuff that, in many ways, I live for) in places other than one’s love life: contented relationships just don’t make for very good story fodder.
Post my last proper break-up, a rather ouchy dumping that prompted me to stay up all night, phoning friends in different time zones as the night wore on, my lovely friend Emily (in New York, probably needing to go to bed as the sun came up in London) suggested that I read He’s Just Not That Into You. But I refused, because I knew he just wasn’t into me and I couldn’t bear being reminded of that - I was too busy weeping and wondering what I did wrong, because somehow I felt it would have been better to be at fault, rather than for the fact to simply have been that he didn’t like me enough.
I think where a lot of women go wrong is through indulging in denial - denial that he isn’t that into us, but also denial that we are deserving of anything better. But when we decide to refuse to accept anything less than genuine into-ness, I think that we are much happier both in and out of relationships - because whether or not you are coupled up, it is crucial to keep in mind that you are great. Lately, in any case, I have come to realise that if a man behaves in a way towards you with regards to communication or kindness that you would consider to be sub-par in a non-romantic friend, then he is not worth pursuing. Not even if White Noise is his very favourite book.
Jean makes some good points here, but He’s Just Not That Into You still gives me the shits. And like Jennifer Aniston, I still think it’s ultimately disempowering for women.
1. Like most conventional wisdom, it’s overly simplistic; an “easy” response to something that is usually far more complicated. When most real relationships break down, it’s not as simple as the guy just not liking the girl all that much, but about some problem (or problems) in the dynamic between the two people that both are contributing to.
Often, ironically, the woman’s contribution to this dynamic stems from the insecurities and disempowerment fostered by mainstream women’s/dating culture (of which He’s Just Not That Into You is a part).
2. Call me a control freak, but I like to feel as if I have a say in the route my life takes - and certainly, no one would argue this shouldn’t be the case when it comes to work, friends, or what I decide to do with my Saturday night. This sense of influence over the world around us is also known as “empowerment” - think “we can make things happen” in The Craft - and is proven to be a key source of self-esteem and happiness in both men and women.
He’s Just Not That Into You is the opposite of this. It tells women that things are as they are, that there’s nothing you can do to change it, and that your best bet is to sit around waiting for that Prince who really is into you to come along on his white horse and choose you. The only thing that makes it any different to the more widely maligned (but equally widely cited) The Rules is that it dresses this old fashioned rhetoric up with “you go girl” and “you’re such a fox!”
3. Men, on the other hand, get to do all the choosing. They get to decide whether they like you or not, whether they want to launch a relationship and where they want that relationship to go. Sure, you can decide not to go along with them, but for all your “foxiness”, the book’s lasting message is that not many of the men in your life have really been “that into” you, so when you find one, you sure better hold on to him!
Hate it, hate it, hate it. But I do agree with Jean that no one - male or female (‘cos I know plenty of guys who let the girls they love treat them like crap) - should accept anything less than “genuine into-ness”* (and that often we accept subpar treatment from people because we hope we can change them).
* Which, by the by, means love, kindness and appreciation - not picking up the dinner cheque every time, dropping everything at your whim, or buying you five designer dresses for Christmas.
“I found that young, white, middle-class men are considered much more sexually desirable than men who are racial minorities, over 40 and poor,” says Green. “I also learned that for gay men, being considered sexually undesirable can have serious health consequences ranging from psychological issues to risky sexual behaviour.”
Fascinating. Kind of makes sense too.
Risky sexual behavior can be linked to feeling undesirable across the board, I’d wager.
“How’s that internet slam? Throw your free dinner!”—
Elmo Keep, in a text message to me last night.
The people presenting the Walkley for opinion journalism last night made a quip about the poorly researched and argued commentary on the internet, where anyone - ANYONE! - can publish their views.
I’ve gotta say, as someone who’s had considerable success as an opinion journalist, I think the blogosphere in many ways harder to crack than mainstream journalism. Sure, anyone can write a blog, but to write a blog that people actually care about and read in such a crowded and competitive marketplace ain’t easy.
Everyone and their little sister is doing it. (Apologies for the imagery.)
This article, by the lovely Rachel Kramer Bussel, is evocative and refreshingly honest, but I was surprised by how little she - or the people commenting on the article - seemed concerned about the risk of STIs.
