I didn't want to say anything earlier this week, since it was supposed to be your day and all, but now a little time has passed so I hope you won't mind me asking: what is going on with the weather? Our daily temperature is averaging approximately 20 degrees less than what we usually experience at this time of year and you're killing us here. I mean, hail in April? Snow in April? And not just a couple of times in the month, but a couple of times per week all month long? Tell us what to do and we'll do it. We're freezing and ready for this endless winter to be over. So please, make things 'normal' again.
Item the Second
It's kind of surprising to me that, worldwide, piracy on the high seas has been increasing in both frequency and severity for approximately a decade and yet this hasn't been reported in the press and it hasn't shown up in popular culture. (Aren't piracy scenarios tailor-made for a summer blockbuster movie?) Perhaps it's the whole Pirates of the Caribbean thing where we've romanticized piracy to the point that it's hard for us to think of pirates in a negative sense. Yet still, color me surprised.
Item the Third
My husband and I watched The Shawshank Redemption the other day, and like always, I thought about a former colleague. You see, a few years after it came out, she mentioned to a group of us that she'd never seen the end of the movie. She had made it about 2/3rds of the way through and couldn't take any more, so turned it off and never finished it. A chorus of "But you have to see the end of the movie. It's the redemption part! It's the part that makes all the rest of it worthwhile!" arose, but I was never sure if we really convinced her. I haven't seen this person for some years and I don't know that I ever will again. But I'm certain that if I do, one of the questions I'll be asking is if she's ever seen the end to this movie.
Item the Fourth
I think in many situations that can be seen as bad there can emerge something good. (This is the inverse of those situations where your intentions were honestly for the best and yet nothing good ensued.) It's the law of unintended consequences in action. From my point of view, the good side of the infamous Boobgate situation (if this is new to you, look for a post by theferrett; the one with the gazillion comments is the one I mean) is that it has sparked discussion far and wide on various aspects of male and female sexuality. I think it's a good thing for men and women to discuss their assumptions and beliefs and the anonymity the internet provides allows a more honest kind of discussion. Because people are less concerned about politeness, there's more raw honesty in what they say. Of course, the balancer for that is that oftentimes the lack of body language, eye contact and facial expression means that what one person intends to communicate isn't actually communicated. But in the end, I find discussing the fact that breasts have a meaning to women that is quite different from their meaning to men to be not only fascinating, but also useful and helpful. There are several things I've seen people say that have me pondering, and further, have me re-configuring some of my assumptions. There are some things I don't think it's possible for people to agree on - such as what it means when a person dresses in a manner that some take to convey "I'm open for business"* when in fact that's not what the person in the clothing meant at all. How we dress is obviously a huge issue and a topic far too large for any group of people to ever completely agree on. However, I think a person realizing that they may not mean it that way, but it's being taken that way is important.** Anyway, I've found it fascinating watching the various discussions and reactions unfold.
*This phrase came from something I watched a few years back about Britney Spears. I think it was said by Carly Simon, but don't take that as gospel. Whoever said it was talking about how the focus of the music industry has gone to such an extreme in selling sexuality that it's nearly impossible for a newcomer to the business to get anywhere without being overtly sexual in some way. Anyway, part of the focus of the piece was how Britney was appalled to discover that men of all ages, including men her grandfather's age, took her style of dress to be a sexual invitation. In her mind, her provocative clothing wasn't meant as an invitation. But even if it were, it was one that was only open to her own generation. She had no concept of the fact that if you put something out there in public, everyone in the public would be looking at it. Everyone in the public would be making judgments on it. The "open for business" comment struck me as one of the most succinct descriptions of what provocative clothing means to a lot of people and it has stuck with me ever since.
**Some of the things I saw people say on the topic of dress reminded me of a What Not to Wear episode (someone has got to do a study/paper about that show; it's a gold mine for a social scientist, I think). In this episode, a young 20-something girl was nominated by her friends and family because they felt she dressed too provocatively. From their perspective, they saw time and again potential employers, potential friends, and potential boyfriends make assumptions about her which did not match up to her personality. They were hoping that if she "toned down" how she dressed, people would take her more seriously. As it was, they had witnessed people getting the impression that she was of low intelligence, reliability and sincerity. So. She went through the process of seeing the secret films and being told frankly and repeatedly that while she may not mean to convey certain things in her manner of dress, she was nevertheless conveying those things. But despite the evidence of the film and what she was being told, she refused to believe that how she dressed affected other people's opinions about her. In the end, she continued to dress pretty much the same way. Part of what really got me on that episode was that she really wanted to find a man who could be a sincere life partner, but had never had a man take her seriously and had never had the kind of relationship she most wanted to have. It was like watching a Marian Keyes story play out, except for the part where the scales fall away from the eyes.