I’ve been talking to a number of people about this since I started work on my own article, and ideal worlds aside, it’s probably not realistic to expect people to use a condom every time they have sex - especially once both partners have been tested and the relationship is confirmed as being in the “committed” stage (whether that means exclusivity or marriage to the couple in question). As Rachel writes, unguarded moments happen.
But going condom-free means upping the risk ante - of both pregnancy (a number of the women who commented on this article were not on the pill) and infection - considerably. If each time you have sex you’re risking both of these, sex becomes a more obvious exercise of risk evaluation, and becomes a lot less appealing. It was the Pill (and, I’d wager, the increasing social acceptability of carrying condoms that accompanied it) that led to the famed Sexual Revolution, after all.
It seems as if a lot of young heterosexual people see themselves as immune to STIs - the skyrocketing rates of infection in recent years shows that we’re not.
So, I’m interested in knowing more about how people negotiate these issues - both internally and with their partners (one thing I’ve noticed: Americans seem to be stricter on the condom use than the Australians I’ve spoken to). I’ve got to jump on a plane to Melbourne now, but reblog or email me at rachel.hills at gmail.com to discuss.
Also known as: “Thank god I don’t hang around guys like this.”
When making sense of an article, it’s always useful to know where the author’s coming from. In this case, Kay S. Hymowitz is a fellow at the conservative think tank, the Manhattan Institute. Other articles of hers include Red State Feminism and Gloucester Girls Gone Wild, and readers are advised to check out The Campus Rape Myth (how Katie Roiphe!).
Don’t get me wrong - her work seems thought provoking, and I’d love to grapple with it in more detail, but bearing the above in mind, here are some choice excerpts from the article.
Their argument, in effect, was that the SYM is putting off traditional markers of adulthood—one wife, two kids, three bathrooms—not because he’s immature but because he’s angry. He’s angry because he thinks that young women are dishonest, self-involved, slutty, manipulative, shallow, controlling, and gold-digging. He’s angry because he thinks that the culture disses all things male. He’s angry because he thinks that marriage these days is a raw deal for men.
A fair point. Not true of all men, but certainly true of some: I remember one University of Sydney student who used to spam the Vibewire.net forums with tales of evil, slutty campus feminists, and they’re plentiful on the forums of OnlineOpinion.com.au (posting a feminist-themed article there is scary!). Michael Kimmel also deals with this stuff extensively in Guyland (which I finished reading the other week). He seems to think this anger stems from an unfulfilled sense of privilege and, like Hymowitz, an uncertainty as to what to do in an environment in which there are no clear rules.
Here’s Jeff from Middleburg, Florida: “I am not going to hitch my wagon to a woman … who is more into her abs, thighs, triceps, and plastic surgery. A woman who seems to have forgotten that she did graduate high school and that it’s time to act accordingly.” Jeff, meet another of my respondents, Alex: “Maybe we turn to video games not because we are trying to run away from the responsibilities of a ‘grown-up life’ but because they are a better companion than some disease-ridden bar tramp who is only after money and a free ride.” Care for one more? This is from Dean in California: “Men are finally waking up to the ever-present fact that traditional marriage, or a committed relationship, with its accompanying socially imposed requirements of being wallets with legs for women, is an empty and meaningless drudgery.” You can find the same themes posted throughout websites like AmericanWomenSuck, NoMarriage, MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way), and Eternal Bachelor (“Give modern women the husband they deserve. None”).
No comment here. Just wanted to let you soak in the misogyny.
By the early twentieth century, things had evolved so that in the United States, at any rate, a man knew the following: he was supposed to call for a date; he was supposed to pick up his date; he was supposed to take his date out, say, to a dance, a movie, or an ice-cream joint; if the date went well, he was supposed to call for another one; and at some point, if the relationship seemed charged enough—or if the woman got pregnant—he was supposed to ask her to marry him. Sure, these rules could end in a midlife crisis and an unhealthy fondness for gin, but their advantage was that anyone with an emotional IQ over 70 could follow them.
A fair point, and a good explanation, I think, of why traditional dating structures remain popular with a good proportion of the population: the idea that you can get the result you want (a happy relationship) by following a formula is reassuring. But as Hymowitz points out, that formula didn’t exactly work either (hence the midlife crisis and alcoholism references).
But then, when an SYM walks into a bar and sees an attractive woman, it turns out to be nothing like that. The woman may be hoping for a hookup, but she may also be looking for a husband, a co-parent, a sperm donor, a relationship, a threesome, or a temporary place to live. She may want one thing in November and another by Christmas. “I’ve gone through phases in my life where I bounce between serial monogamy, Very Serious Relationships and extremely casual sex,” writes Megan Carpentier on Jezebel, a popular website for young women. “I’ve slept next to guys on the first date, had sex on the first date, allowed no more than a cheek kiss, dispensed with the date-concept altogether after kissing the guy on the way to his car, fucked a couple of close friends and, more rarely, slept with a guy I didn’t care if I ever saw again.” Okay, wonders the ordinary guy with only middling psychic powers, which is it tonight?
In fact, young men face a bewildering multiplicity of female expectations and desire. Some women are comfortable asking, “What’s your name again?” when they look across the pillow in the morning. But plenty of others are looking for Mr. Darcy.
Can’t the same be said of men? They don’t all want the same thing either; nor do they want the same thing from every woman they encounter.
This attraction to bad boys is by far guys’ biggest complaint about contemporary women. Young men grew up hearing from their mothers, their teachers, and Oprah that women wanted sensitive, kind, thoughtful, intelligent men who were in touch with their feminine sides, who shared their feelings, who enjoyed watching Ally McBeal rather than Beavis and Butt-Head. Yeah, right, sneer a lot of veterans of the scene. Women don’t want Ashley Wilkes; they’re hot for Rhett Butler, for macho men with tight abs and an emotional range to match. One popular dating guru, David DeAngelo, ranks “Being Too Much of a Nice Guy” as Number One on his list of the “Ten Most Dangerous Mistakes Men Make with Women.” At a website with the evocative name RelationShit.com (“Brutally honest dating advice for the cynical, bitter, and jaded” and sociological cousin of DatingIsHell.net), the most highly trafficked pages are those dedicated to the question of why women don’t like good guys. A website (and book) called Hot Chicks with Douchebags rubs it in by offering pictures of jerks—we know by their ripped jeans, five o’clock shadow, gelled hair, and bling—standing next to adoring, bikini-clad blondes.
Oh, blah. First up, good women do want good men. I’ve never rejected a man for being too “nice”. I have run away from men for not reading my level of interest correctly, or giving me the space I require to freely decide if I’m interested in them, though. Just as guys do with girls all the time, too (the origins of the simplistic “play hard to get” advice - it’s easier than saying “gauge the other person’s level of interest and respond accordingly”).
Also, “Hot Girls With Douchebags” should be retitled “Douchebags with Douchebags”. I see no difference between those “bikini-clad blondes” and their gelled, blinged up male counterparts.
According to a “Recovering Nice Guy” writing on Craigslist, the female preference for jerks and “assholes,” as they’re also widely known, lies behind women’s age-old lament, “What happened to all the nice guys?” His answer: “You did. You ignored the nice guy. You used him for emotional intimacy without reciprocating, in kind, with physical intimacy.” Women, he says, are actually not attracted to men who hold doors for them, give them hinted-for Christmas gifts, or listen to their sorrows
As jgh has written before, the problem here is the assumed trade-off: men do nice things for women, women sleep with men. That might work on the hot chicks who hang out with douchebags (who, by the by, are probably considered pretty attractive in their douchey subculture), but the rest of us are more likely to respond when those gestures come from people we’re already physically/intellectually/emotionally attracted to: people who are cute, and smart and fun to be around.
The main reason that young educated adults are increasingly marrying in their late twenties and thirties is that women are pursuing education and careers, but ironically, the delay works to men’s advantage. Once they get past their awkward late teens and early twenties, men begin to lose their metaphorical baby fat. They’re making more money, the pool of available women has grown, and they have more confidence. “I could get a woman now, but when I’m 30 or 35 I could do better,” Bryson, an otherwise nice-guy 24-year-old from D.C., tells me.
Wow. He sounds really nice. Also, sick of this whole “blaming everything on women” thing: both sexes are delaying marriage to concentrate on career, travel, self-discovery, etc. And often, this isn’t an explicit, conscious choice, so much as a response to the forces of the culture.
Nevertheless, you might ask, are there really so many dating Darwinists on the prowl? Is dating really hell, as the website would have it, for the majority of contemporary SYMs and Fs? Probably not. It’s a safe bet that for all the confusions and humiliations of dating, most men will still try to be nice guys who say “please” and avoid asking a woman about her sexual history until, say, the third date. And if the past is any guide, most of them, even the most masterly PUAs, will eventually find themselves coaching Little League on weekends. In a national survey of young, heterosexual men, the National Marriage Project, a research organization at Rutgers University, found that the majority of single subjects hoped to marry and have kids someday.
And hurrah for realism!
As sarahchristine wrote, this is an interesting article, but it’s also about a specific subculture of men, and not representative of men in general. What I find most sad about the whole thing is that none of this is likely to make the men who feel and behave this way any happier - if anything, it’s just going to feed their anger and dissatisfaction with life, and make it harder for them to form an open, honest relationship with a good woman.
I guess we do have biggerinternet things to worry about here than than JA. Still, I expected something more than just reactions from myself, two twitter posts and a two month old blog post predicting how boring a profile on Julia would be now days.
Um, yeah. I was one of the four (well, a few more than that, technically - it got seven reblogs here on Tumblr).
Aussie mainstream = so far behind the rest of the world that not even worth talking about anymore.
And well, it’s true!
Seriously, though. I only sped-read the article, but from what I took in, it was a good piece: nothing new for most people reading this, but for Good Weekend readers, a nice redux of Emily Gould’s NYT cover story of six months back.
As for why it didn’t gain traction, my guess is that it’s for the same reason the “Australian Julias” the article cited were all essentially beat journalists. There’s no city in Australia with the kind of media environment that is needed for media personalities like Julia’s to hit the mainstream (an environment that is in abundance in New York). We have cult personalities, yes, but they really are cult - the mainstream just isn’t interested.
That said, that’s probably also the case in the US. Which could mean it’s a question of numbers: they have 15 times our population, which means 15 times as many people in each little subculture.
2. Leverage the op-ed page and spread important ideas: Sure, Tom Friedman and a handful of other columnists have a large reach and influence. But why doesn’t the Times have 50 columnists? 500? Tom Peters or Jim Leff or Joel Spolsky or Micah Sifry or Pam Slim or Patrick Semmens or Dan Pink would be great columnists. Why not view the endless print space online as an opportunity to leverage their core asset?
What would happen if the huge team of existing Times editors and writers each interviewed an interesting or important person every day? 5,000 or 10,000 really important interviews every year, each waiting for a sponsor, each finding a relevant audience…
A great idea, but I can see a couple of problems with it:
1. Money and resources. Increasing the number of columnists means increasing the number of people you pay - and in an era of media layoffs. Or, if you don’t pay them all, making difficult-to-justify decisions about who you do and don’t pay (the most obvious one being pay print, don’t pay online).
2. As any opinion editor will tell you, a lot of badly constructed, unoriginal writing ends up in their inboxes. That’s not just snobbiness - it’s the truth. But the nature of column writing is such that a lot of columnists also have as many off-days as they do on - most opinion pages aren’t really must-reads anymore. So perhaps the solution here is to transform the opinion page from a series of predictable typing heads to a free market of ideas: you can any columnist you want online, but only the best ones end up on the homepage, or in the print edition.
“No matter how committed a relationship you think you’re in, HIV will always be a danger without a condom and a recent test. As someone who works for a nonprofit and volunteers for the cause on a regular basis, I cannot tell you how many people have become infected because they thought their realtionship was monogomous. Over half of the new infections are from people that don’t know they have HIV.”—somethingmeaningful in response to this post
I know, it’s been writtenaboutbefore, but I’m working on a women’s mag feature about it at the moment, so it’s taking up a bit of headspace.
What I find most interesting about this issue so far is how passionately the people I’ve been talking to are responding to it: it’s either (and most commonly) an indignant, “Well, why would you use condoms if you were in a committed relationship where both people had been tested?” or a flabbergasted, “What kind of idiot wouldn’t use a condom?”
Surely it’s more grey than that. It’s a question of how and when we decide to trust people with our bodies and our health, and I don’t think there’s any 100% right answer to that. I do think it’s worth considering how we define “committed relationship” here, though - methinks a lot of us are perhaps a little too quick to trust.
In my experience of relationships, even if you “know” someone before you get together with them, you don’t really know them a month or two into it as much as you do a year or three in. That’s not to say the surprises are always nasty - but the people I’ve fallen in love with have rarely been the same people I fell in crush with, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t either, for them.
Patty: What is your personal definition of “modern feminism”?
Rachel Hills: I don’t think there’s any such thing as a universal definition of “modern feminism” – it changes depending on the person doing the defining. However, for me, feminism is about recognising that gender has an effect on the way we experience the world, and figuring out the best way to negotiate that. Or, in other words, neither women nor men should be limited by their gender (just as we shouldn’t be limited by our race, class etc).
P. How do you think mainstream girls/women’s magazines have impacted upon “modern” feminism?
R.H.: Not entirely negative. If you look at a magazine like Cosmopolitan, its entire ethos is a watered-down version of second wave feminism: at its core, it’s about women being empowered in the workplace and in the bedroom… whilst looking good and having fun with it. That’s not inherently anti-feminist – in fact, second wave feminism was what allowed Cosmopolitan to exist. Similarly, magazines like Marie Claire and YEN profile genuinely interesting, intelligent women in each issue.
In the teen market, I think Girlfriend is about as feminist as a teen magazine can be without losing its advertisers (women’s magazines rely on fashion and beauty advertisers to sustain themselves). Some examples: the self-respect campaign the magazine runs, its genuine focus on health rather than skinnyness, its profiling of normal teenage girls who are doing cool stuff – it even recommended readers read The Beauty Myth in one issue a few months back! (Never heard of a teen magazine doing that before – it’s probably too intellectual for even Marie Claire.)
What I probably like most about Girlfriend though is that they were so open to publishing my articles, which are usually designed to rebuff anti-feminist (and anti-self) ideas teenage girls commonly have in a fun and entertaining way. Some examples: ‘5 people who care if you have sex (and why it’s none of their business)’, ‘Real boys vs TV boys’ (about false ideas about relationships from popular culture), ‘6 reasons NOT to go out with him’ (ie, unless you actually like him, don’t do it), ‘Do you have Cinderella Syndrome?’ (about girls who like to act like princesses), ‘Attack of the Pussycat clones’ (about ‘raunch culture’), ‘The Body Snatchers’ (just because you don’t have a clinical disorder doesn’t mean you have a healthy attitude towards your weight).
In a way, these articles are the antithesis of traditional women’s and teen mag articles – and here, one of Australia’s biggest teen mags was happy to publish them.
That’s not to say Girlfriend is perfect – I don’t like how they feature the vapid, do-nothing girls of The Hills for example, or pictures of model Tahyna Tozzi and her gang member boyfriend – but you’d be hard-pressed to find anything distinctly anti-feminist in the magazine.
P. What do you think of the direction that these mainstream magazines are headed in? Negative or positive and why?
R.H.: A little of both. My main problem with mainstream magazines (and this is perhaps the crux of their anti-feminism) is that they’re uncritical and unthinking. I don’t think most mainstream magazines (and this includes the ‘alternative’ ones, like Frankie and YEN) take a very nuanced or intelligent view of, well, anything much. For the most part, everything is boiled down to its most simple, black and white elements. Why is this damaging to feminism? Because it assumes women are only interested in fashion, beauty, and very simplified views of romantic relationships, with a very surface interest in “issues”.
The positives? The fact that magazines like Marie Claire, Madison and YEN exist – which do have a substantial focus on issues outside the self (even if they don’t always do it perfectly). Frankie is also a really positive development, angled at artsy types. I also think it’s great that Sarah Oakes, the current editor of Girlfriend, will be editing Cleo from next month – she’ll do great things with it.
P. Is there a counter balance to whatever effects these particular mainstream magazines have? Any examples?
R.H.: There have been several attempts to counterbalance the effects of mainstream magazines, especially in the teen market: lip (who I used to write for), Frank (as distinct from Frankie), and a new one, Indigo. The problem is that these magazines usually aren’t professionally produced, which can mean that while the values at the heart of their stories are in the right place, they’re not constructed to attract an audience.
More successful attempts include YEN (which I used to work for as a sub-editor) and Frankie, and in the US Jane and Sassy (both now defunct, but very successful in their time).
P. Do you believe that magazines aimed at teenage girls/young women encourage them to foster unrealistic expectations? If so, what?
R.H.: If they do, I don’t think that can be blamed squarely on the mags: you need to look at how it fits into the broader culture. Values that I can see expressed in teen and women’s mags include the value of being skinny, of being beautiful, of being rich (to be able to afford the clothes and lifestyle they refer to) — but these values mostly aren’t expressed explicitly, but rather through the people they choose to profile, and the aspects about them they choose to value. Most magazine profiles fawn over how beautiful the subject is, for example.
It’s also worth noting that the models featured in YEN and Frankie are usually skinnier than the ones in Cosmo/Dolly/Girlfriend — again, this can be attributed to the popularity of very slim figures in hipster/artsy/fashion culture.
P. Are there any reforms that you believe are necessary for female consumer magazines?
R.H.: I’d like to see female consumer magazines think more. I’m not saying they should become intellectual rags like The Monthly or newmatilda.com, but I do think it’s possible to approach silly, shallow issues like fashion, beauty and boys with a sense of humour and intelligence. To some extent, they already do this, but I think it could be improved upon – perhaps by hiring better writers (they’re definitely out there – think how many hundreds of people graduate with media degrees every year).
A fantastic, idea-filled article charting how it’ll look different from our images of the thirties. The best is the last section, which talks about we’ll experience it in a much less communal fashion. It’s just cheaper to be lonely these days.
I've been listening to Seth Godin's Tribes over the past few days...
I’m only (!) around 2.5 hours in at the moment, so I’m still making sense of it, but here are my thoughts so far.
Things I agree with:
- Often what we fear most is not failure (or even fear itself) but criticism. Criticism isn’t necessarily a bad thing: it means people are engaging with what you put out there. I, for example, am about to criticise Tribes, but I wouldn’t bother with that if I didn’t find it interesting.
- Don’t be afraid to be a heretic, or to challenge conventional wisdom (easier said than done, I know). You may be criticised for it, yes, but ultimately your impact and your sense of self will be the better for it. (Incidentally, I think the problem with a lot of criticism - and what makes us me fearful of it - is that it’s not about tearing apart the ideas being presented, but about tearing apart the person presenting them. Big boo to the ad hominem attack.)
- The most valuable leaders are those who offer something new and different, and who think outside the box. This, Godin says, can be traced back to the marketing industry which shifted our desires from the established and reliable to the new and innovative.
- If you’re in it for your own ego, people will be able to tell. And run a mile.
What I’m not convinced by:
- That because the internet makes it possible for anyone to lead their own tribe, that means we should. Frankly, the very idea makes me tired. I can just imagine all my fellow early adapters (sic) listening to it and dreaming up the tribes they could lead (I know I did).
Why do I have a problem with this? Because we’re already drowning in things competing for our time and attention, and strong tribes need committed and enthusiastic tribe members. We may be members of multiple tribes, but we can only be members of so many tribes at once. Hence, everyone leading their own tribe doesn’t really work (and yes, I’m aware that Godin also emphasises the importance of following where appropriate).
What’s more, Godin emphasises that the most interesting and powerful tribes are often those made up of curious, leadershippy type people. People who are not curious (which is more people than you think) are less likely to want to participate in your tribe, but those who are aren’t going to do so unless you come up with something really damn good.
So. The way I’ve reconciled this is to think of leading the tribe as less something that one visionary leader does, and more something that multiple tribe members do in different ways, by contributing to their community. It’s not hierarchical, but a relatively flat structure of similarly interesting and interested people (the two so often go together).
Take my own tribes. My writing is published in plenty of mainstream publications (see yesterday’s post), but when I think about who cares and listens most closely, the answer is other writers and editors.
The same goes within Tumblr: it’s not about broadcasting your ideas to adoring fans (although we all know Tumblrs who try to use the platform that way - and, incidentally, these people aren’t really giving their tribes anything beyond entertainment - Godin would not be please), but about an exchange between interesting and interested people.
And again with my Sydney community: my friends and acquaintances are plenty busy and brilliant enough that they don’t need me to step up and declare myself their leader. Frankly, they’re too busy leading their own movements (which takes me back to my original point).
So, how do you lead in this kind of environment? It goes back to Godin’s point about originality: what need in your community can you meet that isn’t currently being met?
So David Karp invented Tumblr, a blogging platform that also functioned as a social networking site, and (from what I’ve observed) built about Karp’s own network of interesting friends to attract interesting and curious (mostly) young people from around the globe.
I started regular lunches in Sydney last year to introduce all the great people I meet to one another, and meet more great people I haven’t yet stumbled upon.
And writing wise, I guess the best contribution any of us can make is to be fearless, say things that others haven’t said yet, and spark conversations that help people see things in new ways.
Time to whip out Female Chauvinist Pigs again, I think
All this “objectification of women” business is giving me the shits.
- the equation of attractiveness/”hotness” with not wearing a lot of clothes.
- the fact that we, as women, are socialised to wear clothes that invite the eye to our breasts, legs and thighs, when men do not dress or style themselves in such a way that we might find attractive.
- the fact that my friends and I seem to take pleasure in it when our male friends think we’re hot, even when we don’t think they’re hot.
- that I participate in the objectification of other women by observing “hot chicks” alongside my male friends.
- the burgeoning number of “babes” galleries on Tumblr.
Some obligatory shades of gray:
- most women (Jessica Simpson aside) do not dress - exclusively, at least - for the pleasure of men. I dress up most days, but I do it because it makes me feel happier and more comfortable moving through the world (although the latter statement itself could do with being unpacked). If I dress in a way that shows cleavage, shoulder or leg (and let’s face it, I often do - particularly on the second front) it’s because it’s what best suits my body shape.
- to be clear, I don’t believe that women “invite” sexual harrassment or assault. I do think, however, that our cultural ideas of what’s attractive/fashionable are wedded to our ideas about what’s sexually arousing.
- “sexiness” can be played at and performed without being all about impressing men.
- women also objectify - and sometimes demean - men with our talk of “hot guys” (hello, Chace Crawford).
- and probably some others I’ve forgotten.
Nonetheless, I think my point still stands.
And while (rigorous self-scrutiny aside) I usually feel pretty good about the way I look, it’s hard to face all these influences without wondering if I should spend more time at the gym, get my make-up applied professionally and style myself in the mould of one of these chicks (or a US Vogue staffer, depending on the whims of the day).
Talking to the guy who has always been nice to you and telling them you hate how guys use you is annoying. We know guys use you. This is because you date jerks rather than us. It’s really terribly disheartening and it makes me wish I had the morals to be a jerk to women. But I know I never could be. Everytime you tell me you hate guys, it just makes me hate girls more.
Most of the guys I’ve dated were self-professed “nice guys,” who often claimed they hated the same thing about girls, particularly their attractive female friends, that you cite here. Almost all of them, though, ended up becoming the assholes I complained about to my friends. I think when you date someone, all bets are off whether you will end up being considered an asshole or a nice guy. There are a lot of things that can cause a girl to think you are an asshole, and considering that the vast majority of the people women date, up until we get married (and sometimes even then), end up being considered assholes, odds are fairly good that at some point someone you date will consider you to be an asshole, even if you are in fact a pretty nice guy.
And while there are a few exceptions to this…there really aren’t.
Took the words right out of my mouth.
The truth is, being intimately involved with someone renders most of us, male or female, at times maddening and disappointing.
Most of the guys I’ve been interested in throughout my life have been “good guys” (really!), but most of them have also left me feeling pretty awful at some point. Not because they’re “assholes”, but because that’s just the way it goes.
“I never liked Sex and the City, the kind of thing where women only feel empowered once they find the Man. It is just not up my alley. I don’t believe in it. There is nothing you can control about love.”—
It seems Jennifer Aniston and I agree on something.
I wrote this song back at the beginning of the decade, upon hearing a song by a New Zealand band I liked with the same name as the boy I had spent most of the year in love with. I decided he too was worthy of a (thinly-veiled) song, and out this one came. It was recorded almost a year later, the day after September 11.